“May I come in?”
The sudden question was preceded by two taps on the door, and followed by the appearance of James Hamilton. Black suit, black tie, no smile. All perfect. Her office shrunk two sizes on the spot.
Meredith stiffened in her chair, then frowned at her computer as though she’d been riveted by some e-mail or file on it. “James. What a surprise.”
He shut the door behind him with a click. And her heart went thud. Thud, thud, thud.
Suddenly, his bold, sophisticated presence made her inhumanly aware of everything unsophisticated about her office: the corkboard haphazardly hung on the wall behind her, the silk roses in the glass vase on the corner of her desk—roses that had never seemed so fake before.
He could have been Bond—James Bond—and she the silly Miss Moneypenny.
Unaware of her distress, James stuck his fingers into the pockets of his pants and crossed the small space to stare thoughtfully out the window. Meredith’s tenth-floor office had a very uninteresting view of the back alley. No one had ever stared so long at it before.
When silence had reigned for minutes, Meredith brought her hands up to the keyboard, so that if he turned, she could busily type something. He didn’t glance at her, though. He braced a hand on the window frame above him, while the other stretched the material of his pants as he fisted it in his pocket.
“You didn’t let me drive you home.”
His voice throbbed, so thick and so unlike him that a ball of regret plummeted to her stomach.
She swallowed painfully, feeling foolish. Like the coward she was.
“Meredith . . . I don’t say anything I don’t mean—” He cut himself off. His thumb tapped in his pocket in what had to be the first sign of restlessness she’d ever seen from him. “When I asked you to stay, I wanted you to.”
Meredith hadn’t noticed she was twirling the phone cord until she had to untangle her finger. “I’m sorry. I belatedly realized how inappropriate it was of me to stop by uninvited.”
“Did I give you the impression you weren’t welcome?” he asked quietly.
The bed creaked in her ears. Her moans echoed, his soul-melting voice uttering sexual commands in her ear. She shivered.
“No. No, you didn’t,” she admitted, noting he seemed to have forced his thumb to be still. “But I considered how neither of us wants any complications, and I thought it best to leave. I hate to inconvenience you.”
“Christ.” He laughed—not a happy laugh—and shook his head. “You don’t. Inconvenience.” He came over with three determined strides. “Haven’t you read between the lines yet?”
“I’d need a loupe to read one of yours,” she said, smiling. She fell solemn when he bent over the desk, his expression serious.
His nostrils flared. Silver eyes that were gripping in their intensity coasted across her features, making her breath quicken. With one tanned hand flat on the leather-topped surface, the other reached out and . . . and . . . felt so good as it glided . . . over her cheekbones . . . her lips. His voice, when he spoke, was deep and thick, and the most erotic thing she’d ever heard. “Spend the night with me.”
Her womb constricted, gripping tight with need. While muscles that needed him rippled with awareness, Meredith tucked her face into his warm, dry palm, unconsciously seeking his caresses. With his thumb he brushed her skin with up to her cheekbone, then ran his knuckles up and down before his thumb returned.
“Will you come to me tonight?”
What kind of things did a woman wear and buy and say and do to drive James Hamilton crazy? Meredith would like to know. Because inside, her mind was a whirl, her body not even hers anymore, and she felt so alone. . . . She feared only she was in this turmoil and he was just calm, confident, sexy. . . .
They were enclosed in her office, but they were whispering like misbehaving children hiding in a closet so they wouldn’t be caught. Meredith could feel their hot, intimate whispers running over her bones like ribbons. Her voice was breathy and soft, and her head fell forward as she asked, “Do you want me to?”
His thumbs took ages to trace the contour of her lips, to slide sinuously between them. “I’m asking you to.”
She ached. Felt void without it. Him. Thrusting and thrusting and thrusting.
Her breasts prickled, demanding she take him up on his offer and beg him to rub her with his palms and fingers.
He was asking her for a night, an entire night, and she did not want to think of the dangers. Only of the pleasure.
Relaxing in her seat as he fondled her lips, Meredith allowed her tongue to slip out to lick him, and she closed her eyes when he pushed his thumb in for the delectation of her senses. She softly suckled, tasted skin and salt and him. He murmured, “Come to me tonight.”
“So I can kiss you.”
“Make love to you.”
She buried her face deeper into his hand and nuzzled him as she pressed a kiss to the center of his palm.
“Do you know what else I’m going to do to you?”
She was breathless with anticipation, susceptible to anything he’d say he’d do. And if he said, I’ll hurt you, Meredith. I’ll break your heart and make you regret every word and sigh you ever gave me, she would still succumb.
He came around the desk with agonizing slowness, then behind her chair, to tug the backrest down with his hands as he bent to whisper in her ear. “I’m going to restrain you,” he said, his voice like velvet flowing into her veins. “I’m going to tie you up from the top of your head down to your two little feet, so the only part of you that can move will be your mouth as you cry out my name.”
Oh, god. His arms came around; one hand slipped under her jacket, and the other delved into her skirt. Meredith’s body arched to accept both of them, and his amused chuckle made the little hairs on her arms rise to attention.
“You like restraints, don’t you? They excite you.” He fondled the sex, the breast, the taut, beaded nipple. His fingers burned her through her clothes. “You’re a sassy little lawyer, you like power, but you like feeling helpless, too. You want to feel trapped, to wiggle your way around the free area. . . . You like limits, knowing there’s something bigger than you out there, and messing with it. You like messing with me.” Her soaked silken panties were glued to her flesh as he stroked his finger up and down the material, tracing the entry of her sex. “Guess what.” Her nipple pinged when he grasped and pulled. “I want to take you there. I want to take you high and low, touch and lick you until you’re so hot, so fucking aroused, you’d come at the touch of a feather.”
“Oh, god, James.”
“Say yes, Meredith. Come to me tonight. Come play with me.”
When her assistant’s voice outside her office registered in Meredith’s lust-fogged mind, she started in her seat, pushing James’s hands away. By the time the young blonde opened the door and peeked inside, Meredith sat calmly in her chair while reviewing the contract, with James looming behind her, his head bent as though he were reading, too.
“I’m sorry. Did I interrupt anything?” Kylie asked, and Meredith looked up and blinked.
Come at the touch of a feather . . .
She set the contract aside and waved a hand in the air. “Kylie. Oh no, Mr. Hamilton and I were just . . .”
“Actually, Kylie, you are,” James said, propping a hip on the corner of Meredith’s desk and gazing at her with the confidence of one who is used to being obeyed. “Do you mind giving me a minute with Miss Sinclair?”
Kylie’s smile faltered as she scrutinized James first, then Meredith.
Come at the touch of a feather . . .
Meredith felt such hot, blazing color creep up her neck and cheeks, it took all her effort to keep from ducking under her desk.
“Julian wants to see you,” Kylie finally told her.
Meredith rose from her chair, her thighs still weak from the desire pumping through her veins. But Julian was, after all, the owner of the company, and her boss. “I’ll be right there.”
When Kylie nodded and shut the door behind her, James’s presence became a Herculean force inside the room. Pulling at her. Weakening her. Every atom inside of her, every cell, seemed entirely focused on him, on his steady breath, his virile scent, his size and frame and the entire space surrounding him.
He caught her elbow as she tried to pass. His fingers around her bone formed a steel-like bracelet as he flicked his wrist and spun her around. His eyes burned his question into her. Stamped his desire into her. “And my answer?” he prodded, the silver orbs of his eyes almost engulfed by the growing black of his pupils.
Desire crashed through her like a frenzied stampede that abolished doubt and reason. Lava inundated her veins.
Inwardly trembling with anticipation, afraid of everything he made her want and feel and crave so potently, she pulled her elbow free.
With the cacophony of her heartbeat echoing in her ears, Meredith strode across the room and set her hand on the doorknob. And without meeting his gaze, before even trying to continue to rationalize all the feelings he stirred in her, she whispered, “Yes.”