In his world everybody had a quid pro quo, so it disconcerted Ashton that Kiara hadn't demanded much in exchange to be his fake girlfriend for the next few weeks.
If all went well he'd get a coveted promotion out of this and all she'd asked him to do after their second sensational bout of sex last night had been to look after Greg and make sure he made it to the wedding on time. An easy task, considering Greg was a complete putz over Alice and way too stable at twenty-four.
When he'd been the same age eight years ago he'd been partying hard, enjoying a six-figure salary and the women it attracted in one of the most bustling cities in the world. Then he’d married, divorced fourteen months later and picked up where he’d left off, taking Melbourne by storm socially. Problem was, not much had changed, which was exactly why he'd had to coerce the luscious Kiara into pretending to be his girlfriend.
Greg may be staid and a tad boring but a lot could be said about a guy that age having his head screwed on right.
"Surprise." Kiara stepped into his office, swinging a cardboard box resembling a picnic basket. "Hope you're hungry."
"Ravenous." They locked gazes across the spacious glass-enclosed space and he wished that this lunch wasn't about showing off for Elliott and that his office had plaster walls, not glass.
She looked incredible in a figure-hugging skirt suit the colour of ripe plums, her hair piled on top of her head, a coy smile playing about her mouth.
"You're looking exceptionally beautiful today," he said, standing to cross the room and welcome her with a kiss.
He'd intended on making it brief, a gesture for show considering half the management team were surreptitiously watching them from their respective glass offices, but the moment he got close enough to smell her, he lost his head.
"I want you so badly," he said, capturing her mouth with a possessiveness that surprised him. There was something infinitely alluring about this confident woman that turned him into a caveman.
"Nice to see you, too," she said, patting his cheek with one hand while touching her lips with the other, as if she couldn't quite believe he'd done that.
He bent his head to murmur in her ear, "I appreciate you stopping by to do this."
"Isn't this what all good girlfriends do?" She batted her eyelashes in faux innocence. "Clear an hour off their hectic schedule? Forego that billable hour to play nice with a not-so-nice man?"
He laughed out loud, drawing blatant stares from nearby offices. He didn't care. This lunch may be pretend but his attraction to this woman was all too real.
"You're something else." He rested his hand on the small of her back, letting it linger a second before sliding lower to caress the curve of her ass.
She inhaled sharply but didn't move as he gave her a light slap before removing his hand to take the cardboard box from her.
"Take that as a promise of what's to come," he said, striding swiftly for the safety of his desk where he could camouflage the evidence of his rampaging desire.
"You into spanking now?" She perched on the edge of his desk and crossed her legs. "Because I prefer pleasure to pain, in case you were wondering."
"I know exactly how to pleasure you." Angling his body toward the desk, he cupped her calf and gave it a squeeze before sliding his palm higher, behind her knee, a particularly erogenous zone he'd discovered with his mouth last night.
"What's with all the glass?" she muttered as he tickled the soft skin behind her knee. "You could've had me for lunch if you had a proper office, not a Mediterranean focaccia with everything."
"I happen to like focaccia," he said, straightening as he glimpsed Elliott hovering near his half-closed door.
"And I like you." She leaned forwards, giving him a tantalising view of impressive cleavage as his boss strode into his office.
"Sorry to interrupt," Elliott said, not looking sorry at all, the pompous jerk, as he grinned at Kiara. "But I need you to talk down a jumpy client, Ashton."
"I wouldn't bust up your cosy lunch if it wasn't important."
"That's okay," Kiara said, standing. "Raincheck, honey?"
"You bet." Ashton kissed her on the mouth and as he lingered longer than conventional for a kiss in front of his boss, he knew it had more to do with Kiara than any crazy plan to for a promotion.
"Bye, Elliott." She raised her hand in a casual wave as they watched her walk out of the office.
"That's a fine woman you've got there, Ashton," Elliott said. "Good to see you settling down."
Ashton couldn't speak. Not because of embarrassment for this charade he was perpetuating but for the simple fact he agreed too heartily: Kiara was a fine woman and while technically he didn’t “have” her, he was starting to wish he had.
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