This Man (This Man #1)(8)

by Jodi Ellen Malpas

An hour later, I have all the measurements I need and we’re done. I follow John’s huge body back onto the gallery landing, as I search for my phone within my bag. I soon realise that in my desperation to get shot of Sarah, I left it on the bar.

‘I’ve left my phone in the bar.’ I mutter to John’s back.

‘I’ll make sure Mario’s picked it up. Jesse wanted me to show you one of the other rooms before you go.’ he informs me evenly.


‘So you get an idea of your brief.’ He puts a keycard in the slot, opens the door and ushers me in.

Oh, okay. It can’t hurt, and I am interested.

Wow! I walk into the middle of the room. Well, mini-suite would better describe it. The floor space is probably bigger that Kate’s flat. Hearing the door close behind me, I turn to see John has left me to take it in on my own. I stand absorbing the opulent spender of the décor.

These rooms are more lavish than the ones downstairs, if that’s possible. A giant bed dominates the room, dressed in rich satin linen in deep purples and gold. The wall behind the bed is papered in an embossed, intense swirling of dull gold, and heavy thick curtains pool the thick, bouncy carpet. The lighting is dim and soft. One of Ward’s key requirements was sensuality, and whoever designed this room has achieved it in abundance. Why doesn’t he just re-employ this designer?

I wander over to the huge, sash window and look out over the rear grounds. The land The Manor stands on is vast, the views tremendous and the lush greenness of the Surrey countryside is rolling for miles and miles beyond. It really is quite special. I walk over and run my palm across a lovely dark wooden chest of drawers. I place my folder and bag on the top before lowering myself onto the chaise lounge in the window.

I sit and take in my surroundings. It’s incredible and would undoubtedly rival many of the most famous hotels spread across the world’s biggest cities. A huge wall hanging grabs my attention. It’s quite odd but beautifully made. It must be an antique. Half attached to the wall and drifting up onto the ceiling where the huge beams span, it’s grid like in appearance, but there’s no material or lighting adorning it. I tilt my head on a frown, but then fly up to standing position when I hear a noise coming from the bathroom.

Oh shit. He’s put me in an occupied room…or has he? I can’t hear anything now. I keep myself still and quiet, trying to listen for movement, but there’s nothing. I relax a little, but then I hear the door handle on the bathroom shift and my head snaps up. Oh, heck.

I should be running to escape before some poor sod comes out of their bathroom, possibly naked, and finds a strange woman, standing like a complete plum, in the middle of their posh suite. I pelt towards the chest of drawers to retrieve my bag and swing around towards the exit. I gasp, dropping my bag to the floor.

I’m frozen on the spot and staring at Jesse Ward. He’s standing in the doorway of the bathroom, wearing nothing but a pair of loose fitting jeans.

Chapter 5

He remains silent as I look at him in shock, waiting for an explanation. I get nothing, except for his intense, green eyes gazing at me from across the room. I feel like I’m under a microscope, and that glass of wine is on spin cycle in my stomach, churning around and around as I shift nervously on my heels.

‘Is this some kind of joke?’ I half laugh. I’m still waiting for enlightenment, but it’s not forthcoming.

I try to ignore the mass of magnificent man and frantically search my brain for guidance or instruction. It’s useless. I’m not blind. I’ll happily volunteer that I’ve imagined his chest, more than once, and it exceeds even my highest imaginations and expectations. This man is way past perfect. What should I do? He’s just standing there, with his head slightly lowered, staring up at me through his long lashes. His eyes are piercing me, his mouth slack, and I can see the rise and fall of his incredible chest. There’s some serious definition; not too bulky, just clean…cut… perfection. If he’s devastating fully clothed, then he’s seizure worthy now. I take a deep breath.

Oh God, he has the V. His heavy breathing is causing his muscles to roll and ripple, the increased swells putting the stoppers on his attempt to appear unaffected. He’s really affected. What’s he doing there like that? Stood with only a pair of jeans on, looking all freshly shaven, revealing even more beauty? I mentally slap myself. It’s obvious what he’s playing at. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted him. He’s unreal and so bloody forward – it’s almost unattractive…almost.

I laugh lightly to myself. It’s not unattractive – not at all. I’m a pooling mass of want.

Was I hoping to see him? Yes, I’ll admit that. But like this? Yes, actually, I was. I’ve thought of little else since I laid eyes on him.

His arms drape by his sides, but his stance is confident and determined. He’s staring at me with complete intent, his look telling me I’m about to melt with pleasure. I should leave, but as much as I think I need to, as much as I’m battling with my sensible side to run, I don’t. Instead, I run my eyes down his jean clad thighs, noticing the bulge at his groin. He’s absolutely turned on, and judging by the coiled pang of desire that has just sprung into my stomach, so am I.

My body clams up with panic, battling between my conflicting sides – the sensible side, telling me to get the hell out of here, and my dangerous side, pleading with me to stay and take what he wants to give. This is wrong. I was just chatting to his girlfriend downstairs. Well, not chatting. Chatting would imply that it was a friendly converse – it wasn’t.

My debating brain has got me shifting my position as I part my lips to draw a steadying breath. I flex my neck.

‘Relax, Ava,’ he soothes me quietly. ‘You know you want this.’

I almost laugh. Who wouldn’t? Look at him. I stand motionless, the only visible movement is my heart hammering out of my chest, and it increases tenfold when he slowly begins to walk towards me, his eyes fixed on mine.

When he’s a few feet away, his fresh, minty scent engulfs my nose, sending my body involuntarily rigid. I don’t know how I manage it, but I keep my eyes to his, lifting them to maintain contact as he nears, until he’s standing before me. He’s as close as he can be without physically touching me. If there’s a Def-Con One version of high alert for the human body, then I’m in it now.

‘Turn around.’ he orders gently.

I conform without even a thought or hesitation, slowly turning away from him as I puff my cheeks out and clench my eyes shut. What am I doing? I didn’t falter in the slightest. My shoulders are tensing, anticipating his touch, and no amount of mental encouragement to relax is paying off. The only sound breaking the screaming silence is the heavy breathing coming from both of us. I stand for a few moments, then go to turn and face him again, but I’m stopped in my tracks when two firm, warm, slightly shaky hands rest on my shoulders, keeping me from following through on my intent. His touch makes me flinch, and he releases one hand slowly, as if to ensure I’ll stay still. My loose hair is gathered into his hand and released to fall down my front. In my own private darkness, I can hear my head demanding I run away, but my body has a whole other agenda. It’s defiantly ignoring any instructions from my brain. His hand returns to my shoulder and slowly massages my tense muscles. The feeling is divine, my head rolling in appreciation as a small sigh escapes my lips. The pressure increases, and I soak up the delicious movements of his talented hands as I feel his hot minty breath getting closer to my ear. I shudder, moving my face towards the source. I know this is inviting, but right at this moment, I’ve lost all sense. I want more.

‘Don’t stop this.’ he whispers, the vibrations of his voice propelling shockwaves throughout my body. I’m physically shaking. It’s way beyond my control.

My breath catches at the back of my throat. ‘I don’t want to.’ My voice is unrecognisable. I can’t believe he’s captured me like this; I can’t believe I’m accepting this.

‘It’s a good job. I don’t think I’d let you.’ He presses his entire front against my back, his mouth dropping to my ear. ‘I’m going to take your dress off now.’

My nod of agreement is almost non-existent, but he catches it and answers by nipping my earlobe, which only assists in raising the relentless pressure in my already throbbing core.

‘You’re too f**king beautiful, Ava.’ he purrs, skimming his lips across my ear.

‘Oh god,’ I lean back into him, his erection throbbing through his jeans, pulsing into my lower back.

‘Do you feel that?’ He circles his hips. I moan. ‘I’m going to have you, lady’ His words are spoken with absolute conviction.

I’m a complete slave to them. I know he’s bound to have had practice in this area; he must have the gift of seduction down to a fine art. I’m not in denial. Women must be falling at his feet on a daily basis. He’s a well-trained master, seeing and taking what he wants, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Right now, I’m here for the taking, with no conscience and no indecisiveness. Caution has been wholly and absolutely thrown to the wind. What harm can it do?

I feel his index finger start at the base of my back, trailing a slow, definite stroke up the centre of my spine, causing my head to roll freely. I plead with my hands to remain at my sides, when all I want to do is turn and devour him, but he’s already stopped me from turning to face him once. He clearly likes to be in control.

As he reaches the very top of my dress, he grasps the zip and places his hand on my hip. I jerk. It’s my ultimate tickle spot and any friction on my hip bone, or the hollow above it, sends me through the roof. Squeezing my eyes shut, I use every ounce of willpower I possess to disregard the contact. It’s hard, but the sheer size of his hand splayed across my hip grounds me, keeping me immobile.

The zip of my dress slowly lowers and I hear him gasp at the exposure of my bare skin. He removes his hand from my hip, and I’m stunned when I miss the heat immediately. But then I feel both hands slide under the material of my dress and rest on my bare shoulders. His fingers flex as he pushes my dress away from my front before slowly dragging it down my body, letting it fall to the floor.

His breath catches, and I thank everything holy that I put on decent underwear. I’m stood in my bra, knickers and heels, and at the complete mercy of the Adonis looming behind me. What the hell am I doing?

‘Hmmm, lace.’ he whispers. My waist is griped and I’m lifted out of the pooling dress before being turned to face him. In these heels, my eyes are level with his chin and with a little flick upwards, I’m focused on his full, beautiful lips and wishing he would lay them on mine. I’m swiftly losing my self-control and my conscience has long left the building. I’m wanton, and with this man, easy.

He lifts a hand to my breast and circles my nipple through my bra with his thumb, his gaze focused on his movements. My ni**les tingle at the contact, lengthening behind the material of my bra. A small smile plays at the corners of his lips. He knows the affect he’s having on me. He introduces his index finger and tweaks the stiff nub, causing my br**sts to throb, becoming heavy, aching mounds. I’m completely rapt by this man studying me so closely, working me up into a shaking, desperate mess. I still can’t believe I’m doing this, but damn, can I stop it?

I watch as he brings his other hand up to palm my other breast. I can no longer keep my hands off of him. My arms lift and my palms settle on his chest. The warmness and firmness hitches my breath. I start to trail my finger down the void between his pecs, smiling to myself when I feel him flinch under my touch and groan low in his throat. Before I can make the most of the access to his body, he turns me back around, and I want to cry inside.

‘I want to see you.’ I breathe.