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I look up at the towering fifteen-year-old ficus tree in the middle of the two-story atrium and think, Am I dating material? What the f**k? Now I’m asking a tree. But it is what sold me on the place. Well, the tree and the carefree beach vibe—they make the house feel alive. From an outsider’s point of view, it must look like the perfect bachelor pad. A circular sofa, a sunken dining area, and bleached walnut floors surrounded by shaggy Moroccan rugs and alabaster lights. Stylish, rogue, sophisticated. The Realtor said it would make any woman’s heart skip a beat. Funny, the only women I’ve had here are my sister and the housekeeper.
I make my way into my bathroom, thinking about when I should call S’belle and whether to tell her I want more of a relationship. The shower tile feels cool underneath my toes and I turn the water on. Muscles aching, I bend my neck to let the hot water massage away the tension. As the warm heat sprays down, I close my eyes and see her. Red hair tumbling over her shoulders, an effervescent smile that does something to my chest, small but fierce—she’s got an innocent quality, but it doesn’t diminish her seductive allure at all. She’s many things and I can’t quite determine which of them I’m more fascinated by.
I shut the water off, towel myself dry, and slide on a pair of sweats—thankful it’s Sunday. Fuck, I’m horny just thinking about her and I start to second-guess myself. Maybe a casual affair is just what I need right now. My c**k grows hard at the memories and demands my attention. Fuck, I’ve been having sex with myself for so long, it’s strange to think I have someone to call. And not just someone—the woman I’ve never forgotten since our first time together.
I pull my sweatpants down and kick them off. Running my hand down my stomach, I wrap it around my dick and think of how it felt to be inside her. I stare at the ceiling and pump slowly from my balls to my tip, thinking of the noises she made when I touched her, how she screamed when I f**ked her.
My breathing comes in short bursts as the past blends with the present and images of her then and now pass through my mind. Her tongue, her mouth, her sweet pu**y. My bed is still unmade from my restless night’s sleep and I settle my head on a pillow, bending my legs to push my hips up and pump my fist harder, faster. After a few minutes, I slow my hand to prolong the pleasure, but thoughts of her thrusting her hips into mine rush my need for release. I arch my back and tip my head, letting the feeling absorb me as I come. But it’s not even close to how I felt last night when I was with her.
Rising from the bed, I hop back in the shower. This girl does crazy things to me. I can’t get her off my mind, and just thinking about her gets me all worked up. Thinking what the hell? I open the shower door and grab my phone off the counter to text her.
I want to take you out tonight.
Her response is immediate.
At brunch with my family. I’ll be in touch in a bit.
I take a deep breath. Okay, focus, Ben. I try to think about all I have to accomplish in the next month before the announcement of my takeover, but my mind keeps reeling back to her. Something is going on in my head. I have an urge to fill the empty void of loneliness that has loomed within the depths of my soul for far too long. Fuck, that’s dramatic. What the hell is wrong with me?
I hurry out of the shower and get dressed for the second time in thirty minutes. If focusing won’t work I’ll refocus. I grab my laptop and take it outside and attempt to throw my mind as far into my work as I can. I finish up the draft press release announcing my company, Plan B, and its holdings to the public. Then I glance down at my phone to make sure I haven’t missed a call or a text. I stare at the screen waiting for her to get back with me—if this isn’t a chick move, I don’t know what is.
“I knocked,” a voice says over my shoulder.
I glance up. “I didn’t hear the door. Sorry.”
“No worries, I let myself in,” Serena says.
“You on your way to the airport?”
She puts her hand on my shoulder. “Yes, Jason and Trent went ahead to get the luggage checked in. We were running really late but I had to stop and say good-bye.”
“And check on me?” I shoot my sister an inquisitive glance.
“No, well, yes.” She looks down at me.
“I’m fine. Really I am. I’m glad that part of my life is behind me.”
I set my laptop on the table beside me and plant my feet on the floor. “Caleb talking to you?”
I roll my eyes.
“I’m not going to tell you what to do, Ben. Just think about it first.”
I study her expression. No judgment, just concern. “Fair enough.”
“I can’t believe you’re doing work on a gorgeous day like today.”
“Well, if you’d stop stalling and come to work for me, I wouldn’t have to.”
“You can hire anyone. You don’t need me.”
“But I do. Your mind is like a computer.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is. I mean, come on, you have a love affair with the number twelve.”
Her hands go to her hips. “You know it’s my lucky number.”