This man, p.56
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       This Man, p.56

         Part #1 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Page 56

  Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

  He frowns, throwing me a questioning look. ‘No, sit. ’

  I take myself over to the sofa to settle myself in the soft, brown leather. I feel like a spare part, uncomfortable and awkward. With little else to do, I watch as Jesse flicks through various piles of paperwork, signing here and there. He’s completely engrossed in what he’s doing. He glances up every now and then, lobbing me a reassuring smile, but it does little to ease my discomfort. I want to go.

  After twenty minutes, or so, of twiddling my thumbs and wishing he would hurry up, the door knocks and Jesse calls an okay for whoever it is to enter. Pete walks in with a tray and follows Jesse’s pointed pen over to me.

  ‘Thank you, Pete. ’ I smile as Pete places the tray down in front of me and hands me some cutlery wrapped in a white, material napkin.

  ‘My pleasure, can I open your wine?’

  ‘No,’ I shake my head. ‘I’ve got it. ’

  He nods before leaving the room quietly.

  I remove the lid from the plate and a delicious smell invades my nostrils, dragging my appetite back. Unwrapping my knife and folk, I stab at my separate bowl of salad, the most colourful I’ve ever seen – peppers of every colour, red onion and a dozen varieties of lettuce leaf, all drenched in infused oil. I could eat this alone. It’s wonderful.

  Crossing my legs, I place the tray on my lap and slice into the steak, humming a satisfied moan around my fork. The Manor does food very well.


  I feel Jesse’s chin resting on my shoulder. ‘Very,’ I mumble around my steak. ‘You want to try?’

  He nods, opening his mouth. I slice a piece of steak and hold it over my shoulder for him to take. ‘Hmmm, very good. ’ he says around his chew.

  ‘More?’ I ask. His eyes widen in appreciation, so I cut him another piece, passing it over my shoulder again. He watches me as he wraps his full lips around my fork and slowly pulls the steak off. I can’t help the big smile that breaks out across my face. His eyes sparkle with pleasure and he struggles to prevent his own smile as he chews. He clamps his hands on my shoulders and buries his face in my neck from behind.

  He nips playfully at my neck. ‘You taste better. ’

  My smile broadens as he makes a meal of chewing at my throat, growling and nuzzling to his heart’s content. I laugh, raising my shoulder when he latches onto my ear, his hot breath causing shudders to course through me. He entices so many extreme reactions from me – extreme frustration, extreme desire and extreme happiness are just a few. This man works me, and he works me well.

  ‘You eat,’ he says as he kisses my temple tenderly. He starts circling his thumbs into the top of my back. ‘You’re tense. Why are you tense?’ he asks.

  I roll my neck in gratitude. I’m tense because I’m here – it’s the only reason. How can one woman make me feel so uncomfortable? There’s a knock on Jesse’s office door.

  ‘Yes?’ He carries on working my shoulders as Sarah walks in.

  Ah, speak of the devil. The atmosphere instantly cools as she clocks Jesse massaging my shoulders, her facial expression altering significantly. I notice it, but Jesse seems oblivious to the chilly undertones of her presence. I tense further, suddenly wanting Jesse’s hands off of me. That’s something I never thought I would want. But right now, I feel like an impostor, and the icy glare I’m getting thrown at me has me shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I’m really not helping my cause, sat here, legs crossed, all cosy on the sofa, with a steak in my lap and Mr Godly working his magic on me.

  ‘Your figures,’ she grumbles, waving the folder and walking casually over to Jesse’s desk to place them in front of his chair. She turns to face us, throwing daggers at me. Oh, she really hates me.

  ‘Thanks, Sarah. ’ He leans down and brushes his lips over my cheek, inhaling deeply before releasing me. ‘I have to work now, baby. Eat your dinner. ’ I see Sarah scowl briefly before reinstating the fake smile on her pouty face when Jesse turns towards her. He reaches into his jean pocket. ‘Have one hundred thousand transferred into this account ASAP. ’ he instructs, handing her an envelope.

  ‘One hundred?’ Sarah blurts. She glances down at the envelope.

  ‘Yes. Now, please. ’ He leaves her staring at the paper, taking his seat up behind his desk, completely ignorant to her gaping mouth. She flicks me a murderous look. It’s then I realise that it’s the envelope Sally gave him.

  One hundred thousand? That’s way too much. What’s he thinking? I want to say something. Should I say something? I look at Sarah. She’s stood there scrutinising me, pursing her red lips. I don’t blame her. I just want to crawl under the sofa and die. One hundred thousand? Christ, she already thinks I’m after his money.

  ‘That’s all, Sarah. ’ Jesse dismisses her and she turns to leave, but not before throwing a scowl in my direction.

  She saunters over to the door, meeting John at the threshold. He nods at her before moving to the side to let her pass, shutting the door behind her. He flicks me a nod, and I smile before resuming the picking of my salad and steak. Yeah, my appetite has run for the hills. I need to speak to him and ask what role that woman plays in his life. And why does she hate me so much? I place the tray back on the coffee table to pour some wine, but I notice Pete’s only brought one glass, so I take myself over to the side board, collect a tumbler for myself and return to the sofa to pour the wine. When I place the glass on Jesse’s desk, John stops talking and they both look at the glass, then to me.

  Jesse picks it up, handing it back to me. ‘I’m fine, thank you, baby,’ He smiles. ‘I’m driving. ’

  ‘Oh,’ I take the glass back. ‘Sorry. ’

  ‘Don’t be, you have it. I got the wine for you. ’

  I take my place on the sofa, picking up a magazine called SuperBike. It’s the only one so it will have to do.

  I start flicking through, loosing myself in the articles on superbikes, MotoGP and getting myself over excited when I find a section especially devoted to superbike passengers or riding pillion, as I now know it to be termed. Is Jesse’s a superbike? I read the rules of riding pillion, along with an article entitled “Safety First”. I’ll make him wear leathers, if it’s the last thing I do. I’m completely lost in details of four-stroke engines, horsepower ratings and the approaching Milan Motorcycle show, when I feel warm hands wrap around my neck from behind. I drop my head back to look at his upside down features.

  He blesses me with his roguish grin. ‘I’ve started something, haven’t I?’ He bends and drops his lips onto my forehead.

  ‘Why haven’t you upgraded to the 1198?’

  He smiles. ‘I have, but I prefer the 1098. ’

  ‘Oh, how many do you have?’

  ‘Twelve. ’

  ‘Twelve? Are they all superbikes?’

  He laughs lightly. ‘Yes, Ava, they’re all superbikes. Come on, I’m taking you home. ’

  I place the magazine back on the table and begin to unravel my folded body. ‘You know, you should be wearing leathers. ’ I push casually.

  ‘I know I should. ’ He takes my hand, leading me to the door.

  ‘So, why don’t you?’

  ‘I’ve rode bikes since I…’ He halts mid-sentence and glances down at me. ‘For many years,’

  ‘You’re going to have to reveal an age at some point. ’

  He looks at me, and I smile brightly, earning myself a return beam for Jesse. ‘Maybe. ’ he says quietly. If he’s rode bikes for years, then he should appreciate the dangers.

  We walk through The Manor, finding Sam and Drew at the bar. Sam’s obviously not seeing Kate tonight. He looks his usual self, as does Drew, with his black suit and perfectly placed black hair.

  ‘My man!’ Sam cheers. ‘Ava, I love your Little Miss knickers. ’ He hands me a familiar gym bag.

  I die a thousand deaths on the spot. He went through my underwear
drawer? The cheeky swine! Feeling my face flame, I glance up at Jesse to see anger pouring from his entire being. Oh, Sam!

  ‘Don’t push your fucking luck, Sam. ’ he warns, his tone super serious. Sam’s grin fades as he puts his hands up in submission.

  Drew exhales, shaking his head and placing his beer on the bar. ‘There’s a line, Sam. ’ he says in agreement to Jesse’s reaction towards Sam’s inappropriate comment.

  ‘Hey, I’m sorry. ’ Sam grumbles, looking at me with a hint of a grin breaking free.

  I glance around the bar. It’s really busy. There are plenty of people milling about, all chatting, many putting their hand up in acknowledgment to Jesse, but none of them approach him. I feel the same animosity from the women in here as I did in the summer room. I’m seriously stepping on some toes by being here. Is Jesse aware of all these admirers? I feel like I’ve poached him. And now I’m certain that the repeat business is based solely on The Lord of the Manor and his devastating looks.

  ‘I’m taking Ava home,’ Jesse takes the gym bag from me. ‘Are you running tomorrow?’ he asks Sam.

  ‘Nah, I might be tied up. ’ He grins at me.

  I feel my colour deepen. I’ll never get use to his forwardness and lurid comments. I shake my head at the cheeky swine. ‘Where’s Kate?’ I ask. I should call her.

  ‘She had a few deliveries to do. She got all excited about taking Margo Junior out on her maiden voyage. I got dumped for a pink van,’ He takes a swig of his beer. ‘I’m heading over when I’m done here. ’

  ‘Done what?’ Drew asks on a raised brow.

  ‘Fuck you. ’ Sam spits.

  Done what, exactly?

  Jesse starts pulling me out of the bar. ‘Bye, lads. Tell Kate, Ava’s with me. ’ he calls over his shoulder. I wave my free hand to them as I’m hauled from the bar. They both raise their bottles in goodbye, both grinning.

  I’m escorted out of The Manor to Jesse’s Aston Martin, really rather quickly. He opens the passenger door for me to get in.

  ‘I want to go on the bike. ’ I complain. I’m addicted.

  ‘Right now, I want you in lace, not leather. Get in the car. ’ His eyes have turned wickedly dark and promising. When did that happen?

  I get in the car, clenching my thighs together, and wait for him to slide in next to me. He starts the car, quickly reversing out and kicking up the gravel as he flies off down the driveway towards the gates. He’s on a mission. I know he was pissed off when Sarah walked in on us. A few minutes later, she could have had the perfect view of Jesse’s tight arse greet her. Or has she seen it before? I inwardly vomit. God, I hope not. I glance over at the gorgeous profile of the man sat next to me, all relaxed as he drives. He flicks his eyes to me before returning them to the road. I can tell he’s trying his hardest not to smile.

  ‘One hundred thousand pounds is a massive overpayment. ’ I say coolly.

  ‘Is it?’

  ‘You know it is. ’ I look at him challengingly as he fights the smile threatening to breakout across his lovely face.

  ‘You’re underselling yourself. ’

  ‘I must be the most expensive hooker ever. ’ I flip, watching his lips press into a straight line.

  ‘Ava, if you refer to yourself in that way again…’

  ‘I was joking. ’

  ‘Do you see me laughing?’

  ‘I have other clients to deal with. ’ I inform him bravely. He can’t expect me to devote all of my working time to his extension, or to him. I highly doubt he’ll let me get on with it undisturbed, and Patrick will get massively suspicious if I’m never in the office.

  ‘I know, but I’m a special client. ’ He reaches over, squeezing my knee, and I look up to a dark grin.

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