Hearts of Blue Special Treat: Lee POV Scene

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Well, you all voted and of course you went for the dirty option. I didn’t expect anything less 😉 Here’s a little Christmas present come early for the Lee Cross fans out there. I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into the mind of our hero 😀

***

Lee

“You all right, bruv?” Trev asked.

I stared down at the screen of my phone, a dangerous temptation begging to be taken. “Just pondering the concept of forbidden fruit.”

My brother screwed up his face. “You’re what?”

I shook my head and slid the phone back into my pocket. “Nothing. You up for a few drinks tonight?”

He smiled widely and gestured to the door. “Lead the way.”

About twenty minutes later I was parking in a rare free spot down a narrow side street. It was just around the corner from the club where I knew Karla was having a night out with her friends. I shouldn’t have been there. Fuck knew I had a million other things I could be doing, but I had a feeling about tonight, a feeling I couldn’t seem to shake. Something was gonna happen. It was as true as the tightening in my gut and the electricity pulsing at my fingertips.

Besides, if she didn’t want me here then she never should have mentioned where she was in her text. She might as well have dangled a piece of bloody meat in front of a Rottweiler, and no way could I ignore the opportunity. It was new for me to have a woman get under my skin so easily. All I could think about was breaking past the professional front she always put up and getting her to beg me for it.

As I lit a smoke, Trev rounded the car and came to stand next to me. He cocked an eyebrow at my choice of location.

“You in the mood for some mosh pit shenanigans?” he asked, curiosity marking him.

“If I tell you something, can you keep it to yourself for once?” I said and exhaled, smoke drifting into the cold night air around me.

“No,” he replied simply.

I shook my head. “Yeah, didn’t think so.”

Throwing my half-finished smoke to the ground, I squashed it under the toe of my boot and without a word nodded for Trev to follow me to the entrance. I knew the bloke on the door, Jimmy Foley, used to play pool at our local before he got his Mrs up the duff and she put an end to his casual boozing.

We shook hands and I walked through, Trev at my side as some heavy guitar rift blasted me in the ears. Barely legal goth kids hung off every nook and cranny. Christ, I must’ve really liked this woman to suffer through this bullshit for her. Trev shot a flirtatious wink at a little blonde who sauntered by. My brother had the ability to adapt to any situation. I, on the other hand, stood out in this place like a sore thumb. I hadn’t spotted Karla yet, but I imagined she must have stood out, too, with all that red hair and tough sophistication.

I hadn’t seen her in a long while. The only contact we’d had was through texts and it was, let’s say, an enjoyable sort of torment. I loved talking to her, but I hated not being able to see her. Closing my eyes for a second, I summoned a memory of her bright hair, how sexy her blue eyes were when they flashed at me in annoyance or challenge, how I loved it when she fought back, how I was going to enjoy making her give me everything.

Pushing through the crowds, I entered the main area of the club, heading for the bar. Scanning the space, I didn’t see her at first, but then there was a flash of scarlet in my peripheral vision. I quickly honed in on the object of my obsession and inhaled. She looked sort of…fascinating.

Her black dress moulded itself to every toned curve of her body, her hips swaying from side to side in a mesmerising rhythm as she danced. Something stirred inside me as I soaked her in. I wasn’t quite hard, but I wasn’t quite not-hard, either.

“So….” Trev began slyly. “The old bill are putting out quite the lookers these days.”

“Shut up,” I grunted. Trust him to clock the situation faster than a toupee in a hurricane.

He chuckled and turned to order shots from the barman. “Seriously though, what’s going on there? I thought I was the one who liked to live dangerously.”

“She’s…got my attention.”

He made a cynical noise in the back of his throat. I glanced at him sideways. “You’ve never had that? Never had a bird show up in your life and then be all you can think about?”

Trev snickered. “You need to shag her. Seriously, get it out of your system.”

“And what if that doesn’t work?”

“Then we’d better start preparing for a ‘cops and robbers’ themed wedding,” he joked and I narrowed my gaze. Pulling out my phone, I couldn’t resist sending Karla a text.

Lee: You’re a good dancer.

I saw her pause for a second and glance down at her phone. Her brows drew together in consternation as she read the message and before I knew it my phone was lighting up with a response.

Karla: Where are you?

I could just imagine her panic, her sense of awareness as she wondered where I was and realised I’d been watching her. She put her phone away and continued dancing, a stubborn nervousness to her posture. That’s my girl. Always so tough, never letting me get the upper hand. Until I touched her, that was. Then she was just…perfect. I hadn’t had my hands on her nearly enough and I wanted to slip inside that warm body, feel the connection that constantly simmered between us finally boil over.

Trev offered me a shot and I knocked it back, then felt her eyes on me. My little copper had found me already, even in the overcrowded club. She was still on the dance floor, her gaze hot and needy, yet resentful and angry at the same time. Man, what a pair we made. If there were ever two people who had everything going against them but still couldn’t help seeking each other out, it was us. My phone buzzed in my pocket.

Karla: I hope you didn’t come here for me.

That sounded a lot like a challenge, and it made me grin.

Lee: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Even from across the club, her scowl was clear, but then her friend tugged her away, shouting something in her ear over the music. A minute later they started dancing again, and I knew Karla was doing her best to ignore me. Oh yeah, that was definitely a challenge. I might not have been quick to approach her, but I was biding my time. I was going to make her mine, and no matter how much she tried to deny this thing between us, she was going to want it.

Scoping the place out, I began to wonder if there was somewhere private where I could fuck her before bringing her back to mine for the night. I’d done sex in public a few times when I was younger, but somehow with Karla I knew it would be different; mind-blowing, intense – everything.

The perfect opportunity presented itself when the thundery weather we’d been experiencing kicked in and the electricity in the club suddenly cut out. People started shouting in excitement but I ignored them, too focused on my goal, and that goal was getting my sexy little redhead somewhere no one else could see.

Within seconds I was on the move, seeking her out where she stood on the dancefloor. It was pitch black in the club, but people were using their phones as lights and Karla’s hair was bright like a homing beacon.

Before she could make a move I was behind her, inhaling her scent as I slid my hands around her petite waist. I pulled her close and she sank into my body, like she recognised me from my touch alone. It was that instantaneous reaction that really got me going, because she did it before her brain had the chance to fire off any warnings. It showed that deep down she wanted me as desperately as I wanted her. No longer was I not quite hard. Having her this close was drugging, and my dick sprung eagerly to life.

“Snap,” I whispered, allowing my breath to wash over the sensitive skin at her ear and I felt her tremble. I didn’t expect her to give in. Maybe she’d push me away, tell me to leave her alone, but she didn’t, and breath caught in my lungs at her actions. Turning in my hold, she slid her arms up around my neck, her breasts brushing blatantly at my chest, making my dick twitch. This felt good. It felt right. I loved how she fit so perfectly against me.

Standing still, I let her take the lead, as she pushed up on her tip toes and caught my lower lip in her mouth. Groaning, I allowed her to sweep her tongue out to taste me. My hands began roaming her body, travelling up her spine and sinking into her lush, silky hair as I growled and claimed her mouth with an animalistic need.

Oh baby, you have no idea the shit you just instigated.

I sank my tongue inside, licking at her like I couldn’t get enough. I pulled her waist close so that there was no mistaking what she was doing to me. I wanted her to feel how hard I was, to know this was all for her. It was a feat in itself not to take her right there on the dancefloor.

“Come with me,” I said with effort.

Her eyes were unfocused, her gaze cloudy with lust and for once she didn’t fight me. She let me lead her away from the main part of the club and out the back. It didn’t take long for me to find an old office room that would give us some privacy. I opened the door, pulled her in and closed it shut before pouncing. I backed her into the wall, pressing my body into hers and pushing my cock firmly against her stomach. She squirmed with need and gasped at the contact. I loved the little sounds she made, loved how she shivered when I touched her.

“I want you,” I growled. It was one of the truest things I’d ever said.

She sucked in a breath, like the statement had surprised her, and there was something innocent in it that made my lungs go tight. She was older than me, worked in a job that meant she had to see some awful shit on a daily basis, and yet she still had an innocence. I was a little bit obsessed with that.

Her dress was short enough that I could easily push it up around her hips. Still, I couldn’t seem to get close enough, so I took hold of her hips and picked her up. Following my lead, she wrapped her thighs around my waist, and fuck, being able to press myself so tightly into her soft heat felt incredible. I kissed her chin, sucked at her jaw, licked a line up her neck.

In that moment I was all instinct, unable to prevent the growl in my voice. “You smell amazing,” I said, my hands flexing on her thighs, noticing the strength in them. “And fuck, you’re fit.”

“Touch me,” she whimpered and I caved, grinding my erection feverishly into her pussy, needing it bare. We kissed and her hands travelled down my stomach, her soft, silky fingers finding my belt and trying desperately to pull it free.

“What do you want, beautiful?” I asked, giving her all the power, willing her to do whatever the hell she wanted if only I could see her eyes fall closed in pleasure, hear her scream my name when I made her come.

I’d been too distracted by her mouth, and every swear word under the sun filled my head when she suddenly had my jeans undone and her hand was slipping inside, cupping my dick. I needed a second to just feel this.

I didn’t know if it was because of the shit that’d rain down on us if anyone ever found out what we were doing, that it was so bloody forbidden, but I’d never wanted a woman more than I wanted her. I’d never felt so crazed with need for another human being before. Everything was so hazy with sex it could have been a dream.

She jerked me slowly, her voice husky, “I want this.”

Christ.

“You’re killing me,” I grunted, and before she could react I carried her across the room, settling her down on the flat surface of a table. I’d waited long enough. I had to have her now.

My hand disappeared beneath her dress, sliding up her satiny thigh before pushing past the barrier of her underwear. God, she was so fucking soft, soft and warm and maddeningly wet. I wanted to put my mouth over her pulsing heat and drink her in. She was tight when I slid my fingers inside her pussy, and the sound she made when I fucked her with my hand almost had me coming. Her head was on my shoulder then, and I felt a momentary sharp hint of pain before realising she’d bitten me.

“That’s it, baby, hurt me if you need to,” I cajoled. Shit, I’d let her cut me open if it meant I could keep feeling this. Her hand still gripped my dick and I took her mouth again, kissing her until I was about ready to combust. Her pleading little whimpers were like a gift.

“God, I missed you,” I told her in awe. “I missed your voice.”

Her eyes opened then and I saw something in them, something like fear and surprise rolled into one.

“Please,” she mewled and I knew what she wanted. She wanted me inside as much as I wanted to be there. She didn’t know it, but I’d give her anything she asked for.

Rolling her lacy thong down her legs, I couldn’t resist bending to get a little taste. Pressing my mouth to the heated skin of her thighs, I whispered my lips just shy of her pussy. Her clit was swollen and she was so wet she glistened. Her body shook as I teased her and my lips curved in a grin. I wanted to bring her to the cusp of desire, show her how good it could be between us if she just let this happen.

Rising to my full height, I brought my mouth to her ear and licked into it, knowing she’d feel it right at the base of her spine.

“Do you want it hard, Constable?” I asked in a low, carnal voice. “Or slow?”

She didn’t answer my question, just begged me, “Please.”

I had to admit, seeing her surrender everything over to me was deeply satisfying. Still, I wasn’t letting her off the hook just yet. “Tell me,” I growled and bit lightly at her earlobe. She trembled and lifted her gaze, her eyes searching mine. I saw the answer in her expression, and a low, gratified chuckle rumbled up from my chest. “Okay, Snap,” I told her seductively. “I’ll give it to you hard.”

Like there was any other choice. I’d give her slow and soft later, when I brought her home and spread her out on my bed. Right now was all about giving in to what we’d been denying ourselves for months and months.

Pulling a condom from my back pocket, I made quick work of rolling it down my length. Her little sighs filled my ears as I brought myself to her, teasing gently at her opening, unable to resist making her want me so much it made her crazy. I wanted to own her completely, and I wanted her to know it.

“You belong to me. Say it,” I ordered and was rewarded with a needy whimper.

“Just shut up and fuck me,” she pleaded.

Christ, that was sexy coming from her. I couldn’t say no, and in one fluid thrust I buried myself inside her to the hilt.

“Say it,” I urged, half losing my mind at how good she felt.

“I can’t.”

“You can.” I withdrew and pounded into her once, hard, before stilling again. Holding back was a torture in itself but I needed this, needed her to say the words.

“I belong to you,” she finally whispered and my chest puffed out like I’d just won the prize of a lifetime. And then, I gave her what we both wanted, no, needed. I’d never fucked a woman so ravenously, like I wanted to sink my entire body into hers and never leave. I was being loud, groaning as her pussy gripped me, but I didn’t care. We were far away from the revellers in the club. Nobody would hear us back here. Her head rested on my shoulder, like she was so lost to me she could barely hold herself up anymore. By contrast her hands gripped my upper arms, holding me to her like I might vanish at any second.

When I pounded her even harder, her pussy clenched me so tight I felt it in my gut.

“Fuck. You really like me, don’t you?” I said, breathless.

She got shy then, burying her face in the crook of my neck. I liked that, liked the contrast to the person she showed everyone else. I was the only one who got to see this side of her, all messy and submissive. I wanted her blues though, needed to see them as I filled her.

Grabbing her chin, I lifted it just as the power came back on and the lights in the room flickered. Bruised lips, wild hair, and startlingly bright eyes stared back at me and I was gone. I might have been the one fucking her, but in that moment she owned me.

I cupped her cheeks, thrust my cock deep inside her and felt her tremble as she came.

“Jesus.” I closed my eyes, just feeling her. I was nearly there, everything inside of me building until I emptied into her and she watched like it was the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen. Bringing my mouth to her neck, I kissed her lazily, dragging my tongue over her hot, sweat dampened skin. Her chest glistened with it and I couldn’t take my eyes off her cleavage. Man, that dress cupped her tits to perfection. How had I not had my mouth on them while I fucked her?

“God, your tits are perfect, and I haven’t even had a chance to taste them yet,” I groaned and bent to lick the top of one breast, then the other.

“We can’t stay here,” she said, growing self-conscious. I was having none of that.

“The fuck we can’t,” I growled. She moaned as I pulled her tits free and took her tightly beaded nipple into my mouth. She must have seen the uncompromising heat in my expression as I stared up at her darkly, because I heard her breath catch in her throat.

From somewhere in the room, a phone began to vibrate. “Ignore it,” I warned.

“I can’t. My friend Reya will be wondering where I am.”

“Karla,” I told her, rising so that there was no mistaking I meant what I said. “I’ve wanted you for months, haven’t been with a single person since the day I met you. No way are we done here.”

“You…what?” she practically yelped.

“You fucking heard me. Now, come here,” I murmured, softening my tone and pulling her close. She levelled her hands at my shoulders and pushed off the table, frantically tugging her dress back into place. I knew she was wondering what had happened to her thong, because she turned and eyed my pocket where I’d stashed it earlier. I grinned. She scowled.

“Give me that.”

“Come and get it.”

The fight went out of her for a second and she looked a little lost. “You can’t just say stuff like that and expect me not to freak out.”

“Stuff like what?” I asked, frowning as I approached her. I’d only been honest.

“That you haven’t been with anyone since you met me. What does that even mean?”

“It means you left an impression.”

“That’s…that’s ridiculous.”

“Is it? Have you been with anyone?” I challenged, a crazed feeling stirring in my gut – jealousy.

“That’s different. I haven’t been in a relationship, and I don’t do one-night stands,” she answered, pouting and folding her arms. I was immediately pleased by her admission.

“Well, that’s good to hear, because I plan on making this a regular thing.”

She shook her head defiantly. “That’s not going to happen, not unless you also plan on changing your entire way of life, because I won’t conduct a relationship with a criminal.”

For a second, I was stuck for words. And for another second I admired her balls, confronting me and getting right to the crux of things. But I wasn’t ready to discuss the topic, not tonight. Tonight I just wanted to be with her.

“Ouch, hit me where it hurts, why don’t ya?” I teased to try and diffuse the tension. She didn’t like that.

“This is all just a big joke to you, isn’t it? Just a bloody game to occupy your time,” she cried and my teasing deflated. No way was I letting her believe that. No fucking way. I’d nip the idea right in the bud right here, right now.

“No one’s playing games,” I told her, my tone deadly serious. “I like you a whole hell of a lot, Karla. I’ve told you that already, so stop trying to convince yourself otherwise.”

I kept moving forward then, until my body met hers and her back was flush with the wall. Reaching up, I cupped her cheeks gently and levelled my eyes on hers. I needed her to hear me, really listen to the truth in my words and believe them.

“Give me a chance,” I breathed, “and I’ll prove to you that everything you think you see is blurred by perception.”

Then I dropped my mouth to hers. It didn’t take long for her to open up and return the kiss. Maybe she would give me a chance.

I just hoped one was all I needed.

 

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Hearts of Blue is now LIVE!!!

by

 

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Dearest readers!

Hearts of Blue, the fourth book in the ‘Hearts’ series is now live on all online platforms. Set in London, this book tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Karla and Lee, a police constable and a car thief.

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Read what the reviewers are saying!

“From its compelling characters, to the competent prose that holds us rapt cover to cover, this is a book I could not put down.” – Natasha is a Book Junkie.

“Devoured it in one sitting. Sexy, witty, and fresh. Their love was not meant to be, their love should never work, but Lee and Karla can’t deny what burns so deep and strong in their hearts. Confidently a TRSoR recommendation and fave!” – The Rock Stars of Romance.

“WOW!!! It’s hard to find words right now, I don’t think the word LOVE even makes justice of can even describe how much I adored this novel. Karla handcuffed my senses and Lee stole my heart.” – Dee, Wrapped Up In Reading.

“Hearts of Blue captivated me from the beginning. It was thrilling, fast paced and very original.” – Patrycja, Smokin’ Hot Book Blog.

“The Hearts series is one of my favourite contemporary romance series out there and Hearts of Blue is a fan-frickin-tastic addition. I’ve just finished the book and all I can think about is Lee Cross.” New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Samantha Young.

“We were once more caught up in the engaging and atmospheric beauty of her world and her characters. L.H. Cosway sure writes addictive stories!” – Jenny & Gitte, Totally Booked.

N.B. For those who purchase from retailers other than Amazon, the book will soon be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, and therefore will be unavailable elsewhere for a period of three months. I wanted to give everybody a chance to buy the book, which is why it has been made temporarily available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes & Smashwords.

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King of Hearts Deleted Scene + Giveaway!!

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To celebrate reaching 4,000 likes on Facebook I’m posting this deleted King of Hearts chapter!

Little bit of background: When I began writing the book, I wasn’t sure whether to start the story where the characters had never met before, or where they’d known each other a couple of years. In the end I wrote both and asked a few of my beta readers which they preferred. The vote was unanimous and they all preferred the chapter where King and Alexis had never met before. Today I’m posting the other chapter, so if you’re curious to know how their story might have played out in an alternate universe, wonder no more!

I’m also giving away a signed copy of King of Hearts, a CD copy of The Hooker & the Hermit audiobook, plus a selection of swag over on my Facebook page to one lucky winner. So head on over and enter HERE to be in with a chance 😀

***

One

Heathrow Airport, London, 2009.

I was worried about my boss.

Normally Oliver King was the epitome of reliable: always on time, freakishly organised, a master of his own universe in every way, but in recent months his behaviour had gone downhill and I had no clue what was going on.

This morning I was running on pure stress and very little sleep. He had disappeared off the face of the earth and I was very close to having my first heart attack at twenty-seven years of age. Yes, there had always been upsides to being his assistant; I loved to banter and joke around with him, I also loved to tease him about being posh and vain, and of course there was the money. But still, that wasn’t enough of a saving grace to make me forgive him for very recently becoming as unpredictable as a tornado.

I was one of two executive assistants who catered to the needs of the Mr King, who at the ripe young age of thirty-three was the managing director of Johnson-Pearse Bank. You’ve heard of the Wolf of Wall Street, yes? Well, Mr. King was the Crocodile of Canary Wharf, just add the blonde hair of a movie star, a face to match, subtract the dodgy dealings and you’ve got it in one. Since he was pretty to look at, most people thought I was in quite the enviable position.

I didn’t see it that way. In my opinion, I was in an enviable position because I was working for one of the greatest minds the world of finance had seen in decades. Yes, in the beginning I was a little in awe of his looks, but our relationship had evolved into something that was half professional, half friendship with a side of eccentricity. (Sometimes I called him Ollie, sometimes he called me Lexie, and sometimes I liked to eat my lunch in the swanky bathroom at the back of his office.) What? The place was fancier than my entire flat put together. Anyway, Oliver found it amusing…I think.

I was sitting in the first class lounge at Heathrow airport, waiting for the good boss man to show up. I’d been preparing for his trip to New York to meet with clients for the last week, and he had the sheer gall to be late for the flight. We were supposed to be boarding in less than ten minutes and there was still no sign of him.

I watched as airplanes took off out on the runway and tapped my fingers into my phone, calling him for the umpteenth time this morning. Still, I got no answer, just his annoyingly refined accent informing me that he was unavailable at present.

Deciding that it wasn’t my fault if he was late, I gave up trying to get in touch with him and instead browsed through my personal emails. My stomach did a little flip flop when I saw a new message from my friend, Bradley. He was a fashion photographer and we met through a mutual acquaintance at a party several months ago.

Over a glass of wine, he told me I had just the right measurements for plus sized modelling, and asked me if I’d be interested in auditioning for a shoot. After many years of not thinking very much about my looks, other than being aware of the fact I had an ample backside and some serious boobage going on, I went for it. In the end I landed a gig modelling dresses and some classy lingerie for a fancy plus sized fashion catalogue.

I’d been waiting with baited breath for weeks for the final shots to come in, and now they were here. Quickly downloading the zipped folder, I began to scroll through the pictures, my tummy fizzing and popping with excitement. I looked hot as shit. Yeah, I gave myself the compliment because it wasn’t like anyone else was going to give it to me. Luckily, the team for the shoot had done my hair and make-up to perfection, and in each picture I was posing in just the right way as to make my curves seem appealing.

“What are you looking at?” A whispered voice came in my ear, startling me. His breath hit my skin and I didn’t even have to look his way to know he was grinning like the Cheshire cat. I would have to be looking at a shot of me lounging on a velvet sofa in a matching bra and knicker set when my boss just so happened to come up behind me. Before I could respond he’d swiped the phone out of my hand, fingers zipping over the buttons.

“Give that back!” I hissed, grabbing for it but he held it out of my reach. A second later he handed it back to me and I looked down to see he’d just forwarded the pictures to his own email. The little shit.

“What the hell did you just do!? Those were private,” I said to him. I was talking at a normal volume, while at the same time my voice held all the characteristics of shouting.

“I’m sorry,” said Oliver casually. “You know I’m technologically challenged when I’m hung over. Did I hit a wrong button?”

“You know exactly what you did. Those pictures were private. And you smell like a brewery. Where the hell have you been?”

He raised one eyebrow and folded his arms as he took the seat across from me. “Speak to me like that again and you’ll find a P45 on your desk when we get back from this trip.”

I swallowed and became a touch nervous at him threatening to fire me. Oliver was something of a wild card. Sometimes you could get away with talking to him casually, rudely even, and then other times he’d tear you a new one if you so much as looked at him the wrong way. It was such a fun environment in which to work – said nobody, ever.

“S-sorry,” I muttered in apology, hating myself for supplicating. In essence, he’d just stolen private pictures from me. I could sue the bastard. But when you’ve been working in a bubble with someone for three years, certain boundaries begin to blur and you start to accept things you never would otherwise.

Before he could reply, a pretty air hostess approached and ti us that our flight was ready to board. Oliver only had a slim briefcase as hand luggage. Of course, I’d been tasked with checking his suitcase, which he’d been so kind as to have left off at my flat last night by his driver. He picked up the briefcase and gestured for me to lead the way. I stepped ahead of him and self-consciously ran my hands down my beige pencil skirt, wondering simultaneously if he was looking at my arse and whether or not I had a visible panty line. It was fucked up that these were the things I was wondering. It was also unlikely that he was looking, but still, I thought I heard him clear his throat from behind me.

When we got onto the plane, I waited for Oliver to go by me so that he could sit at the window. He always insisted on the window seat. I didn’t mind, because being able to see all of that sky and emptiness between me and solid ground often made me nauseous.

I hadn’t wanted to go on this trip. Mainly because I was a nervous flyer. Unfortunately, he’d insisted I be the one to accompany him. His other assistant, Gillian, would have been a far better candidate. She worshiped at the man’s feet and was all, yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir, while I was all no sir, I beg to differ sir, kiss my arse sir.

I was far better suited to working alone and putting my genius organisational skills to good use on a computer. You know, all solitary-like. But no, it seemed Mr King was somewhere in between a sadist and a masochist, because he relished making both me and him suffer. Though often I wondered if he possessed the actual ability to suffer. I always imagined him coming out of the womb wearing a Hugo Boss suit and asking the midwife where he might procure a scotch on the rocks.

He was on his phone right then, a sly grin shaping his lips. I knew he was looking at the pictures. There was nothing else in this world that gave him quite that smug expression like knowing he was getting one over on me.

“Did you pay for these to be taken yourself?” he asked me in amusement as he perused them. My heart was going ninety. My boss was looking at what could be termed racy pictures of me. This was not a universe I wanted to inhabit.

I scrunched up my face. “What?”

“Some of my American friends do this sort of thing, for Valentine’s day and such. They pay for a photographer to take sexy pictures of them to give to their significant other as a gift.”

I stared at him in disbelief. “People actually do that?”

“They do.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t. My girlfriend isn’t into that sort of thing.”

It was a running lie I had going with him that I was a lesbian. I was unsure if he believed me, but since I had such an excellent poker face there was a good chance that he did. It all came around about the time I started working for him. We were at the office late putting the finishing touches to a big project, and he’d made some vaguely flirtatious comment about us getting a hotel room after. I shot off a snappy comeback about only being into vaginas and it put a decisive end to the conversation.

Ever since then I’d been carrying on with the lie. It made things simpler, because Oliver was a red-blooded male and I was a female who was occasionally weak to the advances of pretty men. Taking the possibility of sex out of the equation meant I didn’t have to worry about screwing up the best paying job I’d ever had.

“Oh yes, your girlfriend,” Oliver smiled blandly. “What was her name again?”

“Samantha. She’s got tits out to here and an arse that won’t quit,” I said, gesturing a pair of gigantic knockers. “And man, does she know her way around a clitoris.”

He was frowning now. “Shut up, Alexis.”

I laughed and then sighed. “Relax, I’m messing with you. Just call me Bruce Willis, because I’ve been doing a spot of moonlighting. The pictures were for a fashion catalogue. Plus size, if you must know. Don’t laugh.”

He let out a low chuckle before schooling his features back to neutral. I knew he hated it when I made him laugh. He didn’t want to admit that I was a funny fucker, because that would constitute giving me a compliment, and God forbid he do that.

“Modelling, you say? Should I be worried you’re going to leave me in order to fulfil your true calling?”

“Ha! This coming from the man who was threatening me with the dreaded P45 a couple minutes ago. Admit it, you’d be lost without me.”

I fluttered my eyelashes at him and tilted my head coyly. When he looked at me, his icy blue eyes seemed to soften. “You’re a little flirt, Alexis Clark,” he murmured and brought his hand up to caress my cheek.

My gaze widened in shock and my entire body went utterly still. Not in our entire three years working together had he ever done anything like this. We were friendly. We teased one another, bantered. But we were never affectionate. What Oliver had just done was both tiny and monumental.

I drew away from him. “You’re hung over.”

Rubbing his jaw, he sat back and let out a long breath. “Yes, I am.”

“I have a bag of travel toiletries in my carry-on if you’d like to pay a quick trip to the bathroom before take off. Did you even get home last night?”

Now he was rubbing at his eyes. “This is the same suit I was wearing yesterday, isn’t it?” he said as if that explained it all. “And yes, I could do with a little freshening up.”

Without another word I withdrew the plastic Ziploc bag containing various toiletries and handed it to him. Getting up, he made his way to the bathroom and I let out the breath I’d been holding. Well, that was a weird encounter. Perhaps he was off his game given the lack of sleep.

I settled back into my seat and pulled out the flight menu, because I liked to peruse what was in store for me. You know, weigh my options ahead of time. I was a foodie through and through and derived great pleasure out of all variety of cuisines. My big ambition was to one day fly first class on the Emirates airline. Have you seen the meals they serve on those flights? To die for. Oliver always flew first class, of course, but the airline we were using today was no Emirates. I thought the cheese plate looked interesting…

“Ah, I feel like a whole new man,” said Oliver, planting himself back in the seat beside mine and wafting his fresh minty breath my way.

“Boundaries, Mr King, boundaries,” I said, all pinched and professional, because I knew it got on his nerves when I took that sort of tone with him.

“Oh well, you’ll forgive me for my lapse in professionalism, since we’ve already had tits, arses and clitori mentioned this morning.”

I let out an unexpected burst of laughter. “Clitori?”

He smirked. “Sounds better than clitorises, doesn’t it?”

I raised an eyebrow and teased. “Pretentious, more like. You can take the boy out of Cambridge, but you can’t take Cambridge out of the boy.”

Oliver had an oh so snazzy degree in Finance and Accounting from The London School of Economics, and a masters in Finance from Cambridge. People were forever blowing smoke up his arse for being so fancily educated, so I liked to think I balanced the score by taking the piss and keeping his ego in check. He gave me a playful scowl and shook his head, picking up the flight magazine and flicking through the pages.

We fell into silence then and a few minutes after take-off Oliver was asleep, curtesy of the flight pillow the air hostess had been only too happy to provide for him. I found myself spending a few moments studying his features. God, he really was a handsome bastard. He was probably prettier than me and I was supposed to be the girl. I had slightly exotic features, dark eyes and hair thanks to my Greek mother, but my looks paled in comparison to his.

Finally closing my eyes, I decided to catch a few Zs myself, since last night had been ridden with stress and sleeplessness.