Hunter stalked away from the couch, away from the temptation he saw in Bailey’s eyes. He grabbed the room service menu and began to flick through it, anything to get his mind off what he really wanted to do, which was lay Bailey out on the couch, slide between her thighs and lose himself in her.
He flicked through the pages, needing the distraction.
“Uh, sure,” she said, uncertainty flicking in her eyes.
“Or we could go out if you’d prefer,” he said, trying to hide the desperation in his voice. “I could take you on our first date.” He smiled at her then, not wanting to frighten her away, but needing to put some distance between them.
She grimaced. “If it’s all the same to you,” she said, “I’d rather stay in. Maybe we could watch a DVD or Netflix?”
He breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah, that’s sounds good,” he said. “So what can I tempt you with in the way of food?”
“I’d really love a burger,” she said shyly and he couldn’t help grinning. He loved this about her, the lack of guile, the lack of airs and graces, not that she couldn’t be a society lady if she put her mind to it. He’d been impressed with the way she had carried herself at brunch among the wannabes and he’d experienced her professionalism in her job. But his favourite part of Bailey was the one that sat on his couch with her shoes off and her masks removed.
“One burger it is,” he said. “Do you want fries with that?” She giggled and nodded. “And to drink?”
Bailey held up her Corona. “Another one of these would be perfect.”
Hunter placed their order, getting a burger and another beer for himself and then returned to the couch, picking up the remote.
“So, what are you in the mood for?” he asked.
“Will you hate me if I say a RomCom?” she asked.
“As long as I get to pick it,” he said. “I don’t want anything too mushy.”
She laughed. “Fine,” she said, “and while you’re doing that, I’m just going to run down to my room and change.”
“You’re not going to stand me up, are you?” he asked, suddenly afraid that she would have second thoughts and not come back.
She stood and dropped a kiss on his head. “I promise I’ll be back,” she said, “and I’ll bring dessert.”
He watched her walk away, her feet bare and her shoes held in one hand, her handbag in the other. This woman had bewitched him and he was helpless to resist her.
He forced his attention onto the television and searched through the available movies until he found one that fulfilled the brief…romantic comedy, heavy on the comedy, light on the romance. The last thing he needed was something that would give him ideas about how to woo her.
God, he wanted to woo her. He wanted to win her, but he wanted it to be on his terms. He didn’t want to be her second choice or to win her by default and he had no idea how to make sure that what she felt for him was real and not just because she was heartbroken over Nick.
Hunter wasn’t normally a violent person, but God, he wanted to punch him so fucking bad and not because he had Bailey’s affections, although that did add fuel to the fire. No, the reason he wanted to leave his stepbrother a broken and bloody mess was because of his callous disregard for Bailey’s feelings. The guy was stringing her along, making promises that weren’t fair to Bailey. He just wished Bailey could see that for herself.
And then maybe when she looked at him, she would see everything he could offer her. And he would give her anything she asked for if it was in his power to do so. He would move heaven and earth for her, he would catch the moon for her. And, apparently, he would wax poetic for her.
He was absolutely undone by her. How the hell was he going to make it through this evening without touching her? Without tasting her, without feeling the press of her soft, sweet lips on his?
There was a knock on the door and he got up to answer it. He opened the door to room service and let the guy bring the tray in, directing him to set it down on the coffee table.
He could do this…would do this…because more than anything else, he wanted Bailey in his life, even if it was just as friends. She was going to need a friend when she came to the realisation that Nick was going to marry Ainsley and that the future she had thought she’d have with Nick was never going to be. That was going to crush Bailey. It may even break her. And if that happened, he would be there to pick up the pieces and he would make sure that Nick could never hurt her again.
Bailey fidgeted with the hem of her sweatshirt as she walked towards Hunter’s door. She really didn’t know what she was doing. This thing with Hunter was crazy. The way she felt about him, the confusion she felt…it was all spinning out of control.
She took a deep breath and knocked on the door and it opened almost immediately as if he were waiting right on the other side, waiting for her to knock, like he was worried she wouldn’t come back.
She’d be lying if she said that she hadn’t considered texting him and telling him that she was too tired, that she was just going to crawl into bed, but who was she kidding? She wanted to explore this thing with him. The attraction to him was so strong and whenever they were near, it felt like they were connected by a thin silver thread. She really wanted to tug on that thread and see where it led.
His face broke into a relieved smile when he saw her, which made her stomach flip and her knees go weak. The man was a goddamned Adonis with his green eyes, dark beard and those tattoos. He’d changed while she was gone and he wore linen draw string pants and a white, long-sleeved t-shirt that pulled across the muscles of his chest and shoulders. She could see the swirls of ink showing through the thin fabric of his sleeves and her fingers ached to trace the lines.
“Perfect timing,” he said. “Your dinner is served.” He performed a smart little bow and swept his hand to the side, ushering her into the suite. She went willingly, doubts and thoughts of begging off disappearing at the sight of him.
She held up the bag in her hand. “Dessert,” she said, “as promised. I hope you like gelato.”
“It’s only one of my favourite things to put in my mouth,” he said, taking the bag from her, his fingers brushing against hers. She swallowed.
He put the gelato in the freezer and then took her hand, leading her over to the lounge room where their room service was set out on the coffee table. They sat on the floor in front of it, Japanese style. His shoulder rubbed against hers as he lifted the covers off their burgers with a flourish and popped the top off her Corona. They settled into comfortable companionship as they ate and watched the movie. Their conversation was easy and it felt natural for Bailey to rest her head on his shoulder.
She felt her eyes droop, the stress of the day catching up with her. Being with Hunter was nice and she relaxed into him as he put his arm around her and pulled her more securely into his side. The fight to keep her eyes open was lost and she surrendered to the pull of sleep.
“Blue.” The whispered endearment brought her out of her doze, the soft caress of his hand along her cheek and the warmth of his breath on her neck made her open sleepy eyes and look up at him with longing. “You fell asleep,” he whispered.
She lifted her hand and stroked his jaw, loving the feeling of his soft whiskers under her palm.
“You make a good pillow,” she whispered back, not taking her eyes from his.
She watched as the bright green orbs darkened and his nostrils flared. She recognised that look and it made her stomach flutter and her core heat.
His hand cupped her cheek and slid around her neck to tangle in her hair. Her eyes fluttered as she felt his hand on her hip tighten, drawing her closer. He lowered his head to hers and rubbed the side of his nose along the side of hers, their breaths mingling. Her hand went to his chest, fisting his shirt, before smoothing it out again and running her hand up over his shoulder and around his neck to feel the stubble of his closely cropped hair. She opened her eyes to watch as his closed like a man finally letting go of his tightly held control.
Nothing else existed but this moment, nothing else mattered. It was just the two of them in this space and nothing outside of it was real. Her body felt tight in anticipation of his touch. Her breasts felt full and heavy, her nipples taut and begging for attention. Her core was hot and needy and aching for relief. She shifted, moving to sit on his lap, straddling him. He pushed the coffee table out of the way with his foot and both his hands went to her hips as she settled herself on his strong thighs. She could feel the twitching of his muscles through the light fabric of his pants and she could feel his hard arousal against her soft centre.
“Bailey,” he whispered and she loved the sound of her name on his tongue. She loved the raw desperation she heard in his breathy pronunciation.
“Hunter,” she whispered back, leaning her forehead against his, her hands gripping his shirt near his shoulders.
His hands roamed up over her ribs, under her arms and around her back until his big hands were splayed across her shoulder blades. He pressed her body towards his, her aching breasts making contact with the hard planes of his chest and she sighed. He tipped his head up and their lips were mere millimetres apart, his warm breath caressing her lips. She pulled the corner of her bottom lip between her teeth and he groaned. Her hands released their death grip on his shirt and she slid them around his neck and up into his hair.
She let her head fall forward, anticipating the first soft touch of his lips against hers.
Her mobile phone rang and the moment was shattered.
He froze, lips a hairs breadth from hers. She felt his body stiffen and she jerked back, scrambling from his lap and reaching for her phone.
She looked at him apologetically, but his eyes stopped the words in her throat. He’d seen the display of her phone, he knew who was calling and the lust that had darkened his eyes was gone, replaced with the cold hard glint of a stranger.
He stood and stalked away as she swiped the screen to answer the call.
Fucking cock blocked by his stepbrother.
Hunter strode from the room, away from Bailey and her hot little body that he’d only been moments away from sinking into. Seeing Nick’s name on her phone, seeing the way she had jumped instantly to answer it was like a cold bucket of water being thrown over his lust. His erection deflated and all the soft, sweet feelings he had towards her shattered.
He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. He’d thought that tonight had meant something to her. He’d thought that maybe she was seeing him as more than just a convenient body, but her instant reaction to Nick’s call killed any hope he had. He would always be her second choice.
“Fuck,” he growled under his breath as he looked at himself in the mirror above the sink in the bathroom.
He was delusional if he thought there could ever be anything real between them. He’d been lulled into a false sense of security by the easy way they had clicked tonight. He’d fallen under her spell as she’d leant on his shoulder and snuggled in under his arm. He’d been held in her thrall as her breathing had lengthened and her body had softened against his.
And he’d lost his fucking mind by the small sounds she made as she slept.
But it was all an illusion. None of it was real. She didn’t feel the same way about him, would probably never feel the same way. They had crazy sexual attraction, but that’s all it would ever be for her. She was in love with Nick and there was nothing he could do about it.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
What manner of sick joke was the universe playing on him to bring into his life the one woman he could never have? Hunter wasn’t the typical playboy billionaire, if anything he was a serial monogamist. He’d had only a couple of relationships and they had always been long-term. He’d had his moments of casual sex and one or two one night stands, but they were few and far between. He didn’t get off in sticking his dick in as many women as he could.
No, his desires ran deeper than that.
He wanted to find that one woman that he could truly connect with. Like his father had connected with his mother. His parents had been in love, right up until the end. That’s what he wanted. And that’s where he could see himself heading with Bailey. Except she couldn’t see him as anything more than a poor substitute for his cock-sucking stepbrother.
“Get it to-fucking-gether,” he growled at his reflection. “Stop being a pansy-ass pussy bitch.”
God, he wanted to punch something – preferably Nick – but in the absence of his stepbrother, anything would do. But that wasn’t his style. He didn’t get where he was in business by letting his emotions rule his head. He could compartmentalise this just like he did with every other disappointment that he had in his life. He didn’t fall apart when his father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, he didn’t fall apart when his father suffered through the demoralising effects of chemotherapy and he did not fall apart when his father died, a shadow of the man Hunter had loved. He’d lost not only his father but his best friend and his mentor that day and if he could live through that then he could live through this too.
He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. Bailey wanted Nick and he had promised to help her get him. It didn’t matter that he thought she was making the wrong choice. It was her choice, and hers alone, to make. It was not his place to pass judgement on who she wanted to spend her life with, even if that person was the spawn of Satan.
He pushed down all his disappointment and hurt and closed the lid on the box. Compartmentalise, he could do that.
He opened the door and strode back out into the living room. Bailey stood by the couch, her bottom lip caught between her teeth and a lock of her rose gold hair wound tightly around her finger. He’d almost lost his shit earlier in the evening when he’d opened the door to see her standing there in form fitting yoga pants and an oversize hoody. It was so casual and comfortable and it had looked adorable on her. Now it just looked like disappointment.
“That was Nick,” she said, not meeting his eyes.
He didn’t answer. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared her down giving her his best don’t-fuck-with-me stare.
“He wants to see me, to talk,” she said, still avoiding his gaze.
“At eleven-thirty at night?” he growled, his reserve broken. “Come on Bailey, you’re not that naïve.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she spat at him.
“You know very well what it means,” he said hotly. “You’re a fucking booty call.”
“Shut the hell up, Hunter,” she yelled at him. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. You don’t even know me.”
“I know you better than you think,” he yelled back. “I know that you are throwing your life away on a prick like Nick. He can never give you everything you need.”
“And you think you can?” she asked.
“I know I’d be a damned sight better choice than him,” he growled. “At least I’d be faithful to you, at least I wouldn’t fucking marry someone else and try to keep you on the side.”
The crack of her palm hitting his cheek broke the tension. She gasped and covered her mouth with her hands before stumbling towards the door. She wrenched it open and ran into the hall. His cheek burned and he stood there, stunned until the door slammed shut. The noise spurred him into action.
“Bailey!” he called, pulling the door open and following her into the hallway. “Bailey! Come back. I’m sorry.”
The elevator doors opened and she stepped in, turning to look at him with sad, glassy eyes.
“Please Bailey,” he said, walking towards her, his hand outstretched, begging her with his eyes to give him another chance.
The elevator doors closed leaving him standing in the hallway alone.
Fuck. So much for compartmentalising. He was a fucking moron and he had just chased her into the arms of the one person he was trying to save her from.