“It’s time for you to have that shower,” Lark instructs me, but, to my dismay, she only points me back to the bathroom, giving no indication she is going to join me… although I’ve no idea what I would do if she did! “I’ll order some more coffee, and then we’ll get you home.” She takes another neatly-folded pile of clothes from the top of the long dresser, jeans this time, with a leather belt, and a plaid shirt of buttery-soft flannel, and, oh, God, even new underwear, expensive, luxurious boxer-briefs, all with a decidedly European look to them.
I want to argue with her that what I already have on is fine, but by this time, I know better. “Thanks,” I mutter, and hurry into the bathroom.
I feel like I’ve lost any and all control of my mental faculties after the last half-hour. After this whole morning. This entire week.
I shake my head, and step into the hot, cleansing water of the shower. Lark’s shower. She’s been in here, as recently as this morning, perhaps, naked. Wet.
Oh, my God.
Hastily, I grab the bottle of expensive shower gel to lather up, but immediately, I notice that it smells like her. My skin tingles as I rub the rich wash on my own bare flesh. It’s like she’s touching me. My hands are her hands, and she’s caressing me with those beautiful, elegant fingertips, trailing them over my chest, teasing my nipples… down my stomach… lower….
Holy smokes, I can hardly stand the passionate feelings rampaging through me. I’ve never experienced anything like this.
“Sebastian?” Lark knocks on the bathroom door, tearing me away from my fantasies. “Fresh coffee is here, and your phone is ringing.”
“Sure, all right, be right out!” I babble over the running water, and hurriedly wrap myself, my out-of-control body, in a thirsty, plush towel.
My new outfit is flattering, I note, and I wonder if Lark herself picked out the blue-green-and-buff plaid shirt, if she thought it would look good on me, with my coloring. If she thought about those things.
She’s waiting for me by the table, already pouring fresh coffee. I’m shocked, completely taken aback to see that she’s clad only in a thick, plush white towel that reveals her glorious body, her long, smooth legs, her bare shoulders, her delectable collarbone.
She’s utterly perfect.
“You showered, too?” I blurt stupidly, stating the obvious. Her hair has been washed and dried and pinned up loosely on top of her head, and her makeup is light.
But underneath that towel, she’s still naked.
She seems nonplussed by that fact, though. “Mm hmm. There is a bathroom in the guest bedroom. I used that.”
Oh. Wow. She and I were both naked, here, at the same time. It’s a very sexy thought. I know I’m blushing, and, seeing it, she smirks at me.
She picks up my phone from where it had been on a side table and hands it to me. “Your friend has been texting you,” she tells me.
Aiden! Oh, shitpiles, he must be freaked out. I’ve never done anything like this before, getting drunk, going home with a woman, staying out all night.
I groan. “Oh, no, I forgot about Aiden! I should text him, let him know I’m- that I’m all right.”
“Are you?” Lark whispers to me, stepping closer. I can smell the scent of her skin, of the same shower gel I was rubbing on my own skin just minutes before. I almost swoon as she says, close to me ear, her lips almost touching the lobe, “Are you all right? Or do you feel compromised, Sebastian?”
My cheeks are on fire again, along with my hormones, at the proximity of her towel-swatched body. Is she just doing this to mess with me? “I- uh-” I stutter.
“Besides,” Lark says with a playful grin, “I got a text from Ariana last night. She went home with your friend the coffee mogul, it seems. She’s still with him.”
That momentarily distracts me. “She is? They- Oh. Wow.”
I hadn’t considered that possibility.
“Wow indeed.” Her smile is amused. “Would you like me to order you more coffee?”
“Uh, no, no thanks,” I say automatically, then want to kick myself. More coffee would mean I get to stay here with her.
Now, there’s nothing left for me to do but leave.
“You’re blushing again, Sebastian Stone,” Lark murmurs. “You have no idea what thoughts it gives me to see you blush like that.”
My mouth gapes. “What- what sort of thoughts?” I manage.
Her gaze is dark, sexy. “Wondering what else I might say or do to make you blush.” She sighs, smiles. “Wondering if you might be… overheated elsewhere, too.”
Holy freaking smokes.
I am. And she knows it. Oh, god, this is what I want. More than anything. “Why don’t you find out?” I murmur the invitation, my heart pounding.
Please, I’m inwardly begging. She’s just in that towel, and all she’d have to do is-
But Lark shakes her head. “No. I told you. Not until I have formally discussed things with you and obtained your consent.”
“No. Not now. Tonight.”
“Tonight?!” I gasp.
“Yes, tonight. If you want. If… that is your choice,” she adds, one hand moving to the place where her bathtowel is tucked in.
Say yes! my Id is clamoring.
You need to be informed, my Superego agrees. That’s the sensible thing to do. Let her explain, find out what she means by all of this.
“Yes,” I say. “That’s my choice.”
She nods, an almost grim look about her mouth. But then she smiles. “All right, then.” Slowly, she moves over to the round table with the coffee service on it, and picks up her own phone. Even naked save for a towel, she is completely in control, assured. She taps it, and then speaks rapidly when someone on the other end answers. “Carter? Go ahead with the items we discussed. Yes, pick it up today. Inform Grover I want the dinner at the house, not in town. Make sure the usual securities are in place. … What? Yes, fine, fine, tell Stein I’ll call him about the corporation’s donations later this afternoon, medical supplies like that are time-sensitive.” She clicks off.
What was that conversation all about? Will I ever know all of this woman’s mysteries and secrets?
She’s not the only one who can’t stay away.
“Tonight at seven,” she tells me, eyes bright. “We’ll have dinner and… talk. To start.”
“Just like that, you can order me around?” I coo, and she gives me a smirk.
“I’m used to people doing what I tell them,” she informs me.
“Is that so?” I riposte.
Her smile is wicked. “If they’re in my employ, they have no choice. I am the boss.”
“And if they aren’t your employees?”
“Oh, Sebastian, you have no idea,” she tells me, straight-faced. “Remember, I don’t like to take no for an answer.”
“Shall I… meet you here, then?” I ask her. A date. I have an actual, real, official date with Lark Blackwood!
“No. I’ll come fetch you myself. Be ready.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I snigger, miming a salute.
“Are you… mocking me, Sebastian?” she asks me, her voice going colder.
My own skin chills, remembering how quickly she can freeze up and disappear on me when she’s angry.
“No, of course not,” I hasten. I feel like I’m meant to apologize for something, or to ask her permission to say or do something, but that doesn’t seem like it should be right, either. “Just- just joking, I guess.”
“Hm. Good boy. I suppose we both have a lot to learn,” she adds to herself. “I’m going to get dressed,” she tells me, with another smirk, as if she knows what I must be thinking. She disappears through another door, into a giant, deep, walk-in closet and dressing room, and closes the door behind her.
My mind is completely occupied imagining her letting that towel drop, imagining-
When she emerges a few minutes later, she’s in a flatteringly-cut white shirt, and a pair of navy linen trousers clad her perfect legs. “Come, Bash,” she says my name, my nickname, huskily.
Lark leads me back to the elevator, and I can scarcely bear her proximity. After everything that’s happened, after me bumbling and making a fool of myself, getting plastered and drunk-dialing her, despite the fact that she’s L.E. Blackwood, megabillionaire CEO, and I’m just a nobody, we have a date tonight. For dinner.
And maybe more.
My whole epidermis is on fire at the thought of what might happen tonight.
She keys in a code, and the elevator doors glide open. Instead of going up this time, we go down a few floors, to a tiny foyer-hallway that looks like it could be part of the rooftop garden, or a primeval cave, with an intimate little enclave bench surrounded by willowy ferns.
Down one wall, a waterfall cascades gently over rocks, so close that I can feel its mist on my face.
“These are the building’s main elevators, not my private one,” she murmurs, indicating another set of doors across the small space, glass doors and a glass elevator that descend through a spacious atrium out beyond us. “And over that way is the pool and racquetball courts.” She points to heavy doors on the dark wall.
I don’t care. I barely pay attention. Because up here, in this tiny, enclosed garden-cave-waterfall that is even smaller than my own bedroom, we’re alone.
The tension between us is overpowering. I can hear my own intake of breath, hear my heart thudding in my ears.
“Stop blushing like that, Sebastian,” she orders me, almost harshly, and then shakes her head. “Oh, goddammit, to hell with waiting,” she growls, and rushes me, seizing me, grabbing my hands, my arms, with surprising strength. I don’t even have time to take a breath before she’s pushed me back into the little enclave, half-upright, half-not, on that bench.
I moan as, at last, at long last, her lips claim mine even as her body pins me down, brutally kissing me. I reach to put my arms around her, but before I can, she traps them, using her knees, and grabs my hair with one hand, forcing my head back and my face up.
Holy fucking god damn, this is what I’ve been wanting for so long.
She’s kissing me, and I groan again, opening my mouth more, letting her tongue have its way with mine as our bodies grind against each other. God, I can even feel her hard nipples against my own chest as she keeps me immobilized, staking her claim. Her hips shift, holding me down, taking control. Shyly at first, I let my tongue touch hers, responding to her mouth, her touch, her body, reveling in every sensation.
I want her, and, by some incredible miraculous fortune, Lark Blackwood, woman of myth and mystery, wants me, too.
“Sweet Sebastian,” she mutters, biting kisses everywhere along my mouth, my neck. “My sweet, sweet, innocent boy-”
I hear myself whimper, and I’m ready to submit to anything and everything, here, now, in the middle of this close-quartered enclosed indoor garden-
The public elevator doors open, and, in the space of a heartbeat, Lark has pushed me away and stood up, taking out her phone and looking at it impassively, her face a blank.
She… doesn’t care? She didn’t feel the passion between us, too?
I struggle to sit up and look as nonchalant, but I know my face is aflame.
The people from the elevator, a few schlubs in expensive sportswear, give each other amused looks, eyeing Lark’s glorious form and my flustered visage as they head to the doors marked POOL.
I’m shaking and too weak-kneed to stand up, but Lark looks like she’s casually texting some important business colleague about some ground-breaking financial development or something.
But as the pool schlubs pass us, she glances at me, and gives me a wink, with a slow, hot smile.
My Superego and my Id exchange a fistbump, grinning with victory.
“That was close,” she says to me after they’ve disappeared. “There must be something particularly potent about gardens, Mr. Stone,” she adds, grabbing my hand and leading me to the public elevator.
There are others in there already, but it’s enough just to feel her fingers around mine as we descend back to the real world from the Paradise of passion we’d so recently occupied.
MBO Playlist, “All of Me,” John Legend