Surrender Your LoveBy: J.C. Reed
I was sitting at the bar, sipping on my second margarita. My knee-length pencil skirt brushed the empty stool next to mine, my fingers tapped on my thigh to the rhythm of a slow jazz song coming from the invisible sound system. This wasn’t the kind of establishment I usually frequented, but my boss had been adamant that I meet Mayfield in his preferred environment. And so I agreed, albeit with trepidation, at the outlook of entering an expensive gentlemen’s club where beautiful girls breezed around in classy lingerie, and the two drink minimum rule had already cost me more than my weekly grocery shopping.
Judging from the countless twinkling lights and polished marble floors, the place oozed style and money. Even though it was still empty, I had no doubt it would fill up soon and earn the owner a fortune. A racy girl that looked like she belonged on the cover of FHM magazine climbed twenty feet up a pole and dropped down into a split to ‘warm up’, as the DJ announced tonight’s program to the few punters in tailored suits. I sighed with impatience, and sank deeper into my slouch on the luxurious bar stool overlooking the soft leather couches and mirrored walls near the entrance.
Mayfield was late. In fact, very late. I didn’t appreciate lateness, and particularly not when I should’ve been home by now, unwinding with a glass of wine after a long day of sucking up to the big guys in real estate. The job was meant to be a filler until I could get my hands on a position with a company like Delaware & Ray, but as filler jobs go, they’re a dead end. And two years later I was twenty three, stuck and overworked with no promotion in sight.
Maybe it was the way the guy walked—full of confidence and cockiness—but the moment I saw him entering the bar I knew he was the kind that would bring me nothing but trouble. So I buried my gaze in my drink, avoiding the stranger’s curious look. The hairs on the nape of my neck prickled. I turned slowly, realizing he was standing behind me. His hot breath grazed the sensitive skin of my cheek as he leaned over my shoulder to whisper in my ear.
“You stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing.”
His voice was low and hoarse. Scorching.
Bedroom voice… the words echoed somewhere in the back of my mind.
My heart jumped into my mouth, which I attributed to the fact that I didn’t like strangers leaning over me. And particularly not those with a deep, sexy rumble of a voice that had just a hint of a Southern accent. Fighting the urge to jump up from the bar stool and put some much needed distance between us, I straightened my back and turned to face him, ready to hit back with a biting remark.
He was dazzlingly gorgeous. Forget gorgeous. He was beautiful. Utterly, totally, mind-blowingly stunning. On a scale from one to ten, he was a hundred.
For a few seconds I just stared at him as my abdomen twisted into knots and my pulse quickened. The guy was hot and, judging from his wicked grin, definitely not the kind of man you bring home to meet your parents. He was tall, at least a head taller than me. Maybe six feet two. His wet, dark hair was a tad too long and disheveled—like he had run his hands through it. His coat, now damp from the rain that had been cascading on downtown New York for the last three days, did nothing to hide his broad shoulders and muscular build, nor his insolent stance. In the dim light of the bar, his electric eyes shimmered like emeralds.
I had never seen eyes like his. Dark green. Smoldering. Ready to undress a woman with a single glance. Already I felt naked beneath my layers of clothes. His gaze traveled down the front of my shirt appreciatively, and lingered on my legs for longer than was polite. My skin prickled from his gaze. I tucked a stray strand of curly hair behind my ear and moistened my suddenly dry lips. The effect he had on me was both unnerving and exciting. I crossed my arms over my chest and bit my lower lip hard to regain my speech. He regarded me with raised eyebrows and unconcealed amusement, as though he knew what a single glance from those eyes did to me. But it wasn’t his obvious arrogance that made me instantly angry. It was the way his spread fingers lingered intimately on the small of my back as though they had caressed the spot before. As though they belonged there.
“Why would you say that? Because I’m not wearing a skimpy G-string and stilettos, and my boobs aren’t half falling out of a leopard print bra?” I asked through gritted teeth, ignoring the delicious pull gathering somewhere in my abdomen.
“Jett Townsend.” His lips twitched. “Mayfield couldn’t make it, so you’ll have to make do with me. But don’t worry, you and I will get on just fine.” The skin around his stunning eyes crinkled, and his mouth quirked up in a grin, flashing perfect dimples. Why did I get the feeling there was a double meaning to his words?
“Brooke Stewart,” I said. My gaze lingered on his pale blue shirt and faded jeans with a stringy fringe that brushed his cowboy boots, and I couldn’t help the scoff forming at the back of my throat.
“Wine?” I asked, ready to order.
“I’d rather have Sex on the Beach.” He winked at me with a devilish grin. I figured his words could be interpreted in two ways, but judging from his flirtatious smile, I doubted he was talking about the cocktail. Heat began to pour through me at the unwelcome image of us having sex on sand and water. My skin tingled from the magnetic pull between us.
What the heck?
I peeled my gaze off him in the hope the instant attraction was nothing but a figment of my imagination.
“So, Brooke. Tell me all about yourself.” He leaned forward, flashing me a drop dead gorgeous smile.
I inhaled a sharp breath, suddenly fuming. How dare he call me by my first name? And most importantly, how dare he look so darn sexy doing it?
“May I remind you this is a business meeting and not a date?”
He raised his brows. “Do you want a date?”
“What?” My cheeks caught fire, and my heart pumped just a little bit harder. “That’s not what I meant. I—”
His eyes twinkled with humor. “Apparently, you like what you see, and so do I. So…” He shrugged and trailed off, leaving the rest to my imagination.
I hated hot guys, and particularly those who knew just how gorgeous they were. “Trust me, there’s nothing I haven’t seen before.” My lie sounded ridiculous and he knew it. I could tell by the irritating, self-assured yet gorgeous grin he was sporting.
My temper flared.
This was supposed to be an initial attempt at finding out where our companies stood in terms of a potential partnership. The fact that Mayfield Properties would send someone who couldn’t even dress to suit the occasion was laughable. Why would Mayfield want to be represented by someone who clearly lacked any knowledge of what is acceptable when dealing with a potential business partner? Or maybe Mayfield didn’t value our cooperation, and this was his way of telling me to fuck off. Either way I wasn’t pleased, and I had no intention of making a secret out of my displeasure. Mayfield was known to be a real son-of-a-bitch. He was also known to take no crap from anyone. If I wanted to make it in this cutthroat business world dominated by men, I had to mirror his tactics, or give up on a career which was already going nowhere.
“Look, I appreciate your coming, Mr. Townsend, but I’d rather speak with at least a regional vice president. Please tell Mr. Mayfield to call me once he’s ready to reschedule. Good evening to you.” Grabbing my purse and coat from the polished counter, I jumped down from the barstool and headed for the exit when strong fingers curled around my upper arm. I froze in my tracks.
“Don’t forget your umbrella. We wouldn’t want that pretty face to get soaked,” Townsend whispered in my ear, sending another delicious tingle through my body. What was it with this man and whispering? Couldn’t he just talk like normal people? I reached blindly around me and yanked my umbrella out of his hand. Without a look back I marched out of the bar, keeping my head high. Only when I reached the parking lot twenty feet from the bar’s main entrance did I stop and finally let out a long breath.