Read an Excerpt
Every Part of You: Taunts Me
By Megan Hart
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Megan Hart
All rights reserved.
Simone was going to be at this party.
Elliott knew it, though he hadn't asked the future governor of Louisiana, whose name turned out to be Trent Boudreaux, if he'd invited her. He hadn't wanted to give the other man any inkling that it mattered. Because it didn't. Absolutely not.
Drink in hand, Elliott stood in the corner of the living room in Trent's suite, absolutely not scanning the room for any sign of her. A couple blondes had passed by earlier, one of them giving him a significant look he thought meant he'd fucked at least one of them. When he hadn't done more than give her a single nod, she'd stalked off in a huff. Her friend had given him the death stare over her shoulder, but all Elliott did was shrug. Since meeting Simone, he'd somehow lost his taste for blondes.
"Elliott. Buddy." Barry clapped him on the shoulder. "You ready to do some wheeling and dealing?"
"You're the wheeler dealer. Not me. I'm just the guy who knows how to use Google."
"You could do it, if you wanted. Get you out of that boring estate-law business. Get you into some lobbying full-time. C'mon. You're the man." Barry grinned.
Elliott had to laugh at that. In all the years he and Barry had been friends, the pattern had never changed. Barry baited and set the hook, and Elliott ended up doing all the fish gutting.
"I'm a dotter of I's, the crosser of T's. That's all."
"But you're fucking amazing at it." Barry looked serious for a moment. He leaned closer. "Look. This is an important gig for me. If I can guarantee this guy's support with these purchases, we'll be set for a good, long time. Get your game on, buddy. Game. On."
With that, Barry gave Elliott's shoulder another painful squeeze and moved into the crowd. Elliott straightened. He was at this party for a reason, and it was not to see Simone again. It was to help Barry close this deal with that politician from Louisiana, as a favor to his old friend. That was all.
"Well, hi. Fancy meeting you here."
Simone wore a short black cocktail dress with a hint of purple shimmer in it that was echoed in her hair. She wore it sleeked back tonight, reminiscent of the twenties flapper style, with a spit curl on each cheek. She smiled at him with lips the color of cherries, but the expression didn't reach her eyes.
He'd fucked up.
"I thought you might be here." Barry might call Elliott smooth, but he was about as smooth as sandpaper.
"And yet you came anyway? Wow. Total shocker." She rolled a shoulder and half turned from him.
The motion exposed the creamy line of her neck and shoulder, bared by the strapless dress. He wanted to kiss her there. Bite.
In all the times they'd spent together, brief as they'd been, there'd never been any uncomfortable silences. This one more than made up for that. It stretched on and on, and he realized she wasn't going to say anything until he did.
Elliott took a long, deep breath. "Look. We seem to have had a misunderstanding. ..."
"Really?" Eyes snapping fire, Simone faced him. "Really. A misunderstanding. What part of 'I don't want to see you again, and I don't want you to come to my office' did I misunderstand? Because it seemed pretty fucking crystal to me."
He winced. "No. That part was right."
Simone sneered, but there was something else that upset him more than her clear disgust. The shimmer of tears in her eyes set Elliott back a step. He reached for her before he could stop himself.
"Wait," he said, though she hadn't done so much as try to walk away. "Can we go somewhere and talk?"
Surprised, already touching her elbow to lead her someplace more private, Elliott stopped. "No?"
"I have nothing to say to you."
"But I have something to say to you," he told her.
Simone tossed her head and shrugged away from him. "Too bad."
And that was that. She walked away, head held high, and left him standing there to contemplate what a stupid bastard he'd been. To go after her would mean making a scene, and he almost did it ... except Barry was there again, this time with that politician in tow, and Elliott lost sight of Simone in the party crowd.
"Talk to me," said the politician.
Trent Boudreaux. Twenty-eight years old, working for his daddy. Not married, but with an on-again, off-again relationship with one Miss Muffy Hedges, who may or may not have once thrown an engagement ring in his face during a late-night argument over another woman. Boudreaux had held a nice, solid seat on the Plaquemines Parish school board for two years, and was running for state senate. He had one DUI and a couple other misdemeanors that could be chalked up to youthful hijinks during college, especially once Daddy's wallet had come out to take care of it.
All of this information had been gleaned from Elliott's Internet searching, all handed over to Barry to use as he needed. None of it surprised Elliott. The man in front of him, permanently tanned, constantly grinning, was every inch the typical politician, except for one thing. Trent Boudreaux had a soft spot for charity work. True charity work, not just for show. In addition to his college pranks and drunk and disorderlies, he'd spent several summers volunteering in Haiti to build orphanages and schools, as well as taking part in several local builds with a Louisiana organization that provided low-cost housing to families who helped with the labor.
The connection made sense–why Barry wanted to get hooked up with this guy. Building supplies. Construction deals. And with the charitable aspect of it, it was one of the more honorable deals Barry had wheeled. It still left a sour taste in Elliott's mouth, if only because the amount of ass-kissing he suspected this guy was going to require more pucker than Elliott could muster.
Boudreaux had been talking for a few minutes about nothing much before he stopped and gave Elliott a long, hard stare. "Am I boring you?"
"No. Not at all." Elliott stopped scanning the crowd for Simone and focused on Boudreaux.
"How long have you known Barry?" Boudreaux tossed back the rest of his whiskey, the second by Elliott's count since they'd started their conversation. Not that it mattered; Elliott liked whiskey. He just knew how to handle himself in public. Trent waved over a server to give up the empty glass and ordered another. "Get you something?"
Even if he hadn't made it a habit to curb himself in public, that was the last thing Elliott needed. Him swimming with whiskey and Simone in the same room. "No, thanks."
"Barry. How long have you and him been buddies?"
"Since college. Barry lived in the same dorm," Elliott said. "We were never roommates, but we stayed in touch even after graduation. Why? How long have you known him?"
"Barry? Oh, he's my daddy's friend," said Boudreaux in that thick, sweet drawl with a grin to match. "He sure does like to talk, though, don't he?"
Elliott laughed. "Yeah. He sure likes to talk."
"She's out on the balcony, by the way," said Boudreaux. "That girl you're sweet on."
Elliott didn't ask how Boudreaux knew how he felt about Simone. The man was smarter than Elliott had given him credit for. "So. Will you buy the stuff from Barry?"
Boudreaux lifted his glass. "Sure. Why not. Will you go talk to that girl before the both of you burn this place down with the looks you're giving each other?"
"I'm not giving her any looks."
"No?" Boudreaux laughed. "Maybe it's just her, then."
* * *
Simone never should have come to this party. She'd known it was going to be a bad idea the moment Barry had asked her. Even though it had been totally flattering to hear that the future governor of Louisiana had asked for her especially, and she'd only planned on being here long enough to make Elliott completely jealous.
It hadn't worked that way. The moment she'd seen Elliott, she wanted to smack him across that perfect mouth. Then shove him onto his knees and make him use that mouth on her. Then smack him again. Or better yet, have him smack her.
Instead, she'd walked away before she could give in to that desire. He didn't deserve it. Or her. And she wasn't going to lose her shit in front of him, not in public or in private.
Now here she was on the balcony, looking out over the cityscape and envying the view. She had a drink in one hand and a plate of hors d'oeuvres in the other. Booze, food, and a view. What more could a girl ask for?
Company, of course. And there he was. Elliott fucking Anderson, looking sharp and immaculate and delicious in a suit that made her want to climb him like a tree. He had a drink in each hand and he gave her one like he thought she'd actually take it.
So of course, she did. White wine, not her normal drink, but she put down the one she had and sipped the one he'd offered. She waited for him to say something. Anything. But instead he leaned on the railing and looked out across the buildings.
A hint of music wafted from the party inside. Simone sipped her wine and waited for someone to come out and interrupt them, but nobody did. She leaned on the railing, too, not touching him, but close enough that he could have taken her hand if he'd wanted to.
"I like you," Elliott said finally. "I wish I didn't, but I do."
Simone sighed. "Ugh. Really? That's what you lead with?"
He looked at her, his expression serious. "Would you like it better if I lied and told you I liked you when it wasn't true?"
"I'd like it," she said, "if you just said you liked me without any sort of qualifier."
She waited, but he didn't say it. "I like you, too, Elliott, even though I don't think I should. Because you're kind of a dick."
"I haven't been able to stop thinking about you."
"That's better." Simone sipped her wine and looked out again at the city so she didn't have to look at him. "Thank you."
"I've been thinking a lot about what you said to me in my office that day."
Simone swallowed hard, but kept her gaze on the buildings and the lights and the darkness, and anything except his face. It was her nature to run her mouth. She'd heard it often enough. From her mother. From Aidan. But now she waited to give him time to speak.
He didn't. Not for long, long minutes. She could stop herself from making words, but she couldn't stop her heart from beating faster. Or her breath from catching in her throat. All she could do was wait. And wait. And wait some more, until it drove her crazy.
"I do like it," he said finally in a low voice.
Simone let out the breath she'd been holding. She closed her eyes, feeling the floor tilt underneath her. Too much wine. Not enough air. Her throat closed, any words she'd meant to say tucking themselves under her tongue and staying hidden behind her teeth.
"I like that you like it," Elliott murmured. "I fucking love it, as a matter of fact. It makes me lose my fucking mind."
She had a clue, now, why he was so against it. "And you don't like that."
"No. That's insane. Who likes losing their mind?"
"'We're all mad here,'" Simone said, quoting the Cheshire Cat.
She felt the weight of his gaze on her, and there was more silence until, at last, she turned to look at him. He moved a little closer and set his glass down on the small wrought-iron table near them. The clink of it on the metal was like the snap of teeth.
"You don't mind being crazy," Elliott said.
Irritated, because fuck, everything about him infuriated and aroused her, Simone swiveled to stare him down. "No. Actually, I don't. Crazy is a state of mind usually interpreted by other people."
"Nobody ever knows they're crazy, is that what you're saying?" He moved a little closer.
Simone didn't move away. She looked him in the eye. "If you think you're crazy, you're probably sane."
He huffed soft laughter. "What about if you think you're sane?"
"Probably mad as a hatter." She laughed, too, and leaned back against the railing, propping her elbows against the metal. She tilted her head to look at him. "You know, earlier tonight, I was so angry at you I wanted to spit. All of that stuff you said in your office, it really got to me. You really hurt my feelings. It's not that I thought I was special to you or anything —"
"You are special to me," Elliott said.
When he kissed her, she opened her mouth for him. Took his tongue. His hands on her ass pulled her closer. Then one slid to cup the back of her neck.
"You're special," he said into her mouth as his fingers tightened on her skin. "And you make me crazy. And I hate it."
She meant to laugh, but it turned into a moan.
"I don't want to see you," Elliott said.
Simone slid a hand between them to cup his thickening erection. "Liar."
He pressed her against the railing. The metal hit her between the shoulder blades. His mouth moved from hers to her throat, where he nipped lightly at first. Then harder, until the pressure of his teeth sent shimmering spears of sensation straight to her clit.
"Touch me," Simone said.
"I am touching you."
She took his hand and slid it under the hem of her dress. "Touch me here."
The French doors behind them opened. At this angle, whoever was there would only see them in an embrace, not where his hand was. He didn't move away. Didn't take his hand away. All he did was turn his head.
"Trent," Elliott said smoothly. "Hi."
His fingers moved, slowly, slowly against her, before he finally pulled away. Simone shifted to let her dress fall down around her thighs. They both moved away from each other at the same time.
"Don't let me interrupt," Trent Boudreaux said. "I was looking for Barry."
"Nobody out here but us chickens," Simone said.
His gaze traveled over Simone's face. Her cleavage, such as it was. He gave Elliott a thumbs up, grinned, and ducked back inside the hotel room.
"Do you want to stay at this party?" Simone asked.
Elliott shook his head.
"Good," she said. "Then take me home."
* * *
"There are things we should talk about," Elliott said as Simone looked around his living room.
Hardwood floors. Leather couch. He had a fireplace that didn't look as though it had ever been used, and that somehow didn't surprise her. Nor did the coasters on the end table. The doilies on the arms and back of the chair did. So did the flowered curtains.
"How long have you lived here?"
"Can I get you something to drink?"
"I had enough, thanks. But you ... you go ahead." He'd driven her here, but she could take a cab home if she had to.
Not that she planned on going home tonight. Not until after breakfast, at least, and she had no plans on that happening at six-thirty in the morning. And if she had her way, no matter his habit, Elliott wouldn't be up that early either.
Elliott put the lid back on the crystal bottle of liquor without pouring anything. He took off his jacket, then looked around as though he wasn't sure where to hang it, before moving to the stairs across from the front door and hanging it over the railing. He turned and caught her staring.
"It doesn't belong there," he said unnecessarily.
Simone looked around the room, noting all the details before focusing again on him. "So ... put it where it belongs."
"It belongs in the closet upstairs."
"So," Simone said with a small smile, crossing to him, "let's go upstairs."
"We have to talk about some things first."
She hadn't forgotten the kiss on the balcony, or anything else about him. If she kissed him now, would he let her? Or would he pull away? Simone ran a finger along his tie, tugging it a little.
"You have rules, Elliott?"
"More like ... guidelines."
She laughed low and slid her hands up the front of his shirt to squeeze his shoulders gently. "Okay."
He put his hands on her hips, easing her closer. "I thought you'd have some trouble with guidelines."
"Did you, now?" She tipped her head back to look into his face. "Why? You think I'm a rebel?"
"I think you don't like to be told what to do. Isn't that what you said? You never want to call a man Master."
They were moving closer, closer, pressed against each other. He nuzzled her neck, and Simone sighed, offering him her skin. He didn't bite, but the anticipation of him doing it tightened her nipples and sent heat puddling low in her belly.
"Is one of your guidelines that I have to call you master?"
"No. Of course not." He backed up one step, taking her with him. Then another, before he turned her and led her upward so she was ahead of him on the stairs.
Standing taller than him, Simone ran her hands through his hair. "Is one of them that I can't mess up your hair?"
He pushed her gently backward, step by step. "No."
"Does it mean I can't wear your T-shirt to sleep in?"
"No." He kissed her softly. Then harder, as they reached the top of the stairs.
Down the hall, he led her. Kiss by kiss. Simone didn't bother to look behind her, not worried she would trip or bump into anything. Elliott, she knew, would not let her fall.
"Can I use your toothbrush?"
He shuddered, pausing for a moment before backing her into an open door. "No. Absolutely not."
Just inside the bedroom, Simone linked her fingers behind his neck. "You can put your mouth on me, but you can't share a toothbrush?"
Elliott made that noise, the one that sent her spiraling into desire so fast it made her head spin. That growl. He did it against her throat, and his hands gripped her just above her hips, not quite hard enough to hurt, even though she wanted it to.
Excerpted from Every Part of You: Taunts Me by Megan Hart. Copyright © 2014 Megan Hart. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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