When my legs straighten into a standing position, it’s done completely without the permission of my brain. I needed it to happen, though. I need to know that it’s him standing in front of me, in the flesh, just inches away.
I stick out my hand, and he accepts with a gentle grip. The corner of his mouth quirks up. It’s the smile I dreamed he’d have while I was asleep on my flight, on the verge of climax.
“Layla. A pleasure.” His low tone is exactly the same one he employed those handful of days ago when he swooped in and saved me at that bar in Taipei.
“It’s nice to meet you, Rob.” Somehow my voice doesn’t come out strangled. I sound calm and professional. It’s in direct opposition to what’s going on inside me right now. The butterflies in my stomach are colliding head-first with my jumbled nerves.
Rob takes the chair next to Phoebe, directly across from me. I keep my unblinking gaze on her, but his proximity is thoroughly messing with my focus. Phoebe’s mouth is moving, but I can’t make out any words. Just the heat from that hard body across from me and that spicy sandalwood cologne he’s wearing. I take a deep breath with the intent of resetting, but instead my lungs fill with that heavenly musk. I nearly choke on the exhale. Big mistake.
“So that’s why I’ve brought him along.” Phoebe gestures to Rob. “This position requires you working with Rob most often, since he’s in charge of the entire creative department. I wanted to make sure you two had the right kind of chemistry.”
Rob’s mid-sip when he laughs. At least it sounds like a laugh to me. Judging by the way Phoebe pats his back and her concerned frown, she thinks he’s coughing. I have to clamp my hand over my mouth to stifle my own chuckle.
Oh, Phoebe. You have no idea just how off the charts our chemistry already is.
She winces at him. “Went down the wrong pipe?”
He nods, letting out one last cough before wiping his mouth on a napkin. His green eyes cut from Phoebe to me. “I think Layla and I will work great together.”
A hard swallow moves through his throat, and I can’t help but stare. I didn’t realize an Adam’s apple could be so sexy.
Phoebe smiles before checking her phone. “Well, you two haven’t had much time to chat, but I have a good feeling about this.” Her dark eyes dart to me. “Rob is my favorite person in the world to work with. Very easy going but sticks to deadlines. He lets the design team work at their own pace. He never hovers.”
I bite my lip. I don’t think I’d mind one bit if Rob ever wanted to hover over me. Especially if his shirt were unbuttoned, giving me an unobstructed view of what is most certainly a perfectly chiseled—
I shake my head to get rid of the naughty visual looping through my brain. Good god, Layla. You’re in a job interview. Focus.
She goes on to explain how the position requires working remotely from home with a few work days at the San Francisco office each month. I hum my enthusiastic approval.
“You two have a drink together. Get to know each other. I have a conference call in Singapore I need to prep for in my hotel room.”
With quick slashes of her pen, she signs the receipt on the table. She passes my portfolio to Rob, who thumbs through the pages with interest.
“Layla is crazy talented, Rob. We’re lucky to have her on board.”
Her words jolt me back to work mode. “I got the job?”
She nods. “Absolutely. Assuming the drink goes well and you two decide you can work together.”
I shake Phoebe’s hand and watch her leave. When I turn my gaze back to Rob, his frown is back. I’m as jilted as the first time I saw it.
“Please explain,” I say.
A beat later, the frown is gone, replaced by a warm smile. “What do you want to know?”
I toss my hands in the air in an exaggerated shrug. “How are you here? Why did you tell me to look you up in Taipei if you’re based in San Francisco? Did you know this was going to happen?”
I’m a mix of huffy breaths and nervous laughs of disbelief. How in the world did Irish Rob and American Layla meet in Taipei, go our separate ways, and then randomly meet in San Francisco?
He offers a single nod and flags down a server. “I think we need a drink for that.”
“And a splash of cold water to the face.” I dart to the restroom to do exactly that.
When I return, two glasses of Scotch sit at our table.
Rob clears his throat. “One’s neat. One’s on the rocks. Which one do you prefer?”
I swipe the neat one, taking a gulp so long, it burns a hole in my throat. His faint chuckle fills my ears. Immediately the space between my legs twitches.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d see you again, let alone here.” I say.
“You and me both.”
He takes a long sip before setting the glass down and giving me a brief rundown of his professional history. He and Phoebe are business partners who started Offshoot Publishing five years ago. He manned the Taipei office, but then the head of the West Coast office left suddenly due to a family emergency. Rob was asked take over two days ago, which explains our unexpected rendezvous.
“Hell of a coincidence,” I say.
“That it is.” He takes another pull of Scotch.
“How long are you in San Francisco?”
“For the foreseeable future. The exec who left decided yesterday to take an early retirement to care for her partner. I’m flying back to Taipei in a few weeks to pack up the rest of my apartment. It’s been a whirlwind to say the least, but I’m honestly glad. I was due for a change. And seeing you has been a pleasant surprise.”
That light tipsy feeling hits. I order another drink anyway. This past hour has been like a scene from a romantic comedy. The guy who I masturbated for, who I almost had a one night stand with, is now my new coworker. Actually, if he’s the Creative Director at Offshoot, he’s my new boss. My new boss has seen me naked and probably jerked off to me. I need all the alcohol to process this.
I narrow my most professional stern stare at him. “Look, I don’t want to beat around the bush. I don’t regret you seeing me in my hotel room. And if we had met up the other day, I was going to try to sleep with you.”
A shy smile glides across his face, and those perfect gentle crow’s feet I already love so much appear. “You wouldn’t have had to try very hard, Layla.”
With those words, my stomach flips inside itself. I swallow. “Good to know. But we’re working together now. You’re my boss—”
He shakes his head. “I’m not your boss. Phoebe is.”
“But you’re Creative Director. All of the designers report to you.”
“The in-house designers do, but you’re a contractor. Phoebe is in charge of all the contractors and freelancers. I’m just assigned to work with you.”
Rob’s not my boss, which means there’s no power dynamic to struggle through. A film reel of dirty thoughts loops through my brain. Rob’s head between my thighs; me crouched at his feet, taking him deep in my mouth. Me riding him fast and hard, then riding his face.
I knock back the rest of my Scotch. I shouldn’t mess with a guy I’ll be working with. But my lizard brain doesn’t seem to give a shit.
He leans against the table, his low voice now just a hair above a whisper. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“You can’t possibly.”
He nods. “I’ve been thinking the same thing, only more explicit. I assure you.”
I bite my bottom lip to keep the smile on my face from growing too clownish. “Not possible, Rob.”
Leaning back, he raises an eyebrow. “Is that so?”
My phone beeps with an email from Phoebe. I type a reply and smile up at him.
“Phoebe just emailed me the official job offer, and I accepted. We’re officially coworkers.”
“We should celebrate. I’ll order a bottle of champagne.”
Sliding my arm across the table, I capture his hand in mine. “I’d rather celebrate in your hotel room.”
“Make yourself comfortable.”
Rob heads to the bathroom the moment we walk into his hotel room. I make a beeline for the minibar underneath the massive flat screen TV. The tiny bottles of vodka call to me, but I spot a single mini bottle of champagne in the back. I pop it open, plop on the foot of the king size bed, and take a swig. The crisp white comforter underneath me must be filled with pure down. The plush feel reminds me of the comforter I defiled myself on in Taipei.
He grins at me when he steps out of the bathroom. “Congratulations.”
I hold the bottle up in a cheers motion. “Thank you. You want some?”
He nods, shedding his black jacket and draping it over the armchair in the corner. When he sits next to me on the bed, the mattress dips, and I slide an inch toward him. The weighty presence his body is the biggest turn-on. I bet I’d feel even smaller and more delicate lying underneath him, his physique a shield of muscle.
I hand him the bottle while my eyes take a tour of his body. That crisp dove gray shirt is doing wonders for his strapping frame. Our gulps fill the quiet room. There’s only the faint sound of traffic from the city streets below and our soft breathing. Good thing he can’t hear the nerves popping inside of me. I was confidence incarnate when I suggested we go to his room. Now that I’m here, it’s almost too much. I never thought I’d see my sexy stranger again. Now that he’s right next to me, in the flesh, and we’re about to make things physical, I can hardly believe it. My brain can barely process this too-good-to-be-true scenario. If I touch the cuff of his shirt or glide my hand along the barely there stubble of his face, my head might explode.
He catches me staring, and I twist my head away. Soft fingers land under my chin, pulling my gaze back to him. “You’re beautiful, Layla.”
The moment his lips make contact with mine, every warring nerve inside my body halts. Warmth hits. It’s as soothing as it is arousing. He pulls away before I can taste him with my tongue. When he rests his forehead against mine, I look up and notice that his eyes are closed.
“You have no idea how much I’ve thought about you the past few days,” he says. “It would probably freak you out.”
There’s a faint growl in his voice. I bet he’s trying like hell to keep his voice under control. He shouldn’t, though. That’s exactly what I want: his guard down, his inhibitions gone, his naked body on mine.
I shake my head against his, and he opens his eyes. “No chance. If you knew the thoughts I’ve had about you, you would probably run out of this room.”
He lowers his face to my neck and presses a feathery, lips-only kiss to the spot of skin that meets my shoulder. I moan through a shiver.
My breath catches when he pulls down the strap of my dress, then softly scrapes his teeth over my shoulder. He returns to my neck. This time, there’s tongue with his kiss. I have to grip his shoulder to steady myself.
“On the flight to Sacramento, I had a dream about you.” It’s my turn to close my eyes when I speak. It’s easier to admit this if I can’t see him. “It was so hot, I almost came, but then my mom nudged me awake.”
His lips stretch across the side of my collarbone. I bet he’s smiling.
“You think hearing that would scare me away?”
One last kiss on my collarbone. Then he leans back to look me in the eye. “I had the best wank of my life after watching you touch yourself. Then the morning after, when you had to cancel our rendezvous at the bar, I had another. Then another the day after, and every day after that.”
“You’ve been a busy man.”
Hearing him admit all that is instant comfort. I unbutton the top of his shirt while he takes the bottom buttons. When I push the fabric off his shoulders, I nearly choke. His actual body puts to shame the body I’ve been fantasizing about. Hard lines dot the milky skin of his torso. It’s all firm, unyielding mass. I tally six ab muscles before running my hand over his dark chest hair.
“Whoa.” I cover my face with my hands when I realize I’ve said it out loud.
Soft, firm flesh encases both of my wrists. Gently, I’m pulled away and meet his amused face.
“Um, your body is…just…hot damn,” I say.
I try to blame the two Scotches and few gulps of champagne for my inability to form the necessary words, but Rob merely shakes his head and smiles.
“Stop. It’s sexy when you talk like that.” He stands to unzip his trousers. When he steps out of them, I’m greeted with tree trunk legs and snug boxer briefs that barely contain the hard bulge in the front.
My heart thrums when he tilts my chin up to look at him. A long gaze at his mouth makes me realize we haven’t even properly kissed yet.
Leaning up, I press my mouth to his, then part his lips open with my tongue. Immediately we fall into a teasing, filthy rhythm. Our tongues play and tangle, but not because we’re unfamiliar with each other. Because we’ve been starving for each other these past few days.
His tongue leads with an urgent rhythm I can just keep up with. Smiling against his mouth, I have to remind myself to breathe.
Soon I’m on my feet and clawing at the back of my dress to find the zipper. The vibrations of his chuckle tickle my mouth.
“Here.” He spins me around, finding the zipper with ease. A second later, my dress falls to the floor.
His green eyes drink me in in a slow gaze that starts from my black bra to my black heels. “You’re stunning, Layla. Every inch of you.”
With a hand fisting the back of his head, I pull him to me once more. Our lips crash against one another, and I can barely breathe. I do what I ached to do all those nights ago and lightly nibble his bottom lip. It’s just as delicious as I imagined. His grip falls to my waist, leading me to sit on the bed. A massive hand caresses my stomach before pressing me flat on the bed.
Light kisses and even lighter teeth scrapes spill across the insides of my thighs. Already I have to steady my breathing to keep from losing it.
“Why didn’t you let me buy you a drink that night? We could have done this so much sooner,” I whimper.
“Because I’m a right fool.”
Giggles fall from my mouth. But when he hooks a finger over the crotch of my panties, they morph into gasps. Then his tongue hits, my jaw falls open, and I moan. Slow swirls lead to fast ones. He stops and sucks. The light pressure has me seeing stars. It’s not even a minute, and I’m about to plummet off the edge.
“Rob.” Running my hands through his hair seems to spur him on just the right way. He continues the slow pace, then speeds, up, then slows once more. Somehow he knows this variation of speed drives me wild.
Heat builds, along with the pressure. Flashbacks from that night when I touched myself to the thought of him, in full view of him, fill my mind. His hands are better than my own. His mouth and his tongue are the best I’ve ever had. As enlivening and sexy as it was to pleasure myself in front of him, having Rob in the flesh is a million times better.
Both of my calves cramp, signaling that the incoming crash of pleasure is close. When I bury my hands in his hair to hold him in place, he takes the cue. He keeps that steady pace, that gentle pressure, and I explode.
Every limb convulses around him, but his lead pipe arms hold me in place. Rapid breaths help ease me as I come down.
He crawls up to the bed, sans boxer briefs, and slides me up to the pillows. Finally my heartbeat steadies, and I glimpse down. He’s as well hung as I expected him to be. I flash a grin at him, then push him down flat on his back with my elbow. He must find my pitiful show of strength amusing because he chuckles.
“No laughing.” I claw at my purse on the bedside table for a condom. A groan rips from his throat when I slide it on him. “Just let me fuck you.”
When I lower myself onto him, I have to go slow. It’s not just our size differences, it’s that I want to savor every single moment of this fantasy come to life. Never has my luck worked out quite this well before.
“Easy,” he grunts, digging both hands into the fleshy part of my hips.
I press my palms against his chest. The contrast of my tan skin and his pale flesh is a strange comfort. “I’m not some delicate little thing. You don’t have to worry.”
With a shake of his head, he holds me steady so I can’t thrust yet. “No. I mean for me. If you go too hard, too fast, I’m going to lose it, Layla. I want this to last.”
Leaning down, I run my tongue along his bottom lip. I jerk back up before he can capture me in his mouth. “I have more condoms. There’s always round two.”
With that, I thrust up and down in a slow rhythm, using his chest to steady myself. His eyes roll to the back of his head.
A low growl rips from his throat. “Layla.” He lets out a frustrated chuckle, then exhales. “You can’t keep going like this. I’m going to lose it soon.”
The up and down rhythm I employ delivers pleasure to both of us. With each thrust I’m stretched even more, reaching a pleasure peak I haven’t hit with another man in ages. It’s not just Rob’s size doing me in. It’s the pleading look in his eyes, the way he tries to hold off for me, even when I tell him it’s okay to let go. It’s the way he holds on to my body for dear life, like he can’t believe I’m real either.
Licking my fingers, I circle my clit. Rob’s brow shoots all the way up to his hairline. “Fuck. I can’t take it…watching you do that…I can’t—”
An animal-like yell falls from him, ripping through the room. He presses so hard into my hips with his fingers, I’m certain I’ll bruise tomorrow. Good. I want a memento from this impossible evening.
A lightning bolt of heat and pleasure hits my clit, and I come soon after. My pitchy cries accompany the last of his deep grunts. I fall on top of his chest, which is just as sweaty as mine. His thick arms wrap around me, and I nuzzle into him. The frenzied beat of his heart is the only sound I hear.
When we finally catch our breaths, an exhausted laugh falls from his lips. “That was…”
“Worth the wait?”
He responds with a proper throaty laugh. “Absolutely.”
Hugging me tighter into his body, he presses a kiss on his forehead. “Are you thirsty? Hungry?”
I gaze up at him. “Only for you.”
“You’re an eager one.”
Burying my face in his chest is the only way I can think to hide the burn consuming my face. Could I possibly sound more desperate?
I can’t help it, though. All those seconds, hours, days that passed between our failed hookup and tonight’s unlikely meeting has me feeling something new. It’s more than just the way he turns me on. There’s something else. Comfort, connection, genuine emotion. I’m not sure Rob feels it. But I do. I want to wrap myself in that feeling as long as possible.
“Hey.” With his index finger curled under my chin, he directs my gaze to his. “I’m kidding. I love that you’re as excited about this—about us—as I am.”
The doubt riddling my insides melts away. He feels it, too.
He hardens against my stomach, and I grin up at him. I know the answer to my question before I even ask it. “How much longer till you can go again?”