Forbidden Merger(9)

By: Emilie Rose

A sound, half-moan, half-whimper, bubbled in her throat. She struggled for lucidity. “This is not…I didn’t…I wasn’t looking for this today.”

Liam’s chest rose and fell on a deep breath. “I know.”

“We shouldn’t. You’re the competition.”

The hand on her thigh tightened before grazing upward over her hip, beneath her blazer and past her waist to rest just below her breast. “I know that, too.”

Don’t stop. Dizziness forced Aubrey to suck in a forgotten breath. One more kiss, she promised herself as she arched against him. Just one. She angled her head and took his mouth, savoring the taste of forbidden fruit. His thumbnail scraped over her nipple and a moan poured from her mouth into his. She twined her tongue around the slickness of his and then suckled. His chest vibrated beneath her palm in a purely masculine purr, and he shifted on the seat, pulling her closer and bringing the hot shaft of his erection flush against her hip.

Heat flooded her core and moisture dampened her skin. She tingled all over as if she’d been dunked in a warm champagne bath.

“We’re here, bud,” the taxi driver’s heavy Bronx accent interrupted. Liam’s muscles turned rigid beneath her.

Shocked by her uncharacteristically brazen behavior, Aubrey scrambled out of Liam’s lap and back to her side of the cab. Her face—her entire body—burned.

Rather than look at Liam, she glanced out the car window and blinked in surprise. Park Avenue? Liam lived only a few blocks away from her place on Fifth. Walking distance. Her heart missed a beat. So close…and yet worlds apart because of their employers.

Liam opened the door and offered his hand. Wisdom decreed Aubrey say goodbye and give the driver her address. But she’d promised Gilda Raines that she’d explain the painting to Liam.

You don’t have to. His mother will understand it and Gilda will never know.

But you promised.

And she didn’t break promises.

Snatching up her purse and her leather satchel, she slid across the seat, placed her hand in Liam’s and let him help her from the car. She quickly released his hold when a fresh wave of longing swept through her.

This can’t happen. But her mind and body didn’t seem to be speaking the same language. Turning away from temptation, she studied the gray stone building and waited on the sidewalk while the cabbie removed the painting from the trunk.

A doorman rushed from the apartment building. “Need help with that, Mr.


“No thanks, Carlos, I have it.”

Aubrey followed the men into the building and across the marble floor past a bank of elevators to a private elevator located at the end of a short hall.

Private elevators meant one thing. Penthouse. She’d had fantasies about elevators, a handsome stranger and a blackout. She’d never even considered having an elevator all to herself and not having to rely on being trapped by a power outage to pursue her naughty dream. She shouldn’t be thinking that now, but knowing the man had the power to lower her IQ fifty points with a single

kiss and that he had his own elevator sent her mind sprinting down a dangerous alley.

Everyone in Manhattan or magazine publishing knew the Elliotts were wealthy, but she’d had no idea Liam owned such an expensive piece of real estate. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe like her he rented a family-owned property. Aubrey loved her bright and airy apartment, but she sometimes wished for more independence. She and her father had an odd relationship. Aubrey yearned for his approval, but she wished she didn’t. Being on her own…She sighed. Probably wouldn’t change a thing. Her father would continue to give her everything she wanted materially, but nothing emotionally.

The elevator doors closed, leaving the doorman behind. Aubrey faced forward, but turning her back on Liam didn’t help. Dark wood wainscoting covered the bottom half of the doors and walls of the elevator, but the top half was mirrored. No matter which way she looked she faced multiples of Liam’s reflection. He surrounded her. She lowered her gaze to the marble floor.

“You get used to it,” he said, drawing her eyes back to his. “The mirrors,” he added when she lifted an eyebrow.

He rested the painting on the floor and shoved his free hand in his pocket. His relaxed pose would have fooled her if not for the intensity in the blue eyes watching her. She didn’t know what to say. Evidently, her adolescent, tongue-tied stupor had returned.

The doors glided open into a small carpeted hall containing two doors, one on the left and another on the right. So the elevator wasn’t exclusively Liam’s. It would take a power outage to ensure privacy, after all—not that it mattered since she and Liam wouldn’t be doing the deed in the elevator or anywhere else.

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