“Here’s the thing, Nico—”
“Don’t overthink it, Kat. You wanna see me or not?”
My pulse was all over the place. I sat up, then regretted that move as the room began to wobble. “I do.”
“What’s the address?”
“I wasn’t done talking.”
He cursed. I ignored it. “I do want to see you, but I just want to lay a few ground rules before we start this whole . . . whatever this whole thing is.”
I waited for him to respond. He sounded like he was listening hard, and he didn’t answer, so I plunged ahead. “I don’t want to just . . . um . . . ”
“You got a three-date rule, sweetheart?”
I was relieved that he sounded amused. Thank God he had a sense of humor.
“Because I can respect that. But you should realize that when you see me today, it’ll be the third date. So the next time you see me, all bets are off.” His voice dropped. “And I wanna see you again tomorrow.”
“We haven’t even had one date yet!”
“The shoot, then the restaurant. That’s two.”
His idea of what comprised a date was seriously impaired.
“Those don’t count as dates! We were working on the shoot, and you were only at the restaurant for like five seconds. If I see you today, this will be our first date.”
I didn’t mention that he’d gotten the details of the three-date rule wrong. It was sex on the third date, not after. I was trying to buy myself as much time as possible, because he was moving at the speed of a rocket.
“Okay. I’ll give you the shoot. But the restaurant should count. Being with someone at a restaurant is textbook definition of a date. No matter how long it lasted.”
I could not believe we were actually having this conversation. I sighed.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Now give me the fuckin’ address, Kat, before I wear a hole in the damn rug.”
He was pacing?
“What part of town are you coming from? Because I need, like, a half hour to get cleaned up.”
Nico’s response was a growl. I gave him the address.
“You’re in luck. I’m comin’ from the Hollywood Hills. It’ll take me at least forty-five minutes to get to Venice in traffic.” He paused. “Or I could take the bike. That’ll get me there in thirty.”
Was he screwing with me right now?
“You still there, Kat?”
“I’m still here.”
“I’m gonna be there in thirty minutes. You gonna be ready for me?”
Oh, the dark promise in that tone. I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down. I already knew I was going to fall. The only question now was, how far?
And how hard?
And would the fall break me?
“I’ll be ready,” I whispered.
Nico’s voice was almost a purr. “Darlin’, that’s exactly what I’ve been waitin’ to hear.”
Before I could say another word, Nico hung up.
“Can I ask you a serious question?”
I had to gather my courage for a second before I could ask him what was on my mind.
I promise I wasn’t fishing for a compliment this time. I was just confused. This man could have any woman he wanted. Literally—any one. I thought I was better than average looking, but I certainly wasn’t a stunner. Especially in a town like L.A. where beautiful women practically grew on trees. I could be funny on occasion, and I’d been told by past boyfriends I had a quirky, adorable charm.
But I wasn’t on Nico’s level. I was boxing out of my class. If he was Mike Tyson, I was the guy who emptied the spit bucket. I just needed to understand.
“Could be those freckles. First girl I ever loved had freckles. I was six.” Nico regarded me very seriously, but I sensed the humor behind his tone. “Or it could be those Cleopatra eyes. Or that killer body. You got a woman’s body, classic hourglass curves made for a man’s hands.”
I blushed again, looking down.
Nico’s voice grew quiet. “Or it could be that when you look at me, I feel like I could fuckin’ fly.”
I looked up at him. Now he was deadly serious, staring at me with something like wonder.
“I don’t have a lot of real in my life, Kat. You’re real. Knew it when you stood up to me when I got mad at Avery. Protectin’ a girl you didn’t even know, puttin’ yourself out there for someone else. And not backin’ down an inch. I liked that. Liked it too that you didn’t let me push you around or intimidate you. You’d be surprised how old that shit gets, people bowin’ and scrapin’, thinkin’ they’re gonna get somethin’ outta you if they kiss your ass just right. And then you demanded I explain what the deal was with me and Avery before you’d even consider talkin’ to me about there bein’ anything between us. Which I loved, by the way. Shows you got class. And self-respect. To top it all off, you got two girlfriends who obviously love you and have your back, which means you’re a good friend. Which means you’re trustworthy. Which means fuckin’ everything to me.”
I let it all sink in, just breathing. I wasn’t sure if I trusted myself to speak.
“So that’s why I got you the necklace. That’s what we’re gonna have: trust. It’s important to me, and it’s important to you. All this other stuff . . . ” He squeezed me into a tight embrace, nuzzled his face into my neck, and inhaled deeply. “Is just a bonus.”
“Other stuff?” I sounded like Minnie Mouse I was so breathless.
He chuckled. “The way my dick gets hard just lookin’ at you. The way you get wet when I touch you.”
Oh, God. We were back to the dirty talk. And we were in my house. Alone.
J.T. Geissinger is an award-winning author of paranormal and contemporary romance featuring dark and twisted plots, kick-ass heroines, and alpha heroes whose hearts are even bigger than their muscles. An entrepreneur since she began hand-addressing envelopes for a local beauty pageant when she was 14, she has owned businesses as diverse as a temporary employment agency to a flower shop. It wasn’t until hitting a significant birthday that she became motivated to realize her life-long dream of writing a novel.
Her debut novel, Shadow’s Edge, was a #1 Amazon domestic and international bestseller, and won the Prism award for Best First Book. Her follow-up book, Edge of Oblivion, was a RITA© Award finalist for Best Paranormal Romance from the Romance Writers of America. Book 6 in the Night Prowler series, Into Darkness, won the Golden Quill award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
Foodie, wine enthusiast, and nap connoisseur, she lives in California with her husband, on whom all her heroes are based.