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Pleasing Mr. Parker: Chapter 22

Maria

I bounce up on my toes and point to a stretch of beach.

“I told you. I’ve got the perfect place in mind.” Griffin smiles over at me as I lean on the side of the speedboat and watch the ocean whizzing by underneath us.

“Fine. I trust you.” I grin back before looking out over the water again.

This day couldn’t be any more magical. After Griffin insisted on matching my efforts in the shower this morning, and making my legs turn to jelly with the power of his tongue, he made us breakfast, which we ate out on the deck watching the ocean. Then he grabbed a picnic basket his housekeeper prepared and took me on the short walk to the marina where he keeps his boat.

I’d heard from Harley and Will that Griffin loves to be out on the water, and his boat is his real true love in life, after The Songbird. But I wouldn’t have believed just how true that was if I weren’t seeing it with my own eyes. At The Songbird, he’s calm, focused and in control, which he is here too, I guess. Only it’s different. At the beach house, and on the water, he’s lighter, younger… more carefree. He’s wearing black trunks and a white t-shirt with a baseball cap… and he’s barefoot! He’s the complete alter-ego from Griffin Parker, Manhattan’s youngest billionaire hotelier with custom-made suits and a fresh-shaven jaw each morning. He didn’t even bother to shave today. But the biggest contrast is his eyes. Here, they’re bright, buzzing with energy… with life. In New York, they’re more clouded, intense. He’s always thinking of the next big business deal, and what the hotel needs. He doesn’t switch off there, and now I understand more than ever why he loves it here so much.

“Are we nearly there yet?”

“Almost.” He steers the boat toward the shore and around some rocks that extend out into the ocean.

I crane my neck, trying to see around the rocks faster, and Griffin shakes his head with a chuckle.

“Patience, Sweetheart. It’ll be worth the wait.”

He catches my eye and warmth blooms in my chest as I recognize both of our words from last night. It was worth the wait. I don’t think there’s ever been something truer.

The sun is shining down on Griffin’s muscular forearms as he turns the steering wheel. He was worth the wait. Each one of my thirty years, including the ones living with my father’s gambling addiction, and the ones with my ex’s lies and deceit—I would do them all again if it meant meeting him. To feel the way I do when he looks at me is worth every tear I’ve ever cried.

He’s my reward for never giving up.

He kills the engine and reaches over to grab me around the waist.

“Okay, my beautiful, perfect woman. We’re here.”

“We are?”

It’s a small, secluded cove. Griffin is busy putting down an anchor for the boat as my eyes run up and down the pale sand. It looks the same as the last four coves we passed on the way here. Maybe he fancied more time on the boat. It makes sense. He loves it so much. I’ll happily pass one hundred identical coves if it means him being so happy and relaxed.

“Let’s go.” He steps into the water, which comes up to his mid-thigh.

I look at him, then back at the water. I didn’t pack a bikini, as I had no idea we would do this. Luckily, I had a light, floaty dress in my bag, which should dry quickly if it gets wet. But I only have lace underwear on.

He laughs at my expression, then grabs me around the waist, hoisting me over his shoulder and carrying me the short distance to the shore before setting me down gently.

“Thank you.”

The firm muscles in his broad shoulders are visible through his t-shirt as he wades back to the boat and grabs the picnic basket, carrying it above his head as he comes back to me.

“My pleasure. Can’t go having you getting all wet and needing to take all your clothes off, can we?” He winks at me as he grabs my hand and walks us up the sand.

Yes, I am definitely with alter-ego Griffin today. I have never seen him wink. Ever. But the butterflies in my stomach are evidence that despite it being a new side to him, it’s one that I’m more than happy to be spending time with.

Griffin picks a spot and spreads a picnic rug out on the sand. He opens the basket and starts taking out dish after dish of tasty-looking food—olives, dips, crackers, a baguette, fresh fruit, tiny little cakes that have chocolate frosting. I raise an eyebrow at him, and he grins at me from underneath his baseball cap, his blue eyes squinting in the sun.

“After last night’s dinner was well and truly fucked, I can at least give you a proper lunch.” He continues unpacking the food and then pulls a bottle of champagne out and two glasses.

“Someone’s trying to win serious points.” I laugh as I watch him pop the cork. It flies over the sand, so I run over to pick it up. Something glinting in the sand catches my eye.

“Hey, Griff, look.” I hold up the tiny, perfect hermit crab shell I’ve found as I walk back over to him. It’s perfectly pink on the outside, but it’s the empty inside that catches my eye. It’s bright, crystal blue. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It’s kind of like you,” I say as I give it to him to look at.

His dark brows knit together, and he gives me a look like I’ve gone mad. “How do you figure that?”

“Well, most people just see the hard exterior, but once you get past the pinchy crab, there’s something unique and quite beautiful underneath.” I smile at him as he hands it back, then I drop it into the picnic basket to take back with us.

“I think the sun’s gone to your head.”

I smile as he hands me a glass of champagne. “Your secret’s safe with me. I won’t tell anyone there’s a caring guy who spends all night sleeping in half a tuxedo to make sure someone he works with is okay.”

He comes to stand next to me and we look out at the ocean. “Not just someone I work with, Maria. You.”

“I’m only me, Griffin.” I let out a contented sigh as I breathe in the sea air. It really is beautiful and relaxing here, away from the city.

“I happen to think only you is pretty fucking impressive. Why do you think I flew from one coast to the other to persuade you to come to New York? It had to be you.”

Heat blooms in my chest as his words sink in. I know he chose me specifically after hearing about my spa in California. It’s something I’m so proud of, and the fact he recognizes that means a lot to me. He’s the first man in my life who’s really appreciated how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am. And I’m realizing he’s also the first man since my father left whose opinion I’ve cared about, too.

“I know how important the hotel is to you. You can trust me to give it everything.”

“I’ve never doubted you,” he says, keeping his eyes fixed on the water. I turn to him as the torment falls over his face like a curtain at the end of a show. “I doubt myself. My own judgment.”

“Griff—”

“Let’s not talk about it now. We came here to take a step back.”

I look at his profile, his short, dark hair, his perfect cheekbones, and soft, kissable lips. And then there are his eyes—piercing blue windows to his soul. A beautiful man with a beautiful, complicated soul. I couldn’t be any more in danger of losing my heart to him than I am at this moment, hearing the uncertainty in his voice, questioning himself, even when he’s achieved more than most people ever do in a lifetime.

A gull flies past overhead as I take a deep breath.

“I know why you wanted to come here now. It’s perfect.” Griffin’s eyes are on my face as I turn to look at him. “What?”

His eyes move over my face, coming to rest on my lips. It makes my stomach flip.

I know that look.

“This isn’t what I wanted to show you. Come on.” He sets my glass down and takes me by the hand, leading me along the small beach to the cliffs at one side. “This is what I wanted you to see.”

We walk toward a gap in the rocks, hidden from view from the shoreline. We go through a tunnel, ducking our heads in places to fit through.

“What the…?” I let out a delighted gasp as I try to take in what I’m seeing.

Griffin just smiles at me as tingles run through my body and my head grows light.

We are in a cave with one small arch leading directly to the ocean. Sunlight streams in from a tiny gap up above us in the rocks, illuminating the small shallow pool of aquamarine water. Its mesmerizing color reflects off the surrounding rocks and bathes them in a blue aura.

“This is incredible! How did you find this place?”

I step forward until my bare toes are immersed in the water. It’s like a mini beach hidden inside the cliff.

“It’s a Parker family secret. My grandfather used to bring my grandmother here to escape her parents.”

“They didn’t approve?” I turn to him in interest. I love when he shares stories about his family.

He smiles. “I’m told they took a while to warm to him. My grandmother was a Broadway actress, and they thought he was a distraction. He was only just starting at the hotel then, an entry-level position. It was a good job, but not for them. She was catching the eye of every leading male actor on the circuit. Her parents saw my grandfather as having the least to offer her.”

“That’s harsh.”

“That’s life.” Griffin shrugs. “He did have the least to offer. But he loved her, and he proved it day after day, working his ass off at the hotel until one day he was made manager. But he wanted more. My grandmother helped him buyout the owner. She had more money than him.”

“She sounds amazing. They both do.” I smile, stepping forward into his open arms. He wraps me inside them.

He clears his throat. “They were.”

I tighten my arms around his waist. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d lost them already.”

He dips his nose into my hair and inhales slowly.

“It’s life. And now I get to carry on for them. The Songbird was what the press called my grandmother. Her singing voice brought people from all over the world to hear her.”

“Wow.” I tilt my chin up to look at him. “So that’s where the name comes from.”

“It is.” His eyes sparkle down at me. “Now enough of the history lesson. Time for some biology.”

I laugh as he lowers his lips toward mine, pausing before they touch.

“You’re fucking perfect. Have I told you that?” He breathes against me, sending tingles throughout my body.

His arms tighten around me and then he kisses me, pulling me up onto my toes as he grips my waist. I snake my arms around his neck and allow myself to become lost in him.

The real world might be going on outside this cave, but I have all I need right here.

“I’m never letting you go,” he whispers against my lips before kissing me harder, deeper, moving me until my back presses against the cool, damp rock of the cave wall.

“I never want you to,” I whisper in response, stroking the back of his neck.

His damp clothes press against me, making us stick together. I would dive right inside him if I could. Nothing feels close enough.

His hands slide up my legs, underneath my dress as his tongue commands my mouth. I let out a small whimper as he bites my bottom lip and his lips curve into a self-satisfied smile against mine.

He knows exactly what he does to me.

He lifts one of my legs behind my knee and wraps it around his waist, his other hand roughly tugging my panties to one side so he can sink his fingers inside me.

“Griffin.” I shudder and clench around him as a rush of wetness covers his fingers.

“Jesus, you’re so wet whenever I touch you,” he groans into my mouth as he finds my G-spot and strokes. “So, so wet.”

He slides his fingers out of me, and before I process what’s happening, he’s shoving his wet trunks down and rolling a condom onto his hard cock.

Where did it even come from? I never saw him get it out of his pocket. Trust him to always be prepared, Mr. Loves-to-be-in-control.

“Turn around.”

I lean back against the wall, panting as I look down. He’s stroking himself, one hand wrapped around his thick cock.

It’s primal and sexual… and damn if it isn’t making my pulse beat hard, low in my core.

He squeezes as he gets to the tip and sucks in his breath, his lower abs clenching.

“Don’t make me ask again.” He tilts my chin up with his other hand and fixes me with a dark look.

I glance down again, and then turn around. His lips are on my neck the second my back is to him, one hand reaching around to palm my breast roughly, the other diving inside my panties and stroking my swollen clit.

“You’re mine, Sweetheart.”

His kisses trail from my ear down to my shoulder. Then he grabs my hips with both his hands and pulls me back toward him, so I’m bent forwards with my hands on the rock.

“Mine,” he repeats as he pulls my panties to one side and drives inside me like he has every right to.

Of course, he does. My body, my heart… this man has the right to it all. He knows I want him, and it only seems to fuel his desire for me more.

I’m thrown forward with the force, but before my head reaches the cave wall, Griffin clasps one hand around my shoulder and pulls me back, so I sink onto him again, every inch of him pushing inside me, spreading me wide around him.

“Fuck, Griff,” I pant, my legs trembling with the delicious burn of his possession.

“Tell me what it feels like when I’m deep inside you,” he groans.

The pleasure coursing through me has stolen the words from my lips, so instead I clench hard around him. He hisses out a low and extended “Fuck” as he stills inside me, his cock pulsating.

“It feels like that for me, too,” I whisper breathlessly, finding my voice.

He flexes the fingers on my hip. “That was a mistake, Sweetheart. Don’t try to tease me.” His voice is laced with amusement.

I clench again, drawing another curse from his lips.

“I’m only trying to please you, Mr. Parker.” I smile as he growls low in his chest.

“That shouldn’t sound as filthy as it does,” he groans as he moves again, thrusting into me over and over, building up speed. “Jesus, your cunt is tight. I’m going to enjoy fucking it bare when we get back to the city.”

“What makes you think you will?” I pant out as tension builds in my core and I slide back and forward over his cock, which is soaking wet, covered with my arousal.

“Oh, I will, Sweetheart. Mark my words.” He takes his hand off my shoulder and buries it between my legs, rubbing my clit in tight, fast circles. “Now be a good girl and cover my cock with your cream as you come. I love feeling you squeeze me when you let go.”

I screw my eyes shut, insanely turned on by his crudeness. I don’t even swear most of the time, yet here I am, flooding over him like a waterfall, and quivering with each word that passes his sinful lips.

He is a filthy-mouthed God disguised as a man.

“God!” I plant my hand more firmly against the rock, its coolness a direct contrast to the fire that is taking over my core. “Griff!” I gasp in a breath, holding it for a second, then let it out in one long cry as I come hard around him, my legs shaking. “I can’t… I can’t…”

“I’ve got you,” Griffin groans as he holds me up and stops me from crumpling into a spent heap at his feet. “I’ve got you,” he says again, the telltale swell of his cock inside me drawing a deep groan from him. It’s as though it gets even harder the moment before he comes.

“Fuck… fuck…” he hisses, slamming into me, pulling me back against his strong thighs as he buries himself deep. He groans one final time, holding himself still, deep inside me, flexing his fingers against my skin as he finishes pumping out. “You make me come so hard, I worry my balls might explode,” he pants.

I take some deep breaths, the thundering in my chest slowing as he pulls out of me, straightening my panties and pressing a kiss to my shoulder.

I turn around as he’s taking the condom off and my eyebrows shoot up.

“Told you they might explode.” He smirks.

I tear my eyes away from the volume of white liquid at the end of the condom and up to meet his. He’s smiling at me in a way that makes my heart catch in my throat. I could get used to this version of him—the relaxed one who makes jokes, albeit rude ones, and smiles at me like I’m the most special person in the world to him and there’s no one else he would rather be standing with right now.

He steps forward and cups my cheek, his eyes lingering on mine before he kisses me gently. “Let’s go eat, before I dine on your pretty cunt again.”

I smile against his lips. Yes, romantic and crude all at once. Who knew that would be my biggest turn-on? Griffin Parker did, so it seems.

He takes my hand and leads me out of the cave.

“I’m famished. You’re quite an appetite builder, Sweetheart.” He grins at me, but his eyes widen as I clap a hand to my mouth.

He snaps his head across the beach to our picnic. The entire rug is covered in around twenty gulls, all flapping and pecking and squawking at each other. Two are fighting over the baguette and there are crumbs and sand being flicked up all over the place.

“Oh, my God.” I don’t know where to look first. It’s carnage.

“No, you don’t, you feathery bastards!” Griffin yells, ripping his hand from mine as he races over the sand, clapping his hands and then waving his arms around. The gulls hop further down the sand and then fly up over his head and back to the picnic.

“Griffin, it’s too late!” I call after him. But it’s no use. He’s fixed on the target, like a missile.

“This is our food!” he shouts as he grabs the baguette off one of them and holds it in the air above his head. “Ah-ha! It’s gone now, you little shit.”

Another gull flies up and knocks his baseball cap off his head as it snatches the bread out of his hand and flies off with it.

Griffin grabs a cupcake and launches it into the air after it.

“Did your friend send you? The one that keeps shitting on my fucking carpet!” he roars.

I run over to help, and then stop short, my eyes raking over the chaos. Our entire picnic has been decimated. It looks like a food fight gone wrong, remnants of it scattered along the sand, all the way to the shore where some birds have tried to fly away with their stash and dropped bits during their escape.

“Griffin.” I stand with my mouth open. It’s like he’s finally snapped. All that stiff, in control, business persona he usually holds together so well is coming careering down in front of my eyes.

But I can’t look away.

He needs this.

“Feather-brained bastards!” He grabs another cupcake and hurls it out into the sea.

“You tell them, Babe.” I smile because this is going to be good for him, even if he doesn’t realize it yet.

He turns to me, eyes blazing as another gull runs past him, flapping its wings, knocking over the champagne bottle.

“That’s a two grand bottle, you little fucker!” he cries, making a dive after the gull, which darts out of the way at the last minute, leaving Griffin face down in the sand. He roars as he jumps up, sand flying everywhere, as he chases the final stragglers away.

He’s panting through his nose when he comes back to me, his jaw set in a tense line.

“It’s just food.” I bite back my smile at all the sand in his hair and on his face.

Our fucking food.” He shakes his head and sand flies everywhere, breaking my reserve as I erupt into giggles.

“I’m sorry,” I say as he looks at me, unamused. “It’s just—” I struggle to talk as I laugh… “—it’s birds again. They must have a thing about you.” I slam my hand over my mouth.

Griffin narrows his eyes at me. “Fucking birds. And my hotel is called the fucking Songbird!” He throws his arms wide and looks at the sky. “You’re shitting me, right?” he calls up to the clouds.

I laugh and he looks back at me, his eyes softening at the corners.

“I’m glad you’re happy.” He scoops his cap off the floor.

“I am.” I walk over and wrap my arms around his waist as he puts his cap on.

“Argh! The fuck!” He rips it off and throws it on the ground where the sun catches the giant dollop of bird shit that’s inside.

I snort, my shoulders shaking.

“This isn’t funny.” He rakes his hand through his dark hair, which only smears the gloop over a larger area.

“Oh, it is.” I grin at him, then pull him in for a slow kiss. “It really is.”

He grumbles and then kisses me back, wiping his hand on his trunks before grabbing each side of my face. The next second, I’m looking at sky as he throws me down on the sand and climbs over me.

“What are you doing?” I laugh as he hovers over me, shielding my eyes from the sun with his muscular torso.

“Those fuckers may have taken our picnic, but I’m still eating.” His eyes darken as he slides my dress up. “And I’m starting with dessert.”


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