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Discovering Mr. X: Chapter 9


My eyelids flutter open to the sound of gentle breathing. Glancing over my shoulder, I see Tanner. He’s laid out on his back, his exposed chest gently rising and falling with each sleepy breath. Oh, fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck! I throw my arm across my face and groan inwardly as I recall last night; the hot as hell sex against the wall, followed by another two equally hot times. What the hell was I thinking? I’ve never spent an entire night in bed with a man in my entire life, certainly never fallen asleep next to one, and I don’t even like him! I’ve really fucked up now.

I look back at Tanner’s peaceful face, his dark hair messy in that sexy, just-fucked way. His firm jaw leading to those soft, kissable, and ridiculously skilled lips. His chest is muscular, toned, and broad, much like the rest of his body. I suppose I at least chose well for a one-night stand. I finally see what Megan’s been telling me. His hotness is off the charts. Too bad he’s still the most irritating man I’ve ever met.

Glancing around the room, I mentally tally up my clothing. I see everything apart from my knickers. Fuck it, I can do without them. I slide out of bed as gently as I can and silently tiptoe around the room, pulling my clothes on. With one last look at Tanner’s sleeping face, I open the door into the hotel corridor and step out, gently clicking it shut behind me.

“I bet you can’t wait to get home?” Matt nudges me as we walk along the Las Vegas strip, sipping our lattes.

“You’re right; I can’t.” A smile spreads across my face. “Soon I will hold the keys to my very own house in my hands!” I bounce a little as I walk.

“I like this new, bubbly Rachel,” Matt says, grinning at me. “Are you sure it’s all the house’s doing? Or might it be what else you got your hands on last weekend?” He raises his eyebrows at me as he sips his drink.

“Don’t you start as well.” I feel my shoulders tense up. “It’s all Megan keeps talking about. I wish I hadn’t told you both.”

“What? that Tanner, the property mogul,” Matt emphasizes his name, “is now to be known as Tanner good-with-his-hammer.” He titters, laughing at his own joke.

“Piss off,” I fire back.

“Oh, come on, Rach, you know I love you. I’m just teasing. I’m pleased that you got the hottest sex you’ve ever had with a man you hated just one month ago.” Matt smirks as I look sideways at him through narrowed eyes. “Maybe that’s why it was so hot,” he continues, “all that burning hate inside, fueling the passion.”

“Stop.” I hold up my hand. “Unless you want to spend the rest of this trip alone,” I look at him pointedly, “then you’ll drop it and just let me focus on getting my new keys.”

He looks disappointed for a moment, and I almost feel sorry for him, but then I remember this is Matt. He’s spent years perfecting the kicked puppy look to get himself out of trouble, which has found him regularly in the past.

“Okay, fine,” he huffs like a child that’s had their playtime cut short. “So, which room are you most looking forward to decorating first?”

“Easy. The bathroom.”


“Yep. It’s got the original roll-top bath in there! I’m going to turn it into a peaceful haven where I can soak for hours.” I smile, feeling more relaxed at the thought of sinking down in a mound of bubbles.

“Oh, I forgot, you and your baths.” He rolls his eyes. “I’ve never understood why you like them so much. I am partial to bubbles, especially those posh ones that Stefan has at his house.” He trails off, clearly distracted by the thought of his boyfriend.

“Are you seeing him again soon?”

“Yep, next flight, and I can’t wait. You need to get on an LA flight soon and visit Holly and Jay. You can see her bump now.” Matt uses one hand to simulate a tiny baby bump against his stomach.

“I know, I know. I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I last saw her in person. I obviously don’t bribe the crewing department as well as you. I’ve had all East Coast USA flights until this Vegas. I video called her again this morning, though. She’s totally glowing; pregnancy suits her.”

I tilt my head back and drain the last of my double espresso caramel latte. God knows I need the caffeine. I’m not used to the eight-hour time difference between London and the West Coast.

“Oh, look,” Matt says, stopping and looking up at the building site off to one side of the strip. “They’re re-modeling one of the hotels. Looks swanky.” He points to the large photographs depicting the finished design, which cover the surrounding fence.

I cast my eyes over the designs; they look familiar, dark greys and black, with a very stylish, contemporary vibe. “These are like the hotel in London where I met Tanner.”

I shoot Matt a look as he opens his mouth, thinking that he’s about to turn the conversation back to that night again. Instead, he closes it again and just nods.

“Do they? Must be a coincidence.”

I look at the posters again, the company logo and motto visible in the top right corner.

Grayson Designs, building visions together from the ground up.’

“No, I don’t think so. The bar at that hotel was called the Grayson bar. I’m sure I’ve heard of the company before.” I shrug as we carry on with our walk. “You know one thing that’s definitely better about the West Coast?” I turn to Matt. “Not having to pack huge winter coats at this time of year. I’ll be freezing my tits off on my next New York flight. It might even snow.”

“You love it.” He nudges me. “All those hot businessmen in suits, with their smart coats and scarves on, hiding hard, toned bodies underneath.”

It’s no secret to my friends that I’ve always loved a man in a sharp suit.

“Yeah, okay, there is that. I suppose I can make do with taking a larger case to fit my coat in.”

“Oh, it’s such a hardship being Rachel Jones.” Matt sighs dramatically. “It’s not as if you’ve had to fight for everything by yourself growing up.” He eyes me sideways before pulling me into his side. Matt is the one of the few people who can joke about my upbringing in foster care and not expect a smack in the face. He gets away with it as we’ve been friends for so many years, and I know he loves me.

“Okay, that’s enough cuddling for one week.” I slip out from under his arm and pretend to shudder at the physical contact.

Matt smiles at me. “I’ll make a hugger out of you yet, Rach.”

“No. You won’t.” I smirk. “Come on, let’s get some lunch. I’m starving.”

The day after landing home from Vegas, I’m standing in line at our local coffee shop with Megan. We’ve just come out of the early kick-boxing class. I will collect the house keys later this morning and was too excited to sleep, hence the early attempt at releasing some excited energy.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into that,” Megan moans, stretching her back out. “I swear I’m going to ache forever.”

“Come on, you do your barre class all the time. I’ve seen the strength you need to do that. It’s amazing and so graceful.” I smile at her as I pull my card out of my purse.

“Yeah, but I think I’ve just discovered a whole new load of muscles that I didn’t even know existed. How do you do that class so often?”

“I like it. It helps keep me calm.”

“That…” Megan points back towards the street outside. “That keeps you calm? You’re like a flipping assassin in there. I was scared for my life.” She laughs.

“Didn’t it help you? Imagining your idiot boss on the receiving end?” I ask, turning to her.

“Don’t remind me.” She groans. “You know, he asked me to move his car for him yesterday so that he wouldn’t get a ticket. I had to circle for twenty minutes during my lunch break to find another spot. And I hit a traffic cone.” She lowers her voice at her confession.

“You what?” I smirk.

“Totally crushed it. It was stuck under the wheel and everything. Luckily, the guys doing the roadworks saw the funny side. I could see them trying to straighten it back out again when I finally parked up.”

I laugh. “Megan, he’s such an ass. He’s lucky you returned his car in one piece. You should have crushed it, not the cone.”

We move along to the head of the line. “One cappuccino and a double shot caramel latte, please,” I say to the woman behind the counter as I reach over to the payment machine, ready to tap my card.

“Let me get those,” a deep voice cuts in. A hand reaches forward, giving a note to the woman behind the counter. “Keep the change.” She blushes as she takes it. If I didn’t recognize the voice, then the Rolex watch on his wrist would give it away. I turn around and stare straight into the dark, glinting eyes of Tanner as he removes his sunglasses.

“We can buy our own coffee, you know,” I say. It comes out harder than I intend it to, but Tanner doesn’t flinch.

“Or you could just say thank you,” he says, studying my face with a smirk. God, I want to slap it off his face. I bet he thinks I’m happy to see him. The fact I haven’t called or text him since that night together should tell him I’m not.

“Thank you.” Megan smiles, looking up at him. I scowl at her quickly. Traitor.

“You’re very welcome, Megan.” He grins at her before turning his gaze back to mine, one eyebrow raised, as though he finds something amusing. I will the woman behind the counter to hurry with our drinks so we can get out of here.

“What are you doing here, anyway? I’m fairly sure there are no fancy, smug apartment complexes around here like the one you must live in.”

Despite being used to my bluntness, I see Megan glance between us warily.

“Early business meeting,” he says smoothly, unaffected by my tone. I look down and swallow hard as I take in his charcoal grey suit, white shirt, and deep red tie.

He wears it well, very well.

“Well, got to be going,” he says as he runs his hand through his dark, wavy hair. Hair that I held in my fists as he fucked me with his tongue just days ago. I shake the thought from my head as I frown at him. His eyes flash darkly, “You going to thank me for your coffee, Snow?” He rolls the last word off his lips purposefully so that I look at them, once again reminded of just how skilled his mouth is.

“No,” I say childishly, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Too bad,” he says as he plucks my takeaway cup off the counter and takes a sip. “Mmm, caramel latte. Not had one of these in a while.” He winks at me as he walks off with it in his hand.

“Nice to see you again, Megan. Oh, and happy key day!” he calls over his shoulder as he walks off.

“Rach, did he just…?”

“Yes,” I reply, “he just signed his own death wish.”


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