“I don’t want to enjoy myself,” he blurts, closing his eyes. “It doesn’t feel right to…have a good time, I guess. It hasn’t felt right for years.”
Scalding hot tears threaten against the backs of my eyes, but I breathe. Breathe. Breathe through them. He would definitely think it odd if I cried over his admission. After all, he has no idea that he’s just stabbed me through the heart. “Because of…your sister?”
He nods stiffly. “If she’s not here to enjoy herself, I shouldn’t be allowed to, either.”
“No,” I breathe, stricken. “That’s not true. I…I don’t know what happened to her…” Liar. “But I know you deserve to live. You have to live.”
Until his jaw flexes sharply, I don’t realize I’ve stood up, set down my tablet and leaned across his desk. I’ve placed my hand on top of his, squeezing it. His attention travels from my face downward, to where my breasts are pushed up by a lacy pink bra into the V of my blouse. “Do you…attend the parties you plan?” he asks, his voice deeper than before.
“Sometimes,” I whisper, brushing my thumb over his wrist and listening to him suck in a jagged breath. “Would you like me to be there?”
“Yes,” he says thickly, though he draws his hand away from mine. “But I’m pretty damn sure that spending time with you falls under the category of enjoying myself. So I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
This is where I should take a step back. Maybe I would if he wasn’t looking at me with such unabashed yearning. How long has it been since this man enjoyed a single thing?
Two years. You know that.
Would he enjoy me? Could I replace his ever-present seriousness with bliss?
I won’t find out if he tells me no to planning his party.
If I want to see him again, I have to go big or go home.
“That’s too bad…” I say, circling the desk in his direction. “Because unfortunately, planning a party requires a lot of input from the client. You.” I perch myself on the lip of Byron’s desk, immediately to his right. And I cross my legs slowly, letting him peruse my thighs. Letting him catalogue my garter belts and a hint of pink panties. “We’d have to work closely together to make sure everything runs…smooth. And tight.”
Once upon a time, I was something of a flirt. Some even called me a tease.
I’ve always enjoyed being a little daring with my wardrobe. For myself. My own enjoyment. Frilly underthings, sexy clothes and new makeup trends are my jam. Unfortunately, men expect a certain behavior out of me because of my clothing. But I am not a seductress. I’ve had a boyfriend or two in the distant past, but ever since what happened and I found Byron? Other men don’t exist for me anymore. There is only this man right in front of me. I’m compelled to establish a physical connection with him, even though I feel as though we already have one. That it’s been there for years. Long, aching, miserable years that I’ve watched him through his windows at night, needing his body on top of mine. His mouth on my skin.
Now I’m trapped in a fever state.
No choice but to bewitch him. Tempt him closer.
Not just for me.
For him. Because the fact that he denies himself pleasure and happiness is like a knife twisting in my gut. All I want to do is make it better. Please let me make it better.
“I don’t think I can work closely with you, Jane,” he rasps, shifting in his seat. His hand drops from the top of the desk to his lap and he not-so-discreetly adjusts himself. “No. That sounds like a b-bad idea.”
“Not even one little planning session?” I let my head fall back, shaking out my long, brunette waves and forcing a giggle. “I don’t bite, Byron. And I promise, you’re not going to find a party planner more dedicated or creative than me.”
“No, I don’t want someone else,” he says quickly, through his teeth, eyeing my body like a meal. “We just…have to keep this professional. I don’t do personal, Jane.”
My heart convulses. He’s so damaged. “What would you consider personal?”
His chest heaves, more and more color staining his cheekbones. “You know what I’m talking about. I can’t believe you’re…well, that you seem interested in me. Like this. Physically. Because, Christ. You’re incredibly beautiful and I’m…not. I’m a tech geek. But I’m still not able to pursue this.” He ogles my crossed thighs, letting out a shaky breath. “God help me.”
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