Part of The Vault multi-author collaboration project.
I never believed in fate. That was something for the dreamers, the romantics, not someone as practical and pragmatic as I.
Fate had nothing to do with me walking in on my soon-to-be husband in a compromising position with his secretary.
Fate had nothing to do with me hopping on a plane to Rome, effectively standing up my former fiancé on our wedding day.
And fate certainly had nothing to do with the handsome stranger sitting across the aisle from me, one who would open my mind and heart to things I never thought possible.
Because if fate is real, if fate is pulling the strings, if fate is in charge of each person’s destiny, she’s cruel and unforgiving.
Why would fate want me to experience a connection as I never had in my life, only to remind me it’s fleeting?
Why would fate give me everything I never knew I always wanted?
Why would fate let me have a taste, then crush those dreams?
He could never be mine. I could never be his. And his deception may just be my breaking point.
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“Why did you bring me here?” I finally blurted out after I’d eaten half the slice.
“What do you mean?” He dabbed his mouth with his napkin.
“Exactly what I said. Why are you making this elaborate deal out of having sex with me? I propositioned you. I showed up today to prove I was still interested, even without the influence of alcohol. So why all of this?” I waved my hand around the table. “Why can’t we just get down to business and get it over with?”
“Get it over with?” he repeated slowly.
“You have to know the anticipation is killing me right now.” I lowered my voice, trying to maintain my composure. “I was so close to coming before,” I said in a bold move. “Having to sit here is driving me crazy.”
“It’s driving me crazy, too,” he admitted.
“Sure.” I rolled my eyes. “You look like you’re ready to fall apart.” My tone oozed with sarcasm.
“Don’t mistake my composure for not being affected by how alluring you are, how turned on I am by you.” He leaned in, his eyes searing me as he spoke in a seductive tone. “Every time I’ve raised my tea to my mouth, I’ve been treated to your scent on my fingers. Do you have any idea how much I want to throw you on the table and bury my face between your legs? To make your entire body shake from my touch, to bring you to heights you’ve never experienced?” His hand roamed to my thigh and he gripped it with more force than I expected. The initial shock made me gasp. It was somewhat painful, but I felt so much pleasure in that pain. “To know I was the first man to ever have the good fortune of tasting you? Of giving you an orgasm so intense, your mind becomes a blank slate, a complete slave to the rest of your body?”
He pulled back, but his grasp on my leg remained firm. I had a feeling there would be a mark on it later. Something about Dante led me to believe that was the point. He wanted to mark me, claim me as his.Clearing his throat, he regained his composure, releasing his hold. “Like I said, you certainly affect me, too.”
“Then why are you putting on this show? Why didn’t we just go somewhere more private?”
“You’ve never experienced foreplay. In my opinion, that’s the best part.”
“But this isn’t foreplay. This is just you being an insufferable tease.”
“Ah, Eleanor, you are quite mistaken. This whole afternoon has been foreplay. It doesn’t have to be intimate, although that’s nice, too. Foreplay is all about building up the tension, about bringing each person to the brink of their breaking point, then shattering into tiny pieces.” His lips whispered against my neck, sending a delicious shiver down my spine. “And I plan on shattering you.”
T.K. Leigh, otherwise known as Tracy Leigh Kellam, is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Beautiful Mess series, in addition to several other works. Originally from New England, she now resides in sunny Southern California with her husband, dog, and three cats, all of which she has rescued (including the husband). In late 2015, she gave birth to her first (and only) baby. When she’s not planted in front of her computer, writing away, she can be found training for her next marathon (of which she has run over twenty fulls and far too many halfs to recall) or chasing her daughter around the house.
T.K. Leigh is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. All publishing inquiries, including audio, foreign, and film rights, should be directed to her.