I’M STANDING IN FRONT OF my wardrobe with a towel wrapped around me, scanning the rails of dresses that barely see the light of day anymore. I’m also chewing my bottom lip, silently deliberating on my best option. It’s been a while. Or longer than a while. I wasn’t particularly bothered by how long it had been since one of these dresses had made it out of my wardrobe and onto my back, nor had I given it much thought. Not until that email landed yesterday afternoon, the one that requested – no, demanded – I be at a certain place at a certain time, with no option to decline. He made no reference to what I should wear, but it’s all I’ve been able to think about ever since I slumped back in my office chair and read his message over and over. I was slightly miffed by his cheek, even gasped at my computer screen…before my thighs clenched under my desk.
Short or mid-length? Black or red? Cleavage or no cleavage? My eyes drop to my shoe racks. Strappy sandals or stilettos? Then I look across to my chest of drawers where my underwear is kept. Lace or satin? Thong or French? I might need to delve into the black depths of my drawers to find anything remotely sexy.
I glance down at my watch, noting I’ve been standing here for over twenty minutes deliberating on too many things. My time is ticking and if I don’t get my arse in gear soon, I’m going to be late. Red lips or nude?
‘Oh God!’ I drop my head back, looking up to the ceiling. Date nerves. They’re getting the better of me, and I can’t damn well help it. I need help, someone or something to calm me down.
Tasha or wine?
It’s another decision to be made, and as I appear to be incapable of making what should be easy decisions right now, I plump for both. I dash out of the bedroom and down the stairs, landing in the kitchen like a frenzied mad-woman, which is fine because I am. I fight to ignore the mess surrounding me and yank the fridge open, pulling out a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. I only just about manage to refrain from kissing it before pouring myself a large glass. Then I find my phone and call Tasha as I make my way back up the stairs – phone to my ear, glass at my lips. The chilled liquid slides down my throat and hits my tummy, and I sigh, closing my eyes in appreciation.
Tasha answers hastily, no doubt expecting the call. She encouraged me to do this, so I’m banking on her to help me make some of these decisions. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be on a date?’ Her question is loaded with sarcasm – sarcasm I’d usually bounce off. Not today, though. Today I’m in no mood for banter with my quick-lipped mate.
‘I don’t know what to wear!’ I fire down the line, entering my bedroom and purposely avoiding my wardrobe.
‘We bought two new dresses yesterday for your date. You dragged me around Selfridges for the best part of my lunch hour. What’s wrong with those?’
I squirm as I look across the bedroom to the bag that still contains the two dresses, both with tags still attached and ready to return. ‘I’ve had second thoughts.’
‘But you felt like a goddess yesterday. In both. Which is why you bought both!’
I scowl. It’s alright for her. She can slide into a sack and look amazing. Her hourglass figure makes men drool and women cry. All of her weight is in the right places, unlike mine which seems to collect on my arse and thighs. If I didn’t love her so much, I’d hate her. ‘That was yesterday. Today they aren’t doing it for me, and I need to feel hot. Super-hot. I need him to walk through the doors, see me and fall to his knees.’
‘You and I both know that will happen, no matter what you wear.’
Will it? I’m not so sure. Of course, he won’t see this side of me. All he’ll see will be a composed, cool woman. He will not know he has affected me like this – all girlie and neurotic. He will not know I’ve spent all day fantasising over our date or obsessing over what to wear. Oh no. I give myself an agreeable nod of my head…and another swig of Sauvignon.
‘But what will he expect?’ I ask, being pulled back to the here and now when my eyes land on my wardrobe again. Nothing is screaming out to me.
Tasha laughs. ‘Um…you?’
‘You know what I mean. Elegant? Sexy? Conservative? What if it’s not what he wants?’ I drop my arse to the bed and take another long, healthy glug of wine. At this rate, I’ll be half drunk before I even make it to my date.
And as if she’s heard my thoughts, Tasha speaks up. ‘Are you drinking?’
My glass halts in mid-air, and I come over all guilty. I don’t know why. Tasha would drink wine for breakfast if it was socially acceptable. ‘Might be.’
‘Is that a good idea?’
Her perfectly reasonable question makes me eye my near empty glass warily. I don’t know. Is it? It also makes me wonder whether what I’m about to do is a good idea. Or is it just utterly stupid? A date? I haven’t been on a date for years, and though this man is my dream guy – everything I want and need – the approach I’m taking might not be. Or it could be. It could be just what I need, and it could also be the start of something amazing. I nod decisively to myself. Yes, the unknown is sometimes daunting, but I’ll never know the benefits unless I give it a whirl. There’s no denying I need some spark in my life – something other than work and necessary but boring chores. At that thought, I glance over to the corner of the bedroom where I dumped my work bag. I have a million emails to answer. Then I reflect back to the state of the kitchen when I sprinted down on my hunt for wine - dirty dishes everywhere waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher. The overflowing laundry basket pops into my mind, too, swiftly followed by an ironing pile that could give Everest a run for its money in the height department. My apprehension and excitement just took a nose dive. Maybe I should cancel and spend the evening catching up on household chores and work. The thought doesn’t thrill me, but, sadly, the feeling of satisfaction when I’m done does. ‘I might cancel.’ I breathe, casting my glass aside and falling to my back on the bed.
‘Don’t you dare!’ she barks, startling me. ‘Kelly, come on! You work too hard, and definitely don’t play hard enough. Have a night off, for God’s sake! The world won’t end if your house isn’t clean. And you’re not going to go out of business if you don’t reply to an email the moment it appears in your inbox.’
I laugh quietly to myself, thinking how well Tasha knows me. She’s right, I know that, but this is real life. ‘The world doesn’t revolve around fantasies.’ I say quietly, almost sadly.
‘You’ve neglected your personal life, Kelly. Give yourself a break. Give yourself a chance. Give him a chance.’
My body deflates and I close my eyes, allowing Tasha’s words to sink deeply into me. She’s right. Life might not revolve around fantasies, but it also doesn’t revolve around working yourself into the ground until there’s nothing left of you to give. There has to be a happy medium. Between everyday mundane chores, and working my fingers to the bone, I’m feeling like there’s less of me to give by the day. ‘So what do I wear?’ I ask, sitting up, feeling resolute and determined all of a sudden. It could be the wine, I’m not sure, but I’m not about to question it right now. I have a date to get ready for. With a hot man.
‘Good girl!’ she sings down the line. ‘Go all out. The works. Legs, a little cleavage and the highest heels you own.’
I chuckle, knowing exactly which heels I’ll be wearing. ‘Black? Tight?’
‘Yes!’ she squeals, delighted. Then she goes silent, and if I could see her, I know she’d have a crafty look on her face. What’s she plotting? ‘And no knickers.’ She adds, making me gasp.
‘It’s November!’ I’m horrified, and it’s obvious.
‘It’ll drive him insane! Maybe put them in your bag and give them to him when he arrives.’
‘Tasha!’ Oh my God! What is she thinking? That’s not me. I can’t do that!
She’s falling apart, her laughter crossing the line into hysterics. The minx! ‘Step outside your comfort zone, Kelly.’ she titters, just as I reach for my shortest, tightest little black dress. ‘You might like where you find yourself.’ She hangs up.
Her words play on repeat in my mind while I look the dress up and down. Or what there is of a dress…which isn’t much. Yes, it’s been a while, but me and this dress are about to be reacquainted.
I fly into action. I’m suddenly back to where I need to be, and I’m going to continue pretending that the wine hasn’t assisted. Okay, so maybe a little, but Tasha’s words most definitely have. A lot.
My underwear is racy. My heels are ridiculously high. My make-up is light. My hair is piled up.
And I’ve taken the plunge.
My knickers are in my bag. The ones, quite sadly, that I forgot I even had. They’re black, lacy and all kinds of sexy. It seems a shame not to be wearing them.
I assess myself in the mirror, thinking how…seductive I look. It’s me, just enhanced. Holy shit, if I were a man, I’d fancy me! I just hope he appreciates it. He better appreciate it. I take a quick selfie and send it to Tasha before grabbing my purse and heading out the door, back straight and head held high.
I arrive at the hotel bar, fully aware of the looks I’ve been receiving since I stepped foot out of the house. From the front door to the taxi, I was ogled by too many men. From the taxi to the hotel, I was looked at with raised brows by a group of women. And now I’m crossing the lobby of the hotel to the bar, my path being followed by the posh clientele. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t bothered. I’m not used to the attention. Trousers and a shirt. That’s me six days a week. On the remaining day, I’m all about the sweatpants.
My mobile pings the arrival of a text and I rummage through my bag, smiling when I open and see a message from Tasha.
You look fucking gorgeous. And remember, any men who look at you are wishing you were theirs. And any women who look at you are wishing they are you! Have fun! I want to hear the juicy details tomorrow! xxx
I purse my lips and have a quick peek around as I continue to the bar. As predicted, I’m being observed by quite a few people, and in a moment of pure horror, I wonder whether they’re thinking that maybe I’m a hooker. Oh, hell no! My intended destination changes, and I make a dash for the ladies, feeling like every set of eyes are on me. I arrive, not so lady-like, in the lavatories and stare at myself in the full-length mirror. I’m not sure what I expected to find; I look no different to when I left home, and I felt lovely then – glamourous and chic but not too over-done. And my dress really isn’t that short at all – sitting nicely mid-thigh. I’m being paranoid. Jesus, I used to parade around London most weekends in far less than this. But that was ten years ago, when life was carefree and my only responsibility was myself. I’ve sacrificed self-fulfilment for job-fulfilment. Why can’t I have both?
My phone interrupts my mental debate with another message from Tasha.
And above all, remember…never put out on a first date!
I roll my eyes. This is ridiculous. Giving my lips a top-up of gloss, I strut my way to the bar and perch on a stool, placing my purse on the marble-top. But then I remember something and retrieve my cute leather purse, opening it up and pulling out a red rose, a ridiculous cliché if ever there was one. I should have emailed him back and told him that I’ll be holding my knickers instead. Bet there won’t be any other women in the bar doing the same. It’s not like he would miss me.
I start to twiddle with it, before forcing myself to stop. Then I start fidgeting on my stool, pulling my dress down my thighs a little. And now my eyes are darting around the bar, looking for him. He’s not here. Damn, I should have been late! What was I thinking? Glancing down at my watch, I note it’s two minutes past eight. His nerve irritates the hell out of me. He sends me an email, lists his demands – when, where, with no scope for declining – then the cheeky bastard doesn’t even have the decency to turn up on time? I slap myself all over the fancy hotel bar for being so dim. I should be playing a game. His game.
‘Sauvignon!’ I blurt to the barman as he passes, ignoring his alarmed look at my abrupt demand. I can’t even force an apologetic look, my annoyance and nerves getting the better of me.
The barman’s hasty, clearly sensing the anxious vibes I’m shooting around the hotel bar. ‘Madam,’ He nods as he slides the glass toward me, and I just about manage a small smile in thanks before I swig half. I told myself no more alcohol. Mega fail. I can’t be sorry, though, because my whole body seems to relax again as the chilled liquid trickles down my throat, stripping the apprehension and exasperation away with it.
With my eyes cast down, watching the calm swirl of my wine in the glass, I slowly swivel on my stool, feeling a whole lot better.
Until my knee hits something.
A trouser-clad knee.
All of that apprehension has just steamrolled back up my throat, choking me. I’m just staring at the leg, daring not venture upward. He’s motionless, waiting for me to acknowledge him. I can hear his breathing, steady and slow, I can smell that scent, and though I’ve not yet looked at him, I know what I’m going to be faced with when I do.
Oh, he’s really playing a game, sneaking up on me and catching me off guard. I bet he’s been watching me since I arrived, choosing his best moment to have the most impact. He’s succeeded. There’s no room for irritation now. It’s all been hijacked by the want coursing through me at a rate so fast, my heart is now clattering in my chest. And it’s in this moment, when I’m recognising all of the lost feelings – hunger, desire, need –I decide that I like his game. He’s had the desired effect, just like I expect he was hoping.
The sexual tension is palpable already. There has been no interaction – no feeling or words, only this light touching of our knees. Yet I know he’s going to reduce me to a steaming pool of lust the moment I make eye contact with him. He’s exuding all kinds of talents already with that one little bit of contact, his pure sexual appetite being injected into me, and when I finally convince my eyes to journey up his seated form, my breath hitches and my skin tingles madly. I take him all in, not ashamed to take my time and refresh my memory. His chest. Oh, Jesus, that chest. Broad, tight, covered in the white cotton of a lovely shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, revealing firm, strong forearms. A clear mental image of him relaxed in his office chair pops into my mind, and I’m suddenly envious of all the women who actually work for him. I bet they all take spare knickers to work with them. I’m hot. Buzzing. My nerves have been blitzed by unrelenting shots of desire. And now I’m at his neck, I know that one flick of my eyes to his will tell him all of that.
I feel it.
I feel him.
The sense of contentment it fills me with isn’t something I’m going to question. I need this. He needs this. The attraction between us is tangible, has been from the moment I clapped eyes on him.
Taking in a long, confidence boosting breath, I let my gaze travel over the dark stubble of his neck and jaw, liking what I see more and more, until…
Our eyes meet. And hold. I know mine are pleased – delighted, in fact – and his are gleaming with victory already. He’s got me. Holy shit, he’s swoon worthy. Chiselled jaw, full lips, mussed dark hair and equally dark, intense eyes. I want to eat him up. The fact that I was an inch away from crying off seems ludicrous now. He’s gorgeous – so bloody handsome. I almost forgot how handsome. But boy have I had a stinger of a reminder.
‘Kelly,’ His voice is rough, making my name sound like pure sex. ‘Pleasure to see you.’ His lips move slowly, casting me further under his spell, as his hand extends toward me.
I smile, accepting his offering, letting him do all the shaking. I have to physically stop myself from telling him that the pleasure is all mine. Or I hope it is…or will be. I inwardly cringe at my wayward thoughts.
Don’t put out on a first date!
I almost laugh. That rule can’t apply if your first date is with a creature like this, surely? That just doesn’t seem fair. I need to text Tasha for advice.
‘And you, Alex.’
He takes me by surprise when he leans in and brings his mouth to my ear. Every muscle south of my waist clenches and fire races through my veins. Isn’t this a bit familiar for a first date?
‘You look stunning,’ he whispers, pushing soft lips into my flesh, just below my earlobe. I start to shake, remaining exactly where I am when I should probably be telling him that this is too much for a first date. But I can’t. He feels too good this close. He pulls away, still lightly holding my hand. It takes everything out of me to steady my trembles. I want to appear sure of myself, confident and maybe a bit of a challenge. I’ve achieved none of those things. He’s probably looking at me and thinking I’m a sure thing. He’d be right.
It’s a few silent moments of him staring at me, and me staring right back before he licks his lips slowly. Seductively. And it steals my breath. Oh God, I’m blushing furiously. Everywhere is hot, my face, my blood…between my thighs.
Be a challenge, Kelly! Drive him wild with your lost allure!
I take drastic action in an attempt to level the playing field.
And pull out my knickers.
And place them on the bar in front of him.
I bite my lip and physically stop my hand from reaching out and snatching them back before the barman – or anyone else, for that matter – spots them. I’m being bold. It’s both thrilling and terrifying.
Alex slowly casts a sideway glance and just stares at them for a few moments. He’s shocked, and it fulfils me beyond any job related achievements. Two can play this game, mister! Then I watch as he unhurriedly takes them from the bar, toying with them for a few seconds before lifting them to his nose and inhaling deeply, looking into my eyes. The act is tactical and fucking hot! But he doesn’t slip them into his pocket as I expect. No, he puts them straight back on the bar, even spreading them out so they’re on perfect display. My panicked eyes shoot up, looking for the barman or any fellow customers. My relief is profound when I find we’re alone. He’s thrown my bold move straight back in my face.
‘Nice touch.’ he whispers, skimming a fingertip lightly across my knee. It makes my back straighten and my breathing deepen. ‘Should I assume you’re bare?’
I can’t speak, so I nod, gritting my teeth and working hard to remain still when his soft touch starts to drift up my inside thigh. ‘Alex,’ I breathe, unable to contain my surprising desperation any longer. He’s awakened these feeling so he’s obliged to give them the attention they deserve. And he’d better do it soon.
‘I have something for you, too.’ he murmurs, reaching into his pocket.
His declaration only just worms its way past the wall of lust dominating me. ‘You do?’ I ask, my forehead wrinkling.
He gives me a full-on, melt-worthy smile. Then he places something next to my knickers – the knickers that are still on full-display. My head cocks to the side as my eyes try to focus on the pile of metal. It takes a while for it to register, and when it does, my mouth drops open way too fast for me to stop it. ‘And what do you plan on doing with those?’ I ask, feigning coolness to within an inch of my life. I’m a fool if I think he’s buying it. My voice is high and squeaky, and I’m darting wary eyes around the bar again, praying no one is seeing this.
‘What am I going to do?’ he counters, pulling my eyes back to his. I’m not sure if I should be excited or scared by the conviction I see riddling his face.
‘Yes,’ I murmur, confirming that I really do want to know. I brace myself.
He slides them off the bar, the drag of metal on marble sounding loud and clear in the open bar area, then he fiddles with them, all the time keep his stare rooted on me. ‘What would you like me to do?’
‘Restrain me.’ I shock myself with my fast response that’s delivered with no hesitance and one hundred percent conviction. He can do whatever the hell he pleases with me. Today. Tomorrow. Forever. It’s bloody exhausting trying to conquer the business world every day of my life. The stress, the drain, the responsibility. I have none of those burdens right now. Alex can take the lead and I can follow. This isn’t work. This is personal. I can’t control everything, and in actual fact, I don’t want to. Let him possess me. Let him be the man. Fucking hell, it’s like the biggest dose of clarity has been rammed down my throat. It’s a revelation. One that I’m liking.
Women can rule the world, but men should rule the bedroom.
He flashes me that smile again, this time with a good dose of victory added. ‘Are you ready?’ he asks quietly.
‘For a drink?’ I ask, knowing full well that isn’t what he means. Here in front of me is a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to say it. Who am I to argue?
‘I wasn’t asking if you’re ready for a drink, Kelly.’ He drills holes into me with his hard stare. ‘You know what I’m asking.’
I nod a little, probably too little for him to detect. But he does detect it, and I’m being helped to my unstable feet before I can tell myself I’m playing this all wrong. But there are sparks. Electricity. There’s also a heap of anticipation and excitement. It’s welcomed and needed, and I’m going to grab it all with both hands and hope none of it strays again.
‘Let’s leave the barman a present,’ he whispers in my ear, placing a firm hand in the small of my back.
I gasp, horrified. ‘But I love those knickers!’ I protest, looking back as he guides me out of the bar.
‘I’m sure the barman will love them, too. And anyway, I would have ruined them when I ripped them off with my teeth.’
That soon realigns my focus, and I gulp, allowing the pleasure that’s about to consume me to settle in my poor deprived mind. We pass the reception desk as we walk through the hotel lobby toward the elevators, and I note he doesn’t ask for a room, which tells me he’s already reserved one. I hate that he predicted a victory. A little bit.
We walk on. There’s no talking now, yet the silence is screaming. My mind is about to be blown. I watch as his manly hand lifts and presses the call button for the elevator, and I try not to shift uncomfortably on my feet as we wait for what seems like forever for the lift to open.
And as soon as it does, I’m practically shoved in. I whirl around, loose strands of my hair whipping my face, my breathing now coming in shallow pants. He smacks a button with the side of his fist, then slams me against the wall, towering over me, his palm slipping around my throat to my nape, holding me firmly. Our chests are compressed, heaving together, and I lift my eyes to drown in the potent craving spilling from his sparkling eyes. I hold my breath as his lips drop to mine and brush lazily from side-to-side.
‘I’m going to kiss you.’ he tells me, not giving me a chance to agree, or maybe disagree. They’ll be no disagreeing. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. I’ve dived straight into the deep end, and I’m not even sorry. He attacks me with brute force, pushing me up the wall, his spare hand drifting up my bare thigh under my dress. I can do nothing more than accept, a million shots of happiness stabbing at my mind, my body, my heart.
‘What happened to role play?’ I ask, my own hands running riot across his broad back as I pant up at the ceiling of the elevator, savouring the feel of him biting at my neck.
‘You’re much too tempting to resist.’ He pulls back, raising a scornful eyebrow, yet I can detect the playfulness there. It’s a sight that has been absent for way too long, and I’ve only just realised. ‘And you, my beautiful wife, have no knickers on.’
I smile, close my eyes and let him take me away. ‘I love you.’ I breathe.
‘I love you, too.’ He takes my hand and kisses my ring. ‘And we’ll be doing this again very soon.’
Read on to find out more about Jodi and her bestselling erotic romance tales.