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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:17

Martin leaves with a tootles. The way he saunters out of the bar with his head held high and hands in his pockets makes me want to throw my glass at the wall in front of me.

Instead, I pick up my phone. I text Kathryn, “Let me know when you get back. There are things we need to do.” I’m talking about sex, of course. Whether she’s prepared or not, I’m giving her the full Ian Mathers Dom treatment tonight. It’s a matter of principle. No one but us will know it’s happening, but that’s all that fucking matters. No ex of hers gets to wound my pride without me going on a proving-myself rampage ala Godzilla in post-war Tokyo.

I get a reply right away. “I’m already upstairs. Where are you?”

Coming. That’s where I am. Coming.

Instinct tells me that I hear heavy footsteps for a reason. Either my boyfriend is angry, or he’s about to go on another tear.

I ignore my instincts. My mind is too full of my mother’s bullshit. All I can do is sit on this couch in our hotel suite and stare out the window, trying my best to appreciate the view of the Eiffel Tower while I gnaw on a completely innocent cuticle that hasn’t done anything to deserve this fate. My twist is definitely too tight on my head now. Every strand is piercing my scalp, begging to be released.

I’m pent up in more ways than one. What I want is my sweet boyfriend who will come crack some jokes and massage my feet while we drink wine and watch weird French TV.

What I get is a grim visage the moment he enters the room. His eyes are instantly drawn to me. Devouring me.

“When did you get back?” Ian asks, tossing his wallet onto the nightstand next to the bed. “I was waiting for you downstairs.”

I finally relent on my cuticle. With both legs drawn up on the couch, I can’t easily turn to see what he’s doing, but I can sense him coming closer. I’ve felt this aura many times in my life, let alone our relationship.

This is not the sweet, wisecracking boyfriend I want right now.

This is, however, probably the boyfriend I need right now.

His hands are on my shoulders, swiftly moving down my chest, skirting past my breasts and teasing my stomach. His chin rests upon my shoulder, lips touching my skin. His grip is possessive, and in a way… comforting.

Not until Ian had I encountered a possessive streak that didn’t send me running for my father’s protection. (Because what better way to keep the patriarchy soundly standing?) He’s the man who taught me that wanting to feel coddled once in a while isn’t a bad thing. Nor does it make me weak. For so long I had convinced myself that being tough and emotionally impenetrable was the only way I could morally live with myself. Yet, as most of us women discover, there’s that one person out there who makes you exactly what you need to be.

Who knew that what I needed was a man who knows how to help me escape reality. What even I didn’t know is that such men exist who don’t also make you feel like shit for it.

“I got back about half an hour ago.” I accept a kiss to my cheek. Heavy, hard. His hand eases my sweater open and caresses the V-neck of my T-shirt. “Was decompressing before I asked where you were.” He bites my ear. Oh, boy. “Thought about taking a bath. Apparently you can see the Eiffel Tower from the bathroom.”

My head leans back, and I’m looking into his hazel eyes. Dark today. Whenever they look this sharp yet dark, I know something is afoot. My body is already preparing with a flood of warmth and adrenaline of anticipation. But, boy. Am I not sure this is what I really want right now. Can I at least get five minutes with him without the alpha male coming out?

“You smell like alcohol,” I say.

He relents his seduction. “Just cognac. I’m not even tipsy.”

“You’re not tipsy, but you’re brazen.”

“Says the woman guzzling wine over here.”

Ian takes my glass and finishes the last few sips. The moment the glass taps the table, he’s back on me, and I swear that if it weren’t for the sofa between us I’d be flat on my back making rough love.

My body is saying great, let’s do that! My mind, however, is still adjusting.

“You’ve got something you want to share?” Besides his breath, anyway.

“What happened between this afternoon and now? You weren’t like this earlier.”

“You happened. Endless thoughts of you and what I want to do to you. It’s been going ever since last night. The longer we put off relief, the antsier I get.” His wandering hand ends up in my shirt. “Don’t tell me you’re not the same way. I’d have to call you a dirty liar.”