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Home > A Million Dirty Secrets (Million Dollar Duet #1)(8)

A Million Dirty Secrets (Million Dollar Duet #1)(8)
Author: C.L. Parker

“Right this way, miss,” Samuel said, taking my bag from my hands and drawing my attention back toward the house.

Cement statues, also in the shape of stags, adorned the posts on either side of the steps that led to the porch. Their heads were dropped down, as if positioning their giant antlers for battle with one hoof poised in the air. I could’ve sworn I heard a faint huff of a dare, but I was pretty sure they weren’t alive.

Tall white columns bordered the entrance to the house and stretched from the oversized porch to the second story. Samuel thrust open the double doors to allow us to step inside, and Mystery Man gestured with his arm for me to go in ahead of him. The floors were marble, the ceilings tall and dome-shaped.

But the thing that really caught my attention was the staircase. It was centered in the entry and stretched to a landing at the top before it split off into two other staircases that led in opposite directions of the house. It looked like one of those get-ups where the princess appears at the top of the landing and waits to be announced to the awestruck crowd below before she descends gracefully to greet her guests.

Me, on the other hand? I’d probably trip and fall on the first step, my body curled up into a ball as I rolled down the rest and landed with a thud at the bottom. And it would not be graceful. At all.

“What do you think?” Mystery Man asked as he gestured with his arms wide open. Obviously, he was proud of his home.

“Meh, it’s okay. If you’re into the whole pretentious overkill type of thing,” I said with a shrug of boredom.

In truth, I was impressed. Very impressed.

“I inherited the house. And I’m not pretentious,” he said. “Let’s get you upstairs and into something more comfortable so that we can get some sleep. It’s been a long day, and I have a feeling it’s going to be an even longer day tomorrow—and probably every day for the next two years of my life.”

He turned and stalked up the stairs, leaving me to follow behind him again.

“It seems we agree on something, Mr. Crawford,” I said.

He stopped abruptly and turned to look at me with a look of aggravation in his eyes. “It’s Noah,” he said in a solemn tone, and then continued up the stairs. “Only the help calls me Mr. Crawford.”

“Well, aren’t I the help? You’re paying me to be here just as much as you are them,” I challenged.

“Trust me, they’re not getting paid nearly as much as you are.” He turned on the landing to go up the right-hand staircase. “And you will be my nearly constant companion over the next couple of years. People will need to believe that we’re the real deal. That’s not likely going to happen if you’re running around calling me Mr. Crawford.”

“Fine then, Noah,” I said, testing out the sound of it. “Which room is mine?” I asked when we reached a long hallway adorned with large paintings on the walls.

“We’re at the end of the hall,” he said, still forging ahead.

“Wait. We?”

“You will be sharing my bed. Was that point not clear to you?”

“But we haven’t even discussed the terms of the contract,” I reminded him.

He opened the door at the end of the hall and I followed him through. The second I was over the threshold, he closed it and pinned me to it with his body. “The terms are pretty simple,” he said as his lips ghosted against the skin of my neck. “You belong to me, and I can do whatever I want with you.”

He brought his lips to mine and kissed me firmly, but I didn’t kiss him back. His movements softened and he grazed his lips over mine, trying to get me to respond.

“Kiss me, Delaine.” He pressed his hips forward and that thing in his pants nudged the girliest part of me. “You just might like it.”

The thought did not occur to me that he might be right, but I knew I had been pushing my luck with him already and he wasn’t likely to keep taking my crap. My mother needed that surgery, and I was sure that we’d be a whole hell of a lot more intimate than this over our time together, so I really had no choice but to suck it up and give in.

I took a deep breath, my chest pressing against his, and then I parted my lips and took his bottom lip between mine. He moaned and repositioned himself so that his thigh was between my legs, his hands on my hips, and his head tilted to the side for better access. I let him deepen the kiss when his tongue swept across my lip, and I knew instantly I would never regret it.

It wasn’t like I’d kissed a lot of guys or was some sort of expert, but the things that man could do with his tongue …

I placed my hands on his biceps, feeling the bulge of muscle that flexed beneath his jacket. I wanted to be closer, and I thought he might actually appreciate my taking some initiative, so I moved my hands under the jacket to his chest. Then I moved them over his shoulders to force the jacket to slide down his arms. He caught it with one hand and laid it over the chair beside us before grabbing my hips again and pulling me closer. I cupped my hands around either side of his neck and wrapped my tongue around his, sucking ever so gently. He moaned into my mouth and then unexpectedly pushed away, leaving me standing there with my eyes closed, head cocked to the side, hands still suspended in air, and lips puckered in kissing mode.

It was kind of like that awkward moment in Dirty Dancing when Baby was still getting her groove thang on with thin air after Johnny walked away and left her standing alone in a room full of strangers.

“See, I told you you’d like it,” he said with a half grin.

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