“Sounds wonderful. Thanks so much.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing you then, Erica.”
The affection I’d heard in his voice was abruptly cut off when the call ended. I stared at the phone a few moments longer until I heard Blake join me.
He wrapped his arms around me, his body curving behind mine.
“Everything okay?” he murmured, pressing a warm kiss to my neck.
I hugged my arms over his. I wanted to keep him close to me just in case he had any ideas about leaving abruptly. He sure as hell wouldn’t be sending me off again anytime soon.
“What are you doing Friday night?” I asked.
My face heated and I turned in his arms until I faced him.
“That can be arranged, however Daniel invited us to some gala his firm is hosting and they have some extra tickets.”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
I smirked and considered a remark about last night's “date” that involved his home cooking and some very intense frustrated sex, but I thought better of it.
“Are you interested? I could probably find someone else in a pinch,” I teased.
“Over my dead body.” He tightened his embrace, pressing me deliciously close, melding my body to his.
“It’s black tie. I’m assuming you can retire the witty T-shirts and clean up nice?”
“What do you think?”
My heart sped up at the mere vision of Blake in a tuxedo. What that might do to me in person was almost frightening. “I think I can’t wait.”
“I have to get back to work, but let’s grab dinner with Alli since it’s her last night in town.”
“That would be nice.”
“I'll text you when I get out.”
He stepped back but I caught the hem of his shirt, as if I could hold him still with the tiny handful of fabric.
I didn’t want him to go. Last night had been intense, and I needed to know he was still with me. As close as we’d been, emotionally stripped, the thought of him pushing me away again, ever, scared the hell out of me. I never wanted to feel that way again.
“I want to keep you a little bit longer. Is that so wrong?”
“I won’t argue with that.” His eyes darkened and he came closer. Sliding his hands down my arms, he leaned down to kiss me.
All too aware of our serious lack of privacy, I froze, bracing myself for the onslaught of sensations he inspired. We were stealing a moment. His lips met mine, warm, controlled. I opened my lips to his but he broke away.
“Not this again,” I muttered.
He answered my eye roll with a smirk and stroked the ridge of my lower lip with his thumb. “I think you have a fetish for office sex, sweetie,” he whispered.
“You’re my fetish, Blake. The setting doesn’t much matter.”
He laughed, the low rasp reverberating through me. I bit my lip too hard, replacing the tingle he’d left there with a twinge of pain.
“The feeling is mutual. That still doesn’t fix our current predicament, however. I want to spread you out over this desk and fuck you ’til you scream, but as you once aptly noted, some of us have work to do.”
I caught a fistful of his shirt and pulled him back down to me, forcing his mouth onto mine, muffling a quiet growl that rumbled through him. He gave my ass a hard squeeze, pressing our bodies together and reminding me of last night’s endeavors. His body, his presence, overwhelmed me so easily. A rush of desire intoxicated my senses, making me forget everything but the way he felt wrapped around me, his hands on me, his tongue inside me. I wanted more. I always did.
I vaguely heard the click of heels approaching. I tore myself away from his kiss and caught Risa gaping at us. A wave of pure female confidence surged through me. Eat your heart out, honey. Blake was mine, and I couldn’t have made that more clear outside of the present moment. If she wanted to crush on him, she’d have to get in line.
Blake seemed to be waiting for my reaction. I smiled and gave him a quick kiss before pushing back slightly. “Bye, baby.”
A twinkle of acknowledgement passed over his features. He was calculating to a fault, and he knew how jealous I could be. Sure, I was completely overreacting, but Risa got the picture.
He returned my knowing smile and stepped away slowly, giving her a polite nod on his way past.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t—” Risa was wide-eyed, her jaw agape.
I immediately regretted the choice. This was her first day, after all. “Don’t be. I wanted to ask you something actually.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“We’ve got tickets to the Spirit Gala on Friday night. Would you be interested in going and representing the company? You could bring a date, of course.”
“I’d rather not.”
I lifted my eyebrows.
“I mean, I’d love to go. I’d rather not bring a date. Networking is easier that way.”
“Oh, right. That’s fine. Let me know if you change your mind.”
“Great, I can’t wait.” She smiled broadly and glanced down at the notebook she was holding. “Alli and I got through most of my questions, but she wanted me to run a few things by you that she wasn't sure about. Do you have a minute?”
“Sure. Have a seat here. I'll be back in a minute.”
I left her there to find Alli, who was looking as restless as she had this morning, checking her phone at the conference table.
“You guys done?”
She nodded. “I think so. If you don't mind, I might head back to the apartment. I need to pack and catch up on some things for work.”
“You're on vacation, you know.”
“Not with this gig, unfortunately.”
“All right, I'll see you tonight. We can grab dinner with Blake later if you're up for it.”
“Sounds good.” She rose to give me a quick hug, waved goodbye to Sid, and left.
Alli and I sat at a cocktail table in the open air bar, sipping pear martinis while we waited for Blake to join us. The weather was perfectly mild. The sun was setting and a warm breeze blew over us. Days like today made the long winter worth enduring. Everything felt possible. I only wished Alli felt the same way. She looked better, a little more rested, but something was still off.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving already. I feel like you just got here.”
Alli had made the choice to work in New York while I chose to stay in Boston. Now our lives were taking root. I wanted to urge her to come back. With the business funded, she could. She knew that as well as I did, but I kept those thoughts to myself. She didn't need any more confusion, or worse, guilt, on top of everything else she was dealing with right now.