Authors: Locklyn Marx
She glanced around the baggage claim area, but she didn’t see him, so she collected her bags. She had just decided to text him when she spotted him. He was walking through the terminal toward her. Her breath caught in her chest. She’d forgotten how sexy he was.
He had on a pair of expensive-looking jeans that were just baggy enough to be cool but not baggy enough to be ridiculous. A soft-looking black leather jacket was thrown over his white t-shirt. He had his phone out, and he was texting someone. Her phone vibrated in her purse, and she rummaged around, looking for it. One next text.
Stop staring at me.
She groaned, shoved her phone into her bag, and looked up, meeting his eye. He grinned, but she glared at him. God, he was so arrogant. It was enough to ruin his looks.
They took one of the team cars back to his apartment, which, Kenley had to admit, was a really nice perk. No waiting in line for cabs, no worrying that the cabbie was going to rip you off, no gripping the door handles wondering if you were going to get in an accident and die as you sped through the streets of New York.
“So,” Kenley said. “Are we going to the hotel first, or…?”
“The hotel I’m staying at.” Her heart sank. He didn’t expect her to pay for her own hotel, did he? Not that that would have been unreasonable. He was paying her a hundred thousand dollars after all, so it would make sense that he might want her to cover some of her own expenses. But she wouldn’t be able to do that, at least not upfront.
Hotels in New York were expensive, and she hardly had any money.
Chad laughed. “You’re not staying in a hotel.”
“I’m not?” Could he… he didn’t mean he’d gotten her an apartment, had he?
She tried to remember if Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman had gotten an apartment, but no, she’d had a suite at that fancy hotel, The Beverly Wilshire. But Richard Gere’s character in that movie had been a businessman. Chad was a famous baseball player, so he was probably more concerned with things like fame and status -- it would probably look ridiculous if he made his girlfriend stay at a hotel, even a fancy one.
“No,” Chad said. “You’re staying with me.”
She spit out the water she was drinking, and it sprayed all over the back of the driver’s seat.
“The Brooklyn Heat will charge you for any damage to the car,” Chad said seriously, “since you’re not a member of the team.”
“Not funny,” she said.
“What isn’t? You having to pay for the car, or the fact that you’re staying in my apartment with me?”
“Good,” he said, “Because I wasn’t joking.”
“I can’t stay in your apartment!” The last thing she wanted to do was be close to him. Twenty-four seven. The two of them. In one apartment. It felt… wrong. And yet, a rush of heat flew through her body, and she wondered if rolling down the window would seem too obvious. “Can we roll down the window?” she asked Chad nonchalantly.
He leaned over her and pushed the button, and the cool air flew into the back of the car. It cooled her face, but did nothing to calm her beating heart, which was beating even faster now that the weight of Chad’s body was against hers. “Thanks,” she managed, “for inviting me to stay with you. But --”
“I didn’t invite you to stay with me,” he said. “It’s business.” He was back on his side of the car now.
“Right.” Her face flushed. “Anyway, um, I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”
“I can’t stay at your apartment.”
“Because that’s… I don’t….”
He grinned at her again. “You don’t trust yourself?” He reached over and ran his fingertip along the inside of her wrist. The heat that had been coursing through her body exploded into a fireball.
“Don’t trust myself to do what?” she managed.
He leaned in and whispered in her ear “To stay away from me.” His finger was still rubbing the inside of her wrist, making little circles on her skin. The gesture was so small, yet painfully erotic.
“Why would I want to stay away from you?” she asked, looking him right in the eye.
“Because you know if you don’t, something’s going to happen.”
She rolled her eyes, but it felt fake, even to her. “Nothing,” she said, “is going to happen.”
“Yeah?” He cocked his eyebrow at her, challenging. Then he reached up and took her chin gently in his hand, pulling her face toward his. She could see the curve of his lip, and smell his cologne and laundry soap and something else that she couldn’t put her finger on, something that made her want him more than she’d ever wanted anything.
His lips were perfect, and they were moving closer toward her, so close that she thought he was going to kiss her. She wanted to look away, but she felt powerless. And then at the last second, Chad shrugged. “We’ll see.”
He turned around and looked out the window. Kenley spent the rest of the ride to Brooklyn trying to calm her beating heart.
Chad could hardly take the ache between his legs. As soon as he’d seen Kenley there, in the airport, looking around for him, all he’d wanted to do was run up, gather her in his arms, and take her back to his bed. And then, just now, in the limo, the way her skin had felt, the way her eyes had looked -- he’d wanted to kiss her so bad. But he wouldn’t let himself lose control. Getting close to her like that had been dangerous – if she’d kissed him, he didn’t know what would have happened. Luckily, he’d been able to play it off like he was the one who’d backed down, like he’d been teasing her the whole time. But it had taken every ounce of his self-control.
He’d only been around her for thirty minutes and it was already turning into a disaster. He wondered if having her stay at his apartment had really been the best decision. Putting her up in at a hotel certainly would have simplified matters. But it didn’t seem very girlfriend-like, making her stay in a hotel. A real girlfriend would stay with him.
Whatever. He just needed to keep his distance. She was a business arrangement, and that was all. Besides, he couldn’t just go sleeping with some poor girl who had no idea what she was getting herself into. She was from Connecticut for God’s sake. And the fact that he was paying her definitely complicated matters. Sleeping with her would be weird, almost like paying her for sex.
“So this is my apartment,” he said, as he slid the key in the lock and opened the door.
“Wow,” Kenley said as she looked around. “Don’t be too stereotypical bachelor or anything.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He took in the surroundings, the dark wood, the light colored walls, the leather sofas. It was city chic, the exact look he’d been going for when he’d bought the place and hired a decorator.
She shrugged, which somehow felt insulting.
“Well, whatever,” he said. “I know it’s a lot different than what you’re used to.
You probably like to get all of your stuff from Pottery Barn, am I right?”
“Pottery Barn?” she asked, looking confused. “What’s wrong with Pottery Barn?”
“Never mind.” He shook his head. Now that she was here, in his apartment, he had no idea what to do with her. This was going to be a long couple of days. “So, listen,” he said finally. “I think we should probably go out to dinner.”
“Good,” she said. “I’m starving.”
“So there are some clothes in the bedroom,” he said. “I didn’t know your size, so I had them send over a bunch of stuff.”
“Clothes?” she asked.
“Yeah.” He looked at her. “You can’t.. I mean, we have to make it believable.”
She looked down at what she was wearing, jeans and a white t-shirt, then nodded.
“Do I have time to shower first?” she asked.
The thought of her naked, hot water pounding over her body and making her all wet was almost too much to take. “Yes. And you should probably dress up a little bit.
We, uh, we need to go somewhere where we’re going to be noticed.”
“Don’t you get noticed everywhere you go?”
He shrugged. “It depends. I mean, fans always notice me, sure – and if there happens to be some paparazzi around, they’ll take my picture. But I’m not a draw the way some people are. So we have to go where we know there will be photographers and hope someone takes our picture.”
“And where will these pictures end up?” she asked.
She nodded, but she looked out the window. Chad had the urge to wrap his arms around her, to tell her it was going to be okay, to protect her. What was he thinking, getting her involved in something like this? She was just an innocent bystander – he’d started out using her for his own gain, and now she was about to have her picture plastered all over national magazines.
“Look,” he said. “If you’ve changed your mind – ”
“I haven’t changed my mind,” she said, cutting him off. She picked up her suitcase. “Where’s my room?”
Chad hadn’t been kidding when he said he’d had lots of different options sent over. The closet in the guestroom was overflowing with clothes. Long dresses, short dresses, soft skirts, beautifully made jeans and expensive-looking cashmere sweaters.
Everything was in an array of colors and sizes, and there were outfits matched up together, with tiny plastic bags of accessories attached to each hanger. The bottom of the closet was filled with shoes, with a little note in front of each pair, suggesting which outfit and colors would go best.
Whoever had done this was either extremely thorough, or figured that Kenley was some kind of fashion idiot. She ran her hands over the lush fabrics, watching them slide through her fingers like a shimmery rainbow. What had Chad told his assistant about why he needed this stuff? Obviously it was for a woman. He probably didn’t have to tell the assistant anything at all. He or she was probably used to all sorts of crazy requests from her boss. His assistant was definitely a woman, Kenley decided. Probably a cute little twenty-three-year-old, so that Chad could enjoy looking at her ass while she was doing mundane things like bringing him his coffee.
Kenley decided to take a shower first, and worry about what she was going to wear later. The closet was a bit overwhelming, and she felt a little grimy after her flight.
Airports always did that to her – the recycled, moisture-free air, the coughing passengers, the children spitting up and sneezing in the seat next to you.
When she opened the door to the guest bathroom, she almost gasped. Gleaming marble counters, a huge stand-alone shower, and a deep soaking tub filled the room.
There were crisp white cabinets lining the walls, and Kenley peeked inside to find a rack fluffy white robes and a shelf full of expensive-looking bath products. Well, as long as she was here, she might as well go all out. She filled the bathtub to the top with hot water, then dumped in half a bottle of a yummy-smelling cherry bubble bath. She undressed and dipped in a toe, testing the temperature. Perfect.
She slid her body slowly into the tub, letting the water come up over her legs and shoulders. This wasn’t too bad, she thought, getting paid to take a nice long hot bubble bath. She tried to calculate in her head how much she was making per minute being here, but the warm water and the fruity scents were making her too relaxed to concentrate on the math, and she closed her eyes, losing herself in the moment.
After another twenty minutes of soaking, she opened a new bottle of Bumble and Bumble shampoo and washed and conditioned her hair. There was a knock on the door, and she froze.
“Is everything okay in there?”
“Did you find everything you need?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Okay. Well, take your time and just let me know if you need anything.”
“Thanks.” She slid back under the water and stayed there for a moment. There was something a little disconcerting about a man you hardly knew knocking on the door of the bathroom while you were taking a bath. Obviously she knew that Chad couldn’t see her, but still. It felt a little more…
than she would have liked.
After another few minutes, she got out of the tub, wrapping herself in a fluffy white towel. It was the softest towel she had ever felt in her life, warm and cozy and luxurious. How much did a towel like this cost? One time she’d seen an episode of Newlyweds where Jessica Simpson had spent fourteen hundred dollars on a set of sheets.
Kenley bet that those towels cost something crazy like that, too. Maybe when she left, she’d steal a couple of them. Chad would probably never even notice. Besides, it would be like a bonus. Kenley used to always get bonuses at her old job after wrapping up a big deal. It was only fair.
After she dried off, she wrapped herself in a sheer light blue robe that was hanging on the back of the door. She blow-dried her hair until it was soft and straight, then carefully applied her make up, giving herself smoky eyes and lightly lined lips.
Then she returned to the bedroom. It was time to pick out something to wear.
“Chad!” she yelled.
He poked his head into the room. “Yes?”
She pulled the robe she was wearing tighter around herself, realizing it was practically see-through. “Um, where are we going?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t really decided that yet. I was thinking maybe we’d meet my friends Jay and Alyssa for dinner. Maybe Nobu?” His eyes were wandering up and down her body, and she crossed her arms over her chest.
“So I should dress up?”
“You should dress up,” he said. “But don’t go too crazy.”
“Okay.” He turned around and left, and Kenley turned back to the closet. She had no idea what ‘don’t go too crazy’ meant. She picked up her phone and dialed her sister.
“Melissa,” she whispered. “What am I supposed to wear to Nobu?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know?” Melissa asked.
“Because! You’re the one who’s always taking off and having adventures.
Haven’t you been out to a fancy dinner before?” Kenley flicked through the clothes in front of her. Jeans were definitely out, so maybe she should wear a skirt with a cute top.
Or a dress?