“Her name was Clarissa,” he said almost casually as he took his shirt off. In seconds the thin fabric was tossed to the floor, his broad chest bared to her. The lean slope of his abs took her breath away. Her gaze followed that line down, down—wanting to see more.
He didn’t disappoint. He made quick work of his jeans, shucking them off, kicking them aside. He was all efficiency now. This wasn’t a striptease, something slow and sensual. He was a man with a mission, and that made it even sexier to watch.
“She was a year older than me. A sophomore when I was a freshman. We went to the same prep school.” He put one knee on the bed, making the old springs groan and dip. “She’d done it with one other guy before me.”
She only had time to register that it was young to lose his virginity. Wasn’t it? But then she didn’t have a frame of reference. She’d helped her mother clean houses after class when she started high school. By the time she’d lost her virginity she’d been in college.
And then she was distracted by his hand on her knee. Just that. Almost innocent, that hand. He had put his fingers in her pussy and his tongue against her asshole. He had touched every part of her, but that hand on her knee just now, with them in his childhood bedroom, felt more illicit, more dangerous than anything that had come before.
He leaned down, his face just inches from hers. His eyes were large and dark—fathomless. She stared into them, losing herself.
you didn’t want to hear about her,” he whispered. “Not really.”
“Then what did I want?” she whispered back.
He skimmed his palm up her thigh and caught her T-shirt as he went, lifting the fabric, baring her stomach to the cool air. Her skin pebbled, her nipples tightened. He noticed, his gaze hot as he watched the fabric of her bra peak.
Instead his large palm came up and covered her breast, on top of the bra—claiming her. That was how it felt, his hand both heavy and strong. Like she was no longer herself, her own person, but his. Like he was no longer her employer, her teacher. Not even lover. Somewhere along the way he’d become her everything, and that scared her more than anything.
“This,” he said, locking his eyes on hers. “What you want is to know you can trust me, that I’m not this person. At least not anymore.”
Her heart caught in her throat, because she did want that. Everything in this world was foreign to her, from the designer fixtures to the society page spreads. She didn’t belong here.
And she was terrified he did.
“I don’t want you to settle,” she said, tears stinging her eyes.
* * *
Blake forced himself to close his eyes, to take deep breaths. Forced himself not to spread the beautiful legs beneath him and fuck Erin into the bed.
It was a strange impulse, but her words had that impact on him. That she could doubt herself that way, believe that she wasn’t good enough. That she could doubt him. It made him feel primitive, called to some deep beastly part of him that needed to fight, to fuck, to conquer her until she saw what he did.
But he would keep that part of him contained, well hidden. He couldn’t risk scaring her.
“Erin,” he said, his voice low, almost guttural. “You’re beautiful. You’re strong. You’re smart. Why the fuck would I be settling?”
She blinked rapidly. Jesus. So much for not scaring her.
He sat back on his heels and shoved a hand through his hair. Fuck, he was coming undone. Maybe it was coming home after so long. More likely it was the way Erin had looked at him ever since they’d gotten here, as if he were a stranger.
“Baby,” he said hoarsely. Because he couldn’t speak anymore. He could only show her how he felt.
Only give in to the dark impulses that had been riding him all this time.
He bent over her, nuzzling at her breast through the satin cloth. God, he didn’t even feel human now. More like an animal, acting on pure instinct and sensation, reveling in the softness and womanly scent of her. He used his teeth to drag the fabric aside, revealing her stiff nipple to the air. They were small nipples, delicate. He had to be careful with them. He couldn’t suck as hard as he wanted, couldn’t nip at her.
That was what he told himself, but one brush against his lips and he was lost, feasting on her, lips fastened on her breast and tongue tormenting her bud.
The sound she made was pain—a cry of shocked arousal and sharp desire.
He didn’t let go of her, just cocked his head to meet her eyes. Then slowly, like a dog with a goddamn bone, shook his head. Quiet, he told her. She wouldn’t want his parents or the staff to hear. There was no way to really hide what they were doing. In the end she’d make enough sounds for them to know. But he wouldn’t let her scream and keen the way she did at home. She’d only feel deeply embarrassed later.
So it was really a form of protection that when she yelped, he reached up to cover her mouth with his hand.