Two months ago, when winter still hung on with a biting wind that rattled and whistled through the ancient windows of my studio, I wondered if I would even be able to keep the lights on. Now I stood in Desirable Objects, an art gallery in Old Town, wearing a silk t-shirt and my best jacket, pretending that I didn’t feel a bit nervous or out of place. It was a group show, not my first, but it was one of the most exclusive. Five of my best pieces hung on these walls.
“Lots of interest in your Island Fever piece,” Priscilla, the gallery manager murmured as she exchanged his empty glass for another one filled with rum punch. “Mingle. Make conversation. There are lots of critics and columnists here. Show them some of that shining personality.”
Julian nodded and cleared his throat. “I’ll try. Thank you.” He smoothed his lapels and pulled a deep breath into his lungs as he scanned the room. His eyes settled on his painting Island Fever. He shook his head. Such a ridiculous title. The painting, however, was one he was very proud of. It reminded him of his last summer home in Jamaica. Lots of rum. Lots of women. The thrill of knowing that he was headed to the States to pursue his ambitions. The painting that sprung from it perfectly depicted those lingering memories.
Lost in his own thoughts, he moved across the crowded space with its murmuring laughter and smooth-legged ladies in brightly colored skirts and dresses until he stood in front of it. Very briefly he glanced at the price tag and his stomach clenched. Thirteen thousand dollars? What right did he have to ask for that kind of money? The thought that someone would pay that much for some paint and canvas with his name signed at the bottom made him uncomfortable.
“Gorgeous, isn't it?”
He only meant to glance at her, but at the last moment, he couldn't look away. The petite thing next to him was all eyes and hair. The latter cascaded in curling waves over her shoulders and back and had that tousled look that was supposed to seem carefree and bohemian, but probably took hours. Her eyes were curious and cat-like, hazel, but more green than brown with flecks of gold. They were the sort of eyes that would come alive on canvas.
Julian had two choices at this moment. He could reveal himself as the artist, or he could hear this woman's honest opinion of his painting. It was so rare that he got to hear what people really thought without them pandering to him in some way. So without even making a decision to do it, he crossed his arms over his chest and said, “What do ya find so gorgeous ‘bout it?”
“The way their bodies entwine and overlap to create a sort of landscape.” Her hand gestured, undulating in the air in front of her. “Their bodies are like hills and valleys. This artist loves women.”
Julian grunted. Was that what this piece conveyed? Love was far from what he felt when he painted it. It was more about him succumbing to his most basic desires—overindulging them. Women were a distraction that he couldn’t really afford, which was why he had sworn them off and didn’t feel like he was missing out on anything. “What make ya say that? I had a feeling of sameness. Like he was speaking to a sorta boredom.”
She shook her head. “No way. This artist loves women. Look at how the brush strokes follow the curves and lines of their bodies. And how it can it be about sameness when there are so many variations in skin tone and body composition? If I were to judge by their placement on the canvas, I would also say that he has an affinity for dark-skinned women. With these darker tones, it probably would've made much more sense if he placed them on the bottom to symbolize earth and on a more philosophical level, symbolizing the black woman as the foundation of his relationships with all women. But placing her on the top where the sun meets the landscape is very telling."
He smiled at that. She wasn't completely wrong. Darker complexions were his preference. Skin that carried the heat born from its proximity to the equator. Warm brown tones that spoke of earth and fertility. Her complexion wasn’t very dark, but it definitely appealed to him. Burnt sienna with warm yellow ochre tones that glossed the rounds of her cheeks and the cup of her bare shoulders.
"Ya see all that in there?" he asked with a raise of his brow.
She shrugged her shoulder. "Yeah, but mostly I see evidence of a very sensual lover.”
"Is that so?" he asked, turning to her.
"Yes, that’s so—“
"Julian!" Pricilla, the overly energetic gallery manager, angled between them and hooked her arm in his. "I see you have met Yves Santiago. Entertainment columnist for The Philadelphian.”
He cringed inwardly when he saw a confused look pass over the woman's face, but she recovered smoothly and extended her hand. "It was nice talking to you, Julian. Ah, I see another artist I want to speak with over there, would you excuse me?"
And then she was gone before he could offer any explanation for his deceptive behavior.
"Be careful of that one,” Pricilla warned. “I hear she's some sort of maneater.”
Julian didn’t need her warning. Everything in his body could sense it.
The gallery owner kept him clear of her for the rest of the night, expertly steering him toward this or that press representative or art collector.
This Yves Santiago was exactly the sort of women he was fatally drawn to. But even in his avoidance, Julian was still aware of her. A bright blur at the edge of his vision, drawing his eye. Her reciprocating look was one of scorn, of which he was deserving.
When the champagne ran out, and the crowd began to thin, Julian stepped outside for a cigarette, and there she was. He was startled to find the siren waiting on the curb. She walked right up to him and took the cigarette from his fingers and took a generous pull. When she handed it back, her red lipstick had stained the filter.
"So, is that your thing? You lie about who you are to hear what people really have to say about your work?"
"I dun know what came over me, lying like that--"
"I do. You thought you would get an honest opinion. And you did. But you didn't consider the fact that I already knew who you were."
An involuntary grin pulled at the corners of his mouth. "Ya know me?"
“You’re Jamaican born. Got your undergrad at Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. You were accepted into the artist in residence program here in Philly at The University of the Arts. Your focus is oil painting, and this is your second group show, though you'll probably get a solo one pretty soon based on all the attention you're garnering tonight. You're an amazingly talented artist. I know exactly who you are, Julian Webster. However, I’ve never seen any photos of you so, I didn’t know that you were this damn fine."
“Photos of me don’t accompany my press releases fa that reason.” Julian shoved his hands in his pockets and laughed. "That's gotta be some kinda talent. Ya made me feel flattered and scolded all in one breath."
Yves smiled and shrugged. "Words are kind of my thing." She stepped a bit closer, invading his personal space. Feline eyes assessed him in a way that made his gut seize up and blood rush to places far south of his brain.
"So how far off was my critique? Does the artist adore the female form? Is he a sensual lover?"
Alarm bells went off in him, ones he readily ignored in to study the shape of her lips. “Ya nah far off at all."
"I thought so." The smile that pulled up one side of her mouth was slow and lethal. The kind of smile that always sent a swift punch of lust to his groin.
A cab slowed to a stop on the curb, and she reached for the door handle.
“Hey, do you wanna go somewhere for a drink? Talk maybe?"
“Uh…” His first instinct was to say no. This woman was trouble. The dirty kind that he didn’t want to wash off in the morning. She was one that he would gleefully follow to his own self-destruction just to bask in her light. “That’s probably not such a—”
“Think twice before you say no. I’m writing an article about you tonight. Do you want your little white lie to find it’s way in there?”
He chuffed. “Hold on. Ya blackmailing me?”
She tipped her head thoughtfully, hand on the door handle of the taxi. “Possibly. But I think you owe me an exclusive. Maybe more than that,” she added with a wink.
“More? What exactly does that entail?”
“We can work that out later. So dinner? Drinks?”
Julian thrust his hands into his pockets and surveyed the manipulative little beauty in front of him. Logic told him to use caution. The gallery manager labeled her a maneater, after all, and that was exactly the type of woman he was trying to avoid. But perhaps he was being presumptuous. Maybe her request was purely professional. Either way, her bold approach intrigued him.
“Alright. Dinner and drinks.”
She smiled broadly and opened the car door. "Hop in."
Julian shook his head. “My bike is parked around back. Why don’t we take that?”
Her eyebrows raised with interest. "Bike? Like...motorcycle?"
"Yeah...is that ok? We can take a cab if--"
"Absolutely not. Let's go, island boy."
A fine mist had begun to fall while they backtracked through the gallery to the alley. Droplets dappled the gas tank of his Indian with iridescent beads that winked and shone in the light of the street lamp.
"This is yours?" She trailed her fingers over the sleek curvature and up to the handlebars.
"Yeah. Ya nah 'fraid to ride, are ya?"
Yves smirked. "Not in the least."
"A'ight then," he asked as he helped her put the helmet on. He only had one. He would just have to do without. Once it was on, he swung his leg over the bike and sat in the saddle. "Climb on."
She hesitated, and for a moment he thought she might be one of those types of women who pretended to be brazen, then chickened out at the last minute. But she surprised him by gathering up the hem of her flouncy skirt and straddling the bike behind him.
"Have ya ridden a bike before?"
He half turned so he could look her in the eye. "Hold on tight," he instructed. "When I lean, ya lean too. A’ight?" She nodded, over-bright eyes shining at him in the darkness. He kicked the engine to life. Her hands slid under his arms and wrapped around his trunk. Cautiously, he put the bike into gear and made his way to the mouth of the alleyway.
* * * *
Summertime traffic in South Philly was always heavy. Julian weaved in and out of the cars, splitting the lanes when the opportunity presented. Yves tensed against him when he sped down the narrow space between cars, riding the dotted line. He could feel her heart fluttering against his back. But when the traffic thinned, she surprised him when she leaned forward and whispered, "Go fast."
“Okay.” Julian pulled her arms around him tighter then popped the clutch and twisted the throttle, lurching them forward in a way that still exhilarated him.
Yves whooped in his ear and practically wrapped her legs around him. His dick stirred to life, and he chided himself. When was the last time he had been this close to a woman? More than a year, at least. Of course, his body would react this way when she pressed against him. He drew one hand up her outer thigh; it was as smooth and cool as an untouched, well-primed canvas. He wondered if all of her was just as smooth and soft. She rested her hand on top of his, then boldly slid it higher.
This woman was definitely trouble…
“Can we just drive around for a while?” she shouted above the road noise.
Julian nodded and aimed his bike toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
He took the long way around, driving up Schuylkill Expressway. The river on the right was flat and still with the windows of the historic homes reflecting their light off of the calm, mirrored surface. She rested her cheek against his shoulder, and her hands drifted down low on his abdomen. Her whole body relaxed into him, less tense now they were just cruising. When he took the Spring Garden exit, she leaned into the turn like a pro. When they drove by the famed Rocky steps, she threw her arms wide and howled at the night sky. He laughed at her. Native Philadelphians had such an unusual attachment to the steps of the Art Museum. It had been a while since he had a woman on the back of his bike, but it was rarely ever this pleasurable the first time around.
He slowed to a stop at a red light. The bike’s engine quieted from a roar to a low rumble. “Do you like Caribbean food? Reggae?”
“Yes, I love Caribbean food and who doesn’t like reggae?”
Julian smiled. “Good. I know exactly where to take ya.”
Ten p.m. found them in The Dip, a crowded reggae club, where his lovely companion, with a belly full of curry chicken roti, got drunk off too much Jamaican rum and rocked her hips like something out of a dream. All the men crowded around her, but she held her own, grinding her hips against theirs, giving as good as she was getting. Julian could have sat at the bar and watched her dance all night. But she was having none of that. She shot him through with one look.
You, she said with her eyes, then slid through the crowd and took his hand, drew him out into her dance.
A dancehall mix of Bob Marley’s Reaction pulsed from the speakers. The rum humming through his veins made him dicky and reckless. His hands found her hips and her hands traced the contours of his chest. A smile came to his lips as their eyes meet. She stroked a finger along his jawline.
“These dimples,” she said with a shake of her head. “They’re doing me in!”
It wasn’t the first time someone had commented on his dimples. He was used to hearing about his boyish grin, his innocent, wholesome good looks. The nice guy. The sweet guy. Wholesome was the last thing he wanted Yves to think about him at this moment.
Julian took her hands and draped her arms around his neck, and when his hands found her hips again, it was to pull her in closer, tighter. He wedged one thigh between hers, and she dipped and rocked her waist in time to Bob’s wailing. It was a slow grind, and he found her rhythm and matched it perfectly.
The air was hot and close—heavy with breath and body heat. With every gyration, their bodies became more and more slick with sweat. Bob was singing, “to every little action, there’s a reaction.” He acted, and she reacted, their bodies a perfect counterpoint, keeping time with the easy skanking rhythm.
She turned in his embrace and pressed her back into his chest. Now they were undulating in a wave. He spread one hand wide and low over her belly, guiding her hips in the direction he wanted to go. His thighs flexed as he positioned his denim-clad dick against the cleft of her behind. Yves rolled her hips against him. The flirty dress that had tempted him all night rode up high on her thighs. This was more than just dancing now. This was foreplay. Her body was telling him what she wanted. His mouth on her skin, his dick inside of her riding hard like this rhythm they were riding.
She glanced over her shoulder at him, and when their eyes connected, he knew he’d read her right. Against his better judgment, his hands grew bolder. They slid up and down her thighs and slowly inched up the hem of that flirty dress. His thumb grazed the gusset of her nearly non-existent thong. A moan rumbled through his chest when he found the thin material wet— saturated with lust and sweat.
He took her hands again, pulled them high over her head before linking them around the back of his neck. His hands then made a parallel journey down either side of her body. A journey that began just under her arms coursed over her breasts and down to her thighs again, where he gave her a playful smack. Yves moaned and bit her lip. If there was any question in his mind about whether or not she would go home with him, that playful smack answered it. He was going to be between her thighs tonight.
“You’re a wild, lick’il woman,” he murmured in her ear. She turned again so that they were face to face. A thin sheen of sweat made her skin glisten, highlighting those ochre tones in her complexion so that it shone like red-gold under the dance floor lights.
“Take me home, and I’ll show how wild I can be,” she suggested, then leaned in and gave him a soft, seductive kiss. Julian cradled her closer and returned her kiss with a slow, but eager, searching of her mouth. A slight dizziness, a sweet delirium consumed him as he took his time tasting her tongue and lips. He could easily become obsessed with the sweet taste of her mouth and the intoxicating feelings she churned up inside of him. That thought sobered him a bit, brought back his feelings of self-preservation.
Julian pulled away with a moan and touched her face. “Let’s have a few more drinks. Dance a little longer,” was his answer.
Yves shrugged and nodded, and he took her hand. Hers felt soft and tiny against his big, slightly calloused palms. They found a secluded booth in the back of the bar. A bored waitress appeared and took their drink orders, and then he turned to her in the dim light.
“So tell me lick’il somethin’ ‘bout yaself,” he said. He wanted to talk. He had to slow things down. Talking was probably the best way to do that. Maybe she would slip back into her inquisitive journalistic mode. He hoped she would, because his resistance was faltering.
Yves smiled coquettishly. “What do you want to know?” she asked, moving closer, brushing her breasts against his arm. They were naked beneath the plunging neckline of her dress, and he felt the tightly beaded points of her nipples.
How you taste. How you feel wrapped around my dick. What you look like when you come. Yes—His dick agreed with all those responses. “Ya job at The Philadelphian, ya like it?” he said when he finally regained his composure.
“Is that really what you want to talk about?” she asked with a lift of her eyebrow. “I think we’re well past the get-to-know-you stage, Julian.”
She leaned in close and brushed her lips across his. The way her kiss affected him wasn’t right or normal. His breath quickened, his eyelids drooped drowsily as he took her in. “Don’t you know a thing like this could be dangerous?” he asked, breathless.
“A thing like what?”
“Going home with a strange man.”
Yves made a big show of inspecting him. Her eyes lingered in his lap for a long moment, taking in the prominent ridge his dick made along his inner pant leg. She raised her eyebrow again and smirked. “Maybe you’re my kinda strange.”
He sighed and shook his head. “I don’t do this. I’m not the sort of guy who has one-night stands. I respect women—“
“Listen, cariño, I appreciate that you respect women, but I don’t need you to protect me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. But what I want you to do is, take me back to your place, strip me naked, and fuck me.” She slid her hand down his chest, into his lap, and let it settle on the part of him that was hard for her. He shuddered. With one squeeze, she pushed him right over the edge. Julian grabbed Yves by the hand and tugged her out of the booth.
* * * *
Julian left his bike at the club, and they took a cab back to his place. The ride was short, but Yves was impatient. In the back seat, she kissed him and pushed her hands under his clothes. He tried to stay strong and level-headed as he thwarted her advances while muttering, “Can’t believe I’m doing this. Can’t believe this is happening” under his breath. As drunk as he was at the club, he was stone cold sober now.
She fought him to get his dick out of his pants in the backseat. It was a ridiculous tussle; her tugging his fly down and him zipping it back up. When she finally liberated it from the confines of his jeans, a giggle of delight bubbled out of her.
“Are you serious with that thing?”
“What?” he asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“It’s fucking beautiful, that’s what.” She scooted over on the seat and tucked her feet under her bottom. “Long, thick and damn near perfect,” she murmured.
He let out a hiss as she gently licked the tip, then took him into her mouth and swirled her tongue around the crown.
Julian moaned softly, and his eyes rolled back in his head for a moment. “Shit…you can’t do this. You’re gonna get us arrested,” he rasped. He grabbed her right at the nape of her neck and pulled her up until her mouth met his. “My place is in the next block,” he whispered and fought to get his dick back into his slim fit jeans.
They took longer than necessary getting up the stairs to his apartment. Every few feet or so, she pushed him against the wall to kiss and fondle him in a way that was damn near obscene. She was like an over-eager teenager who couldn’t decide where she wanted to put her hands first. Julian found himself caught up in the fever of it. He caressed her breasts through the thin bodice of her dress, tugged and pulled at her nipples until they were hard and sensitive against the palms of his hands.
When they finally made it to his door, he pressed her against it and kissed her until she sagged against him. She was practically panting by the time he got the door open. Once they were inside, he made a feeble attempt to compose himself. He dropped his keys on the bookshelf by the door and emptied his pockets of his cell phone and wallet.
“Would you like a drink? Or something to eat? I think I’ve got half a pizza in the fridge.”
“Such good manners,” she said with a shake of her head. “No. I’m not hungry or thirsty.”
“Are you sure I can’t get you anything?” he asked, turning toward her.
“You can get your dick out of those jeans again so I can put my mouth on it.”
His balance faltered a bit, and he grabbed his crotch protectively.
She smiled and narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you afraid of me?”
“Afraid? No. Not afraid. A lick’il wary,” he confessed.
She bit her lip and looked up at him. “Your hesitation is cute and more than a little irresistible, but there’s no need to be scared of me. I’m just a lick’il whoa-mon. You could do anything you want to me.”
Yves reached under her dress and shimmied out of her thong and tossed it aside. He watched her cautiously.
“Damn, you’re pretty,” she said softly.
Pretty? That was not a way he had ever thought of himself. She leaned back against the wall, slid one finger over her drenched slit. Clearly, his prettiness was something that turned her on. He watched with open fascination. A little moan escaped his lips as he watched her bring that hand to her mouth, lick her fingers. His dick, which he had shoved back into his pants with far too much haste, swelled painfully against the zipper of his flies.
“Come over here and lick my pussy,” she said.
Her direct request threw Julian off for a moment. It felt like a challenge to his manhood, but if he was meant to be offended by it, his dick didn’t agree. He took a few hesitant steps, a last minute grab for sanity, and then he was on her. Kissing her rough and hard and pressing her back against the wall. He bunched her dress around her waist and ran his hands between her legs, parting her thighs so that he could fit himself between them. Her hands pushed under his shirt and up his back. Julian shivered. Too long. Too long since he’d been touched. He deepened the kiss, lapped at her mouth, sucked her lips. The taste of her tongue was sweet with rum and pineapple.
“My pussy,” she reminded him. “Lick it.”
He knelt, slowly slipping down her body until his lips brushed against her mound. His hands rested on her thighs. A tremor rippled just under the surface of her skin. Anticipation.
“You look good with your face between my legs,” Yves said with a soft laugh.
There was only one light on in the room. The one right by the door. It didn’t illuminate, but instead threw shadows that deepened underneath the curtain of her dark hair. He could still see her eyes. Shining and luminescent in the dim glow. He kept his eyes on hers as he extended the tip of his tongue to gently touch her engorged clit. She rocked her hips forward, wanting the warmth of his mouth.
“Come on, baby,” she whispered, caressing the back of his neck and applying gentle pressure. He wanted to resist but couldn’t. The womanly scent of her had already overwhelmed him. It wasn’t sweet like the pineapple and rum on her tongue, but it that made his mouth water all that same. So he gave into the gentle urging of her hand until his mouth was on her sex.
Yves let out a shuddering moan as his thick tongue slipped between her petite lips. She wasn’t bare. He liked that, but he liked her moaning even more. It was all the encouragement he needed. His eyes closed, and he gave into it, too far gone on her to tease her anymore. He drew his tongue over her clit, flat and wide, and with each pass, her hips tipped forward, not wanting to break contact. He backed off a bit, flicking his tongue over the sensitive nub as he worked one then two fingers into her pussy, curling them in a gentle ‘come here’ motion and her hips succumbed to his beckoning.
“Mmmfuck…” she moaned loudly.
“You are so wet,” he whispered.
She dripped all over his fingers, his chin, made a mess of the face that she found so pretty. He hadn’t realized it until now, but Yves had been wound tight most of the night, and he felt that melt away as her body climbed toward release. All the stress and anxiety faded away until she was nothing but the anticipation of pleasure between her legs. He was glad that he didn’t turn her down when she asked him out. She’d needed him. And maybe, just a little bit, he needed her.
Julian gripped her hip in his right hand and sucked her clit until she crumbled. The words falling out of her mouth were somewhere between Spanish and English and just plain gibberish. He barely gave her chance to catch her breath before he hooked her knees over his arms and stood, sliding her up the wall. Startled, she pressed her arms against it to brace herself.
“Wha…?” she stammered, looking at him.
He repositioned her until her knees were on his shoulders and bent to retrieve the condom from his pocket.
“Holy fuck…You’re gonna fuck me right here on this wall, aren’t you?”
Julian grinned as he fumbled with his flies and then pushed his jeans down around his knees. “Yes, star. Right ‘ere. On this wall.”
She sighed heavy like the thought of it made her weak. Seeing her so turned on made his head go fuzzy with want. She watched him tear the wrapper with his teeth. He shuddered as he rolled it on. The touch of his own hand was nearly enough to bring him off. Once it was on, he lowered her down slowly, cupping her ass in his hands, positioning her just right. He held her there—drawing the moment out unbearably long. The exchange between the two of them was intense. They didn’t kiss. They didn't speak. They just stared into each other’s eyes. Not blinking, barely breathing. Then he let go…slow, slow, agonizingly slow, savoring every nuance of her satiny warmth. He filled her completely, and God, she felt perfect. Using the wall and letting gravity do most of the work, he rocked against her.
“Ay, Díos,” she whispered and came around him again. He held still, watching her go through her tiny crisis, trying desperately to hold off his own. When it was done, he held her close for a moment. Let her rest her head in the curve of his sweaty neck as she caught her breath.
“I hope that don’t mean that ya done?” he asked.
Yves laughed, and her pussy squeezed his dick so tightly that he nearly came on the spot.
“No, I’m not done…” she finally managed to whimper. “Not even close.”
* * * *
One a.m. found them in the center of his bed. Cold pizza and cold beer and Yves, tousled, free of make-up, and tangled in his sheets, consuming both. Lamplight caught and highlighted the golden tones of her skin and the flecks of gold in her hazel eyes. She looked lovely and well fucked. He felt a swell of pride at the latter.
“So,” she said, tossing her pizza crust into the empty box. “Tell me lick’il somethin' ‘bout yaself.”
He smiled. “Is that ya impression of me? Ya mocking my accent?”
“Yes. Very badly. It’s much sexier on you. But seriously, how am I here? Where is your lady? How is somebody as pretty as you single?”
“Handsome,” he corrected.
“That’s the second time ya called me pretty. I think ya mean handsome.”
She sat up and looked him over again. “That well formed mouth. Those bedroom eyes with those long, dark lashes. Those fucking dimples. Nah, I meant pretty. You’re as pretty as a girl, Julian Webster,” she said with a grin.
Julian frowned. It was his own shit, and he knew she meant no offense, but being labeled pretty or anything else effeminate made him uncomfortable. Yves leaned in and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
“You’re very manly in all the important ways,” she said tenderly, as if she could sense his discomfort.
“Am I now?”
“Very much, yes.” She reached between his legs to fondle his already hardening dick. How could he be ready to go again?
“But that doesn’t answer my question.” Yves took her hand away, and his entire body mourned the loss. “What was the question again?”
“Why haven't you been mentioned alongside some gorgeous model? Some local music celebrity?”
“How do ya know that I’m not?”
“I did my homework. There is no lady in your life. And since I have a firm confirmation that you aren’t gay—”
“Do ya now?” he asked with a lift of his brow.
“Well…” She reached between his legs again and drew her hand up his length, whisper soft. “This lovely dick of yours seems to be a pretty good indicator.”
She gave him more kisses, and he reveled in them. Reveled in her assertive, sexy nature and the fact that he was on the receiving end. “Why aren’t you in love?” she asked.
“I might be fallin’ right now.”
“Flattery is a weak diversion tactic.” She backed away and frowned, silently asking the question again.
“I love beautiful women, but they're a double-edged sword."
"Why a double-edged sword?"
"'They interfere with my work."
"They say I'm…intense. When I'm with a woman, I'm totally into her, ya know. My work hits the back burner, and my focus becomes her." Julian laid back in his sheets, stared at the ceiling. "It makes me vulnerable," he admitted, but not without some reluctance.
She leaned over him and spread her hand wide in the middle of his chest. "Did someone take advantage of you?"
He nodded. "Is that gonna make it into ya article?"
"Absolutely not." She traced one of his nipples with the very tip of her finger. "So how did I end up here?"
"I already told ya. I love beautiful women."
"Again with the flattery…I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to have all of your considerable talents focused on one person."
"C'mon. Beautiful as ya are, ya hafta know how it feels to be worshiped."
Yves shook her head slowly as she swung one leg over to straddle him. "I'm usually the one doing the worshipping."
He pushed her hair out of her face. "Well, that's just a sin."
She rolled her hips, sliding the humid heat of her pussy along the underside of his dick. The desperate ache to simply grab her hips, lift her and plunge inside was agonizing. With what little bit of common sense, he had left, Julian reached above his head into the nightstand drawer to retrieve another condom. She took it from him, and this time, he watched her tear the wrapper and clenched his teeth as her small, but deft hands rolled it down his length. Yves held him steady, and he grabbed her by the waist and pushed into her, forcing a soft grunt from her lips. He rolled his hips under hers.
"No," she said then took his hands, laced her fingers between his and pinned them over his head. "Don't move, okay? I just want to hold you like this for a minute. Feel you inside of me."
Julian nodded. She leaned down to kiss him, and his skin erupted in gooseflesh as her wet heat shifted and clenched around him. The kiss was slow and deep, and while she sucked at his lips, her sex flexed around him.
"Shit…what are ya doing? Ya not play fair." He felt the smile on her lips.
"It's involuntary. You just feel so good." Her breath came soft and quick.
When she finally began to move, she loosed his hands. He traced the line of her spine with his fingertips. She shivered at his touch. The first time was hard and urgent, but now she was slow and deliberate. Her silken heat swallowed him so slowly that it took everything in him to keep from bucking under her.
“Sweet boy,” she murmured. “You’re highly corruptible.”
As he succumbed to yet another shattering orgasm, he had to remind himself…don’t go falling in love.
* * * *
The night sky was fading by the time she drifted off to sleep. Julian found himself dreading the fatigue descending on him. He studied her sleeping form. Traced it with his fingertips. Followed its lines with his eyes until they were burned into his memory. He fought it, but sleep claimed him just as the sun crested the horizon. It was deep and dreamless, but somehow, he was still aware of the small, warm body next to him enough to recognize when she got up.
He found her in the living room near the door searching for her clothes. She muttered to herself while searching the cushions of the couch and underneath tables. He cleared his throat to get her attention.
Yves bit back a scream and clutched at her naked breasts. “Holy fuck!” she cursed, turning around to find him leaning against the pillar.
“Good morning,” he said with a chuckle. His loft sat north to south, angled perfectly so that the to take full advantage of the light all day long. Morning sun flooded through the window kissed her skin and caught the green in her hazel eyes in a way that was damn breathtaking. It made shapes and shadows of her curves, fit and muscled under a layer of femininity.
“I w-w-was l-looking for my dress,” she stammered. Her eyes were fixed on his semi-erect dick. Had it been anyone else it may have been awkward, but because it was Yves, he felt comfortable standing in front of her, completely nude, morning wood on display while she ogled him.
“I can’t say I approve of dat. Kinda like ya in this right ‘ere.”
“I’m sorry…but I’ve gotta get going. I have to be at work in an hour or so. Have you seen it?”
“Yeah… but things got a lick’il reckless last night.” Julian turned and headed back to his massive bed. “I’m sorry, star,” he said picking up a shredded heap of black fabric tangled in the sheets. “Ya dress didn’t survive the tussle.”
“Oh no!” She dropped to her knees on the bed and gathered the shredded remnants in her hands.
Julian didn’t realize he’d been so rough with her and felt guilty. “Sorry, star,” he said again and brushed her hair off of her shoulder. “Was it ya favorite or something?”
“Not my favorite, but pretty expensive.”
“Lemme give ya somethin’ so ya can replace it—”
“Don’t be crazy. It wasn’t your fault.” She stood up. “But I do need you to give me a shirt to wear, so I don’t have to ride the train home like this.”
Julian’s eyes dragged up the length of her body, stalling at her breasts and those dark berry nipples he wanted to take into his mouth. “What if I don’t have anything that will fit ya? Will ya stay ‘here? In my bed?” He slipped his hands around her waist, so tiny compared to the flare of her gorgeous hips and thick thighs. “Surely, ya can call off of work for one day…”
Julian kissed her, and she sagged his arms, her body warm and pliant against his. But just when he thought she might give in she pushed against him.
“Listen, I would really love to but…”
He placed another soft peck on her lips.
“Wait…what was I saying?”
“Some foolishness about how ya got to work,” he mumbled against her mouth.
“Yes, work. Work! Fuck! I really, really have to go.”
“Oh,” he said and backed away feeling more than a little rejected.
“Just over dat way,” he said, pointing to his left. “There are towels and washcloths in the cabinet next to the sink.”
“Thank you.” She stepped around him and made her way toward the door he’d indicated.
While Yves freshened up, Julian pulled on some lounge pants and made coffee. Familiar feelings were brewing in him. He wanted to be wrong, but he knew he should accept this for what it was—a one-night stand. It was so unlike him to indulge in that sort of thing. Sport fucking, mindless sex without connections or attachments, he wasn’t built for it. He’d thought all of that was out of his system. When she emerged from the bathroom, she came in the kitchen pouring coffee into a travel mug. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. Or at least, he wanted to believe that they did.
“You drink coffee?”
“I’m pretty sure my blood is 75 percent caffeine.”
He laughed. “How do you take it?”
“Black with a little sugar.”
He smiled. “A girl after my own heart.”
Yves smiled, but she looked uncomfortable now. He could see her detaching from the experience. That was the last thing he wanted.
“Here’s the shirt you asked for.” Julian came around the counter and picked up the shirt draped over the bar stool. “I think it’s long enough to cover the important bits.”
Julian held the shirt while she slipped her arms into the sleeves and she stood still while he buttoned it for her.
“Thank you,” she said when he was done. “Maybe now I won’t get arrested.”
“Good thing. Still don’t think ya will make it very far looking the way ya do. This attire is much better suited for my bedroom.”
She pouted. “You know I don’t want to say no, but…I have to go.”
Julian shrugged reaching for a nonchalance that he didn’t feel. “I understand.”
He walked her to the door, and as she stepped outside, a brisk early morning breeze tunneled through the courtyard. “I hope to hear from ya, Ms. Santiago. Until then, I look forward to reading the column ya write on me.”
She kissed his cheek and gave him a bright smile. “Good morning, Julian.”
“Good morning, Yves.”
Julian watched her walk down the concrete breezeway in his shirt that barely concealed her bottom. When she was gone, he closed the door and leaned against it. Maneater, indeed. And he’d never been so delighted to have been eaten alive.