One Night With a BillionaireBy: VickiLewis Thompson
Melanie slept like a rock until three in the morning. Then she was awake. So very awake. And starving to death. Perhaps she shouldn’t have gone to bed without eating something besides the two pieces of cheese she’d nibbled at the sidewalk café.
This international travel was more complicated than she’d expected. On the plane over she’d been pestered with food every five minutes. Now that she was here, she hadn’t figured out when to eat.
She couldn’t blame it on being secluded in Drew’s townhouse. Even if she’d been staying in the hotel she’d chosen, she’d hesitate to venture out into a strange city at three in the morning in search of a meal. And that hotel certainly hadn’t been set up for room service.
The house was totally silent, unless she counted the growling of her stomach. Although that seemed loud to her, she doubted it would wake Drew or the servants. She sat up in bed and turned on a bedside lamp.
Her Paris travel books were stacked neatly on the delicate writing desk. She’d never had anyone unpack for her, and she’d had to rearrange things in the drawers a little. But the idea that someone had taken care of that menial chore was a heady one. She could get used to that.
She’d better not, though, because in four days she’d be on a plane back to reality. In the meantime, she might as well admit that she’d decided to stay here instead of moving to a hotel. First of all she’d have to take time to choose one, and nothing would feel as secure or be located so perfectly.
And there was the possibility that she’d insult Drew if she rejected his hospitality. He’d also worry about her. Causing him any kind of distress would be a poor way to repay his generosity. She was touched that he was concerned about her.
The rest of his proposed program, though—creating the Paris trip of her wildest dreams—was still under consideration. Now that she’d had some sleep, she could think more clearly about it. His analogy about treating a friend to a movie made a good point, but she still couldn’t equate that with four days of an all-expenses-paid luxury tour of Paris.
Maybe they could negotiate a compromise. She didn’t need a private tour of the Louvre, and she’d see the Eiffel Tower on her own. But she’d accept his generous offer of a moonlit cruise of the Seine, because that was an experience to be shared with a friend. If they were on a private yacht it wouldn’t matter what she wore, so her wardrobe wouldn’t be an issue.
Good. She’d solved that thorny problem. And she was still starving. Sliding out of bed, she padded over and picked up several of her books. Maybe reading in bed would take her mind off her stomach.
It didn’t. It seemed that travel books about Paris couldn’t resist talking about the food every other paragraph. Fifteen minutes later, she couldn’t concentrate on the page as hunger gnawed at her. She had at least three hours to go before she could reasonably expect the servants to be in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
But there was a kitchen somewhere on that basement level. Back in her college days, she’d lived in the sorority house with Val and Astrid, and they’d staged many raids on the kitchen in the middle of the night. They’d developed it into an art form. This was a French kitchen, but it couldn’t be all that different.
Taking food without asking wasn’t polite, but she had a stomachache from not eating. She couldn’t imagine three more hours of torture while she waited for the sun to rise and the kitchen to open. Neither could she imagine waking someone and asking them to fix her a snack.
How ironic that she was in Paris, the gourmet capital of the world, and she’d never been hungrier. A careful trip to the kitchen seemed like the sensible course of action and the most considerate of the household. If Drew was prepared to spend hundreds of euros on her, he wouldn’t begrudge her a little bread and cheese.
Putting down her book, she climbed out of bed. The pajamas she’d packed to wear on this trip were practical: cotton lounge pants and a roomy T-shirt. She hadn’t bothered with slippers or a robe, because they’d only have taken up room in her suitcase.
But if she planned to roam around Drew’s house in the middle of the night, she should probably put on a hoodie for modesty’s sake. After doing that, she slowly opened her bedroom door and crept into the hallway. A few stairs creaked on her way down, but this was an old house. It must creak and groan all the time. No one would notice.
Motion-sensitive lights along the baseboards helped her find her way downstairs. In minutes she’d navigated her way to the servants’ floor and located the kitchen. The hum of a refrigerator and the lingering fragrance of cooked food led her through an open door into a space dimly lit by a fluorescent light over the stove.
Once inside, she opened the refrigerator door. Finding a small wedge of cheese and a bottle of Perrier was easy. Searching out where the bread was stored posed more of a challenge, but at last she opened a metal box on the granite counter and hit pay dirt—one full loaf and half of a baguette. Taking the baguette, cheese, and Perrier, she left the kitchen.
Thoughts of Melanie had made Drew restless. Knowing she was right down the hall, he tossed and turned. Then a sound penetrated the thin veil of sleep. The stairs creaked.
At first he wondered if Melanie might be going down, but a second later he realized someone was coming up. Was it her? Had she gone down without him hearing and was now returning? Or was it an intruder?
He got out of bed, pulled on his briefs, and grabbed a robe out of the armoire. His security system was top-notch, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be breached by a clever thief hoping to steal the Monet hanging in the hallway. And an intruder would be a threat to more than his art collection. Melanie was sleeping in a bedroom nearby.
Stepping silently into the hall, poised for action, he waited for whoever was climbing the stairs. They were breathing hard from the exertion. It could be Melanie, but why would she go downstairs in the middle of the night?
Belatedly he realized that if this was an intruder, he had no weapon but his fists. No baseball bat or tire iron. A vase, two centuries old and valued in the high six figures, sat on a table in the hall. He picked it up.
As a shadowy figure rose from the stairwell, he started forward, vase raised. Melanie screamed a split second after he recognized her. Something sailed past his head and thudded against the wall as she yelled again, this time sounding like a samurai warrior. She cocked her arm as if to throw something else at him.
“Melanie! It’s me!” He set down the vase and backed up, palms facing her, heart racing. Jesus. She’d scared the hell out of him, and obviously he’d returned the favor.
“Drew?” Her voice shook and she lowered her arm.
“Yeah.” He sucked in a breath.
“Oh, God.” She clutched the banister. “I was hungry, but I didn’t want to wake anybody.”
Three floors below, footsteps pounded up the servants’ stairway. It sounded like a minor stampede.
“Guess that didn’t work out,” she said.
“Monsieur Eldridge?” a man called from below. “Q’est-ce que c’est? Désirez-vous la police?”
“No, Henri, no police.” Drew walked to the head of the stairs and peered over the banister at Henri, who stood below in his nightshirt. Henri also served as his houseman. “Mademoiselle had a scare. All’s well.”
“Ah. Bonne nuit.” After some murmured conversations, Henri and the other servants retreated down the stairs and closed their bedroom doors.
“I feel terrible.” Melanie climbed the remaining steps to stand before him. “Some guest I am, raiding the refrigerator and rousing the entire household.”
“I should have guessed it was you, but all I could think was that someone had broken in, so I—”
“Rushed to defend the castle. That’s so you.”
It was true he seemed to go into protector mode whenever she was concerned. “Are you still hungry, or did I scare that idea straight out of your head?”
She hesitated, as if taking inventory. “Still hungry. My heart rate is almost back to normal, which means I can now hear my tummy growling. But I threw the wedge of cheese when I saw you coming, so no telling what shape it’s in. Thank God you said something before I hit you with the Perrier.”
“Or I bashed you with a priceless vase.” Now that the crisis was over and nobody was hurt, he could see the funny side of it. “Let’s get a little light on the situation.” Stepping over to the wall, he hit a switch and glass sconces flickered to life. He loved those crazy things, which he’d found in Venice.
And so was she. No, not just pretty. Beautiful. His glance swept over glossy curls tousled from sleep, a freckled face still pink from embarrassment, and gray eyes that reflected the dancing light of the sconces. “Glad you like them.” He couldn’t stop gazing at her.
His attention drifted to her rosy mouth. Last time they’d been alone, she’d kissed him. He could still feel the softness of her lips as they’d brushed his, and he wanted that again.
Her loose pants, T-shirt, and hoodie shouldn’t look sexy on her, but they did. Maybe it was her bare feet and pink toenails that aroused him so much, or his suspicion that she wore nothing under her shirt. That would explain why she’d added the hoodie, because the house wasn’t cold enough to justify it.
But she’d left the sweatshirt unzipped. It hung open now, allowing him to see the slight tightening of the T-shirt where it stretched over what appeared to be her unbound breasts. The house wasn’t cold enough to make her nipples pucker, either, but it looked like they had.
He looked into her eyes, and what he saw there sent heat surging through his veins. Lust settled heavily between his legs, and the knit briefs stretched as he grew hard. “Melanie, I . . .”
“The first kiss was mine to give.” She took a shaky breath. “The second one is up to you.”
Stepping forward, he cupped her face in both hands. Her dark lashes fluttered down as he lowered his head. Easy, Eldridge. Easy. Reining in his passion, he slowly mapped the contours of her mouth with the tip of his tongue. His heartbeat thudded in his ears as he tasted, touched down, molded his mouth to hers.
Her tiny whimper loosened the bindings on his control. He delved deeper, thrusting with his tongue and sliding his fingers through her silken hair to grip the back of her head. The baguette and Perrier she’d been holding slipped to the floor and she wound her arms around his neck.
The more he invaded, the more she surrendered. This could only end one way. But she deserved a warning. Reluctantly ending the kiss, he looked into her passion-glazed eyes. “I’m taking you to bed.”
“Oh, thank God.”
That was all he needed. With a hoarse chuckle, he swept her up in his arms and carried her down the hall. She wanted him. In this erotic, pre-dawn darkness, all arguments against making love had vanished in the heat of their kiss. Holding her in his arms felt so right, as if he’d known her forever.
He laid her in the middle of his bed and climbed in beside her without turning on a light. The pale glow of the moon through the sheer curtains at his window seemed fitting to this magical moment. He didn’t speak, and neither did she.
They didn’t need words as they discarded clothing and greeted each new discovery with lips and tongue. He was used to taking the dominant role, but she’d have none of that. She was clearly the kind of cowgirl who wasn’t hesitant about going after what she wanted. Once he was naked, she pushed him onto his back and explored him with such thoroughness that he clenched his jaw against the urge to come.
As if she sensed that he was losing control, she gave him one last intimate kiss on the head of his cock before turning onto her back and stretching out in silent invitation. That simple gesture drove him wild. The urge to ravage her was strong, but he curbed it.
Instead he mimicked her technique and took his time. With slow kisses and gentle laps of his tongue, he roamed at will until she began to pant and writhe beneath him. But when he nuzzled the dark curls between her thighs, eager to make her come, she finally spoke.
He lifted his head, surprised. “Why not? Don’t you like—”
“Oh, yes.” She gulped for air. “But I want . . . all of you.”
All of him. She wasn’t in his bed purely for her own pleasure. She was here because she wanted that ultimate connection . . . with him. She wanted to be as close as humanly possible. That told him something important about her, something he was very glad to know.
His cock seemed glad to hear it, too. By the time he’d slipped out of bed and located the box of condoms in his armoire, he was as rigid as a battering ram. That didn’t mean he had to act like one, though.
When he returned to her, he leaned down and gave her a gentle kiss. “I’m mighty grateful for tonight.”
Her smile was barely visible in the faint light from the moon, but that smile shimmered in her reply. “Me, too.”
“I’m glad.” He moved over her, his heart beating fast. He’d bedded many women, but he’d never had the feeling that this one act could change his life. The feeling scared him a little, but not enough to make him stop. Nothing short of an earthquake could stop him now.
Her entrance was slick and hot. He’d meant to ease in so she could gradually get used to him, but she lifted her hips and instinct took over. He shoved deep, locking them together. And there it was again—the sense that he’d remember this moment forever.
She sighed and wrapped her arms around him, as if welcoming him home after a long journey. He wanted to believe that this connection felt significant to her, too. But he wouldn’t ask. Not now.
Bracing himself on his forearms, he leaned down and brushed his mouth over hers. “This is good.”
Her warm breath tickled his mouth. “Extremely good.”
“I could stay right here for a long time.”
“So could I.” She clenched her muscles, squeezing his cock.
“But not if you do that.”
“You don’t like it?”
“Oh, I like it just fine. But you’re going to—” He gasped as she squeezed again. “You’ll make me come.”
“Don’t you want to?”
“Eventually.” He withdrew and pushed forward again. “But you’re first on the agenda.”
“Mm.” She executed a little rotating motion with her hips. “Let’s come together.”
“The first time? I don’t know if we can.”
“Okay.” He began to pump slowly. God, that felt amazing, and he was seconds away. He fought the urge. “Talk to me. Tell me when you’re close.”
“Pretty close.” She rose to meet his next thrust. “Oh.” She quivered.
And then he didn’t need her to tell him anything. He knew. They were in perfect sync. He bore down, stroking faster, finding the right angle that made her gasp and tighten around his cock. His orgasm hovered, ready to pounce. There. Right . . . there.
She exploded. Her cries blended with his as he pounded into her quivering body and came . . . and came . . . in a rush of pleasure so intense he lost himself in the tumbling glory of it. Joyfully he abandoned his fate to the woman in his arms. To Melanie.
He’d been right. After this moment, his life would never be the same.