Skin of the Night

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Chapter 5: Won't You Come In?

“Have you got the time?” I asked when he guided me along the streets of Soho toward his flat. With one arm firmly wrapped around my waist, he raised the other to eye his Rolex wristwatch.

I swallowed as I recognised the brand. He reeked of money, and I wasn’t ensnared by it. Rich people intimidated me. They could be dreadfully arrogant in their aristocratic tendencies. However, I wasn’t one for prejudice. Besides, Jason came from a wealthy background, and he was as close to an ideal human being as could be.

“Ten to ten,” he said and tugged me closer. Flummoxed, I studied his alluring profile.

“Ten to ten? Do you mean to say that I was at the bar for less than an hour?” I replied astounded. Had he managed to seduce me that fast? What was wrong with me? I wasn’t even tipsy!

He smirked and glanced at me from the corner of his light blue eye. “If it’s of any consolation, I didn’t leave you much choice,” he murmured and turned around a corner to enter Wardour Street.

I frowned at myself. Was I truly so desperate for him that I couldn’t last longer than an hour? Poor Olivia. Had I ruined her evening?

“Do you reckon Andy will take good care of her?” I enquired worriedly. “I feel like I’m being a rubbish friend.”

“You are. But again, I didn’t leave you much choice. Either way, Andy’s a lovely lad. A true gentleman. I’m only concerned they’ll wind up in bed together. Chloe will throw a fit if she finds out he was that quick to move on, and that will ruin Andy’s shot at rekindling with her. He might be a gentleman, but he can be bloody stupid about these things. He’s not the best at thinking ahead. He tends to live in the moment rather absolutely.”

“Well, I’m sorry to say it, but Livy’s aim tonight is getting into his bed.”

He groaned. “So we’re both rubbish friends, then. I should be thwarting Andy; cock-blocking him. Yet here I am, escorting you back to mine. You truly are the devil, temptress that you are.”

I scowled up at him. How dare he blame me for his pathetic shortcomings? “Oh, you are something else, you bastard. I could strangle you.”

“Kinky,” he teased through a wry smile. “Hold onto that anger, darling. It will make for a marvel in the sack,” he continued and lowered his hand from the small of my back to gently pat my bum.

“You’re unbelievable,” I grumbled. “But at least Livy’s recently had her heart broken as well. I’m sure she could use a sympathetic shoulder to lean on, which Andy can provide.”

“Quite the meet-cute,” he remarked nonchalantly with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “Anyway,” he fished the latest iPhone out of his pocket, “before we get to the interesting stuff, what’s your number, Sandra?”

My heart stilled upon his question as I gazed blankly ahead of myself. Subconsciously, my arms moved to fold over my breasts, as if to protect myself from harm.

What did he want with my number? I wasn’t inclined to meet him again. He might be the most alluring man I’d ever met, but I was a rational woman. Consequentially, I knew meeting him again would be signing my doom. He was a little too alluring.

I could manage one night without getting attached to him, but another was a different story entirely. My attraction to him was too immense to ignore. I’d never been so captured by another character before, and surely not so fast. It made me fear his power over me. If we met again, I didn’t trust that I’d be able to resist growing fond of him; I didn’t trust myself not to fall for temptation. I would want to explore more of him – every corner of his twisted mind, and every fibre of his mouth-watering anatomy.

I couldn’t have that. Not now. I didn’t have the capacity for it. Romance was something I avoided as though it were the plague, because I knew it would divide my attention, which I couldn’t afford. I was an A student. Becoming infatuated would ruin that. I couldn’t take that risk.

“I’m not going to give you my number.”

He halted completely. When I turned my eyes up at him, I found him frowning. He looked profoundly annoyed.

“Why not?”

“Because I have no intention of meeting you again,” I replied honestly. He gaped at me.

“What? Why?” he questioned appalled.

I sighed and looked shamefacedly away from him. I worried my honesty might have changed his mind. Perhaps I should have bit my tongue or resorted to a lie, but I wasn’t in the habit of mistreating people. If his feelings were under the threat of being toyed with, he deserved to know. I would have wanted as much, for myself.

“Because I don’t have the time. I’m very dedicated to my studies,” I explained. “I can’t afford being preoccupied over a man.”

“Well, I both admire and respect that. If you agree to meet me again, you’ll find that out for yourself. I wouldn’t dream to stand in the way of your education.”

Somewhat surprised, I met his eyes again. “I appreciate that, but I’m afraid it’s out of your hands. You don’t get to decide how I respond to something. This is what I’ve spent the past three years doing, and I’m not going to change my habits for you.”

Anger swelled in his eyes. “That’s ridiculous. Honestly, I’m a bit shocked that your intention tonight is to use me for your own sexual gain. What the hell is that all about?”

I tensed as guilt flooded my system. Looking away from him again, I murmured, “I assumed it was mutual.”

“Well, you assumed wrong,” he snapped. “Bloody hell, you could have warned me. I’ve never felt quite so objectified.”

Wearing a pout, I studied my toes. “Well, I’m warning you now. And I’m sorry. I do... fancy you. I’m just not interested in anything more than one night.”

He was silent for a beat, contemplating. This was it, I realised.

“I suppose I’ll just have to shag you so well that you’ll change your mind,” he then declared. The air stormed out of my lungs. It felt like somebody had punched me in the gut, for heaven’s sake. Would I ever get used to his vulgar tongue? What else could his tongue do to shock me, I wondered.

“But if you don’t mind my saying,” he continued before I could catch my breath, “I think you’re being silly. Unless you’re already aware of it, law isn’t an easy path of education either, and I completed my degree at Cambridge. Nevertheless, I still found time for romantic endeavours. That should speak volumes.”

I gaped at him. He’d studied at Cambridge? Had I underestimated his intelligence due to his lack of social etiquette?

While smirking back at me, he raised his index finger to beneath my chin and closed my gaping mouth for me. “Just something to take into account,” he added. “Gape you can do later, when we’re naked in my flat.”

The mouth of this man rendered me speechless. It must have earned him a slap or two during his lifetime.

He didn’t bother to wait for my response. Moving forward, he approached the entrance of an elegant white building with warehouse style windows. A Starbucks resided on the ground floor of it. I wondered if he were a regular there. If so, then lucky employees.

After fishing out his key, he inserted it into the respective lock and pushed the door open. Suddenly gallant again, he gestured for me to enter before him. He was surely mercurial.

“Nice building,” I commented impressed.

He didn’t respond. Instead, he guided the way toward the lift and pushed the button to call for it. After having me enter first, again, he pressed the fourth floor. Together, we watched the doors slide shut. When they did, I grew suddenly nervous. Thank goodness I’d shaved earlier today.

As we rode up, gravity gently tugged my gut, but it was nothing compared to the magnetism the man beside me exuded. He seemed electric. Looking over, I saw that he was conspicuously composed. Was I the only one struggling to resist wanton urges? It would seem that way. That notion bruised my ego to the extent that a pout dominated my face.

When we arrived on his floor, he guided the way to a dark brown entrance door. To my relief, he didn’t waste his time with unlocking it. After turning the handle, he presented to me a marvellous, lush view of a beautiful flat, with dark brown and solid wood serving for a floor.

Turning toward his alarm system, he entered the six digits of a code, and when it made a sound of approval, his eyes met mine.

“Please, Sandra. Won’t you come in?” he asked, and his voice was an invitation in and of itself.

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