It was getting really difficult to pretend I wasn’t completely swooning in the arms of Mason Thacket. His dancing was impeccable (of course), he smelled amazing (figures), and he kept singing along to the song in this amazing baritone voice (seriously, is there anything wrong with this guy?). I took the occasion to rest my head on his shoulder and pretend I wasn’t stressed out over the high-profile event and the awkward encounter with my competition.
“Thank you,” I said.
Mason peered down at me. “For what?”
I looked up into his eyes. “For saving me from my frumpy single slut reputation. For some reason everyone else is happier when they believe I’m in a committed relationship with a house in the burbs.”
He shook his head. “It’s so ridiculous for anyone to think that way. It’s so far from the truth, I’m surprised it even bothers you.”
“I have to let it bother me. My business depends on it.”
He shrugged. “I suppose I can relate to that. Nobody survives the business world without secrets.” His mind seemed to wander.
“So are you going to fill me in on your story? I mean, Thacket Enterprise Dynamics – I can’t believe you waited this long to tell me. What the hell are you doing working as an escort?”
I admit, I was a little starstruck. Everyone knew about his company. Of course, they also knew about the scandal. I didn’t know much about it, but I had read the headlines: Mason Thacket, CEO, had a rogue VP who tried to launder billions of dollars in the name of the company. By the end of years of trials and court proceedings, they had to shut their doors just to keep the entire executive team from going to prison. It was ugly.
Unlike Mason, of course.
He stiffened. “You’ve seen the news, I’m sure. There’s nothing more to tell. I was an idiot to hire Aiken Abernathy; I allowed him to destroy my company.”
“Allowed him?” I was shocked to see him taking responsibility. “Last time I heard, he’s the one in prison, not you.”
“Yeah, well, I got lucky.”
“So…you were so depressed from losing your company…you decided to slut yourself out as an escort?”
He glared at me. “I don’t slut myself out. I’m a vanilla escort; sex-free. I like to be selective about my sexual partners and I wasn’t about to jump in the deep end with a bunch of women I’ve never even met.”
“Okay…” This whole thing still wasn’t making sense to me.
He sighed and pulled me closer. “I can’t get a job in the corporate world. Not a single one – I couldn’t even get hired as a mailroom hand. This was the next best option. I still get to fraternize with the world I once knew and loved, but – well, most of the time, anyways – people don’t recognize me. I make my dates look good by talking buy-outs and stocks and I get just a tiny snort of my old addiction.”
Geez. He really misses his company.
He was starting to look depressed so I reached up to touch his cheek. “Hey. Let’s not talk about that anymore. We’re here in this amazing ballroom making some good things happen in the world. Let’s just focus on that.”
His eyes met mine and his expression changed. He became focused; determined. He pulled me closer so my nose was against his and lowered his hand just above my backside. He twirled me in circles, never releasing his gaze from mine. As the song came to a close, I saw him glance down at my lips. My breath caught and he hovered over me for a moment, poised and ready to plant an amazing kiss on my lips, but awaiting my permission. For a moment, I considered.
Reality snapped back into my head – no, Clay, this never works. You can’t fall for him. And this can’t go a step further or you’re going to end up under him in the back of the limo.
I somehow found the words to excuse myself to the bathroom, pulling myself reluctantly from his embrace and finding it difficult not to take pleasure in the look of disappointment on his face.
I stumbled into the bathroom, hotter and hornier than I could remember ever being – even with Toby. I decided I’d better take matters into my own hands. I fell through one of the stall doors, too anxious to check if it was locked, and hiked my skirt up, massaging myself into a state of calm ecstasy.
Oh yes. This is exactly what I need.
I hardly noticed when the door opened. I definitely didn’t notice how unusually heavy the sound of the woman’s shoes were. In fact, I had no idea what was happening outside of my own pussy until the door to my stall crashed open and Mason’s eyes widened at my libidinous self-massacre.
I froze. My face flushed a deep, deep red. I felt completely ridiculous standing there with the skirt of my dress thrown over my arm and my right hand almost completely hidden between my legs. It was a moment I was prepared to add to my list of Most Embarrassing Things I’ve Done In Front of a Mega-Hot Man.
I didn’t think I could feel anymore idiotic until I realized his eyes were staring hungrily, creeping over every inch of my body from head to toe. Holy shit. He likes it.
He stepped in and shut the door. “I knew it wasn’t just me,” he whispered as he stepped closer. He stroked my face and then my arm with his fingers, following the curve of my elbow and wrist all the way down to my moist hand. I closed my eyes, doing my best to control myself. When I opened them, he was watching me with patient persistence. With both excitement and a self-scolding, I nodded my head.
His fingers dove into me, taking the place of mine, and he hooked his other arm around my back, flipping me around and pushing me up against the stall door. I immediately grabbed his head and pulled his mouth against mine, reaching my tongue deep between his minty and savory lips and enjoying the feel of his erection against my leg. He removed his hand from its erotic position and slid it around my back to unzip my dress. Just as it fell to the floor, the door of the bathroom flew open again and we both froze.
We stared at each other wide-eyed – I couldn’t contain my giggles. Mason smiled and placed his hand over my mouth, eyeing me with warning. The pair of shoes exited and Mason removed his hand, taking a moment to eye my naked body top to bottom. I pulled his bow tie apart so it lay loose and lazy around his neck and began unbuttoning his shirt, kissing his chest lower and lower until I reached his slacks. I reached back up to place my index finger on his lips, letting him lick and kiss it for a moment, then dragged it sensually down his face, his neck, his chest, and then to his waistband. I was just about to plunge below his slacks when the door shot open yet again, this time with a different visitor.
“This is security. Please exit the stall.”
Mason looked pissed, so much that I held him back from diving through the door at the security guard. I whispered hoarsely to him. “This is my reputation; please don’t do anything stupid!”
I pulled my dress back up and Mason zipped it with a scowl. We walked awkwardly from the stall as he attempted to button his shirt and rework his bow tie.
“Public sexual activity is against building rules. We’re escorting you to the exit.”
“It wasn’t public, asshole.” Mason fronted the security guard, sending me into panic mode.
I wedged myself between them. “It’s not worth it, Mason. Let’s just get the hell out of here.”
Now I was cranky. What had just started to become an enjoyable evening was going downhill very fast. And the last thing I wanted was the entire business community of Seattle discussing my hormonal skankiness in the bathroom for the rest of the evening. It was something I might never live down.
Zoe chased us out front, a look of alarm on her face. “What’s going on, Clay, what the hell? Is everything okay?”
I grunted. “It would be, if your boyfriend’s brother could keep his hands to himself.”
Mason regarded me curiously. I knew my accusation wasn’t fair, but I didn’t really give a damn. The night was ruined anyways.
A small smile started to creep across Zoe’s face as she put two and two together. I didn’t like it. “Someone has to represent us in there, Zoe, so get your ass back inside.”
She smiled and took a small bow. “As you wish.”
She hopped her way back inside and I returned my glare to Mason.’
“Maybe I missed something, but you seemed to be enjoying our little encounter as much as I was,” he said.
I rolled my eyes. “Can we just get out of here? I’d like to pretend this night never happened.”
I slunk into the back of the limo and crossed my arms over my chest. What a shitty night. I should’ve trusted my instincts and told Mason to go back where he came from; I’d have been better off as single slutty Ms. Felix.
Mason sat beside me and lowered the driver’s divider window. “Can you take us to La Bourgeois, please?” The driver nodded and pulled away.
“What are you doing?” I insisted. “I told you, I want to go home. I’ve had enough of you tonight.”
“You don’t know what you want,” he glowered.
“Excuse me? And you do? I’m done taking demands from you. Harold, take me home.”
“No!” Mason was fuming. “La Bourgeois.” He turned to me. “We are not ending the evening this way.”
“Like hell we’re not!”
The limo pulled up to a stoplight and I wrenched the door open, launching myself onto the sidewalk.
Mason was fast at my heels. “What the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
I ignored him, stalking in the direction that looked the most well-lit. He grabbed my arm and pushed me up against the glass window of the Starbucks the same way he had in the office building lobby so many days ago. “What is your problem? You can’t go around jumping out of cars in the middle of Friday night traffic. You’ll get yourself hurt!”
“What do you care? I don’t have bodyguards and I don’t need you following me around to protect me.”
I tried to shove him away, but he wouldn’t move. “You enjoyed the kiss. You enjoyed our little almost-fuck in the bathroom. Why are you fighting this?”
“There is no ‘this’ for me to fight, okay?” I started punching his chest and elbowing his ribs. “I had a hormonal moment. Women are known to have those every now and then.”
I finally incapacitated him with a hard nipple pinch and ducked under his arm. But to my surprise, I didn’t run away immediately. My shoulders slumped and I turned back to him, resigned and near tears. “I’m sorry. This isn’t your fault. This just…I…it’s…” I sighed and massaged my forehead. “I haven’t had a night this stressful in years and the only contributing factor I can find is you. It’s like you’re a fucking curse or something.”
I placed my hands on my hips and huffed into the darkness, suddenly realizing there was a chill in the air my dress was not made to withstand.
Mason approached me and placed his jacket over my shoulders. For the unreasonably bitchy idiot I was being, he was sure being nice. He pulled me in for a hug and lowered his lips to my ear. “I know this has been a hard night for you, but…this has actually been the most exciting night I’ve had in years.” He chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever been kicked out of a black tie event, much less a bathroom.”
I had to smile. It was pretty insane. “I really wish I could find out who ratted us out. I’d buy their company and sell it off at auction.”
“Careful,” he breathed, “that kind of talk is foreplay for me.”
I laughed heartily. It felt good. He placed his hand under my chin and raised my eyes to meet his. “Now there’s the Clay I was waiting to see.”
I melted. I melted so deeply, in fact, that I couldn’t even bring myself to be pissed off about it. He leaned down and pecked me on the lips. I found myself wishing the kiss had lasted longer. He glanced a few doors down where a neon diner sign was buzzing brightly in the darkness. “Let’s get you something to eat.”
I sighed. “You may have gotten me to smile, but trying to get me to like you is a stupid fucking idea.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the diner. “I know.”