Never Again

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Chapter 3

“Woo hoo … look at you, redneck girl. You clean up pretty nice.” Seth whistles at me as I walk down the hallway toward him.

I take that as a queue to do an extra little spin to add to the moment. When I do a complete circle and I’m facing Seth again, a second face peers at me from around the corner. Ronin is staring down the hall directly at me. Crap, it completely catches me off guard seeing that marvelous face again and one of my high heels catches. Thank heavens I’m able to recover my balance gracefully, before I fall sprawling out in front of the two men watching me. Holy, sweet, mother of gods. I am not going to be an unbalanced fool in front of this guy, pull it together. I straighten up and pull my shoulders back. I slide my hands down my body to make sure my little black dress is still in place, and I push my breasts together making sure everything is rightly situated. Out of the corner of my eye, it is just a flicker, but I see Ronin lick his lips, or maybe I was hoping he had.

“Would you care for a glass of wine before we leave?” Ronin twists his lips into a half smile as he offers me a glass of wine.

“Thank you,” I reply trying to sound confident. I politely raise my arm to take the wine glass and as I cup the glass, my fingers touch Ronin. Bursts of heat emanate from the slight exchange sending the whole room swirling around like I’m on a Tilt-A-Whirl. The floor feels like it’s about to give out from underneath me. All the while, the electricity humming through my veins causes every inch of my body to tingle. It feels like I swallowed a soft ball and it’s sliding down my throat—closing off my airway—making it extremely hard to breathe. A heated sensation begins to build deep between my legs. Instinctively, I clench my muscles tight, pressing my thighs together from the unexpected reaction. I take a large pull from the glass to try to calm my overactive sensual urges, but it only slightly distracts me.

Ronin is no longer in his three-piece grey suit. He has changed into a faded pair of loose blue jeans and a green button down shirt with the sleeves rolled slightly. The shirt makes his green eyes stand out even more, and his nicely tanned—trim forearms gives me a glimpse of his body build hiding under his clothing. His feet are covered with black loafer shoes completing his relaxed, yet utterly sexy ensemble. I have to force myself to pull my eyes away from the meat candy standing so intimately close to me as I look at Seth. He too has on a pair of jeans with a button down shirt—his is blue.

“I feel kind of over dressed now since you both are wearing jeans,” I announce, looking over their comfortable clothing. Ronin starts coughing hard on his wine, and I’m afraid he might cough up a lung.

“No sis you look great!”

“If I my say …” Ronin begins speaking after he clears his throat. “You look absolutely ravishing.” Ronin watches me too intently and I have to turn my flushing face.

Oh, my inner goddess, control yourself. He gave you an exquisite compliment. That’s it, but how is that possible? There’s no way that this beautiful man could be possibly interested in this plain, Montana girl. This man radiates of hotness and power and must have women eating out of his hands, and Treva you do not eat out of men’s hands. Just cool your jets.

“Not to rush your wine, but we do have reservations.”

“Oh, of course.” I drink my wine a little too fast and put the wine glass in the kitchen sink. “I should grab a jacket.” I tell them and then I turn from the men and go to fetch one from my things. As I turn to go into the bedroom, I glance back down the hallway and watch as Ronin reaches down to adjust himself. A grin slips across my face.

The three of us leave the apartment and wait in the corridor for the elevator. It arrives promptly and we all step into the little box. My nerves are in hyper mode from being so close to Ronin; I try to relax and calm myself down. I take a deep breath in, but instantly regret it when the scent Ronin is wearing looms throughout the air causing me to become dizzy. He smells intoxicatingly delicious; a mix between spicy, woodsy, soap and one hundred percent male. I could become drunk off his unadulterated primal scent. I know he’s watching me and I look down trying to keep my eyes from meeting his. I fidget with my fingers feeling his searing eyes watching me.

The elevator doors open and I quickly step off, free for the moment. If Seth is going to keep insisting on hanging out with Ronin, I’m really going to have to learn how to breathe around him. Just a reminder to myself, breathe Treva, breathe.

The front door man see’s us as we exit the elevator; quickly he opens the main door, “Good evening Mr. Stone.”

“Good evening Oscar.” Seth replies politely.

He holds the door open for us, and he gapes a little too long in my direction making me feel a little uneasy. I brush it off as soon as we are out in the open air. The smell of the city and the ocean mixes in a strange unison way. I definitely think I could get used to this.

A black limo is waiting just outside near the curb. I notice the huge eccentric car and watch as a man reaches out and opens the rear door as we approach. “This is for us?” I ask, and look at Seth quizzically.

The man holding the door nods, “Mr. Hollister, Mr. Stone.”

“Please, ladies first,” Ronin says to me as he directs me to the car. “Malcolm this is Miss Stone.” Ronin is introducing the man to me and I have to keep my mouth from falling wide open.

“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Stone.”

“Yes, thank you. You too,” I nod.

I have never been in a limo before. A giant grin pulls up my lips and I feel like a teenage girl getting introduced to a pop star. I bend forward to climb into the car, very aware of my short dress, and acutely aware of Ronin standing right behind me. It isn’t like me to flaunt myself at men, but I am so attracted to Ronin that I decide to tease him a bit. I’m also highly curious. After watching him readjust himself, I wonder if I’m the only one feeling this overwhelming sexual sensation. I test the waters; as I bend forward I allow the hem of my dress to ride up my thigh just stopping at the curve of my ass where it cups under. I can feel the cool breeze on my bare skin and it prickles at me. I know that the length of my little black dress is just right to show off without being too ostentatious. My inner goddess is questioning all my motives and I can hear her screaming at me to behave. However, in that split second of arguing with myself, I feel a light brush against my thigh. I stiffen and the hurdles my stomach starts jumping, makes me forget all of the questioning I might have had. I can’t believe it; he is actually reaching out and touching me as I flaunt my ass so provocatively in front of him. An overwhelming feeling of triumph rushes over me, and I pat myself on the back for my boldness. I beam as I continue to slide onto the seat of the limo.

I slide across the soft leather and enjoy the feel of it as it rubs on my exposed skin. The smell of the material has a hint of the leather and a strong hint of Ronin. The aroma is so delectable that my lust induced haze causes me to become extremely wet. I inhale his masculine woodsy smell.

Ronin slides in right next to me, and I see aggravation written all over his face. I wonder why he has become so grumpy suddenly. I wish I knew what he was thinking. I don’t want to look too obvious, but my eyes watch him intensely, he is so beautiful. The weight on the bench shifts and in a swift movement, I see him nonchalantly adjust the bulge that is forming in his pants. My pulse increases … feeling victorious. He wants me right here, right now. I can feel it. Too bad Seth is sliding in with us.

“Where’s the good stuff?” Seth pipes up.

“Lift that cover right there on the left. There should be ice and a few bottles of bourbon, scotch, whiskey …”

“… Oh yeah, here we go.” He pours glasses for everyone— interrupting Ronin before he could finish what he was saying. “Lift your glasses. Here’s to my baby sister.”

We all clink our glasses and take large swigs.

Ronin is sitting so very close and I can feel every hair extended out like I’m about to be struck by lightening. My entire body is responding to his closeness. His arm is draped over the back of our seat and his leg is brushing up against mine with just the slightest touch. He doesn’t need to sit so close since Seth is sitting directly across from us. Yet, if he was to move further away I’d probably be devastated.

I see his dark purposeful eyes when I look up at him. I feel so lost, like he’s hypnotizing me right here on the spot. He lets his hand that is cascading over the seat fall onto my shoulder. My insides flit with summersaults when he braises his thumb across the exposed skin on my neck. This truly can’t be happening. I see Seth drinking from his glass, and he seems to be completely oblivious to Ronin and I. Ronin follows my eyes and smirks when he sees Seth.

“I want you Miss Stone.” His lips are so close to my ear that as he whispers, the soft wind of his breath tickles my skin seductively.

My breath hitches and when I inhale, the smell of Ronin overpowers all of my senses. I nervously look at Seth, hoping that he isn’t aware of what’s happening right in front of him.

I boldly un-twine my fingers from my lap, and I let my hand ease over his leg. I feel him shutter when I touch him and I beam. His leg muscles are so taut. I can feel every muscle striation in his quads under my fingertips. It’s so sexy. My head is buzzing like a swarm of bees, and my stomach flutters with butterflies along with every other part of my body. The sudden urge to skip dinner and head right for dessert skims my mind.

“I have to say Miss Stone.”

Oh my sweet heavens his voice is so enthralling.

When I woke this morning and went to work, just like almost every other normal day, I hadn’t expected to see a gorgeous woman tease me at the airport and then see the same beautiful woman walk into my elevator disrupting my whole day.”

I disrupted his whole day? “How did I disrupt your day? And umm … why were you at the airport if you were heading to work?” I ask confused.

“Hmm … well for your first question: this stunning woman wearing a pink T-shirt and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist, a ponytail slightly missed-strewed, no make up and a totally care free spirit, and not to forget bold, just magically appeared. My car ride to work, well, let’s just say it was hard.”

The innuendo burning into every single one of my crevices, my lips go dry and I have to lick them with my tongue.

“MMM, delicious. Would you mind if I did that?”

His request makes me squirm. “And the second question?” I say barely getting it past my lips.

“I had an important meeting in L.A. earlier so I was just getting back.”

The conversation feels so intense, but maybe that’s just because he intimidates me so much. Now I see Seth watching us with a grim line on his lips. “So … how do you two know each other?” I distractingly ask as I slowly move my hand away from Ronin’s lap so that Seth doesn’t notice. I’m not quite sure what Seth would think of me and his friend shacking up. I chance a glance at those enticing beautiful green eyes and then quickly have to look away.

Ronin takes a swig of his scotch and winks at me, “Well I found this fool lost wandering around in the building one evening.”

“I WASN’T LOST. I was SNOOPING.” Seth arrogantly shoots out. “How about I tell the story? The right story.” He laughs.

“It was about a week after I started and I decided I needed to know what was on the top floor. So after work one night, instead of going down, I pushed up on the elevator button. When I got off the elevator it was fairly dark in the massive sitting area and I thought it was all clear. No one seemed to be around, so I crept down the posh hallway to peek through some offices. It just happened that it wasn’t quiet.”

“Yeah, you opened the wrong door,” Ronin cut in. “I heard someone in the hall knowing everyone was supposed to be gone, I stood off to the side of my door in a shadow, and when this idiot opened my door, I took a step forward and without hesitation, he got introduced to my fist—right in his face.”

I gasp. “What? You were poking around in other people’s offices? Seth, I’m appalled. You could have been fired.”

Seth looks at me sheepishly embarrassed. “Yeah and this dude can punch. I fell flat on my ass and looked at him and without a beat I said, ‘hey you’re not Anita.’ I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to cover my ass. Ronin here appreciated me trying to sneak to meet up with a woman so he helped me back to my feet and we’ve been friends ever since. Eventually though, I did tell him what I was really doing.”

“Wow Seth, I can’t believe you would risk so much over your curiosity.” I’m still shocked as I reprimand him. “Wait, so that whole stunt helped you guys become friends?”

Seth just nods as he kicks back the rest of his drink.

“But Ronin, you don’t know what a trouble maker my brother is. You might get caught up into some of his shenanigans.”

“HAH! You see Ronin; this little girl is little Miss Goody-two shoes. She’s the one who mommy and daddy always thought would be the perfect one. Treva never wanted to disappoint anyone, hence med-school, and whatever else she thought that was expected of her …”

“That worked real well now didn’t it?” I snap. I know my voice is edgy, but I hate talking about our childhood and our family. I already live with the constant reminder of the monster who took two years of my life away; when I finally escaped his torment, he drove a wedge so thick between my family and me that I felt like I stepped onto the set of a horror movie. Instinctively, I disengage from the conversation and peer out my window, mesmerized by the flickering Christmas lights. It feels almost magical as they wink at me—too bad I don’t buy into all of that make believe stuff.

“… Or maybe she just never got caught.” Seth adds, pulling me out of my daze.

I know he’s trying to lighten the mood knowing exactly what he just said to aggravate me, and I am the one who started the whole teasing thing in the first place. In a more joking mood, I speak up, “Nah, it was you big brother always pulling me over on to the dark side, getting me into all sorts of predicaments.” I say the last word in a little higher octave as Ronin pushes his leg a little tighter next to mine.

“Oh, but Treva we had such a good time getting into trouble together.” We both laugh; and if the hottest guy in the world wasn’t sitting right next to me, I would be as content as ever being with Seth.

I make a few mental notes and compare the two gorgeous men in the car; Seth is laid back and completely relaxed, and Ronin sits taller and tighter with a great deal more staid to him. I don’t know Ronin at all, but I sense power behind him; I’m pretty sure he is a man who people listen to, and get out of the way for when he is moving forward.

“Doctor Stone.” Ronin says with his voice vibrating through my highly sensitive body.

“Yep, my baby sis is going to be a doctor someday.” Seth proudly boasts sitting a little taller as he says it.

The car comes to a stop and it reminds me that we’ve been riding. A rush of relief comes over me. I’m glad the ride is over, well maybe not the ride, but I don’t necessarily like talking about myself, or my goals of wanting to be a doctor.

The door fly’s open, and in moments we are all standing on the sidewalk. This time Ronin exited the vehicle first. I wasn’t so eager to flash my skin like I did when we entered the lavish car the first time.

“Is that where we are going?” The long line curving around the block to the restaurant is ridiculous. “Wow, this place must be popular. We won’t be able to eat until next week.” I groan under my breath.

Ronin chuckles at my comment and then places his hand very gently on my lower back; he sends shivers up my spine; having his warm hand touching me in such a sensitive zone. With the twisted grin he gives me, I’m most positive he can feel the strong electrical current shooting between us, but without hesitation, he directs me forward to the door— bypassing the long line.

I knew it! He is a man of power and authority.

The man at the door reaches down and opens up a white gate that blocks the hordes of people and ushers the three of us in. “Mr. Hollister.” He acknowledges.

When the three of us are in the door, a hostess is immediately showing us to a table. She winds around the restaurant with us following, and takes us to a more secluded part of the restaurant. The décor is vibrant Mediterranean colors in shades of blues and yellows. There’s an eclectic modern look intermixed with old time Italy. It’s a classy restaurant and its obvious not from just the deco, but from all of the exceptionally well dressed patrons.

When we get to our table, Ronin—like a gentleman—holds the chair for me. I feel my cheeks heat up and gladly accept the gesture as I sit down. Ronin takes the seat right next to me while Seth chooses the one opposite from us. Our hostess stares wide eyed and longingly at Ronin, before she turns away hesitantly; I think that I’m the only one that notices her. It makes me feel better knowing that I am not the only one Ronin seems to bring to her knees. A waiter is already at our table, it takes me aback a little at how fast we get service.

“It’s nice to see you sir, what may I get you started with this evening?”

“Bring us a bottle of one of the signature Cabernet Sauvignons.”

“Yes sir.”

All of this is overwhelming. I have never had a chance to attend many up-scale restaurants—and never one like this. The man I am sitting next to, the man whom I know nothing about, is obviously someone of importance, otherwise we surely wouldn’t be attended to so well.

The waiter is back and pours wine for Ronin, in a stunning long stemmed glass, waiting for his approval. Ronin swirls it around, smells the aroma, and takes a sip. I watch him carefully … bewildered by the whole scene. He is so mesmerizing. Watching him close his eyes and swish the wine around in his mouth assessing its’ quality is so sexy. He opens his eyes nods his head in approval and the waiter fills Ronin’s glass and then continues to ours.

I am definitely not a wine connoisseur. Most of my friends in Helena pretty much just stick with beer, or sometime we buy a case of cheap wine.

I take a sip, “MMM”, I find myself mumbling. “This is really smooth.”

Ronin flashes his dashing smile with his perfect lips, and his bright white teeth. His smile makes me blush. How does he always manage to catch me at such an awkward moment?

“I’ll be right back.” Seth says, as he gets up and leaves.

“Are you seeing anyone?” Ronin says nonchalantly like this conversation is between two longtime friends.

“Why?” I furrow my brows confused at the abrupt question.

“I want to know if anyone’s standing in my way to fuck you, Treva.”

Swallowing my wine hard, I’m fixated on his blazing eyes.

“You haven’t answered my question, Treva.”

“And what if … I don’t want to fuck you, Ronin?”

Ronin’s smug look tells me he knows just what an open book I am. “Now, now … we both know differently, Miss Stone, so why don’t you tell me what I want to know. Are. You. Seeing. Anyone?” He enunciates every word carefully, so that there is no mistake in what he is asking.

I shake my head no slowly. “No I’m not with anyone at the moment, Ronin.” I say as calmly as I can.

“Good.” Is all that he says, as Seth slides back into his chair.

If I wasn’t going stir crazy before, I certainly am now. It’s almost impossible to relax with Mr. Hottie sitting right next to me, especially now that I am fully aware that he wants to take me to bed with him. I glare at Seth envious of his ability to stay so cool and calm, while I’m a bottled up hurricane. Ronin’s masculine scent wafts through the air and it’s the only thing I can smell at the moment. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the heat coming from his body is fanning out and circling me like a heavy fog closing in. The air is so thick it’s hard to breathe. I look between Seth and Ronin, both of them peering down at their menus. Crap I haven’t even looked at mine. I’m not sure if I can even eat while my stomach twirls around with twitterpation.

“Mr. Hollister.” A deep voice calls out. We both look up and a bright flash momentarily blinds me. I blink my eyes and realize whoever it was just took our picture.

“What the hell!” Ronin grumbles loudly. He stands so abruptly, it causes our table to wobble—making our glasses tumble, sending wine splashing across the white table cloth, soaking everything in its path. I jump from my seat as fast as I can, trying to avoid the waterfall of liquid heading for my lap. “I’m having dinner here.” His stern voice, edgy and full of malice sends shivers down my spine. I peek at the dark-handsome-stranger and realize I have absolutely no clue as to who he is. The vein in his forehead throbs violently. If the table wasn’t between them, I’m fairly certain that Ronin would be going for the guy’s throat.

Everything seems to happen so fast, as more commotion breaks out on the other side of the room. Two large men charge toward our table and grab the man with the camera by his arms. They roughly spin him around and escort him out. Who knows from where, but another short squat man rushes over to Ronin, “I am so sorry sir. I don’t know how he got in.”

“Maybe I need to hire a more competent manager.” Ronin’s harsh venomous words come pouring out so aggressively; I can barely believe that they are coming from the same man’s mouth that I had enjoyed teasing in the limo on the way here.

I glance at Seth trying to get a feel for what’s going on, but he just gives me a little shrug like this is an everyday occurrence.

The short squat man keeps up his insistent apologies, but Ronin plainly ignores him and sits back down— scooting his chair in nonchalantly like nothing had happened. Me on the other hand, I can’t seem to shake off the tense interaction; I look around, so embarrassed and very conscious of all the commotion at our table. Very quickly, waiters and waitresses clean things up.

Dinner goes by in a blur, and I eat my penne without much conviction. I hadn’t really paid much attention before, but after the incident, I am a lot more aware now of how everyone is gawking at us. Every time Ronin shifts or slides a mussel into his mouth people just watch. It’s a wee bit creepy how he has captivated everyone’s attention. And here I sit, not really knowing who our dinner companion is. However, I do have a clear mental note of how every woman in the restaurant has her eyes glued to Ronin.

Thank god we are out of that restaurant. The three of us are back in the limo on our way to some club the boys said they wanted to introduce me to. I’m almost worried to see what else might happen before the evening is over. “Don’t worry sis, you’re going to love this. It is … let’s just say, a much different night life from the non-existent one in Helena.” Seth winks at me and looks at Ronin. “So Ronin, What are your plans for the holidays?” Seth easily changes the subject and asks, as he pours himself a drink from the chic alcohol bar in the car.

“I’ll be with my brother, his wife and my two nephews.” A smile so deep, warm, and truly sincere brightens up his whole face when he mentions the two children.

I catch him in his private moment reminiscing about the kids; for some reason it amuses me watching his heart glow with warmth; I almost feel like I’ve invaded his personal space—his smile tells me that there is a whole lot more to him than he lets on or what I can see.

“How about you two?” He returns the question quickly.

“I thought I was going to have a quiet lonely Christmas, but since I was so blessed with my angel sister’s presence, I guess Christmas will be much better now.” Seth warmly says. “I guess I’ll have to go buy her a gift now though.” Despite the fact that the car is dark, it is still light enough for me to see Seth cast a wink my way.

“That goes both ways big brother. I guess I’ll have to pull something out of my ass for you too. First, we need to get that Scrooged apartment of yours up to par for the festivities.”

Our conversation seems so light and superficial to me, not that I’m not enjoying the company, but I can’t get Ronin’s behavior at the restaurant out of my mind. Who is this guy that my brother has made friends with? Suddenly, I want to know as much about him as I can find out—hopefully sooner than later—since his euphoric sin pouring from his body has me entranced like a powerful drug.

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