Grounded (Up in the Air, #3)(10)

We showered together in the office’s well-appointed restroom. He washed me with tender hands and lingering caresses, as was his wont.

“Your office isn’t what I expected,” I said as he dried me thoroughly. “It doesn’t have the James touch.”

He kissed a hip as he dried my legs. “It was my father’s office, as well. I could never bring myself to change any of it.”

I stroked a hand through his wet hair. My sentimental James.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that the bedroom had a closet, or that that closet had clothing for me. James seemed more interested in finding clothes for me than in dressing himself as he perused the large rack of women’s clothing that took up exactly one half of the closet. He was mostly dry, though some of that golden skin was still deliciously damp. He had a towel slung low across his hips. It made it hard to focus on what I was supposed to be doing; to even remember that I was trying to do anything but watch him with hungry eyes.

James pulled a pale gray sheath dress with a boatneck off the rack. “This,” he said.

I rolled my eyes at him. “And do I get to pick out your clothes?”

He waved a hand at his side of the closet, still rifling through my rack of clothes. “As you wish, Buttercup,” he said, moving to a display of belts set against a large dresser at the back of the closet.

My breath caught at the phrase, and I glanced at him. He wasn’t even looking at me…

I moved to his side of the closet, shaking it off.

I sifted through clothing so expensive it felt wrong to even touch it. “Do you need to wear a suit?” I asked, because I had so seldom seen him dress in anything else.

[page]“It would be preferable, since we’re dining at one of my properties, and I prefer to appear professional at my place of business. But if something else catches your eye, I’m certainly amenable.”

I shot him an arch look. “Do you suppose beating a guy up for insulting your girlfriend appears professional?”

He grinned at me, not the least repentant. It was a little infuriating. “I’m only human,” he said.

I shook my head at him. He was impossible.

I picked out a beautiful pale gray suit. I quickly located a brilliant turquoise shirt and tie. I’d seen him wear the color before, and it was beyond stunning on him.

I turned to show him my selections to see him bending down to collect a pair of suede turquoise wedges. He held a thin turquoise belt in his hand to go with the sheath. I studied his choices, and then mine, and began to laugh.

I laughed so hard that I had to sit on the floor, my towel falling off me.

I giggled harder as a grinning James pounced, our clothing falling in heaps around us as he pinned me to the floor.

He brushed wet hair out of my face and smiled into my eyes.

“Did you see what I was picking out, or are we really this crazy?” I asked him, laughter still in my voice.

He stroked my cheek, giving me the sweetest smile. I didn’t think there was a person on the planet that could be on the receiving end of that smile and not fall in love with it. With him.

“Of course I peeked,” he told me. “I was prepared to change your whole outfit until we matched.”

I giggled harder and he kissed my laughing lips. He didn’t linger, pulling back quickly.

“You’re insane,” I told him, and stood up to dress.

He hugged me from behind, pressing hard against me, rubbing his smooth chest along my back. He spoke into my ear, “Insane for you, my love.”

I stiffened, warmed by his words but instantly uncomfortable. What did he mean by that? Was it as serious as it sounded, or just his naturally affectionate nature showing itself? He had been saying outrageous things to me from the start, so I had tended not to take them seriously, but it was becoming clearer by the day that he was very serious—that he always had been. Was he expecting me to respond in kind? Because I wasn’t ready for that—didn’t even know how.

The awkward moment quickly passed. James simply kissed my neck softly, and let me go to dress.

He had his office bathroom stocked with toiletries and cosmetics for me. I found this both completely insane and totally convenient. He even had a hair dryer for me. I was ready in less than twenty minutes, James in under ten.

“Do you mind going to dinner with Frankie next time we’re in Vegas?” James asked as I finished up. “Next week sometime.”

“Not at all,” I said quickly, still embarrassed at how jealous I’d been of the woman’s easy affection with James at our first meeting. But she was apparently one of the few beautiful women on the planet that James hadn’t slept with, and I felt too silly for assuming that they had some sort of a past together. I wouldn’t mind a chance to let the woman get a better impression of me.

“And Lana called me. She wants to do lunch with you. She’s in New York this week, and said she’d make herself flexible for you. I told her to contact you, since I wasn’t sure of your plans while I’m working.”

“Oh, that sounds nice,” I said, and meant it. I’d liked the other woman instantly. She was refreshingly candid and easy to talk to. I didn’t expect to make fast friends with many of the people in James’s affluent circles, and so one such friend was a huge comfort.

“Also, Parker and Sophia want to have us over for dinner. I told them maybe in a few weeks. Parker’s version of not scaring you off alarms me, to be honest.”

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