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Fall Into You: Chapter 40

Shay

Unsmiling, he stands on my doorstep wearing a perfectly fitted black suit and a white dress shirt open at the collar, no tie. His hair is tamed and shining. His blue eyes are dark and piercing. His energy is crackling hot.

He looks like a Grimm brothers version of Prince Charming, more dark and dangerous than Disney’s and sexier by a mile.

Feeling shy, I say, “Hi. Thank you for the dress. It’s really beautiful.”

“You’re the one who’s beautiful.”

He pushes the door open, kicks it shut behind him, pulls me into his arms, and takes my mouth like he’s been starving for it, kissing me so hard, I’m bent back at the waist. I break the kiss, laughing, but he doesn’t let me escape. Instead, he presses his cheek against my neck and hugs me tighter.

“Wow! I guess you missed me.”

Sliding a hand down my back, he squeezes my ass. His voice turns gruff. “I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“Lucky me.”

He turns his head and meets my eyes. “No. Unlucky you. But I’ll do my best to make up for it.”

My arms wound around his strong shoulders, I smile up at him. “I’m glad you’re here. Don’t ruin it by being obnoxious.”

“I’m never obnoxious.”

“The way you talk about yourself like you’re some kind of unnatural beast that should be locked in a basement is. I don’t like it.”

He lowers his head, gently bites my jaw, then murmurs, “I am an unnatural beast. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

“Don’t make me kick your ass. I haven’t even had dinner yet.”

He gives me a firm closed-mouth kiss, then sets me away from him and looks around my living room, his gaze curious and sharp. Before I can say anything, he stalks off toward my bedroom and disappears inside.

I prop my hands on my hips and call out, “Yes, I’d love to give you a tour, Cole. How polite of you to ask. We’ll start in the bedroom.”

He makes a pass by my open door then disappears again. I stand in the living room tapping my toe until he comes out, smirking.

“Why do you look so pleased with yourself?”

“I took a pair of your panties out of your laundry basket.”

Heat creeps into my cheeks. “Ah. How very psychotic of you. Do you always steal dirty laundry on a first date?”

“Never. But I want to be able to smell you when you’re not near me. I’ll keep them in my desk drawer at the office. And this isn’t our first date.” His smirk deepens. “On our first date, I fucked you all night long, princess.”

My pulse goes haywire. I look at him, so sophisticated in that suit, so distractingly handsome, and think his elegant exterior is so deceptive.

His true nature isn’t quite as civilized.

“I’m not a princess. I’m a queen. Get it right, stud, or I’ll give you one of those haughty looks you’re always throwing around.”

“Oh no,” he says with mock fear. “Not the haughty look.”

“Yeah. It’s pretty devastating.”

“You don’t seem devastated.”

“That’s because I’m a badass. Which reminds me, your personal shopper is a super interesting guy.”

Lifting his brows, he strolls closer. “Interesting in what way?”

“In all the ways. How long has he worked for you?”

His gaze drops to my mouth as he approaches. “Axel and I have known each other for a while.”

I say brightly, “Oh look, another cryptic evasion masquerading as an answer! You’re very good at dodging questions, Mr. McCord.”

“And you’re very good at busting my balls, Ms. Sanders. That wasn’t on your resume.”

He reaches out, takes me by the shoulders, and pulls me against his chest. I wind my arms around his back and smile up at him. “This is better than when you’re pretending we’re not going to have a relationship.”

“I wasn’t pretending, I was being protective. And I haven’t said anything about a relationship.”

“Seriously? You just stole a pair of my dirty panties. We’re totally in relationship territory now. Wait, sorry—situationship.”

When he purses his lips in displeasure, I sigh.

“You know what? You’re right. We’ll just have an ongoing series of one-night stands and pretend we don’t know each other the rest of the time.”

He strokes his thumb over my cheekbone and gazes at me in pensive silence for a moment. Then he says something that makes me want to do more than bust his balls—it makes me want to take a hammer to them.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

“I was joking!”

“Let’s not get into this right now. I need to feed you.”

“You know, if I were a few years older, being around you would put me at extreme risk of cardiac arrest.”

He brushes my lips with his. “Because you’re so attracted to me?”

“Nice try. No, because you’re bad for my blood pressure.”

Into my ear, he whispers, “Is that what you think when I’m buried inside you, and you’re clawing my back and moaning my name? That I’m bad for your blood pressure?”

His words evoke a memory of this morning in the stairwell, and a small, involuntary shudder runs through me.

He chuckles. “That’s what I thought.”

“Don’t be smug. I hate smug.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And don’t be sarcastic either.”

Squeezing me tighter, he chuckles again, his breath warm on my neck. “So many rules. Are you ready to go?”

I say drily, “Sure. Just let me grab something sharp to poke you with first.”

“You don’t need anything else. You’ve already got that tongue of yours.”

“Ha. Touché, Mr. McCord. Touché.”


His SUV is big, black, and luxurious. He has to help me into the passenger seat because it sits so high. Then he buckles me in, kisses me, and slides his hand up my bare thigh.

“It’s taking all the self-restraint I have not to bury my face between your legs and eat your pussy, baby, because I love the way you smell and taste. But after dinner…”

He smiles, looking straight into my eyes.

My nipples harden. My heart pounds. I want him to do it right now, and I don’t even care that we’re in a public parking lot.

“Dessert, then,” I say, amazed at the effect he has on my nervous system.

He closes my door and gets behind the wheel. As soon as we pull out of the driveway, he takes my hand. We drive through the city holding hands, and if I stare at his profile too much, he doesn’t seem to mind it.

“You’re very handsome. But of course you know that.”

He glances over at me. “I don’t see myself the way you do.”

“You should. It’s an incredible view.”

He lifts my hand to his mouth and kisses my knuckles. “You’re being sweet.”

“I’m being honest. You’re the best-looking man I’ve ever met.”

“You should see my brother, Callum. Then tell me what you think.”

Intrigued, I turn toward him. “Is he Emery’s husband?”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t seen him around the office. I met Carter the first day I started, but not since.”

His voice turns dry. “Count your blessings.”

“You don’t get along with them?”

“Everyone assumes it would be so great to work for a family business until they actually do work for one, which is typically when they realize they can’t stand the people they share DNA with and start to wish they were adopted.”

I’m taken aback by the bitterness in his voice. I stare at his profile, watching a muscle flex in his jaw, and wonder what his father is like. From the sound of it, their relationship isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy.

“Does your mother have much involvement with the company?”

His features soften at the mention of his mother, and so does his voice. “Not in the day-to-day operations. But my father can’t make a decision without her.”

“How long have they been married?”

“More than forty years.” He glances over at me. “What about your parents?”

“They divorced when I was ten.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Are you close with them?”

I look out my window into the city passing by the windows, at the starless evening sky, focusing on them instead of the sudden tightness in my stomach. “My dad, yes. He’s in Oregon now with his new wife. We get together on holidays.”

When I don’t continue, he squeezes my hand. “And your mom?”

“She lives in Vegas. We speak on the phone occasionally, but…” I have to clear my throat before continuing. “We’re very different people.”

“How so?”

I wasn’t expecting him to ask that. Most guys would leave it alone, guessing from my tone that I don’t want to get into it. But I have Cole’s full attention now. I’m not even looking at him, but I feel it. How the air has charged. How he grips my hand a little harder.

“She drinks a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean she starts around noon and doesn’t stop until she passes out. She’s got congestive heart failure now, but even that hasn’t made a difference in her drinking habits.”

Cole lifts my hand to his lips and kisses it again, pressing his mouth against my skin for a long moment.

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you. It is what it is.” Sighing, I lean my head against the headrest and close my eyes. “I blame her boyfriend.”

“Why’s that?”

“He beats her up. They’ve been together since her and my dad separated. I keep begging her to leave him, but she won’t. I’ve tried everything I can, but people have to want to take part in their own rescue. So now I just let her be and wait for that phone call in the middle of the night from the police that I know will eventually come.”

After a moment when I realize Cole hasn’t said anything, and his silence has gone from attentive to tense, I’m horrified.

What was I thinking? He tells me his parents have been married forty years, and I match it with that?

My cheeks burn with embarrassment. “Sorry. That was a lot.”

“You don’t have to apologize. Thank you for telling me. I’m glad you did.”

I glance over at him. His jaw is hard again, and he’s wearing an expression that’s obvious even in profile. He doesn’t look glad.

He looks murderous.

But thankfully, he changes the subject so neither one of us have to tiptoe through that mess anymore.

“What about sisters or brothers? Any of those?”

“I’m an only child.”

“Lucky.”

“Growing up, I always wished I had a sister. Maybe that’s why Chelsea and I are so close. She’s an only child too. We’ve been friends since high school.”

He looks at me for a long moment before turning his attention back to the road. “You two must share everything.”

“Yes. Well, not everything.”

His voice drops. Without looking at me, he says, “I don’t mind if you talk to her about me. I know she’s important to you. And I trust both of you.”

“Really? You trust us?”

“Yes.”

“But you only met her the one time. And you and I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time together either.”

“I know people. When they’re good, when they’re bad, when they can be trusted, and when they can’t. And both of you can be.”

I study his profile, fascinated by him but also confused. “Did you get all this insight into human nature in business school?”

His lips lift in a brief, enigmatic smile that looks very similar to the ones his pal Axel produces. “Not exactly.”

When I stare at him silently for too long, he chuckles. “Don’t overthink it.”

“I wouldn’t have to if you tell me what you mean.”

“Some other time.”

From the way he says that, I get the distinct feeling that time will never come. But I don’t insist.

We spend the next thirty minutes talking about safer topics. Movies, music, travel, food, books. He knows something about everything. He’s visited every city I’ve ever wanted to visit, and describes them in such detail, I can picture them as if I’ve been there. I’m so caught up in our conversation, I forget to ask him where we’re going, but then we turn off Sunset Boulevard onto Beverly Glen.

“Are there restaurants up here? I thought this area was all residential.”

He smiles. “The best restaurant in LA is at the top of the hill. It’s got an incredible view of the Valley on one side and the Santa Monica Bay on the other.”

We follow the winding road up the hill, every house we pass getting larger. Eventually, the only thing I see of them are rooftops set far back behind gates. Then we pull up to an enormous stone guard gate. We slow, Cole lifts his chin to the uniformed guard who appears at the window, and we pass through.

The same thing happens at another guard gate fifty feet in.

Wherever we’re going, it must be exclusive. The property up here is among the most expensive in all of Los Angeles, and judging by the size of the homes we’re now passing, they’re filled with celebrities and the uber-rich.

We stop in a driveway flanked on either side by huge palm trees and stone statues of lions. The black iron gate is massive, spanning the width of the driveway and continuing along the street on either side. I can’t see what’s beyond the gate because of all the trees and shrubs lining it, but then it opens and we drive through, revealing the building beyond.

Estate, rather.

It’s a home, an impossibly beautiful Italianate style mansion awash in soft light from landscape lighting hidden among lush greenery.

“Cole?”

“Hmm?”

“This isn’t a restaurant.”

His laugh is soft and pleased. “Ah, that sharp intellect of yours, Ms. Sanders.”

We pull through the gates and drive into a large motor court with a central fountain. He parks the car in front of an arched stone entryway, kills the engine, then turns to me.

“I hope you like Asian fusion food. Wolfgang made his famous Shanghai lobster for us.”

“Wolfgang? As in Puck?”

He winks at me. “Hope you’re hungry.” He exits the car and comes around to my side, opening the door and waiting as I unbuckle my seatbelt.

Then he takes my hand and leads me inside his home.


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