He looked me in the eye. Heat radiated from his body and surrounded mine. He wasn’t a man, he was a force of nature. A smart girl would be afraid, at the very least cautious. But once again, when it came to this man, the only thing I felt was anticipation.
“Don’t you dare open your mouth and attempt to tell me what I can and cannot do while you stand in my office.” His gaze drifted from my mouth to my hips and back again. Since I hadn’t lectured today, I was in a pair of jeans and a sweater, and probably smelled like the zoo. What did he think of me? Casual and unkempt? If he thought anything, his expression didn’t show it.
Everywhere his gaze hit, heated me from the inside out. It was thrilling. How could a single look make me feel sexy? A sudden empty feeling overwhelmed me. I took a deep breath and tried to squeeze my thighs together without being too obvious. My clit pulsed and I wondered if this kind of reaction to a man was normal. Normal or not, the truth was that Adam Kinkade affected me, and I had the wet panties to prove it.
“We play by my rules in here, Katelyn.” He reached behind me and locked his office door. “Kneel.”
“What?” I snapped. “There’s no way—”
“You obviously came here to discuss something with me. But you’ve offended me. My time is valuable. You want me to listen? Then you’ll speak on your knees.”
My heart pumped double time and that ache between my legs throbbed harder at the way those words rolled off his tongue, smooth like molasses with a sharp bite of cayenne. I was compelled to obey—wanted to. The need that shot through me then was clear. Pure, raw lust. It rushed beneath my skin so acutely it through off my balance.
I went down on my knees.
“Good girl.” He circled me slowly.
He was making it clear that my control didn’t apply here. I was on his turf. At his mercy. His to do with as he wanted. He decided how to treat me.
I should have felt frantic. Submit to someone else’s control? Never. But kneeling before him, I almost felt like a burden had been lifted, and my anxiety was replaced with anticipation. I felt vulnerable, but safe. Adam was a conundrum I couldn’t quite figure out. Neither did I understand how he managed to push my limits without frightening me. There I was, on my knees, yet I felt a sense of power that was not my own. It was his, and I was feeding from it.
What would he do? Make me do? The thought didn’t terrify me, it excited me. And I was so turned on my body was nearly shaking.
How did he do it? I ran from everyone else…everything else that even threatened my tightly tethered sense of balance. And if I couldn’t run, I fought. Control over my sanity was the only thing worth clinging to. The only proof I had that showed I was still okay. That I was not sick like my mother. And Adam pulled at it as though it were something tangible. I was losing the fight. Giving in…letting him take over.
“The time for games is over, Katelyn. I’ve given you ample opportunity to accede to my wishes, yet you defy me at every turn.”
“Are you high? You can’t just demand things from people and expect them to do what you want.”
He went down on his haunches and looked me straight in the eye. “I expect a straight answer. I have been honest with you about what I want. You have not told me no, merely strung me along.”
There was no way anyone could string this man along. He was too grounded and wore his commanding presence like a layer of lotion. Power was a part of chemical makeup.
No. Stringing Adam Kinkade on was not possible. The fact that this was his interpretation baffled me. “I don’t know what I want. I just know what a wise versus unwise decision looks like.”
“You want me.”
My eyes widened.
“Yes.” My voice trembled on the words. “Yes, I want you.”
He trailed his fingertip over my bottom lip. “Now we’re getting somewhere. So you want me, yet you think being with me is unwise.”
Because you’re beyond anything I know how to deal with. Because I’m excited and afraid to have a taste of you and be left wanting more. Because I already have a fascination that borders on obsession. Because no one will ever have the power to hurt me again.
Instead, I went with, “Lots of reasons.”
He looked at me for a long time. Finally, he rose. He began to walk around me, pausing to lift a lock of my long hair and examine it.
“I’ve never seen a color like this.”
He scoffed. “Red is too tame a word.” He dropped the tendril. His fingertips trail across the back of my neck. “And your skin is like a pearl. Polished. Radiant. Combined with those emerald eyes, I’d think you some kind of treasure chest of wealth.”
My breath stilled and my lungs burned from lack of air. His words startled me. No one had ever said anything like that to me before. Growing up next to Megan, a tall, thin blonde, I was typically noticed by how I stood out in the awkward ways. Somehow, Adam Kinkade, a mogul who spent time with supermodels, had just made me feel beautiful.
“You don’t like that I see you?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You tensed up.”
My eyes squeezed shut of their own accord. As if telling me that sensory overload was approaching. I shook my head, trying to gain composure. I had come here for a reason. Instead of focusing on that, I was getting sucked in again. I needed my anger. My irritation. And I needed to unleash it on him.
“Stop hovering over me and inspecting me. I’m not some thing you can obtain.”
My gazed snapped to his. “Fuck you.”
He wrapped my hair around his fist and gently pulled. “In time, sweetheart.”
Holding my hair, he faced me so I could look up at him. I felt his power over me. His stare trailed down my body. Could he see how hard my ni**les were and the goose bumps on my skin?
“You like this,” he rasped. It was a statement, not a question. Adam was very clear on the effect he had on me. “I’m learning quickly, Katelyn. How you behave and how your moods change. Whatever it is you’re hiding that is making you run from me—” He pulled a little harder and I gasped. The tiny flare of pain pricked from my scalp all the way to the tips of my br**sts, hardening the little peaks even more. “—I’m going to break you of that.”
He faced me fully and cupped my chin. My whole body was vibrating like a drumroll, begging for this man’s attention, any way he wanted to give it. For some reason, I felt the need to earn it. My mind and body were at odds—fighting the very things I wanted so desperately.