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Built to Fall: Chapter 23


CLAIRE WAS…maddening.

Not that it was her fault. Not really.

Seeing her neatly made bed when I picked her up for dinner had sent me deep into my own head—a place I never liked spending much time.

“Claire.” Despite the shitstorm taking up residence in my skull, the pissed off woman across from me had me fighting off a smile.

“Dominic.” She had no idea how stunning she looked right now, her cheeks full of color, traveling all the way down the dip in her dress. The shape of her breasts caught me up, distracting me. My fingers twitched to take them in hand.

Then I remembered how she’d smoothed out her sheets and fluffed up her pillows, erasing the time we’d spent in her bed earlier. Something about that image stabbed a place in my gut I’d forgotten existed.

“Did you make your bed after I left?”

She straightened in her chair, unintentionally pushing her breasts out. “I did. Why?”

“Do you always do that?”

“I do. It’s a reflex at this point.” She shifted in her seat uncomfortably. “What makes you ask?”

“It surprised me. I couldn’t even tell I’d been there.”

“Is that really a problem?” She’d stiffened, her shoulders drawing inward—all of her drawing inward.

“No.” I raked my fingers over my hair. “No, fuck. Of course it’s not. Your bed, you keep it how you like.”

She toyed with one of the lights in the center of the table, rubbing her thumb over the glowing bulb, letting silence descend over the table. It gave me time to think of how I would phrase the proposition I’d been mulling over for several days.


“Hmmm?” She ran the tip of her finger over the delicate petal of a daisy, not bothering to glance up.

“I can’t get you out of my head.”

That got her attention. Her eyes shot up to mine, startled. “What?”

I grabbed the back of her neck, tugging her closer to run my nose over her collarbone and throat. Beneath her curls were my marks. She carefully hid them, but just thinking about them being there got me hard.

“When I walked into your room tonight and that bed was made like no one had been in it, I kept thinking about the times Adam had been in your room before me. Was he in your bed? It’s none of my fucking business, and I don’t want you to tell me.”

She steadied herself on my chest, her breath stuttering, but she didn’t speak. I guess I hadn’t really asked a question.

I plowed on. “The thing is, Claire, I don’t want him in your bed—or anyone else.”

“You don’t?” Her words held surprise and an edge of mistrust, which I didn’t understand.

“No. We’ve got four more weeks on this tour, and I want you to be mine for the duration. Every night, you’re mine. In my bed or yours, it doesn’t matter. I’ve thought this out, and I really believe this is the only way I’m going to be able to get you out of my head.”

I dipped my head to lick the fluttering pulse in her neck. There would be a point when I tired of her scent and the feel of her skin, but we were nowhere near it.

She curled her fingers in the back of my hair, yanking me away. “Do I get any kind of say?”

“Of course.” I settled back in my chair, immediately regretting the loss of her under my hand. “Tell me what you think.”

Her hands were busy on the table, straightening silverware and smoothing the cloth. “What if four weeks is too long?”

Her question was a tree trunk to the chest, solid and unexpected, knocking me out. “Too long? For who?”

Her gleaming eyes flicked to mine. “Me. Or you. That’s basically a month, which is longer than I’ve known you.”

This girl…this fucking girl. She’d been throwing me off my game since the second she stumbled onto my airplane. I couldn’t say what I’d been expecting with this proposition, but it hadn’t been this. To be honest, I’d almost entirely been considering myself, fairly assured Claire’s agreement was a given.

Our conversation paused when our waitress reappeared with our dinner. She set down our plates, brushing against me unnecessarily. Her hand rested on the back of my chair as she bent forward next to me.

“Is there anything else I can get you?” she purred.

“There’s nothing. You can go.”

She straightened quickly, murmuring to let her know if we needed her as she hurried away. Claire shook her head like she disapproved of me.

“You don’t like how I spoke to her?” I asked.

“Not much.” She picked up her fork and poked around at her dinner.

“Did you enjoy her hitting on me in front of you?”

Unbothered still, she scooped up some of her eggplant souffle. “I didn’t enjoy it, but it didn’t make me want to fly into a jealous rage. I imagine that happens often. Actually, I’ve seen it happen everywhere I go with you. People want to be near you and be with you because of who you are. I understand that.”

Her lips wrapped around her fork, eyelids fluttering at the taste on her tongue. A little moan escaped her, landing directly in my lap. I’d already fucked her seven ways from Sunday, but my cock ached to be inside her again.

I didn’t like this, wanting her but not being certain I could have her. If she’d just agree to my proposition, I could relax and enjoy this fucking dinner.

“Is that why you won’t agree to the four weeks? Do you think I’ll be sleeping around?” I asked.

One shoulder lifted. “You have to admit you sprung this on me without warning.”

“Maybe. It’s been weighing on my mind for a while now, but I see that doesn’t mean it’s been weighing on yours too.”

She wiped her mouth with her napkin. “It honestly hasn’t. You’re the first man I’ve slept with since my separation. The last thing I’m thinking of is ‘what next.’ I’m taking everything moment by moment, and then you want me to agree to almost an entire month. That’s a lot for me.”

What she said made sense, but her words tangled together, making them hard for me to swallow. I needed her to say yes. I couldn’t walk around occupied with thoughts of her day in and day out.

“Claire, you have to know when I say four weeks, I mean four weeks. We’ll both walk away at the end of this with our memories, but that’s it. I’m not proposing marriage, I’m talking about four weeks of really explosive sex and maybe a few dinners if we happen to be hungry at the same time.”

This was the only way we could work. Claire wasn’t looking for anything more than sex. I sure as hell wasn’t either. But over the last few days since we’d started sleeping together, I found I needed a guarantee. Not just that I could have her for the rest of the tour, but that we both were firm in our end date.

She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Can I think about it?”

“Do you need to?”

“Yes, I do. And I’d like to eat my dinner without you staring a hole in my skull.” She nudged me under the table with her toes. “You too. Eat, please.”


Her hand covered mine. “Did you bring me here for this, or because you thought I’d like the food here?”

I flipped my hand over to lock our fingers together. “I didn’t bring you here for this.”

“I know you’re used to having your every whim catered to right when you want it, but I need time. If you can’t give it to me, then the answer will be no.”

My fingers flexed around hers, pulse skyrocketing. “No?”

“I don’t like to feel pressured or controlled. It’s something I’m just learning about myself, and right now, I’m feeling both from you.”

I released her hand immediately and sat back in my chair with a heavy exhale. “I apologize. I never purposely want to make you feel that way.”

“I know that,” she said simply. “So, let’s eat dinner. This souffle is too delicious for me to let it get cold.”

My chicken tasted like sawdust through no fault to the chef. My mind was far too occupied with pinning Claire down to have space left over to register the flavor of the food I kept shoveling into my mouth.

“How did you meet Marta?” Claire asked.

I tossed down my fork, giving up on eating for now. “Seems like she’s always been around.”

“But she hasn’t.”

“Nah, she hasn’t.” My finger tapped the table, itching to touch Claire again. “I was in a bad mindset. I’d fired pretty much everyone who worked for me except my housekeeper, Milagros. One day, she brought her smart-ass daughter with her to help her clean, and she somehow convinced me to hire her to be my assistant. It was a whole lot of being in the right place at the right time.”

Claire’s foot touched mine, and when she left it there, I had no doubt it was on purpose.

“Did she make you laugh?”

“In a way.” I rubbed my forehead, wishing I didn’t have to tell Claire this part of the story. But if I didn’t, Marta would, and I liked my version better. “I was out on my patio with my guitar while they cleaned. Marta marched up to me with rubber gloves on, swinging a used condom. She called me a pig for leaving it on the floor in my room, and she wasn’t wrong. I just…didn’t care about much back then, but Milagros deserved more respect than that, and Marta fucking told me.”

Claire pressed her hands to her cheeks. “God, I love Marta more than all the stars in the sky.”

That made me chuckle even though I didn’t have a lot of humor in me tonight. “She has a way about her.”

“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me why you were so miserable.” There was no question in her statement. Claire didn’t know me well, but it was obvious to most people who had a couple conversations with me I was closed off.

“You’re right.”

She took another bite and let her foot slide alongside mine until our calves touched.

“That’s fine. I don’t need to know anything else about you. I bet you’re boring beyond the brooding and the fame and the tattoos and—”

I had her neck in my hand and my mouth covering hers before she could say another word. If she wanted to play, I’d play right back. Only, my version had her coming before we left this restaurant.

“Go to the bathroom, Claire.”

She shook her head. “I don’t need to.”

“You do. I’ll meet you there in one minute. Have your panties off when I get there.”

She hesitated for a handful of seconds, then she was out of her seat, gracefully walking through the restaurant. I counted in my head, my knees bouncing as I waited.

At exactly sixty, I followed the path Claire took. She stood in the middle of the single stall bathroom, black panties draping from her finger. “What now?” she breathed.

I gripped her waist, backing her into the counter. “Now, you spread your legs for me.”

“People will hear…” Even as she protested, she lifted her dress.

I snagged her panties and held them up to her mouth. “You don’t want anyone to hear, then you’ll have to be quiet. If you don’t think you can, open those pretty lips for me.”

Gliding my hand up the inside of her silky-soft thigh, I squeezed and pinched until I found her heated center. Two fingers dipping into her wetness was all it took for her to moan, opening those lips for me just like I’d asked. I stuffed the lacy fabric into her mouth, then fell to my knees in front of her.

Claire had been driving me crazy all night, so this wasn’t for her. I’d eat her pussy out, have her moaning my name, and it would be all for me. She could come, but it would be my orgasm.

With a tight hold on her thighs, I dipped my head to sink my teeth into the underside of her ass. She shook from one touch of my mouth, that was how much she wanted this. One long drag of my tongue through her folds tasted like my ticket to damnation.

I threw Claire’s legs over my shoulders and buried my face between them. My beard and lips were soaked with her. She writhed under my ministrations, muffled groans still echoing off the tiled walls. Sharp fingernails dug into the back of my head as she drew me closer and pushed me away at the same time. Another bite in the crease of her thigh reined in her fight, but she didn’t stop moving with my tongue.

My shy, sweet Claire couldn’t get enough of my mouth on her sex. Her hips rolled, dragging her slick folds along my tongue. This woman turned me on like no one ever had, and I couldn’t even say why. A thousand reasons maybe. She turned my cock to steel and strained the fabric of my pants. My skin felt tight everywhere, like I’d explode out of it in seconds.

The torture was sweet.

I reveled in the pain of pleasuring Claire for no other reason than I wanted it.

She came hard, jerking hips and tossed hair. Her nails scrabbled for purchase on the counter, thighs clenching around my head. Her panties fell from her mouth onto the floor beside me, and I swiped them up, stuffing them in my pocket for later.

Freeing myself from the steel trap of Claire’s thighs, I stood, pulling her pliant body flush with mine. “What’s your answer now?” I licked along the seam of her puffy lips. “Did that change your mind?”

Claire’s eyes flew open, the clouds parting immediately. “You made me come so I’d say yes? You asshole.”

My lips twitched. “I made you come because I love the taste of you, Claire. I made you come because I can’t get enough of it. It would be a side benefit if having an orgasm made you more amenable to my offer.”

“Well…” she gave my beard a hard, mean tug, “it didn’t.” She shoved away from me, throwing open the bathroom door and stalking out.


On the ride back to the hotel, I kept Claire’s foot between mine. She didn’t fight me on that, but when we arrived at her room, she did. I tried to follow her inside, but she blocked her doorway.

“I’m not in the mood, Dominic. Go to your own room.”

“I’m sleeping with you.” Hands under her elbows, I backed her into her room, kicking the door closed behind me. “I want in your bed.”

She folded her arms, pushing her breasts together. They were so close to spilling out of her dress, I had to force myself not to hold my breath.

“I’m angry with you. I want you to go.”

“No.” I closed in on her and slipped my hand inside her dress to cup her breast. “You don’t. You don’t want to answer me, that’s fine. Be angry. I’ll give you space for that. We don’t have to have sex, but I am sleeping with you tonight.”

“I’d be more convinced if your hand wasn’t down my dress.” Some of the edge had left her voice, and her lips parted with a pant when my thumb brushed over her pebbled nipple.

“I promise, Claire.” I slid my hand out of her dress and held her jaw gently. “I’ll watch The fucking Golden Girls with you if you want.”

Brown eyes moved back and forth between mine, checking for my sincerity, I guessed. Finally, she huffed, relenting. “Okay. You can stay. I’m going to get out of this dress.”

I kept her in my arms when she tried to move. “Let me have another look at you before you take it off.”

She swallowed hard. “Do you like the way I look in this?”

“Claire.” I pinched her chin between two fingers. “I just kneeled down on the floor of a public bathroom to eat your cunt because of how insanely beautiful you are and how goddamn hot you looked sitting beside me.”

“You didn’t say.”

“I didn’t?” I scratched my head, rifling through my memories of the night. “My thoughts were screaming so loud, I must’ve thought you could hear them. My mistake.”

Taking her hand, I twirled her in a tight circle in front of me, whistling softly. “Beauty,” I murmured.

“Thank you. That’s nice to hear.” She tugged away from me and disappeared into the bathroom to change into pajamas. While she was gone, I took off my shirt and dress pants, laid them across a chair, then climbed into bed.

A few minutes later, Claire crawled in beside me, smelling like mint and honey. She tried to stay on her side, but I wrapped my arms around her middle and brought her to me. She settled against me, her round ass cradled in my pelvis. I nuzzled the back of her neck, making goose bumps rise on her freckled skin.

“What if one of us doesn’t like this arrangement in a week or two? Will I lose my job?” she asked.

“I don’t see that happening.”

“I need you to tell me what if.” Her fingers traced the black lines of the tattoos on my hand.

“You won’t lose your job. If this isn’t working for you, then you tell me, and that’ll be that.”

“And if this isn’t working for you?” she pressed.

“I’m not going to be an issue.”

“You sound so sure.”

“I know my own mind. I want you, and that won’t change until the tour is over and we walk away.”

She twisted her head to look at me. “What if you fall for me?”

“I won’t.” I took her face in my hand to make sure she heard what I was saying. “Four weeks is all I have in me. I like you, Claire. I want to be around you and inside you, but I’m not going to be in a relationship with you. Not beyond this tour. I don’t think you want that either.”

“I don’t. You’re right.”

“Say yes.” I kissed her smooth cheek twice, then the underside of her bottom lip. “Say yes, Claire.”

She shivered in my arms, but still resisted. “Will you really be in my bed every night?”

“That’s right.”

“I’ll probably be annoyed with you and kick you out within a week.”

I had her, so I allowed a small smile to slip out. “Probably. Say yes anyway so I can watch some TV and go to sleep.”

“Yes,” she whispered. “You have to leave early, though. Marta’s coming for breakfast and I really don’t need her seeing you in my room.”

A startling amount of relief flooded my veins. I kissed her supple lips hard, sucking and biting them until they were rosy and swollen, marking where I’d been and where I’d keep going. This girl was mine. Not forever, but for as long as I wanted.

“We’ll see.”

She kicked back, but I caught her foot with mine and trapped her leg between my legs. “Stay still, Claire.”

When she finally relaxed in my arms, I breathed easier. Now that I had her, I could spend the next four weeks working her out of my system. When the last day came, we’d both be ready to walk away for good. Of that, I had no doubt.


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