‘I have a very big favor to ask you.’ I say.

He raises his eyebrows.

‘It is very important to me.’

‘Sure,’ he says.

‘You agreed without knowing what I am going to ask?’

‘When people say I need a very big favor it’s bound to be a small thing. It is when they ask for a small favor that I start worrying. So, what is it you want?’

‘My mother has invited you around to dinner. It’s just the once. You will have to pretend to be my boyfriend,’ I say so quickly the words almost run into each other.

‘What sort of thing will I have to do to convince her that I am your boyfriend?’

‘Just the usual. Hold hands, a quick kiss. Nothing too heavy.’

He smiles cynically. ‘I think I can manage that.’

‘Thank you. I owe you one. Maybe one day you will need a favor and I can do something to help you.’

‘I’ll remember that,’ he says, and falls silent. But the silence is not uncomfortable and we finish our main meal without further conversation.

He orders the macerated strawberries for dessert.

‘I’ll have the same,’ I tell the waiter.

Blake grins. ‘I thought you might go for the Like A Kid In A Sweetshop,’ he says.

‘I nearly did,’ I admit. ‘Do you know what’s in it?’

‘Just a selection, I guess. Want to change your mind?’

‘No.’

The dessert is so delicious I wish my mother could try it. After the handmade chocolates, the bill arrives. I catch a glimpse of it. It is over four and a half thousand pounds. That is more than my mother spends on food for a whole year. It must be good to be so rich. I look at Blake in shock. He raises his eyes and returns my look. His eyes are sultry and slumberous.

And suddenly he seems devastatingly, impossibly handsome, but so aloof and unreachable that it is almost as if I have my nose pressed against a glass window and I am looking in at something I can never have.

Just like the poor match girl from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale who had to keep lighting her last matchsticks to see the fantastically beautiful sight in front of her.

When the matches run out she dies.

Sixteen

He opens the door of the apartment and waits for me to enter. I walk in and stand with my back to him, waiting. I hear the thick click of the door, then he is standing behind me. His breath is on my neck.

‘Mmmm… You smell so good,’ he whispers.

I lean my head back and find his chest. Rock solid it is.

I hear the sound of the zip and my dress is pooling around my shoes. He unhooks my bra and frees my br**sts. In a smooth movement he has scooped me into his arms and is carrying me down the long corridor. There is something so caveman and primal about being carried to be ravished that I have to bury my head in his wide chest so he will not see how unbearably excited and flushed I am. I have been claimed. Now I will be taken and possessed.

He kicks open the bedroom door and lays me down on the bed.

Then he brings his mouth down on mine and kisses me ferociously. The feel and heat of his mouth is a shock to my system. Every coherent thought flees. From his mouth he transfers hunger into my very cells. Every fiber of my being wants him inside me again. He takes his mouth away and I come up heaving for air. They sound like desperate gasps. Sounds I have never heard myself make.

His tongue moves across my collarbone and I whimper. That small mewl of surrender seems to send him into overdrive.

He pushes his knee between my legs and forces them open. Licking the soft swell of my breast and circling his lips around one taut peak, he sucks it softly. I close my eyes and arch back. His large hand skims the soft flesh between my legs. The small bit of lace between us is no match for him. The sound of tearing is loud in my ears.

My eyes fly open and register his as smoldering and intently watching, my face, my mouth, my reactions. His roving fingers encounter thick juices and they make him growl. I stare at him, not understanding it to be the guttural rumble of possession and ownership.

My mouth opens in a silent O, but I do not look away when his fingers first one then two thrust into the wet crease. The thrusting is slow and languorous. Delicious. I raise my body to reach for his mouth. With a groan his hot hungry mouth swoops down to meet mine. As the kiss grows deeper I become lost in the foreign sensations inside me. The blood rushes through my veins and the action between my legs picks up pace, becomes more urgent.

Suddenly he takes his fingers out.

‘Don’t,’ I breathe. My voice is ragged, an unfamiliar mess.

I run my fingers down his hard stomach towards the zip of his pants. My hands are trembling, useless things. He pushes them away gently, and does the job himself.

Naked he is magnificent. A god. Muscles rippling.

He positions himself over me and very slowly sinks his hard flesh into me. He is stretching me, filling me, in a slow, hot movement of pain and shock and…strangely, pleasure…as my sex struggles to accommodate the unfamiliar invasion. His eyes, glazed, the pupils so widely dilated with passion that they are nearly black, never leave me. Watching. Watching. The widening of my own eyes, the way my lips part, the shudders that come to shake my body.

It is sweet torture.

I arch with satisfaction and moan. My soft moans seems to incite him further and he increases the pace of his thrusts. He forces himself deeper and deeper inside me, filling me right to my core.

‘Does it still hurt?’ he asks.

This deep? Yes. Of course it does. ‘No,’ I gasp.

So he rocks inside me. Suddenly like a whip passion curls and races through my body, shocking me with its ferocity. It erupts in a strangled cry that surprises even him. He looks at me possessively, proudly, as if he has branded me. He is the owner of my lust. In his hands and mouth and body he holds my pleasure. He said he wanted to f**k me senseless and he does. His pace becomes punishingly hard and fast, but I love the pounding.

Something is billowing through me; it feels as though it could bring some kind of release. When it comes it is a riotous, glorious tidal wave that rips through me. I become one with him, one body, one mind, one soul. But he is still moving. Unfinished.

Then my name tears past his lips. Ah, the tidal wave is upon him.

I come back slowly. The lethargy is luxurious. I remain spread-eagled in my ecstasy. He gathers my tired limbs gently and shuts them. I look up at him dreamily.

He pulls a sheet over my naked skin, and then he leaves me. The door shuts with its thick click.

Seventeen

By the time I arrive at the Black Dog, it is heaving with lunchtime trade and Jack is already sitting at a table by a window nursing a pint. As always, the sight of him makes me feel warm inside. I long to run into his arms, he’s been fighting my battles for me for as long as I can remember, but this time he can’t help.

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