Cole wasn’t sure what he expected, but nothing he imagined would have come close to the reality of Shaun’s apartment. The place was magnificent and perched on the top of what looked to be a converted warehouse in the trendy, fashion district of Mason. The whole top floor belonged to her, needing a special key for the elevator to even ascend to the penthouse loft.
Casually dropping her shoes on the floor, just inside the door, Shaun spoke to Cole over her shoulder, “would you like something to drink?” She made a right and disappeared under a set of wooden stairs.
“Um, sure.” He followed her in, closing the door behind him. Looking around, he could immediately see why she wanted his decorative assistance. Apart from a few standard pieces here and there, the impressive space was relatively bare. The predominantly wooden floor plan was open with the stairs leading up to a separate loft. Shaun reappeared from a small kitchen, tucked away beneath the upper level, with two bottles of Heineken beer and handed him one. He smiled and took a pull. “Looks like you weren’t kidding when you said you needed my furniture talents.” He smirked.
She laughed and glanced around, taking a drink herself. “Yeah, I moved in recently and haven’t had much time to furnish. Let me show you why I just had to live here.”
Expecting her to lead him up to some extravagant closet, Shaun grabbed his free hand and pulled him further inside instead, not stopping until they reached a set of double sliding glass doors. She slid both open and walked outside, the warm spring air pleasantly coaxing Cole to follow. He stepped out onto a large garden patio, with a small pool in one corner, overlooking the vast cityscape.
“Wow.” She smiled wide and kept moving towards the far edge, playfully crooking her finger, watching him with each step. He stared out in awe. “This is beautiful.”
She set her beer down on top of the stone wall outlining the whole of the patio and nodded. “Yes.” She braced her elbows on the flat ledge as well and looked over; comfort in her element expressed in her body language and facial features. “I feel so small here and I love it.”
Cole glanced over at Shaun, the moonlight outlining her profile in a soft glow. Her long waves swayed in the gentle breeze. “God, you’re beautiful.” Shaun turned to meet his eyes and padded closer. She lifted the beer from his hand and set the bottle next to hers. Cradling his face, she steered his head lower until their lips met. The tender yet urgent kiss, awakened every base need to life, like a flash of lightening to his insides. His arms wrapped around her narrow waist, pulling her tight against his chest.
Shaun tasted of alcohol and sin. Exotic and entrancing. The kiss turned feverish, hands moving to his tuxedo shirt, tugging the garment up from his trousers. The heat of her small palms glided along his lower abdomen, forcing a groan into the deepening kiss. He wanted her hands all over him. He double palmed her backside, dress rising up to reveal nothing between but smooth skin. Thong panties or none at all. Cole cursed at the thought. She pulled back from his hold, his breaths coming in shallow pants.
“Why did you pretend to be involved with me in front of Olivia?” Her gaze traveled up over his face, questioning.
“Huh?” As if someone slammed on the breaks, Cole’s brain skidded to a halt.
“When you called me beautiful and kissed me.” She took another step back and curled her arms around herself as if the temperature on the roof grew colder when it felt like the complete opposite.
Cole shrugged, still trying to adjust to the abrupt change of gears. His hard on strained against his zipper, also wondering what the fuck just happened? “I guess, I thought the idea of your ex bringing a new girlfriend to the dinner party was kind of shitty. Who invited her anyway?”
Shaun cast her eyes downward and Cole clasped his hands in front of his lower region, attempting to hide his now awkward arousal. “My mother. She likes to meddle in my life and she thought she could help Liv and I get back together.”
He nodded in understanding, unsure of where this was heading. “Do you want to get back together with her?” he asked, not sure if he really wanted to know the answer.
Shaun slowly looked back up at him. “I don’t know.”
His heart dropped along with his erection. But honestly, what did he expect? For her to fall madly in love with him like some fairytale princess? That if he rode in to save the day, like some knight on a white horse, she would go against everything she believed in to give him a shot? “I thought so. Look, I should probably get going.” He turned and started to leave, tucking his shirt back into his pants and making a few other adjustments.
“Wait! What are you doing?” she called out from behind.
“Leaving.” He took another few steps.
“But, I don’t want you to go.”
Cole stopped and faced her once more, almost losing his nerve. “And I don’t want to be just some fuck you use to make yourself feel better about your ex.”
Her head pitched back as if the force of his words pushed her physically. “That is not what this is at all.”
“No?” He snorted, devoid of humor. “I’m supposed to believe that you would have asked me here if Olivia didn’t show up with Jessica? Nah, I think you would have left me at the party to find my own way home, once we finished your scheme with Jasper. He wants us to meet with him Tuesday, by the way.” She didn’t say anything. The resulting pain unexpected. “Well, I think I have my answer. Thank you for the beer, Shaun. See you at work on Monday.” Cole didn’t wait for Shaun to stop him a second time and left the princess alone on her balcony.
Shaun worked from home on Monday and gave Cole the cold shoulder all through their meeting with Jasper on Tuesday. She was avoiding him and there was nothing he could do about it. He really couldn’t blame her, considering the way he left her apartment the other night. He started to wonder if she was right in preferring to keep things strictly business between them. Shit was beyond awkward.
He started working on Jasper’s restaurant Thursday, welcoming the much needed time away from the office and his boss. His own reprieve of sorts. He loved being able to wear nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, while his hands crafted some of his finest pieces out of wood, to date. He felt at home and ironically, he had Shaun to thank for it. Even when away from her, he somehow always managed to think about her. Just great!
Needing a few sketches he left in his office, Cole stopped in on his way home from the restaurant on Friday. The building was relatively empty this late except for a few stragglers. Cole glanced up from riffling through his desk when he caught a movement across the way. Shaun. He jumped to his feet and strode the distance before she even saw him. He gripped her by the arm and pushed her inside.
“What the hell?” Cole pressed her up against the door, shutting them both in.
“We need to talk, Shaun?”
She clawed at his hand still around her bicep. “Let go of me.”
“Not until you agree to talk to me about us.” He inhaled, missing the scent of her hair and soft perfume.
“Why? You don’t want me, Cole. You made that clear.”
He muttered a curse. “Of everything that happened, that is all you took away from the other night.” She didn’t say anything. “Damn, Shaun! I want you so bad it hurts. Since that first night at the bar.”
Her eyes widened, searching for any truth behind his claim. Not sure if he was about to make matters worse, but not caring, Cole dipped his head forward, voice a low, husky growl. “The other night, I wanted to stay and do this.” His tongue snaked between his teeth and licked its way up her throat. Her skin shivered beneath the languid stroke, but she didn’t push him away. “I wanted to do this.” Cole took a small step back, leaning down further to slide his tongue over the upper curve of her breast, peaking out from the square neckline of her chocolate brown dress. “And, I wanted to do this.” He slanted his mouth over hers, tongue delving deep into the warm recess between her parted lips.