Home > Exposed (VIP #4)(4)

Exposed (VIP #4)(4)
Author: Kristen Callihan

I give her a level look. “Tell me right now that if you overheard me in a similar conversation, you wouldn’t have listened. Because I call bullshit.”

She doesn’t say anything for a moment, just walks with that crisp stride. Then a curse breaks free, and she throws up a hand in defeat. “Fine. I would have listened. Doesn’t make it right, though.”

“Neither of us are angels.”

“You most of all.”

My smile probably resembles a shark’s. Can’t be helped. I’m having weird fantasies of eating her up at the moment. “Thank God for that.”

“And it doesn’t mean you have to bring up what you heard either,” she points out with asperity.

“No. But I still want to talk to you.” Please, please, please let me talk to you.

“No.”

“Come on, Bren,” I say, softer now. “I’m not going to shame you…” Her snort rings loud and long in the night air. Okay, I deserve that. I’ve shamed her before, in lots of different ways. Remorse fills me. “I swear I’m not. I’m not going away either. So you might as well hear what I have to say before you slap me upside my head.”

Brenna rolls her eyes. “I detest physical violence.”

“Uh-huh.”

“But for you, I’ll make an exception.”

A grin erupts. “You’ll make it hurt so good, won’t you, Berry?”

“Argh!” Despite her exclamation, I see the small smile trying to break out. It feels like a small victory to coax that from her.

I’m still chuckling when we arrive at her building and the doorman opens the door for us.

“Ms. James. Mr. Peterson.” He gives us a nod.

“’Sup, Tommy. You got any comment about last night’s game?”

Tommy’s deadpan expression doesn’t change. “None that I’m willing to give, sir.”

Saluting him, I step into the lobby and catch Brenna’s narrowed gaze.

“How do you know my doorman’s name?”

I can practically hear the frantic thoughts running through her head. I’ve visited many times—not on my own but when she hosts get-togethers and dinners. Certainly not enough to know her night doorman.

Leaning past her, I push the number to her floor. “I saw Tommy at the Garden during a Knicks game and invited him to sit with me.”

Killian, Whip, Jax, and I have season tickets on the floor. Not all of us go to every game, and those empty seats are a waste. Stella, Jax’s girl, has been running charity raffles and giving tickets to winners. Once a month, we’ll also take kids who need a little more joy in their lives—either because they’re sick, have mental health issues, or come from broken or disadvantaged homes—to the games. I love those nights and learn something new from those kids every time.

Brenna makes a noise in the back of her throat but doesn’t comment as we step into the elevator and ride in silence to her floor. Not speaking isn’t a good thing right now. I’ve been alone in an elevator with Brenna before, but it’s never felt this loaded, the air thick with suppressed tension. It’s crawling along my skin and plucking at my insides.

She needs “truly great, blow-your-mind, ‘gotta have that again and again or you’ll die from wanting it’” sex.

My skin draws tight. Damn, I want that too. I just didn’t realize how much I needed it until Brenna spoke those words. Overheated, I draw in a deep breath. Mistake. Brenna’s perfume tickles my nose. She doesn’t have a signature scent but wears different ones for different moods. Unfortunately, I know them all. Over the years, I’ve figured out what mood she’s in depending on what fragrance she chooses.

Tonight’s scent smells of ripe peaches drenched in honey, dark rum, and good tobacco. In theory, that combination should not work, but in reality, it’s pure sex. All I can think of are hedonistic days of lying between a pair of thighs under a Caribbean sun while savoring the luscious taste of slick and swollen…

I cough and stand up straight. Down, boy.

Brenna shoots me a look. “Did you just choke on your spit?”

Drool. Lust-induced drool. And thank you for that.

“No. Just a random cough.”

“Hmm.” Her eyes narrow as she peers up at me. “You’re not getting sick, are you?”

“Why?” I lean in—like a fool, because it’s never a good idea for me to get too close to Brenna James. “Would you wipe my fevered brow if I were?”

“I’d tell you to go home before you infect me. I can’t afford to get sick.”

“Now, Berry,” I say as the elevator door opens on her floor. “You know perfectly well that, to pick up my germs, we’d have to get much closer than this.”

Brenna rolls her eyes, and she’s off again—click-click, clickety-click. It’s the little clickety-click that always hooks me. An audible clue that she adds an extra sway to every other step. I’m not going to admit how many times I’ve watched her walk to figure that bit out.

When we get to her place, she punches in her security code with lightning-fast speed then flings the door open and strides in, leaving me to hustle behind her or have the door shut in my face.

To step inside Brenna’s place is to be enveloped by her. It always smells of fresh roses, not overpowering but clean and sweet. The prewar apartment has classic moldings and high ceilings and is decorated in creamy whites and shades of gray with bursts of pink, green, and gold as accents. All very understated luxury. Except for the long empire-style sofa upholstered in leopard-print velvet that sits in the center of her living room—a little visual jolt that thumbs its nose at all that careful coordination and draws the eye with its quirky, glam style. Kind of like Brenna herself.

She rests her pert little butt on the rolled arm of the sofa and crosses her slim legs at the ankle, those killer heels digging into the thick pile carpet. “I’m tired and have a date with Paul Hollywood.”

A choking laugh falls out of me. “Paul Hollywood?”

“Yes. He’s a judge on The Great British Baking Show.”

“Oh, I know the show.”

Brenna’s brow quirks. “You watch it?”

“What’s with the shock? I love baked goods. Gotta feed this body to keep it in optimal shape.” I rub my abs.

Brenna doesn’t take the bait and look. She simply stares, not bothering to conceal her impatience. Thing is, now that I’m here alone with her, my confidence is unraveling like bad reverb. Shit. The silence goes from awkward to stifling. Heart thumping in my ears, skin still hot, I think of how the hell to start.

Brenna sighs. “I didn’t—”

“I understand,” I blurt out.

She pauses, her amber eyes rounding. “I’m sorry, what?”

All in, Ryland. Go all in. “I understand where you’re coming from.”

Brenna crosses her arms, protecting herself, blocking me off. “Oh, you do, huh?”

“Well, yeah.” I take a step toward her. “I’m a famous guy who loves sex.”

“No shit.”

“Hey, I’m not trying to hide it. Why shouldn’t I—we—love sex? Sex is great.” Brenna’s deadpan expression tells me I’m a sinking ship. I take another slow step closer—no need to put her even more on the defensive by rushing this. “But finding someone to trust? Someone willing to tell me what she truly likes—”

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