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Authors: Leisa Rayven

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BOOK: Wicked Heart
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I laugh. “Well, we have three hours of Shakespeare about a mad, violent, misogynistic monarch ahead of us. I’m sure by the time we’re done, sex will be the last thing on our
minds.”

He gives me a skeptical shrug. “If you say so.”

When we walk out of the theater three hours later, it’s clear Liam’s skepticism was well-founded. My entire body is buzzing with energy. Not only was the production
incredible, but sitting next to him in a darkened theater for all that time was like low-voltage electrocution.

I’ve never had such a powerful reaction to a man before.

“So,” he says. “That was amazing.”

“It really was. Thanks for the ticket.”

“Thanks for the company.”

I hear us making lame small talk, but there’s nothing lame about what’s passing between us. I’ve got so much adrenaline going on, I feel like I could Hulk-jump into traffic and
flip over a cab.

Liam looks around and bounces on his toes. “I don’t know about you, but I’m too buzzed to go home yet.”

“Same.”

“I was hoping you’d say that. Come on.”

As we push through the after-show crowds and head back toward Times Square, Liam puts his hand in the middle of my back so we don’t lose each other. It adds another layer of tension to my
already overworked adrenal glands.

At this time of night, the atmosphere in the Broadway area is electric. There are thousands of people pouring out of all the theaters, giddy and high in the way only live theater can make
someone. Liam and I dodge and weave, but I have no clue where we’re going. After a while he gives up trying to steer me from the rear and grabs my hand so he can lead me instead. His fingers
are warm and rough, and the shape of them feels so familiar it’s bizarre.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

He looks back at me and smiles. “Does it matter?”

I know I should be cautious because I know so little about him, but for some reason, I feel safe. Everything about him is brand-new and familiar at the same time. Like there’s been a tune
playing in my head for my whole life, and he’s finally given it words.

After we pass through the mayhem of the main square, we travel a few blocks down and head toward the river. At last, he stops at a doorway shoehorned between a thrift shop and a dry cleaner.

“This is my building,” he says, and brushes his thumb against the back of my hand. “My apartment’s old and cramped, but . . . do you want to come up?”

I look at the grimy door. “Do I have to?”

He chuckles. “Of course not. I just . . .” He takes a step forward, and my breath catches. “I don’t want to say good night yet. I don’t have any alcohol, but I have
milk and cookies. And if you play your cards right, I’ll show you my roof garden.”

“Is that a euphemism?” I’m surprised at how husky my voice sounds.

The way Liam’s gaze falls to my mouth, I think he likes it. He leans forward, and I press my back into the door. “It’s whatever you say it is.” His voice sends shivers
across my skin.

“Even if I come upstairs with you, my statement about not having sex tonight stands.”

The edges of his mouth twitch, but he doesn’t smile. “Okay.”

I put my hand on his chest. “I’m serious.”

He looks down at my hand, then covers it with his own and presses my palm into his pec. My breathing speeds up. So does his.

“I’m not taking you upstairs to seduce you, Elissa,” he says as he lightly strokes my fingers. “Even though I’m pretty sure I could.”

“Wow. So arrogant.” He gives me a lusty smile, and I narrow my eyes. “You don’t think I can resist you?”

He puts his hand on the wall next to my head and moves closer. I put my other hand on his chest. Not to stop him. Just to feel more of his body.

He closes his eyes and exhales before looking at me again. “If you’re feeling even half of the attraction I’m feeling toward you, then, no, I don’t think you could
resist. In fact, I think if I kissed you right now, we’d barely make it through that door before tearing each other’s clothes off and fucking like there’s no tomorrow. But I
promise, if you come upstairs, I’ll behave. Maybe you should vow to do the same. The way you’re touching me? It makes me think you want to ride me hard and put me away cold. May I
remind you that I’m a man, Elissa. Not a sexual plaything.”

My lungs tighten as I stare at his mouth. Damn him to hell for conjuring up an image of me riding him.

“Point taken.” I reluctantly remove my hands. I’m trying to keep my cool, but his nearness has set my heart to hammering in my chest. “Liam, I swear on the life of my
hamster not to use you as a sexual plaything.”

He looks crestfallen. “Not even if I beg?”

I smile. “Not even then.”

“Just so we’re clear,” he says as he leans down to whisper in my ear. “If you ever beg to be
my
sexual plaything, I’ll make it happen in record time. More
than once, if necessary.”

“So selfless.”

“I really am.” He gives me a sexy smile before stepping back to open the door. I follow him inside, and we climb five flights of stairs to get to his apartment. By the time we get
there, my desire for him has been joined by a burning in my lungs.

“You okay?” he asks, and gently touches my shoulder.

“Yep. Just trying to disguise my extreme fitness so I don’t intimidate you.”

“Great job. You have me completely fooled.”

“Right? Maybe I should have been an actress after all.” I take a deep breath and let it out. Goddamn, I’m unfit.

When we make it inside, I realize how much he wasn’t kidding about the size of his apartment. It’s a studio with a tiny kitchenette on one side and what seems to be an equally tiny
bathroom on the other. In the middle is a space just big enough for a sofa bed.

“So,” Liam says, “let me give you the tour.” He doesn’t move. “Aaaand we’re done.”

I can tell he’s embarrassed, but he needn’t be. In New York, there are heaps of micro-apartments just like this. In fact, I’ve seen worse.

What sets this one apart is that it’s spotless. The furniture and appliances are dated, but they’re all immaculate. There’s not a single thing out of place. The bed is even
made.

I narrow my eyes at him. “Were you expecting to bring someone back here tonight?”

“No. Why?”

“It’s super-clean. And your bed’s made. I have it on good authority from my brother that most men are missing the bed-making gene.”

He leans into me, and I feel his warm breath on my ear. “You don’t know me well enough yet to have realized I’m not most men. But if it makes you more comfortable, we could
unmake the bed. Just say the word.”

A shudder of pleasure runs up my spine. “Oh, I wouldn’t dream of destroying such perfection. Are those hospital corners?”

“If you find that sexy, then yes.”

I let out a soft groan. “Such a turn-on.” He chuckles, thinking I’m teasing, but I’m really not. I’m a self-confessed neat freak, and knowing he keeps a tidy house
makes me all kinds of hot.

“Well, if you’re finished eye-fucking my bed,” he says, “I have something else to show you.”

“If it’s a recently cleaned bathroom, I don’t think my body’s ready.”

He clucks his tongue. “Dammit. I knew I should have scrubbed the tub this morning.” He squeezes past me and heads into the kitchen. Within a few seconds, he’s grabbed a bag of
chocolate chip cookies, two glasses, and a half-empty gallon of milk from the fridge. “Come on. If the apartment gets you hot, then you’re going to go nuts over the roof
garden.”

He leads me out of the apartment and up two more flights of stairs. Goddammit. No wonder he’s so ripped. If I had to climb all these stairs every day, I’d be able to bounce the
Federal Reserve’s entire stash of quarters off my butt.

At the top of the stairs, he flips a switch before opening the door to the roof. When I step out, what I see almost takes my breath away.

It’s like a tropical oasis up here. There are dozens of potted palms of various sizes, and in the middle of them is an intricate wooden pergola wrapped in hundreds of tiny lights.

“Wow. That’s, just . . . wow.” I’m rarely lost for words, but now is one of those times.

“I built the pergola for Mom and Dad’s anniversary last year. They just sold their house to move into an apartment, and had nowhere to put it, so they brought it here.”

“It’s beautiful.” The dark wood has been painstakingly carved with vines and flowers. “I bet they loved it.”

“Yeah, Mom cried. Dad patted me on the shoulder and went quiet for a while, which is his equivalent of crying.”

I smile. “That’s a pretty incredible present to give them. Trying to win the award for world’s best son?”

He looks down, and I don’t miss the subtle change in his posture. “Well, they’ve had a tough time over the past couple of years. I wanted to do something nice.”

I see names carved into the wood at the top of the pergola. “Angus and Eileen. Good Irish names.”

“Yeah.”

I see another name and squint so I can make it out. “Does that say . . . James?”

Liam blinks a few times. “Yeah. My twin brother.”

I just about choke on my tongue. “Twin? As in identical twin?”

Lord, I don’t know if I can cope with two men this perfect existing in this world.

Liam takes in a deep breath. “Yeah. We were identical.”

“Were?”

“He was . . . he’s . . .” He looks at the ground. “He died.”

“Oh. Liam . . .”

“Two years ago.”

My heart breaks for him. Losing a brother would be bad enough, but I’ve heard twins share an especially powerful bond. “God, I’m so sorry.”

The way he shrugs and waves his hand tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it. Before I can say anything else, he urges me forward. “Come on. I didn’t bring you up here to
watch me wallow. I can do that by myself.”

Beneath the pergola are a couple of old couches and a coffee table. We each take a couch, and he lays out our supplies before filling the glasses.

He still seems tense, so I try and lighten the mood. “I love milk, but a beer would have been better.”

“Not happening,” he says, as his mouth presses into a determined line. “You’re underage, young lady, and I refuse to further contribute to the corruption of a minor. Now,
drink your milk like a good girl.” He gives me a half-smile.

“Yes, Granddad.”

We’re both quiet for a few moments as we munch on our cookies. When we’re done, he stands and gestures for me to follow. “Come on. I haven’t shown you the best
part.” He leads me to the edge of the building and climbs up on the ledge.

“Is that safe?” I ask, trying to peer over. It’s at times like this I hate being a short-ass.

He offers me his hand. “Trust me.”

Strangely, I do, and when I put my hand in his, he pulls me up with so little effort, it’s surreal. For a moment I panic and grip his arms, but then I see that the ledge isn’t as
narrow as it first seems. Also, there’s a fire escape right below us.

“Okay?” he asks, his hands firm on my waist.

“Uh-huh.”

“Then look up. The fire escape is cool and everything, but it’s not what I wanted you to see.”

When I raise my eyes, I see what he means. Across the street is a shiny new apartment complex. The entire lobby is covered in reflective glass, and through some miracle of technology, I can see
the visual cacophony that is Times Square blinking up at us.

My mouth drops open. “What am I looking at?”

“Rear projection,” Liam says. “Incredible, right? Whoever designed the building realized that one of the huge draws of living in this area is the excitement of Times Square, so
they incorporated it into the building’s design. It’s a live feed of what’s happening six blocks away.”

I’m floored at how spectacular the projection is. “Have you figured out where the camera is yet?”

“No, but I look for it every now and then. From the angle, I figure it’s on a light pole. Look, you can see the stairs where we met tonight.”

He’s right. The staircase is now teeming with people.

There’s an old adage that says no matter where you come from, if you stand in the middle of Times Square for fifteen minutes, you’ll see someone you know. I don’t know if
it’s true, but I should try it one day. There’s nowhere on the planet quite like Times Square. The ambience, the energy, the connection to all things Broadway. I feel like it’s a
part of me.

“I could watch this all night.”

“Then my evil plan to spend more time with you has succeeded. Excellent.” Liam sits on the ledge and urges me to follow. When we’re settled, our legs dangle over the edge and
our thighs press against each other. It almost distracts me from the view.

Liam leans back on his hands. “This is why I spend so much time on the roof. I can sit up here and people-watch without having to leave my building. Cool, right?”

“Very cool.”

I envy Liam for living here, practically in the midst of it all. My parents’ brownstone up on Sixty-fourth Street suddenly seems light-years away. And boring as hell.

As if sensing what I’m thinking, Liam asks, “So where do you hail from, Elissa? Manhattan?”

“Yep. Upper East Side. Still living with my parents.”

“Of course you are. You’re a child.” I poke him with my elbow, and he laughs.

“If I get into The Grove, I’ll have to move to Westchester. Not gonna lie: I’m looking forward to getting out on my own. Well, I’d have to live with my big brother, but
still . . .”

He’s silent for a moment, then says, “Westchester, huh? I guess it’s not that far away.” He says it so quietly, I don’t know if he’s talking to himself or me.
“So your parents are still married?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Mine, too. What are the odds? Out of everyone I know, I’m the only person whose parents aren’t divorced. Not only that, but my folks are still so in love, it’s
embarrassing. Gives me hope that true love still exists, you know?”

“That’s a romantic sentiment from a man who’s just had his heart broken.”

He lets out a short laugh. “I’m hardly heartbroken. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Leanne, but I didn’t love her.”

“But, weren’t you with her for a year?”

BOOK: Wicked Heart
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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