Beneath this man, p.7
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       Beneath This Man, p.7

         Part #2 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Chapter 7

 

  I'm freezing cold. I wince at the invasion of light that's attacking my eyes as I open them and bolt upright in bed.

  Where is he?

  I brush my hair out of my face, jump out of bed and rush into the bathroom. He's not there. In a blind panic, I hot foot it downstairs and skid to a stop at the kitchen entrance.

  'Morning. ' He puts his coffee down and gets up from the island, walking casually towards me. It's like I'm looking at a different man. Have I dreamt the last couple of days?

  He is fully clad in a charcoal grey suit, crisp white shirt and a soft pink tie. He's clean shaven, his messy blonde hair has been manipulated to the side and his green eyes are twinkling in delight. He looks stunning.

  'Urh. . . morning. ' I stutter. I'm confused.

  He reaches for me and wraps an arm around my waist, then hoists me off my feet and up to his lips. 'Sleep well?' he asks, brushing his lips against mine.

  'Hmmm. ' I hum. I'm staggered. I was sure that I would be set for battle this morning with Mr Challenging.

  'You see, this is exactly why I want you here morning, noon and night. ' he muses.

  'Why?' I ask on a frown. So he can do this every morning? Maybe moving in with him wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.

  He lets me slide down his front, then stands back to look me up and down. He clasps his newly shaved chin with his bad hand and arches a brow on a mild grin.

  Oh fucking hell! I'm naked!

  'Shit!' I turn and make a hasty retreat to the stairs.

  I don't get very far. He catches me halfway up, wrapping his arm around my waist and lifting me from my feet. 'Watch your mouth!' He turns and takes me back to the kitchen, sitting me on the breakfast bar.

  'Oh!' I yelp, as the coldness of the marble spreads across my bare backside.

  He laughs and separates my thighs before settling himself between them. 'I want you to come down for breakfast every morning just like this. ' He trails his finger from my knee to the apex of my thighs. I'm more than awake now. I'm tense too.

  'You're confident I'm going to be here every morning. ' I say as casually as any woman can when a God-like creature is lightly brushing his forefinger across her pubic hair. I'm trying to display a cool and casual demeanor, but I'm rigid, and he knows it. Anyway, he can't hold me to things when I've agreed to them mid-orgasm.

  He's fighting a grin. 'I am confident, because you said yes. Or was it. . . ' He looks up to the ceiling in deep thought and then back at me. 'Oh, I remember. It was. . . yes, yes, yes, fucking hell, yes!' He loses the battle to restrain his grin and the corner of his mouth lifts cheekily as he slips his finger inside me.

  I tense further. 'I was caught at a weak moment. ' I can't hide the lust in my voice. He's got me.

  He circles his thumb over my clitoris and my leg muscles start aching. I shift on the worktop slightly to give him better access. I'm so bloody easy.

  'Do I need to remind you why it was a good decision?' he asks, and then takes my lips, trading one finger for two and plunging straight into me, whipping me into a desperate, wanton state.

  No he doesn't. It's nonsensical, but I'll take the reminder. I grab his suit jacket, clench my fists and moan into his mouth. I feel him grin against my lips before he releases them and pushes me down on the worktop. The coldness of the marble radiates through me, but I'm beyond caring about a little coldness against my bare skin. I need him. . . again.

  With his eyes burning into mine, he undoes his belt and trousers urgently then yanks his boxers down, freeing his morning erection. In a coordinated set of moves, he clasps me under my thighs and pulls me forward onto his waiting cock.

  'This is another reason. ' he growls, pulling back and then hurling forward.

  'Oh God! Jesse!' I drop my head back onto the worktop and arch my back into him. Oh good Lord, he has the moves. He starts a punishing rhythm of drives that have me clamping my hands on the edge of the worktop to stop myself riding up the marble. His breathing is hard and loud, and he lets a gruff bawl escape his lips on each advance.

  'Fuck! You feel perfect, baby. ' He rams forward again, hitting me hard, a despairing yelp bursting from my mouth.

  I don't know what to do with myself; he's relentless with his momentum as he charges forward over and over and over. I'm dizzy. He places his hand on my breast and massages hard, all in time with his solid thrusts.

  'Remember yet?' he barks, but I can't answer. Speech has totally evaded me. With each powerful drive, he is edging me closer and closer. I inhale and hold my breath as I reach the summit of my build up. 'Answer the question, Ava,' he demands. 'Now!'

  'Yes!'

  'You're staying with me?' His grip of my breast tightens, his hips powering forward relentlessly.

  'Oh God! Oh God! Jesse!'

  'Answer the fucking question, Ava!' His unremitting blows are sending me wild, my head spinning, my core trembling violently.

  'Yes!' I scream on a rushed release of air as I'm rocketed skyward in a deliriously wonderful sensation of satisfaction, buzzing from top to toe, my back arching, my body in fits of spasms.

  'Oh yes!' He collapses on top of me, pinning me to the worktop.

  I flop my arms above my head on an exhausted sigh and let my muscles naturally contract around him as we lay panting and sweating on the island. I'm completely and utterly shattered. I could go back to bed, but I've got to go to work and not that I would admit it to Jesse, I really don't want to. I would rather he carry me upstairs and love me all day long - maybe longer.

  'Morning. ' I say between pants.

  He lifts his head up to look at me. 'God, I fucking love you. '

  'I know you do. You shaved. ' I breathe. I really could go back to bed. I feel like I've been on one of his torturous runs.

  'You want me to grow it back?'

  I reach up and run my palm down his newly smoothed face. 'No, I like seeing all of you. '

  He turns his face into my palm and kisses it, then pushes himself up and plants a kiss on my stomach before withdrawing from me to sort his trousers out.

  He stares down at me as he refastens his belt then wipes his moist, lush lips with the back of his hand. 'I've got to go. Get out of my sight before I take you again,' He clasps my hand and pulls me off the counter before dropping a long sensual kiss on my lips. 'Now. '

  I debate remaining exactly where I am - I want more, but he seems content with getting on with his day without me and that has to be a good thing. I don't want to derail him, so I saunter off butt naked and well aware that he's watching me. I stop at the archway and turn to face him, finding him standing with his hands in his pockets, legs spread slightly, his eyes twinkling. He's studying me very carefully.

  'Have a nice day. ' I smile, reaching down and running my finger over my moist cleft, and then up to my mouth. Oh, I really am a little temptress.

  'Fuck off, Ava. ' he warns.

  I grin and pivot, taking myself upstairs. I am such a slut! But I don't care. I'm pleasantly surprised by his happy persona this morning. I had been bracing myself for a challenge, trying to get myself out of the penthouse Jesse-free and on with my working day. This is progress. I'm pleased.

  It's Monday and I have a lot of work to sort out. I feel powerful and I need to power dress to enhance my confident attitude. Thank God Kate took the initiative to pack some work clothes and. . . my black, sleeveless pencil dress.

  I shower and make the best job I can with my hair before slipping my dress on and grabbing my red heels on the way downstairs, but I come to an abrupt halt at the door.

  Shit!

  I haven't got my car and some of the files I need are in there. I exit the penthouse hastily and race downstairs to find Clive taking a delivery outside the foyer. I run out into the sunshine towards him while putting my shades on. 'Clive, I need a cab!'

  'Ava, how are you this morning?' He beams at me. 'Your tran
sport is here. '

  'My transport?'

  He points towards a black Range Rover, and I see John leaning against the hood on his phone. He has his customary shades on and his black suit. He nods at me, as per his usual greeting.

  I start walking towards him, but remember something. I swing back to face Clive. 'Did Jesse speak to you about the visitor he had yesterday?'

  'No, Ava. ' Clive makes his way back to his desk.

  Hmmm. I thought not. I carry on my way and as I approach John, I catch the tail end of his conversation.

  'She's here, Jesse, I'll be there soon. ' His rumbling voice always makes him sound like he's in a bad mood. He hangs up and nods at the car, his indication that he wants me to get in.

  I take myself around the front and climb in. If I wasn't in such a rush, I would probably complain. 'Why are you here?' I ask as I settle in the passenger seat.

  'Jesse asked me to take you to work. ' He doesn't sound impressed.

  I don't want to put him out. Jesse must have realised before me that my car wasn't here, but I could have just got a cab. There's no need to arrange lifts for me and anyway, why didn't he just hang around and take me himself?

  'I need to get my car. Do you mind? It's at Kate's, she lives in Notting Hill. '

  He nods his acceptance, lets his window down and leans his arm on the frame. He looks like one mean mother fucker. I wonder how he and Jesse know each other. Yes, he works for Jesse, but he seems to be in the know about the drink problem too, or lack of problem - whichever. A million questions dance on my lips, but I resist asking him. If there is one thing I do know about Big John, it's that he's not a big talker, but then one question just shoots right out.

  'Did you get the gates sorted?'

  His face turns slowly towards me and I see his forehead slightly wrinkled, an indication that he's frowning. I hold his stare, but he still doesn't answer.

  'The gates of The Manor. ' I prompt. 'They malfunctioned last Sunday. '

  He starts nodding and turns his face back to the road. 'All sorted, girl. '

  I bet they are. Does John know what I'm thinking?

  We travel in silence, except for John's humming, and he drops me at Kate's. 'Thanks, John. ' I call, jumping out of his car.

  'S'all good. ' he rumbles, and he's gone.

  It's eight. I have time, so I run up the path to Kate's house.

  I head straight through to find her whisking a gigantic bowl of sugar and butter. 'Hey. ' I dunk my finger in her bowl.

  She swats it with her spoon. 'Out! I've got so much to do! I got absolutely nothing done yesterday. ' She's really flustered which is a million miles away from her usual calm and collective façade. What's got her in this state?

  'Oh yeah?' I smirk.

  'Fun!' she snaps, tipping flour onto the measuring scales. I take the sensible decision to leave it right there. 'How's your brother?' she asks.

  Oh, we've gone from Dan to brother? 'He's good. ' I won't go into too many details.

  'Jesse?' she asks, her tongue hanging out as she bends down to gage the scales.

  'Yeah,' I flop down into one of the tub chairs.

  She straightens up and looks at me questioningly. I haven't got time at the moment to go into too many details, there is far too much to get her opinion on.

  'Ava?'

  I sigh. 'He wants me to move in. I said yes, but that's only because he fucked some so called sense into me after I said no. He followed it up with a reminder fuck this morning. ' I shrug.

  Kate gapes at me. 'Wow!'

  I laugh, 'Yes. '

  'Isn't it a bit soon?' she asks.

  The question shocks me, but I'm glad she's of the same mindset as me. 'I think so. He wants me day and night and a little bit in between. He's bad enough already, with his demands, control and worrying. I can't lose my identity. '

  'Well said. Have you told him this?' She tosses the flour into the bowl and starts mixing again.

  'No. Hey what went down at The Manor on Saturday night and why didn't you answer any of my calls?' I fire the questions accusingly.

  She shoots her bright blues to mine. 'Nothing!' she barks defensively. 'I forgot to call you back. '

  I'm immediately suspicious. 'I was referring to the police turning up. ' I say with a raised brow. She was a bit quick to shoot that answer at me. What has she been up to?

  'Oh!' She gets all flustered and flappy as she returns to mixing her cake mixture a little too frantically. 'I don't know. Jesse turned up and the police left shortly after. '

  'Hey, chick!'

  Sam's cheerful voice comes from the doorway and we both look up in unison.

  I cough, looking anywhere and everywhere, except at Sam. 'Hi. ' I wave a flappy hand in his direction. He's a nightmare. I feel my face burning up as I glance at Kate in desperation, silently begging her to do something about the cheeky sod.

  'Samuel, put some clothes on. ' Kate scorns him on a small smile.

  'I've come to help. ' he whines.

  I continue to direct my eyes all over Kate's workshop to avoid him. Jesse was right, he is an exhibitionist. He's completely naked, except for one of Kate's miniscule Cath Kidston aprons, and as he walks past me, my eyes drift and I get a right eyeful of his tight, naked butt.

  'You've already put me way behind. ' Kate moans, slapping his naked rump with a spatula full of cake mixture.

  'I hope you're going to dispose of that now!' I laugh. She shrugs and starts licking the spatula on a smile. She's enjoying my discomfort.

  Sam turns to face me with the biggest grin on his cheeky face, clearly enjoying my embarrassment too. And then he bends slightly, shoving his arse in Kate's face. 'Now you're going to have to lick it all off. '

  I jump out of the tub chair in a complete fluster. 'I'd better be going. ' I blurt, my voice high and squeaky. I don't want to witness the impending clean-up operation of Sam's caked buttocks.

  'See ya!' Kate laughs as I make my escape.

  'Hey, how's my buddy?' Sam calls.

  I don't look back for fear of what I might see. 'Fine!' I shout, slamming the door behind me. Kate's short, curt response to my enquiries about The Manor is making my head spin. I don't want to even think what I'm thinking.

  I drive myself to work. I would've just grabbed my files and jumped on the tube, but I plan on collecting my remaining belongings from Matt after work. That chore, I am not looking forward to. I've been putting it off all week in light of his telephone call to my parents. I've not spoke to him about it, and I don't plan to either. What would be the point? I don't want to get into a spitting match with him and in fact, I don't ever want to see him again. Not after today, anyway.

  I arrive at the office on time to a huge bunch of calla lilies lay across my desk. I sigh. How does he arrange flowers so quickly?

  I find the card.

  You're a savage and a tease.

  You drive me crazy,

  I love you.

  Jx

  I drive him crazy? The man is delusional. I fire a quick text to him;

  I know u do. Flowers r beautiful. Thank u for the ride. . . 2 work. Ax

  I settle at my desk and bring up my email and list of things to do, but I'm quickly distracted from my work when I remember that I've not taken my pill. I grab my bag from the floor and rummage through.

  After a good few minutes of searching, I have my bag turned upside down on the desk and everything sprawled all over the place.

  'Shit shit shit!' I curse. Please, not again.

  'Morning, flower. ' Patrick strolls into the office.

  'Morning,' I don't look up from my futile searching. I deserve a medal for being so bloody careless. 'Did you have a good weekend?' I ask, scrunching up a handful of loose receipts and chucking them in my wastepaper bin.

  Patrick grunts a few times. 'No, I bloody didn't. Look!'

  I drag my attention from the pile
of handbag crap all over my desk to see what I'm supposed to be looking at. 'What?' I ask. He points to his head, so I get out of my chair and lean up on my tiptoes, but I can't see anything. 'Patrick, what?'

  'That, there, look!' He bends slightly.

  'Patrick, what am I looking at?'

  'There, that ruddy great bald patch!' he says, his voice annoyed.

  I scan his mop of thick silver hair looking for a bald patch, but I'm damned if I can see one. 'Patrick, there is no bald patch. ' I appease him.

  'Damn well would be if I didn't take my vitamins. ' he grumbles. 'Nice flowers. '

  'Oh yes. My brother. ' I blurt out quickly. I need to have a word with Jesse about this.

  'How lovely. ' He smiles, making his way to his office.

  My phone starts dancing across my desk, alerting me of a text.

  YOU are beautiful and I know you know. Cheeky! I miss you. Jx

  He misses me. I melt all over my handbag contents. I miss him too, but I'm now dreading having to go back to Doctor Monroe for the third time. This is ridiculous.

  With my phone in my hand, I decide I may as well get the one call I really don't want to make out of the way. I dial Matt, and it rings twice before he answers.

  'Ava?' He sounds pleased to hear from me. I want to smash his face in immediately.

  'Hi, I could do with picking those bits up. ' I get straight to the point. If I didn't need my things, I wouldn't call him at all. Just thinking of him makes my skin crawl; talking to him has me physically itching. I was with him for four years. How did this happen?

  'Of course. ' He's too eager and it doesn't sit well.

  'Can I swing by after work? Say, six-ish?' I ask.

  'Sure, I look forward to it. ' he replies cheerfully.

  I want to hiss down the phone at him, tell him exactly what I think of him, but I know he is probably expecting some sort of backlash from me. I'm not going to indulge him. What I do and who I do it with has nothing to do with him.

  Why did you ring my parents, you worm?

  'Great, see you then. ' Why did I say that for? It's not great at all. He may be looking forward to it, but I'm certainly not. Once I have the rest of my things, I won't ever be seeing him again.

  'Yeah, see you later. ' he sings. He sounds almost smug.

  I shudder and hang up. If I could, I would send Kate around to get my things, but I know that will just end in tears and possible police intervention. I'll be in and out in ten minutes. I can resist the urge to pound on him for the short amount of time it's going to take me to gather my stuff and retreat.

  'You want a coffee, Ava?'

  I look up and see Sally fiddling with her ponytail. There's something different about her. 'Please. Did you have a good weekend, Sal?' I ask. Why does she look different? She shuffles on the spot and blushes ten shades of crimson, and then I notice that her high necked blouses have been replaced with a scoop neck top. Wow! Sal has great tits! Who would have thought?

  'I did. Thank you for asking, Ava. ' She scuttles off to the kitchen.

  I grin to myself. Our dull, dreary Sal may have had some male action at the weekend. I put my phone down and start working through my files, ready for my appointment with Mr Van Der Haus on Wednesday.

  As ten thirty approaches, I gather my things to go on a few site visits. 'Sal, tell Patrick I've gone to check on a few sites. I'll be back about four thirty. '

  'Will do. ' she sings enthusiastically, while filing some invoices. Yep, she's definitely had some male interest. Do men really have that impact on us women?

  I pass Victoria and Tom at the door.

  'Darling, how was your weekend?' Tom croons.

  'Great,' I say, accepting his air kiss. 'I've got to dash. I'll be back about four thirty. '

  'Excuse me. ' Victoria barges past me.

  'What's up with her?' I ask Tom.

  Tom rolls his eyes. 'Oh, bugger me if I know. She rang on Saturday declaring she was in love, then I meet her this morning and she has a face like a slapped arse!'

  'Drew?' I ask. What's gone wrong?

  Tom shrugs. 'She doesn't want to talk about it. Not a good sign. I'll see if I can pump any info out of her. Speak to you later. '

  I make my way to the tube and stop off at the chemist to replace my depleted gloss. I'm drawn to the vitamins, remembering reading about deficiency when I was doing my research on the internet about alcoholics. Standing and reading the backs of a million pots, I decide to speak to the pharmacist.

  After a vague chat, he recommends a few things, but strongly advised seeking medical help if I'm worried. Am I worried? Jesse insists he's not an alcoholic and he certainly doesn't scramble for the hard stuff when he sees it. I buy the vitamins, anyway. They can't hurt.

  When I'm walking up Kensington High Street, I hear Bill Withers singing Ain't no Sunshine from my bag. Oh, I bet he thinks he's clever. I don't think twice about answering it. I don't need him flying into panic over a few missed calls and bombarding me during my client visits. I need to keep him stable and if that means a quick telephone conversation, then so be it.

  'Hey. ' I greet.

  He sighs. 'God, I miss you. ' He sounds so forlorn. It's only been four hours since he had me spread on the kitchen worktop.

  'Why did you send John to pick me up?' I ask.

  'You didn't have your car. ' he says it like I'm stupid for even asking.

  'Why didn't you take me?' My tone is accusing. I didn't mean it to be.

  'Would you have preferred that?'

  'Of course, but it's not necessary. ' I'm approaching my destination. I need to wrap this conversation up. 'Where are you?' I ask.

  'At The Manor. Everything is under control. I'm not needed here. Do you need me?'

  I can't see him, but I know he's pouting. 'Always. ' I know that's what he wants to hear.

  'Now?' he asks hopefully.

  'Jesse, I'm at work. ' I try not to sound tired, but I have a ridiculously busy day ahead of me and I could do without providing him with the reassurance he needs to get through his. I wonder if he's taken his running kit to work with him.

  'I know. ' he grumbles dejectedly. 'What are you doing at this precise moment?'

  Why this precise moment? 'I'm on my way to a client and I've just got here, so I'll have to sign off. ' I prompt. He might not be needed, but I have a diary to keep.

  'Oh, okay. ' He sounds so miserable, and I feel guilty for brushing him off.

  I stop outside my destination and look up to the heavens. 'I'll stay at yours tonight. ' I say, hoping this will placate him.

  He scoffs down the phone. 'I would hope so, you live there!'

  I roll my eyes. Of course I do. 'I'll see you later. '

  'You will. What time?' he presses.

  'Six-ish. '

  'Ish. ' he counters. 'I love you, lady. '

  'I know you do. ' I hang up and make my way up the steps to the front door of Mr & Mrs Kent's new home. I'm way too busy today to be sidetracked with my challenging man and his challenging ways.

  ***

  'Nice flowers. '

  I look up and see Victoria standing at my desk. She is less orange, but no less miserable than she was this morning. 'Are you okay?' I ask, wondering if Tom managed to extract any information.

  'Not really. '

  'Do you want to elaborate?' I prompt.

  She shrugs. 'Not really. '

  I try not to look bored, but it's bloody hard. This is a typical case of someone wanting desperately to elaborate, but also wanting the dramatic buildup of someone pleading with them for information. I've had the longest day in my twenty six year history. I haven't the energy to tease information out of her. I get up and head for the kitchen to get some biscuits. I need a sugar hit.

  I find Sally washing up.

  'Hi, Ava. ' she says happily.

  Now, I really am prepared to push Sally for infor
mation. I'm dying to know what's put a huge smile on her face and provoked the introduction of scoop neck tops. 'What did you get up to at the weekend, Sal?' I ask casually as I dunk the biscuit tin. I catch her blushing again. I'm definitely onto something here. If she says she's done a cross-stitch and cleaned the windows, I'll hang myself.

  'Oh, you know. I went for a drink. ' She's trying to sound casual and failing miserably.

  I knew it! 'Nice. Who with?' I feign disinterest. It's hard. I'm desperate to discover that our Sal - dull as dishwater, plaid skirt wearing, high necked bloused, office dogsbody - is a dominatrix or something.

  'I had a date. ' she says, maintaining her failing casual tone.

  'Really!' I blurt. That came out so wrong. I didn't mean to sound shocked, but I am.

  'Yes, Ava. I met him on the internet. '

  Internet dating? I've heard nothing but bad things about it. They look like an underwear model on their profile picture, but when they turn up they are more akin to a serial killer. Sal seems quite happy, though. 'Did it go well?' I ask, biting into a chocolate digestive.

  'Yes!' she screams. I nearly choke on my biscuit. I've never seen her so animated. 'He's perfect, Ava. He's taking me out again tomorrow. '

  'Ah, Sal, I'm really happy for you. '

  'So am I!' she sings. 'I'm off now. Do you need anything before I go?'

  'No, you get going. I'll see you tomorrow. ' She dances out of the kitchen and I remain lent against the counter as I work my way through another three chocolate digestives. I should replace them with wine. I've had a mad day, and I'm not looking forward to stopping by Matt's to collect the last of my stuff, but it will be a good job done and Jesse will never have to know. I've not forgotten his demand to not see Matt again.

  I pull up outside and the first thing I do is look for Matt's car. It's not there. He can't have forgotten; I only called this morning, and I can't wait around for him because Jesse will be on the phone soon wondering where I am. I pull my phone out of my bag and dial his number.

  'Ava?' he answers swiftly.

  'Matt, I'm at yours. ' I say flatly and with clear annoyance.

  'Ava, I'm so sorry. I would have called, but I was in a meeting I couldn't get out of. I'm going to be at least an hour. '

  I throw my head against my seat. I can't wait for an hour. 'Fine, tomorrow?'

  'I'm in Birmingham tomorrow and Wednesday. Can we do Thursday?'

  I inwardly groan. I wanted to get this out of the way. 'Sure, same time on Thursday. ' I hang up and toss my phone on the passenger seat in disgust. Irritating prick.

  When I pull up outside Lusso, the gates open immediately. Jesse's car isn't here, which would explain why he's not called to see why I'm not here yet.

  I enter the foyer, weighed down with flowers and bags, and see Clive clicking various buttons on his high-tech surveillance system. I might just sit in one of the comfortable leather sofas and wait. What else can I do?

  'Hi, Clive. '

  He looks up and smiles. 'Ava, how are you?'

  Rubbish! I've had a ridiculously busy day, I want to shower, get into my sweats and have a glass of wine. I can do none of those things, and I'm pissed off that Jesse's made a big fuss about me being here and he's not even here himself. 'Tired. ' I mumble, heading for a big sumptuous sofa. I might fall asleep.

  'Here, Mr Ward left this for you. '

  I look up and see Clive holding up a pink key. He left me a key? So he knew he wouldn't be here and he didn't even ring to tell me.

  I walk over to Clive and take the key. 'When did he go?' I ask.

  Clive continues clicking and switching while studying the monitors. 'He dropped by at around five to leave you a key. '

  'Did he say when he would be back?' I ask. Am I just expected to hang around and wait?

  'Not a word, Ava. ' Clive doesn't bother looking up at me.

  'Did he ask you about the woman who stopped by?'

  'No, Ava. ' He almost sounds bored. No he didn't, I know he didn't because he bloody knows. And he's going to tell me.

  I leave Clive playing with his equipment and make my way up to the penthouse, letting myself in with my pink key and heading straight to the kitchen. I go to the fridge and yank the door open, being immediately confronted with rows and rows of bottled water. Oh, what I would do for a glass of wine. I shut the fridge door with more force than it deserves - it's not the fridge's fault there's no wine in it. Will I ever have a drink again?

  I sit myself on a barstool and gaze around the immense kitchen that I designed. I love it and never in a million years did I imagine I would have the opportunity to live here. Now I have, though, I'm really not sure about it. I love him, but I fear living with him will just encourage his controlling behaviour and challenging ways. Or would he be better? More reasonable?

  My stomach does a little flip and a growl, reminding me that I should really get something to eat. I've only picked on a few biscuits today. It's no wonder I feel exhausted.

  I'm just about to convince myself to lift my tired arse from the stool when I hear the front door open, and a few moments later, Jesse walks into the kitchen looking as wiped out as I feel. He doesn't say anything for the longest time. He just stands there and looks at me. I notice his hands shaking slightly and his brow looks damp. What should I do? My craving for a glass of wine diminishes instantly.

  'Are you okay?' I ask.

  He slowly walks over to me and stands me up. Reaching down, he clasps the hem of my dress and pulls it up to my waist and then grabs me under my bum and lifts me up to straddle his waist. He buries his face in my hair and walks us out of the kitchen. I can feel his heartbeat clattering against my chest as I hold onto him while he takes the stairs silently with me in his arms. I want to ask him what's wrong. I've got lots of things to ask him, but he seems so despondent.

  He walks us to the bed and crawls on with me beneath him, settling on top of me with his weight spread all over my body. It's soothing. Locking my arms around him, I breathe into his neck and soak up his fresh water smell. I sigh contentedly. He might be a significant contributing factor to my stress and tiredness, but he makes it disappear just as quickly as he triggers it.

  'Tell me how old you are. ' I break the comfortable silence after I've held him until his hammering heart has returned to its usual, steady speed.

  'Thirty two. ' he says into my neck.

  'Tell me. '

  'Does it matter?' he asks tiredly.

  It doesn't matter, but I want to know. He might like this game, but I don't and it's not going to make any difference to how I feel. I just think I should know. It is mandatory information, like his favourite colour, food or track - all of which I don't know. I know so little about him.

  'No, but I would like it if you told me. I know none of your basic information. '

  He nuzzles in my neck. 'You know I love you. '

  I sigh. That's not basic information. I start to think about my introduction of a truth fuck into our relationship. Something has got to wheedle this small, insignificant piece of information out of him. I know my persistently asking him is having no satisfactory results.

  'How was your day?' he asks, his voice muffled in my hair.

  'Stupidly busy but very constructive. ' I'm quite pleased with what I managed to get done, considering I thought my day would be a bombardment of calls and texts. 'And you need to stop sending flowers to my office. '

  His head lifts and I'm greeted with a disgusted look. 'No. Have a bath with me. '

  I roll my eyes at his stubbornness, but I could think of nothing better than having a bath with him at the moment. 'I'd love to. '

  He pulls himself up so I have to release his neck, and he drops his lips to mine. 'You stay here, I'll sort the bath. ' He jumps up and takes his jacket off as he goes to the bathroom.

  I hear the water start running and I turn onto my side, feeling content and tranquil. He makes
me feel like this and it's these times when I know why I'm here. It's how attentive, loving and tender he is. Perhaps living with him wouldn't be so bad after all. But then I give myself a quick reminder that I'm currently on Central Jesse Cloud Nine. I won't be thinking like this once I've not conformed to one of his demands. It will come, and it might even be about all of this moving in business.

  He strolls back into the bedroom, and I lay back and admire his incredible gait. This man has a serious walk. Reaching up, he pulls his tie loose and throws it on the nearby chaise lounge, and then starts working his shirt buttons. He lets it hang loose and leans down to take his shoes and socks off. He's bare foot with his trousers resting on those glorious, narrow hips, his shirt open, revealing the sharp lines of his chest. I could sink my teeth into him. He would probably enjoy that.

  'Enjoying the view?'

  I look up and find green pools studying me. That look alone renders me a soaking wet mess. 'Always. ' I answer. My voice is throaty. I didn't mean it to be, it's just what he does to me.

  'Always,' he confirms. 'Come here. '

  I slide myself off the bed and slip my heels off.

  'Leave the dress. ' he demands softly.

  I pad over to him, keeping hold of his hypnotising eyes, his arms hanging loosely at his side as he follows my progression. My heart is ricocheting off my rib cage, and I part my lips to let subtle streams of air escape, watching him as he slowly runs his tongue over his bottom lip.

  'Turn around. '

  I obey and slowly pivot away from him. I feel his palms rest on my shoulders and the contact, even through my dress, zaps my nerve endings to life.

  He leans down and rests his mouth near my ear. 'I really like this dress. ' he whispers, and I clench my eyes closed to ride out the quiver that travels through my entire body. Both of his hands travel inwards until they arrive at my nape. He gathers my hair and places it over my shoulder, and then slowly draws the zip of my dress all the way down.

  I flex my neck muscles in an attempt to control my overwhelming need to shake off the shudders that he's instigating, but I give up when I feel his lips rest against my upper back, his tongue gliding up to the nape of my neck. Every fine hair stands on end, and I arch my back in response to his long, hot stroke.

  There is a certain degree of torture to this. I want it to stop so I can gather my scattered senses before I say something I don't mean like, Yes, I'll move in with you.

  'I love your back. ' His lips vibrate against my skin, generating even more shudders. He moves his mouth back to my ear. 'You have the softest skin. '

  My head rolls back onto his shoulder and my face turns into his neck. He adjusts his head so his lips find mine as he hooks his hands into the front of my dress and pushes it down my body.

  'Lace?' he asks.

  I nod my answer, and his eyes sparkle with lust as he kisses me gently, like I'm glass. Our tongues slip and slide over each other with little effort from either of us, and I lean back onto him for support. I'm relishing in his gentleness and soft touch.

  His hands find my breasts and he pinches my nipples through the lace of my bra, elongating them to firm peaks.

  'See what you do to me?' He grinds his hips into my lower back, demonstrating exactly what I do to him, before dropping a chaste kiss on my lips. 'I'll die loving you, Ava. '

  I know how he feels. I don't see a future without him in it, and I'm excited and apprehensive about it all at once. It's the unknown. He is still unknown. I need more than his body, his attention. . . his challenging ways.

  He yanks the cups of my bra down, exposing my breasts, and skims the flats of his palms over the tips of my nipples. 'You and me. ' he breathes in my ear, sliding one of his hands down my front and straight to the apex of my thighs.

  My knees wobble when his hand cups me over my underwear, a deluge of liquid fire descending on me, my hips rolling forward against his hand to get more friction.

  'Do I turn you on, Ava?'

  'You know you do. ' I pant, and then moan as he thrusts his hips forward.

  'Wrap your arms around my neck. ' he says quietly. I reach back and link my hands behind his neck. 'Are you wet for me?'

  'Yes. '

  He hooks his thumbs in each side of my knickers. 'Only for me. ' he whispers, dragging his tongue lightly down the edge of my ear.

  'Only for you. ' I agree quietly. I need nothing else except for him.

  I feel a sharp tug and a tear, and I look to see my knickers hanging from his index finger in front of me. He lets them slide off the end of his finger and takes his other hand to my hip.

  I jerk slightly, and he laughs in my ear. His fingers shift as his big hand wraps around my hip, spreading from my front to my back, his other hand hovering in front of me.

  'What shall I do with this, Ava?' He flexes his good hand in front of me. 'Show me. '

  My hammering heart does nothing to regulate my short, sharp breaths. I want that hand on me. I remove my arm from around his neck and reach forward to take his hand, slowly guiding it down to the inside of my thigh and flattening his palm against my flesh with my hand over his. I feel him trembling faintly. I'm glad it's not just me who is so affected by these encounters of ours. Or is he shaking because he needs a drink? I can't even think about that. He doesn't need alcohol if he's got me. Well, he has me.

  I start applying pressure on his hand and drawing up until his flat palm glides over my sex, the moisture ensuring it travels with ease. I gasp, my hips whipping back and colliding with his groin, provoking a moan to escape his lips and my head to fall back. I need him to kiss me.

  I turn my face into him, and he takes my hint, brushing his lips across mine. My teeth clamp down lightly on his bottom lip and I pull back to let it slowly drag through my grip, his eyes locked on mine as I continue to work his hand up and down in a slow, steady caress.

  'Don't come. ' His voice is rough.

  I immediately withdraw his hand and bring it up to his mouth and he watches me as he runs his tongue straight down the centre and onto his fingers. Oh Lord, I'm desperate for him, but I can't disobey him - not during these moments.

  My bra is unclasped and I'm turned to face him before he brushes my hair back with his hand. 'Promise me you'll never leave me. '

  I look up into his troubled eyes. I can't get used to this unsure part of him. I don't like it, but he's asking at least, not demanding. 'I'll never leave you. '

  'Promise me. '

  'I promise. ' I take his wrists one at a time and undo the cuffs of his shirt, then push it from his shoulders. He lets his arms hang by his side, his head dropped to watch me as I undo the button and zipper of his trousers. My palms slide around his hips and under his boxers to drag his trousers and underwear over the tight, smooth flesh of his arse and down his thighs, his thick, pulsing length jutting straight out from his hips invitingly. It triggers all sorts of desperate wants in me, not helped by his abdominals rippling under my touch as I skate my hands up his torso, marveling in his beauty.

  'I can't wait anymore. I need to be inside you. ' He steps free of his trousers and lifts me to him, my legs wrapping around him. I flinch when his cock brushes against my slickness as he carries me towards the wall.

  I'm pushed up against the cold paint, feeling the hot, slippery crown of his erection pushing at my opening, breaching my entrance only a little. He breathes heavily and lets his head fall into my neck as if preparing himself for his invasion of me. I can't wait. I swivel my hips and bore down on him, taking him all the way.

  'Oh, you fucking kill me. ' he moans as he stills inside me.

  I want to tilt my hips and instigate movement, but I know from the jolting and twitching of him inside me that he's holding back. I keep still and sweep my hands through his dark blonde hair while he gathers himself, his heart pounding so hard I can almost hear it.

  'Are you holding onto me?' He brings his face up to mine.
>
  'Yes. ' I weave my fingers together around his neck and tighten my thighs.

  He growls with approval and releases his hands from my back, planting them onto the wall on either side of me. He slowly eases back on a steady breath, then plunges forward on a sharp exhale.

  I moan, the sensation of his hot, throbbing assault of me having me shifting my hands and clawing at his back. Resting his forehead against mine, he slowly begins rocking in and out of me.

  I sigh on every plunge as he works me up steadily. Oh fucking hell, he feels so good. My grip begins to slip on his sweat dampened skin, our breath mingling together in the close space between our mouths.

  'Kiss me. ' he gasps, and I push my lips to his mouth, tackling his tongue. I feel a scream bubbling in my throat as he rears back and pushes forward sending me sliding up the wall. I clench my thighs to lift myself further and then bore down on him. 'Good God, woman. What the hell do you do to me?' He thrusts forward again and again, pushing me up the wall, swallowing my small cries as he kisses the life out of me. 'I've waited all day for this. ' He hits me with another thrust. 'It's been the longest fucking day of my life. '

  'Hmmm, you feel so good. ' I'm reveling in his attention.

  'I feel good? Fuck, Ava, you do serious things to me. ' He bucks forward.

  'Jesse!' I'm a despairing wreck. The calm smooth motions are fading fast, being replaced with firmer, more aggressive strikes.

  'Ava, wherever I'm going from now on, I'm taking you with me, baby. '

  Thrust!

  Holy Shit, I'm struggling here. My nails dig harshly into his flesh.

  'Shit, Ava!' He fires into me, beads of his sweat dripping onto me. 'You're going to come. '

  'Hard!'

  He mumbles in my mouth. I can't hold back anymore. He strikes with ferocious power and I snap, the coils of pleasure peaking and firing off, my nails sinking into his flesh, my teeth gripping his lip harshly. I drop my forehead to his damp, salty skin where his neck meets his shoulder and rock my head from side to side as I jerk uncontrollably against his big body.

  'Ava!' he shouts, as he pulls back and then smashes forward, slowly withdrawing before hammering into me again, finding his own release as wave after wave of contractions sweep through me.

  He moans, then sinks us to the floor and falls onto his back, heaving and sweating. I drag myself up and sit astride of him, planting my hands on his slick chest and gently grinding myself on his hips. His arms fall back over his head as he looks up and watches me work us both down. We are both wet, out of breath and thoroughly satisfied. I'm exactly where I should be.

  'What are you thinking about?' he puffs, looking up at me.

  'About how much I love you. ' I tell him the truth.

  His lips curve at the corners and a look of pure satisfaction spreads across his handsome face 'Do I still qualify as your God?'

  'Always. Am I still your temptress?' I grin and circle my hands on his chest.

  'That, baby, you most certainly are. God, I love your grin. ' He gives me his own roguish one.

  I reach down and pinch his nipples. 'Bath, God?'

  He jolts upright, nearly head-butting me in the process. 'Shit! It's still running!' He jumps up with me still in his arms and still buried inside me, hissing as he grips me too hard with his bad hand.

  'Put me down!' I try to peel my body away from his, but he just increases his grip.

  'Never. ' He takes us into the bathroom where we find the huge bath is not even three quarters of the way full. He reaches over to the waterfall tap and flips it off.

  'You could leave that bath running for a week and it wouldn't be full. ' I say as he steps in and lowers us down.

  'I know. The designer of all this Italian shit obviously has no regard for the environment or my carbon footprint. '

  'Says he with twelve superbikes. ' I quip, and then sigh happily as I'm sunk into the lovely relaxing water, still astride his lap, still full to the hilt with his semi-erect cock. 'I could look at you all day. ' I muse to myself, tracing my fingers from side to side across his abdomen.

  He lays back and lets me have my way. I run my fingertip over every square inch of his hard, lightly tanned chest, swirling and flicking as I go. The silence is comfortable as he watches my delicate touch skating all over him. I work my way up to his neck, his chin, his lips and they part, his eyes twinkling as I lower myself to rest on his chest, my mouth meeting his.

  'I love your mouth. ' I say, dropping kisses all the way around the edges of his lips until I'm back to where I started. 'I love your body. ' My hands drift down his arms, my tongue slipping into his mouth. 'I love your crazy mind too. ' I coax his tongue from his mouth and lap gently as I trail my hands back up his arms until my palms wrap around his neck and my body arches into him.

  He moans. 'You make me crazy, Ava. Just you. '

  I feel his big palms slide up my back until he's cupping the back of my head and pushing me into him, our mouths continuing to work each other slowly, our bodies slipping against each other slightly. I know I make him crazy, but he makes me crazy too.

  I pull back and look at my crazy man. 'Crazy. ' I mouth.

  'ish,' He smiles and lifts me from his lap, turning me until I'm sat between his parted thighs. 'Let me wash you. ' He grabs the sponge and starts squeezing the hot water all over me, resting his cheek against the side of my head. 'I need to talk to you about something. ' he says quietly. There is no mistaking his apprehension.

  I tense all over. I don't like the sound of this, which is quite hilarious because I've been willing him to talk. 'What?'

  'The Manor,'

  Okay, now I'm prickling from head to toe and it's bloody obvious, which is even more hilarious because I've been wanting him to talk about this specifically. But his approach tells me I'm not going to like whatever is going to come from his mouth. He has ceased squeezing warm water over me, and I can literally hear those fucking cogs clanking around in his handsome head. What about The Manor? I do not like the direction of tub talk today. I want to get out and have a shower.

  'The Anniversary Party. ' The worry is clear in his tone and it bloody should be. I'm not going.

  'What about it?' I ask nonchalantly. I'm not going to get myself worked up because I really, really am not ever, not in a million years, going. Never - no way. I want to turn myself back over, lay on his chest and put my lips back on his so he can't talk.

  'I still want you to come. '

  'You can't ask me to do that. ' I say calmly, but I'm feeling a little angry that he would even suggest such a stupid thing. Hang on. . . I agreed to this before I knew what The Manor really was, and Kate did too. Is she still going? I cringe. Bloody hell, she will as well. 'You asked me to go before I knew. '

  'I gave myself a deadline to tell you. ' he says quietly.

  'Oh. ' I don't know what to say. I found out before his time was up.

  'Are you going to avoid my workplace forever?' he asks sarcastically. I don't appreciate his tone of voice - not in the slightest.

  'I might do. ' I retort. Work place? Is he fucking kidding me?

  'Don't be stupid, Ava. ' He recommences soaking me in water and presses a kiss to my temple. 'Will you please just think about it?'

  I sigh tiredly. 'I'm making no promises, and if you even think about trying to fuck some sense into me on this, I'm leaving. ' I threaten. I'm being completely dramatic, but I want him to know how much I don't want to go. The Manor anniversary party? Never.

  He nuzzles my ear and wraps his legs around the outside of mine. 'I want the woman with me who keeps my heart beating. '

  Oh God! That's emotional blackmail if ever there was any. How the hell can I say no to that? Damn you, Jesse Ward, of an age I don't know.

  I let him continue to wash me while I think about using this to my advantage. Maybe I could negotiate his age from him in return for my presence at The Manor's anniversary party. I
'll think carefully about how much I want to know his age compared to how much I don't want to go to the party. That's a tricky one.

  'Did you speak to Clive?' I ask. I know he hasn't. I'm being sneaky.

  'About what?'

  'The mystery woman. '

  'No, Ava, I didn't have time. I promise you I will ask, though. I'm just as curious as you are. Now, are you hungry?' He circles his tongue around my ear. It could send me to sleep. At least he hasn't lied about talking to Clive.

  'Yes. ' I answer on a yawn. I'm famished. And tired too, but I'm not giving in. 'I'm not going to sleep until you tell me who that woman was. '

  'How can I tell you if I don't know?'

  'You do know. '

  'I don't fucking know!'

  I jump at his harshness, and then feel his arms lock tighter around me. 'I'm sorry. '

  'Okay. ' I say quietly. But it's not. I'll speak to Clive in the morning.

  'My lovely lady is exhausted. ' he whispers. 'Take away?' He bites at my earlobe, smoothing the soles of his feet down my shins.

  'You have a fridge full of food, it's a waste. '

  'Well, can you be bothered to cook?' he asks.

  No, I can't, but I notice he doesn't offer. Then again, he has openly admitted that cooking is one of the only things he's crap at. What were his words? Oh yes. . . I can't be amazing at everything. He was serious as well, the arrogant arse.

  'Take away. ' I agree.

  He shifts under me. 'I'll go and order, you wash your hair. ' He lifts himself out of the bath and leaves me in the massive tub by myself. I watch his wet nakedness stroll out of the bathroom, returning a few moments later with some women's shampoo and conditioner. I'm eternally grateful. My poor hair has been mistreated way too much lately. He gives me a grin and leans down to kiss my forehead. 'Wear lace. ' He disappears out of the bathroom and I fall back in the tub, closing my eyes for a while and savouring the quiet and peaceful surroundings of the colossal master bathroom of Lusso. How did I end up here?

 
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