“Feeling patriotic?” I managed, eyebrow arched as I watched her fuss over it all. Humming again, she put a big decorative pillow there, a small one here, then switched everything back up where they’d started.
“It is almost July Fourth,” she exclaimed. “That’s America’s birthday.”
The woman was certifiable. But again, I felt the slight start of a smile, just when I had every right to be pissed off about her ridiculous assault on my penthouse. It would all have to go, clearly, right back into those bags they came in and returned to the knick-knack brick-a-brack flea market where they belonged. But not right this second.
“Oh, I love this one!” she exclaimed, pulling yet another pillow out of the bag. It had a big, red heart on it. She tucked it against the arm of a matching large black leather chair. Surveying her work, she giggled.
“You having fun?” I asked dryly.
“Declan, even you have to admit, your apartment is so bleak.”
“Bleak?” I looked around. This penthouse apartment? Chicks loved it, high up looking over the world, everything in it high-end, luxury. Hell, I loved it. What was wrong with it?
“Bleak, you know, lacking color. Seeming cold and empty.”
“I know what the word means, Kara.” Now a lecture on vocabulary, this girl was going to put me over the edge. Up to this point, all I’d heard in my apartment from members of the fairer sex had been oohs and aahs, first while admiring their surroundings, then while enjoying themselves in my bed.
“There’s nothing homey about this place.” Kara giggled again, sneaking back over to her bags. One thing remained. She lifted it up, now bursting out in a gale of laughter. “Until now!”
She held one last pillow in her hands, her crowning achievement. Tassels, that was the first thing I noticed, lots and lots of red tassels all around the edges. The bulk of the pillow looked like it was made out of velvet, a background in pink, a large smiling bear in brown, and a big, fat heart in red, of course. The bear held the heart in his paws, as if offering it up in exchange for a big hug.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I asked.
She burst out again in what could only be called a gleeful cackle. “I thought it would be perfect in your favorite chair!”
Oh no, she wouldn’t dare.
But dare she did, walking her sassy little self on over to my favorite leather chair, the only one in my apartment I had to admit that really felt comfortable for sitting. My decorator hadn’t liked it, said something ridiculous like it was more country manor than city slick, but I’d insisted anyway. It had a few cracks in it, a warm chestnut brown leather.
And now it had a pillow on it with a bear offering up his heart.
“That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” I took a step closer, almost admiring the handiwork. It took some doing so make something that bad.
“I know, isn’t it?” she laughed. “It’s so over-the-top.”
“Do you think someone handmade it?”
“Definitely.” She nodded. “Someone took a long time stitching up that smile.” She poked me in the chest, turning the full force of her 100-watt smile on me. “And now you’ve got him in your favorite chair.”
“How do you know that’s my favorite chair?”
“How could it not be?” She gestured at the other two pieces of furniture in my living room. Gleaming with hard leather, they imposed rather than welcomed, seeming to dare onlookers to try to sit on them. I guessed she had a point. She hugged her hands to her shoulders and rocked back onto her heels, glowing with satisfaction over her accomplishments.
“You’re enjoying yourself, aren’t you?” I asked.
“I am.” She laughed. “I’ve messed up your whole apartment with flowers and pillows. You’re just lucky I didn’t get you any potpourri. Or scented candles.”
I took a step toward her. She took a step back, a teasing gleam in her eye.
“Hardly looks like your place anymore,” she continued. “No more Mr. Cool.”
“Mr. Cool?” I took another step toward her. She took another step back, laughing.
“That’s your thing, right? Mr. Cool. Mr. Control. So dark and mysterious.”
She was teasing me? Nobody teased me.
“So, I’m dark, am I?” I had her cornered now against the wall. I placed a hand up above her shoulder and leaned over her, not touching her but commanding the space she inhabited.
“Yeah, you know.” She cleared her throat, clearly growing a little nervous. Unsettled.
“Mysterious?” I whispered, bending down, closer, toward her neck. She smelled incredible, not something you could buy in a bottle, musky and sweet and I wanted more of it. I wanted to scent her like an animal and bury myself in her. But still I didn’t touch her. I liked the feel of her starting to quiver underneath me.
“Do you like that? Not knowing what I’ll do next?” I leaned in to her ear, flicked my tongue just once against her lobe and then sucked it full into my
mouth, capturing it between my teeth. She shivered against me.
I released her. Now with both large hands up close above her shoulders, I looked down into her eyes. Their crystal blue was starting to turn smoky.
“I am dark,” I continued in a low voice. “And I do like control.” Her eyelids fluttered closed for a moment. I watched her swallow in anticipation, her breath starting to come faster.
“I think you’ve had your fun for today, Kara. It’s time for you to get to work.”
“What?” Her eyelids flew open, startled.
“You heard me.” My voice grew stern. “You need to get to work. Go into the bathroom and strip naked.” I commanded her as if issuing a punishment. “Put your hair up.”
Her eyes wide, she looked up at me in surprise, unsure.
“I’m going to leave something for you on the bed. Put it on and come to my office.”
I turned away and strode toward the kitchen. I heard nothing for a moment, then the satisfying sound of her heading into the bedroom and the bathroom beyond. I picked up the black shopping bag I had with me earlier and looked in to make my selection. Now it was my time to play.
After laying out my selections for her on my bed, I closed the door behind me and went to fix myself a drink. I wanted to give her time alone to hesitate. I wanted her to feel nervous, and then to choose to dress up for me. I wanted her to see herself in my full-length mirror, how slutty she looked, how hot. Maybe she’d turn and stick her ass out, admiring how she filled it out and how much she revealed. Maybe she’d reach a naughty finger down to touch herself, already wet, while she watched.
Fuck, I was hard already. I poured myself a drink, quick, devoid of any rituals I might typically enjoy with decanters and twists of lime. I took a sip, welcoming the burning sensation in my throat. It took a lot of willpower to stay on the other side of that door. But I was good at that. Especially when I knew that taking my time, delaying gratification, would stoke the fires, making them burn brighter. Problem was, I already felt like a raging inferno. Instead of quenching my thirst, spending time with Kara just seemed to fan the flames.