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What you need, p.26
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       What You Need, p.26

         Part #1 of Need You series by Lorelei James
 

  He steadied me, his eyes hot enough to scorch my skin. He jammed his hand into his pants pocket and pulled out his wallet. From that wallet he fished out a lone condom.

  I said the first thing that popped into my head. “Just one?”

  “I didn’t want to assume.” Then he gave me that nipple-tightening, panty-dropping grin.

  And it was one of the sexiest things I’d ever witnessed, Brady holding that condom between his teeth as he undid his belt and dropped his trousers. He lifted that sexy brow, an unspoken question blazing in his blue eyes: What are you waiting for?

  I turned around.

  But before I could figure out what to do with my hands, or how far I was supposed to lean over, Brady’s chest connected with my back. He nudged my hair aside with an openmouthed kiss as he peeled my blouse down to expose more skin. Then he placed my left hand on the edge of his desk, anchoring me there with his left hand.

  He didn’t tell me what to do; he just positioned me how he liked. Nudging my legs apart, sliding his right hand between my hip bones and canting my pelvis. I felt the tip of him press against me once, then twice, and gasped when all that smooth male hardness filled me.

  His breath was hot against my neck as he started to move.

  “Fucking sexy tattoos. Christ, woman, I want to sink my teeth into you.”

  “Do it. Do anything you want—just don’t stop.”

  “Never.”

  We were both too far gone for this to last very long—that’s what weeks of foreplay will do to you.

  His soft kisses on the slope of my shoulder belied the near punishing rhythm he’d set.

  A roaring in my ears had my entire body clenching in anticipation. Brady’s terse “Give it to me” sent me soaring.

  He followed me into that place where pleasure existed on a different plane—separate, yet together. Connected by more than just throbbing body parts.

  That was the new aspect for me. Even as I silently swore I wouldn’t make my usual move and retreat, I feared that he would.

  “Lennox.”

  I turned my head and looked at him.

  “Not done. Not even close.”

  I curled my arm back and sifted my fingers through his messy hair. “Me neither.”

  He held my hip as he eased out of me.

  I didn’t bother to pull my panties all the way up or my skirt down as I stepped away from the desk. The molten heat in his eyes indicated I wouldn’t be wearing these clothes much longer anyway.

  “Bed. Now,” he growled.

  “Wait. Do you have more condoms?”

  The look on his face—now I knew the definition of crestfallen.

  And it thrilled me that he didn’t have condoms stashed in his dressing room.

  I poked him in the chest. “Then it’s a good thing I slipped a box in my purse this morning, isn’t it?”

  *

  We did it in his bed. Twice.

  We tried to be good in the shower, but the instant those clever hands of his were loaded with creamy soap and he started “washing” me, good clean fun was forgotten in favor of getting down and dirty. He hoisted me against the wall of the shower.

  My mind went into a foggy free fall as he proved he was just as good vertically as he was horizontally.

  After that we showered separately.

  I was wrapped in a bedsheet when he emerged from the bathroom. Naked.

  “Baby, that sheet won’t protect you if I want you.”

  So cocky. “You’ve had me plenty.”

  “No such thing.” I watched his tight little butt cheeks and the broad plane of his back as he rummaged in his drawer for clothing. “I needed something to sustain me for the rest of the week.”

  “Why?” I picked up my clothes and started to get dressed.

  “I have to go to Chicago tomorrow. I’ll be there through Friday night.”

  He was going to be gone again? “I realize I never asked if you travel a lot.”

  “More than I’d like to.” He studied me. “I wish you could come.”

  “Doesn’t Jenna go with you?”

  “No. She made it clear from the beginning she won’t travel. Not even now that her kids are older. She’s on vacation starting tomorrow since I won’t be in the office. Ash is going with me.”

  “I’m sure my boss would love it if I missed a few more days this week.” I buttoned my blouse, happy to see it covered the hickey he’d left on the side of my breast. “The gossip mill would go crazy with the speculation that I’m using my relationship with you to get out of doing any real work.”

  “You think I wouldn’t make you work in Chicago?” He smirked. “Taking notes for ten hours a day sound like fun?”

  “Sounds better than answering phones for ten hours a day like I did yesterday.”

  “Next time I’ll give you advance notice so your supervisor can clear your schedule.”

  “Deal. Besides, this is the last week that Lurch and Lurchette are shadowing us, so I want to make sure it’s not perceived that I’ve screwed up.”

  I noticed his shoulders stiffen. Which was weird.

  “How’s that going?” he asked.

  “Who knows? I suspect you’ll know before any of the rest of us will. Why?”

  He shrugged into his shirt. “Rumors and such.”

  “Any rumors I should be concerned about?”

  “No. Just . . . there’s been some interdepartmental grumbling about abuse of power. And confidentiality rules being broken.”

  “By the office temp staff? Unlikely.”

  “Come on, you’re telling me you guys don’t gossip?”

  “Sure. We gossip about inappropriate office outfits and we talk about our lives, but we don’t gossip about the jobs or people we’re assigned to. Lola keeps a close eye on her staff and runs a tight-lipped ship.”

  “So if I ask if you’ve done work for, say, my dad . . . ?”

  What was he getting at? “Depends. If he wants whatever tasks I’m doing for him kept confidential, then only Lola and I know. Lots of times when I’m working at my desk in the department, I’m doing work for another department, because they don’t want my presence in that department. Sometimes I feel more like a private investigator than clerical support.” I buttoned my skirt. “Are you asking specifics because of what Annika said?”

  Brady tied his athletic shoes. “You mentioned you’d worked in her department, but that was it.”

  “That’s all I’m allowed to say. And I don’t do a job hoping to make another employee look bad. My only concern is doing the job to the best of my ability. When I first started at LI, I’ll admit I was gung-ho. Being the hardest worker isn’t always appreciated.”

  He crossed the small space and kissed my nose. “I disagree. But I’m a workaholic, so I’ve got a skewed work ethic.”

  “You can’t be all work and no play. So along those lines . . . you have to do something fun and wild while you’re in the Windy City.”

  “Like what?”

  “I’m not dictating what you do, just reminding you to do it. I’ll expect a full report when you get back, Mr. Lund.”

  “Deal.” He smoothed his hand over my hair. “I’ll miss you. Tonight was—” Lust darkened his eyes. “Better than I’ve ever had, Lennox. Better than I’ve ever known it could be.”

  Now there was a compliment.

  My phone started to buzz in my purse. Grateful for an excuse to break the intense moment, I dug out my cell. “Hey, Kiley. What’s up?” She started babbling and I was afraid she’d had a run-in with her ex and she’d climbed in the bottom of a bottle. “Slow down. Start over.” When I finally made sense of what she was saying, my heart hurt for her. “Look, I’m on my way home. Do you want me to bring you anything? You sure? Okay. See you in a bit.” I hung up.

  “What’s going on?”

  “Remember those kids we did the volunteer session with through LCCO? I don’t know if you’re aware that we met in the park that day because they had lost the
ir normal meeting place. With the snow last week, they couldn’t meet in the park. Kiley just found out one of her kids from that group got arrested. And she feels like she failed him because she hasn’t found another place for them to meet. And with crappy weather being forecast for this weekend . . .”

  “So they just need a place to let off steam and chill for a few hours?”

  “I guess.”

  “I have a half court and a full gym at my place. They could hang out there for a few hours.”

  I stared at him. “Brady, while opening your home to them is”—crazy talk—“above and beyond, I hate to say it, but these kids are borderline delinquents.”

  “Which is why they need a safe place to go, right?”

  “Yes, but you were trying to keep a low profile. Brady the accountant, not Brady the heir to a billion-dollar company with a million-dollar car and a multimillion-dollar house in the Old Mill District. You heard Juice that weekend, bragging about his cousin getting into Flurry. What if he does that? Brags to his cousin about the rich white dude with a soft spot for kids with issues? What if their thug friends show up at your place? What if they break in and rob you? What if they threaten you? God, what if they hurt you?”

  “Lennox. Take a deep breath. First of all, they don’t have to know it’s me. You don’t even have to tell Kiley I live there. Just let her know you’ve got a place lined up for this weekend through a friend of mine. Since it’s a warehouse built into the back of a bluff, there’s no way they could know what’s on the level above them unless I take them up there. And, baby, I’m a Lund, so my security system is the best money can buy. Nobody is getting anywhere I don’t want them to.”

  “You’re serious? It’s not just the afterglow of crazy hot sex talking?”

  He grinned. “Maybe. But this volunteer project is special to me. I don’t need to tell you why.”

  There was his sweetness again. “I’ll talk to Kiley.” I had a thousand things on my mind as I walked out of the dressing room. I was glad to see someone had fetched my coat and hung it up on the coatrack just inside Brady’s office door.

  “Forgetting something?” he said behind me.

  I whirled around. “Security. I bet you have to let me out.”

  “Yes, I’ll walk you out. But that’s not what you’re forgetting.” He hauled me against him and made my knees weak and my head fuzzy with a reminder of how it had been between us, locked in passion. When he finished ravishing my mouth, he murmured, “Plan on staying with me Saturday after the kids leave.”

  Once again I hoped the week went by fast.

  Chapter Eighteen

  Brady

  ‡

  The three-day trip to Chicago seemed to drag on for three weeks.

  Ash and I spent all day Wednesday touring the facilities of the factory we were interested in acquiring. I managed to beg off from a dinner out with the corporate officers, but Ash happily went to represent LI. I needed to clear my head, so I left the Ritz-Carlton and headed down Michigan Avenue and actually wandered into a couple of shops. When I passed the perfume and jewelry stores, it occurred to me . . . Was I expected to bring my girlfriend a gift from my travels? Since I was new to all this, I wasn’t sure. That set me on edge and everything I saw afterward looked cutesy or schmaltzy and that wasn’t Lennox at all.

  I ended up returning to the hotel, but stopped in the Harley-Davidson store on the same block. I looked at leather jackets, remembering how damn fine Lennox looked in leather pants and that microscopic leather miniskirt . . .

  “Sir? May I help you tonight?”

  I turned toward the saleswoman, who didn’t look as if she belonged on Michigan Avenue, with her tats, piercings and chains, her abundantly curvy body squeezed into leather pants and a matching vest. She reminded me of Lennox. I smiled. “Yes. I’d appreciate your help.”

  I’d never been an impulse shopper. Until now.

  *

  Thursday, after a more in-depth tour of the factory, the owner finally opened up his books to me, but not until late in the afternoon. I’d planned to order room service and go over everything so I had a better idea of whether this acquisition would be beneficial to LI, or whether we needed to keep looking.

  But again, the owners had made surprise plans for us—we’d all be attending a televised Thursday night football game at Soldier Field. They assumed—wrongly—that since a Lund played for the Vikings we’d be just as happy watching the Bears play. Ash and I exchanged a look. We both hated the Bears, almost as much as we hated the Green Bay Packers. But what could we do? I took several pictures during the game and of the skybox, tempted to send them to Lennox. Ash caught me and scowled. Apparently I was supposed to be listening to the majority owner, Bud, drone on and on about the Bears’ “near perfect” season the year they won the Super Bowl.

  Another late night meant no work got done. So the next morning, when I went to organize the papers I’d brought from my office—financial documents—the entire stack was missing. So was the thumb drive that contained that information.

  What the ever loving fuck?

  I searched my briefcase, my suitcase but to no avail.

  Then I remembered. I’d just . . . left the office Tuesday night. I hadn’t packed my briefcase; I’d just grabbed my laptop case and played grab-ass with Lennox as we’d walked out. I’d left everything in my office. And without that information, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the supply lists and manufacturing costs without a breakdown of revenue.

  I never did shit like this. Never. Going into a meeting, any meeting, I was always the person who overprepared. Being underprepared was almost as bad and lazy as not being prepared at all.

  For the first time in the two years since I’d become CFO, I had completely fucked up. And everyone would know it.

  Shame burned me from the inside out.

  Ash knocked on my door.

  Rather than admit I’d dropped the ball, I decided that since the factory owners had basically stalled us the last two days, it was time to return the favor.

  *

  At least Ash had his paperwork together.

  When it came time for me to present my questions midafternoon, I crashed and burned.

  Spectacularly.

  After an hour passed and it was obvious I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, Ash stepped in.

  “While we’d hoped to wrap this up today, as you can see there are a few unforeseen issues that have come up in our findings that Brady and I need to discuss in depth before we can voice our concerns to you. So is it more convenient for all of you to meet back here first thing in the morning? Or shall I schedule a conference room at our hotel?”

  I knew my cheeks, my neck and even the tops of my ears were blazing the same red as my tie.

  The group conferred and Bud said, “We’ll meet here. Nine a.m.”

  It was obvious none of them were too happy about it.

  They had nothing on my cousin. He exploded as soon as we were in the limo with the privacy screen engaged.

  “Brady. What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened?”

  “I didn’t have the information I needed.”

  “No. Shit.” He glared at me. “We’ve been working on this for six weeks. You’ve had every bit of fucking information you needed since day one. If you hadn’t had it, then we wouldn’t have moved forward. So tell me. What the fuck?”

  Time for the reckoning. “I left it all in my office.”

  Ash stared at me blankly. “Explain to me how that happened.”

 
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