Excerpt – Her Claim

Her Claim © 2019 Rebecca Grace Allen

“You look absolutely stunning, by the way.”

Her stomach pitched from the heat in his eyes, a look so full of lust she could feel the punch of it. But did he mean it, or was it more of the game?

Whatever the answer, Cassie wasn’t sure she cared.

“It’s the dress. Makes things look better than they—”

“It’s not the dress.” He gave an emphatic shake of his head. “Those shoes, however…”

Cassie swung a leg out. These babies weren’t from the sale rack. The red satin Gianvito Rossi pumps had been bought full price during her lunchtime outing with Lilly and Sam to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Hashtag, It’s My Birthday Goddamn It.

“…would look better on my bedroom floor?” she finished for him.

Patrick laughed, but his eyes grew hooded as they followed the movement of her leg, sweeping upward and grazing along her collarbone until his gaze met hers in a hungry stare.

“In your bedroom, yes. But not on the floor.”

“No?”

“No. I think I’d definitely be making a request for you to leave them on.”

Cassie flooded with heat. Her sarcasm was her only defense, an attempt to throw him off, but she was quickly losing ground. The tension between them mounted, the attraction powerful and hypnotizing. She was painfully aware of his size, the broadness of his shoulders and chest beneath his shirt. She wanted to peel it from him, touch him. Taste his mouth. Hear the gritty edge his voice had taken on and feel the rush of being physically controlled again, even if he only did it for a minute.

She hadn’t wanted to want this, but now that he’d started, she didn’t want him to stop.

“A woman who wears shoes like that knows what she wants.” He shifted so his leg pressed against hers. Cassie’s body wound as tight as a coiled-up spring when Patrick made a purposeful slide of his knee along her thigh. “What do you want, Cassie?”

What did she want?

She wanted to make partner. To achieve job security and success, and find a way to change the world. To figure out if she was going to have a baby or not. She wanted a man who knew the right way to scare her and please her, who could make her fantasies a reality in a way that wouldn’t make her feel ashamed of them.

“It’s simple. I want to dance.” Cassie put her glass down, pulled her sash off and stood, tucking her coatroom ticket in his shirt pocket. “You coming?”

Her dodge hadn’t fazed him, nor had the movement of her fingers. “Oh, I’m coming all right.”

Cassie walked out onto the floor. The DJ had started playing a popular song with a Latin beat, one that reminded her of home and nights when everyone would spin around on the lawn until well after the sun went down. But she also needed to get up. To move. Do something to get her head on straight. Because after the way Patrick had gotten into her head, she needed to reclaim her footing, literally and figuratively.

They found space on the dance floor, and Cassie was thrown once again when Patrick drew her into a quick merengue. He clasped her hands, lifting their arms and spinning her around.

Goddamn it, he moved like a Cuban.

“When did you learn to dance like this?” she asked.

His expression went flat for a second before he shrugged. “Just something I picked up.”

He switched seamlessly to a salsa, and for a second it was as if she’d never known the man in front of her. The feeling that he was a bit of a stranger, one who was surprisingly well-built and commanding, made her tingle with excitement and a touch of fear. Taking her hands and placing them on his shoulders, he effortlessly shifted her weight, encouraging her to move where he wanted her. Was this what submission felt like? She had to wonder, because she’d never felt so alive and yet controlled, so contained and so free at the same time.

She didn’t want submission, though. She wanted something much darker. Something anonymous and dangerous and forbidden.

Firmly wrapping one arm around her back, Patrick tipped her backward, then lifted her knee up until her inner thigh grazed his hip. They were nose to nose, their bodies pressed together and surrounded by pounding bass, lights and heat. The look on his face was so intense it took her breath away. It didn’t make sense. Patrick didn’t do repeat performances, so why was he trying so hard?

“What is it that you want, Patrick?”

Another split-second pause before he grinned and twirled her around. “I thought it was obvious. You.”

Cassie’s heart stopped for a beat or two. “Why?”

“Other than the fact that you’re the most beautiful woman here tonight? Or that I’ve been thinking about you all week?”

Had he? “Yes. Other than that.”

“You challenge me, Cassie. You test my mettle. And you piss me off, but I like it. I think you like it too.”

“What makes you think that?”

His eyes narrowed, his smirk explicit and mocking as his fingertips splayed out along her back, pulling her snugly against him. She could feel every inch of him.

Every. Single. Inch.

“I can read your little tells of attraction. The way your mouth just opened a little, and how your body is pushing back against mine. I could tell you all the other ways it’s obvious you want me, but that would ruin the fun. So tell me—am I right?”

Jesus. What was he doing to her? She swallowed. “Yes.”

“I thought so. So, it’s simple for me too. I want to crack your code. Figure out your secrets. And be what you want tonight.”