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Home > Beautiful Bitch (Beautiful Bastard, #1.5)

Beautiful Bitch (Beautiful Bastard, #1.5)
Author: Christina Lauren

ONE

My mother always told me to find a woman who would be my equal in every way.

“Don’t let yourself fall for someone who’ll put your world before theirs. Fall for the powerhouse who lives as fearlessly as you do. Find the woman who makes you want to be a better man.”

I’d definitely found my equal, the woman who made my life a living hell and lived to antagonize me. A woman whose mouth I wanted to tape shut . . . every bit as much as I wanted to kiss it.

My girlfriend, my former intern, Miss Chloe Mills. Beautiful Bitch.

At least, that’s how I used to see her, back when I was an idiot and blind to how hopelessly in love I was with her. I’d most certainly found the woman who made me want to be a better man; I had fallen for the fearless one. It just so happened that most days I was unable to get more than two minutes alone with her.

My life: finally get the girl, never actually get to see her.

I’d been traveling for the better part of the last two months in search of office space for the Ryan Media Group branch we were setting up in New York. Chloe stayed behind, and while our recent—and rare—weekend together here in Chicago was full of friends, sunshine, and leisure, the time alone with her wasn’t nearly enough. We’d socialized the entire weekend, from morning until well past midnight, stumbling back to my place each night, and would barely manage to get our clothes off before having quiet, sleepy sex.

The truth was, our lovemaking each night—which had grown both more intimate and more wild over time, and allowed us only minimal sleep—still never felt like enough. I kept waiting for it to feel like we were settled, or had established some solid routine. But it never happened. I was in a constant state of longing. And Mondays were the worst. Mondays we had wall-to-wall meetings, and the entire workweek stretched out ahead of me: bleak and Chloeless.

Hearing the familiar cadence of heels clicking on the tile, I looked up from where I stood at the printer waiting for some documents to appear. As if hearing my inner plea, Chloe Mills walked toward me, wearing a slim red wool skirt, a fitted navy sweater, and heels that, quite frankly, didn’t look very safe outside of the bedroom. When I’d left early this morning to prepare for an eight o’clock meeting, the only thing she’d been wearing was a pale beam of light from the sunrise through the bedroom window.

I suppressed my smile, and tried not to look too desperate, but I don’t know why I bothered. She could read my every expression.

“I see you’ve found the magic machine that takes whatever is on your computer screen and puts it on paper,” she called. “In ink.”

I slid my hand into my pants pocket, jiggled some change there, and felt a trickle of adrenaline slip into my veins at her teasing tone and approach. “Actually, I discovered this wonderful contraption my first day here. I just liked the moments of blissful quiet when I’d make you get up and leave the outer office to retrieve my documents.”

She stalked toward me, her smile wide and eyes mischievous. “Asshole.”

Fuck, yes. Come to me, lovely. Ten minutes in the copy room? I could easily make your day in those ten minutes.

“You’re in for a workout tonight,” she whispered as, without slowing her pace, she patted my shoulder and continued past me down the hall.

I stared at her ass as she gave it a little shake, and waited for her to come back and torture me some more. She didn’t. That’s it? That’s all I get? A pat on the shoulder, some verbal foreplay, and an ass-wiggle?

Still, tonight: our first full evening alone together in weeks.

We’d been in love for over a year—and f**king longer than that—and we’d yet to have more than the length of a weekend alone together since San Diego.

I sighed and pulled my papers from the printer tray. We needed a vacation.

Back in my office, I dropped the files on my desk and stared at my computer monitor, which, to my surprise, displayed a mostly empty calendar. I’d pulled insanely long workdays the entire week before just so I could get home to Chloe early, so aside from Payroll grabbing me early this morning, my schedule had remained open. Chloe, however, was clearly busy in her new position.

I missed having her as my intern. I missed bossing her around. I really missed her bossing me around in return.

For the first time in months, I had time to sit in my office and literally do nothing. I closed my eyes and a hundred thoughts filtered past in mere seconds: the view of the empty New York offices just before I’d left for the airport. The prospect of packing up my house. The far preferable prospect of unpacking in a new home with Chloe. And then my brain went down its favorite path: Chloe nak*d and in every conceivable position.

Which led back to one of my favorite memories of Chloe and me: the morning after her presentation. Due to the heat and tension that came with actually admitting we were no longer hate-f**king but actually interested in something more, we had had one of our biggest arguments ever. I hadn’t seen her in months, so I showed up at her presentation for the scholarship board to watch her nail it. And she did.

Afterward, though, despite everything we’d said upstairs in the boardroom, there was still so much more to say. The reality of our reunion     still felt so new, and I hadn’t been sure where we stood.

Once we were on the sidewalk, I stared down at her: at her eyes, and lips, and her neck, which was still a little red from the biting kisses I’d placed there only minutes before. The way she reached up and rubbed her finger over what appeared to be a small hickey pushed an electric reminder from my brain to my cock: this reunion     is nice but it’s time to get her home and f**k her into the mattress.

I wasn’t sure we were on the same page about that, though.

Outside in the daylight, she looked like she was about to fall over. Of course she was. Knowing Chloe, she’d probably been preparing and fine-tuning her presentation for the last seventy-two hours straight, no sleep. But I hadn’t seen her in so long—could I keep it together long enough to just let her go home to rest? If she needed to nap, I could just hang out and wait for her to wake up, right? I could lie down near her, reassure myself that she was really here and we were really doing this and just . . . what? Touch her hair?

Holy shit. Had I always been this creepy?

Chloe hitched her computer bag up over her shoulder, and the movement pulled me out of my thoughts. But when I blinked back into focus, I saw that she was staring off into the distance, toward the river.

“You okay?” I asked, ducking to meet her eyes.

She nodded, startling a little as if she’d been caught. “I’m fine, just overwhelmed.”

“A little shell-shocked?”

Her exhausted smile pulled at something tender beneath my ribs, but the way she licked her lips before speaking tugged inside me a bit lower. “I was so sad thinking I wasn’t going to see you today. And this morning, I spent the entire walk between your building and here thinking how weird it was that I was going to be doing this without you, or Elliott, or anyone from Ryan Media. And then you came here, and of course you pissed me off, but you also made me laugh . . .” She tilted her head, studied my face. “The presentation was exactly what I wanted it to be, and then the job offers . . . and you. You told me you love me. You’re here.”

She reached out to press her palm flat to my chest. I knew she could feel my heart slamming against my sternum. “My adrenaline is slowing and now I’m just . . .” She moved her hand away from me and waved it in front of her before it seemed to deflate at her side. “I’m not sure how tonight is going to work.”

How tonight was going to work? I could tell her exactly how it would work. We’d talk until it was dark, and then f**k until the sun came up. I reached for her, slipping my arm around her shoulder. Christ, she felt good.

“Let me worry about all of that. I’ll drive you home.”

This time she shook her head, pulling more fully back into the moment. “It’s okay if you have to go back to work, we can—”

Scowling, I growled, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s almost four. I’m not going back to work. My car is here and you’re getting in it.”

Her smile turned sharp at the corners. “Bossy Bennett emerges. Now I’m definitely not going with you.”

“Chloe, I’m not kidding. I’m not letting you out of my sight until Christmas.”

She squinted up at the late afternoon June sun. “Christmas? That sounds a little gimp-in-the-basement for my tastes.”

“If you’re not into that, this relationship might not work after all,” I teased.

She laughed, but didn’t answer. Instead, those deep brown eyes stared up at me, unblinking and hard to read.

I felt so out of practice with this, and struggled to hide my frustration.

Placing my hands on her hips, I bent to press a small kiss to the center of her mouth. Fuck, I needed more. “Let’s go. No basements. Just us.”

“Bennett—”

I cut her off with another kiss, paradoxically relaxed by this tiny disagreement. “My car. Now.”

“You sure you don’t want to hear what I have to say?”

“Absolutely positive. You can talk all you want once I have my face firmly planted between your legs.”

Chloe nodded and followed when I took her hand and gently pulled her toward the parking deck, but she was smiling mysteriously all the while.

The entire drive to her place, she tickled her fingers up and down my thigh, leaned to lick my neck, slid her hand over my cock, and talked about the tiny red panties she put on this morning, needing that little confidence boost.

“Will it shatter your confidence if I tear them off?” I asked, leaning to kiss her at a red light. The car behind me honked just when it was getting good: when her lips were giving way to tiny bites and her sounds filled my mouth and my head and—fuck—my entire chest. I needed to get her nak*d and beneath me.

In the elevator on the way up to her apartment, it was wild. She was here, holy f**k she was here, and I’d missed her so much; if I had my way, this night was going to last for three days. She pushed her skirt up over her hips, and I lifted her, stepping between her legs and pressing my aching c*ck into her.

“Going to make you come so many times,” I promised.

“Mmm, promise?”

“Promise.”

I rocked my h*ps against her and she gasped, whispering, “Okay, but first—”

The elevator dinged and she wiggled herself free, slipping to the floor. With a hesitating look, Chloe smoothed her skirt back down, and walked ahead of me into the hallway and toward her apartment.

My stomach dropped.

I hadn’t been back here since we were apart and I’d conned her security guard into letting me up to talk to her. I’d ended up spending the entire time conversing with the outside of her door instead. I felt strangely anxious. I wanted to only feel relieved at our reunion    , not think about everything we’d missed out on in our months apart. To distract myself, I bent low and sucked at the skin beneath her ear and began working on the zipper at the back of her skirt as she fumbled with her key.

She swung the door open, turning to me. “Bennett—” she started, but I pushed her inside and back against the nearest wall, quieting her with my mouth. Fuck, she tasted good, a mix of the lemon water she’d been drinking and that familiar taste she always had: soft mint and softer, hungry lips. My fingers teased at the back of her skirt but I lost my finesse, yanking the zipper down and shoving the fabric to the floor, immediately reaching for her blazer. Why the f**k is she still wearing this goddamn thing? Why is she still wearing anything?

Beneath her deep purple dress shirt, her n**ples hardened as I stared, and I reached out to circle one with a fingertip. Her sharp gasp pulled my eyes to hers.

“I missed this. I missed you.”

Her tongue peeked out to wet her lips. “Me, too.”

“Fuck, I love you.”

When I kissed her throat, her chest lifted and fell with quickened breaths, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down, how I could possibly slow down. Would I take her here, fast and hard first, or would I carry her to a couch or chair, kneel down, and just taste her? I’d been thinking about all of it for so long—playing out in my head how every scenario would go—and in the moment I felt a little paralyzed by the reality of her here, in the flesh.

I needed it all. I needed to feel her sounds and her skin, lose myself in the comfort of her hand wrapped around me, watch the sweat bead her brow while she rode me, showing me how much she’d missed me, too. I’d see it in the way her rhythm would falter when she got closer, or she would clutch me when I would say her name in that quiet whisper she always liked.

My hands shook as I reached up and carefully slipped her top button free. It registered somewhere in the ever-shrinking evolved portion of my brain that I didn’t want to destroy the buttons on the shirt she’d worn for her thesis defense.

I also wanted to savor this. Savor her.

“Bennett?”

“Mmm?” I undid another button, ran a finger across the hollow of her throat.

“I love you,” she said, her hands braced on my forearms, eyes wide. My hands faltered, and I lost my breath. “But . . . you’re going to hate what I’m about to tell you.”

I was still stuck on the I love you. My grin felt a little out of control. “What . . . ? Whatever you have to say, I’m sure I won’t hate it.”

She winced, turning to look at the clock on the wall. It was the first time it occurred to me to take a look around her apartment. I stepped back in surprise; her place looked nothing like I expected.

Everything about Chloe had always been impeccable, stylish, current. But her apartment could not be farther from that description. The living room was tidy, but full of worn furniture and things that didn’t look like anything she would own. Everything was brown and tan; the couches looked comfortable but like they were made out of the same material as a stuffed animal. A small collection of wooden owls was clustered on a shelf near a tiny television and, in the kitchen, the clock that she’d glanced at had a big smiling bumblebee on the face with the words “Bee Happy!” in garish bubble letters.

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