Filthy Beautiful Lies Page 22

As I circle back toward the house, I see Marta’s little red sportscar pulling away and she gives me a wave before zooming off down the driveway. I hadn’t known she was stopping over today. She usually comes in the mornings, checks on the work of the house staff and then leaves to do whatever it is she does for Colton.

When I reach the house, I stumble inside, grateful to feel the cool air conditioning against my overheated skin. I slump to the floor in the mudroom, sucking in deep breaths, and tug off both shoes. Colton’s suit coat is laying on the bench. He’s home? Maybe that explains Marta’s late afternoon visit. I know I should straighten my disheveled appearance – fix my ponytail that is half out already, but as I sit there trying to calm my ragged breathing, I get the sense of being watched.

"Hey there, sweetness," Colton’s rich voice rasps over my flushed skin and my eyes jerk up to his. He’s leaning casually against the door frame, one ankle crossed over the other. His shirt is unbuttoned at the collar and he looks both happy and relaxed. My eyes are unfortunately drawn to the front of his dress pants, which refuse to lay flat over the impressive bulge he sports. Heat flares up my spine as I wonder what he and Marta were up to. He’s never been home this early before, and I can’t help but think her being here isn’t just some random coincidence. "Have a nice run?" he asks, his dimple peeking at me from one cheek.

"Uh huh." I nod, still utterly out of breath.

He enters the room, stepping closer and frowns down at the running shoes I’ve kicked off. I had my mom send me a package with a few things I missed from home. Mainly these shoes and my iPod for running. He toes one of the shoes, flipping it over, with a frown on his full lips. "These are what you wear to run?"

He checks for my reaction and I nod again. "They’re comfy." I know they’re old but they do the trick. They’re worn in all the right places.

"There’s no tread left on them. No support. You need a new pair every few hundred miles. How long have you been running in these?"

I’m guessing "since high school" is the wrong answer. My parents bought me these when I joined the cross country team my senior year. "A while."

"I’ll give you my credit card, you can order a new pair and have them delivered." His tone is direct and there’s something I dislike about being told what to do. I’m here on my own accord, making my own choices. Running is one of them. "If I want a new pair of shoes, I’ll get them. I don’t need you buying me anything."

His brows squeeze together like this is a foreign concept to him. Geez. Just because he has money, doesn’t mean I’m okay with using him or taking advantage of his hospitality. What kind of women did he date in the past?

"If I’m offering the help, why refuse it?" he asks.

"Because I like taking care of myself." I silently add that I don’t need a man to provide all of my needs. Despite selling my body into this jacked up arrangement, I am a strong, smart, independent woman. I wouldn’t compromise on that.

He raises his hands in front of him in a silent peace offering. "Okay. I’m sorry. I just don’t want you to twist your ankle. These have no support left in them."

His concern softens me. He offers me a hand, and I accept, letting him propel me off the floor and to me feet. Now that we’re standing face to face, I’m self-conscious about my sweaty skin – the droplets of perspiration that still clung to my upper lip and between my breasts. I want to ask him why he’s home early, but he distracts me, lifting a damp lock of hair from my neck and tucking it carefully behind my ear. The brush of his fingertips against my neck sends a chill zipping down my spine. His touch lingers there, stroking the column of my throat and my collarbone as if to test my reaction. His finger runs from my neck down to the tops of my breasts which heave with each ragged breath I draw into my overworked lungs.

"You need to understand you’re mine to look after," he says, his voice rough and full of need.

That had never been explicitly part of our arrangement and we both know it. But somehow, along the way, his concern for me has grown. I’m not about to complain, I just stand here, transfixed by these new and developing feelings growing between us.

The rush of his fingertips against my hot skin force my eyelids to drift closed. Most of my life, everyone’s focus and attention had been on Becca – as it should be, but here, in his presence, I’m the one that matters. His attention feels nice.

But just as quickly as he began touching me, his hand drops away and he takes a step back.

"I’m going to shower," I exhale.

He nods, still looking down at me like there’s more he wants to say.

I exit the mudroom and head for the stairs.


Seeing Sophie after her run – breathing hard from exertion and pink as a berry makes me want things I told myself I couldn’t have. She’s not really mine, so none of this should matter to me, yet it does, tremendously.

I head to my office, needing to relieve some sexual tension. It would be so easy to fall into familiar routines. I could make one phone call – fuck, I could even just send a one-line text and have Marta back over here, ready and willing to suck me off. Lord knows she’d do it. Probably drop everything and jump at the chance. Though it’d been a long ass time since we’d done anything like that, the way she still occasionally looks at me, her eyes wandering over my toned chest and abs told me she’d be up for some genital-on-genital contact. Even after I’d told her that despite what had happened in the past, she and I needed to remain on a professional level, she’d kept herself single all these years, waiting, silently watching my relationship with Stella build, and then fall apart. But I knew if I made that call, I wouldn’t get the satisfaction I was seeking, and I’d end up feeling worse. Regret would churn somewhere deep inside me. I didn’t want Marta. I wanted Sophie. And ever since my life – or at least my love life – went down the tubes two years ago, I vowed to live life with no regrets, so it was back to the original plan.

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