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“I wouldn’t have to pretend if you were here like you were supposed to be,” I said, peaking both brows.

“You’re all kinds of moody tonight, Luce,” he said. “An orgasm will take care of that.” He interrupted me before I could argue back. “You know it will. Come on, baby. For me?”

And then he gave me the look—the look. The one where his eyes went all soft and light. In the battle that was man versus woman, this look should not be allowed.

I caved every damn time. This time included.

“Fine,” I sighed. “For you.”

His smile exploded for one moment, right before it dropped with desire. “Who’s a lucky bastard?” he said rhetorically, pointing a finger at himself. “That’s right. This guy.”

I laughed, relaxing now that I’d accepted what detour this night was taking. In fact, I wasn’t only relaxing, I was getting excited.

I needed another drink of water, but I’d emptied my glass pre–phone sex talk. Biting my lip, I felt my face heat. How did one go about this? I didn’t have a manual. If I had a glass of wine in me I would have felt more uninhibited. Gauging the widening of Jude’s pupils, I guessed there wasn’t time for that.

“So . . .” I began, “when do we get started?”

I would have made the worst paid phone sex professional ever. My parents would have been proud.

A corner of Jude’s mouth lifted. “I already am, Luce.”

Damn, knowing Jude was touching himself right now made my body spiral out of control in a familiar way. It wouldn’t take much “touching” to get me the rest of the way there.

“I suppose that dumb smile on your face should have given that away,” I said, sliding my hand into place.

“There’s my girl,” he said, his voice husky.

My eyes closed at first, as my body rushed from my touch.

“What in the hell are we doing?” I said, my own voice raspy.

“Doing the best we can with what we’ve been given tonight, Luce,” was his immediate answer.

“And giving French vanilla a run for its money,” I added, gliding my other hand up my stomach before giving the tie a suggestive tug.

“Shit,” Jude breathed, the muscles in his shoulders picking up speed.

Dropping my head back, I started kneading my breast, rolling the nipple between my fingers.

“Holy shit.” Jude’s eyes couldn’t have gotten any wider. “We are putting French vanilla in its goddamned place, baby.”

If it wasn’t for his confidence, combined with the way I’d already started on this train, I would have been trying to talk myself out of this whole thing. But I was too far gone to hit the brakes.

“What are you imagining right now?” I asked, staring into his eyes, pretending it was his hands working over me.

“With the view I’ve got right now?” he said, winking. “Who needs to imagine? This right here, a beautiful woman touching herself the way you are, is the American dream, Luce.”

His words sent another pulse of pleasure to my body. “Let’s just say you were here tonight . . .” I began. “And you’d just walked into the apartment. What would you have done?”

“Are you wanting me to talk dirty to you, Luce?” he asked with a smirk. “Because all you ever have to do is say the word and I will happily say filthy, filthy things to you.”

“The word,” I teased.

“If I wasn’t about to come, I’d be lecturing you about your backward progress in the comedy department.”

“Wait for me,” I said, sinking my teeth into my lower lip. That always drove him crazy.

“Always, Luce,” he said. “Always.

“Okay, so I just walked through the door,” he began, his shoulders slowing. “And there you are, na**d except for that fine-ass tie around your neck, touching yourself and looking at me with those screw-me eyes.”

One of Jude’s many gifts of his lady-killer DNA was his voice. It was deep enough to make a woman’s insides vibrate, but still clear enough to cut right through her. However, whenever we were intimate, that voice of his went as deep as it would go, vibrating in all the right places.

“I’d be across that room in two seconds flat, and have you up against the nearest wall two seconds after that,” he said, the muscles of his neck popping to the surface. He was forcing himself to hold off.

He wouldn’t have to for much longer.

“I’d slide that tie from your neck, hold your wrists behind your back, and cinch them together so tightly I could do whatever I wanted to do to you, however I wanted to do it.”

“Oh, God.” I sighed, kicking my leg up on the table to give myself better access.

“Then, in the time it would take you to wrap your legs around me, I’d have my zipper down and my mouth on yours. And then, baby,” he said, his own head rocking back, “I wouldn’t give it to you until you came and got it.”

At this pace, with those kinds of words, I wasn’t going to make it much longer.

“So, my wrists tied behind me, my legs tied around you, I’d lower myself over you, teasing you until I made you come and get it.” Had those words just come out of my mouth? At this point in fast-approaching ecstasy, I couldn’t be sure.

“And you’d be so ready for me, I’d bury myself so deep inside you I could come right then,” he continued, groaning through the end. “But then you’d start moving, doing that little hip swivel thing you know drives me nuts, and then—”

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