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Authors: Tiffany Ashley

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BOOK: Beyond the Velvet Rope
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Taking advantage of her lack of attention, Elliot pulled her closer to him, burying his face into the crook of her neck just as before. “Don’t be upset with me,” he said softly into her ear. “I had to find a way to see you again.” Elliot inhaled deeply. “I missed you. I didn’t think I would, not to this extent. But damn I was wrong.”

“I missed you too,” she confessed, before she could stop herself. However, once spoken, Thandie felt an immense sense of relief because the words were true. She had missed him, and she loved him, more than she would have thought possible.

“Come back with me,” he said.

“It doesn’t sound like I have a choice,” she said dejectedly. “I’m unemployed, stuck on a plane with you, and headed to a city I never intended to go to.”

“I’m not such bad company, am I?”

“That depends.”

Elliot actually laughed. “I don’t think anyone has ever had that reaction to me before.” He pulled her to him, encircling her in his arms. “You always have a choice, Thandie.” Elliot paused, as if debating with himself. Finally, he said, “If you still want the job in Ibiza, it’s yours. That was always a part of the deal.”

“The deal?”

“Nico is an investor in the hotel holding your reservation. And he is hosting a surprise birthday party for his father. All of your accommodations are waiting for you, should you choose to take the job.”

“And the compensation?”

“Per the original agreement.”

“You did all of this for me?” she asked.

“There are a lot of things I would do for you.”

Thandie wanted to shy away from his words, hold tightly to her skepticism, but it was impossible. When Elliot looked at her this way, she found she was powerless. Stealing herself against his softly spoken words, Thandie forced herself to focus on something of greater importance. Although she’d told herself many times before she did not care one way or the other, she knew that was a lie. She needed to know the truth.

“Warren,” she began haltingly. “How are things between you two?”

For once, Elliot looked uncertain of himself. His handsome features lost some of their arrogant brilliance. “Things between Warren and me are...progressing,” he said in a measured tone.

“What does that mean?”

Elliot exhaled before meeting her imploring stare. “We’ve been spending a lot more time together. I suppose I have you to thank for that.”

“Me?”

“You’re our safe topic.” He used the tip of his finger to push a lock of her hair behind her ear. “To be quite honest, you’re all we talk about. I insisted Warren tell me everything he knows about you. It took some persuasion on my part, but eventually he agreed.” Elliot pulled back to look at her. “He’s quite fond of you, Thandie. And he was none too pleased that I was the reason you left town.”

“What will this mean for the two of you?” she asked.

“Who knows,” he said with a shrug. “It’s too new to tell.”

“You two need each other,” she heard herself say.

“Perhaps you’re right,” he agreed. “But I need you just as much.”

“I’m not sure what you want me to say to that.” She looked away from him. “The truth is, I don’t trust you.”

“I suppose I deserve that,” he said. Catching her chin with his thumb and forefinger, he turned her face to look at him. “What can I do to convince you otherwise?”

“No more lies, Elliot.”

He nodded his head. “No more lies,” he agreed.

“And no other women.”

Elliot actually looked surprised by this statement and, if possible, a little hurt. “Do you think I’ve been with other women?”

Thandie fixed him with a pointed stare. “Haven’t you?”

“No, I haven’t.” The muscle in his jaw was beginning to twitch again. “I haven’t been with anyone else since we became lovers.”

Thandie wanted to believe him so badly it hurt, but she could not shake the feeling that trusting Elliot would only lead to disappointment. He would break her heart over and over again, if given the chance. And wasn’t that the problem? She had few defenses where Elliot was involved. He might proclaim she had some power over him, but the truth was he had no idea how vulnerable she was with him.

Sensing her hesitation, Elliot slipped his hand through her hair, fingering the strands at the nape of her neck. “I want this to work,” he said before pulling her to him to kiss her softly on the lips.

The tenderness of his kiss left her breathless, ending far sooner than she would have liked. “What now?” she asked weakly. “What happens next?”

“The way I see it, you have two choices.” Elliot looped a lock of her hair behind her ear. “When we land in Miami, you and I will get off together. You will return to my home and we’ll figure this out.”

“What about my firm?”

“You made quite an impression during your time in Miami. I doubt you’ll be hurting for business. And if you need help, I can make a few calls.”

“Where would I live?”

“With me.” He held up his hand. “And before you ask, the answer is yes, you’ll sleep with me, too.”

“And what would that make me?”

“We don’t have to name it, Thandie. I just need you near me.”

“Maybe we do need to name it,” she said. “It’s important to me.”

Elliot nodded his head solemnly. “In that case, I suppose it would make you my girlfriend.”

Thandie took a moment to take it all in. After a long pause, she said, “What’s my other option?”

Elliot let his hand fall away. He studied her face, searching her eyes. “When we land, I’ll get off. The plane will refuel, and you can go to Ibiza, just as you planned.”

Thandie nodded her head slowly. “I need time to think about this,” she said.

He lifted his wrist to squint at his watch, before nodding. “We have less than three hours,” he announced. Raising her gently off his lap, Elliot came to his feet and removed his jacket. “That should be enough time.”

“Enough time for what?” Thandie asked.

“For me to convince you.” Slowly, he began to unbutton his shirt. “I must warn you, pussycat, I can be very persuasive.”

Epilogue

Club
Babylon
One month later...

T
hey'd made hot, sticky, draining love. Uncaring if the flight crew heard them or not. Clutching one another, they'd made love until they were exhausted. But in the end, it hadn't been enough. Thandie had left.

Even though he'd done everything he could, it hadn't been enough. He had failed to convince her to stay. He could see in her eyes, she was determined to go to Spain, determined to leave him.

Elliot was not accustomed to losing something he desired. He wanted Thandie, and she'd denied him. Nevertheless, he still wanted her. He missed her wide brown eyes, luscious curves and long endless legs. It would be a long time before he could forget the feel of her smooth skin against his. But it was wishful thinking to dwell on the memory of Thandie.

Many times, he considered traveling to Spain to appeal to her once more, but stopped short of going through with it. Thandie had made her decision. He would have to respect her choice.

Elliot stared down into the lovely face of actress Chole Daniels. She was striking in that unusual way that all movie stars were. Her clear blue eyes were wide and expressive, sending him the clear message, she would like to know him infinitely better, and preferably without his clothes on. If her eyes didn't relay her point, the constant brushing of her breasts against his forearm made her intentions loud and clear.

“So it's your birthday?” She cooed. “Did you get everything you wanted?”

“Almost,” he said casually.

Chloe placed a hand on his lapel. “Perhaps we can remedy that.”

Fixing a smile onto his face, that he did not feel, Elliot grinned pleasantly at her. And then he stopped. From across the room, he thought he caught a glimpse of something, or someone. Leaning away from the bar, he stood to his full height. Looking over the crowd, he strained to see but it was too crowded, obscuring his view. And then it happened. The crowd parted, as if on queue, revealing her. She was a vision to behold. Tall, beautiful and absolutely perfect. Exactly his type. Her eyes met his and Elliot sucked in a breath.

Without another word to his Hollywood companion, Elliot weaved his way throughout the crowd, making a direct line toward her.

He stood in front of her and her gaze flicked over his shoulder, toward the bar. “I hope I'm not interrupting.”

“You weren't.” Elliot didn't bother turning to look. He knew all too well she was referring to Chloe Daniels. He could feel her burning a hole into his back. With a careless wave, he said, “She's a dime a dozen. She doesn't compare to you.”

“Sweet words will get you everywhere,” she said with a smile.

“I only need them to get me one place.” Elliot let his hot gaze slowly roam over her body, lingering over every curve. Curves he was quite familiar with. Tired of the small space between them, he stepped even closer, then slid his hand around her waist and pulled her to his body. “I've missed you,” he growled next to her ear.

I missed you too,” she whispered.

“It's been too long, Thandie.”

“I know,” she confessed. “Was I worth the wait?”

“More than you know,” he moaned. “Is this trip business or pleasure?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“Are you still in the market for a girlfriend?”

“No.” He squeezed her hip. “I already have one.”

She smiled. “Then consider my stay indefinite.”

Elliot leaned in to kiss her, but Thandie placed a hand on his chest. “On one condition.”

Elliot answered her by lifting one dark brow.

“I can't leave my mother in New York. I would have to make arrangements to move her here.”

He nodded his head. “Let me help you with this. I would like to meet her.”

Thandie couldn't conceal the smile that began to spread across her face. “Can we
really
make this work?” she asked, a quiver in her voice giving away her uncertainty.

“It's already working,” he assured her. Leaning forward, he kissed her long and slow. When he finally pulled away he looked her deep into eyes, before asking, “Would you mind stepping into my office?”

Thandie laughed. “I thought you'd never ask.”

Elliot pressed his hand on her lower back, as he began to guide her through the crowd.

* * * * *

ISBN-13: 9781460332740

BEYOND THE VELVET ROPE

Copyright © 2014 by Tiffany Ashley

All rights reserved. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical,
now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and in other countries.

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BOOK: Beyond the Velvet Rope
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