Home > Release Me (Stark Trilogy #1)(20)

Release Me (Stark Trilogy #1)(20)
Author: J. Kenner

The intimate edge has crept back into his voice, and I squirm a little. “And you’re there strictly for business?”

His low chuckle rocks through me. “I assure you that a tryst with Giselle and her husband is not on the agenda. I’m not interested in men. Or in married women.”

I keep silent.

“I want to see you again, Nikki. And I think you would enjoy the food here very much.”

“Just the food?” In my head the words had been teasing. Out loud, they are soft and provocative. I close my eyes, trying to steady myself before I go hurtling down that slippery slope.

“Well, the coffee is good, too.”

“I—I like coffee,” I admit. I take a deep breath. “But I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Thousands of coffee bean growers across the globe would disagree with you.”

“Dinner. Coffee. A date. With you. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Really? I find it exceptionally appealing.”

“Mr. Stark …”

“Ms. Fairchild,” he says, and I can hear the smile in his voice.

“You’re exasperating.”

“So I’ve been told. But I prefer the word ‘persistent.’ I don’t take no for an answer.”

“Sometimes, that’s the only answer there is.”

“Perhaps. But this isn’t one of those times.”

I can’t help but smile as I settle more comfortably back against the soft leather upholstery. “Isn’t it? You forget that I’m the one who has to say yes or no, and I’ve already told you my answer, and I don’t intend to change it.”


“Sorry. But I’m afraid you’ve met your match, Mr. Stark.”

“I certainly hope so, Ms. Fairchild,” he says.

I frown a bit as I try to guess just where he’s shifting the conversation. Because I know damn well he’s not giving in. To be honest, I’d be disappointed if he was.

“I asked you this once and you evaded the question. Let me try again—are you attracted to me?”

“I—excuse me?”

His laugh is low and soft. “I’m quite certain you heard me, but in the interest of fair play, I’ll repeat the question. Slowly and clearly. Are you attracted to me?”

I open my mouth, then shut it again because I have absolutely no idea how I should respond.

“It’s not a trick question,” he says, though of course I know it is.

“I am,” I finally say, because it’s the truth and I have no doubt he knows it. “But so what? What straight female on this planet isn’t attracted to you? I’m still not going out with you.”

“I get what I want, Nikki. You should know that about me right from the start.”

“And you want dinner with me? I’d think a man in your position would want something a bit more impressive. Like to colonize Mars.”

“Dinner is just the beginning. I want to touch you,” he says, his voice low and commanding. “I want to run my hands over every inch of you. I want you wet for me. I want to finish what we started, Ms. Fairchild. I want to make you come.”


It is suddenly very, very hot in the limo, and I seem to have forgotten the basic steps required for breathing.

I don’t think …

I realize the words are only in my head and try again. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“It’s an extremely good idea. Hell, it’s all I’ve been thinking about since I put you in that limo. Touching you again. Stroking you. Kissing you.”

I squirm, determined to hold it together. But I am weak and well-liquored, and my determination is fraying around the edges.

“Tell me you haven’t thought of it, too.”

“I haven’t,” I say.

“Don’t lie to me, Nikki. That’s rule number one. Never lie to me.”


“Is this a game?” I ask.

“Isn’t everything?”

I don’t answer.

“Simon Says, Nikki. Have you played before?” His soft voice is like a caress.


“Is the privacy screen in place?”

I glance up. I’m at the very back of a very long limo. I can see the driver in the front, his shoulders in the black jacket, the stark white of his shirt collar. He has reddish hair, mostly hidden by a black cap. It seems to me that he is a million miles away. But he’s not, he’s right there, probably listening to every word we’ve been saying.

“He’s very discreet,” Damien says, as if reading my thoughts. “But why torment the man? The silver button on the console behind you controls the screen. Do you see it?”

I twist around and see a bank of buttons set into the paneling behind me. “Yes.”

“Push it.”

“You didn’t say Simon says.”

His low chuckle delights me.

“Good girl. Are you suggesting you’d rather leave it down? Think before you answer, Nikki. For what I have planned, most women would like some privacy.”

I lick my lips. If I push that button I’m saying yes to so much more than the damn screen.

Do I want that? He’s talking about seeing me naked. About touching me. About kissing me. About running his fingers over my skin.

I rest my finger lightly on the button, remembering the feel of his hand. Remembering how I almost let him get too close, how I almost revealed too much.

But he’s not in the car. I can do this. I can lose myself to the champagne and the night and the allure of Damien Stark.

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