AUBREY AWOKE TO the bold, sensual scents of Oud Wood cologne and sex. Her fingers played over the expensive hotel sheets as she soaked in the rugged aroma of her post-charity-event hotel hookup, Knox Bentley. Eyes closed, she reveled in the weight of his strong arm around her middle and the feel of his arousal against her bottom as he spooned her.
Her eyes flew open. She was not a spooner. Spooning was far more intimate than sex. Spooning implied a deeper connection—the big spoon’s desire to protect the little spoon. As one of the founders of Ladies Who Write Enterprises, a multimedia conglomerate, and the head of the film and television department, self-made billionaire Aubrey Stewart did not need protecting. Except maybe from her dangerously beautiful, too-cocky-for-his-own-good fuck buddy currently growing harder as he snuggled closer, making seductive noises that sent her pulse into a frenzy.
Knox pressed his warm lips to her shoulder and rolled her onto her back, gazing heatedly into her eyes. Shivers of desire swept through her. It was ridiculous how little it took for him to get her going. A hungry sound, a whiff of his expensive cologne. Even a glimpse of that sinful look in his caramel eyes made her stomach flip-flop like a teenager’s. Each of those things sparked the promise of dark pleasures, but combined they did her in every damn time.
She had a million things to accomplish this week before the winter storm that was brewing found its way up the coast, and his big, strong hand sliding down her thigh wasn’t helping her get out the door any quicker.
“I have no idea what happens to me at charity events. I can’t believe we did this again,” she said breathily, trying to wiggle away before she got all caught up in him and her plans for the day went to hell.
He squeezed her thigh, keeping her just where he wanted her as a slow grin spread across his face. “I happen to you, babe. How can you resist all this?” He motioned toward his deliciously hard, naked body. “But really, we should come as no surprise.” He brushed his scruff along her cheek and whispered, “We’ve been hooking up after charity and other business events for more than two years. Don’t pretend it’s only after charity events. Some people might call that dating.”
“Maybe in your world.”
She’d given up on dating long ago. Men were either intimidated by her success, too boring, or too dimwitted to keep up with her. And when it came to sex, though she’d never let Knox know it, he’d pretty much ruined her for any other man. She’d nearly lost her mind when he’d gone to Belize for business and ended up staying there for a few months.
“Two years? It hasn’t been that long.” Has it? She mentally filtered back to the first time they’d met, and damn…he was right. She’d met the rebellious billionaire at another charity function. Rumor had it that as the son of Griffin Bentley, a leading venture capitalist and real estate mogul, Knox had been groomed to take over his father’s financial ventures from the time he was a child. He was known in elite circles for his eco-friendly business endeavors, hefty donations to children’s charities—and for his determined and blatant separation from his family’s businesses. Aubrey knew all about separating from a family’s legacy, though hers was very different. Her middle-class roots ran deep in Port Hudson, New York, where her father coached football at Boyer University and her mother was still the hostess with the mostest, attending and celebrating the local high school and college sporting events and hosting after-parties even though all their children were grown. With two older brothers who were named after football stars and now played in the NFL, it was hard for her to escape being known as the girl in the football family.
She loved her family and she loved sports, but as a teenager she’d dreamed of blazing a path to break away and prove herself. That commonality was what had first intrigued her about Knox. Well, that and his crazy-good looks, wicked sense of humor, and after that first night, his sexual prowess…
He nipped at her jaw, bringing her mind back to the present and to his hand creeping up her thigh. “I’ve got to get out of here. I have resorts to check out for an upcoming movie production.”
“As I recall, Mrs. Robinson didn’t rush things along.”
She scowled at him. “You’re only four years younger than me. Give it up.”
His fingertips brushed over the apex of her thighs, drawing a needy sigh from her lungs. “Babe, you know I don’t have a problem giving it up. As I recall, I gave it up, down, and practically inside out several times last night.”
Babe? That was new. She let it slide, sidetracked by the fact that she couldn’t even blame last night on alcohol. She hadn’t gotten hammered since college. Besides, with Knox she liked being fully present so she could experience every single incredible second of their passion.
He lowered his head, pressing his warm, soft lips to her breast. She sighed, closing her eyes as he lulled her under his spell. He was such a talented and generous lover, she allowed herself just a few more minutes of his deliciousness before giving herself over to the real world again.
“That’s more like it,” he said huskily.
He sucked her breast into his mouth, roughly grazing his teeth over the taut peak. She couldn’t suppress a moan at the shock of pain and pleasure slicing through her. She needed to get out of that bed or she’d never get around to seeing the resorts her assistant, Becca, had scouted for her. Upstate New York could be dicey in late January, and there was a cold front moving through. Just as she closed her eyes to gather the strength and break their connection, Knox rubbed his hard shaft against her thigh, and her traitorous hips greedily rose for more.
Her phone vibrated on the bedside table, breaking the spell. She moved his hands and threw her legs over the edge of the bed with a loud sigh. He chuckled as she reached for her phone—and he reached for her. He wrapped his arms around her middle, trailing kisses along her hips and back.
“Seriously? It’s Sunday, Ms. Workaholic,” he said as she opened Becca’s text.
“I’ve got several days of resort hopping ahead of me, starting today, and I can’t put it off. Next Sunday’s the Super Bowl. My parents are having a huge party, and I don’t want to miss it.”
“Hm. Sounds fun. Want some company?”
One of his hands delved between her legs, while the other cupped her breast, making it difficult for her to focus. “Knox…” Even she heard the wavering plea for more in her voice.
She forced herself to read Becca’s message. Want me to cancel today’s resort meetings so you can lose yourself in that hot piece of ass and come back tomorrow sated and smiling?
No! she texted back as Knox did his best to drive her out of her freaking mind. She never should have admitted to Becca that she’d connected with Knox, but her overly attentive assistant had noticed a difference in her, which she’d called Post-Knox Aubrey, in the days after they’d first hooked up. She’d had to fess up or deal with Becca’s unrelenting inquisition.
Becca’s response was immediate. Can you see me rolling my eyes? Everyone knows you and Knox hooked up last night. Presley and Libby told me to cancel your appts even though they knew you’d have a fit. I deserve a raise for at least asking.
Aubrey and Knox had never been secretive about hooking up, and her business partners and best friends, Presley Cabot, who ran the publishing arm of LWW, and Libby Warren, the director of the philanthropic division, had been at the event last night. Of course they knew about their hookup. But they also knew her well enough to realize she’d never put off work for a man.
And yes, Becca deserved a raise, all right, but not for asking about changing her schedule. She was efficient, had an impeccable work ethic, and best of all, she could handle Aubrey’s tough standards with a sense of humor. Her only downfalls were that she was hot as sin, which meant every male client paid more attention to Becca than to business, and she knew Aubrey too well. She could tell when Aubrey had gone too long without having her bell chimed.
And…she knew the best remedy.
The man who was currently covering her phone with one hand and pulling her into a scorching-hot kiss with the other.
When they finally came up for air Aubrey said, “I’ve really got to go.”
“You could give a guy a complex forgoing his cock for a phone.”
“Can your cock check out resorts for me? Because that might get me very interested,” she said playfully, and leaned up to press her lips to his. He really was beautiful, with thick dark hair and kind, sexy light brown eyes that could smolder so hot they could light panties on fire or emote professionalism so perfectly they could charm unheard of deals from the savviest businessmen. His manicured scruff might look too pretty on another man, but Knox was rugged enough to pull it off. His rebelliousness and killer smile were the jewels in his crown, giving him a unique edge others didn’t possess.
As he lowered his lips to hers, she put her hand on his chest and said, “Shower. We have to multitask.”
He chuckled as they headed for the shower. While the water heated up, she told him about each of the resorts she was checking out between Virginia and New York over the next few days.
“Don’t you have minions to do that legwork for you?”
“Usually,” she said as she stuck her hand into the shower and tested the temperature, thinking, not for the first time, that Knox was the only man she’d ever showered with. Well, besides that one guy in college, but that hardly counted. They were both drunk and fully clothed. At least at first. “But this is for my very best friend in the whole world, erotic-romance author Charlotte Sterling. She’s an LWW girl, too, and she wrote a book inspired by her and her fiancé’s courtship called Anything for Love. We’re making it into a movie for our new Me Time channel. I want to check the potential filming locations out for myself and make sure they’re perfect.”
They stepped into the shower. His arms came around her, his slick body hard and enticing at once.
“The Charlotte you grew up with who lost her entire family while you were in college?”
She froze. “How do you know that?” After losing her parents in a plane crash and then losing her last surviving relative, the grandfather she adored, Charlotte had holed up in the family’s estate, which had once been run as an inn. She’d found solace in writing and had remained at the inn ever since, but Aubrey couldn’t remember ever telling Knox about her.
“Babe, there’s not much I don’t know about you. You talk a lot after sex.”
“Since when do you call me babe, and I do not talk a lot after sex.”
“Since now, and you do. How else would I know you and Charlotte bonded with Presley and Libby over your mutual love of writing in college? Or that you all hated the drama of sororities and started an LWW sisterhood, which is really just a fancy name for sorority?” He grabbed her ass, bringing her even closer as warm water rained down over them. “And that LWW now owns the sorority house where your sisterhood began. I swear you LWW girls are everywhere.”
“Yes, we own the house, and it still runs as a sisterhood, not a sorority, thank you very much. Girls who are interested in writing in any medium—bloggers, authors, screenplay writers—can pledge. We’re going to take over the world one day. But I’m not a talker, which means you’ve stalked me.” She cupped his balls and said, “Spill it, or lose them.”
He pushed his fingers between her legs, instantly finding the magical spot that sent her up on her toes. “Now, why would you want to do that? You love what my body does for you.” He kissed her neck. “You are chatty. In your post-orgasmic haze your lips get a little loose. Besides, I like to know who I’m sleeping with. Is that a crime? And I’m pretty sure your Charlotte is engaged to my business partner’s brother.”
She closed her eyes for a second as he teased her breathless. “I forgot Graham Braden was the other B in B&B Enterprises.”
“Just don’t ask us which B comes first. It might cause a brawl.”
“Guys are so competitive.” She opened her eyes and said, “So you knew my Char was your friend Beau’s fiancée?”
“I knew they were engaged, and I thought she was your Charlotte. You know,” he said as he nibbled on her neck, “I’m familiar with the Sterling House, the property where they met and fell in love, and none of the resorts you mentioned are rural enough to measure up.”
She poked his chest and said, “I think I know what’s best for my clients.”
“We’ll see.” His hands glided down her hips, and he kissed her again. “I’m meeting Graham and his wife, Morgyn, later this month in New York City for dinner. You should come with me.”
“Like a double date? No thanks. Let’s just get back to you touching me.”
“I’m not sure how much I like this dirty-little-secret thing we’ve turned into.”
“It’s worked so far.” She smiled and took a step back as she said, “I could shower alone.” Thank God for birth control, because they’d have to buy stock in condoms if they went that route.
He frowned, but in the next breath his hand moved down her slick belly, over the belly button ring she’d gotten on a dare in college, and he drew her close again. “Must be stressful for Beau, having an erotic romance writer as a fiancée. Nothing like trying to measure up to fictional sex. I wonder if she fakes it.”
“Please. Beau is the real deal. A woman may be able to fake a few orgasms, but there is no faking the look of an orgasm-induced coma.”
“Is that a challenge?” He flashed an arrogant smile as his thumb began teasing over her most sensitive area. “But don’t kid yourself, sweetheart.” He rained kisses down her neck. “You do talk a lot after sex. I know all about your Cheetos fixation and love of eighties movies, that business deal gone bad with the asshole producer, and that you had a massive crush on Tom Selleck when you were a teenager.”
Her eyes fluttered closed. She didn’t care what he knew, as long as he continued his masterful ministrations. He slid down her body, caressing and tasting, tugging on her belly button ring with his teeth, teasing it with his tongue. Her entire body felt like one raw nerve, and when he finally put his mouth exactly where she needed it, she leaned back against the tile wall, giving in to her desires.
“That’s my girl. Now, stop worrying about what you told me and let me show you what else I know about you.”
And he did…several times.
AFTER THE BEST damn shower since New Year’s Day—when he and Aubrey had last woken up together following an insatiable night spent tangled up in each other’s arms—Knox stood before the bathroom mirror in his slacks and open black button-down, wondering how in the hell he could be sated but not satisfied. He watched Aubrey in the mirror as she brushed her teeth. Her black pencil skirt hugged her curves, and the lace bra she wore begged to be ripped off. Long golden tendrils hung loose and a little wavy over her shoulders. He could still feel the silky strands between his fingers and brushing over his chest. There was a time when he’d been sated and satisfied the mornings after he and Aubrey had been together. He’d been fine with their no-strings-attached hookups. But over the past several months, he’d been thinking about her more often, wondering who she was with and what she was doing in between their hookups, what the parts of her life that he hadn’t experienced with her were like. Hell, he’d even begun texting her between hookups, wanting to keep their connection going long after they left their hotel rooms.
She rinsed her mouth and leaned one hip on the sink. “Why do you look like you’re trying to puzzle out world peace?”
He hauled her against him. Her amber eyes flamed with heat, but she instantly grew rigid, placing a hand on his chest.
“Down, big guy. I’ve got a schedule to keep.”
She was the fiercest businesswoman he’d ever known, and he respected the hell out of her. The trouble was, she was also the most sensual, passionate creature on earth, and he couldn’t get her out of his mind. Not even when he’d gone to Belize with Graham last fall to kick off an investment project. But Graham had brought Morgyn along, and they’d tied the knot while they were there. They were so happy and in love, it only made Knox think of what he wanted with Aubrey even more. He’d remained overseas long after Graham had returned home, hoping to shake the unfamiliar emotions, but nothing had dimmed his desire to be with her. They clicked as friends, lovers, and in business. They were a perfect match, and she’d not only gotten under his skin, she’d also burrowed into his heart, something no woman had ever accomplished. Not for lack of trying on their part. He liked his traveling, no-strings-attached lifestyle, though Aubrey was changing that. He enjoyed every minute they spent together, and it went far deeper than sex. But she was like the deal he couldn’t make, the most precious jewel even his billions couldn’t buy.
“Let’s go on a real date,” he suggested. If she’d just slow down enough, she’d realize how good they could be together, too.
She pushed out of his arms, avoiding eye contact as she dug around in her makeup bag. “What is it with you? First it’s babe this and babe that, and now you’re asking me out? Do you want me to make you my grandmother’s love cookies, too?”
“Hey, sounds good to me.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s one recipe I’ll never make. They’re supposed to be made only for your one true love and all that nonsense. I don’t have time for drama in my life, Knox, and neither do you. It’s why we get along so well.”
She opened her lipstick and leaned closer to the mirror as she applied it. Why the hell did he enjoy watching her do that? And why couldn’t he stop wondering how many other men had stood where he was? He gritted his teeth and buttoned his shirt, trying not to ask the question that would make him seem pathetic.
“What?” She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes.
“You tell me.” He rolled his shoulders back and ran his hand through his hair. When she said nothing, he tried a softer approach and put his arms gently around her, drawing her closer again. “We’re great together, Aubrey. Why not take it out of the bedroom? Give it the weight it deserves. No drama, just dinner.”
She sighed. “We had dinner at the event last night.”
“Yeah, with about two hundred other people. I mean just the two of us.”
He pressed his lips to hers, the hell with her freshly applied lipstick. If he couldn’t talk sense into her, he’d remind her how good they were together in other ways. She returned the kiss but was still holding back. He took the kiss deeper until she went soft in his arms. And then he intensified it even more, grabbing her ass and holding her against his hardness. Her fingers dug into his shirt the way he’d come to adore when she wanted more.
He lifted her onto the counter and slid his hands along her thighs, taking hold of her panties. “Tell me to stop, Aub, and I will.”
She panted, her eyelids at half-mast, lipstick smeared over her plump lips. “I hate you right now for making me late.” She lifted up, allowing him to take her panties off.
He wedged himself between her legs and said, “Sure you do.” He brushed his thumb under her lower lip, wiping off the smeared lipstick, and then he kissed her again, slow and sensual. As their lips parted, he trapped her lower lip between his teeth, giving it a taunting tug. He knew his lips were smeared with lipstick too, but he didn’t care. The greedy look in her eyes was what he craved.
She started unbuttoning his shirt, and he pressed his hand over hers, stopping her. Her brows knitted.
“We’re good together,” he said again. “Say yes to one date.”
Her brows rose in amusement. “Knox Bentley, are you saying no to sex unless you get a date?”
Damn. Was he? “Just say yes, Aubrey.”
“No,” she said with a seriously hot look in her eyes. “I won’t be blackmailed.”
“I think you know me better than that.” He took a step back, and she hooked her finger into the waistband of his slacks, pulling him closer. “Change your mind?”
“No.” She pushed her hand down the front of his pants, palming his erection. “I’m hoping to change yours.”
“Fuck, Aubrey. You know I want you.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Now, how about you show me how much before I run out of time.”
He dropped his pants and said, “How long are you going to hide behind that excuse?”
“About ten more minutes, if I’m lucky.”
She slipped off the counter, wrapping her legs around his waist, her body swallowing him to the root. Their mouths crashed together, hips thrusting and grinding. She pushed her hands into his hair, pulling just hard enough to cause a sting of pain, shooting heat to his core. He drove into her faster, harder, as they ate at each other’s mouths. Her legs tightened around him, and he slowed his efforts the way he knew drove her wild. Using his shoulders for leverage, she moved with him, clinging and moaning into their kisses as he took her to the brink of oblivion and held her there.
She tore her mouth away long enough to plead, “Come with me—”
She didn’t have to ask twice. He sent them both soaring, and his name sailed from her lips like a chant. “Knox, Knox, Knox—”
Music to his ears.
When she collapsed in his arms, her heart thundering against his as she rested her cheek on his shoulder, she said, “God, we’re good at that.”
“We’re good at everything, Aubrey. One day you’ll see what’s right in front of you.”
She lifted her head with a coy smile and said, “Don’t you mean inside me?”
“No, babe.” He brushed her hair from her eyes and said, “I’ve got a hell of a lot more to offer than amazing sex.”
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