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A dark, fierce power coiled inside him like a snake ready to strike. His hand was on her throat. He could feel the pulse of her lust beneath his fingers. His cock was hard as steel as he guided it into the wet, greedy grasp of her cunt. She moaned.
“Yes, that’s what I need, James.”
He pulled back, teasing Kelsey with the head of his cock, drawing out the moment as he stoked the flames of her passion.
“Please! Please, James. Fuck me,” she begged.
She wrapped her strong legs around his hips, pulling him deeper into her. She gripped hard on the red satin ropes knotted around her wrists. “All these weeks sitting at my desk with you only a few feet away—it’s been torture, James. I dreamed that someday you would take me into your arms, into your bed. At last I’m here with you. Don’t make me wait any longer, James. Not a second longer.”
The satin rope melted away and Kelsey reached for him, slipping her arms around his neck as she covered his face with tiny kisses. Her cunt spasmed around his cock like a thousand perfect fingers. “Don’t ever let me go,” she panted. “Promise me, James. Promise me I will always belong to you, and you alone.”
She shuddered beneath him as he swiveled and thrust deep inside her perfection. “Oh! Oh, oh, oh!” Kelsey cried in her throaty voice. James’ balls tightened. Lightning shot through his shaft, exploding in a thunder of passion…
James lay still for a long moment, his hand wrapped around his wilting cock until the thud of his heart slowed. He opened his eyes, dismayed to realize he’d just ejaculated on his clean sheets, completely forgetting to grab the washcloth he kept by the bed when jerking off. He sighed heavily and rolled away from the sticky mess. He would change the sheets in the morning before work. He reached for a pillow and pulled it against his chest, nuzzling the edge of it. “Good night, Kelsey, my darling.”
Loneliness moved over him suddenly, shrouding him in its dark, relentless embrace. Clutching the pillow tighter, James closed his eyes and waited for sleep.
“He stares at you. I’ve seen him watching you when you aren’t looking. It’s kind of creepy.”
Kelsey laughed, shaking her head as she thought about her boss. “Aw, he’s harmless, Jenny. I actually think he’s kind of cute, in a nerdy sort of way. So serious. So proud of being a team leader. It’s endearing.”
Jenny shrugged. “I guess. He never looks at me that way.” She took a bite of her sandwich and chewed contemplatively. “You’re probably used to guys staring anyway. Every guy in our department has his tongue hanging out when you walk by.”
The guys at Kelsey’s new job were nothing to write home about, though she had gone out a time or two with a couple of them. Sometimes she thought she wasn’t entirely over Adam, though breaking up with him had been the right thing to do. College sweethearts, they’d stayed together over the years out of habit and convenience. Adam was like a familiar old blanket, but as Kelsey grew older, she found herself wanting more than familiarity. She wasn’t ready to drift into marriage and slip into motherhood and find twenty years later that her life had somehow passed her by.
Life had to hold more, and she was determined to find it. Moving to the city, getting her own place, finding her own way—it had been exhilarating. She had made a fresh start, a clean break from the past. The last thing she wanted was to get involved with someone new. “I’m not looking for a relationship right now,” she told Jenny. “I was with a guy forever back home. I like being single.”
“I like it too, I guess,” Jenny said, though her tone and body language belied her. “Still, if the right guy came along…”
“He will,” Kelsey said reassuringly. “You’re smart and funny and beautiful. “
“Ha,” Jenny retorted. “And fat. Don’t forget fat.”
“Stop it. You’re fine,” Kelsey insisted. Jenny was in fact quite lovely, with thick, dark hair, clear skin and large blue eyes, but she was overweight, Kelsey had to admit. “But you know,” she continued, “I was thinking about joining that health club near the bank. They’re having a special on the membership. We could do it together, if you want. Be workout partners.”
Jenny shrugged noncommittally. “I don’t know. Maybe.” She glanced at her watch and stood from the park bench. “We better get back to the office. Bennett’s a stickler for punctuality.”
James Bennett liked his job. He was a vice president at a large commercial bank, admittedly one of dozens of VPs at the firm, but still, it was nothing to sneer at. He had worked his way up from a lending officer in the mortgage department to special assets analyst. He found he didn’t really care for the marketing side of the business. He didn’t like pounding the pavement in search of new accounts, or schmoozing with strangers in an effort to procure their business. It suited him far better to work with numbers and documents, which didn’t require him to smile and shake hands all the time, or pretend he cared about a client’s new baby, their golf game, or the redesign of their office space.
Special assets was a euphemism for bad debt—loans the bank had already written off, but which loan officers still tried to restructure and collect. While good at the marketing end of the business, these loan officers relied heavily on the analyses of the clients’ sales data, market share and financial structure provided by the special asset analysts. Last year James had been promoted to team leader in the corporate special assets department, with responsibility for thirteen loan analysts. At the age of twenty-nine, this was no mean feat.
His life was full, with hobbies and exercise on the weekends, and a satisfying career. He hadn’t even realized he was lonely until the day she appeared. Since the day Kelsey Rowan had applied for a job at the bank four months ago, James' world had been turned upside down.
She’d already passed the first interview hurdles with human resources when James was called down to meet her and conduct the second interview, along with the head of the department, Bob Reynolds. They were each given a copy of her resume and the results of the initial interview, but nothing had prepared James for the sight of her when she appeared in the door like an angel just fallen from the heavens.
She had worn a high-necked silk blouse beneath a tailored navy blue jacket and matching narrow skirt. With her hair pulled back, sensible, low-heeled pumps and gold studs in her small, pretty ears, she’d presented during the interview as the very picture of professionalism, though James had immediately sensed the deep sensuality and passion barely hidden just beneath her conservative exterior. She had all the necessary qualifications for the job, including a business degree from a good university, and two years experience at a small bank in her home town. Though James would never have admitted it to a soul, he would have hired her if she’d been a high school dropout who’d never set foot in a bank. He would have hired her just so he could look at her.
The room that housed the analysts was nothing special. There were two vertical rows of desks, with cubicle half-walls separating one from the other to offer the illusion of privacy. James sat at his own much larger desk at the front, like a teacher in a classroom, though there was no chalk board behind him. He’d moved a more seasoned employee out of the front desk so he could place Kelsey there, and thus have an unobstructed view of her beautiful face, which he could observe in profile as she clicked away on her computer.
It wasn’t just her beauty that captivated him, though she was lovely by any measure, with her tumbling, shiny red-gold hair and pouting red-lipped mouth, not to mention her slender body, shapely legs, and the hint of luscious breasts beneath her suit jackets and high-collared blouses. It wasn’t just that deep, throaty voice—the voice of a jazz singer in a 1940s nightclub—or the way she seemed to pay such full and complete attention when he explained something to her, her clear green eyes fixed on his face as if nothing else in the world mattered but him. Yes, all those things contributed to his feelings, certainly, but it was something else—something that words couldn’t quite capture—that had drawn him so utterly to her.
It was as if the two of them spoke a secret, special language. A language that didn’t require words or prior knowledge to understand. While he knew it was corny in the extreme, he thought of it as a language of the heart. They were born for one another. She was his soul mate, and as odd it sounded even to his own ears, he’d known that from the moment he’d laid eyes on her.
For the first time since his promotion to head of his team two years before, James regretted being in a position of authority. Kelsey, understandably, was hesitant to get involved with her boss, and while James agreed with this stance in theory, it chafed at him nonetheless. He had considered getting her transferred to another department as a way to open the door that kept him from her, but found he couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing her each and every day.
It had been hard to keep his emotions under wraps when she’d started having lunch with that asshole, Fowler Chandler, in accounting. What kind of stupid name was Fowler, anyway? Yeah, the guy was good-looking, James supposed, in an obvious, all-American dumb blond kind of way, but Kelsey deserved better. She deserved James, and he deserved her.
Happily, she’d soon tired of Chandler, and ate lunch most of the time with Jenny and Sarah, the other two women on his team. When Steve Hardin started nosing around her a little too persistently, James had been able to get the bastard assigned to an external audit, which got him out of the office for a few months at least. James had quietly seethed when Kelsey went out with the guy a few times after work, but she soon saw the error of her ways.
Meanwhile James bided his time as he contemplated when he’d make his move. For the time being, he contented himself with quietly, discreetly keeping his eye on Kelsey. Sometimes at work she would look up suddenly and their eyes would meet. Her shy smile radiated through him like liquid sunlight, and he would feel himself tumbling into her soul. That one moment of connection would be enough to see him through the day and to fuel his fantasies at night.
James had never taken the contractual mid-morning break before Kelsey’s arrival, feeling that, since he was part of management, it showed a lack of professionalism. Since Kelsey had appeared, however, he had pushed these qualms aside, pulled into the break room by an invisible tether that bound Kelsey and him together. Though he rarely actively joined in his subordinates’ conversations during these breaks, he kept his ear cocked for Kelsey’s sexy, husky voice and drank in every word, no matter how mundane the topic.
One morning as James pretended to read his paper at a small table near the group, he was extremely annoyed by the way Frank Lease kept monopolizing Kelsey’s attention with pictures of his stupid new puppy. Talk about an obvious ploy. James was pleased to see that, while she was pleasant and polite as always, Kelsey didn’t seem terribly interested.
No—she was waiting for the right person.
She was waiting for James.
Just as he would wait for her, biding his time until the moment was right. As he lay in bed at night, cock in hand, Kelsey in his mind and heart, he thanked his lucky stars he hadn’t made the mistake of marrying Emily Brookes. Unlike Kelsey, Emily had been too superficial to appreciate what he’d offered her. She had lacked the vision or imagination to understand how powerful true love could be.
To think how he’d groveled and pleaded for Emily to take him back. Recalling it now still left him sick with humiliation. She had cut him to the bone with that restraining order, but, as his mother had been fond of saying, everything happens for a reason.
After the breakup, James had promised himself he would wait until he found the right girl—a kindred spirit who understood that true love was all-encompassing and for life. Emily’s betrayal had been the best thing that ever happened to him, as it left his heart free for Kelsey.
Now he just needed to find a way to let her know they could be together, even if he was her superior at work. Soon, soon, he promised himself, he would find the right moment to make his move. Then he would make all his dreams, and hers, come true.
The moment came sooner than he’d expected. It was the last Thursday of the month, and the crew was going out for their usual monthly happy hour excursion. James suspected the tradition had evolved for Thursdays instead of Fridays because his colleagues saved their Fridays for their real friends, but he had kept this perhaps uncharitable speculation to himself. James always forced himself to attend this event for at least a few minutes, aware he needed to be seen as accessible by his staff. Today, however, was no hardship, as Kelsey was also going. She’d glanced at him, smiling shyly after she’d told Anna Green, who sat just behind her in the office, that she would be joining them for a couple of beers that evening.
The rest of the day passed with agonizing slowness, the minutes inching forward like hours as James waited restlessly for five o’clock. There were seven of them going to Sal’s Pub that evening, and they all walked together to the elevator and rode down to the lobby. James stood beside Kelsey, keenly aware of the fresh scent of her shampoo, and her shoulder lightly touching his arm in the crowded elevator car.
Once at Sal’s, they were ushered to a large booth near the bar by the waitress. James was deeply annoyed when Mark pushed his way past James and plopped down beside Kelsey.
James consoled himself by sliding into the opposite side of the booth so he could at least face the girl of his dreams. Their knees were nearly touching beneath the table. If he’d dared, he could have reached over and touched her. The thought sent a jolt of electricity to his cock. Kelsey chose that moment to look up at him. As she graced him with her angelic smile, he knew, in his bones, that there was something between them. And tonight was the night they would make it real.
It took all his self-control not to warn Mark to keep his hands, his dirty thoughts and his eyes to himself. He had overheard the bastard talking about Kelsey in the men’s restroom to Albert from accounting, unaware James was sitting in a stall.
“You seen the new girl? She’s hot, man. I think she’s into me.”
Albert, bless him, had laughed. “You think every girl in this place is into you, Mark. What’s Beth got to say about that?”
“My wife’s interested in a three-way,” Mark had claimed, though James, who had met the tight-lipped, perennially pissed-off Beth, highly doubted this.
They ordered pizza and two pitchers of beer. Jackets were discarded and ties loosened as the pitchers were emptied and filled again. Mark kept refilling the mugs of the three women at the table, though his attentions were clearly most focused on Kelsey, which annoyed the shit out of James. He decided he would quietly see about getting Mark transferred out of his department, even if he had to lie to get it done.
A few of the party left after the pizza was gone, and then a few more, until only James, Mark and Kelsey remained. James glanced pointedly at his watch. “It’s nearly eight. Won’t your wife be wondering where you are?”
Mark started to deny this, but just then his cell phone chirped. He glanced at it with a scowl, but took the call. Though he turned away from them, James could still make out his words. “Yeah, honey. Long day at the office, but sure, I’ll be home soon. Yeah, I won’t forget the bread and milk. Okay. Yes, okay. See you soon.”
He swiveled back toward them with a rueful grin. “Guess I’ll leave you single folks to it. Duty calls.” He slid out of the booth and reached into his jacket. Pulling out his wallet, he extracted a few bills and dropped them on the table. “See you tomorrow.”
Once he was gone, Kelsey pulled out her cell phone and glanced down at it. “Wow, I didn’t realize it was so late. I have to be going too. I don’t want to get stranded downtown after the last bus.”
This was the moment, his cue, and, heart pounding, he took it. “I could give you a ride. My car’s parked in the garage at the end of the block. It’s no trouble.” He held his breath.
“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Kelsey said. “But a ride to the bus stop would be great.” Her cheeks were flushed, her emerald green eyes bright. She brought a hand to her face, pushing away the loose strand of hair that had sprung from her French braid.
James realized he’d been staring, and he tore his gaze away from her to focus on the bill the waitress had just placed on the table. “I think I had a few too many,” Kelsey said with a laugh. “How about you? You okay to drive?”
James glanced up from the cash he’d been counting, thrown on the table by the others as they’d left, which totaled about two-thirds of what they’d owed. He didn’t care. He was with Kelsey! He was going to give her a ride to the bus stop, or, if he could convince her, all the way to her apartment.
“Me?” James offered a confident smile. “Sure, I’m fine. Let me just settle up this bill and I’m good to go.”
Kelsey reached for her purse. James stopped her by placing his hand over hers. Oh god, her skin was so soft. “This one’s on me, okay?”
She looked as if she was about to protest, but he caught her gaze in his and smiled gently. She pulled her hand slowly from beneath his and nodded. “Okay. Thanks. That’s really nice of you, James.”
James. He loved when she said his name. It sounded sexy in her mouth, like the promise of something more.
She sidled from the booth and turned to face him with a smile. “I’ll just pop to the ladies’ room, okay? Then we can go.”
“No problem. I’ll be waiting.” James watched her walk away, drinking in the sight of her small but shapely ass as she glided like a geisha through the crowd. He refused to entertain a sudden niggling thought that she might not come back. Clearly she’d stayed late just so they would be the last two at the table. It was up to him, as the man, to make the next move.
He was waiting by the table when she returned. She’d reapplied her lipstick and smoothed back her hair. Her cheeks were still flushed and her eyes were shining. Her suit jacket was flung over her arm, and she’d opened the top two buttons of her blouse. James’ fingers itched with the sudden desire to push her down against the table so he could claim her then and there. He shook away the image, hoping she wouldn’t notice his sudden erection in the dim light of the bar.
He dared to place a hand lightly on her lower back as they pushed their way through the loud, drunken throng. It was a welcome relief to breathe the air outside, in spite of the fumes from a nearby bus. They walked in companionable silence to the car garage and James exercised every ounce of self-control to keep from reaching for her hand, or worse, pulling her into his arms.
Not yet, he warned himself. Not yet.
He felt lightheaded and almost reckless, and realized he, too, had had too much to drink. But so what? It only gave him the added courage he needed to make his move. Because tonight was the night. He was sure of it.
When they got to the garage, he led her to the small elevator that would take them to the top floor where he always parked. At this hour the place would be nearly deserted. As the elevator lurched upward, again he exercised all his self-control to keep from pressing her against the wall and kissing her.
As they walked through the empty garage toward his car, James clicked the button on his key fob to unlock the doors of his car, which flashed its lights in greeting as they approached. “I wish you’d let me take you all the way home. I don’t like the idea of you waiting for a bus at this hour. The crazies come out at night, you know.”
“Well, if you’re sure it’s not too much trouble,” Kelsey said hesitantly.
“It would be my pleasure,” James assured her, already imagining her inviting him up to her apartment. They would share a nightcap. She would smile shyly at him and lift her face for a kiss. When their lips touched, they would both know beyond a doubt that they belonged together as man and wife.
As they approached the car, Kelsey gave him her address and directions to her place, not that he needed them. The garage was empty and silent, save for the clacking of her heels against the concrete. The moon had risen and was shining in through the wide slats in the walls, casting a pearly glow over everything. Kelsey stood by the car like a shimmering angel.
James hadn’t meant to do it, but somehow he found himself pressing Kelsey gently against the car, his hands on her shoulders. He dipped his head, unable to stop himself, the need to kiss her suddenly overwhelming him. A small voice whispered to wait, but James could wait no longer.
“Hey!” Kelsey twisted from him, turning her head sharply away. “James! Stop it. What’re you doing?”
“What I’ve wanted to do since the moment I saw you.” He tried to pull her back into position.
“James, cut it out. You’re drunk. Look, I can just take the bus—”
James came suddenly to his senses. Holy shit, what the hell was he doing? His timing was off. He was going to blow this before it had begun. He tried desperately to backtrack. “Please forgive me. I lost my head for a second. You’re right. This isn’t the place. I—I got carried away. You’re just so beautiful, Kelsey.”
Kelsey was backing away from him. She wasn’t smiling. No, if anything, she looked horrified. Horrified! Like he was some kind of sex fiend or ax murderer or something. What the fuck? After all they’d shared? All the secret glances, the knowing smiles? What about tonight? She’d waited, along with him, until they could be alone at last.
Yeah, so he’d jumped the gun a little, but it wasn’t like he’d whipped his dick out in the parking lot or anything. What was her problem?
She began to shake her head. “Look, I’m sorry if we got our wires crossed or something, but I’m not interested in you in that way, James. You’re my boss. And anyway, I’m not looking for a relationship right now. Let’s just forget this happened and…”
Her mouth continued to move, but James could no longer hear the words. The blood was roaring in his ears. He felt like he was going to explode. Rage hurtled through him and he clenched his hands into fists at his sides.
This couldn’t be happening. She couldn’t be like the rest of them—just another prick tease, another fluff ball with nothing in her head or heart. How could he have gotten it so wrong? He brought his fists to his chest and pressed hard. His heart felt as if it had collapsed in a hard, tight ball in his chest.
Without realizing what he was doing, James reached for Kelsey. He grabbed her arms and pulled her toward him.
“James! You’re hurting me. Let go!”
He didn’t let go. He dragged her back to the car and managed to pull open the passenger door, while still keeping her in a tight grip. He shoved her into the car and slammed the door. He pressed the lock button on the key fob while he sprinted around to the driver’s seat. She was still trying to get the door open when he pressed the child lock button that only he controlled from the driver’s side. Kelsey wasn’t going anywhere.
Still blind with rage and grief, he started the engine and gunned the gas. Skillfully he maneuvered the car rapidly down the spiraling exit ramp toward the ground floor as if his life depended on it.
Kelsey pawed at his arm while he drove. “Let me out!” she screeched. “James, what are you doing? Stop the fucking car!” She fumbled in her purse and pulled out her cell phone. James grabbed it from her hands and threw it in the backseat.
Keeping one hand tight on Kelsey’s arm, James drove as quickly as he dared down the city streets and onto the highway that led to his home, thankfully only ten minutes from the office. A vein pulsed at his temple, beating time to Kelsey’s caterwauling. Somehow he made it to his driveway.
He let go of Kelsey long enough to use the garage door remote that was clipped to his sun visor. He slid the car into the garage and pressed the button again to close them off from the world.
James turned to the beautiful, trembling girl beside him. His heart was pounding, his cock throbbing at full erection. He felt more alive than he ever had in his life.