Lucas rolled off Adriana and headed to the bathroom without saying a word. Her head spun as she resisted the urge to curl up in the bed, pull the sheets over her head, and drift off in sleepy satisfaction. Rubbery legs bedamned, she would not lay there and awkwardly wait for the sexiest man she’d ever met to kick her to the freaking curb. No, she would leave on her own terms. Naked, and not just because she didn’t have any clothes on, she scooted from the bed and searched out her clothes. A trail of silk and lace led from the bedroom to the living area of the hotel suite. She’d bent over to grab her blouse when a throat cleared with a rather masculine rumble. Surprised, she popped up and spun around to find Lucas leaning against the bedroom door, arms crossed, and still bare as the day he was born.
Heat flooded her cheeks and, she hoped, the clothes in her hands hid their slight tremble. “Hi.”
“Hi?” One dark brow lifted in punctuation of his question.
Oh, God. Now what? She needed to take back control. Reassert herself as the competent business woman she was and make her exit. A quiet but deep inhale filled her lungs and got her brain firing again. “Yes, hi.” She resumed her search for her things, shoes and a purse and she’d be able to go. Well, after she got dressed. Frustration welled up inside her like a geyser close to spewing. She needed to leave, to reestablish her independence, but the little submissive inside her wanted to stay and play with the big bad Dom they’d discovered.
Stop it. Clothes on, the shoes could come in a minute. She set everything down and separated her bra, blouse, and skirt from the pile. With an economy of movement she couldn’t credit, all things considered, she slipped her bra on, pulled her skirt up, and had just started in on her blouse by the time he spoke again.
“So that’s it? Wham, bam, thank you man and you’re out?” His words came out harsh, maybe even angry if she were honest.
She buttoned up her blouse and lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I have an early meeting.” Then as though the gods had smiled upon her, she spied her pumps near the door. She stepped over to them and slipped one foot in.
“I have an early flight, but I wasn’t done with you.” He practically growled the words as he pushed off the wood frame and stalked toward her.
Panic lit her up like a roman candle and she jammed her other foot into the second shoe. “Sorry to disappoint, but I really do have to run.”
He grunted at her flip reply.
Feet shod, she just needed her purse and she was good to go. She found it on the table by the door and grabbed it like a lifeline. “Thank you for…” she struggled with what to say, “everything.”
Her heart pounded as she turned and grabbed the brass knob to freedom. Escape.
“Stay.” It was a demand, not a request, nor could it have been mistaken for begging.
Not even close.
She hesitated, her body shook with her desire to do as he desired, but her head insisted it was a bad idea, and more importantly her heart screamed out for her to run before they both got hurt again. Her internal struggle weakened her knees, almost took her to the floor, with its intensity. Instead, she rested her forehead against the door and drew a deep breath. Then, with renewed resolve she straightened up and pulled the door open. Fool that she was, she dared a glance back to see confusion and what she might have sworn was hurt on another man’s face. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
And then she closed the door with the aplomb of a queen before she fled down the hallway like the hounds of hell were nipping at her heels.
The elevator doors opened almost instantly and then slid closed behind her as she resisted the urge to cry. For what? What am I upset about? He wanted her to stay and play longer. He didn’t profess his undying love for her, didn’t propose marriage, didn’t beg her to stay with him forever. Not that any such declaration could have been taken seriously. Twenty-four hours ago the man was a name on a never-ending pile of paperwork. He had been a figment of her imagination, not real. No flesh. No blood.
She spilled out into the cooling night air and looked for a cab. Whatever connection she thought had happened couldn’t have been real. The man was an experienced Dom, he probably had his pick of subs in his circles. Emotional connection was part of the illusion of a good Dom. Certainly if you continued to play together you could build an actual connection, but an interlude like theirs? All illusion. She’d been through it before. Gotten excited that she had found someone she connected with, only to have them blow right past her to the next fresh sub.
Standing on the curb as yet another cab whisked by, she began to wonder just how bad she looked. Her frustration from earlier boiled up again and spilled over. She was on emotional overload as tears streaked her face.
“Adrianna.” His voice rumbled behind her, but she refused to turn around.
Mortified that he might see her meltdown, she furiously waved at another cab. But it drove on, it’s passenger slipping away from somewhere.
“Please.” Again, not a question. Just a simple demand, but one she never would have thought to have heard drop from his lips.
“I don’t know what you want from me.” She tried to stifle the tears, but he cursed behind her and then she was whirled around and her face was pressed against his broad chest.
“I want you to stay tonight. The rest we can figure out tomorrow.” His words were gruff, but something about them pushed past her emotional tumult to calm her down.
She took a shuddering breath and let it out. “I can’t. The buyout. Project Cobra.” My heart. Because she knew it was at serious risk of falling for the sexy man whose arms were wrapped around her. That is, if it hadn’t already taken the plunge.
“All that can wait.” He scooped her up and headed back into the building.
The elevator doors closed and she let her head drop onto his shoulder. “I might be too sore for more sex.”
“Shush. Just let me hold you.” He crushed her tighter against his chest and the utter sense of safety from earlier returned to envelop her as she held on to him.