The Billionaire's Embrace Page 24

I stared at her. Was she serious? The lower classes? Were we in a Charles Dickens novel?

Unexpected rage filled me. I hated these people, with their galas and their art openings and their money they wasted on haute couture and pampered little dogs. They all thought they were better than me just because they were born with silver spoons in their mouths. I said, “I’m glad to see you’re doing your part to parasitize the global economy,” and turned my back on the both of them.

I heard shocked gasps behind me, but I ignored them. What were they going to do? Have me thrown out? Tell Carter I had been rude to them? Somehow I got the feeling he wouldn’t care.

He finally managed to extricate himself from Mrs. Chanler, and we moved on through the crowd. He said, “I saw you talking to Juliette. I hope she didn’t say anything horrible. She’s an awful person.”

“She said you aren’t returning her phone calls,” I said.

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, because I hate her. She makes my skin crawl.”

That made me feel a little better—that the woman hadn’t been rude to me because of anything about me, but just because she was an odious human being. “She seemed a little, um.”

“Awful?” Carter asked. “I hate coming to these things. Poor Regan. I shouldn’t have asked you to suffer with me.” He looked around the room, scanning for something, and then said, “Let’s stuff our faces with hors d’oeuvres and then get out of here. Do you want to?”

“God yes,” I said, and he laughed.

We waded back out of the crowd and found a quiet spot against one wall. Carter told me to stay put and wandered off, and came back with two small plates loaded with hors d’oeuvres: bacon-wrapped asparagus, bruschetta, crab canapes. I’d eaten dinner before Carter picked me up, but I wasn’t about to turn down free food. That was one of the first things you learned when you were poor: if it was free, put as much of it in your stomach as you possibly could.

We ate, and listened to the music, and then Carter said, “Have I told you how incredible you look in that dress? Because you look incredible.”

I smiled at him. “I liked Betty. She was really nice to me.”

“She’s a peach, but I don’t want to talk about Betty right now.” He ran one hand down my bare back, from my shoulder to my hip, and I leaned into his touch. “I want to talk about getting you home and into my bed.”

Oh. I nearly choked on my canape, and looked around to make sure nobody was in earshot. But we were alone, and Carter’s gaze was hot and dark, and I felt myself responding to him, just like I always did. “That sounds, um. Way better than staying here.”

He slid his hand down even further, until he was cupping the curve of my ass. “I’ll go get our coats.”

Chapter 8

We stumbled into Carter’s apartment, laughing and kissing, Carter’s hands on my hips. “Where should I have you,” he asked me between kisses, “the sofa? The dining table? The living room floor?”

“What’s wrong with the bedroom?” I asked, fumbling with his bow tie.

“Ah, a traditionalist,” he said. “If you prefer the bedroom, the bedroom it shall be.” He unzipped my dress and slid it to the floor, and then stopped, confounded by my shape-wear.

I laughed at his expression. “You have to go in the bedroom and wait for me,” I said. “Taking this stuff off is really undignified.”

“Whatever the lady wants,” he said. He winked at me and strolled down the hallway toward the bedroom.

Alone, I peeled down the shape-wear and worked to ease it over my hips. Betty had said it was absolutely necessary to preserve the line of the dress, but in retrospect, I should have just worn a slip. It would have been easier to take off, and I needed to be naked now.

Carter always did this to me. One touch, and my body went from zero to sixty. It would have been a little terrifying it if weren’t so incendiary.

I wasn’t wearing any underpants beneath the shape-wear, and when I finally struggled out of it, the cool air of the apartment felt refreshing against the overheated flesh between my legs. I was already swollen with desire just from making out with him in the car. A few kisses, and I was desperate for more.

Still wearing my heels, I walked down the hallway toward Carter’s bedroom. I probably looked ridiculous, strutting around in high heels and no clothes, but I thought Carter would like it, and that was the only thing that mattered. I stopped in the doorway and struck a pose, one arm over my head.

Carter was shirtless and unzipping his trousers, but he paused with his hands on his fly and gazed at me. I felt pretty foolish, but I held my pose, and the heat in his eyes made my mouth go dry. Whatever I thought about myself, he found me desirable. It made me feel powerful, that I could make a man like Carter look at me like that.

“You need to come over here right now,” he said, and shoved his pants down over his hips.

He was wearing his usual black boxer-briefs underneath, and I let myself stare at his strong thighs, his ass, the heavy bulge of his erection. Most of the time, he was so well-dressed and civilized, all buttoned-up and tidy, and it was easy to forget what lay beneath all of that, that under the clothing and the polished manners, Carter was a man, and he was used to getting what he wanted.

And what he wanted, right now, was me.

I crossed the floor and stood in front of him, skin prickling, nipples hard. Even with my heels on, he was still tall enough that I felt small and delicate beside him. And I liked that feeling, like he would protect me from all the dark things in the world, the monsters in the closet, the wolves in the forest. He slid his hands down my bare back and over the curve of my ass, and squeezed gently.

“How much do you trust me?” he asked.

What a loaded question. Did he want me to give him an exact amount? A percentage? “I trust you,” I said, hedging my bets.

He grinned. “That’s a non-answer. You’d do well in the boardroom.” He moved one hand lower, sliding between my legs, dipping into my wet slit and teasing at me. “You can use your safeword.”

“I know,” I said. Of course I did. I didn’t think there was any way that I could forget it.

“Will you use it if you need to?” he pressed, fingers rubbing my clit, making my breath catch in my throat like a fish-hook.

“I’ll use it,” I said.

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