Read One Week (HaleStorm) Online

Authors: Elisabeth Staab

Tags: #enemies to lovers, #boardroom romance, #contemporary, #romance, #contemporary romance, #office romance, #series romance, #workplace

One Week (HaleStorm) (8 page)

BOOK: One Week (HaleStorm)
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She got out and put Michael’s robe back on, telling herself she’d only worn in across the hall because doing so had been more expedient than getting dressed. He’d been in such a hurry to leave and so had she. Whatever his call had been about, he’d left looking like someone she wouldn’t want to piss-off.

When Elise exited the bathroom and went to the living room to fire up her laptop, she remembered she hadn’t called her mother back in awhile. Talking to her mother always filled her with a mix of fear and dread, but the strange turn of events with Michael had left her jittery and wide-awake so she might as well check-in.

The phone rang enough times Elise thought it would go to voicemail, so without fail she started thinking up all the horrendous things that could be happening at that very moment. Sure, her mother could simply be asleep, or she could be on the other line fighting again with Elise’s stepfather. Or worse, Victor could have come to visit. Worse still, her mother could have finally taken that plunge—

“Hello?”

Elise squeezed the phone harder than she should’ve and let out a relieved sigh. “Mom?”

“Hey. Sorry. I fell asleep in front of the television again.”

Sleeping. See? She was sleeping. Why do you always go worst-case scenario? Because she’s done it before.
“Sorry to call so late, mom. Busy project.”

“Yeah, I figured. Called your apartment. Jeff seemed worried.”

“Jeff knows where to find me if there’s an emergency. What’s going on, Mom? You sound upset.”

“I think Victor wants a divorce.”

Elise looked up to the ceiling. She pulled the phone away from her face before breathing something that was a cross between a frustrated growl and a whoop of triumph. She’d never liked Victor and her mother was struggling with her mental health far worse than usual since that man had arrived on the scene. Her mom would be better off, but in the short term this would cost her —and Elise. Not to mention how much it sucked that Elise had been right.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” she said when she put the phone back against her face.

Sniffles and sobs came through the line. “I don’t know what happened. I thought he understood the distance was hard.”

“Well, sometimes we think we understand things, but we really don’t. I’m sure he tried, but maybe this is for the best.”
Or maybe he’s just a dick. I tried to tell you marrying a guy you met on the Internet was a bad idea.
Elise’s mom and stepfather lived two thousand miles away from each other. Victor had understandably refused to move to stay near his young children, and Elise’s mother had difficulty finding new employment where he was.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I helped him financially, I was working on moving to be with him, but it was hard to find a job. I thought he got it.”

Anger welled inside of Elise. There had been a showdown with Victor. She’d made it clear that her mother’s mental health couldn’t handle him stringing her along, and that was exactly what he’d done. Her fists clenched and released. She wanted to fly to Seattle and wring the man’s fat neck. “Mom.” Elise’s hand trembled. She sat on the couch and gripped one hand with the other, holding the phone even tighter in an effort to maintain control. Her feet shuffled through the soft cream carpet at her feet, too nervous to be still. “It’s going to be okay. I’ve had bad breakups too. You’ll move on. Maybe you’ll meet someone who isn’t already married this time.”

Elise winced at her own words. Victor had lived with another woman when he started seeing her mom. It wasn’t the same as her and Michael, but it was close enough to make her squirm.

“But you’re young,” her mother said. “I’m old. I have...” Sniffle. Cough. Sneeze. “...I have a shitty job I hate, and now my husband doesn’t want me.”

He was an asshole and he used you.
Elise smacked a hand against her forehead. “Listen, mom, I know it doesn’t feel like it right this minute but it really will get better. These things always do.” There was a knock at the door. She rose from the couch to answer.

Michael stood on the other side in a long wool coat, looking like some sort of sexy grim reaper. Dark, morose, angry, hair glittery and damp from what must have been newly fallen snow. The light on the landing threatened to give up the ghost and its ominous flicker only added to the effect.

Elise held up a finger and stood back to let him in, turning away to avoid his searching look while she tried to wrap things up with her mom. “It will all work out,” she said.

“He promised,” her mother sobbed.

“I know. I’m sorry. I wish I could change things, I really do. But you’ve got to hang in there, okay?”

Sniffles. Sniffles were an improvement. If her mother was crying, Elise had a measure of comfort things were being processed. Signs of shutting down made her far more nervous. “I just don’t know,” her mother said through hiccups.

“You’ll figure it out. I swear.” But she couldn’t promise anything. Elise clung so tightly to spreadsheets and data because data was something she could guarantee. Her reassurance to her mother was empty, and just saying it made her throat close.

“I guess.”

“There’s always hope, Mom.”

“Listen to me going on.” Sniff. “Work’s okay?”

Elise glanced at Michael, who stood with hands in his pockets and a wry expression on his face.
Yeah. Work. About that....
“Work is busy, but it’s fine. Thanks for asking.”

“You sound tired. Maybe you’re taking on too much?”

“I’m not. I swear, Mom. You know, I’d actually better go. We’re in a time crunch. I have... a late meeting.” Very late. From across the room, Michael gave her a knowing smile. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“Sure, honey.”

“Love you.”

“You too, baby.”

Elise hung up and turned to Michael, who raised his eyebrows. “Everything okay?”

“Family issue,” she said. “Long story.”

“Ah.” He smiled. “You’re still wearing my robe.”

She shrugged. “I needed a shower. It was there. Everything okay with you? You ran out of here like there was a fire.”

His forehead developed a deep furrow down the center. “Family issue. Long story.”

“Ah.”

They met in the middle of the living room. Michael reached out to cup the back of her neck, fingers threading and curling to capture damp strands of hair. “You’re shaking,” he said. His lips brushed against hers as he spoke. “And I know I shouldn’t, but I feel like I need you right now.”

Chapter 8

H
e waited for her to turn him away. Slap him. After all, she’d been the one to backpedal when he got called away. Now? She wasn’t saying anything.

Her eyelids lowered and a lock of hair fell across her eyes. Michael took her face in her hands and kissed her.

Slow this time. An easy meeting of tongues, hers tasting of minty toothpaste, his probably tasting of—

“You’ve been drinking.”

“Yeah.” So his still tasted like Lagavulin. “I had a drink with my brother. When it went badly I had another.”

Her eyes opened wide again. “How did you get back?”

“Tom drove.”

Elise nodded, but didn’t answer. Her top teeth sank into her plump lower lip and Michael’s heart rate sped up to a gallop.

He slid one hand along her shoulder, pushing the robe she wore—his robe—aside. “Is this okay?”

Her expression turned to one of confusion. “You weren’t so tentative earlier when you had me grab the door of your apartment and asked me to catalogue my body modifications.”

“I’m sorry.” He tried for a smile. “I did ask politely.”

The other shoulder of the robe slipped. Elise reached down and tugged the sash, and the anticipation of seeing all that pale, freckled skin got Michael hard again. A small smile made the corners of her eyes crinkle. “I should be sorry. I’m not,” she said. Her eyes darkened. “But you’re right. We probably shouldn’t do this.”

Michael’s body shuddered. “Give me one night, Elise. One night that isn’t about missing my father and all the futures I’m responsible for. You said we’re good with the schedule, and I would fucking kill for one night to pretend things between us are different. But if you ask me to, I’ll leave.” Even as he promised her he’d go, his fingers tightened in her damp hair. He leaned closer, catching the fresh smell of soap, and his lungs burned. He wanted to inhale every bit of her.

She shook her head as the robe dropped to the floor. “I can’t ask you to leave.”

Michael’s mouth went dry and he wished he had another drink to throw back. His lips came down on hers. With one hand, he hurried to unbutton his shirt. His belt hit the floor a few seconds later with a
clunk
and his shoes and pants quickly followed.

Hands roamed. Michael’s fingers pressed against the side of Elise’s face. He couldn’t bring himself to let go. He drew her tongue into his mouth over and over again, walking them both toward the bedroom door. “You’re fucking delicious,” he murmured.

“You’re....” Elise shook her head. Her inhalation rattled like breathing was a struggle. “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

He kissed her again, hoping to silence her doubts. Hoping to drown out his own as they moved together toward the bed. “I can’t believe we didn’t do it before.”

Her lips parted in apparent confusion. “What?”

“I should have looked for you.” He wrapped his arms around her and groaned aloud at the warmth and softness of her skin against his. The rough texture of her nipples against his chest, the dampness of her hair on his shoulder. “Just touching you makes me crazy. My God, Elise. I should have known. Fuck, I did know, and I ignored it. I’m so goddamned stupid.”

“You’re not stupid.”

“I am stupid.” Michael gripped her hips—fucking luscious, curvy hips—and ran his hands up that amazing hourglass arc in her waist and over her shoulders, reveling in the magic of Elise’s hands giving him the same treatment. “I’m stupid because I thought I could push you away all those years ago and I’d forget and find someone else who turned me on as much as your hand bumping my knee under a cubicle desk. Christ, I tried to tell myself it was all innocent, but I lived for every second.”

“Oh my God.” Elise’s eyes flew wide, her cheeks flushed in the low light of her bedroom. “I had no idea.”

“You must have, if you gathered up the nerve to kiss me.” He bent her back, one hand braced between her shoulders, the other gripping her ass, trailing kisses along her jaw. Their only-for-tonight agreement be damned, already he didn’t want to let her go.

“I hoped.” She gripped his shoulders, smiling. “If I’m being honest, all that accidentally bumping your knee wasn’t so much an accident.”

Michael stood them both up straight, grinding his pelvis against hers. “I wish I’d kept tabs. Made sure you were okay. Jesus, I want you so fucking much.”

He growled and pulled her onto the bed, loving the softness of her body against his. The glide of her nipples against his palm, the slide of her belly... the brush of those soft hairs between her thighs. He slid his hand over her abdomen and between her legs with a groan.

“Point of no return time,” she whispered. “Are we sure about this?”

He bent down to capture one nipple in his mouth. She gasped as it hardened and peaked against his tongue. Meanwhile, Michael circled his finger against the approximate location he figured she’d probably had that piercing once upon a time.

More gasping. Moaning. A definite series of shivers and wiggles and the incoherent demand for more. A breathy, open-mouth pant there in the dim light with her head thrown back as he slipped one and then two fingers inside of her. “I’m not sure about anything, Elise. I just know that everything around me is collapsing, and you feel
right
. You feel good.  I need to feel good for one night. ” He bent his head to her chest and trailed kisses to her stomach, praying silently that neither of them came to their senses.

“Yes,” she breathed. “Please, Michael.”

“Yes? Please?”

“Please, I want you.”

“Want?”

“I need you.”

“I need you, too.”

***

L
ater, Elise might regret what she and Michael were doing. But right then his stubble scraped along her shoulder to nuzzle her jaw and his skillful fingers played her like a flute and she could hardly even remember why this was an awful ide—

“Oh, God.” His teeth grazed her nipple. Gently, but enough to make her arch off the bed.

He slipped on a condom and pushed inside steadily, pulling a hard, all-over tremor from her body.

Michael moaned when he was all the way inside of her, and she turned her head to the side to hide her grin. A thousand tiny tingles danced on her skin. Finally, after the hurt of him pushing her away, he wanted her.

He wanted her.

Oh, hell yes.

He sped up, pumping his hips and groaning unintelligible things that sounded no less delicious. After all, this was Michael.
Michael.
She couldn’t believe it, after all this time. 

Elise wrapped her legs around Michael’s waist and held on as his muscles undulated beneath her calves. Tonight, they would let themselves enjoy. Tomorrow, back to being temporary co-workers. Easier.

Safer.

Her breath hitched as he shifted position, pushing deeper as he rose onto his knees. He pulled her to him, hands at her back. “Michael....” Such an intimate position. Deep. Stimulating. Their gazes met when he leaned forward to push all the way inside again. “Oh. God.”

Other words danced on her tongue. Things she would not say under penalty of death or denied orgasm, like how she also wished she hadn’t walked away that day, how she wished he’d told her how he really felt. But what did any of it matter?

His breathing deepened, his eyes went darker than dark. “Jesus Elise, you’re gorgeous. I forgot how beautiful. You have no idea... how many times... I’ve thought of touching you this way. No idea how much I missed you.”

His words nearly melted her into the bed. She kissed him, because anything else she might say would only cause trouble.

This is for tonight. Only tonight.

He growled suddenly and grabbed her ass with both hands, pulling her onto him hard. It took him so deep Elise saw fireworks and a whole damned parade behind her eyes when she came.

BOOK: One Week (HaleStorm)
10.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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