“Your woman wants me.”
Grey Richards froze, then lowered the glass of wine and turned to look at the man facing him. Heath’s jet-black eyes gleamed with a disconcerting mix of devilment and concern.
Grey glanced over the crowded room to where Toni stood, smiling among a group of women. His gut clenched in a knot. “Come again?”
“Your woman. She wants me.”
For a stunned moment, Grey gazed into the crimson depths of his glass, his sixth of red cabernet, and decided if he wasn’t drunk, then his friend and partner was.
“Do you have another woman?” Heath replied.
Grey could only stare at him.
Underneath the black tuxedo he’d borrowed from Grey, Heath Solis was still the rough-edged daredevil he’d met twenty years ago, and while his social skills could use a little polish, Grey had always appreciated his bluntness.
No one cut through the bullshit like Heath.
Together they’d been through good times and bad, but unspoken between them lay a quiet understanding. They worked well together. Grey the brain; Heath the muscle.
Having jointly built RS Corporation from scratch, making the company Chicago’s most successful commercial development firm, Grey managed the corporate offices in the city while Heath handled their businesses abroad. Where Heath liked to keep his private life to himself, Grey had to face the press. Grey enjoyed living lavishly, while Heath preferred frugal surroundings.
Despite the differences, they were united by dedication, wills of steel, and a fierce loyalty and trust.
Heath’s childhood might have been far from the ideal foundation for a hero, but Grey would put his life in no one’s hands but his.
Heath was the brother Grey never had. Grey was all Heath had.
He couldn’t believe he was hearing this.
“You’re serious?” he asked.
Heath’s jaw was set, his expression somber; Heath’s face could send people scrambling when he scowled, and lure the ladies when he smiled. “I wouldn’t kid you about this,” he said, shooting Grey a sidelong glance. “You haven’t exactly taken her off the market, have you?”
Head reeling, Grey looked back at the group of women to find Toni gone. The room was alive with music. Glittering chandeliers hung from a vaulted ceiling, fountains spouted champagne, busy waiters circulated among the guests.
He and Heath stood a good distance from the dance floor, amidst dozens of vacated tables at what had been a five-thousand-dollar-per-seat mediocre dinner, but it didn’t take him long to spot her.
She was on the dance floor, whirling in the arms of Senator Louis. A pretty flush stained her cheeks as she let the energetic man twirl her round and round.
Without even realizing it, she’d had Grey’s nuts in a twist from the instant he set eyes on her. Now at the sight of her petite, graceful body draped in shimmering fire-engine red, while she smiled one of her million smiles, Grey was a ball of lust waiting to be unleashed on her.
Her little bottom jiggled, her bosom heaved, and her eyes sparkled like gems. She was all fun, all life, all sweetness and spice. The large diamond studs he’d given her for Christmas peeked through the glossy chestnut waves tumbling past her shoulders, catching the light.
His blood thrummed in his veins with the desire to press his mouth to one ear and tongue her. Eat up that sweet, feisty baby, his juicy-lipped baby, nibble by nibble. His chest swelled, a sensation that had become painful of late and all too real.
He was in love with her.
Irrefutably, indisputably in love with Toni.
It was a place he’d never imagined himself to be. A place where all thought centered around her, all actions aimed to please her. A place where Grey could hardly think.
All he could think of was her.
What had started as a passionate fling had turned into a full-blown relationship, to the point where Grey’s penthouse had been empty for months. The closet in Toni’s apartment was now crammed with his expensive suits and endless racks of ties. Their bathroom looked like a war zone. His schedule was continually interrupted with unexpected but delightful “situations.”
And he wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
You’re not wearing panties tonight, Toni.
Because every time I look at you, I want to know your pussy is bare under that dress, and I’ll think of nothing but taking you home and licking you.
She’d been a sight to behold, leaning over the bathroom mirror, creaming those pouty lips with a glittery red substance. “Will I get a prize for surviving an entire night without panties?” she had playfully asked, setting the lipstick down and twirling around to fix his collar.
Her eyes gleamed appreciatively as she took in his tuxedo-clad figure. She fitted her body up against his and fingered the black bow at his throat. “Will I get to take everything off but this, Mr. Richards?”
“Give me some of that,” he murmured huskily as he ducked his head to run his tongue across the plump bottom curve of her lips, “and I’ll show you how I plan to suckle the lips between your thighs.”
At thirty-five, Grey had seen and done it all. As teenagers, he and Heath had had dirty, raunchy sex with the dirtiest, raunchiest women they could find. Prostitutes and kinky widows and women who seemed so high and drunk they’d do anything with anyone. They’d done things to women that the girls in high school and college would never in their wildest dreams let a man, much less a boy, do. That had been sex for Grey at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen.
Later, through the years, while he and Heath went their separate ways, he’d acquired a connoisseur’s taste for it, like fine wines and cigars. He’d sought pretty women much as he sought out the finest cars; he’d had them all.
And not a single experience compared to being with Toni. No orgy or threesome or a plain vanilla sex could capture a fraction of the intensity of his feelings for her, his wanting of her. She was so passionate, her eager receptiveness to his touch consumed him. He was addicted to memorizing her noises, testing her responses, discovering where to caress, to touch, to bring her pleasure. Her face as it bloomed in orgasm brought him to his knees; he’d never seen anything so beautiful.
He wanted her now. Here, at this wretched party. In front of Heath, in front of everybody.
He burned under his suit, itched to take her into a nearby hall and remind her who it was she wanted, who it was she fucked all day, every day, and begged for more.
He did no such thing.
Instead he averted his eyes and studied his friend and business partner once again.
“What would have given you the impression she wants you?”
Heath took a step to stand shoulder to shoulder, his midnight gaze tracking Toni. Grey did not like the hot, possessive way Heath looked at her. Or the slow, knowing smile stretching his lips.
“Do you honestly think I don’t know when a woman wants me?”
“Did she tell you so?”
“Nah. She’s too fine to tell me in words.”
Oh, she was fine all right. More than fine. Perfect.
Unlike the models Grey had preferred for years, Toni was no tall, bosomy Amazon. She was a small, sprightly thing—a little fire to Grey’s ice. A whirlwind of smiles and surprises that made his heart ache with how freaking adorable she was.
Her eyes—the vibrant energy of her entire being simmered inside them. A chameleonic green of shade and undeterminable, susceptible to her emotions like mood rings. Grey got dark forest with her passion, emerald with her smiles, mossy green with her silence.
What color does Heath get?
Struggling to remain calm, Grey raised the fluted glass and contemplated his beauty above the rim, engaged in yet another lively dance. Song after song blasted in the room, but Grey heard nothing but his heart pounding.
Your woman wants me….
Toni was a sensual, sexual, highly emotional being. Sweet in nature; deliciously responsive in bed. Her lusty appetite was unsurpassed by that of anyone Grey had ever met before, and her responsiveness to the barest touch was addictive. She wasn’t afraid of anything and would always try something once. She liked it dirty, a little naughty, and seemed to get a thrill when he got rough. But never, ever, had Grey considered she might crave more. More sex, more lust. More.
“If she didn’t say so, then why would you be telling me this?”
“We danced.” Heath bent to whisper. “I touched her.”
“And she let me.”
While Grey had been listening to Carlton earlier, specifically to the retired accountant’s monotonous dissertation on the economy, Toni had been in Heath’s arms. Sans panties, because he and Toni had thought to play a little game of anticipation tonight.
She let Heath touch her?
Stomach churning with bile, he set the empty glass on a passing tray. “Toni is a sensual woman, but she responds to no man like she responds to me.” He fixed his friend with a cold smile—the same he used across the boardroom when the meeting was adjourned. “Whatever it is you’re thinking, you can forget it.”
Heath snorted, a primitive sound Grey recognized as having multiple meanings. His partner jammed his hand into his inner coat pocket and produced a long, shiny red sash.
Grey’s eyes slimmed to slits. “That looks familiar.”
“She wore it around her neck.” Heath grasped the back of Grey’s hand and slapped the sash into his palm. “Tie it to my door if you change your mind. I leave Wednesday.”
Grey fisted the flimsy fabric in his palm and glanced up at Heath’s retreating back. “Wait.”
Probably unused to Grey’s most glacial tone being directed at him, Heath stiffened, hands fisting at his sides before he turned around.
Their gazes met with no antagonism, but with a calm, collected watchfulness.
“You’re saying… you want…?” There was little that differentiated Grey from a statue.
“You know what I’m saying.” The broad white smile Heath shot him was the devil’s own. “Think about it, Grey.”