Steel and Lace (Lace Series) (3 page)

"Fine," I jerked my arm out of his reach and began stomping off down the sidewalk.

"Where are you going?" Carter caught up to me in a few quick strides.

"Home," I walked with single-minded focus.

"You can't walk from here. It's dangerous."

"Of course I can, and I am." The emotional whirlwind he'd had me in all week had me reeling and I was on the verge of a breakdown. If Carter Morgan didn't leave me alone I couldn't be held accountable for my actions. His grip tightened on my arm.

"Leave me alone, Carter."

"You're not walking," he ground threw clenched teeth.

"I am," my eyes flashed angry. He dragged me tight to his body and pressed his lips roughly to mine. Both of my hands went to the nape of his neck and ran through his silky hair. I wanted to be tighter, closer, every part of my body making contact with his. I nipped at his bottom lip and a deep rumble escaped from his throat. He held me tight to him and walked us both backwards until my body was trapped between him and the brick wall of the building. His body hovered over mine as his hand traveled up my thigh and underneath my dress.

"I’ve wanted you all night, Evangeline. I couldn't keep my eyes off of you, and when you were dancing with that guy," his other hand moved from my waist down to my bottom and squeezed. I nodded, my breath coming out in heavy pants.

"Me too. I’ve wanted you too," I pulled his head to me and pressed my lips to his. His tongue danced with mine and I tasted his slightly minty taste. He broke our kiss and his teeth found my earlobe as he nibbled and then groaned when my hips thrust into his thighs, seeking friction. He hitched my leg up around his hip and slid his hand higher up my thigh, so close to where my body was aching for him.

"You smell so good, Evangeline," he said in a throaty whisper. "I can't help but wonder how you taste." Carter's hand slid higher and his fingertips found the edge of my panties. My breaths were ragged and my heart was pounding in my ears. I was lost to my desire for him. He could take me right here in an alleyway off of Tremont Street if he wanted to. He could do anything, I was at his mercy. Thankfully, we were just outside the glow of the streetlamp, but people were moving up and down the sidewalk just a few yards away. I groaned as Carter continued to flirt with the edge of my panties. Then he dropped to his knees and ran his hand slowly up my leg, from ankle to knee, and then slowly up my thigh, lifting my dress as he went. He hitched my leg over his shoulder and ran his nose slowly from my knee, higher and higher, until he reached the apex of my thighs. He ghosted his nose over the black lace of my panties and inhaled deeply.

"So sweet, Evangeline," he slipped his finger just inside my panties. "And so ready." My hips bucked at his unexpected contact.

"But not here, Evangeline. I won't take you on the sidewalk." A small whimper escaped my throat as he stood up and pulled my dress down over my thighs. My blood was humming through my veins as I tried to recover from his full assault on my body. I ran my hand through my hair. Carter pulled out his cell phone and instructed someone to pick us up. A minute later a black Bentley pulled up to the curb. Carter opened the back door and placed his hand on my back to help me in. I slid across the seat and straightened my dress. Carter sat down next to me and barked my address to the driver before pushing a button to raise the privacy glass.

"How do you know where I live?" My eyes shot to his.

"Research, Evangeline," one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. More research. He was thorough, if not a bit on the stalker side. My head was still swirling with a combination of alcohol and the beautiful man sitting next to me who'd just had his head between my thighs. I crossed my legs to relieve some of the tension he had created. Carter noticed my movement and he smirked knowingly.

"Problem, Evangeline?"

"No," I lifted my head high. I would not fall at the mercy of Carter Morgan again. He was playing me, and I wasn't willing to be played. His hand reached across the seat to land on mine gently. I glanced at him and a mischievous gleam flashed across his eyes. We weren’t doing this anymore. He wasn't going to continue to leave me in a whirlwind of emotion. I jerked my hand away and twisted my fingers together in my lap. The lights of the city blurred by out the windows and groups of people were laughing and walking out of clubs. This man drove me insane; he was both infuriating and alluring all in the same breath. The car pulled up to the curb outside of my building. I hesitated for a moment thinking about what to say.

"Until we meet again, Evangeline." Those words again, he'd said them to me that morning at the coffee shop. I turned to him for a moment, my eyes traveling from the fabric of his suit hugging his thighs up to the scruff on his jaw and then into the icy gaze that was regarding me thoughtfully. I blinked once, as if to erase the image of Carter Morgan from my mind and then turned, opened the door, and stepped out into the night.

Four

"Coffee..." Cate stretched her arms above her head the next morning.

"Ready and waiting," I glanced at the coffee maker.

"And how was your night, Evangeline?" Cate's eyes gleamed with excitement. I glared at her for mocking Carter's use of my full name. She arched an eyebrow at me.

"We walked a few blocks, exchanged some words, then he took me home."

"That's all?" Cate scrunched her nose in disappointment.

"There may have also been a kiss… or two," I took another sip of my french roast.

"Eva!" Cate shrieked.

"Cate, my ears!"

"Tell me! Was it amazing? He has lips made for kissing," a dreamy look clouded her eyes.

"It was mind blowing," I sighed.

"I knew it! Did you sleep with him?" Cate leaned closer, eyes wide.

"No."

"Why not? I would have. That man is sex on legs," she took a sip of her coffee.

I laughed at her, "Yes he is, and dangerous."

"Why dangerous?" Cate frowned.

"He leaves me in a tailspin. I don't know if I'm coming or going with him. I swear he is the most frustrating, demanding, obstinate, alluring and sexy man that's ever walked the planet." Cate nodded in sympathy. Just then the doorbell rang. Cate's eyes shot up.

"I’ll get it," I slid off the bar stool and headed for the door. Standing on the other side was a man holding a black garment bag.

"For you, Miss Austin, from Mr. Morgan," I frowned. He placed the bag in my arms, nodded his head and walked away. I closed the door with my foot and walked back into the kitchen, tossing the garment bag on the kitchen island where Cate was sitting.

"Again?" Cate set her cup down and reached for the bag. I shrugged and waited for her to open it. She unzipped the bag and a beautiful black gown lay within. Cate gently pulled it from the garment bag and gasped as she held the dress up.

"Eva…" Cate's eyes danced over the dress taking it in. It was a black gown with a delicate lace overlay, cap sleeves and a scalloped neckline. The gown was slim through the waist and then gently flared out into a pool of fabric on the floor. I approached the dress and my fingertips gently traced the lacy neckline.

"It's Marchesa. This dress just walked the runway last week," the air whooshed from my lungs.

"Here, there's a note," Cate passed a folded piece of paper to me. I opened it and found a note sprawled in Carter's slanted hand on his personal letterhead.

Evangeline,
It would be a great pleasure if you would accompany me to the Boston Children's Fund Charity Ball tonight. Be ready at 7.
Carter

"He wants me to go to a ball with him tonight," I looked at Cate.

"Eva!" Cate saw the worry in my eyes and gave me a tight hug. "I’ll help you get ready. You'll be stunning." I sat down on the bar stool and laid my head on the island.

"I don't fit in his world, Cate."

"You will be great, Eva. You are smart and beautiful, and Carter obviously thinks you will be perfect," Cate rubbed my back. "Now come on, let's do a spa day to get you all polished and glossy for tonight," Cate bounded off into her bedroom to get ready.

Cate and I had just returned from being waxed, plucked, and buffed within an ounce of our lives. Cate had given me a sexy smokey eye to go with the black lace gown and my hair was in soft waves down my back. She helped me into my dress and let me borrow a pair of black peep toe Louboutins for the night.

Butterflies flitted around in my stomach as she held my hand and walked me to the floor length mirror in her room. "You look stunning, Eva. He won't be able to take his eyes off you," she smiled proudly.

My eyes turned to the reflection in the mirror. The gown hugged my curves like a glove; my waist looked impossibly small, and just the slightest hint of cleavage peeked out from the scalloped lace neckline. The gown skimmed along my hips and then slowly floated away from my knees down to the floor.

"Here. This is perfect," Cate softly pulled a section of my hair back and pinned it with a single sparkling black clip just behind my ear. "Do you love it?" Cate looked to me for approval.

"Yes," I whispered. There just weren't words to describe the feeling of wearing such a beautiful dress. Just then there was a soft knock at the door. I glanced at Cate. It felt like the butterflies had jumped into my throat, making it hard to breathe.

"Hey, you're going to be great," Cate hugged me. "Now go meet your prince charming," she smacked me on the bottom as I hustled out of the room to get the door.

"Evangeline," Carter stood at my door dressed in a black tux with a crisp white shirt and bow tie. It looked like he had tried to tame his hair but it was still wavy and sexy and just slightly too long. His steel blue eyes gleamed as they took me in from head to toe. "You look stunning."

"Thank you," I whispered. "So do you," my eyes held his and I could feel the sparks coming to life between us.

The corners of his mouth lifted up in a grin and he held his arm out for me. I gave one last glance back at Cate, who gave me a beaming smile, and then looped my arm in Carter's and headed off to my first ball.

Five

We stepped into the elevator and as the doors closed the sexual tension between us became nearly unbearable. My heart was thumping in my chest so loud I was sure Carter could hear it. I squeezed my hand on his arm reflexively and he turned to look at me. My gaze held his and I bit down hard on my bottom lip to focus on something other than the butterflies that were threatening to choke me. Fire flashed in Carter's eyes and he reached his hand up to pull my lip out of my teeth with the pad of his thumb. My tongue darted out to lick my lips and briefly caught his finger. His eyes widened and my breathing hitched as a dangerous lust clouded his steely gaze. Just then the elevator doors breezed open and Carter pulled his hand away to escort me out of the elevator. He placed his hand on the small of my back to steady me as I stepped into the limo, then followed behind me. After we'd pulled away from the curb Carter's eyes met mine.

"You really do look good enough to eat, Evangeline. Drink?" He passed a glass of champagne to me. I took the glass with shaky fingers and sipped.

"You don't have to be nervous. I won't leave you tonight," he looked me straight in the eye, as if that would help to calm my nerves. I just nodded.

"Part of me wants to whisk you back to my place so no one else can see you in that dress. For my eyes only," he traced his fingers along my thigh. I blushed as his eyes watched me.

"Are you going to speak tonight, Evangeline?"

"Yes," I whispered. I finished my glass of champagne in one swallow and Carter raised his eyebrow before taking my glass.

"Just in time. We're here," Carter finished his champagne and then guided me out of the car. He stepped out behind me and put his hand on my back, the tips of his fingers playing just under the hem. "I can't wait to get you out of this dress tonight," he whispered in my ear. My heart stopped and I felt my cheeks burn as we merged into the crowd ascending the steps into the ball.

Carter was true to his word and held his arm around my waist all through drinks as he chatted with business associates and acquaintances. I felt awkward and out of place, but Carter's strong hand at my back kept me grounded and in the present, aware of the sexual energy buzzing between us. Dinner was announced and we made our way to a large room overlooking the river. We were seated in groups of eight, and Carter introduced me to everyone at the table. One woman, not much older than Carter, held my gaze and appraised me thoughtfully when he introduced me. She had shiny, long dark hair with almond-shaped eyes, and wore a sexy navy blue cocktail dress.

"Evangeline, this is John Davis and Madeleine Snow." A small smile played on the woman's lips. I glanced at Carter to gauge his reaction to her, but he showed none. I nodded to each of them with a smile, and began fidgeting with my hands under the table. Carter noticed, and took his warm hand in mind, holding it in his lap. I sighed and willed my heart to stop thumping.

Conversation at the table was lively throughout dinner and I smiled and nodded when appropriate. Carter hardly spoke to me, but he kept a firm grip on my hand. When I tried to pull away, he only held it tighter. By the time dessert had arrived I was bored and ready for the night to end. Clearly I had only been invited to be arm candy, Carter had hardly addressed me all tonight.

"Problem, Evangeline?" Carter leaned over and whispered in my ear. My eyes darted to his with a look of irritation.

"I think it's time for me to go," I tried to pull my hand from Carter's.

"That's a shame, Evangeline," his eyes sparked dangerously as he slid my hand up his thigh and made contact with his very obvious arousal. "I’ve been quite excited to be by your side all night," his gaze bore into mine. My breathing hitched and tingles immediately surged through my body. I bit my lip and pulled my hand back into my lap. He placed his hand on my upper thigh and gently rubbed back and forth, creeping a little higher with each pass. Carter returned to the conversation at the table as if he weren't driving me wild beneath the tablecloth. I tried to adjust my lower body to deter Carter from continuing, but it seemed to only excite him as his fingertips ghosted higher up my thigh. He continued to rub back and forth where the top of my thigh met my torso. I couldn’t take another minute of his torture.

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