One Night With a BillionaireBy: VickiLewis Thompson
Melanie woke to the sound of bells. Disoriented, she sat up in a canopy bed draped in burgundy with gold trim. Drew’s bed. A blush covered every inch of her naked body as she remembered . . . all of it.
Maybe jet lag was affecting her perception, but she was pretty sure Drew was the best lover she’d ever had. Thinking about the pleasure they’d shared made her hot all over again. But she was glad he wasn’t here to see her in the unforgiving glare of morning light, because she must look like a mess.
The bells of Notre Dame finished their majestic musical number and began counting the hour with a resonance that sent chills down her spine. She counted along with the bells, because there was no clock in sight. Eleven? She was wasting valuable time!
The rest of the household was awake, naturally. The aroma of cooked food drifted up from downstairs, and her stomach cramped. She’d been starving at three in the morning. She’d moved past that stage to unbearable hunger pangs.
No doubt Drew had instructed his staff to stay off the third floor so she could sleep. She appreciated that, for modesty’s sake. She wouldn’t have wanted anyone bringing up a tray and finding her naked in Drew’s bed.
A polite guest would shower and dress before heading downstairs, but she wasn’t sure she could wait that long to eat. Maybe that hunk of cheese she’d thrown at Drew was still lying in the hall and she could gnaw on that before taking a shower.
When she climbed out of bed to look for her clothes, she found them neatly folded on an upholstered chair, along with a quickly scrawled note.
Pull the cord by your bed in your room and someone will bring you food.
She glanced beside Drew’s bed and discovered a tasseled cord hanging there. How Old World. She’d seen such things in movies set in the early part of the twentieth century, but she would have expected Drew to install an intercom. Then again, he was the guy who preferred taking the stairs.
Apparently her room came equipped with the same old-fashioned way of summoning the help, and he was sensitive enough to know that she’d want food brought to her room instead of his. She slipped into her lounge pants and T-shirt.
Glancing at the bed, the scene of their mutual seduction, she smoothed the covers so it wouldn’t look quite so much like hot sex had taken place there a few hours ago. She would have made the bed, but Drew probably didn’t do that, and a made bed would look strange to whoever cleaned his room. Last of all she grabbed her hoodie and the note, which was another piece of incriminating evidence.
She opened the door warily and peered out. The hallway was empty. Scurrying down to her room, she dashed inside and closed the door. Safe.
Too bad she wasn’t sophisticated enough to sashay out of Drew’s bedroom without worrying about being seen. But she was a simple country girl who wasn’t used to having sex with a man she’d known for less than twenty-four hours. The concept still boggled her mind, but the reality had been wonderful. She wasn’t the least bit sorry, but she’d still rather not have the servants know.
Walking over to the tasseled cord she’d missed seeing earlier, she gave it a pull. Now that was decadence. She wondered what sort of breakfast they’d bring her, but in her current state, she didn’t care. She headed for the shower.
She’d wrapped a towel around her wet hair and was drying off with a second one from the heated rack when she heard footsteps and smelled coffee. Hallelujah, her food had arrived! Wrapping herself in the white towel, she walked out of the bathroom and came face-to-face with Drew. “Oh! I didn’t expect you to deliver it!”
“Hope you don’t mind.” He wore an open-necked dress shirt and jeans, the same yummy combination he’d had on the day before, complemented by the sexy aroma of his cologne.
“Of course not.” Just like that, food lost its number one ranking. Melanie looked into his blue eyes and basked in the warmth of his smile. She couldn’t help smiling back. He had that kind of effect on her. “Thank you.”
“Actually, I came up to thank you . . . for last night.”
Her heart pounded faster. “The feeling’s mutual.”
He let out a breath. “Good. I was afraid . . . well, never mind.” His glance swept over her. “I’m gettin’ out of here before I forget myself.” His Texas drawl was more pronounced. “You look way too good to me, darlin’.”
“I could say the same.” She trembled as she imagined herself pressed against his lean body.
He groaned and backed toward the door. “I mean it. I’m gone. Eat some breakfast and get dressed. I have something downstairs in the sitting room that I want to show you.” He went out the door and closed it.
As she listened to his footsteps retreating down the hall, she battled the urge to call him back. Her body throbbed in anticipation of something that wouldn’t happen anytime soon. She wished he’d kissed her, at the very least. But that would have been a mistake if he hadn’t wanted to start something, considering that she was one dropped towel away from being conveniently naked.
She reminded herself that the servants were up and about. In that charged moment when he’d stood close enough to touch, she’d forgotten anyone else was in the house, or in the world, for that matter. Whenever she looked into his eyes, her surroundings disappeared. He was one potent dude.
With an effort, she pushed away all thoughts of getting hot and sweaty with Drew Eldridge. She dressed quickly in a clean T-shirt and jeans, finger-combed her damp hair, and sat at the desk to eat. The meal was incredible—a gourmet version of eggs Benedict, a bowl of sliced fruit, warm croissants with butter and jam, and the best coffee she’d ever been privileged to drink.
She forced herself to slow down and savor it, even though she was extremely hungry and also curious about what Drew wanted to show her downstairs. Then she remembered that he’d asked for her clothing sizes while they’d ridden home in the car yesterday. Maybe the outfits had arrived.
Damned if she didn’t feel like Cinderella. Her life on the ranch didn’t require fancy clothes. She’d kept a couple of dresses she’d worn to parties in college, but now they just gathered dust in her closet.
But Prince Charming had asked her to the ball, or the equivalent of that. And she would be transformed, just like Cinderella, so she could attend in style. This fairy tale didn’t feel wrong or bad, but it did seem weird. She couldn’t equate anything that had happened to her in the past twenty-four hours with previous experience. Even the sex had been more dazzling than any she’d known.
Before the amazing sex, she’d planned to suggest a compromise that involved accepting some of Drew’s plan without abandoning herself to the entire program. But as it always did, sex had changed everything. She didn’t want to trundle off by herself and waste hours standing in line at the Eiffel Tower. She wanted to spend every available minute of her visit with Drew, either by his side as they enjoyed Paris or in his bed as they enjoyed each other.
She’d never in a million years expect this interlude to transfer to their lives in Dallas, but he was offering her paradise for the rest of her stay in Paris. Only a fool would say no to that. She wasn’t worried anymore that he’d spoil her for normal life, either. She was living a dream, and when she flew home, she’d wake up.
After eating every last morsel on her tray, she found a blow-dryer in the bathroom and styled her hair. She suspected that the clothes she was about to try on would require more than a casual ponytail. She was both curious and eager to see what a Paris shopping guru had picked out for her.
Finally, she put on her running shoes, because she had nothing else. Then she made her bed, replaced her towels on the rack, and picked up the breakfast tray. Servants were probably supposed to do all that, but she hadn’t been raised to leave chaos in her wake.
A middle-aged woman dressed in black slacks and a white blouse was polishing the banister on the second floor. She spoke only French, but she made it clear that she would take the tray from mademoiselle or know the reason why. Melanie relinquished the tray and followed the woman down the stairs.
The double doors to the formal parlor stood open, and sure enough, the elegant furniture was draped with a rainbow of colorful garments. Drew paced the room, his phone to his ear, but he turned when she came in and quickly ended the call.
His eyes were lit with excitement. “So? What do you think?”
She gazed at the beautiful clothes in colors she loved—red, purple, turquoise, and jade—outfits that would have been right at home in a Neiman Marcus trunk show. “It’s overwhelming, Drew. I couldn’t even wear all of these in the days I have left.”
“I know.” He didn’t sound worried about it. “Just pick what you want for now. You can take the rest ho–”
“No.” She cleared her throat. “I mean, no, thank you, I won’t be taking anything home with me. I don’t mean to sound ungracious, but I can’t accept clothes I won’t be wearing here. That’s . . .” She hesitated, not sure what she wanted to say.
She pointed a finger at him. “Exactly! I get that you want to show me the city your way. I understand you’ll have fun in the process and that I’ll need the right outfits. But scooping up this entire wardrobe and making off with it feels like I just won the jackpot in some televised game show. ‘Melanie Shaw! Come on down!’ I can’t do it.”
He studied her, a smile tugging at the corners of his sculpted mouth. “Does that mean you’re ready to go along with my plan?”
“Yes.” She wondered if he’d offered her the extra clothes on purpose, so that she’d reject that idea but accept the initial concept.
“Excellent.” His expression was triumphant. “Take whatever you want, but I do hope you’ll choose the red and black dress and the cape that goes with it.”
She’d been drawn to it from the moment she’d walked into the room. The abstract swirls of red against the black made her think of passion, and passion made her think of Drew. “Where would I wear it?”
“At Les Folies Bergère,” he said. “I have tickets for tonight.”
Her gaze met his. She was intensely curious about the show, but she’d crossed it off her list once her friends had canceled. Going alone hadn’t sounded like much fun. Seeing it with Drew, however, would be a total turn-on. “I’d love that,” she said. “And I’ll wear the dress.”
They spent most of the afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay, because Melanie wanted a destination that allowed them to walk along the Seine both there and back. Once again, she was transfixed by the artwork, and she admitted that she’d done a little painting herself in college. Drew wasn’t surprised to hear it. Her enthusiasm for her surroundings told him she had the soul of an artist.
While they toured the museum, he’d deliberately put a leash on his libido. Other than an occasional brush of hands or touch on the shoulder, he hadn’t made physical contact with Melanie all afternoon. He ached to do that, but he wanted to give her space to appreciate the experience.
Still, memories of making love to her taunted him constantly. When she paused before a Renoir nude, he had to look away. Otherwise he might have given in to the urge to drag her somewhere private and kiss her until they were both senseless with lust.
The worst part was that he thought she’d be okay with the idea of him doing that. More than once he’d caught her looking at him with a sexy gleam in those big gray eyes of hers. But then the moment would pass, and her face would light up at the sight of painting by Monet or Van Gogh.
That’s why they were here, so she could see those works, and he was determined she would get the most out of the visit. Her enthusiasm fueled his, and he found himself looking at the paintings more intently. Consequently he saw things that he’d missed before.
After they left the museum, they strolled past the colorful shops and cafés of the Left Bank. Drew offered his sunglasses to Melanie, and, typical for her, she refused them. He’d tried to buy her a pair earlier, but she’d insisted she could do without them for a few days.
A cloud drifted over the sun and Drew tucked his glasses inside his jacket. He couldn’t help taking her arm as they crossed the street and headed toward Notre Dame. That kind of thing was bred into him. But he released her once they were safely across.
“And this is where we first met.” She paused in front of the cathedral.
“Yes, ma’am. I hope the spot didn’t get ruined for you because of what happened to you here.”
She gazed up at him. “Meeting you more than made up for it, so no, nothing’s ruined.”
“Good.” He was also glad she wasn’t wearing his sunglasses, because then he would have missed that soft glow in her eyes.
“By the way, why haven’t you held my hand at all this afternoon?”
His breath caught. “What?”
“I’ve been sending out signals, and you seem to be picking them up, but you still haven’t touched me. I understand that you don’t want to be affectionate in front of your household help. I don’t want that, either, but we’re among strangers now.”
“If you don’t like PDA under any circumstances, I’m cool with that. I just need to know for future reference, so I don’t accidentally embarrass you.”
He was stunned. “I didn’t want to interfere.”
“Interfere?” She looked puzzled.
“With all of this.” He gestured toward the cathedral, the river, and the vivid bustle that was Paris. “You’ve never experienced it, and I didn’t want to distract you from—”
“Oh.” She smiled and her gaze grew even warmer. “That’s incredibly sweet.” She held out her hand. “Could we hold hands the rest of the way back, though?”
“We sure as hell can.” He laced his fingers through hers and tugged her closer. “And while we’re on the subject, how do you feel about kissing in public?”
“We’re in Paris. I thought it was expected.”
“So it is.” Drawing her into his arms with a sigh of relief, he leaned down and finally, finally did what he’d longed to do for hours. Ah. Her mouth was as lush as he remembered, and he groaned when she opened to him.
So generous. So giving. Blood pumped through his veins and settled in a predictable spot. He didn’t want to stop kissing her. He liked it too much. But that was the problem—he liked it way too much.
When he realized that he’d cupped her bottom, he forced himself to end the kiss and back away, but he held on to her hand. “Sorry.” He gulped in air. “I got carried away.”
“Don’t apologize.” She was breathing fast, too. “I’ve wanted you to kiss me since this morning.”
“And God knows I’ve wanted to, but you see what happens.”
Her gaze lowered to the crotch of his jeans, and her smile was filled with feminine satisfaction. “It’s nice to be wanted.”
“Darlin’, you have no idea how wanted you are.”
She looked into his eyes. “Likewise.”
His cock strained at the denim of his jeans, and he wondered how he would ever make it through an evening at Les Folies Bergère with this woman. They might have to leave at intermission.