Luka is calm, strong, my solid foundation as he pulls me into his arms. His hand strokes my head, and I swear I feel his strong pulse against my chest.
I soak his shirt from my tears. I don't want to cry, to grieve, to break down. Especially not while at work, but at least I made it to the lobby and not on the floor with our patients.
My chest hurts, and I don't understand why. Mark hurt me. Broke me. He betrayed my trust by pretending to be someone he wasn't, holding Bay and me against our will in the apartment.
But I was going to start a life with him, and we shared a home. Those feelings don't just vanish into thin air, even if I wish it all away.
Luka drives us back in my car to the mansion that I now call home. It's strange, living under another man's roof. It's not my home, not yet. Maybe with time, it'll feel like that when I've adjusted to the world around me.
But for the moment, I feel numb.
Luka escorts me into the house. I don't remember the drive home other than sitting in the front seat. The world around me has become a blur.
"Are you hungry? Did you eat dinner at work?" Luka asks. He brushes a stray lock of hair behind my ear, his attention entirely on me.
Another gentleman approaches Luka. "Can I have a word with you?"
"I'm busy at the moment, Nikita. Can it wait?"
"Find me when you have a spare moment," Nikita says and strides across the hall before heading into an office.
"What was that about?" I ask. "You work at this hour?"
"I work at every hour," Luka says and warmly smiles. His thumb strokes my jaw, and I think he might kiss me for a moment.
"If you're not hungry, how about I tuck you into bed?" he asks.
"Bay is asleep," I remind him and offer him a reassuring smile that I can take care of myself. "I don't want to wake her."
His hands wrap around my waist, pulling me against him. "You could share a bed with me."
"That's probably not a great idea," I say. While the thought is tempting, I shouldn't fall into his bed to get over Mark.
He doesn't loosen his hold around my hips. His hands are firm as they lock together against my lower back. Luka's touch is relaxing but not in the fall asleep kind of way. "We don't have to sleep together," he says, staring into my gaze. "I'm told that I give great massages."
I breathe in a sharp breath, and I swear he can probably hear my heart thumping against my chest.
"Or if you're exhausted, we can just sleep," he says.
Yeah, like last night was just friends hanging out having drinks. That almost resulted in the two of us naked. Not that I regret it, but we should take things a little slower.
"As tempting as an offer, Bay will wake up and wonder where I am in the morning."
He smiles and loosens his hold. Luka isn't the least bit upset, but he's honest. "You have an excuse for everything, don't you?"
"Well, we are living together. Shouldn't we try to make this work? As co-parents." I'm trying to be a good mother for Bay, putting my daughter's needs above my desires.
"Is that what you want?" Luka asks. He walks me backward, pinning me against the wall in the hallway, trapping me.
The heat of his proximity causes my breathing to deepen.
His eyes have darkened, his mouth parts, and he leans in, his voice whispers as he grazes my ear. "We can remain professional. But I want to hear it from your lips. That what we had meant nothing and will never happen again."
"I never said it meant nothing." My head rests against the wall, and I tilt upward to glance into his fiery gaze. My lips part and I'm already raspy. The hallway is stifling, and his intense stare only heats me further. "I'm still attracted to you, Luka. That hasn't changed." I don't hide my desires or my feelings toward him. There's no reason to pretend when he can see it right in front of him.
"Why not give us a try?" he asks.
"Mark just died. Are we seriously having this conversation now?"
"All I asked was about tucking you into bed," Luka says. He doesn't so much as glance away. He rests one hand against the wall and the other on my hip.
His touch is my undoing.
Thick, rough hands stroke my hip, the pads of his fingers caress my bare skin at the hem of my shirt. My breathing is raspy, and my eyelids grow heavy.
"That's it," he whispers, pleased with my response. "Just relax."
I dip my head back, and his lips latch onto my neck, gently sucking and nibbling the skin. His fingers tease the waistband of my pants, skimming against my stomach, making my insides flutter and sending a warm pulsing sensation shooting through me.
"This isn't tucking me into bed," I rasp. I'm mouthy, and I want him to silence me by giving me what Mark couldn't. No doubt, Luka knows he's riled me up inside and is proud of his accomplishments.
The corners of his lips quirk upwards. "I suppose it's not." Luka leans closer, his lips teasing me, taunting me to kiss him. But he doesn't close the gap between us. "Do you want me to stop? Because say the word, and I'll send you upstairs to bed."
"I want you to take me up to your bed and have your way with me," I say.
Luka growls as he nips at my bottom lip, tugging it between his teeth. "I want that too, Zaya."
I whimper, and Luka thrusts his knee between my thighs, putting the perfect pressure on my center. My eyes shut, and I'm doing everything I can not to grind my hips into his knee.
But he seems to have other ideas. His knee pushes upwards until I can no longer stifle a moan. He releases a little pressure and makes the motion again and again.
Anyone could see us. One of his buddies had been in the hallway a few minutes ago. Where did he go?
"Luka," I purr, my fingernails scraping over his back, clawing at him. He's going to drive me mad with lust.
He keeps me pinned to the wall, his knee thrusting against my core, making me hot and my insides throb.
He leans forward, his lips brushing against my ear. He whispers, "You're going to come for me, Zaya."