Author:Kristen Ashley

    The same rug was in the sunken area that also held an ivory, sweep-lined couch tumbled with black toss pillows and an equally sweep-lined black armchair with ivory toss pillows that had a matching ottoman. There was also an oval, black lacquered coffee table down there and tall, now illuminated floor lamps flanking the couch that coordinated with the lamps on the nightstands.

    Up three steps was another area with a matching but narrow rug that looked made to fit the space. On either end were identical, tall, black lacquered chests of drawers topped with bigger lamps with wider bases but like the floor lamps they somewhat matched the ones on the nightstands.

    All the lights were turned on including the three overhead ones which had stunning arrays of pinned but dangling crystals covering them.

    And last, there were three doors along the wall. Two closed. One opened though not lit but I could still see it was a bathroom.

    I took all this in distractedly because he was making his way to me and I was paralyzed.

    He was moving up the steps closest to me as he called, his eyes slightly narrowing, “Hello? Are you breathing?”

    “I thought this was Nick’s room,” I blurted and he stopped suddenly by the footboard of the bed.

    “It’s not,” he ground out.

    Yep. Totally. Pissed.

    And yep.





    “I need to go home,” I whispered. “I came in a taxi and I need to call one to take me home. My cell, it’s acting up. It doesn’t hold a charge for more than an hour. It’s dead. I should have known. I didn’t think. But I came here with my girlfriend so I guess I thought she could call. She’s staying though. And I put my coat in here and I thought it was Nick’s room seeing as he told us to put our coats in here. I just thought I’d use your phone real quick and get a taxi. I’m so sorry. I had no idea this wasn’t Nick’s room and I was intruding. Truly. I’m very sorry.”

    I stopped talking and he stared at me.

    It was then I saw his eyes were blue. A strange, startling, dark, vibrant, Prussian blue.

    And they were beautiful, the color, the shape, the long, curving lashes.

    My breath stuck in my throat.

    Then his eyes dropped but not to my breasts, my hips or my legs.

    To my arm which was attached to my hand that was clutching my purse, my cell and had my coat draped over it.

    Then they cut back to my face.

    Then in his smooth, deep voice, he declared, “I’ll take you home.”

    I blinked.

    He moved.

    I braced but before I could do a thing about it or say a word, he slid his phone from my fingers, leaned deep into me and I smelled that the aftershave or cologne was his.

    I was right. It was attractive. So attractive all I could do was stand still and take in that glorious scent.

    He put the phone in its charger then leaned back and took my coat from my arm.

    At that, I came out of my freeze.

    “Um… I don’t –” I started but clamped my mouth shut when his fingers curled around my upper arm and suddenly I found my body turned so my back was to him.

    “Arm,” he ordered and I twisted my neck to look at him at the same time I tried to force myself to breathe.

    “What?” I whispered.

    He was standing behind me with my coat held up for me to slide into.

    “Arm,” he repeated, sounding a lot less patient and considering he didn’t sound patient at all before, this was even more terrifying.

    “I think –” I started but said no more when his hand shot out, grabbed my wrist and pulled it back. It wasn’t rough, it didn’t hurt but I was shocked all the same.

    Then he dipped my coat and slid it up my arm.

    “Other arm,” he commanded and, without delay, I awkwardly switched my purse and cell to my other hand and reached behind me to find the sleeve of my coat.

    In no time I felt his hands settling it on my shoulders then one moved, wrapped around my bicep and suddenly I was facing him. Then I was moving with him to the door, his hand still on my arm.

    I struggled but I found my voice.

    “I’m really okay with a taxi,” I told him as he pulled me out of the room, slightly tugged my arm and brought me to a stop.

    Totally ignoring me, he curved his torso around the door, did something around the knob, then came out, his hand going the other way and then the lights were extinguished making the room go black. Then he closed the door, locked it, pocketed the key and turned us to the hall.

    He did all of this with his hand still holding my arm.

    It was at this point I realized my heart was racing and I was finding it difficult to breathe.

    Then I stopped breathing altogether when he shifted quickly, bending into me. I had time enough to sway an inch away from him before I was up in his arms.

    My legs flying through the air, reflexively, I slid one arm around his hard-muscled shoulders, the other one swinging out in front of him to grab my hand at his neck and hold on as he strode over the coats, walking right on the pile.

    Holy crap!

    Once free of the coats, he bent and dropped me to my feet. It again wasn’t rough but it wasn’t gentle and my body jolted when my feet hit floor. I had no time to recover, not from being on my feet again, not even from being off them, not from the easy way he swung me into his arms like I weighed as much as a body pillow.

    Not from any of it.

    Not before his fingers curled around my upper arm again and he propelled me down the hall and around the bend in it.

    Okay, I had to get control of this situation and do it now.

    I opened my mouth to do just that at the same time I was about to tug my arm from his hold when he stopped abruptly, stopping me with him. Then his head slightly cocked. His angry, blue eyes cut to me and I forgot I had to get control of the situation and do it now. I forgot everything.

    Then for some reason he adjusted me, not gently, not cruelly but definitely firmly to the side of one of the doors in the hall.

    He let me go and without knocking, he opened the door but where I was situated, I couldn’t see inside.

    I heard a woman’s horrified gasp and a man starting, “What the –?”

    “I gotta take someone home,” my unwelcome ride told the couple. “You got that time to turn off the fuckin’ music, empty this fuckin’ place of bodies and clean up as much as you can. She wants to finish that ride you’re meanin’ to give her, she helps you clear out this place. She doesn’t help, get her ass outta here too. You don’t want me to come home to see you not takin’ me seriously and I hope you get me ‘cause I’m not fuckin’ with you, Nick, and I am not happy.”

    Then he stepped out, closed the door, grabbed my arm again and pulled me down the hall.

    My first thought was that he’d just walked in on Sandrine and Nick.

    My second thought was obviously Nick had a less spectacular room.

    My third thought was that he’d positioned me to the side of the door. I found this surprising and intriguing because he’d heard them in there. They couldn’t have gotten far but they definitely were moving things on. Still, he’d shielded me from whatever was behind that closed door and I didn’t know what to make of it.

    We’d rounded the other hall on our way to the front door when I cleared these thoughts and came back to the matter at hand.

    “Um… listen, uh…” Damn! “Um, I don’t know your name but –”

    “Knight,” he stated, cutting me off.

    “Right, Mr. Knight –”

    “No, Knight,” he interrupted me again then stopped me by one of the doors in the hall, let me go and opened the door.

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