He places the tip of his finger on my shoulder, his touch sending an inferno racing through me, and slowly, lightly, he drags his finger up the column of my neck until it rests at the sensitive pressure point under my ear.
My heart goes into overdrive.
‘Boom…boom…boom,’ he breathes. ‘I can feel it, Ava.’
I go rigid, pushing myself further into the wall. ‘Please, leave.’ I barely get the words out.
‘Put your hand over my heart.’ he whispers, grabbing my hand and placing it on his chest. He needn’t have done that. I can see his heart going ten to the dozen under his shirt. I didn’t need to feel it.
‘What’s your point?’ I ask quietly. I know exactly what his point is. He’s just as affected by me as I am by him.
‘You are one stubborn woman. Let me ask you the same question.’
‘What do you mean?’ I ask quietly, still not looking at him.
‘I mean, why are you trying to stop the inevitable? What’s your point, Ava?’ Wrapping his fingers around my neck, he tilts my face up so I meet his eyes.
I’m immediately consumed by them. His lips are parted and moist, his minty breath invading my nose, his blazing eyes staring down at me. His long lashes are fanning his cheek bones as he leans down so his lips brush my ear. I release a quiet gasp.
‘There it is,’ he murmurs as he trails feathery light kisses down the side of my throat. ‘You feel it.’
I do. I’m incapable of stopping this. Any rational thinking has been besieged. I’m completely immobilised. My brain has shut down and my body is taking over. As his mouth works its way across my jaw, I reside myself to the fact that I’m lost – to him, I am lost. But then I hear the sound of a mobile phone ringing. It’s not mine, but the interruption is enough to snap me out of the trance he sends me into. Oh God, it’s probably Sarah.
I raise my hands to his firm chest and shove him away. ‘Stop, please!’
He pulls away, yanking his phone from his pocket. ‘Fuck!’ He rejects the call and looks at me. ‘You still haven’t said it.’
I’m staggered at my inability to utter some very simple words. ‘I’m not interested.’ I whisper. I sound desperate, and I know it. ‘You have to stop this. Whatever you think you felt, what you think I felt, you’re mistaken.’ I don’t mention Sarah because that would be admitting that I can feel something, that she’s the only reason I’m stopping this. It’s not, of course. There’s the obvious age gap, the fact that he has heartbreaker written all over him, and the even more important part…he’s a cheater.
He laughs a proper amused laugh. ‘Think? Ava, don’t you dare try and pass this off as a figment of my imagination. Did I imagine that? Just then, was that my imagination? Give me some credit.’
‘You give me some f**king credit!’
‘Mouth!’ he shouts.
‘I told you to leave.’ I say calmly.
‘And I told you, look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t want me.’ He stares at me expectantly, like he knows I can’t say it.
‘I don’t want you.’ I murmur, looking straight into his green pools. It actually causes me physical pain. I’m shocked.
He inhales sharply, looking wounded. ‘I don’t believe you.’ he says softly, flicking his eyes to my twiddling fingers.
I remove them instantly. ‘You should.’ I define the words clearly, and it takes every bit of strength I have.
We stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, but I’m the first to look away. I can think of nothing more to say, and I silently implore him to leave before I take the dangerous path I know he’ll be. He runs his hands through his hair in frustration, curses and stalks out. When the front door slams behind him, I allow air to rush into my lungs as I sag against the wall.
That was, irrefutably, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, which is crazy, because by reason, it should have been the easiest. I can’t even begin to understand the whys and wherefores of it. His wounded expression when I conformed to his demands to deny that I wanted him had nearly crippled me. I wanted to scream, “I felt it too!” but where would that have got me? I know exactly where – against the wall with Jesse buried deep inside me. And while the thought of that makes me shiver with pleasure, it would be a gargantuan mistake. I feel riddled with guilt already at my deplorable behavior. The man is a cheating arse. An Adonis to boot, but a cheating arse, nonetheless. Everything about this man screams trouble. And he’s still got my f**king keys.
I shudder and head for a shower, content that I’ve done the right thing. I’ve put Jesse Ward in his place and saved myself another boat load of guilt. I shall ignore the painful ache in my gut because acknowledging it would be as good as admitting out loud, to myself and Jesse, that…yes, I felt it too.
I’m wide awake and my alarm hasn’t even gone off yet. On a long, drawn out sigh, I drag myself out of bed and head for the bathroom to take a shower. I’ve got a busy day at Lusso ahead of me so I may as well get started. I’ve not slept for shit, and I’m completely ignoring the reason why.
I’m going to be on my feet all day, traipsing around the complex ensuring everything is just right, so I chuck on some baggy ripped jeans – I can’t bear to throw them away – a white burnt out t-shirt and my flip flops. I scrape my hair into a loose, messy up-do and pray it behaves later when I pin it up for the evening. I doubt I’ll have time to come home and shower, so I get my mini suitcase and load it with everything I’ll need to shower at Lusso later. I retrieve a suit bag and put my knee length, cherry red pencil dress in, smoothing it neatly and quietly hoping it doesn’t crease. Lastly, I grab black suede heels, my black onyx studs and check my work case is loaded with everything I’ll need at Lusso. It’s going to be a ball ache lugging it all on the tube, but I have little other option with my car still being kept captive by a certain hot headed, arrogant male. Kate might well be taking Margo to Yorkshire.