Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(2)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(2)
Author: Sylvia Day

Reacting purely on instinct, I shifted backward. And sprawled flat on my ass.

My elbows throbbed from the violent contact with the marble floor, but I scarcely registered the pain. I was too preoccupied with staring, riveted by the man in front of me. Inky black hair framed a breathtaking face. His bone structure would make a sculptor weep with joy, while a firmly etched mouth, a blade of a nose, and intensely blue eyes made him savagely gorgeous. Those eyes narrowed slightly, his features otherwise schooled into impassivity.

His dress shirt and suit were both black, but his tie perfectly matched those brilliant irises. His eyes were shrewd and assessing, and they bored into me. My heartbeat quickened; my lips parted to accommodate faster breaths. He smelled sinfully good. Not cologne. Body wash, maybe. Or shampoo. Whatever it was, it was mouthwatering, as was he.

He held out a hand to me, exposing onyx cuff links and a very expensive-looking watch.

With a shaky inhalation, I placed my hand in his. My pulse leaped when his grip tightened. His touch was electric, sending a shock up my arm that raised the hairs on my nape. He didn't move for a moment, a frown line marring the space between arrogantly slashed brows.

"Are you all right?"

His voice was cultured and smooth, with a rasp that made my stomach flutter. It brought sex to mind. Extraordinary sex. I thought for a moment that he might be able to make me orgasm just by talking long enough.

My lips were dry, so I licked them before answering. "I'm fine."

He stood with economical grace, pulling me up with him. We maintained eye contact because I was unable to look away. He was younger than I'd assumed at first. Younger than thirty would be my guess, but his eyes were much worldlier. Hard and sharply intelligent.

I felt drawn to him, as if a rope bound my waist and he was slowly, inexorably pulling it.

Blinking out of my semi-daze, I released him. He wasn't just beautiful; he was...enthralling. He was the kind of guy that made a woman want to rip his shirt open and watch the buttons scatter along with her inhibitions. I looked at him in his civilized, urbane, outrageously expensive suit and thought of raw, primal, sheet-clawing f**king.

He bent down and retrieved the ID card I hadn't realized I'd dropped, freeing me from that provocative gaze. My brain stuttered back into gear.

I was irritated with myself for feeling so awkward while he was so completely self-possessed. And why? Because I was dazzled, damn it.

He glanced up at me and the pose - him nearly kneeling before me - skewed my equilibrium again. He held my gaze as he rose. "Are you sure you're all right? You should sit down for a minute."

My face heated. How lovely to appear awkward and clumsy in front of the most self-assured and graceful man I'd ever met. "I just lost my balance. I'm okay."

Looking away, I caught sight of the woman who'd dumped the contents of her purse. She thanked the guard who'd helped her; then turned to approach me, apologizing profusely. I faced her and held out the handful of coins I'd collected, but her gaze snagged on the god in the suit and she promptly forgot me altogether. After a beat, I just reached over and dumped the change into the woman's bag. Then I risked a glance at the man again, finding him watching me even as the brunette gushed thank-yous. To him. Not to me, of course, the one who'd actually helped.

I talked over her. "May I have my badge, please?"

He offered it back to me. Although I made an effort to retrieve it without touching him, his fingers brushed mine, sending that charge of awareness into me all over again.

"Thank you," I muttered before skirting him and pushing out to the street through the revolving door. I paused on the sidewalk, gulping in a breath of New York air redolent with a million different things, some good and some toxic.

There was a sleek black Bentley SUV in front of the building and I saw my reflection in the spotless limo tinted windows. I was flushed and my gray eyes were overly bright. I'd seen that look on my face before - in the bathroom mirror just before I went to bed with a man. It was my I'm-ready-to-fuck look and it had absolutely no business being on my face now.

Christ. Get a grip.

Five minutes with Mr. Dark and Dangerous, and I was filled with an edgy, restless energy. I could still feel the pull of him, the inexplicable urge to go back inside where he was. I could make the argument that I hadn't finished what I'd come to the Crossfire to do, but I knew I'd kick myself for it later. How many times was I going to make an ass of myself in one day?

"Enough," I scolded myself under my breath. "Moving on."

Horns blared as one cab darted in front of another with only inches to spare and then slammed on the brakes as daring pedestrians stepped into the intersection seconds before the light changed. Shouting ensued, a barrage of expletives and hand gestures that didn't carry real anger behind them. In seconds all the parties would forget the exchange, which was just one beat in the natural tempo of the city.

As I melded into the flow of foot traffic and set off toward the gym, a smile teased my mouth. Ah, New York, I thought, feeling settled again. You rock.

I'd planned on warming up on a treadmill, then capping off the hour with a few of the machines, but when I saw that a beginners' kickboxing class was about to start, I followed the mass of waiting students into that instead. By the time it was over, I felt more like myself. My muscles quivered with the perfect amount of fatigue and I knew I'd sleep hard when I crashed later.

"You did really well."

I wiped the sweat off my face with a towel and looked at the young man who spoke to me. Lanky and sleekly muscular, he had keen brown eyes and flawless cafe au lait skin. His lashes were enviably thick and long, while his head was shaved bald.

"Thank you." My mouth twisted ruefully. "Pretty obvious it was my first time, huh?"

He grinned and held out his hand. "Parker Smith."

"Eva Tramell."

"You have a natural grace, Eva. With a little training you could be a literal knockout. In a city like New York, knowing self-defense is imperative." He gestured over to a corkboard hung on the wall. It was covered in thumbtacked business cards and fliers. Tearing off a flag from the bottom of a fluorescent sheet of paper, he held it out to me. "Ever heard of Krav Maga?"

"In a Jennifer Lopez movie."

"I teach it, and I'd love to teach you. That's my website and the number to the studio."

I admired his approach. It was direct, like his gaze, and his smile was genuine. I'd wondered if he was angling toward a pickup, but he was cool enough about it that I couldn't be sure.

Parker crossed his arms, which showed off cut biceps. He wore a black sleeveless shirt and long shorts. His Converse sneakers looked comfortably beat up and tribal tattoos peeked up from his collar. "My website has the hours. You should come by and watch, see if it's for you."

"I'll definitely think about it."

"Do that." He extended his hand again, and his grip was solid and confident. "I hope to see you."

The apartment smelled fabulous when I got back home and Adele was crooning soulfully through the surround sound speakers about chasing pavements. I looked across the open floor plan into the kitchen and saw Cary swaying to the music while stirring something on the range. There was an open bottle of wine on the counter and two goblets, one of which was half-filled with red wine.

"Hey," I called out as I got closer. "Whatcha cooking? And do I have time for a shower first?"

He poured wine into the other goblet and slid it across the breakfast bar to me, his movements practiced and elegant. No one would know from looking at him that he'd spent his childhood bouncing between his drug-addicted mother and foster homes, followed by adolescence in juvenile detention facilities and state-run rehabs. "Pasta with meat sauce. And hold the shower, dinner's ready. Have fun?"

"Once I got to the gym, yeah." I pulled out one of the teakwood barstools and sat. I told him about the kickboxing class and Parker Smith. "Wanna go with me?"

"Krav Maga?" Cary shook his head. "That's hardcore. I'd get all bruised up and that would cost me jobs. But I'll go with you to check it out, just in case this guy's a wack."

Books
     Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
     Reflected in You (Crossfire #2)
     Entwined with You (Crossfire #3)
     Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
     One with You (Crossfire #5)