The combination of her fear and desire held a frightening level of power. Heat pooled between her thighs and her very being burned for him. Her head swam as he captured her lips again. His fingers tightened on her bottom, squeezing her as his tongue flicked over the rough of her mouth.
Chandler was…God, he was something beyond words.
Lifting her off her feet, he pushed her thighs apart. She gasped as she felt him against her thigh, so hot and hard. She was close to begging him, but he didn’t make her wait long. Oh no, he hooked her legs around his hips, lining her up with his erection.
“Look at me,” he ordered in a gruff voice.
Alana wanted to deny him, but her eyes opened of their own accord. His raw gaze stole her breath. In his stare… No, she couldn’t be seeing what she thought she was. They barely knew each other. His family hated her. He was hired to protect her, but…
She suddenly wanted to cry.
Not breaking contact, he thrust inside her, deep and hard, and he remained there, seated to the hilt. There was no escaping him, and in that moment, it was the last thing she ever wanted to do.
“Feel me?” he breathed, nipping at her lower lip.
Alana felt him in every part of her. Then he started to move and her world fell apart. Her body arched into him and she kicked her head back. The piercing moan sent Chandler into a frenzy of action.
Each thrust slid her up the wall and then back down on his length. She couldn’t move in this position. He had complete control. Her arms were still stretched above her head, his body filling hers and then retreating, only to pump back into her deeply. Within seconds, she was matching his tempo. Both of their movements were wild and a bit desperate. He dropped her wrists and she looped her arms around his neck. He cradled the back of her head as he drove into her, incited by the way she dug her fingers into his skin, scouring his flesh.
“Oh f**k,” he said, his mouth pressed against her throat. “Alana, I can’t…”
She tensed around him, every nerve pulsing and flaring as he pounded into her. No doubt her backside would be a bit bruised come tomorrow, but her hoarse cry of release said it all. She wasn’t going to be upset by having to carefully sit down. He quickly followed, fusing their bodies together. She latched onto him, panting and experiencing the aftershocks as his chest rose against her swiftly.
“Alana,” he breathed, voice ragged.
She dropped her head to his warm shoulder, squeezing her eyes against the rush of hot tears. Her arms trembled, but it seemed to have very little to do with what they’d just done, and more with the fact that after today, it would be the last time. It had to be before it was too late.
But an evil little voice whispered that it was already too late.
Alana was running.
Chandler was a lot of things, but he wasn’t f**king stupid. And he’d meant what he’d said. Kind of. He’d let her have the facade of running, because she wasn’t going to get far.
He knew that the woman felt the same way he did. She may not be able to say the words, but it was everything else she did. Right now, she was like a cornered animal. There were only two options for her: fight it out or run.
She was going to run.
He’d kept her busy the rest of the day Sunday, not giving her much time to put whatever cockamamie plan in place, but he woke when she crept out of his bed at dawn, too early for her just to be getting ready for work.
Too bad he didn’t have another excuse to keep her home.
Somewhere over the past days, his house had become their home. A smile pulled at his lips in spite of the fact that he knew she was packing up her clothing and personal items in the room next door. Was she going to tell him? Try to sneak the bags past him? Curiosity filled him, making it hard for him to remain in bed and see this through.
If he tried to stop her, it would only make her resist harder, but it wasn’t like he was going to let her buzz around the city without his protection. With anyone else, he wouldn’t let the person out of his sight if he were the one doing the job, but this situation was different. Feelings were involved and all that shit, which was why getting involved with a client was a big no-no, but he’d taken care of that, too. Murray was parked down the street, waiting just in case she called a cab.
Damn Chad and his mouth. He wanted to greet his brother with his fist to the face again, but he knew that even if Chad hadn’t shown up and made an ass out of himself, this was inevitable. Something would’ve triggered her if it hadn’t been her deepening feelings. He wasn’t a psychologist, but it didn’t take one to see that her commitment issues were obviously attached to her mom and he wasn’t sure exactly how he would overcome something like that.
But he would.
Chandler didn’t ever give up.
Her soft footfalls hurried down the hall and he stilled, his eyes drifting toward the closed bedroom door. He needed to be tied down, because lying there was probably the hardest thing he’d ever done.
Just when he thought she was going to leave, he heard her outside his door again. Closing his eyes, he forced his breathing to move slowly. The door cracked open and he felt Alana creeping in, moving quietly to the side of the bed he was “sleeping” on. The lovely scent of vanilla and lilac teased his senses and his c**k immediately swelled, more than ready to get a little physical.
Her soft lips brushed his cheek and she whispered, “Good-bye.”
And then she was gone.
Chandler forced himself to stay in the bed until he heard his front door close and the silent beep of the alarm resetting. Throwing off the sheet, he looked over at the nightstand. Beside his cell was a folded piece of paper. His eyes narrowed as he picked it up, already knowing what it was before he scanned the handwritten note.
It even started off with Dear Chandler.
Things have been fun. Blah. Blah. Time for this to end. Blah. Blah. She would find another security firm. Email her the cost of his services? What the f**k? Did she really think he was going to charge her for any of this? She even left her email address.
Her f**king email address.
That was the only thing that pissed him off.
Picking up the phone, he called Murray. He answered on the first ring. “She’s in the rental car. I’m following her now.”
“Perfect. Let me know where she ends up,” Chandler said, crumpling up the Dear John letter. “And I’ll take over from there.”
Alana felt like a different person sitting behind her desk at work. Get Well Soon flowers adorned her office. The roses from the creep must’ve been removed, because they were absent. She hadn’t reserved a hotel room yet and there was a list of security firms she knew of in the city she planned on calling once work calmed down.
She had no idea how much Chandler would charge for his services so far, and God knew he would after her bitchtastic exit this morning. A letter? She had actually left him a letter? And she would need to check into another hotel, but maybe none of that was necessary. Out of the mail that one of Chandler’s employees had picked up for her, there hadn’t been any suspicious letters. Maybe this guy had moved on or gotten hit by a car or something?
And it was time that she moved on.
In reality, she wasn’t the same woman who had stared at her schedule last Monday. More so than the physical changes—hair down, wearing a white blouse and linen pants and no suit. Admittedly, she was a hell of a lot more comfortable dressed as she was, but there was an ache in her breast that had started the moment she walked out of Chandler’s house and had only grown over the last couple of hours.
Had she done the right thing by leaving Chandler this morning? It had to be. What he said in the shower the day before had to be the lust talking and nothing more. Besides, leaving him now was like ripping a Band-Aid off a wound—rather it be quick and a bit painful than drawn-out and destructive.
No matter what, she wouldn’t end up like her mom.
But as she attended the weekly meeting with the publicists, chatted with Ruby, and fielded a hundred comments about being shot and all that drama, she felt like she was… She was faking it all. It was the best way she could describe how she felt. As if she were doing nothing but lying to herself and others, telling them and herself that she was okay. That everything was fine. But it wasn’t. Not really. Her skin was stretched too tight, as if she were wearing jeans that no longer fit after gorging on a meal.
Sipping her lukewarm coffee, she pushed thoughts of Chandler and her own question out of her mind and concentrated on work. For a while, it worked like it always had. She turned off her cell phone, because she really didn’t think she could deal with it if Chandler contacted her, and threw herself into the phone calls with reporters, checked in on the senator, and scheduled an “impromptu” photo shoot of him reading to kids at the local Boys and Girls club. She worked through lunch and answered emails well into the late afternoon.
It was only when the office had quieted around her, blinds had been drawn, and Ruby had left for the day, that she powered off her computer. As she started to stand, she glanced over at the window. With the fading sun pushing through the thin slats in the blinds, she watched the tiny specks of dust floating in the streams of light. That was how she felt, simply floating.
Pressure clamped down on her chest and she quickly shook her head. She had been doing so well. Now wasn’t the time to break down.
She placed her purse on the desk when the door to her office opened. Turning, she expected to see a lingering coworker come through the door, but what she saw stopped her dead in her tracks.
Chandler was hanging around outside Alana’s firm, obsessively watching. It was well beyond the time that she should’ve left work, but she hadn’t stepped foot outside. There was a back entrance to the office building, but it was butted up against an alley, and the parking garage exited out onto the street. And her rental car was still in the garage. He had checked twice now.
Impatient, he pushed off the wall and slipped into the bottom floor of the garage. The fact that there wasn’t any security monitoring the comings and goings after five p.m. grated on his nerves.
He beat feet to the third floor, spying the tan sedan by itself. She was still here.
Chandler stopped in the middle of the parking garage, torn between wanting to bum-rush her office and waiting for her out here. He knew that she wasn’t going to be happy to see him, but both of them were going to have to put their emotions aside. There was no way he was going to allow some other crackpot security firm to step in and protect her.
He waited another good ten minutes before his patience had reached its limit and he started toward the entrance door. One way or another, he was going in there, getting his woman, and bringing her home, where she was safe.
Steven didn’t look like the last time she’d seen him. Gone was the perfectly coifed hair and clean-shaven face. His glasses sat crooked on the edge of his nose, and the lenses appeared dirty, as if he hadn’t wiped them in days. His shirt was buttoned unevenly and clung to his wiry frame
Concern filled her as she studied him. “Is everything okay, Steven?”
“Where in the hell have you been?” The door shut behind him, slamming like a crack of thunder, causing her to jump. “Answer me!”
She blinked slowly, her hands following to her sides. “I…I don’t understand.”
He stopped in front of her desk, his face flushed. “Where have you been!” he shouted, and Alana jumped once more, shocked. “You haven’t been at your apartment. You haven’t been at work. Where have you been!”
Oh my God…
Instinct flared alive and she took a step back. At first she had thought something terrible happened to him. Perhaps a death in the family, but now…oh no, her thoughts were going to a terrible, dark place.
“Did you forget about calling me?” he mocked, advancing on her. “But that’s right. You had no intention of doing that.”
“I thought…” She swallowed hard. “You’re engaged.”
Steven laughed, and the sound was unnaturally harsh. “I’m not engaged. There’s no one else. No one but you.”
Icy fear balled in Alana’s chest, a kind of terror she had never felt before. It slithered through her veins, turning her blood to slush and freezing her where she stood. Her brain hadn’t caught up with what was happening. It absolutely refused to believe that Steven had been the person responsible for the letters, the vandalism to her car and apartment, and now he was here, alone with her.
The tiny hairs on the back of her neck rose as her gaze darted toward the door. Could she make it? She was sure as hell going to try.
“You ruined everything,” he seethed, walking around the desk. “And you had no idea!”
She took a step back, bumping into her office chair. “I’m sorry, Steven, but I don’t—”
He moved so quickly, she didn’t have a chance. Or maybe she was so unprepared for what was happening that she just didn’t react accordingly. His fist snapped out, catching her on the jaw.
Pain burst along the side of her face and she stumbled to the side, banging into her desk. Lights crowded her vision and for a second, pain became everything, shooting down her neck, causing her pulse to spike rapidly.
He reached down, grabbing a handful of her hair and yanking her off the desk. A fierce burn shot over her scalp as he hauled her around the desk, dragging her.
“I loved you and you left me,” he said, his fist tightening in her hair, causing her to yelp. “And I didn’t mean a damn thing to you. You just up and dropped me, like I was nothing.”