Authors: Karen Erickson
She imagined Matteo’s hands on her. Touching her, searching her skin. His hands were large, his fingers long, and she saw him in her mind. Sitting beside the tub, fully clothed, his sleeves rolled up to reveal delicious muscular forearms covered in dark hair. He would slip his hand into the water, touch her everywhere, where she needed him most, his fingers moving between her legs with assured grace that filled her with such pleasure, she knew she could come in seconds.
A moan escaped her when she found creamy heat between her legs. She was painfully aroused. It had been a long time since she’d found any sort of satisfaction, even with her own fingers. She’d been too worried after losing her job, too busy once she started working in the Renaldi household.
But now…now that she was luxuriating in a large tub on a Friday night, a little self-satisfaction might go a long way. Especially when her mind was filled with such lusty thoughts of a particular man with dark eyes and one very fine body…
He was fucking exhausted. And irritated. Oh yes, and horny. Not that he’d done anything about that last problem, though he’d had plenty of opportunity.
After work, Matteo had attended an industry dinner party. The room was full of beautiful women, fashion editors, models and the like, all of them perfectly turned out and gorgeous, smelling good and talkative in an interesting, not clingy manner. Touchy-feely in that way a man enjoyed, they would place the occasional hand on his forearm or polished fingers would streak along his shoulder. Sultry glances beneath thick lashes, perfectly glossed lips, their cleavage on suggestive display. He could’ve had his choice and propositioned a handful of them. He should’ve taken one to a nearby hotel and fucked her senseless.
When was the last time he fucked a woman senseless? Near the end of Lucia’s life, there hadn’t been much fucking involved. And once he’d ended his mourning period and sought the company of women, the sex had been brief, satisfying, but never quite…enough.
Not a one of those women this evening had interested him. Hadn’t filled him with such uncontrollable lust he was afraid he might lose control and tear their clothes off. Kiss them savagely, whisper in their ear every wicked thing he intended to do to her until she was a shaky, trembling mass of need.
No, the only one who fueled his imagination into overdrive was the one woman he had no business lusting after.
Tugging violently on his tie and loosening it from his neck, Matteo strode into his bedroom, flicking on the overhead light with a rough slap of his fingers against the wall. The room was instantly illuminated, not an item out of place, but he knew instinctively something was disturbed—something more than him.
He stood in the middle of the room, his head tilted, his gaze sharp. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, though he swore he could smell her.
Fuck. He could always smell her. Her delectable scent permeated the entire penthouse, which irritated him to no end. He couldn’t shake her.
How he desperately wanted to shake Paige.
A sound came from his bathroom—the unmistakable whirl of the bathtub jets. Glancing at the closed door, he saw the thin strip of light shining beneath it, heard a splash of water. Someone was in his bathroom, using his bathtub?
What the hell?
Carefully, quietly, he cracked open the door. The breath stalled in his lungs, his eyes went wide when he saw her. Reclining in the tub like a goddess, her glorious deep red hair piled on top of her head, spiraling perfect curls tumbling over the tub’s edge. Her eyes were closed, her body appeared buoyant, as if it floated to the top of the surface.
Bubbles covered her. Mostly. Rosy pink nipples peeked through the white suds, the sight of them making his mouth water. A little moan escaped her, and his gaze shot to her face. Saw that her eyes were still closed, her cheeks flushed, and that little wrinkle between her eyes, the one that appeared when she was concentrating or worried, was there. As if she were intensely focused.
She bit her lip, her body quivered, set the bubbles quivering as well and he knew without a doubt she was touching herself. Masturbating. And she appeared awfully close to orgasm.
His cock hardened, his fly suddenly snug, strangling him. God, she was beautiful. Untouchable. What would she do if he whispered her name? Entered the room and actually touched her? Would she be embarrassed? Or would she smile and invite him to join her?
In his dreams. He was her boss. He was a solid ten years older than her. And while she was a baby just starting her life, he was an old man with a child and too many responsibilities to mention.
Meaning they could never work, no matter how badly he secretly wished they could.
Water splashed, her body bowed subtly, her hand moving between her legs, though he really couldn’t see it. The bubbles obscured her, but his imagination ran wild. Her pace quickened, another soft whimper escaped her and he went brutally, painfully hard. His skin so tight, he thought he might burst from wanting her.
He needed to get the hell out of there before he did something completely insane, like barge in on her private little rubbing session, demand a turn with his hand between her legs. Whatever sort of climax she brought herself, he knew he could bring her even more pleasure.
As carefully as he opened the door, he shut it, the click so quiet he knew she wouldn’t notice. Not that she would notice much, what with her hand working furiously between her legs.
Frustration beat through his blood, pounded just beneath the surface of his skin. He paced the room, from one long end to the other, his head filled with images of Paige touching herself. Those slender fingers, working her clit, thrusting deep inside her body. Her pretty pink nipples, hard and ripe for his mouth, all that creamy flushed skin, her fingers increasing their speed, how slippery and hot she would be for him…
Muttering a curse, he shed his jacket, tossed it onto the foot of his bed. Jerking angrily at his tie, he undid the top button of his shirt, ready to shed his suddenly too-tight clothing when the sound of the tub draining rang in his ears. He stilled, heard the loud splash of water and figured she had stepped out of the tub. Was most likely toweling off that pretty little body at this very moment.
Jesus. She was done. Had she come? Had she thought of him when the tremors racked through her body? He’d caught her looking at him before, a flare of interest in those turbulent eyes before she quickly looked away. Did she feel the lust he had for her? Was it all one sided?
Or could there be someone else in her life? He’d never asked if she had a significant other. Quite frankly, it was none of his damn business and she could sue him for asking such a personal question.
Yet the thought of another man touching her, kissing her, claiming her, filled him with a burning jealousy that gnawed at his gut, made him clutch his fists. Ever ready to fight an anonymous adversary to the death for her.
If he were smart, he’d leave. Pretend he’d never been there. Let her exit his bathroom, walk back into her bedroom and close the door, none the wiser to his presence, to his knowledge. Of knowing what she’d done in his bathroom, for the love of God.
But it was as if his feet had a mind of their own. He went to his dresser and leaned against it, crossed his arms in front of his chest. Waiting for her. Plotting what he might say to her. How she might react to his presence.
Anticipation rode him hard, and he wondered what the hell was taking her so long. Perhaps…perhaps she had a date tonight. It wasn’t that late, only a little after ten. She was young and vibrant—there was plenty of time for her to grab a late dinner or go to a nightclub with a man closer to her age, who shared her interests. She didn’t appear to have much of a personal life, which made him feel a little guilty. She had the weekends off mostly, except for the odd occasion when he needed her assistance with Matty, but she rarely left.
Without warning, the door opened, a waft of sultry, steamy air streaming out before her. And then she appeared, her slender body engulfed by a thick, white terrycloth robe, her skin dewy and pink, her eyes glittering, a satisfied smile curling her lush lips.
God. To be the one who put that look on her face…
She stopped short when she saw him standing there. Her hands clutched at the ends of her robe’s belt, her mouth dropped open. That satisfied gleam in her eyes dulled to a low shine. She had not expected him to be there.
Which meant they were on equal terms. He certainly hadn’t expected her to be in his bathroom either.
“What are you doing?”
His low, menacing voice rippled along Paige’s nerve endings, and her brain scrambled for an answer. “Mat—Mr. Renaldi. What are you doing here?”
“This is my bedroom. And that—” he nodded his head toward the open door behind her, “—is my bathroom. I should be asking you, what are
“Um.” She shifted on her bared feet, feeling completely overexposed even though the robe thoroughly covered her. She didn’t even have a pair of panties on. “Taking a bath?”
His lips curled. “I can see that. The question burning through my brain is, why
She paused, trying to find the right answer. Only moments ago she’d felt sated, relaxed from her earlier orgasm. Fueled by her lusty imaginings of the very man who stood before her had helped ease the stress she’d been under lately. She wondered why she hadn’t done it sooner.
But now, having him here, gorgeously furious, his eyes so dark they appeared black…all that tension rolled back through her. Made her weak with wanting him.
Oh, the arrogance in his deep voice was so arousing she wanted to melt. He looked amazing. His jacket gone, a single button undone at the very top of his shirt, though he still wore the tie. His trousers were black, his shirt white and not a crease in it even after wearing it all day and through half the night. He was utter perfection.
And she desperately wanted to discover the real man beneath all that perfectness. She wanted to go to him. Yank on his tie and pull him into her. Demand he kiss her, touch her, make love to her for the rest of the night.
But she remained where she stood. “Your mother said it was okay if I used your tub,” she said, her voice small.
A dark brow rose, a most devastating look she’d seen him wield masterfully before. “My mother.” His voice was flat.
Paige nodded, her damp hair sliding against her neck. She must have looked a mess. Her skin red, her hair damp and wild. “She didn’t tell you?”
“I didn’t see her when I came home. The house was dark. Quiet.”
“Oh.” Damn it, Claudia must’ve gone to bed. How long had she been in that tub anyway?
“You have a perfectly fine tub in your bathroom, am I correct?” When she nodded, he continued, his tone frightening her. “So why did you want to use mine?”
“Your tub is so big,” she whispered. “And the view is so beautiful…”
Silence reigned for long, miserable moments. She wanted to flee. Wanted to run far, far away and pretend this encounter never happened. If he knew she’d touched herself in his tub, had brought herself to orgasm while thinking of him, she just might die of mortification.
“Did you enjoy it?”
“What?” She lifted her head, her gaze meeting his.
“Your bath. In my tub.” He studied her, those dark, dark eyes locked on her face, dropping to her lips for the briefest moment. “Did you enjoy yourself?”
God yes, but she couldn’t admit just how much. “I—I did.”
“I’ve never used the tub before.”
Her jaw dropped. “Really? Well, you should. It’s very relaxing.”
A smile hovered at the corners of his mouth. “I’m sure,” he drawled.
Her cheeks heated. There was an undercurrent to his words. As if he knew exactly what she’d done. But he couldn’t know. He’d only just arrived. No way did he come into the bathroom—she would’ve known it.
“I should go. It’s late. And I’m sure Matty will keep me very busy tomorrow.” She needed to leave but had to walk directly past him in order to do so. And she didn’t know if she had the strength to do it. Afraid she might fall to her knees and beg him to at least kiss her.
God, she was pitiful.
“It’s your day off tomorrow. I’m afraid Matty will be keeping
“Oh.” She felt a little lost at that revelation. Working kept the day bustling by at a rapid pace. “Well. If you need to get any work done or need to step out for a bit, I’ll be around.”
“Don’t you have a social life, Paige?” He slowly shook his head. “You mystify me. You rarely seem to leave the house unless you have Matty in tow, and that doesn’t count.”
“Are you keeping tabs on me, Mr. Renaldi?” She couldn’t find the anger to be too terribly riled. No, more like a secret thrill buzzed through her that he felt the need to know what she was doing.
Because you work for him, idiot!
He shrugged. “My mother reports to me. We talk every evening.”
So they discussed her. Of course they did. She worked for him. She took care of his son. It made sense.