“I’m sorry,” Megan said, more softly.
“Don’t be. I’m the one with the issues.”
“I know you’re not comfortable with all this, but Kate, you have to feel things out and see where they take you. I’m not saying a one-night stand is the key. But you’re starting to tackle things you have shut yourself off from. Letting people in is a good thing.”
That was the problem. I didn’t want one more person talking to me like a child who didn’t understand the basic concepts of humanity. I didn’t want Adam thinking I was some damaged weakling with an anxiety disorder.
Even if that is exactly what I am…
“We just need to find you that thing that brings out the girl I saw today. The one who squared her shoulders and stared down a stranger. Maybe teaching is really helping you.”
Yes, teaching was fun and it definitely pushed the walls of my comfort zone, but the one thing that made my spirit flicker to life was Adam. There was nothing gentle about him. He was hard, domineering, and I responded to him in a way I never had with anyone else.
Maybe if I went into this as an experimental project. Attack it from a clinical standpoint, its main purpose to see how far I could push my limits before I went over. I could keep my control and ease myself into the idea of dating. Or whatever the hell it was Adam was after. Sex was apparent. And I was a twenty-three-year-old virgin. At some point I’d need to lose it. Maybe now, on my terms, was the best way to go about it.
Adam had been upfront. This was a simple transaction of bodily pleasure and nothing more. Obviously a guy like him didn’t do commitment. A one-time thing, then boom—done. Emotions and control intact when it was over.
“So.” Megan’s voice went up an octave. “Are you going to give me details and tell me what happened?”
“He mapped out what he wanted, I said thanks but no thanks, and we parted ways.”
Megan looked over my face and she unleashed a dazzling smile. “That all?”
“Then why are your lips all swollen like someone has been kissing the hell out of you?”
My eyes went wide.
“You let him touch you! Kate, that’s awesome!”
I rushed to the mirror. My lips were puffy and there was even a slight redness to my chin where his stubble had scraped me. There it was, staring back at me: proof that Adam Kinkade had kissed me. The sight made tingles spread beneath my skin.
“I’d say he likes you.” Megan smiled.
My phone buzzed with a text. I opened the message and all the blood left my head.
I can still smell you…
I was holding morning office hours. Professor Martin was lecturing in one of his several classes. I hadn’t seen much of him and based on the schedule, probably wouldn’t. Technically, I should be working on my thesis. Instead, I was doing Google searches on Adam Kinkade.
About forty-seven bazillion hits came up, many with photos of him looking hot in a tux at high-profile events and charity auctions. The one common denominator in almost all the pictures was a stunning woman standing by his side. Never the same woman twice, but a woman nonetheless. Out of all the images, he never fully smiled in any of them.
I scrolled through the most reputable information available. Aside from finding out he had an actual fan club, his personal life was pretty vague.
His mother died when he was ten and his stepfather, who had legally adopted him two years prior, raised Adam until he had been removed and put into foster care at age twelve. There was nothing else on why Adam had been put into the system.
My heart sank a little for him. I had done some volunteer mentoring work with foster kids at the Children’s Home. Most kids struggled and had a hard time coping. I thought of Adam as a child, with blue eyes and dark hair, being bounced from one place to another. No siblings or information on his biological father. He had been a child prodigy. Apparently he was insanely smart, graduating from high school at sixteen with a full academic scholarship to Northwestern. He got into the stock market at twenty-two and boomed from there. Founded Kinkade Enterprises at twenty-five. To say Mr. Kinkade was impressive would be an understatement.
“Holy crap.” CEO of Kinkade Enterprises. He held stock in several companies, as well as diversifying into real estate. Megan hadn’t been kidding when she said he owned half of Chicago. Amongst them was that restaurant he had taken me to the other night.
I exhaled and shut my laptop. The man made no sense. He was powerful, calm, and obviously used to getting his own way while saying as few words as possible. But then he donated to charities and lost control in restaurant bathrooms. In fairness, it was the hall outside the bathroom, but still.
Maybe Megan was right. Sometimes things just needed a chance to get off the ground before you could truly know what you could handle. But even if that were true, did I want to risk the attempt? With a guy like Adam Kinkade? His whole life freaked me out. My uncle and aunt were wealthy, so I knew about money, but I’d never had any. My father left when I was a baby and the only time I talked to my mother was when she called asking for money or I dropped off groceries at her house.
Megan and Brian were supportive, but in the end, the idea of giving in and possibly getting caught up—consumed—by another terrified me. Being left wanting more than I could have or handle wasn’t something I wanted to experience. I didn’t know much about the opposite sex, but it was clear that Adam was a lot to take on and not easily forgettable.
My phone buzzed. The caller I.D. read: Kink.
Maybe it was juvenile, but that’s the label I’d given him when I programmed his number last night.
I took a deep breath and answered.
“Hello, Katelyn. How are you today?”
“Fine, thank you. What can I do for you, Adam?” My goal was to sound professional and completely unaffected by his voice. Thank God he couldn’t see my hands tremble.
I heard his smirk. “Now that you mention it, you can—”
“Never mind,” I hissed.
“I was going to ask you to join me for dinner, but I like where your dirty mind was going.”
“I wasn’t thinking anything dirty.”
“Don’t lie to me, Katelyn.”
His voice was rough and deep. Even over the phone he could make me shudder. “You don’t give up easily.”
“It is not in my interest to insult you. But I cannot amend my entire process and daily life to accommodate all your wishes. I am attempting to find a middle ground.”