When I didn’t reply, Jethro waved his hand. “It doesn’t matter what you prefer in beverages. You only get one request and you got it. I’m here against my plans; therefore, you’ll drink what I give you.”

My mouth parted, amazement stealing my ability to shout the incomprehensible phrases jumbled inside. Seriously? Who was this man?

Jethro strode away, leaving me gawking at his powerful back dressed in an immaculate, tailored suit. He completely ignored me while he ordered.

Not wanting to stand like a dismissed damsel, I moved to the couch and sat in a cloud of midnight-galaxy material. The underwire and other tricks to keep my dress buoyant argued against sitting, but my feet breathed a sigh of gratefulness.

Jethro returned with two cups of coffee. Espresso. Tiny cups, no biscotti, or anything to prolong something he obviously didn’t want to do. Placing the hot drink in front of me on the low table, he sipped his own, glaring at me over the rim.

I broke eye contact, collecting the cup of black liquid. Truth be told, I hated coffee. I’d only suggested the café to delay whatever he’d planned that was so urgent. Maybe he was a publicist, there to show the tabloids I was passionate about living as well as fashion. If that was the case, shouldn’t he be nicer? Kinder?

Inhaling the strong caffeine, I pretended to sip while sneaking glimpses at the mystery beside me. Did it matter he was an arrogant arse who didn’t know the difference between cruel and polite? He had a killer body, distinguished good looks, and a presence that screamed domination in the bedroom. I could choose worse for a night of guilt-free sex.

Sitting taller, I said, “So…the thing I wanted to ask you…”

What are you doing? He’s not a nice person. And he’s got the patience of a Doberman.

Jethro clenched his jaw, swirling his coffee. “I won’t answer, do, or respond to any more requests. Drink your coffee. We’re running late.”

I ignored that. I adopted a ‘don’t ask about the future and why the almighty rush approach.’ Working on another approach, I tried to break the ice between us. “You seem to know my father. What obligations—”

“No questions.” Jethro tossed his head back, swallowing the double shot in one go. Licking his lips, he carefully placed his cup on the table, eyeing my untouched one.

The unease of why my father had permitted me to go out with such an insensitive bastard came back. I feared there was a lot I wasn’t aware of, drifting around like a hapless child while adults battled over my future.

Running a hand through his greying hair, Jethro suddenly shoved my overflowing skirts off the couch and slid closer. So close his body heat seared my naked arms, prickling me with intensity.

I gulped, curling my hands in my lap.

Jethro bristled. “Whatever you think you’re doing, it won’t work. I will neither make small talk nor enter into meaningful conversation. You request to visit a coffee shop, yet don’t touch what I bought you.” He sighed, tension tightening his eyes. “I’m done playing silly games. Tell me what I need to do to make you come without making a fuss, and I’ll do it.”

My heart stopped. Anxiety roared back into existence. Why had I thought I could seduce this man? I had no hope, especially when he was obviously pissed off rather than intrigued. Linking my fingers together, I said quietly, “Why would I make a fuss? Where exactly do you want to take me?”

Please say a hotel and admit your attitude is all an act. Please say my brother hired you to play the horrible arsehole only to sweep me off my feet in a night of escorted bliss.

I should’ve known better than to wish for such things.

Jethro frowned. “What did I just say? No questions.” Grabbing my wrist, he tugged me closer, crushing my dress between us. “I don’t have time for games. Tell me what you want.” His mouth was so close, his brooding temper filling a bubble around us.

My eyes dropped to his lips. All I could picture was one kiss. One beautifully gentle, romantic kiss that turned my insides molten and my mind to stars.

I breathed shallowly, unable to raise my gaze to his.

He half-smiled. “That’s what you want?”

I blinked, dispelling the haze of intoxication he’d placed me under. “I didn’t say anything.”

Letting my wrist go, he trailed his fingertips up my arm. I shivered, loving and hating his masterful touch. “You didn’t have to. I should’ve known this would happen.”

My eyes flared. “Known?” Embarrassment came swift and hot. Was I so obvious? So needy?

“No questions,” he snapped. Sighing heavily, he added, “You forget your life is rather public, Ms. Weaver. And I happen to know you’re not…experienced.” Cupping my chin, he ran the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip.

I froze.

Jethro’s face didn’t soften or beguile, but his voice dropped to a murmur. His masculine scent threaded around me transporting me from the coffee shop and into his control. “What is it you want? A kiss? A caress?” His voice echoed like a deep baritone until I felt his question in my bones rather than heard.

Leaning closer, his mouth hovered over mine. He smelled decadently of coffee. “Do you ache for something? Do you lie in bed at night and crave a man’s touch?” His breath feathered over my lips, drugging me. “How wet do you get? Answer my questions, Ms. Weaver. Tell me how you pleasure yourself while fantasising about a man fucking you.”

I couldn’t feel any part of my body apart from the firm hold he had on my chin and the tingling of my lips. I couldn’t think apart from the dark visions he coaxed in my head of nakedness and fingers and stolen caresses.

“Tell me. Convince me,” Jethro tormented, bringing his mouth closer. Only a feather breadth away—a phantom kiss, but it made every inch throb.

“Yes,” I whispered. “Yes, I fantasise. Yes, I ache.” Wishing I could pull away and hide my vulnerability, I added, “That’s what I wanted. From you.”

Everything you painted and more.

“When you imagine a nameless male taking you, do you picture champagne, massages, and soul-shattering sex?” His nose nudged mine.

I nodded, eyelids drooping, begging him to kiss me.

His head tilted, grazing the corner of my mouth with his. A tease. A half-kiss. A promise. His mouth trailed to my ear. “You naïve little girl. If I took you, you wouldn’t be adored or worshipped. You’d be used and fucked. I have no patience for sweet.”

I opened my eyes, fighting against the thick lust in my blood.

Jethro sneered. “Pity you didn’t say you fantasised about a man using you, abusing you. Pity you didn’t admit to darker desires such as bondage and pain. Then perhaps I might’ve granted your wish.” He trailed his lips over my cheekbone. His touch was condescending rather than erotic. “Now tell me, Ms. Weaver. Knowing my certain appetites, are you still wet for me? Is that what you’re asking for? My tongue. My attention? My…” He nuzzled away my hair, biting painfully on the shell of my ear. “…cock.”

I wanted to deny the flutter in my heart and the intense heat billowing in my core. I wanted to be outraged at his crudeness and blatant sexual thrill. But I couldn’t. Because despite never entertaining the idea of violence with sex, I couldn’t stop the undeniable allure.

Pulling back, Jethro whispered, “Don’t turn timid on me. Say it. Say what you want.”

I was no longer human; I was liquid. Hot, pliable liquid just waiting for some force to reshape me. Everything he’d said flared a need inside until a fever broke across my brow, but I couldn’t speak so dirtily. Only if you have a phone in your hand, wimp.

Dropping my eyes, I whispered, “I want…I want…”

Jethro tightened his fingers on my jaw. “Say it.” His eyes flashed and the misconception that he didn’t know passion dissolved. He knew it. He wielded it. He hid it beneath layers and layers of mystery I would never hope to unravel.

Taking a shaky breath, cursing the damn corset, I said, “I want your mouth.”

He nodded. “Fine. But I’ll have yours first.” His thumb stroked my lips again, breaking the seal of my red lipstick, and penetrating my mouth.

I froze, eyes wide and locked on his. “Where do you want it?” His voice dropped to a barely murmured curse—impossible to ignore, deadly to my ears and body.

He didn’t care about the waitress or that anyone on the darkened street could see us. He just pinned me with unswerving golden eyes and hooked his thumb against my tongue.

I couldn’t speak. His large palm held me immobile while his finger rendered me silent. I didn’t know what to do. Should I suck? Bite? Do nothing?

Jethro smiled, it wasn’t his usual icy edge, but it wasn’t soft either. “Follow your instincts. You want to suck, so suck.” He forced his thumb deeper into my mouth, eyes darkening.

He so easily placed me into a position of submission, but I’d never felt so powerful. Closing my lips, I sucked. Once.

His jaw clenched, but nothing more.

I did it again, licking his finger with an eager tongue. My mouth filled with liquid, tasting him. Wanting him. Every suck sent a wave of insatiable need to my core, making me wet.

Jethro’s shoulders tensed. “See? You didn’t need to tell me what you wanted. Your body does that for you. You’ve surprised me, and that isn’t an easy thing to do.” My dress rustled as he wrapped an arm around my waist, dragging me against his hard body.

I went willingly, trapped in so many ways. My mind was consumed with only him. There was peace in that moment. Lust yes, feverishness definitely, but also serenity at the complete attention he demanded. I didn’t have to think of my family, my company, my endless work schedule.

I was nothing but flesh and blood and bone.

I was need personified, and only Jethro could put out the fire he’d cajoled.

His lips brushed against my ear again. I tensed for the bite of teeth. “Know what else your body tells me?”

I shook my head, swirling my tongue around his thumb. My core clenched; my mind blanked. The moment of intense privacy happened on a very public couch in a café window.

“You need something. You want something that you’re not ready to understand.” Jethro placed a delicate kiss against my jaw. “You need it so bad you’d allow me to run my hand up your knee, between your legs, and sink my fingers deep inside you this very second. You’d open your innocent thighs, even with witnesses, and moan as I sank my cock deeper than anyone.”

A bubble formed in my chest, twisting and glistening with a mixture of denial and agreement.

His thumb pressed hard, pinning my tongue below.

I jerked, eyes tearing wide.

“You’d let me drag you into some sleazy alley, tear off your dress, and…”

I didn’t want to hear the rest. But I did. Oh, how I did. He’d taken the power of speech away. I couldn’t deny anything he said. And I didn’t want to. For the first time in my life I had something real. Cheap and shallow, just like Kite, but hot-blooded and absolute.

I would willingly trade my flawless reputation for one night of sordid incredibleness. What does that make me?

I flinched, answering my own question. Lonely. I hated that word more than any other in the dictionary.

Jethro’s thumb slinked slowly from my mouth, holding me firm. “You’d let me make you scream, Ms. Weaver, and because of that willingness, I would never bow to what you want.”

The heat generated from the intense conversation dispersed, faster and faster. He curled his lip. “Whatever would your father say if he knew his daughter secretly wanted to be fucked against an alley wall by a stranger?”

The crudeness of his words slammed me back to reality.

He dropped his hand, and plucked a napkin from the table. Imprisoning my gaze, he slowly wiped his glistening thumb, before tossing the tissue into his empty coffee cup. “I dare you to deny any of that. Or pretend you didn’t want every inch of me.” He smirked at the double entendre.

The flush of mortification crested over my breasts to my cheeks. My tongue bruised from his rough handling, my mouth empty from tasting him. I couldn’t sit there and be ridiculed any longer. I’d been selfish and allowed this egotistical maniac to cancel my plans with Vaughn and father, all for nothing.

This was karma, and it stung like hell.

Grabbing the mountains of fabric wedged around me, I tried to stand—unsuccessfully. “I’m leaving. I can’t—”

“If you can’t speak the truth, I don’t want to hear your other excuses or reasons on why you suddenly need to run. You’re not permitted to leave my side, so be a good girl and fucking listen and obey.” His voice whipped me, but his body remained immaculate and collected. The two dynamics of temper and poise pierced my stupid haze, slamming me back into fear.

Who was this man?

And why didn’t I run the moment I set eyes upon him? Something wasn’t right. Something was building, rushing toward a conclusion I wanted no part in.

Jethro stood upright, jerking me to my feet. “I take by your silence you’ve made a sensible decision and acquiesced. I’m also assuming that this—whatever this was—is over?” His fingers bit into my bicep, shaking me. “Stop acting the fool and realize what is happening.”

Anger replaced my embarrassment. It was like Kite all over again, only worse, because this was real and I had nowhere to hide. “I have no idea what’s happening, and I’m not going anywhere with you. You’ve proved that you find me gullible, stupid, and unworthy of your precious time, so leave. I’m not keeping you here.” Twisting my elbow, I tried to get free. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

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