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Authors: C A Vincent

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With a heavy sigh, she pocketed her phone and stood. As much as she hated to burst the bubble Nate and his lady were in, there were things which needed to be discussed, things she’d rather not put off any longer. Three years was long enough. She only hoped Nate would still talk to her afterward. It would be horrible to lose him as a friend.
 

Just as she started to walk toward them, the blonde gave him a playful shove and took off running. More carefree than she’d ever seen him, Nate laughed out loud and chased after her. Elizabeth watched wistfully as they chased each other, remembering a time when he used to do that with her. She started to call after them and stopped short. They looked so damned happy. All of a sudden, she couldn’t bring herself to interrupt.
 

Their discussion could wait, she realized. After everything she’d put him through, he deserved this time. And if the curvy blonde could give it to him, then so be it. They would talk soon enough. She only hoped what she had to tell him wouldn’t ruin the happiness he’d found.
 

* *
 

Phillip felt his insides twist as Alicia flirted and played hard-to-get, both at the same time. He didn’t recall ever seeing her like that before, not even when she first let on she was attracted to him. She didn’t even do it with the three guys she dated after he told her there would never be anything between the two of them.
 

Was this a side of her she’d kept hidden all this time, or was it only something this new guy brought out in her? He wracked his brain, trying to figure it out as they stopped running around and dropped to sit beside each other on the sand. They talked quietly while watching the tide come in. He ambled slowly past, glad for the disguise he’d put on this morning.
 

It surprised him how much distance there was between them, given how touchy-feely they’d been all morning. He would have thought they’d be shoulder-to-shoulder, hip to hip, but there was at least half an arm’s length of space separating them. Alicia spoke then, her voice too soft for him to hear. Langston’s response was a deep chuckle, followed by the question, “Are you serious?” Phillip slowed his pace, wanting to know whether she was and, if yes, what it was she’d asked or said.
 

“Maybe. Okay, definitely. But there’s a catch,” she answered.
 

“A catch? What kind of catch? ‘Cause if I have to stand on my head, or something equally outrageous, you know I’ll do it.” Phillip ground his teeth together. Langston’s tone was a mix of playfulness and smug male ego. That could only mean Alicia’s statement had sexual undertones. He hoped to God he was wrong.
 

“I don’t doubt it,” she said with a giggle. She actually giggled. Now Phillip knew this new attitude of hers had to do with the man beside her. Not once in five years had he ever heard Alicia Danvers giggle. “But it’s not anything as challenging as that. Or perhaps it’s more challenging. I don’t – ”
 

“You’re killing me here,” Langston cut in. “When do we stop talking and start kissing?”
 

Phillip damn near tripped on his own feet. There were times when he absolutely hated being right. What the hell was she getting herself into? No matter how much money he had or how successful he was, Nate Langston wasn’t the man for her. He would go back to his business and his wheeling and dealing and she’d go home with a broken heart. He bent down, pretending to tie a loose shoelace. It was the only way he’d be able to hear Alicia’s answer, now he’d passed them. He wished he could see her face.
 

“No hands,” she said. Phillip choked on his own spit. A water cooler conversation he’d overheard a long time ago came back to him at those words. In his mind’s eye, he could see Alicia and Darlene talking.
 

Darlene was something of a bombshell. She knew how to dress to show off her attributes and all of the men in the office wanted her. Most of them had her too, himself included. At the same time, she was smart as a whip and a top-notch researcher. Despite the vast differences in their personalities, the two women were practically best friends.
 

The women had been talking about sexual fantasies. He remembered thinking he should walk away before he heard anything which would distract him from the case he had to argue in court that afternoon. Curiosity had held him in place though. Even though he’d told Alicia they could never become involved, he wanted to know what made her tick. So he’d stayed put and continued eavesdropping. She’d said:
 

“I would love to sit with a man and kiss, neck, whatever you want to call it, but not touch otherwise. No body-to-body, no groping. Just lips and tongues and teeth. The restriction of not being able to touch in any other way would make the experience erotic as hell.” Darlene countered that the man would have to be a good kisser and Alicia pulled a face before answering a heartfelt, “Don’t I know it!”
 

Phillip barely heard Langston’s response to her request for the memory playing through his  mind. The low chuckle followed by, “No problem, babe” made him want to punch the man in the face. Then Langston and Alicia were leaning in toward each other and his heart started to hammer painfully in his chest. Did he reveal himself and stop them or should he get the hell away before things became hot and heavy? Given her sexy response to the way Langston was teasing and tormenting her with his mouth, he went with the latter and beat a hasty retreat.
 

Chapter 9

Alicia ran, hell bent for leather, toward the hotel. Nate was hot on her heels and furious. She didn’t blame him. What the hell had she been thinking, instigating a make-out session in public like that? Had her brain suddenly shrunk to the size of a pea, with no room for cognitive reasoning? How on earth had she not realized Nate’s kisses would be a devastating mix of sweet and hungry that would make her want, no
need
more? The way he’d teased her at first had been frustrating. Even still, her body had responded. She should have known right then and there she was in over her head.
 

She was so intensely revved up right now, it was a wonder she could even walk, let alone run. She dodged as Nate reached out to grab her. He swore and barked her name as she burst through the side entrance to the hotel. There was the sound of shoes scuffing on pavement as he nearly overshot the door. Despite this, he managed to stay close. Panic spurred her on.
 

Thank God there were no other patrons headed out through the narrow exit or he would have gotten his hands on her for sure. That would have proven disastrous for her, despite his fury. One touch, even a rough one, would likely set her off. She’d never been so turned on she couldn’t control it before. The feeling terrified her.
 

The few guests standing around for the elevator sidestepped as she blew past them toward the stairs. Alicia dared a backward glance as she took them two at a time. When she didn’t see Nate behind her, she let out a relieved cry. He was either giving up or had decided to try to head her off via the elevator. With how slow the things were, she would definitely make it into her room before he caught up with her.
 

The question of “What the hell will you do then?” entered her mind as she reached her floor and gave a final push toward her door. It wasn’t his fault she was mortified over getting so worked up in public. Well, it was, but not. Yes he’d proven to be the most incredible kisser she’d ever been with, but he wasn’t the one to suggest the “activity” in the first place. The way she saw it, her predicament was entirely her doing.
 

Whatever happens, let’s hope he doesn’t want to see things to their conclusion. I can’t take that right now. Eureka!
she thought, nearly overshooting her door.
 

She was just sliding the key card into its slot when strong hands took hold of her arms and spun her around. Alicia shrieked as Nate used his body to press her up against the door. Her desperate need for release spiked. It was all she could do to keep from throwing her arms around his neck and grinding herself against him.  His hands on either side of her head boxed her in, effectively trapping her. She was begging before he could speak.
 

“Please forgive me. I-I’m sorry. I didn’t – I-I can’t – Oh God, I’m so sorry. Please Nate,” she whispered frantically. “Let me go. Let me – ”
 

“Let you what? Tease me into a frenzy of lust just so you can run away again? There’s a term to describe women who do that, Alicia. It’s “cock tease”. I didn’t – ”
 

“Nononono. I’m not – I didn’t mean to. I didn’t think things would get so out of hand,” she cried. She tried to keep her voice down, but she was upset.
And so damn close
. He smelled incredibly sexy, all sweat and man and
Nate.
She kept completely still, trying desperately not to cause too much friction between them. Unfortunately, the heaving of her chest as she struggled to catch her breath defeated her efforts. The rub of her breasts against him was pure delicious torment.
 

Nate’s body against hers felt too good, even if he was furious with her. All he had to do was press in a little closer. God, even if he didn’t and just gentled his touch a little, she would
lose it completely. Right there in the hallway.
Outside
her room. The thought of losing control like that where anyone could see was too much. She whimpered a plea.
 

“Out of hand? Things weren’t out of hand, Alicia. We were both fully clothed. It’s not like we were all over each other like a couple of hormonal teenagers. There was no public indecency. Tell me how you figure things got ‘out of hand’.” Nate’s voice was a low growl. He was so close she could feel the rumble of that growl against her chest. It was so erotic. It took every ounce of control she had to keep from squirming. He had no idea what he did to her. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, praying for strength. When she didn’t answer him fast enough, he threatened her.
 

“How about I kiss you again and make you feel what I felt? I’m going to get you so hot, you can’t think straight. You’ll need it so bad, – ”
 

“You already did and I do,” she half-hissed, half-cried. “God, Nate. I almost – In
public
. For everyone to see. I – ah –
Oh God!
Please, Nate. Just let me into my room,” she finished on a moan. He was pressing in closer and the charge running through her was about to burst into flames.
 

* *
 

Nate saw the fear and embarrassment in Alicia’s eyes. There was also need, desperate and all-consuming. His pounding heart lurched in his chest. Was she serious? Was she really so afraid of reaching climax in public? It wasn’t a bad thing. Not in his books. At least women could hide that kind of thing. If men came in public, they’d better hope it was dark out and they were wearing dark clothing.
 

He saw the tension and desperation in her face, the tightness of her shoulders, and realized she was dead serious. He shouldn’t be surprised to find she wasn’t the daring, devil-may-care woman he thought when she first made the suggestion. Clearly she hadn’t expected the experience to affect her as much as it had. The thought stung and the urge to prove his manliness, his skill as a lover, burned through him.
 

Alicia’s helpless, pleading whimper broke through the haze of righteous indignation he was feeling just as he was bringing his head down to devour her sweet mouth. Nate groaned then clenched his teeth and forced himself to give her a little more space. He couldn’t quite bring himself to take a full step back though. She wasn’t the only one on the edge and being near her was like breathing. He had to do it, or die.
 

Using her to prove a point to himself wouldn’t help matters either. It would only make things worse. She would end up hating him and he’d never see her again. For some reason, that thought made his gut twist. Taking a deep breath, he opened up the space between them a little more so she could open her door. To that end, he put his hand on her hip to turn her around. Her reaction was immediate and intense.
 

Alicia gasped and jerked like she’d been punched. Nate just managed to catch her as her knees buckled. She clung to him as tremors wracked her body. He held her as she fought a losing battle for control. Surprise and shock quickly turned to awe as he watched her. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was about to happen. When she cried out, he muffled the sound by devouring her mouth in a hungry kiss.
 

When the spasms coursing through her eased and Alicia turned to bury her face in his neck, Nate pried the key card from her hand and slid it into the door. She was sobbing almost uncontrollably, wanting to know if anyone had seen her. Moments later, it closed and locked behind them. He shook like an untried schoolboy as he carried her gently to the bed.
Unsurprisingly, she wouldn’t look him in the face, let alone the eyes as he lay down beside her and pulled her close.
 

“I – Oh God. – In public, Nate. I don’t – ” she stammered. He waited for her to pull her thoughts together and tell him what was on her mind. When she stopped speaking altogether, he began to wonder if she’d fallen asleep. He turned her onto her back and looked into her face. She was awake and looking more confused and uncertain than ever. All of a sudden, he felt like the world’s biggest prick.
 

* *
 

Alicia looked up into Nate’s face and saw the worry and guilt clouding his eyes. Her heart beat an erratic rhythm as she tried to gather her fractured thoughts to tell him how she felt. The crux of her problem was that she didn’t know how or what she felt. She knew what and how she was
supposed
to feel, but those emotions were light years away from the ones she was actually experiencing. Now she was afraid to open her mouth. The last thing she needed was to blurt some drivel about love. She’d only just met him a couple of days ago, for heaven’s sake. It was too soon for such a serious emotion.
 

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