Blake Law Barrington
I drop a cube of sugar into the creamy face of my espresso, stir it, and glance at my platinum Greubel Forsey Tourbillion, acquired at Christie’s Important Watches auction last autumn for a cool half a million dollars.
Eight minutes past eight.
I have a party to go to tonight, but I’m giving it a miss. It’s been a long day, I am tired, I have to be in New York early tomorrow morning, and it will be one of those incomprehensibly dreary affairs. I take a sip—superb coffee—and return the tiny cup to its white rim.
Summoning a waiter for the check, I sense the activity level in the room take a sudden hike. Automatically, I lift my eyes to where all the other eyes, mostly male and devouring, have veered to. Of course. A girl. In a cheap, orange dress and lap dancer’s six-inch high plastic platforms.
You’re looking for love in all the wrong places, honey.
A waiter in a burgundy waistcoat bearing the bill has silently materialized at my side. Not taking my eyes off the girl—despite the impossible shoes she has a good walk, sexy—I order myself a whiskey. The waiter slinks away after a right-away-sir nod, and I lean back into the plush chair to watch the show.
It is one of those swanky restaurants where there are transparent black voile curtains hung between the tables and discreet fans to tease and agitate the gauzy material. Three curtains away she stands, minus the shoes, perhaps five feet five or six inches tall. She has the same body type as Lady Gaga, girlishly narrow with fine delicate limbs. Her skin is the color of thick cream. Beautiful mouth. My eyes travel from the waist-length curtain of jet-black hair to the swelling curve of her br**sts and hips, and down her shapely legs.
Very nice, but…
At twenty-nine, I am already jaded. Though I watch her with the same speculation of all the other men in the room she is a toy that no longer holds any real excitement for me. I do not need to meet her to know her. I have had hundreds like her—hot, greedy pussies and cold, cold hearts. It is always the same. Each one hiding talons of steely ambition that hook into my flesh minutes after they rise like resurrected phoenixes from a night in my bed. Safe to say I have realized the error of my ways.
Something about her has aroused my attention.
She comes further into the room and even the billowing layers of curtains cannot conceal her great beauty or youth. Certainly she is far too young for her dining companion who has just barged in with all the grace of a retired rugby player. I recognize his swollen head instantly. Rupert Lothian. An over-privileged, nerve gratingly colossal ass. He is one of the bank’s high profile private customers. The bank never does business with anyone they do not check out first and his report was sickening.
Curious. What could someone so fresh-faced and beautiful be doing with one so noted for ugly games? And they are ugly games that Lothian plays.
I watch three waiters head off towards them and the fluid, elegantly choreographed dance they perform to seat and hand them their menus. Now I have her only in profile. She has put the menu on the table and is sitting ramrod-straight with her hands tightly clasped in her lap. She crosses and uncrosses her legs nervously.
Unbidden, an image pops into my head. It is as alive and wicked as only an image can be. Those long, fine legs entangled in silky sheets. I stare helplessly as she pulls away the sheets, turns that fabulous mouth into a red O, and deliberately opens her legs to expose her sex to me. I see it clearly. A juicy, swollen fruit that my tongue wants to explore! I sit forward abruptly.
I thought I had passed the season of fantasizing about having sex with strangers. I reach for my whiskey and shoot it. From the corner of my eyes I see a waiter discreetly whisper something to Lothian. He rises with all the pomposity he can muster and leaves with the waiter.
I transfer my attention to the girl again. She has collapsed backwards into the chair. Her shoulders sag and her relief is obvious. She stares moodily at the tablecloth, fiddles with her purse and frowns. Then, she seems to visibly force herself away from whatever thoughts troubled her, and lets her glance wander idly around the room until her truly spectacular eyes—I have never seen anything like them before—collide with my unwavering stare. And through the gently shifting black gauze my breath is suddenly punched out of my body, and I am seized by an unthinking, irresistible call to hunt. To possess.
To own her.
It can have been only seconds, but it seems like ages that I am held locked and hypnotized by the stranger’s insolent eyes. When I recall it later I will remember how startlingly white his shirt had been against his tanned throat, and swear that even the air between us had shimmered. Strange too how all the background sounds of cutlery, voices and laughter had faded into nothing. It was as if I had wandered into a strange and compelling universe where there was no one else but me and that devilishly handsome man.
But in this universe I am prey.
The powerful spell is broken when he raises his glass in an ironic salute. Hurriedly, I tear my gaze away, but my thin façade of poise is completely shattered. Hot blood is rushing up into my neck and cheeks; and my heart is racing like a mad thing.
What the hell just happened?
I can still feel his gaze like a burning tingle on my skin. To hide, I bend my head and let my hair fall forward. But the desire to dare another look is so immense it shocks me. I have never experienced such an instant and physical attraction before.
With broad shoulders, a deep tan, smoldering eyes, a strong jaw, and straight-out-of-bed, vogue-cool, catwalk hair that flops onto his forehead, he looks like one of those totally hot and brooding Abercrombie and Fitch models, only more savage and fierce.
But I am not here to flirt with drop dead gorgeous strangers, or to find a man for myself. I press my fingers against my flaming cheeks, and force myself to calm down. All my concentration must go into getting Rupert to agree to my proposal. He is my last hope.
My only hope.
Nothing could ever be more important than my reason for being there with such a man as him. I look miserably towards the tall doors where he has gone. This cold, pillared place of opulence is where rich people come to eat. A waiter wearing white gloves comes through the doors bearing a covered tray. I feel out of my depth. The orange dress is itchy and prickly and I long to scratch several places on my body. Then there are the butterflies flapping dementedly inside my stomach.
Don’t ruin this, I tell myself angrily. You’ve come this far. Nervously, to regain my composure, I press my lips together and firmly push the sarcastically curving mouth out of my mind. I must concentrate on the horrible task ahead. But those insolent eyes, they will not go. So I bring to mind my mother’s thin, sad face, and suddenly the stranger’s eyes are magically gone. I straighten my back. Prepare myself.