“What are you doing here?” The deep, midnight voice sliced through the memories, and Harper willingly locked the vault on them. Rion’s velvet tone slid over her exposed skin like a velvet caress, resonating in her chest, curling in her belly—and lower. “I asked you a question,” he said, the demand silky but no less menacing.
“I-I came here to speak with y-you,” she stammered. God, she sounded like an idiot. “I hoped we could talk.”
A black eyebrow arched high. “Talk,” he enunciated, a corner of his sensual mouth curling into a faintly sardonic sneer. “What could you and I possibly have to talk about?”
“I—” She peered over his shoulder, for the first time noticing the blond giant standing behind Rion. Sasha. Sasha Merchant. A close friend of Rion’s. “Would you mind if we… Can we speak in private?”
She reeled back on her death-defying heels, teetering before grabbing the table tighter. “No?” she repeated. Seconds of silence passed between them. Irritation warred with mortification, and she tilted her chin in spite of the heat rushing up her throat and into her face. “That’s it? Just no?”
She sighed, exasperated. “Rion…”
“Go home,” he interrupted, the order unyielding, hard. Dismissive.
“Rion, please,” she murmured, cringing at the plea that crept into her voice.
“Sasha, would you mind escorting her safely to her car?” He turned, again disregarding her without hearing her out.
Anger shoved the hurt aside, surging hot and hard inside her. She’d been dismissed, shelved, or patronized too often in her life. She’d also been mute, opting to remain silent, not rock the boat. Not voice her needs, her wants…her desires. Well, that time had passed.
She was tired of living—no, existing—in a cocoon that was supposed to be safe but was really suffocating.
And he didn’t get to push her back into that cocoon.
Aiming a dark scowl at Rion, Sasha stepped forward, his hand extended toward her. “Sorry, sweetheart—”
“Wait a minute,” she snarled, skirting past Sasha and latching onto Rion’s arm, ignoring the sexy flex of muscle beneath her fingers and palm. Rion froze, probably in surprise rather than from her hold. “We were friends for a long time. Too long for you to just toss me aside like a stranger. Okay it’s been five years since we’ve seen one another. You can at least give me five seconds.”
Slowly, Rion pivoted, dislodging her hand. Staring up into his lean face with its stark lines and stormy eyes, she shivered. Fear had picked a fine time to remind her the absolute stupidity of stirring a predator.
“Five seconds.” He slid his hands in his pants pockets.
“Thank you.” She sighed, relieved. “If we could just—”
“Three,” he stated, his tone past bored and veering into catatonic.
“I need you,” she blurted. Damn. Oh God. Just…damn.
His eyes narrowed. “What do you need me for?”
“I can’t—” Panic crawling up her throat, she shot a glance at Sasha who didn’t even pretend not to be absorbed with the scene playing out before him. “Rion,” she whispered.
“Damn it. Sex. I need you for sex.”
For the first time, Rion lost his stoicism, shock widening his eyes and parting his lips. Beside him, Sasha sounded as if he were being strangled, and her? She squeezed her eyes shut, flames bursting inside her, consuming her in a conflagration of humiliation. Jesus Christ. Was death by mortification possible?
“Oh f**k,” she groaned.
“Yeah,” Rion drawled. “I got that.”
Yes. Definitely possible.