The VIP Doubles Down
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When she had sparkled at him and told him what fun she’d had, something inside him had given way. He’d needed to touch her, to feel that sweet exhilaration under his hands, on his lips, against his body.
Thank God he’d stopped. His Allie was a woman of principle, so he knew damn well that if he kissed her, she would refuse to be his therapist any longer.
And he couldn’t afford to lose her.
Allie’s cell phone pinged with a text saying Gavin had arrived in front of her building. She checked herself in the mirror even though she’d already changed her clothes half a dozen times.
Her final decision had come down to a conservative outfit of black trousers topped by a forest green silk blouse with long sleeves and a deep V neckline. She’d accessorized with high-heeled black pumps and a string of pearls that had belonged to her mother, hoping the real gems would offset her sale-rack clothes. Her hair was pulled up into a loose bun, leaving a few tendrils waving beside her face.
She’d decided to forgo a hostess gift since she figured billionaires didn’t need anything she could afford. A handwritten thank-you note afterward would have to suffice.
Shoving her phone into the black patent-leather clutch, she ruined the outfit as usual by shrugging into her puffy blue winter coat. She gave the cat a stroke to calm herself.
As she walked out the battered front door, she saw Gavin leaning against the fender of a low, sleek car with black paint that glinted in the city lights. He was dressed exactly as he’d said he would be—all dark and perfectly tailored—which made him look as powerful and dangerous as the car.
Desire poured through her. She wanted to press herself against that gorgeous, hard body she’d become so familiar with and wind her fingers into his thick, dark hair. She wanted those perfectly curved lips on hers while his hands explored her skin. Gavin had stopped whatever was about to start between them, so he probably wouldn’t initiate it again. But if he did, she had to stay in command of her rioting senses and call a halt herself.
“Good evening, Allie,” he said, straightening before he swung open the passenger door. “I’d say you look lovely, but it’s hard to tell under the quilt you’re wearing.”
She knew the coat wasn’t exactly high fashion, but all her insecurities surged back. Then she laughed with a certain relief. Gavin’s snarkiness had undercut her sudden flare of arousal. “The weather is too cold for elegance.”
“My car is already warmed up, so you might want to remove your Arctic-level outerwear.”
“Okay.” She unzipped her puffy jacket and started to shrug out of it. Gavin’s fingers brushed the nape of her neck as he did the gentlemanly thing and took her wrap. She closed her eyes while desire shimmered through her all over again.
He tossed her coat into the backseat and offered his hand to help her into the front. It would be rude to ignore his gesture, so she put her hand in his, feeling another shudder of longing when his warm, strong fingers closed over hers. Thank God he was driving so he would have his hands occupied.
As he slid into the driver’s seat, she said, “You didn’t want a chauffeur tonight?”
“Nathan has parking at his building, and I like to take the Maserati out for a spin myself.” The city lights caught the flash of his smile. “Julian Best doesn’t care about cars, but I do. This beauty is my favorite. She does zero to sixty in under five seconds.”
She couldn’t take her eyes off his hands as they stroked the gleaming wood of the steering wheel. “Do you know how to fly a plane, like Julian?”
“Yes, but I’m more of a sailor.”
“So you have a yacht?”
He gave her a sideways glance. “A sailboat.”
“The only boat I know my way around is a canoe,” she said.
“Isn’t West Virginia famous for white-water rafting?”
“I’ve done that a few times, but always with a guide.” She’d loved it, even when she got dumped out of the raft in the middle of the frothing rapids.
“Intrepid Allie. You’ll have to come sailing with me sometime.”
“Sure.” That wasn’t going to happen.
Jane had hired her to work with Gavin for only five days, and Gavin had not rehired her for next week. So, technically speaking, their patient-therapist relationship was over. But it left her in a kind of ethical limbo, because she hoped Gavin would ask her to continue treatment. He certainly needed more. “How’s your neck feeling?”
“On a pain scale of one to ten”—she could hear the smile in his voice—“about a three, which is damned impressive for five days of therapy. But let’s not talk about work tonight.”
“So no Julian?”
He shook his head. “Tell me about your hometown of Sanctuary. The name alone is intriguing.”
Allie had often used cozy stories about her hometown to help clients relax with her. But, of course, Gavin didn’t allow her to skim the surface. He asked questions about what kinds of jobs people did there, how lively the cultural scene was, the ways people socialized. He rolled the names of people she knew around on his tongue. Even though he was blocked, she could tell his writer’s brain was at work, gathering material.
Not that she minded. She liked talking about her roots. Until Troy had forced her to leave, she’d been happy there. She wished she could still find contentment at home.
“And here we are,” Gavin said, spinning the wheel to turn into a driveway guarded by a bulky man in a dark uniform. The guard scanned Gavin’s driver’s license with a handheld gizmo before a massive metal gate swung inward to reveal a valet station. Two young men leaped forward to open their car doors. “Put it in Nathan Trainor’s garage,” he said, handing his key to the valet. He took Allie’s elbow and led her toward a bronze door tucked into a corner. Another valet swiped a card to unlock the elevator, and the gleaming door slid open.
“Wow!” Allie breathed, taking in the polished wood paneling set in frames of bronze that matched the door. “It’s like a fortress.”
“The downside of wealth,” Gavin said, setting the elevator in motion. “There are security cameras everywhere and a battalion of bodyguards in the building.”