This Man

Page 24

Bang, bang, bang!

I storm down the stairs in confident and determined strides, opening the door in a huff. I’m doomed. I keep underestimating – or forgetting – the affect this man has on me. I’m trembling already.

His hands are braced on the door frame as he looks up at me through hooded lids, panting and looking really quite pissed. His blonde hair is all disheveled, he has his stubble back and his pale pink shirt is undone at the collar, tucked into grey trousers. He looks delicious.

He punches holes into me with his sludgy eyes. ‘Why did you stop it?’ His breathing is laboured.

‘What?’ I ask impatiently. He’s here to ask me that? Isn’t it obvious?

He grits his teeth. ‘Why did you run out on me?’

‘Because it was a mistake,’ I grate, through equally gritted teeth. My irritation at his audacity is overpowering the other more unwelcome affect he’s having on me.

‘It wasn’t a mistake, and you know it,’ he grinds. ‘The only mistake was me letting you go.’

What? Oh, I can’t do this. I go to push the door shut, but his hand slams against the other side to stop it.

‘Oh, no you don’t.’ He pushes against me, easily overpowering me, and steps into the hallway, slamming the door behind him. ‘You’re not running this time. You’ve done it to me twice already, not again. You’re going to face the music.’

With bare feet, I’m almost a foot shorter than him. I feel small and weak as he towers over me, still breathing hard. I back away, but he walks forward, keeping the distance between us minimal. My plan to maintain space is failing fast, and he smells divine in all his minty, fresh water magnificence.

‘You need to leave. Kate will be home in a minute.’

He stops his approach, scowling at me. ‘Stop lying,’ he snaps, slapping my hand away from my hair. ‘Quit the bullshit, Ava.’

I have no idea what to say to him. Defence isn’t working – maybe disinterest. He’s incredibly thick skinned and obviously use to getting what he wants.

I turn away to walk back up the stairs. ‘Why are you here?’ I ask, but before I make it very far, he’s behind me and grabbing at my wrist. I’m spun around to face him, the contact putting me on instant red alert. I know I’m on dangerous ground here. Just being near this man turns me into a reckless, irrational fool. This is plain kamikaze territory. Why did I let him in?

‘You know why.’ he spits.

‘Do I?’ I ask incredulously. I do, actually. Well, I think I do. He wants to pick up where we left off. He wants mission accomplished.

‘Yes, you do.’ he says simply.

I yank my wrist from his grip, backing up until my butt hits the wall behind me. ‘Because you want to hear how loud I’ll scream?’


‘You are, undeniably, the most arrogant arsehole I’ve ever met. I’m not interested in becoming a sexual conquest.’

‘Conquest?’ he snorts, turning away and commencing pointless pacing. ‘What f**king planet are you on, woman?’

I stand there in utter shock. How dare he come here and start shouting the odds at me. I feel my unease disappear and my earlier irritation convert into boiling rage. The urgent need to defend myself, to put him straight, has my jaw clenched to aching point. His opinion of me is very low if he thinks I’ll just jump into bed with any man I meet. But then, I don’t have to answer to him. The fact that he has a girlfriend is immaterial at this point. He thinks he can just take what he wants or throw a wobbly if he meets some resistance.

‘Get out!’

He stops pacing and looks at me. ‘No!’ he yells, recommencing his marching.

I start thinking of how to get him out of the house. I’m never going to be able to manhandle him and touching him would be a massive mistake. ‘I’m not f**king interested! Now, get out.’ My shaky voice lets down my cool front, but I stand firm.

‘Watch your f**king mouth!’

Oh, the cheek. ‘Get out!’

‘Okay,’ he says simply, quitting the marching to hammer me with his stare. ‘Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t want to see me again, and I’ll go. You’ll never have to lay eyes on me again.’

Okay, that should be relatively easy, but to my utter shock, the thought of not seeing him again actually sends a nasty ache to my stomach, which is, of course, completely ridiculous. He’s a virtual stranger to me, but God does he spark a reaction in me. He makes me feel... I’m not sure exactly what it is. But even now, when I’m raging at his damn nerve, I’m fighting to control the unwanted reactions he sparks in me.

When I say nothing, he starts advancing towards me, his long, even strides having him directly in front of me in just a few paces. There’s barely an inch between us.

‘Say it.’ he breathes.

I can’t get my mouth to function. I’m aware of my shallow breathing, pounding heart and a dull throb in my groin. I’m alert to similar reactions emanating from him. I can see his heart hammering under his pale pink shirt. I can feel his heavy, minty breath on my face. I can’t vouch for the throb, but I suspect it’s there. The sexual tension ricocheting between our close bodies is tangible.

‘You can’t, can you?’ he whispers.

I can’t! I’m trying. I’m trying really hard, but the bloody words won’t come out. The proximity of our bodies and him breathing on me is re-establishing all of those incredible feelings. I’ve been catapulted back to our previous encounter, except this time there’s no risk of being interrupted by unfriendly girlfriends. Nothing to stop me, apart from my conscience, but that’s drowning in desire right now, so it’s of no help to me, whatsoever.

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