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Bought And Paid For (Part Two) by Paige North (1)


If I hadn’t walked away from Harlow — even though my cock was ready to explode — I might’ve lost a piece of myself in her room tonight.

I don’t know what it is about her — I hardly even know her — but whenever she’s around, it feels as if I’m being taken apart, every ounce of control stripped away like malfunctioning gears. That’s never happened to me before. The women I date have always fit into my life perfectly — round pegs placed into round holes. I’ve never encountered a square peg who doesn’t easily work herself into my routines and my ambitions. I’ve never met anyone who makes me lose myself in the moment or screws me up so thoroughly.

I couldn’t resist my need for her, couldn’t resist those blue eyes or the way she looked in that damned white baby doll nightie. I wanted to drink her in because, dammit, she’s like sweet nectar. I’ve never tasted anyone so delicious or got so turned on by their scent.

Citrus. That’s how Harlow tastes and smells. Thick, wet, luscious fruit.

But, as I told her, it’s never going to happen again. And even though she made me as hard as fuck for her, I wouldn’t allow myself to come. I got her out of my system tonight, and now we can move forward with this whole bullshit mail-order bride thing.

That’s what my brain is telling me anyway, but my body? Hell, my body is still putting up an entirely different argument. My cock is still stiff and pulsating and my temples are pounding so hard that I can’t think straight. I’m still burning for her, and cooling off seems the smartest thing to do.

God knows I need to be smart when it comes to this woman.

I go down to the pool house and change into a pair of swim trunks. I’m ready to dive into my sleek, serene pool that glows blue in the dark of the night, but then a text comes through on my phone. When I look at the screen, I exhale.

No matter the inconvenient timing, I never ignore my family, much less my mother.

I ease into the pool to start cooling off as I read her text. Gray, I’m sorry I didn’t answer your text earlier! I was working in the gardens and lost track of time and... Never mind! You said that you had some news to tell us?

I mumble a curse under my breath as I run my fingers through my hair. It’s already messed up from Harlow tangling her own fingers through it, and a dangerous jolt flies through me at the memory, electrifying me from chest to cock.

Forget Harlow.

I text Mom back. I pay your gardeners for a reason.

Mom: I know — you don’t want me or anyone in the family to ever work again, but I enjoy this. Now what is the news?

Here we go with Project Mail-Order Bride Bullshit. You will be happy to know that I finally found someone special. I wanted to give you a heads up before the news goes public.

A few seconds pass, and I can just imagine my mother staring at the screen and blinking in utter shock. A huge smile is about to take over her face and—

Gray! she finally answers. How special IS she?

Special enough to tell u about…

I roll my eyes. With every text, I feel like I’m spinning more of a web, making it harder and harder to move freely. My family has always known exactly who I am — I’ve never lied to them about enjoying women and parties, and I know how much I have frustrated them because of all the trouble I have found along the way. I wish I didn’t have to lie to make them happy about my personal life.

Mom texts back. GRAY!! When do we get to meet her?

She is so excited, and I feel like even more of a piece of shit. Things are still new. And she is a little shy, so we are taking things slowly.

Hilarious. Tonight wasn’t slow. It was fast and hot when I was pleasuring Harlow with my mouth and making her groan and cry out as she climaxed for me, quaking and shuddering with her release. My gut clenches again with brutal urgency as I remember how her legs tightened around me and how she got so wet that I almost came too. But I didn’t. I put a stop to things before she got to me that completely.

Never again.

Mom: What is her name?

Harlow Turner.

Mom: Tell me all about her!

Nope. I’ve had enough for now. I will schedule a phone call with you and Dad soon, but I have still got a lot of work to accomplish tonight. I am on the verge of another breakthrough.

Mom: Of course you are! I am SO excited for you, Gray, and I can’t wait to hear all about her!!

Hell, at least this is over for the night.

After she texts a string heart emojis, I get out of the pool and toss the phone to a chaise lounge on the deck. Thank God I didn’t have to talk much about Harlow — yet. I am still hoping I can squeak by without getting to know her at all, even after what happened tonight. But the more I think about her in general, the tighter I get and the more heat washes through me and the more this brutal agony ties me in knots.

I go to the deep end of the pool and dive in, sluicing through the water. It should be enough to cool me off for good, but the heat inside of me just keeps steaming. So I fall into a smooth, strong swimming stroke, taking lap after lap. I don’t know how many times I cross the length of the pool, but it’s just not enough.

Finally, I stand in the shallow end, water trickling down my skin. My heart is beating so hard that I don’t know if it is ever going to get back into the comfortable rhythm it always had before.

She’s really getting to you, I think. And no one gets to you. Women never bust up your life and fuck up your freedom, so do something about this.

As the words hammer through me, I feel a tickle on the back of my neck. I glance over my shoulder, and when I see the curtains of Harlow’s bedroom window drift closed, my breath snags in my chest.

Was she watching me?

An idiotic thrill twists through me, just like I’m a kid and it’s the first time the sight of a pretty a girl gave me some wood. But I’m not the boy who busted his ass to deliver papers just to put food on the table for my family. I’m the guy who’s going to get his life back just as soon as Harlow is out of it.

I dive back into the water, submerging myself in the silence.

Losing myself in a bubble where the only thing that exists is the cool, calm isolation I have always lived with.