I shove at Chris’s chest but he is a solid wall of stubborn, sexy man. “Why do you do this?” I growl, exasperated.
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“Push me to talk when I don’t want to talk.”
“Because I care.”
“Do you?” I challenge before I can stop myself.
“I asked you to move in with me, Sara. That should answer that question.” He slides a lock of hair behind my ear, and I barely suppress a shiver. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thought he had too much power over me. Times like now, when I feel insecure, and— “What’s wrong?” he prods firmly.
“I can’t talk about this here. Someone might hear.”
“I sent them all away.”
I gape. “Just like that? You sent them all away.”
“Yes,” he states flatly.
Trapped. I’m not getting out of here without having this conversation. I drop my gaze, curling my hands on his chest, and damn it, it’s a stellar chest, and he smells good. I wonder if Ava knows how good.
I jerk my gaze back to his and blurt, “I wish you would’ve told me Ava was a member of Mark’s club. It was awkward hearing it from her.”
“I would have if I’d known.”
“You didn’t know?”
“I never say anything I don’t mean.”
He’s right; he doesn’t. I like that about him, and I especially like it when I want answers. “She knew that you’re a member.”
His brows dip. “What? That makes no sense. The membership is guarded and I stayed out of the public forums.”
I shake my head, confused and not at all comforted by his answer. “Then how would she know?”
“Good question, and one I want answered. Members who want privacy pay well to receive it.”
“She wasn’t one of the women you—”
“Absolutely not. I chose from the club files and with great caution.”
Is this what I’ve sensed in Ava? What is bothering me? “You wore masks, right? Couldn’t she—”
“Sara. I wasn’t with Ava.”
“So you knew the names of the women you chose?” His jaw flexes and I read my answer on his face. My stomach takes another roller-coaster ride all on its own. “You might have—”
“No.” The word is firm, absolute. “I told you. I wasn’t with Ava.”
I reach out and trace his brightly colored tats. “Your ink is hard to miss or forget.”
He wraps my hand in his and pins me in a look. “I’d know, Sara. I’d sense it when I’m around her.”
My chest tightens, another part of my conversation with Ava bothering me now. “When I said I wasn’t a member of the club and didn’t want to be, she implied you gave it up for me.”
“And you’re already worried I’m going to need that world again. I won’t, Sara. I don’t. And I’d like to know what her agenda was, to make you think that.”
“I don’t think it was an agenda. I think she thought it showed you care about me, that you would leave it for me. She had no idea that was a hot spot for me. I overreacted. I’m sorry.”
“I’d rather you overreact than not tell me, Sara.” Chris curves his hand over the swell of my backside and molds me close.
“You’re the hot spot for me.” Dipping low, he nuzzles my neck, his warm breath fanning my neck. “You know that, right?”
“Hmmm,” I murmur, helpless to fight the desire his teasing seduction arouses in me. “You can remind me as often as you like.”
His tongue flicks over my earlobe, and he whispers, “How about now? Have you ever had an orgasm in a dressing room?”
“What?” I gasp. “No.” His face is filled with wicked determination. “And no, we can’t.”
He tugs my top shirt up and over my head so fast that I have no hope of stopping him. The instant I’m free, I try to slow him down. “Chris—”
His mouth comes down over mine, a hot, fiery claiming he uses as a distraction to unhook my bra. When he molds his palms to my breasts as he pinches my nipples, I barely contain a whimper sure to draw attention.
Chris reaches for the button on my jeans and I manage a weak “Stop. You said you’d stop if I said stop.”
His deep, sexy laugh ripples through me and my body clenches. “That was last night. New day. New rules.”
He kisses me again, a slice of his seductive tongue, before pro claiming, “You will not leave this dressing room until you have a smile on your face.” He goes down on one knee and presses his mouth to my stomach as he had the night before and the effect is just as sizzling. I know where that mouth is headed, and while my mind sees the problem with the location we’re in, my body likes the location he’s at.
That deliciously skilled tongue of his dips into my navel, and I shiver. He smiles against my skin, casting me a heated look.
“I’ve noticed you like that.”
“I’ve noticed you can be overwhelming.” And playful and dark, and for that matter a mix of all things contrary that makes me insanely aroused.
Unsnapping my jeans, Chris tugs the zipper down. “I plan to be that and more before we leave.” His fingers slip into the waistband and he slides the jeans downward.
I reach for them but it’s too late to keep them up. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Which is why you need to undress quickly. Step.” He orders me out of my pants, and I do as he says, because having them at my ankles feels ridiculous.
“We don’t have time—”
His fingers stroke my panties aside, trailing the sensitive skin beneath.
“Chris, yes,” he counters, lifting my leg to his shoulder.
His mouth comes down over me.
“Oh,” I gasp, and my head falls back against the wall as he begins to lick and explore. He is merciless in his exploration, flicking my clit with his thumb while his tongue is delving in and out, over and around. Fingers stretch me, pressing inside me and traveling the sensitive passage. My breath rasps from my dry throat, my hand goes to his head, and he actually lets me touch him for once. This pleases me, and is as erotic as his fingers and tongue working magic together, stroking me, driving me wild.
Blood roars in my ears and I forget everything but the sweet spot he’s touching, and the next. Every place he touches is a sweet spot. Time ceases to exist and the room fades away. A tight, hard clenching begins to form in my stomach and swiftly travels lower. Remotely, I hear my own panting, the soft moans slipping from my throat that I can’t contain and I don’t remember why I should. Chris flicks my clit in just the right place and my fingers tighten in his hair. This spot, yes. Stay in this spot. Heat radiates from that pressure point, spreading like wildfire through my limbs. I arch against him and I pump my hips against his hand, all but crying out for that place just out of reach. My body clenches and my heart seems to still. My vision goes black and the first spasm jerks my body. Pleasure surges through me so deep that I feel it in my bones.
I am limp when Chris sets my leg down and slides up my body. He kisses me, the salty taste of his kiss flavoring my tongue.
“Taste you on me. That says you belong to me. Don’t forget it.”
Fifteen minutes later, with too many bags in hand for my comfort, Chris and I exit the store. Ava wasn’t there when we exited the dressing room and for that I’m thankful. Regardless of the throb of my clit to remind me that Chris is as skilled with his tongue as he is with a paintbrush, my discomfort over Ava is still quite intense.
By the time we pull up at the restaurant, I haven’t figured out why. It’s not about distrusting Chris. But there is a gray area in my mind I can’t muddle my way through, and it’s bugging me.
Inside the chain restaurant, a “something for everyone” kind of place, I force myself to forget Ava. Rebecca is who matters and just thinking about what we might find out from the PI has me balling my hands by my side.
The hostess motions us forward and Chris reaches over and pries my fingers apart and slides his through mine. “Relax, baby.”
It’s amazing how well he reads me. “I just want to find out that she is okay and I’m paranoid to think otherwise.”
“I know,” he agrees. “Me, too.”
Two men greet us at the table we’re shown to and I am in testosterone overload. Good-looking, fit, and dressed in jeans and Walker Security T-shirts, they both stand to greet us.
“Blake Walker,” one of them says, offering me his hand. He has long black hair tied at his nape, and intelligent brown eyes that have a been-through-hell depth to them.
“Kelvin Jackson,” the other one, with sandy brown hair that curls at his brow, and bright blue eyes, announces. “I’m the head of the San Francisco office.”
Blake snorts. “Once we have offices. He’s working from home until the building gets the construction done, thus the lunch meeting. I’ll be glad to get back to New York and out of his living room.”
My brow furrows. I’m concerned that they’re not more established here, and Chris seems to read my thoughts as we all sit down. “Walker Security is not only one of the best in the business, but Kelvin is a former FBI agent out of the San Francisco office.”
“I was ATF,” Blake adds. “My brother Luke is a former SEAL. My brother Royce is former FBI. The list goes on.” He cuts
Chris a quick look. “Your man got us the journals, by the way.”
I’m impressed and relieved. Chris leans back and drapes his arm over my chair. “Jacob’s a good man.”
“I noticed,” Kelvin comments. “I need a man like him.”
“Stay away,” Chris warns. “I like my building more with him on the job.”
Kelvin looks encouraged. “That he’s impressed you only makes me want him more.”
“Have you found out anything about Rebecca?” I interject,
eager to find out what they have to share.
The waitress appears and kills my chance for immediate answers. Chris opens his menu. “We’d better order. We’re going to be cutting it close for our flight.”
With effort I focus on the menu and order my first choice everywhere: pasta. The men all order burgers.
After the waitress leaves Blake picks up the conversation again. “About Rebecca. We tracked down the mysterious new boyfriend in New York. He said they took a trip to the Caribbean and they were going to travel to Greece next but she had a change of heart and wanted to come home early. We checked out his story. She flew out with him and came back alone.”
An icy chill slides down my spine. “She came back here?”
Kelvin gives a decisive nod. “Six weeks ago.”
I am sick to my stomach all over again. “She never got her things out of storage. She never came back to work. So where is she?”
“We don’t know,” Kelvin confirms, “and there’s no record of her leaving by any means of public transportation.”
“We also checked car rentals and found no record,” Blake adds, buttering some bread. “And she didn’t own a car for us to track down.”
Guilt twists me in knots. I sensed Rebecca was in trouble. I should have trusted my instincts and pushed harder for answers sooner. “Where does that leave us?” I ask, and I can’t keep the urgency from my voice. “The police?”
Blake sighs heavily. “This is tricky. We have enough to support a missing person’s report, but she’s an adult who has the right to come and go as she pleases.”
“And she told everyone she was leaving town,” I say.
Blake nods. “Exactly. It’s hard to get attention to these types of cases.”
Kelvin slides his silverware out of his way and sets a folder on the table. “We also don’t want the police asking questions that could trigger someone to hide evidence we might find otherwise.”
Evidence? I straighten. They are clearly are thinking crime, too.
Kelvin continues, “At least right now, we think a missing person’s report is a bad move.”
“You can trust these guys, baby,” Chris assures me, his finger lightly caressing my shoulder. “They know what they are doing.”
“I do,” I assure him and the entire table, “and I understand the view on the missing person’s report. I just don’t like the direction this seems to be headed or the things it’s making me think might have happened to Rebecca.”
Blake’s lips tighten. “Believe me, none of us do.”
“Which brings me to Sara’s involvement,” Chris says. “Anything new on the storage unit incident?”
Kelvin flips open the folder. “We lucked out and got our hands on some interesting footage from a camera at a nearby business.” He pulls out a photograph, setting it in the center of the table. “This guy entered the building after Sara and exited about ten minutes after she left.”
I suck in a breath. “That’s the creepy attendant I met.”
“He’s not an employee of the storage facility,” Kelvin informs me. “He’s a lowlife PI named Greg Garrison. He was hired by someone to find the journals.”
“Who?” Chris asks sharply.
“He says he doesn’t know,” Blake supplies. “Blind cash by wire and emailed instructions from an untraceable location.”
I hug myself and shiver. I was right. I wasn’t alone in the darkness.
Chris takes my hand and squeezes. “You okay?”
“I am,” I reply bleakly. “I’m not so sure about Rebecca, though.” My attention flicks between Kelvin and Blake. “There are no names in the journals. I’ve read them all.”
“Yet someone wants them badly enough to hire Greg,” Blake said. “That means we need to dig for why, and use their resources to look for things we might all miss.”
“Exactly,” Kelvin agrees. “And keep in mind that there could be more journals. We’d like to dig around in the storage unit.”
“We’ll give you the combination before we leave,” Chris says.
My worst fears about Rebecca are taking root. I want these men to do whatever is necessary to find her.
Kelvin slips the picture back inside the folder. “I know how Greg works. If he killed the lights, I’m guessing it was to get the opportunity to replace your lock with one that only he can open. Have you been back since?”
As I shake my head, our food arrives. Once the waitress is gone again, I ask, “What if he did?”
“If that’s the case we’ll cut it off and replace it again,” Kelvin answers, popping a fry in his mouth.
Chris ignores his food, looking as concerned as I feel. “How worried should I be about Sara’s safety?”
I’ve completely lost my appetite. There is no way I’m eating now. I didn’t really want to in the first place.
Blake sighs, and I can tell from his tense expression I am not going to like his answer. “I wouldn’t get paranoid, but on the other hand, someone is desperate enough to hire Greg to find the journals. Add that to Rebecca being MIA … I would be cautious.”
“Don’t ask questions about Rebecca,” Kelvin adds. “Let us do it.”
Chris cuts me a look. “You hear that? Let them do it.”
“I’m in a position to find out things they can’t,” I object, remembering my talk with Ralph. “One of the sales reps hates Rebecca.”
This leads into us discussing the entire staff as we finish our meal. By the time we leave the restaurant, I’m eager to get out of the city, where I won’t have to look over my shoulder for a few days.