More than want you, p.15
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       More Than Want You, p.15
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         Part #1 of More Than Words series by Shayla Black

  “Not a brat, sunshine. It’s my fault. Realtor 101—never show someone a property they can’t afford. They’ll always fall in love. I didn’t put viewing the property for my client together with your pro-and-con list until it was too late.”

  She purses her lips together. “There really were major flaws in all the other properties you showed me.”

  “Absolutely. But this is when the business side of your brain needs to kick in. If you have to make hard choices, figure out what you value most. What can you live with? What won’t you accept? You’ll find your answers.”

  “Will I ever succeed or is this just a pie-in-the-sky dream?”

  She’s looking at me with such troubled eyes that I can’t stand it anymore. I reach out, pull her against me. She stiffens for a moment but doesn’t protest. When I settle her against my chest and kiss the top of her head, she lets out a long breath and relaxes, curling her arms around me.

  This is the most satisfying moment I’ve felt in nearly a week, since the last time I held her.

  “You’ll make it,” I murmur. “You’re too stubborn not to. It won’t be easy. It will require sacrifice. But you’re helping me with Griff. I promised I would help you with your inn. We’ll get there.”

  At the reminder of our deal, she backs away, swiping at a teary eye. She gives me a brave nod, and I wish I’d kept my damn mouth shut.

  “Of course. If you want to shower or change clothes, we’ve got about twenty minutes before dinner.”

  “Both.” I risk pressing a kiss onto her cheek. Her body goes rigid but I’m already dashing into the bedroom before she can protest my embrace. “Back then.”

  As I stand under the spray, I’m tempted to take my aching cock in hand. I’m hard and I have soap. I’ve had plenty of orgasms here, especially in times, like now, when I’ve been too busy to give my sex drive the relief it craves.

  I lather up and give my erection a few strokes. I’m having trouble concentrating with Keeley in the next room. I feel like a stupid teenage kid, jacking off instead of simply telling her I want her. She knows and she might turn me down, but I refuse to admit defeat that easily. Maybe a little wine, a little conversation, and a little charm will work wonders.

  I give up on the self-pleasure concept and finish my shower. Some shorts and a tank top later, I’m waltzing into the kitchen as she’s dishing up steaming plates and handing one to me over the bar.

  “Lanai?” I ask.

  “Why would we eat inside?” Her voice tells me that concept is absurd.

  I smile as I swipe a bottle of wine and a corkscrew and take them outside. She’s following with her own plate and a salad bowl a few minutes later. She’s barely dressed the tossed greens and taken three bites of food before I’ve cleared my plate.

  At the empty carnage of red sauce all over the white china, she blinks. “That was fast.”

  “I was starved. And that was amazing.”

  To the sound of her laughter, I head in for seconds. When I emerge and start eating again, the pace is still brisk but at least I’m not imitating a Dyson.

  “After last night, I’m at your disposal,” she says between bites. “What should we do?”

  I’m about to suggest something that requires her to straddle me. Or maybe a reverse cowgirl would be awesome, if athletic, after the crappy day I’ve had. But I have to get serious about my goals, too. Griff didn’t lose a whole damn weekend to other clients, I’ll bet. No matter how tired I am—or how much I don’t want to think of Keeley with my brother—I have to start taking advantage of the time I have with her now.

  “I’ve been giving this some thought. In order for you two to ‘meet’ and spend time together, you’ll need a cover story. The easiest would be for you to come to him as a client, but he refuses to romance where he sells. He’s got an assistant he won’t part with. Sheila is ruthlessly efficient, and she’ll have to quit if she ever wants to be rid of him. Besides, after Britta, he’ll never touch someone in his office again. His social circle is like mine—small and closed. Who has time, anyway? The one thing I know he does is hit the gym.” We have that in common, too. “He ran cross country and played basketball in high school. He does some of his best thinking when he’s in an aerobic zone.” And thankfully, one of his neighbors is an older and very nosy woman who is more than happy to tell me everything if I call to chat with her. “I know where he works out. I also know they’re looking for a morning yoga instructor.”

  “I’m not certified.”

  “I had Britta call the gym. All you have to do is audition. They’re having trouble keeping anyone decent over there. She, um…introduced herself as you. They’re very excited you’ll be coming in on Friday to discuss a job. It pays decent money.”

  “You said you didn’t want me working while I was helping you.”

  “I’ll make an exception for this.”

  “So I’ll be in the same gym as Griff. How am I supposed to meet him? Does he do yoga?”

  I scoff. “I doubt that.”

  “All right. Then I’m supposed to, what? Come on to him while he’s working out?”

  Yeah, that’s sounding less likely. “Or, hell, just strike up a conversation. Get him to talk about himself. He likes to do that. Smile. Be his friend. You already look pretty, so you don’t have to try there. Dazzle him with your charm.”

  “If he’s attracted to a sharp, professional woman, how am I supposed to dress smartly in yoga pants?”

  She has a point. Not that he’d never look at a woman in spandex. But he’s like iron to a magnet when it comes to a babe in business garb who has a sharp brain to match. If I want to snag his attention and distract him quickly, I need a different tactic. I really don’t want Griff seeing Keeley dressed in the way designed to slay him. I certainly don’t want my brother thinking about her sexually. But how else will he ever let her in his life? Since my brother won’t touch a client, pursue a colleague, or let a new friend close, that leaves me one option. Keeley will have to sweep him off his feet, the way she did me.

  Shit.

  “Never mind.” I sigh, completely annoyed. “I’ll check with Harlow, find out what bar he’s frequenting these days when he’s feeling lonely and wants a hookup. I’ll see if she knows when he’ll be swimming the pool of other single professionals looking for a watering hole and a meaningless fuck.”

  “I’m still not sleeping with him.”

  Please don’t. “Totally understand. I just need you to tempt him a little.”

  She nods nervously. “I hope this mission doesn’t require more.”

  On Monday afternoon, I cut the workday short. Rob and Britta finally camped onto my way of thinking about the Stowe estate, so they’re plunging headfirst into what my assistant likes to call a more elegant strategy. A nice way of saying we’re going to strip this bitch down and focus on showcasing her tits. Sorry, her breastsss.

  They’re brainstorming so hard I’m half expecting a tornado to take out the office before I leave and head back to the condo. Sure enough, when I arrive, Keeley is there with an iPad hooked up to a portable speaker. It takes me a minute to realize she’s YouTubing karaoke music and singing the hell out of a Katy Perry ballad.

  I watch her and let that sweet, velvet voice caress my eardrums. Every note resonates with something that feels a lot like heartbreak. I want to touch her.

  When she cries out for the final time that she’s “Wide Awake,” she turns off the tablet, then spins around for her bottle of water and spots me in the entry. She presses a hand to her chest with a gasp.

  I swallow my tongue because she’s wearing a bikini top that barely holds her in and some of the tightest yoga pants I’ve ever seen. A glance at her ass tells me she’s undoubtedly commando.

  “I didn’t hear you come in.” She looks away in embarrassment. “I didn’t expect you for a few hours.”

  “We’ve got an appointment tonight. Makeover phase one is about to begin.”

  “Oh.” She doesn’t look
thrilled. “What about dinner?”

  “We’ll get it while we’re out.” I grab her hand, glad when she doesn’t resist. “It’s regrettable that you need to throw on a bra and panties, but you’d start a public riot wearing what you’ve got on. Oh, and choose clothes easy to slip off.”

  “You are not seducing me, Maxon Reed.” She wags a finger at me.

  Maybe not in the next five minutes, but soon. At the very least, I need to remind her which brother she met first before I send her off to derail Griff.

  “It’s nothing like that,” I tell her innocently.

  She doesn’t look as if she really believes me, but she disappears into her room. A few minutes later, she emerges in a pair of khaki shorts, a pretty crisscross blouse in some blue-green color that does amazing things for her eyes, and a pair of beige heels with studded straps around her ankles that attach to a matching band across her toes via a slinky gold chain. If shoes ever said “fuck me,” it was these.

  I almost swallow my tongue.

  The trip down to my car is an exercise in restraint. I want to adjust my dick in my ever-tightening pants so badly it’s driving me mad.

  When I get Keeley settled, I manage to move my zipper so it feels less like a tourniquet for my cock, and we drive down the road to an outdoor shopping center to grab a nice steak. It’s so awesome to spend time with a girl who likes her meat. (Yeah, I went there.) Afterward, I take her hand and we stroll a few doors down.

  “You going to tell me where we’re going?”

  “And end your curious squirming?” I give her a mock frown. “Why would I do that?”

  She pulls free. “You’re mean.”

  I just grin. “It’s one of my better qualities.”

  “Says you.” She scowls.

  “Well, yeah. My opinion is the only one that counts,” I tease. “At least tonight.”

  I expect Keeley to have strong thoughts about what we do in the next hour or two, but I know my brother, so this is my show. She needs to listen when I tell her something will drive Griff crazy with lust.

  I shove aside the reality that he will check her out like a slab of meat. But he will. It pisses me off, too. Keeley is way more than that. Will he love her singing? Will he care that she’s a damn good cook? Will he even bother to notice how funny she is? If he’s going to treat her like a pig—

  I stop the thought cold. Maybe that’s better for me. Maybe…after this stupid pissing match with my brother is at an end, Keeley and I can try something more than being each other’s one-night stand or partner in crime. Maybe we could actually date. Or try a relationship. Yeah. I feel safe with her. Okay, that sounds fairly stupid because obviously she’s not the sort who will take a tire iron to my face. But I mean I feel as if I can be myself with her and she accepts me. That’s pretty epic. Certainly not the way my sentence—sorry, commitment—with Tiffanii worked.

  “Stop with the hints and spill it. What are we doing tonight?”

  She can’t stand not knowing. It’s kind of nice having the upper hand for two seconds. As clever as Keeley is, I don’t expect it to last.

  “You can’t worm it out of me,” I vow. “Unless you want to make me lewd sexual promises you’ll absolutely fulfill later.”

  “Nope. You know the rules.”

  “Your rules,” I point out. “And they suck.”

  Beside me, she shakes her head like I’m an idiot. “You can’t have it both ways. I’m either with you or with your brother. This is your call.”

  “Can’t you be with me while pretending to be with my brother?” I’m actually serious now. “I don’t understand.”

  She gives me a sad smile. “The fact that you don’t reminds me of all the reasons I have to say no. So I guess we’re at a standoff. Neither of us is giving in.”

  “Ugh. I miss girls who act stupid.”

  She turns to me, her expression a warning that she better not have heard me right. “What?”

  “You know what I mean. You’re twisting my balls until they’re fucking blue. At least other girls pretended to be dumb so I could talk them into raunchy acts that would make everyone but a porn star blush. Well, maybe a few of them, too. But you…” I sigh. “All brains and ethics and doing things right. I’m not used to that.”

  Keeley laughs at me like she can’t do anything else. “Poor baby. And now I’m making your life miserable.”

  “Yeah.”

  “Because I won’t be your quick, conscienceless lay.”

  “Something like that.” But there’s more.

  “You know, I’m not the only woman on this island.”

  I narrow my eyes at her. “You’re telling me to go fuck someone else?”

  “We’re not committed.”

  That answer absolutely pisses me off. “I’ve zeroed in on who I want.”

  She cocks her head at me, chin slightly tilted, hair brushing her arm. “We’ve talked about this. Just because you want me doesn’t mean you can have me.”

  The teasing has turned serious, and I need to make myself clear. “You should rethink that. When I want something, I will pursue it to the ends of the earth. If necessary, I will still be reaching for it when I take my dying breath. I will obsess day and night until I have what I want.”

  She tries to look unmoved, but I see a little shiver run through her as I stop in front of the door that’s our destination.

  “I believe you,” Keeley assures. “This crazy plan to sabotage your brother that you’ve dragged me into proves you’re persistent. But you’re forgetting something: you don’t own me. Just like you’re free to fuck someone else, I’m free to do the same.” After tossing out that zinger, she tries to peek through the glass door. “Why are we here…wherever here is? This place closed ten minutes ago according to their sign.”

  Before I point out that she is not free to fuck anyone but me for the next three weeks—and maybe never—the door opens. A woman in her mid-forties greets us with a wide smile. “Hi. Maxon Reed?”

  I hold in a curse. This is a terrible time for the sales associate to be helpful. But she’s bending the rules for me. We have two hours to accomplish a shitload. I can’t afford to waste a minute. I’ll table this discussion with Keeley…for now.

  “Yeah.” I shake the woman’s hand. “Thanks for seeing us after hours, Jennifer. You have what I asked for?”

  “Absolutely. Come on in.” She steps back to admit us, then locks the door.

  Keeley peers around curiously at the tasteful, upscale boutique of ladies’ clothes. Most of it is resort casual with a few evening-out pieces. I see shoes, belts, bags, hats—all kinds of stuff artfully placed on the walls surrounding the racks of clothes.

  What I don’t see are the sorts of garments I requested. “Where?”

  “In the back. Have a seat,” she invites with a smile, gesturing to a stuffed chair she’s dragged near a fitting room. Once I comply, she smiles. “You must be Keeley.”

  My pretty accomplice nods cautiously. “I am.”

  “Excellent.” She scans Keeley up and down. “Size eight?”

  “Mostly. Sometimes a ten, depending.” She shrugs. “I like food.”

  “I do, too.” Jennifer pats her slightly rounded stomach, but really, for a woman at least a decade older than me, she’s definitely fuckable. The me of a couple of weeks ago would totally have done her. “You look great, and I have plenty of things that should fit perfectly. Size medium underwear?”

  “Yes, but—”

  “And you’re a…” Jennifer cuts in and dissects Keeley. “I’m guessing a 34C?”

  “In the neighborhood. Sometimes a D,” she says, turning a bit red.

  I don’t know why she’s blushing. She sounds hot. Hell, she is hot. I’ve handled all the goods. Not as much as I’d like to. Not as much as I plan to. But Keeley has absolutely no reason to be embarrassed.

  “Good. Sit tight. I’ll be back in two minutes.”

  When Jennifer disappears into the employee-only area, Keel
ey whips her gaze around to me. “You’re dressing me from the skin out, including lingerie?”

  “Yes,” I growl just loud enough for her to hear me. “And let’s get one thing clear: you are not free to fuck anyone else when
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