But the thought of him watching while she reached up beneath her skirt to pull down her tights...the thought of his eyes following as they skirted over her thighs, down to her knees, to land at her ankles...made her knickers damp.
Tension filled her. She didn’t know what to do with her hands. They flexed and pinched together at her sides.
She turned to the bed and eyed the pattern on the bedspread. Gold. And there were gold sheets. She’d take any bet that they were actual gold—some blend, some mixture, that had softened the precious metal to his will.
She turned. ‘You haven’t said where it will happen. Only that it will be your bed.’ Her voice pitched. ‘How many beds do you have?’ She arched a brow. ‘Do you mean to show me all of them before we get to the one?’
‘Many beds belong to me...in many countries. I mean to show you one bed. My bed. In Taliedaa.’
‘I don’t understand—’ she started, because she didn’t understand his hesitation, or her own. ‘Why bring me in here, only to wait? Don’t you want to do it in between gold sheets?’
Akeem screwed his face into a mask of displeasure. ‘Do it?’
‘A bed is a bed. I don’t understand this needof yours to wait and prolong this—especially if you don’t want us to be seen.’
The click of him closing the door reverberated in the room.
‘Sometimes the waiting is more pleasurable than the doing, Charlotte.’ His eyes were trained on her, and he moved in, inch by inch, towards her. ‘I have waited nine years for this moment and I will not rush. I will devour you with my mouth.’ He stopped in front of her and her heart pounded. ‘With my fingers,’ he continued. ‘My body will be on you. In you. I will savour you,’ he promised, his voice silk. ‘But only when you demand it, and not before.’
Her lungs refused to drag in air, because she knew the scent of him on her tongue, sweeping into her airways, would be fatal. She would be lost—not only to his words, but to him. Consumed by the delicious fact that he would wait.
Until she was ready.
The man who had abandoned her was willing to wait for her now. Just not when it had mattered...
She shut the thought down, because she wasn’t here to confront the past, or the emotions pumping in her chest, because they scared her. They had a similarity to how he’d used to make her feel. Precious. Wanted. Loved. But she was here to claim her pleasure. To claim life. Not his love.
‘Then I’m demanding it. I want it,’ she said, and moved towards him, lacing her arms around his neck. ‘You.’
He gently gripped the back of her neck, and the shock of his firm fingers sent little jolts of electricity through her to the depths of her stomach. ‘Do you want my kisses, qalbi?’
She nodded, and taut, hard muscle answered her. He placed his mouth at the base of her throat, flicking his tongue in the hollow he found there.
She moaned. A tantalising pressure was building in her abdomen, and it made her press her thighs together. ‘A little higher. Please...’
He moved his mouth up along the tight muscles, his teeth nibbling, his tongue caressing. His mouth closed around the flesh below her ear before he whispered, ‘Always so polite, Charlotte.’
She pushed out of his embrace and he staggered, releasing her. Was she that predictable? A people-pleaser even in bed? Unexpected tears filled her eyes.
But she would not cry.
Why would she cry?
He reached for her, but she sidestepped him.
‘I will not kick you out of bed for saying “please”, qalbi.’
‘What if I don’t want to say it?’ She bit at her lip to stem the sting in her eyes. ‘What if I don’t want to be polite?’
‘You have a sudden aversion to manners?’
‘I have a sudden aversion to being—’ she inhaled deeply and released her breath slowly, through parted lips ‘—predictable.’
All her life she’d done what was necessary to make others happy. To make her dad happy. Her dad had known the minute Akeem hadn’t shown up nine years ago that she would stay with him. Look after him and forget everything else. Because she was predictable.
She closed her eyes, blocking out the gaze observing her with quiet intensity. Wasn’t tonight all about her? But how could it be when she didn’t know how to put herself first?
‘I’m not ready,’she whispered.
Because it turned out she wasn’t. Nine years he’d lived in her head. His mouth. His fingers. His touch. And now he was within reach—she was touching him. Her Akeem. Her friend. Her boyfriend. Her onetime lover.
She closed her eyes, swallowing down the sudden lump in her throat.
He wasn’t her Akeem any more. He was the ex who’d broken her heart, and now he wanted to smooth over the cracks with something he called closure.
But closure didn’t come from someone else, did it? Closure you had to find on your own. Or so some magazine article she’d read had said. It held true in her mind, because being in his arms—his bed—sounded nothing like closure. But his touch... To be touched... To find pleasure on a day when there shouldn’t be pleasure...
‘Then I shall wait until you are.’
His voice pulled her eyes open—pulled her back into the room and into his eyes.
He was giving her control.
‘And when you are...’ He moved the pad of his thumb along her cheek with a tenderness that defied the strength he radiated.
‘And when I am...?’ she said huskily, her insides trembling. Because she was being given the reins of something powerful—this hidden energy between them that was making her insides pull in every direction.
‘It will be your choice, qalbi. You will lead the way and I will bring you so much pleasure.’
He rasped his promise from between open lips and she wanted to press her mouth to his. But she was afraid to lean in and capture his promise. To taste it. To take the lead.
‘Rest, qalbi.’ He released her. ‘And then return to me.’