Kissing Owen by Alexis Anne

“I need you to skew my results. To… throw things out of whack.” Scarlet Lawler looked at me with the biggest, fakest pouty eyes I’d ever seen.

“You are not selling yourself well.” I cautioned my best friend as we stood in a cold television studio on the Florida State University campus where we both taught.
Kissing Owen
Kissing Owen by Alexis Anne
The second to last thing I wanted to do was appear on camera. The third to last thing I wanted to do was kiss a total stranger for some experiment. But the absolute last thing I wanted to do on this earth was kiss a total stranger on camera. “I will make coffee every morning for a month if you do this for me,” she pleaded. This time she pushed out her lower lip and clasped her hands under her chin. But it was the big brown eyes that killed me. They were so intense I was pretty much willing to do anything to end the pleading. “How am I skewing results exactly?” She grinned and bounced her eyebrows. She knew she had me on the hook. “We have a guy, he’s a bit different than our other test subjects. We want to match him up with someone who looks like his complete opposite.” And I was back to hating this. “Explain. Now.” Scarlet rolled her eyes and sighed. “Basically, he looks like a total geek and you…don’t.” I looked down at the outfit she’d picked out for me. It was from her closet, not mine, and it all clicked. This was a visual project and Scarlet was changing my look in order to see how perception changed along with it. Instead of my usual tank top and comfortable blue jeans, I was dressed in a killer skin-tight black and white dress and heels. It wasn’t that I didn’t like getting dressed up, but I usually reserved it for evenings…not the middle of the day. I felt over-dressed and uncomfortable. But that was the point. “If he’s a terrible kisser, you owe me coffee for two months.” Scarlet grinned with victory. “And what if he’s a great kisser?” “We’ll have to see about that…” The door opened on the opposite side of the studio and a man dressed in a simple white button-up and gray slacks that hung from his hips in way that told me he was in amazing shape, walked in. He was wearing dark-rimmed glasses that partially shrouded his eyes from me until he was just a couple of feet away. It was like this man’s mere presence had shut my brain down. No conscious thought was taking place between my ears—well, other than burning hot desire. My brain wasn’t working, but my body was running on all cylinders. And then he locked eyes with me. I’m telling you, it took every ounce of strength I had to keep from melting into a puddle on the floor. Those eyes were… intense. “Alright, we should get started.” Scarlet moved behind a long table and sat down beside two other people I recognized from her department. They each had clipboards, laptops, and tablets in front of them to record the cues they saw from each of us. Cold. But the man standing beside me was hot. “I’m Owen, by the way.” He leaned toward me, his hands clasped behind his back, and a hint of a smile playing on his luscious lips. Kissable lips. “Alice,” I replied. He was exactly how Scarlet described, and yet not. I was having trouble (because of my lack of brain function) putting it all together. On the one hand, Owen was hot. Tall, sculpted perfection. His button-up was rolled to his elbows revealing what had to be one of my favorite body parts—muscular forearms. He had wide shoulders, a trim waist, and light stubble on his chin. But on the other hand, he was wearing glasses, his hands were manicured, and his clothes were starched. It was hard to picture him anywhere but behind a computer. “Please fill out these surveys before we get started,” Scarlet instructed. I grabbed the clipboard off the table and began checking the appropriate boxes: What is your first impression? Hmmm…. ‘Sex God’ wasn’t an option. I checked the box for ‘nice’ instead. What is his job? Damnit! ‘Sex God’ still wasn’t an option. Why didn’t sociology surveys have fill-in-the-blank options? I checked the box for ‘accountant’. Age? Did it matter? Hot was ageless. I checked the box for 25-30. Owen didn’t look older than thirty, but he was definitely older than twenty-five… Would I accept his advances if we were in a public setting? I glanced over at Owen who was carefully filling out his own survey. Yes. Yes, I would absolutely accept his advances. Why or why not? Because I want to have hot, dirty sex with him. Huh, not an option either… who made out this stupid survey? I checked the boxes for ‘polite’ ‘well dressed’ and ‘considerate’ instead. I placed the clipboard back on the table a split second before Owen. “So we just kiss?” Owen asked Scarlet. He looked like he didn’t know what to do with his hands. He was hot and adorably shy. Oh god, I was in so much trouble. “Just give us a moment to get the cameras rolling.” Beside the table were two cameras on tripods. A white backdrop was erected on the main wall behind us and three large lights were on stands with shields, bouncing light in just the right way to reflect the test subjects. Us. “Are you nervous?” I asked. Why did I ask that? I didn’t want to know if he was nervous about kissing me. Oh, god, what if he was dreading this? Owen smiled and chuckled, thrusting his hands into his pockets. “A little.” Sweet. Owen was sexy, adorable and sweet. My ovaries were screaming. “We’re ready whenever you are,” Scarlet finally called out. “Alright then,” Owen said with a soft smile. He came to me, closing the distance between us before I had a chance to think—not that I was thinking about anything other than his lips. He slid his hands along my jaw and up into my hair, cupping my face and pulling my lips to his. I was surprised by the mix of apprehension in his eyes, but confidence in his touch. I went with it, letting my lips touch his for the very first time. It took my breath away. His soft lips were tender, but his fingers were firm, guiding me and holding me close. I pressed in to him, wanting more. I was following my instincts and a faint groan escaped as I opened my lips. His breath caught with surprise, but he didn’t stop. His tongue ran along my lips and tangled with mine. I’d known him for a minute and yet I knew exactly how he’d kiss. And, it seemed, Owen knew exactly how I’d kiss, too. Chemistry. We had more than I knew what to do with. But then he pulled back, kissing my lips one last time and staring right into my eyes—it made the whole world come to a stop. He didn’t let me go right away, and I didn’t ask him to. I wanted to grab his hand and run away. I wanted to keep him. “Alright!” Scarlet interrupted. “That was lovely.” Lovely didn’t begin to cover it. That kiss was mind-blowing. “As you both know, this was an experiment. Your appearances were altered in order for us to study first impressions. Confession time: Alice is actually a paleontology professor here at the university. She usually wears blue jeans and has her nose stuck in a book. It’s kind of annoying actually,” she added under her breath. “And Owen,” she drawled with a smile, “is the lead singer of Jettison Seven. He’s my brother’s old college roommate and agreed, very generously, to serve as the secret celebrity in the study.” My mouth fell open. He looked very different in the button-up and glasses, but damnit all… it was Owen Jones. My insta-crush exploded to a whole new level. The combination of embarrassment, lust, and giddiness was almost impossible to control. Scarlet looked back and forth between us with a self-satisfied grin on her face. “Well, thank you both for this. We’ll contact you if we have any follow-up questions.” We walked outside, a weird silence surrounding us considering a few moments earlier we’d had our tongues in each other’s mouths. “May I take you for a ride?” “A ride?” He cocked his head toward a gorgeous red motorcycle that was parked at the curb. A ride with the adorably kissable Owen Jones on his famous red motorcycle? “Can I ask why?” He hooked his fingers through mine and pulled me against him. “I have a thing for women who can kiss and get dirty.” Well, then. Who was I to say no to another kiss with Owen Jones? Undressing Owen I was curled up on the couch reading a book. It was pouring rain outside and the thunder was rattling the house. It was the edge of a tropical storm—enough to make the day miserable, but not enough to slow Floridians down. “Are you absolutely sure you don’t want to come?” My roommate Scarlet asked as she paused at the front door. She was heading up the follow-up to the “First Impression” experiment I participated in two months earlier. The one where I kind of fell hopelessly in love with a sexy rock star. A rock star in the middle of a sold-out tour. “Yes, I’m absolutely sure.” The last thing I wanted was to be stood-up by Owen Jones. It was already bad enough that he hadn’t returned my texts in two days. The emails had been growing fewer and farther between as well. It wasn’t working. Rock stars and professors of paleontology did not date in the real world and the experiment had been a temporary—although hot—deviation from that norm. Our experimental kiss had turned into an afternoon ride through the hills around Tallahassee on his trademark red motorcycle, followed by a quiet dinner. That night, he’d flown off to the next stop on his tour and the next morning I’d…taught class like normal. He had throngs of adoring fans throwing themselves at him on a nightly basis, while I had young college kids trying to flirt with me for a better grade. Our worlds could not be more different. “It’s pouring rain and I’m in the middle of a good book. The last time we talked, Owen said he wasn’t going to make it. He’s stuck in Michigan or Iowa, or somewhere in the mid-west. I’m going to stay home where it’s dry.” Scarlet frowned and rolled her eyes. “Fine, have it your way. I’ll pick up Chinese on the way home.” An hour later the storm was actually getting worse and I was almost done with my book. I checked my phone for the gazzilionth time—no messages from sex gods—and made a hot chocolate. That was when someone knocked on my door. I froze, like a child home alone. Visions of serial killers and rapists flooded my mind as I crept closer to the door. Who would be knocking on my door when there was a tropical storm howling outside? “Who is it?” “It’s me.” A familiar, rough, sexy male voice replied. My heart stopped. Owen. “What are you doing here?” “Open the door and find out,” he replied sharply. I reached for the handle—still slightly terrified an ax murderer was holding Owen hostage and this was all an elaborate ruse to get me to open the door—and unlocked the deadbolt. Owen was leaned up against my door frame, drenched from head to toe. His light brown hair was spiked up at messy, sexy angles. I had to look up at him since he was several inches taller than me. His shoulders were hidden beneath black leather, but I knew under those dripping clothes was the lean, muscular body I craved. His brown eyes were dark and hollow and his skin was white. He was probably frozen to the core. “You said no,” he murmured as he looked down at me. My heart stopped. “Excuse me?” “You said no to the experiment. Why?” There was a strain to his voice. I shook my head in confusion. He was dripping on my front porch and that was all he had to say? “I don’t understand.” He straightened up and that’s when I saw his red motorcycle on the curb. He’d driven over in the rain. “Alice, I’ve jumped through every hoop to get here, but when I got to the university, Scarlet told me you weren’t coming.” He took a step toward me like he wanted to kiss me. God, how I wanted him to kiss me. One evening of kissing hadn’t been nearly enough. And now that he was here, all those primal feelings of attraction and lust were pumping through my system all over again. I didn’t care how many women were secretly in love with him or fell asleep fantasizing about his voice and body—Owen was standing on my porch, looking desperate and destroyed I hadn’t showed up at the experiment. My heart rate ticked up. I raised a skeptical eyebrow. “I didn’t think you were coming.” His eyes fell to my lips before darting back up to my eyes. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you since the moment I first laid eyes on you. Of course I was coming.” Oh shit… my insides turned to liquid. “You didn’t answer my texts.” A sexy smile pulled at the corners of his lips, making heat pool low in my belly and surge south between my legs. I knew what that smile meant. It was Owen’s dirty, devious, bad boy smile. “Because I was trying to surprise you. I haven’t slept in two days between the concerts and the planes I had to take to get here.” Owen Jones had given up sleep and ridden a motorcycle through the torrential rain to get to me. My inner teenage fangirl was screaming like a lunatic, but outside, I was playing it as calm as I could. I licked my lips and gazed up into his smoldering, pleading eyes. “Well, this is definitely a surprise.” And then I threw my arms around him and wrapped my legs around his waist. He caught me easily, turning so that my back was braced against the door frame. His muscular arms held me in place while I cupped his face and crushed his lips with mine. He tasted like salt and rain. His tongue was velvet and his scent—wet rock star leather—made me dizzy. He grunted and gasped while I moaned. I was on fire and this time, a kiss from Owen wasn’t going to be enough. Two months of fantasies and phone foreplay was about all I could handle from a man I wanted this badly. This time, “Sex God” was the only option for me. The rain was pouring so hard I couldn’t see the curb any longer. The lightning flashed and the thunder rolled forever, reverberating off of every surface, including us. His wet clothes soaked through mine as we ground together, desperate to make up for the time we’d been apart. “I missed you.” His hand cupped my face as he set me on the ground. “Really?” Had one kiss really led to all of this? “Really,” he replied. Owen looked a little nervous. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and his breath faltered as he searched my eyes. If I forgot that he was the lead singer of Jettison Seven, adored by millions of fans, and saw only the tentative man in front of me, it was hard to mistake the longing and desire Owen had for me in his eyes. He was just a guy, and I was just a girl. I ran my hands up his chest and to his shoulders, pushing at the leather of his jacket. It fell away, hitting the wood porch with a thud. He was only wearing a simple white t-shirt that was sucked against his skin, revealing every curve and dip of his muscles beneath. I swallowed and grabbed the hem of his shirt, pulling it up so I could feel his bare skin. My fingers touched smooth, hard abs and Owen shuddered. I sucked in a breath and closed my eyes. It was overwhelming. When I opened my eyes I found Owen watching me with barely restrained curiosity. He reached out for the hem of my sweater. “Your turn.” I reached up as Owen stripped off my sweater, throwing it on the ground beside his damp jacket, leaving me in red-checked boxers and a gray cotton bra. His eyes ran over me as I reached out for his buckle, suddenly starving to see him naked. The clothes fell away until we were dressed to match: naked. I’d seen him in publicity shots with nothing but a leather pair of pants to cover his body. I thought I knew what he’d look like naked. I was wrong. Owen was so much sexier—naked, aroused, and looking just a little bit vulnerable on my front porch. His shoulders were wide and round and his waist was trim. He had the lightest smattering of chest hair. “You are gorgeous,” he groaned a split second before he scooped me up in his arms. “I’m sorry I haven’t called. I miss our early morning talks.” I laughed. “You mean the ones where you’re half asleep because you’re just going to bed?” He tightened his arms around me. “Yeah. The ones where you’re just starting your day and sound so happy. I like sending you off to work with me on your mind.” I swallowed. Damn that was romantic. “I like sending you off to sleep with me in your dreams.” Owen shuddered and set me in front of my bed. “Nice place.” “Welcome.” Thunder split the air and the wind picked back up. I loved the storm, but it also scared me a little. That wind was getting out of control. Owen must have noticed because he cupped my face with both his hands and started to sing. To me. I wrapped my arms around him as he lowered us onto the bed, his eyes locked on mine, and I cradled him between my legs. His soft, sweet lyrics rolled through me and into my heart, and suddenly we weren’t just naked, we were undressed mind, body, and soul. And I liked it. You can read the end of Owen and Alice’s story as part of the One Week in December anthology for free! One Week in Love is an anthology project I have been happy to be part of. Every book includes four stories about couples falling in love over the course of a week. Check them out! Discover One Week in Wyoming Four couples, seven hot winter nights... A match made in Wyoming: Four stories by Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton heat up the page in one sexy anthology. Undressing Cara by Alexis Anne Eli Pierce is Seattle’s most eligible bachelor. He’s sexy, rich, arrogant…and completely wrong for Cara Sinclair. But Cara has no idea she’s about to spend a week with the Eli at her friend’s Wyoming lodge. What happens when Cara learns that Eli is a lot more like her dream hero than the man in the tabloids? Can a week in the snow turn two long-distance crushes into true love? There’s One Week in Wyoming to find out! Off-Piste by Audra North Leah Christos is about to give up on her dream of becoming a writer because she’s afraid of taking chances. Quitting her job to write full time is simply too risky. Jasper Brandt is looking for excitement to liven up his dull life. He’s the last person that safe-loving Leah should be hooking up with. But when they get together at their friends’ Wyoming lodge, they might end up taking the greatest chance of all… Seduction in the Snow by Julia Kelly Lydia Reed’s had her heart stomped on one too many times, so when the gorgeous, glasses-wearing Evan Sullivan winds up at the same Wyoming lodge as her she sees the chance for the a short, hot fling with a definite end date. There’s only one problem: Evan. He might have agreed to their just-for-fun romance, but just a few days with her and he wants more. Now he must convince the headstrong writer that falling for him is worth the risk. Love is Here to Stay by Alexandra Haughton Romance writer Callie Emerson can’t resist a good story or a good secret, so when she finds herself more interested in unlocking a surly rancher’s secrets than in making her deadline, she knows she’s in big trouble. Win Carter is too busy resuscitating his family’s legacy to invest time in a relationship, especially one with his sister’s spoiled society friend. And though she has her head in the clouds while his feet are rooted firmly in the ground, maybe one week in Wyoming is all it will take to start writing their own happily ever after. Escape for One Week in Hawaii Sun, sand, and seduction. This summer, Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton sweep you away to paradise for One Week in Hawaii. A wedding planner breaks all the rules to have just one night of pleasure, only to find that a stolen moment might hold the key to forever. A movie star falls hard for her sexy co-star…who just happens to be her best friend. A former black sheep risks falling from grace again when she seduces a handsome stranger with a dark history. An artist has to choose between dating a guy who will please her parents and one who will please…and pleasure…her. Sex on the beach is so much more than a drink in these four sizzling contemporary novellas by the authors who brought you One Week in Wyoming. Here’s a first look at the next season in the Tease serial universe! "Very erotic." "WOW!!!! Loved it. I cannot wait to see what all is going to happen between Allison and Theo...Holy Hell!!!!" --Books of Past, Present, and Future "Tempt blazes off the page! The moment Allison and Theo meet, you know they're meant to be together." -- Vivienne Thorne "Steamy, sultry, and sexy...Alexis Anne offers up her most mysterious and tempting hero yet!" --Anne L. Parks Tempt: Volume 1 Chapter 1 The air shifted the moment I stepped into London’s version of a speakeasy. Dark but filled with life, this historic looking club had glamour dripping from every corner. Richly stained woods were accented with black leather, crystal chandeliers, white table linens, and gold. “Allison!” A tall, slender man named Luis stood up from a circular booth on the other side of the dance floor and waved. Like everyone else in the club he was dressed to the nines. Three-piece grey Hugo Boss suit with a smart navy tie. His hair was parted and slicked back like he stepped right out of the 1920’s. I walked down three stairs onto the main floor just as the band picked up their instruments to start the next number. The first chords of the upright bass hit me square in the chest, jump-starting my heart. This club was sexy as hell. I had a thing for swing dancing. The minute my new co-workers heard, they arranged this little extravagant night out. I was all for it, but this place was far beyond anything I’d experienced before. It wasn’t just an exclusive bar hidden behind a teashop. You didn’t just need the password to get past the bouncer. This was so much more than that. The only people who even knew about this club were invited to know about it, and sworn to secrecy. Every guest was required to conform to the dress code, which was either modern designer cocktail hour, or period costume. Looking around the room I realized Luis hadn’t been lying. Every single man was in a suit, and every woman was either in a slinky designer gown with jewels dripping from her ears and neck, or ready to Charleston her way across the dance floor. “So glad you could finally join us,” James chided me from his seat in the corner. Shorter and rounder than Luis, but dressed just as well, he had one of those delicious British accents that was soft and sexy. I could only dream of sounding that fantastic when I spoke with my American accent. “This is amazing,” I said with a glance at the dance floor as a crystal flute of champagne was thrust into my open hand. “How did the meeting go?” Ava, who was dressed in a strapless champagne colored dress smiled up at me with her lower lip pulled between her teeth. “I’m either the next most brilliant architect the world has ever seen, or jobless.” She winced. “You gotta fucking hate when there’s no in between.” Swear words sounded decidedly fantastic when spoken with her clipped accent. I sipped the champagne and bit back the urge to sing my own praises. I knew I was good; I didn’t need Margaret Hickman to bestow that honor upon me. But my boss felt the need to play games. To test me. So I was sure as hell going to rise to the occasion. Six weeks ago I got a call asking me to spend six months working on a special project for my firm’s London branch, HMD2. It meant leaving my brand new apartment in the hands of my best friend back in Calhoun Beach, South Carolina, but it also meant opportunity. If I played all of this right I could finally leave my family, and the life they’d planned out for me, behind. “I debated over the two options before I even landed at Heathrow,” I said. “I could either play it super conservative and by the book—design the building to code and cash my paycheck—or I could take the opportunity to turn things on their ear. Make my mark. I decided if not now, when?” “Here, here!” Luis said, holding up his champagne. “We barely know you, but we already love you.” “Fuck that,” James said. “I want to know if you’re all talk. Can you really dance?” I grinned. “There is only one way to find out.” He pushed his way out of the booth, then made a grand show of taking my hand and bowing low. “My dear, sweet Allison. May I have this dance?” “It would be my pleasure.” The band was winding down to the last movement of the upbeat jazz song they were playing. It was the perfect amount of time to get to know James’ style so that we could really have fun with the next song—whatever it may be. I was told the band would be playing music from the 20’s to the 50’s and to expect dancers of every level and style. At least one couple on the floor was professional level: technical, precise, and very, very good. Another couple was muddling their way through the basic rock-steps trying to find the rhythm of the song. Everyone else was either doing a variation of Lindy Hop or East Coast Swing. It turns out James was a good dancer. Not great, but really, really good. He knew how to swing, knew all the steps and turns, and most certainly knew how to have fun. One dance turned into four and I was breathless when we returned to the table. “Water?” Ava slid a tall glass my direction. I downed half of it immediately. “Thanks!” A moment later I was back out on the dance floor, this time with Luis. He was a fluid dancer. His moves were soft, like silk. It made him fun and not nearly as exhausting. “So Allison.” He spun me in and we met nose to nose with one arm around me and the other trapped between us. “How are you liking living in London?” I’d only been in town three weeks, but it already, strangely, felt like home. I couldn’t quite explain it, but walking down the busy streets felt normal. The air smelled right. And the accents, while different, seemed like they’d been part of my life from the very beginning. Sure some of the food and customs were different and the weather—dear god that was taking some getting used to—but all in all, I’d never become so comfortable so fast anywhere I’d moved before. “I’m already a little sad that my time here is temporary,” I replied. He spun me away and then pulled me close so we could talk while dancing. “Impress Margie and you might get asked back.” “Is there such a thing as impressing Margaret Hickman?” It seemed illogical. That woman was never happy or satisfied. Even when a project was done and well received she liked to pick out the hiccups and give everyone a lecture on how to improve. I didn’t think I stood much of a chance of being asked to come back one day. Luis looked down his nose at me, almost like my father tended to do when I said something he didn’t like—which was always. “Margie is hard on everyone, it’s just the way she is. But trust me, when she sees talent, she rarely lets it go.” I hoped he was right. I wanted to stay. “I’m not very compliant.” I was a total rebel at heart… maybe that’s why I could never be happy having my life planned out for me. “She’s not looking for compliance, she’s looking for creativity. People who can see new solutions and work on their own without her constant supervision.” I arched an eyebrow. Margaret watched over everyone like a schoolmistress. “Don’t look at me like that,” Luis laughed. “Pay attention. You’re just reeling from being the new girl on the block. Watch my desk this week and see how often she actually stops by.” I frowned, trying to remember if I’d ever seen her pause at Luis’s cubicle. It was diagonal from mine. I didn’t exactly monitor the comings and goings of everyone, but I also couldn’t recall ever seeing our boss stop and harass Luis the way she did me. “Maybe you’re right. I’ll pay better attention. Why do you care so much anyway?” I asked. “Am I growing on you?” Luis was five years older than me and he felt like the big brother I’d never had. (Another bizarre anomaly of my time in London.) “Very much. You’re good. Really, really good, Allison. I hate training idiots. Please don’t leave and make me train a new idiot.” I stuck my tongue out at him. “Selfish bastard. You’re just lazy.” He shrugged. “Can’t blame me, can you?” I shook my head and somehow managed to lose my balance. Maybe it was the non-stop dancing, or maybe it was the champagne. Heck, maybe Luis wasn’t as smooth as I gave him credit for. I’m still not entirely sure how I managed to lose my footing. All I know is that I landed right into the sexiest wall of muscle in a designer suit I’d ever seen. Well, at least the bottom half of him was sexy. “Careful. We wouldn’t want to lose the night’s star dancer so soon.” That voice… Oh sweet Jesus that voice. It was sandpaper. It was as masculine as a voice could get. It was deep, yet soft. It was British and yet had some sort of brogue I wasn’t familiar enough with yet to positively identify. Scottish? Irish? I didn’t know and didn’t care because at that moment my face was planted firmly against his navy blue vest. His arms held me in place. They were strong and unwavering; as if holding me were the easiest thing they’d done all day. He smelled divine. There was definitely an expensive cologne clinging to his clothes, but it was something else entirely that was making me lightheaded. It was him. Whatever natural musk belonged to the man with the strong arms and sex-god voice, my body was fine tuned to needing it. I was in serious trouble and a little bit afraid that if I looked up and saw a face that matched the body I was going to come undone. Maybe he was married. Please be married. None of this would matter if he were married. I closed my eyes and sucked in a breath to pull myself together. “Thank you so much for catching me.” It was utterly ridiculous to believe I could actually be attracted to someone I’d only been in contact with for five seconds—and hadn’t even looked in the eye. I was clearly overreacting. But seriously, that was all it took. Five seconds and I was hot, bothered, and breathless. That had to count for something. The man chuckled and eased me back onto my feet, which was when I finally got a chance to take him all in. Fuck. He was gorgeous. A little rough around the edges, but in a very good, very manly way. A scar ran through his left eyebrow. There was another on the edge of his square jaw. His lips were full, his eyes were dark, and his hair was perfectly styled to match the late Prohibition years of the early 1930’s. He looked like he stepped right out of an old speakeasy and should have a wooden baseball bat slung over one shoulder, ready to take care of anyone who got in his way. Maybe with a cigar between his teeth, too. Oh yeah. Definitely with a cigar. I licked my lips and squeezed my thighs together, trying to calm the rush of desire that was quickly steamrolling out of control. This was insane. It was impossible to be this attracted to someone I didn’t know. Wasn’t it? He half-smiled, his eyes roaming over me. “All right then?” “Yes.” I nodded quickly. If by “all right” he meant incredibly horny and confused. He released my arms and stepped back, suddenly looking a little uncomfortable. “Well, good. Like I said, we wouldn’t want to lose a good dancer with so many hours yet to go.” “We?” My heart fluttered uncontrollably in my chest. I wanted to plaster myself to this guy and shove my tongue in his mouth. He was everything I liked all rolled into one man. He should be illegal. The other side of his mouth pulled up to form a full grin. “Me and every other man. No one can take their eyes off you.” I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. Did he just say he couldn’t keep his eyes off me? Sweet Jesus. His face didn’t move but I swear his eyes twinkled in that mischievous bad boy kind of way. “Perhaps you’ll let me spin you around the floor after you get a rest?” Dancing with him could be dangerous to my health, but damn did I want to do it. I nodded. “Let me get a drink.” “Water.” His eyebrows rose. I grinned back, kind of liking his friendly command. “Definitely water.” And with a nod he disappeared back into the crowd almost as fast as he seemingly appeared in my life. “Bloody hell,” Luis said under his breath. He looked like he’d just seen a ghost. “What?” “Do you know who that is?” I shrugged. Other than inexplicably sexy and good at catching wayward dancers, I had zero clue who had just rescued me from scraped knees. “That’s Theo Sutherland.” He grabbed my elbow and turned me away from the dance floor. “I can’t believe that just happened.” The name kind of rang a bell… but not really. “Who?” “Theo Sutherland. Of iON Innovations. Heir to Sutherland Industries. That Theo Sutherland.” I still didn’t fully understand everything Luis was saying, but one thing stuck out in particular. iON Innovations. My cubicle was on the forty-seventh floor of the iON Innovations Building. “He owns the building we work in?” Luis snorted as he pushed me back to our booth. I could already see Ava staring at us with her mouth hanging open. “You don’t seem to understand, my dear Allison. We’ve all worked in the iON building for years. We’ve only seen Mr. Sutherland twice.” “So he doesn’t get out much? Or does he just hate seeing the riff-raff?” I laughed at my own bad joke. Luis did not. “He’s practically a recluse. At least that’s what the tabloids say.” I shot him a look. “You can’t honestly believe what you read in those.” He shrugged. “We work in the same building and I certainly never see him. Maybe they’re right.” “Then why is he here tonight?” If Theo were such a recluse he certainly wouldn’t be out in a busy dance club, drinking and saving women from disasters on the dance floor with that damn sexy eye twinkle he just gave me. “I’m not sure about that, but I do know you were just asked to dance by the sexiest, most eligible, least available bachelor in all of London.”


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