Beneath this man, p.6
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       Beneath This Man, p.6

         Part #2 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Chapter 6

  When I walk into Almundo's, I scan my eyes across the masses of people having their Sunday morning brunch and spot him sat in the corner with his face in the Sunday paper. He looks so well, all tanned and dazzling. I fly across the cafe and all but dive on him.

  'Whoa!' he laughs. 'Pleased to see me, kid?' He wraps his arms around me, and I fall apart all over him. I'm so happy to see him and all of the built up stress and emotion of the last few weeks just spills out of me. . . again. 'Hey, stop that. ' he scolds me.

  'I'm sorry. ' I peel myself away from his body and sit beside him.

  He takes my hand in his. 'Get rid of those tears, right now. ' He smiles. 'This will be the best thing that ever happened to you. You're well shot. '

  Oh, he thinks I'm in a state over Matt? Should I let him carry on thinking that? The alternative is explaining a whole lot of other shit, and I can't do that. I would be here for months. I wipe my eyes. 'I know. It's been a shitty few weeks. I'm fine, really. '

  'Forget about him and get on with your life. You've got a lot to catch up with. ' He rubs my arm affectionately. 'What about this other bloke who Matt's been whining on about?'

  Damn, I was hoping to avoid all questions relating to Jesse's involvement - wishful thinking, obviously. 'His name is Jesse. It's nothing. He's just a friend. '

  'Just a friend?' He eyes me suspiciously as my hand reaches up to find a stray tendril from my up-do.

  'Just a friend. ' I shake my head. 'Kate had a spat with Matt and thought she would shut him up with a few stretched truths. '

  'So, there is an element of truth in it then?' He raises his eyebrows.

  'No,' I need to change the subject. 'How are Mum and Dad?'

  He gives me a warning look. 'Threatening to pay a visit to London and sort you out. Mum mentioned a strange man answering your phone last week. I suspect he might be the stretched truth?'

  Okay, my attempts at diversion have failed miserably. 'Yeah, okay. Can we change the subject please?' I sound ratty.

  Dan holds his hands up in defense. 'Okay, okay. I'm just saying, be careful, Ava. '

  I sag and consider exactly what my parents will make of Jesse. Without even The Manor and his small drink issue, they still won't be happy. He is obviously older than me, he might be stinking rich, but that won't cut any cloth with Mum and Dad, and the fact that he likes a trample every now and again will not help matters. It's near on impossible to hide my frustration when he's being challenging. Mind you, his quick acceptance of my reluctance to go with him this morning might be the breakthrough I've been waiting for.

  We order coffee, water and pastries and chat about Dan's job, Australia and his future prospects. He's doing well. His friend is expanding the surf school business and wants Dan to partner him. I'm pleased for him, but quietly disappointed for my own selfish reasons. He won't be coming home anytime soon.

  'How's Kate?' he asks, while picking at the corners of his pastry. He's blatantly feigning disinterest.

  I should refrain from mentioning Sam. I can't imagine Dan would appreciate such information. I abruptly remember I've not taken my pill and start rummaging through my bag. 'She's still Kate. ' I say casually, feeling incredibly uncomfortable talking about her with Dan. It doesn't feel right anymore. I locate my pill packet and pop one out before taking it with some water, watching over my glass as Dan drops into deep thought. I need to snap him out of that immediately. 'What about you? Are there any female interests?' I ask on an arched brow, swapping my water for coffee.

  'No,' He smirks, 'Nothing permanent, anyway. '

  Oh, I can imagine. I'm about to lecture him on being a player when my mobile starts dancing around the table and Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition blares from the ringer. I smile. Is he trying to be funny? And while I'm grateful he has changed the track assigned to his number, I really do need to have a word about his telephone manners.

  It's just gone one o'clock. I thought he would be longer than this, but maybe he's still at The Manor and just checking in on me.

  'Hey, I love that track!' Dan exclaims. 'Let it ring. ' He starts singing along to it.

  I laugh. 'I just need to take this. ' I leave the table with my phone and Dan with a furrowed brow. I know he's going to be suspicious that I'm removing myself from his presence to take this call. I'll say it was Kate.

  I walk out into the sunshine. 'Hey. ' I say cheerfully.

  'Where the fuck are you?' he bellows down the phone.

  I pull it away to save my eardrums. Oh, overreaction. 'I'm with my brother, calm down. '

  'Calm down?' he yells. 'I get home and you've ran out!'

  'Stop fucking shouting!' Is this really necessary? The man is impossible. I never said I was going to be waiting around for him. Jesus Christ, I'm hurling towards the ground after being abruptly tossed off of Central Jesse Cloud Nine.

  'Watch your fucking mouth. ' he yells.

  I look up to the sky in despair. 'I've not ran out. I've come to meet my brother. He's back from Australia. ' I state calmly. 'I was supposed to see him yesterday, but I got a little caught up elsewhere. ' I didn't aim for sarcasm, but it comes naturally.

  'I apologise for inconveniencing you. ' he hisses.

  'Excuse me?' I'm stunned by his hostility.

  'How long will you be?' His tone hasn't changed; he still sounds like a pig. I might just go to Kate's now. I'm not prepared to have strips ripped off me for seeing my brother.

  'I said I would spend the day with him. '

  'Day!' he shouts. 'Why didn't you tell me?'

  Why? Because I knew he would trample it! 'Your phone interrupted me and you were sidetracked with problems at The Manor. ' I spit.

  It goes quiet down the phone, but I can still hear his laboured breathing. I can imagine he's been running around his penthouse in a frenzy searching every room. Oh hell, this is going to be hard work. That corner I thought we had turned has just been trampled.

  'Where are you?' His voice has softened slightly, but he's clearly still unhappy about my undisclosed outing.

  'I'm at a cafe. '


  There is not a chance in hell I'm telling him that. He'll turn up, I know it, and then I will be left explaining to Dan who he is and where he came from. 'It doesn't matter where. I'll be back at yours later. '

  'Come back to me, Ava. ' It's definitely a demand.

  I drop my shoulders. 'I will. '

  A silence spreads between us and I'm very abruptly reminded of the small part of Jesse that sends me crazy. Did I really wish this back?


  'I'm here. '

  'I love you. ' he says softly, but it's strained. I know he wants to rant and probably haul me back to Lusso, but he can't do that if he can't locate me.

  'I know you do, Jesse. ' I hang up and exhale an exhausted breath. I'm beginning to wish I didn't know about Jesse's alcohol issue - the issue that everyone else seems to be brushing off as no consequence, whatsoever. I, on the other hand, am now worrying myself stupid that I will push him to have another gorging session. I've always been an advocate of knowledge is power, but at the moment I'm favouring ignorance is bliss. Then, I could just hang up and think he's an unreasonable control freak and be content to let him stew. But now I know, I've hung up and I'm worried that I've just dangled the proverbial bottle of vodka under his nose.

  'Is everything okay?'

  I turn and see Dan approaching with my bag over his shoulder. I give a small smile. 'Fine. '

  'I settled the bill. Here. ' He hands me my bag.

  'Thanks. '

  'Are you all right?' He frowns.

  No, I'm bloody not. The stretched truth is stretching my patience. 'Yeah, fine. ' I plaster on a cheery face. 'So, what do you want to do?'

  'Tussauds?' he asks with a big smile.

  I return his smile. 'Absolutely, let's go. '

  He holds his arm up for me to link and off
we go. I've lost count of the amount of times we've roamed the halls of Madam Tussaud's. It's tradition. There is not one waxwork that we haven't got a photo with. We've snuck around the place, entered restricted zones and done whatever it took to get the photographs we needed to keep our scrapbook up-to-date. Childish, but it's our thing.

  We have an amazing day. I've laughed so much my cheeks ache. As it turns out, the only new waxworks' in Tussaud's are royalty. I had a photo with William and Kate, and Dan was captured squeezing The Queen's boobs. We had dinner at our favourite Chinese in China Town and a few cheeky wines in a bar. I felt slightly guilty when I took my first sip, but I could hardly ask for water - Dan would have asked why. Besides, once I got the first glass down, the second was easier.

  I hug Dan tight as we say our goodbyes at the tube. 'When are you going back?' I ask.

  'Not for a few weeks. I'm going up to Manchester tomorrow to catch up with some university friends, but I'm back in London next Sunday so I'll see you again before I leave, okay?'

  I release him from my squeeze. 'Okay. Call me as soon as you're back in London. '

  'I will, take care, yeah?' He kisses me on the cheek. 'I'm on my mobile if you need me. '

  'Okay. ' I smile. He's worried.

  He strides off and leaves me wishing he could stay forever. I've never needed him so much.

  As I enter the foyer of Lusso, Clive is on the telephone. I walk straight past his desk on my way to the lift. I really don't feel like chatting.

  'Thank you, goodbye. Ava!' he shouts after me, and I stop and roll my eyes before turning to face him.


  He shoves the phone into its cradle and hurries towards me. 'A lady stopped by. I tried calling up to Mr Ward, but he didn't answer. I'm afraid I couldn't let her up. Mature woman. '

  'A lady?' I ask. He's got my attention now.

  'Yes, nice woman with blonde wavy hair. She said it was urgent, but of course, you know the rules. ' He raises his eyebrows.

  Oh yes, I know the rules and for once I'm relieved he has stuck to the rules. Blonde, wavy hair? Not Sarah, surely. 'How mature?'

  He shrugs. 'Mid-forties. '

  Okay. I don't like Sarah but she definitely doesn't look like she's in her forties. 'What time was this, Clive?'

  He looks at his watch. 'Only half an hour ago. '

  'Did she give her name?'

  He frowns. 'No, she didn't. I met her at the gate. She was expecting to go straight up to the penthouse, but when I wouldn't let her through and said I would have to call Mr Ward, she started getting a bit vague with me. '

  'No worries, Clive. Thanks. ' I pivot and carry on towards the elevators.

  I board the lift and punch in the code. A lady? And a vague lady who thought she could march up to the penthouse unannounced?

  The elevators doors open and I step out to find Jesse's front door open. Does this man have no regard for home security? Granted, he has a twenty four hour concierge downstairs to monitor the comings and goings, and a team of security, but a bit of common sense wouldn't go a miss. I shut the door behind me and instantly feel on my guard. The sound system is playing. It's not as ear piercing as last time, but it's the track playing that has me on edge. It's the same one I walked in to last Sunday when I found Jesse drunk.


  I run through the penthouse, leaving the music on. Finding Jesse is more important than turning off the tormenting song which reminds me of that awful day. I head straight for the terrace, but he's not there. I dump my bag and take the stairs two at a time and bolt into the bedroom. Nothing. Where is he?

  Panic starts to flood me, but then I hear the shower running. I fly into the bathroom and come to an abrupt stop when I see Jesse sat on the floor of the shower, naked except for a pair of running shorts that are soaking wet and clinging to his thighs. His back is against the cold tiled wall, his knees pulled up and his arms resting on top of them. His head in slumped as the water crashes down around him.

  As if he senses I'm here, he lifts his head and meets my gaze. He smiles mildly, but he can't hide the torture in his eyes. How long has he been like this? I exhale a long breath of relief, mixed with a little exasperation, before walking straight into the shower fully clothed and settling myself in his lap, wrapping my arms and legs around his soaking body.

  He buries his head in my neck. 'I love you. '

  'I know you do. How many laps did you do?' He has done this before. He runs circles around the Royal Parks to distract himself. . . from me.

  'Three. '

  'That's too much. ' I scold him. We're talking twenty miles here. It's not a quick jog around the park to alleviate some stress. His body is not strong enough for this at the moment.

  'I freaked out when you weren't here. '

  'I kind of got that. ' I say with only a light dash of sarcasm. He shifts his hands to my hips and tweaks my hipbone. I jerk.

  'You should have told me. ' he says sternly.

  Perhaps I should have, but he probably would've trampled it, and he can't be running a marathon every time we're apart. 'I was always coming back,' I assure him. 'I can't be joined at your hip. '

  He exhales on a long breath and snuggles deeper into the crook of my neck. 'I wish you bloody could be. ' he grumbles. 'You've had a drink. '

  I suddenly feel awkward, uneasy. 'Have you eaten?' I ask, not knowing what else to say. He's probably burnt off a million calories running like Forrest Gump.

  'I'm not hungry. '

  'You need to eat, Jesse. ' I moan. 'I'll make you something. '

  He tightens his grip on me. 'Soon, I'm comfy. '

  So, I let him be comfy for a while. I sit on his lap, my dress clinging to my body, my hair sopping wet, and just let him hold me. It can't be like this every time we're apart, I'll never settle. We most certainly haven't turned a corner, and I'm sorely disappointed. What happens now?

  'I hate this song. ' I say quietly, after we've sat in a tight clinch for an age.

  'I love it. Reminds me of you. '

  'It reminds me of a man I don't like. ' I never want to hear it again.

  'I'm sorry. ' He nips at my neck, drawing his tongue up the length to my jawbone. 'My arse is dead. ' he mumbles.

  It's the longest shower I've ever had. 'I'm comfy. ' I mock. He moves his hand and grasps my hipbone, causing me to flinch and yelp. 'Stop!' I cry. 'I need to feed you!'

  'Yes, you do. And I want my Ava, stripped naked and laying on our bed so I can binge on her. ' He stands himself up with me wrapped around his body, and with little effort, considering his injured hand and depleted body.

  My Ava? That's fine. Our bed? I will file that away for now.

  'I'm all for that, but I need to feed my man. ' I've already caused him to run himself into the ground with no fuel in his body. I'm not going to be the cause of him starving to death as well. 'Food now, loving later. '

  'Loving now, food later. ' he challenges as he walks us out of the shower and positions me on the vanity unit.

  'I'm feeding you. End of. ' I inform him sternly. I mean it. 'Where's your bandage?' I ask.

  'End of, ah?' He picks a bath sheet up from the pile on the shelf and starts rubbing the wetness from my hair with his good hand. It could do with a shampoo and condition. 'It was getting in my way. ' He brushes off my worry.

  I start to shiver, my clinging dress rubbing on the goose bumps that are engulfing me. Jesse drapes the towel around my back and uses the corners to pull me into him, kissing me hard on the lips. I catch him wince.

  'Yes, end of. My man is rubbing off on me. '

  'Your man wants to rub onto you. ' he whispers, pushing his groin into my thigh and taking my mouth gently.

  'Please, let me feed you. '

  He pulls back on a little pout. 'Okay, food now, loving later. '

  Another submission? This certainly is progress. Nothing usually gets in the way of him taking me where
ver and however he pleases. 'How's your hand?' I ask.

  He flicks his eyes to his fist that's clenching the corner of the towel. 'Not bad. I was a good boy and put some ice on it. '

  'You brave boy!'

  He smirks and nuzzles our noses, then kisses my forehead. 'Come on, you need some dry clothes. ' He goes to lift me off the unit, but I brush him away. 'Hey. ' He scowls at me.

  'Your hand. It's never going to heal if you're hoofing me all over the place. ' I jump down, kick my sodden ballet pumps off and undo the side zip of my dress before pulling it over my head. I'm then thrown up over his shoulder and carried out of the bathroom.

  'I like hoofing you about. ' he declares, chucking me onto the middle of the bed. 'Where's your stuff?'

  'In the spare room. ' I say, recovering from my flight.

  He makes a point of demonstrating his disgust with an audible grumble before he stalks out of the room and returns moments later with all of my stuff spread between his good hand, under his arms and in his mouth. He dumps it all on the bed. 'There. '

  I reach into my bag and retrieve some clean knickers and my oversized, black sweatshirt, but my comfortable cotton knickers are soon snatched out of my hand. I frown as I watch him riffle through my bag and pull out a pair of lace replacements.

  He hands them to me. 'Always in lace. ' He nods in approval to his own demand, and I comply without hesitation or complaint, putting the lace knickers on, and then my oversized jumper. I watch as Jesse ditches the wet shorts and swaps them for a blue jersey pair. I can see new definition in his back and arms as his muscles roll and flex when he pulls them up. I sit and admire from my position on the bed before he picks me up again and carries me down to the kitchen.

  First, I turn the music off on a little shudder, then I stand in front of the fridge scanning the shelves. 'What do you want?' Maybe some eggs, he could probably use the protein.

  'I don't mind, I'll have what you're having. ' He comes up from behind and reaches past me to grab a jar of peanut butter, dropping his lips to my neck.

  'Put that back!' I make a grab for the jar, but he evades me and beats a hasty retreat to the barstool, shoves the jar under his arm to unscrew the cap before dipping his finger in to scoop a dollop out. He smirks at me as he slides his finger into his mouth and forms an O with his lips as he pulls it out.

  'You're a child. ' I settle on chicken fillets, grabbing them from the fridge. I've already eaten, but I'm going to have to tuck some more away if it means he will eat with me.

  'I'm a child because I like peanut butter?' he asks over his finger.

  'No, you're a child because of the way you eat peanut butter. No one over the age of ten should finger dip jars and as I'm being kept in the dark over your age, I assume that you are over ten. ' I fire a disgusted look at him as I find the tinfoil and wrap the chicken up with some Parma ham, then put them in an oven dish.

  'Don't knock it until you've tried it. Here. ' He thrusts his peanut butter covered finger over the island and into my line of vision. I screw my face up. I detest peanut butter.

  'Pass. ' I say, putting the chicken in the oven. He shrugs and then licks it off himself.

  I get some sugar snap peas and new potatoes from the fridge and load them into the built in steamer, then fiddle with a few knobs before it kicks into action.

  Lifting myself up on to the worktop, I watch him on a small smile. 'Enjoying that?'

  He pauses mid-scoop and looks up at me. 'I can eat the stuff until I feel sick. ' Another finger goes in.

  'Do you feel sick?'

  'No, not yet. '

  'Do you want to stop now before you do and save some room for the well-balanced meal I'm making you?' I fight to prevent a grin.

  He doesn't. He smirks and slowly screws the lid back on. 'Why, baby, are you nagging me?'

  'No, I'm asking you a question. ' I correct him. I don't ever want to be a nag.

  He starts chewing his bottom lip, watching me carefully, his eyes dancing. I shiver from top to toe. I know that look. 'I like your sweatshirt,' he says quietly, running his eyes down my front to my bare legs. It's oversized and it covers my bum. It's hardly sexy. 'I like black on you. ' he adds.

  'You do?'

  'I do. ' he asserts quietly. He's going to distract me again. I need to get some proper food in him and we need to discuss the fact that it is Monday tomorrow and I'm going to have to go home and to work. After his sly stunt of depositing a stupidly over-the-top advance payment into Rococo Union's bank account, I'm concerned that he'll maintain his previous unreasonable request to have me working at The Manor all day everyday.

  'It's Monday tomorrow. ' I say positively. I don't know why I choose that tone. Positive as opposed to what?

  'And?' He folds his arms over his chest.

  What do I say? Would it be too much to ask him to be reasonable about my requirement to tend to other clients? He has openly admitted he doesn't like sharing me, socially or professionally.

  I drum my fingers on the worktop next to me. 'And nothing, I was just wondering what you might have planned?'

  I see a fleeting look of panic sweeps over his stubbled face, and I'm instantly worried that tomorrow is going to be a trauma. 'What have you got planned?' he asks.

  I look at him like he's a dumb arse. 'Work. ' I answer, watching as he starts chewing his bottom lip and those bloody cogs start turning again. There is no way he's going to convince me not to work. 'Don't even think about it. I've important meetings to keep. ' I warn, before he has a chance to spit out what I know he is thinking.

  'Just one day?' He pouts at me playfully, but I know he is deadly serious. I'm bracing myself for a countdown or a sense fuck.

  'No, you must have lots to catch up on at The Manor. ' I affirm assertively. He does have a business to run and he's been unconscious for a whole working week. John can't be expected to run things forever.

  'I suppose so. ' he grumbles.

  I mentally cheer. No countdown? No sense fuck? We really are moving forward.

  'Oh, Clive said there was a woman here earlier. ' I completely forgot about that.

  'He did?' He looks surprised.

  'He said that she was trying to get up to the penthouse. She wouldn't give her name and you didn't answer your phone when Clive tried to call you. Blonde woman. Mature. Wavy hair. ' I watch for his reaction, but he just frowns.

  'I'll have a word with him. Is my well-balanced meal ready yet?'

  That's it? He'll have a word with Clive? I want to know who she is. 'Who was it?' I ask casually, as I get down from the worktop to check the steamer.

  'No idea. ' He jumps up himself and gets some cutlery from the drawer.

  Is he avoiding this? 'You really don't have any idea?' I ask doubtfully, while removing the chicken from the oven and putting it in the pan to finish it off.

  'Ava. I really have no idea, but I assure you, I will speak to Clive and see if I can establish who she was. Now, feed your man. ' He sits back down and holds his knife and fork in his hands, upright from the counter. If he bangs them on the table, I'll wrap them around his head.

  I go about serving up and present him with the first meal I have ever made him. I hate cooking.

  He tucks straight in. 'Yum. ' he mumbles around a mouthful of chicken. 'How was your day with your brother?'

  Better if he hadn't of interrupted me with a meltdown. 'Fine. ' I answer, sitting next to him.

  'Just fine? This is really good. '

  It's good to see him eat something other than peanut butter. He's like a different man again - so confident and self-assured, but in the next breath he's falling to pieces. Do I really have that much of an impact on him?

  'We had a great day. We did Madame Tussaud's and went to dinner at our favourite Chinese. ' This chicken really is good. I can't believe I'm eating more.


  'Yeah, it's our thing. ' I shrug.
r />   'It's nice to have a thing. ' He sounds sincere. 'You've eaten already?' He looks at my plate and I blush. 'Are you eating for two?' he asks, looking up at me. I nearly choke on a potato.

  'No!' I splutter around my food. I've already told him there's no chance. I wish he would stop fretting. 'Stop worrying. ' I grumble, returning to my dinner.

  He continues eating while making appreciative sounds around his fork every now and again. I would think he might be taking the piss, but I've tasted it - it's good.

  Once we're done, I load the dishwasher and my thoughts start drifting. Him brushing off the mystery visitor is eating away at me. He's being vague and it's bothering me.

  I turn to challenge him and crash straight into his hard, naked chest. 'Oh!'

  He towers over me, breathing hard, and my eyes weld to his huge erection tenting the front of his jersey shorts. 'Lose the sweater. ' he demands, his voice low and husky.

  I look up into his green eyes and wisely note that he's not in a fucking about mood. I want to bring to his attention that I'm not happy about his evasion of my enquiry, but I know it will get me entirely nowhere right now. Besides, I'm absolutely delighted to see my domineering man back. It's been too long.

  I grasp the hem of my sweatshirt and slowly draw it up over my head and then drop it to the ground.

  He runs his eyes appreciatively down my body, over my exposed breasts and settles his gaze on the juncture of my thighs. 'You're impossibly beautiful and all mine. ' He links his fingers into the top of my knickers and slowly drags them down my legs, falling to his knees as he does.

  He taps to lift my foot and then repeats on the other before wrapping his big hands around my ankles. I want to tell him to watch his hand, but his hot touch on my sensitive skin has just released a thunderstorm at my core and a tidal wave of liquid to between my thighs. I look down at him and see my chest lifting noticeably with my deep breaths. He sparks the most incredible reactions in me. I'm defenseless to him. It's hopeless. I'm hopeless.

  His eyes find mine. 'I think I'll let you come first. ' His voice is gravelly. 'Then I'm going to rip you clean in half. '

  I gasp at his fierce promise as he runs his palms the full length of my legs, from my ankles to the back of my thighs, and then yanks me onto his waiting mouth. His invasion of me reduces me to a moaning mess in his grasp as he works his tongue over every part of me - expertly, meaningfully. My hands find his hair and my hips roll onto his mouth, with no encouragement from my brain.

  My head falls back. 'Oh shit. ' I groan, the thrum at my sex accelerating into a constant vibration.

  'Mouth. ' he mumbles against my flesh, which only serves to propel me that little bit closer to utter ecstasy.

  I feel one of his hands move from the back of my leg and slide up the inside of my thigh. His finger slips inside me. On a desperate cry, I release his head to lean back on the worktop for support, his circling finger stretching me and brushing my front wall on each rotation. I'm buzzing, my muscles grabbing onto his finger greedily.

  'Tell me when, Ava. ' He replaces one finger with two and pushes deeper into me.

  That, and the vibration of his lips on my clitoris, finishes me off. 'That's it. ' I cry, pushing my hips forward onto his mouth in an attempt to take the edge off the peak.

  I'm wiped out from the onslaught of his mouth, and I sag against the worktop on a violent round of shakes, my heart clattering in my chest. He reins in his rhythm and laps gently, letting me drift down on a long, satisfied sigh.

  'You're too good. ' I drop my head down to find his eyes.

  He looks up, but keeps his mouth on me, circling gently and thrusting his fingers lazily in and out. 'I know,' he gloats. 'Aren't you lucky?'

  I shake my head at his self-assuredness and have a little mental sulk when I imagine, again, why he is so good. I snap a lid on that immediately, wiping my mind of all unpleasant thoughts relating to Jesse's sexual past. Instead, I watch him slowly crawl up my body, trailing his tongue as he goes.

  He reaches my nipple, bites it lightly, and then clasps his arm under my bum, lifting me so I'm eye level with him. 'Are you ready to be fucked good and proper, baby?'

  'Knock yourself out. ' I challenge, draping my arms over his shoulders.

  He smashes his lips against mine possessively and attacks my mouth. When he's like this, I forget about his weak moments - the moments when I'm comforting him, holding him and reassuring him. Not at the moment, though. Right now, he is brutally sexy and domineering. I love it, and I've really, really missed it.

  He keeps our mouths fused as he carries me out of the kitchen and towards the gym.

  The Gym?

  He kicks the door open and sets me on my feet as he leans down to maintain our kiss and accommodate our height difference. He bites my bottom lip gently and starts walking forward, prompting me to step back in time with his advance. After a few steps, he stops and kisses up to my ear, his hot breath igniting all of my senses. I'm mentally begging for him.

  'Fancy a work out?' he whispers.

  'What did you have in mind?' I nuzzle my cheek into him as he laps at my ear, causing the heartbeat at my core to kick in again, subtle and slow. He steps back from me and the absence of his warm body in front of mine leaves me chilly, wanting to pull him back to me.

  Casting my eyes around the gym, I wonder what he's got planned. My stare falls back to Jesse. He's watching me with promising, lust filled eyes, as he reaches for his shorts and pushes them down his legs, his arousal springing free.

  I gasp. I don't know why, I've seen it enough times, but it still makes my breath hitch. I glide my eyes up, past his scar and to his perfect pecs. I will never tire of staring at the fine physique of the man who is stood in front of me - not ever. He's a work of art, carefully sculptured and polished to complete perfection.

  He nods behind me and I slowly pivot, but all I see is the rowing machine and his punch bag. I turn back and face him. His face is completely impassive, and he slowly nods again, indicating that what he has in mind is, indeed, behind me.

  It dawns on me. He said he was going to rip me in half.

  Oh good Lord!

  'Oh. ' I whisper.

  He starts walking slowly towards me and the potential of his intention has me fidgeting on the spot. Taking my hand, he leads me to the rowing machine and then lowers his big, naked body so he is sitting on the seat. His erection stands up vertical from his body and the prospect of this scenario suddenly has me panting with anticipation.

  I'm tugged forward to stand in front of him, and he reaches forward with his injured hand to guide my leg over the runner so I'm straddling his legs. I look down at him, my heart kicking into its maximum speed limit as I wait for his next instruction.

  He reaches up and cups my breasts with his big palms and softly, slowly massages them until they ache with heaviness. I don't miss the small wince on his face, but he doesn't stop, and I'm not about to try and stop him myself.

  'Hmmm. ' My head rolls back and my lips part, letting out short, rapid rushes of air.

  'Ava, you fucking kill me. ' he says quietly. I pull my head down so our eyes meet. 'I love you. ' he whispers, sliding his hands down to rest on my hips. I jerk and the corner of his mouth twitches. 'I love how you flinch when I touch you here. ' He circles his index fingers in the sensitive hollows. I struggle to keep my legs steady. 'I love how wet you are for me here. ' He slides his finger into me and drags the wetness out and over my lips.

  I moan.

  'I love how you taste. ' He slips his finger into his mouth and pulls it out slowly while he watches me, then taking my hand again, he tugs me towards him and guides me down onto his waiting arousal.

  I cry out when he impales me, the thick hardness of him completely spearing me.

  He rests his forehead against mine. 'I love how it feels to be inside you. ' He locks his hands around my lower back. 'Wrap your legs around me.
' he demands.

  I hook my legs around his waist and loop my ankles, pulling me in closer to him. His breath falters as I reach forward and place my hands on the front of his shoulders.

  'I. love. you. ' he states firmly as he begins to slide us slowly forward on the seat, the abrupt halt at the end of the runner causing me to jerk slightly on a small cry.

  His eyes clench shut.

  Yes, now I am beginning to see the benefits of this. His penetration is deep, but it won't take many of these slides and hits to have me begging to let go.

  When he opens his eyes, I lower my mouth to his and he accommodates my demand for mouth contact. I love his mouth. I love what he can do with his mouth. I love the words and the tones that come out of his mouth. I love the way he chews his bottom lip when deliberating something important to him.

  'I love you. ' I say against his lips.

  He pulls back, his handsome face looking content. 'I can't tell you how happy that makes me. ' He slowly slides us back up the runner. 'Do you need me?'

  I brace myself for the jolt that I know will come and when it does, we both moan together. 'I need you. '

  'That makes me happy too. Again?' he asks, but he's already on his way back down the runner.

  'Please. ' We jolt again at the end of the line. 'Wow!' I blurt as the ache in my stomach transforms into a slow climb to climax.

  We're travelling back up the runner, a bit faster this time.



  'I know,' he whispers. 'More?'

  'Yes!' I plunge my tongue into his mouth desperately.

  He slides us down slowly, but doesn't let it hit the end this time. Instead, he pushes off with his feet and sends us gliding up the runner. We hit the end with such force, our bodies collide hard and I have to release his lips and bury my face in his shoulder on a choked scream.

  'Oh shit!' he strains and repeats the same delicious move.

  Slide and hit!

  This is intense. I've never felt him so deep. I rest my mouth on his shoulder, resisting the urge to clamp onto him with my teeth, my hands moving onto the back of his head to hold me steady as he slides us back down the runner, ready for another crash to the top. My insides are furling, and I can feel him twitching and kicking inside me. He catapults us back up the runner and when we hit the top, my teeth sink into his shoulder and I cry out in pure, exquisite pleasure.

  'Fuck, Ava!'

  I release my teeth and kiss my bite mark as we descend again.

  'Get your teeth back into my shoulder. ' he pants.

  Oh, he likes it. I recall many times when I have bit him and stabbed him with my nails. I do as I'm bid and moan against him as I bite his shoulder on a crash.

  'Shit, I'm going to come,' he yells, letting us roll back down the runner. 'You ready?'

  'Yes!' I wrap my mouth around his shoulder and clamp my teeth lightly, ready for his assault.

  He lets loose.

  There are no more controlled movements. He slides and crashes us relentlessly as I clamp onto him with my teeth and fingernails. The intensity of his muscled length pounding me deeply has me screaming his name against his shoulder. I start to feel fireworks fizzing as he continues with the slides and hits, pushing me towards ultimate detonation. The relentless throbbing and beating of his erection deep inside me has me sprinting to the finish and I'm gone, pushed into ecstasy on a loud crash and a cry from both of us. I sink my teeth in once more, sending Jesse into a bucking fit as his hips fly up and he shouts loudly.

  Oh my God.

  I'm still pulsing and riding out my orgasm when I'm vaguely aware of being gently rocked back and forth, the slight motion draining everything he has to give me.

  I pull my face away from his shoulder and plant a kiss on the bite mark.

  'You're a savage, lady. ' He twists his head to take a look at himself, and then his eyes flick to mine.

  Taking possession of my mouth, he kisses me deeply and I squeeze him in my arms, joining him in his blissful oblivion. I could stay like this forever, completely encased in Jesse.

  'I'm going to take you to bed and sleep all night buried deep inside you. ' He slowly begins to lift, keeping us connected. 'Kiss me, now. ' he commands as he starts striding out of the gym with me wrapped around his waist. I run my hands through his hair and gently yank it before slowly lowering my lips to his.

  'Savage. ' he says against my lips.

  I smirk and open my eyes as he takes the stairs, finding him staring at me as our tongues dance leisurely between our mouths. I hold his eyes with mine the entire way to the bedroom where he lowers me to the bed under him. I can feel him hardening inside me again. This man is relentless.

  Hooking his arm under my lower back, he shifts me up the bed until my head finds a pillow, our mouths and bodies remaining locked the whole journey.

  'Stay with me. ' he says, pulling back and brushing my hair away from my face. He studies me intently, his eyes sparkling with satisfaction at having me in his arms.

  'I'm here. '

  'Move in with me. ' He drops his face and circles my nose with his.

  Oh? Does this man know the meaning of the word gradual? He's being a bit hasty, and we still haven't discussed any of the more important stuff - like The Manor and work and his challenging ways.

  'I want you here when I go to sleep. ' He licks my bottom lip. 'And I want you here when I wake up. Starting and ending my day with you is all I need. '

  Now, I'm fully aware that if I don't give the answer he wants, I'm facing an attack of the sulks or a sense fuck, and I don't want to spoil this moment. I need this moment. 'Do you not think this is all a bit soon?' I ask.

  He pulls his face up, his expression not quite sulky, but well on its way. 'You obviously do. '

  'It's been two days. ' I try to reason with him.

  He frowns. 'Two days since what?' He lifts his torso up and slips out from me a little, planting his forearms into the mattress on either side of my head. He plunges forward and my breath catches in my throat. 'I want this every morning and every night. ' He smirks, knowing damn well what he's doing to me. He's going to hit me with a sense fuck. 'And maybe a bit in between. ' He lazily pulls back and slowly pushes forward again. I clench my eyes closed. I'm not fooled that he is about to make love to me. Maybe, if I agree, I'll get gentle Jesse, but I'm really not sure about living with him.

  'You only want me for my body. ' I feign shock on a rushed breath.

  He gasps and drives long and controlled into me. 'You don't want this?'

  I throw my head back and moan. 'You don't play fair, Mr Ward. '

  He withdraws slowly. 'Say yes!' he shouts as he pounds forward, knocking the wind right out of me, forcing my arms to fly back to brace myself on the headboard. 'Have I got to fuck some sense into you, Ava?'

  Oh, here it comes. He's going to fuck some sense into me that makes no sense at all. Moving in with him? It's way too soon.

  My muscles tighten and my blood heats, sailing through my veins at a ridiculous speed. I hate that he does this to me. All sensibility is well and truly derailed. 'No!' I snap, and he thunders into me again, grunting as he does. He reaches forward with his bad hand and slides his palm under the back of my head, pulling me up to face him. I'm not sure if the scowl on his face is because he's mad or because his hand is hurting.

  'Say it. ' he orders and then charges forward again.

  I'm not going to give in on this. It really is too soon. He won't stop this; he's too far gone himself. 'No. ' I state firmly and precisely on a pant.

  He growls and hammers forward, pounding mercifully into me. I grip onto him with the muscles of my womb as he forces me further up the bed. 'Fucking hell, say it, Ava!' he roars. A bead of sweat trails down his temple and his frown line jumps into position.


  'Ava!' he shouts, and it echoes around the bedroom before he smashes our m
ouths together viciously. I buck and writher under his forceful body and greedy mouth as my pending release simmers low in my groin. 'You like that?' he gasps against my mouth as he persists with his relentless pounds.


  'You want this every day?'

  'Yes!' I cry. I really do!

  He yanks my hair tighter and grinds his hips harder. 'Say it then. ' he growls. I feel the wound up coils snapping inside me as I fly into a bottom pit of pure pleasure beneath him. All reason is lost as he takes ownership of my body, soul and mind.

  'Yes! Yes! Yes! Fucking hell. Yes!' I scream.

  'Watch your fucking mouth!' His booming voice is piercing as he joins me in my pleasure and releases my hair before punching his fist into the mattress. That had to hurt! He pushes himself into me as deep as he can and holds himself there, his head rolling back.

  He groans.

  I feel his hot release pumping deep into me, and I bring my hands down from the headboard to rest on his chest. His head drops, his eyes find mine and he slowly circles his hips against me, easing us both down.

  'That wasn't so hard, was it?' His voice is hoarse and dry.

  I smooth his solid chest under my palms. 'I was under the influence. ' I say, and then mentally slap myself for my poor choice of words.

  He can't hold me to this, surely. But then I realise. . . this is Jesse, my unreasonable control freak. He can, and he will.

  He smiles a glorious, full smile and kisses me tenderly, then rolls us over so I'm sprawled across this chest. His finger traces the column of my spine and he smoothes my hair. I snuggle happily into him.

  He sighs.

  'I can't be with you every second of the day. ' I say thoughtfully, though how I feel right now, it's tempting. Why wouldn't I want this day and night, and a little bit between as well?

  He exhales, long and wearily. 'I know you can't. I wish you could. '

  'I have a job, a life. '

  'I want to be your life. ' he says quietly.

  'You are. ' I argue softly. He can be so vulnerable and delicate, and I know I'm the answer to that. It is miles away from the domineering brute who just fucked some sense into me. Is it sense, though, or just pure craziness?

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