Every Part of You

Every Part of YouFirst published as a five-part e serial novel, Megan Hart’s Every Part Of You is now available as a complete book.

Simone Kahan’s been watching Elliott Anderson through her office window for months. He likes to bring women back to his office for late-night trysts, and Simone enjoys her voyeurism until one night, Elliott appears to go too far with his date. The other woman might not be into spanking, but Simone is, and when she meets Elliott in the elevator later that night, she makes sure he’s intrigued enough by her to ask her to go with him to the party he no longer has a date for.

Thrown together by circumstances he’d never have imagined, Elliott isn’t sure what to think about Simone. She’s nothing like the women he normally dates, but something about her draws him in until he can’t stop himself from wanting her…until their goodnight kiss becomes something harder. Harsher. Simone responds to his rough hands as no woman ever has, and Elliott’s not ready to pursue what he’s always told himself is wrong.

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See below for descriptions, excerpts, and buy links from the original serial parts.

Every Part of You: Tempts Me (#1)

She likes to watch. He likes to keep hidden. Total opposites on a collision course to a relationship neither can deny.

Simone Cooper’s been watching Elliott Anderson through her office window for months. He likes to bring women back to his office for late-night trysts, and Simone enjoys her voyeurism until one night, Elliott appears to go too far with his date. The other woman might not be into spanking, but Simone is, and when she meets Elliott in the elevator later that night, she makes sure he’s intrigued enough by her to ask her to go with him to the party he no longer has a date for.

Thrown together by circumstances he’d never have imagined, Elliott isn’t sure what to think about Simone. She’s nothing like the women he normally dates, but something about her draws him in until he can’t stop himself from wanting her…until their goodnight kiss becomes something harder. Harsher. Simone responds to his rough hands as no woman ever has, and Elliott’s not ready to pursue what he’s always told himself is wrong.

Excerpt:

“The way you keep scanning the room behind me. A girl could get a complex.” Simone licked her fingertips and watched him watch her do it. She kept herself from smiling. She didn’t want to scare him off, and something told her that if she acknowledged that she saw Mr. Elliott Anderson ogling the way her tongue flickered on her fingers, he would pull another one of those strangely endearing retreats. She dragged another spring roll through a smear of mustard and bit into it. Flavor exploded on her tongue, so good she had to make a little noise. “Mmmf. You really need to try this, Elliott.”

“No, I–”

“C’mon,” she said and stepped closer, offering the food.

He jerked his head to the side to keep her from his mouth. “No. Thanks.”

At that moment, someone in a damned hurry to get at the buffet pushed behind her, shoving her into Elliott’s arms. He caught her just above the elbows to steady her, but in the few seconds before Simone caught her balance, they were pressed against each other. Belly to belly. Chest to chest. She breathed in the scent of him, felt the heat of his skin even through the material of her blouse. The roughness of his trouser leg scraped for a second at the inside of her thigh.

And then they were standing with only inches between them, and his gaze had gone dark. His mouth parted. His tongue came out to wet the center of his lower lip, and oh, fuck, did she want to kiss him. No. She wanted something else.

She wanted him to kiss her, hard and bruising, bringing the taste of blood. And in that instant, something in the flash of his gaze told Simone that maybe, just maybe, Elliott wanted the same thing. It was gone as fast as it came. When his grip on her arms loosened, she let out a small, disappointed sigh.

“You spilled,” he said with a grimace of distaste.

She looked down at her blouse, now stained with splatters of soy sauce and mustard. Frowning, Simone set her plate down on the small table meant for used dishes. “Damn it.”

“There’s a bathroom down the hall. To the left.” Elliott pointed.

In the bathroom, which was almost the size of her entire apartment, Simone shrugged out of her blouse and held it at the sink, scrubbing at the stains, hoping they wouldn’t set. Of course, even though the stains faded, now her entire blouse was transparent. Standing in her bra at the sink, she sighed. She’d be trapped in here until it dried.

It could’ve been worse. Technically a powder room because it had no tub or shower, the bathroom still had two sinks and, an odd choice for a residential bathroom, two toilets in separate stalls. A small alcove held a padded bench. The decor was a mix of French Provincial and what Simone could only call “Grandma’s House” chic–g ilded faux gas lamps on the walls, ornate frames around pictures of small children in Victorian clothes, and dried flowers over the mirror, which was also in a fancy gold frame.

All proof that money didn’t mean you had taste to match. Shaking her head, Simone shook out her blouse and held it to the light to see if she needed to do more scrubbing. Behind her the door opened just as she realized that one, she hadn’t locked the door and two, it was a coed bathroom.

“Sorry,” Elliott said upon spying her with her wet blouse held up in front of her almost bare chest. “You were taking so long, I wanted to be sure you weren’t sick or something.”

“I’m fine. Just trying to clean my blouse. Why would you think I was sick?”

“You ate from the buffet,” he began, but before he could finish, the door behind him rattled.

Before she knew it, Simone was again pressed up against him, though this time it was in the first bathroom stall with a soaking shirt between them. When she opened her mouth to protest, he covered it with his hand. His palm pressed her lips against her teeth.

Her knees went weak.

Elliott leaned closer, closer, closer, but he didn’t kiss her. Instead, he said into her ear, “Don’t say a word. I don’t want anyone to know I’m in here with you.”

***

Simone’s eyes were very blue in the light streaming down from the hideous overhead fixture. They’d gone first wide, then heavy lidded when he pressed his hand over her mouth, but when he spoke, they narrowed. She nodded though, after a second or so, and he took a chance on uncovering her mouth. Her lipstick had smeared a little, and he used a thumb to wipe the smudge.

She shrugged herself into her shirt, every motion pushing her against him. In the narrow space, he became very aware of her smell. Floral. Something like lilies, but faint and undercut with the fresher scent of soap and water so that maybe she wasn’t wearing perfume at all, but simply smelled of her last shower. It would’ve been a misstatement to say that he wasn’t used to his women smelling so . . . clean . . . because certainly none of them were ever unhygienic. But all of them, to a one, scented themselves so thoroughly that it was hard for Elliott to tell them apart in his memories, when he thought of them at all. Which wasn’t often.

He leaned close again to breathe her in, lips and nose brushing the flesh of her neck. She didn’t shrink away from him, but instead turned her head to give him complete access to her skin. That simple acquiescence, along with the way she’d so readily given in to the press of his hand over her mouth urging her to silence, sent a rush of sensation straight to his cock.

“Shhh,” Elliott mouthed against her as the sound of voices rose and fell outside the stall. Simon sighed softly but didn’t say a word. “Good girl,” he breathed.

At that, she pulled away from him enough to shoot him another narrow-eyed glare. It seemed all he could do tonight was misjudge women, but too late now because the voices outside the stall were louder and closer, and they didn’t sound like they planned on leaving anytime soon. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. Judging by the rustle of clothing and murmurs, the people on the other side of the door were going to be there for quite awhile.

When the doorknob turned, he should’ve stepped away from Simone and made his apologies, ducking out. Instead, he’d overreacted, pushing her into this bathroom stall, where she was pressed up against him as though she’d been made to fit there. Now, they were trapped. The only way to deal with it was to wait it out, or to open the stall door and reveal themselves in this compromising position–which would be more embarrassing than if he’d simply left when the door opened originally.

“Oh, honey, that feels real nice,” said a low male voice from outside the stall. “Yeah, a little harder. Sure, use your teeth a little.”

Against him, Simone shuddered with laughter, eyes bright. She clapped a hand over her own mouth to keep the noise muffled, and Elliott relaxed. Just a little. She wasn’t going to give them away.

He became uncomfortably aware, however, of how she felt pressed to him. Somehow, his thigh had ended up between hers. With that black skirt she’d magically made shorter in preparation for the party, her thighs were bared to him, and he felt the heat even through the fabric of his trousers. Muscles low in his belly clenched as she rocked herself against him with a motion so slight and small he couldn’t be sure if it were on purpose or merely an attempt to get a little more comfortable in the cramped space. Neither of them could move very far without either making a lot of noise or putting a foot in the open toilet.

Elliott, moving with careful, deliberate silence, reached to lower the toilet lid. This meant he had to push against Simone even more, moving lower over the rounded beauty of her tits and then the firmness of her belly, the curve of her hip, until he could let the lid fall without noise from his fingertips.

She didn’t move, not an inch. Not a breath. Not a blink.

He wanted to stay this way forever, or at least long enough to slide her skirt up the rest of the way and bury his face in that heat. Was her pussy bare? The women he dated invariably plucked and waxed and shaved themselves to fashion-doll baldness; Elliott had lost his taste for that a long time ago. No, he thought, straightening with that same careful silence, the hair between Simone’s legs would be the same glossy black as that on her head. Without thinking, he let one finger stroke the feathery fringes she’d swept forward on her cheek.

That brought his fingertip dangerously close to her mouth. Unable to stop himself, wondering what the hell had gotten into him tonight, Elliott let his finger drift over her lower lip. Her mouth opened obediently, the wet cave of it beckoning him. He let his finger slip in to test the slickness of her tongue.

She bit him.

Every Part of You: Resists Me (#2)

The dance has begun. Simone’s ready to follow all her desires, but reluctant Elliott isn’t ready to take the lead.

After teasing Elliott into going dancing with her, Simone seduces him. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid of asking for it, and Elliott appears to be as eager as she is to see where their passion takes them. The sex is electric, but Elliott is taken aback by his response to her, and when Simone reveals her kink for pain to him, he’s unable to accept it and tells her he doesn’t want to see her again.

And then they’re both invited to the same party.

Excerpt:

This was where she’d wanted to be all night long. On the dance floor he’d pressed her against him, but that had been different. Here with no music, no crowd, nothing but the two of them, Simone felt every single inch of Elliott’s body on hers, and she wanted more. Not more dancing, though that had been amazing. She wanted more of him. His hands. His mouth.

“Any other man,” she said, “would’ve kissed me by now.”

Elliott’s grip tightened on her wrist. “What makes you think I want to kiss you?”

It was possible she’d misjudged him. He was so damned hard to read, so hard to pin down. He was a fucking mess, Simone thought. She wasn’t entirely immune to second-guessing herself, either. But confidence bred confidence, that’s what her dad had always told her back in the days when she’d been a skinny, flat-chested nerd girl with a boy-intimidating vocabulary and no hope of being asked to the prom.

Confidence.

“You want to kiss me because you know it would be amazing,” Simone said.

His eyes narrowed as he looked her over. Assessing her. He didn’t pull away. Didn’t let her go. If anything, his fingers gripped tighter, at last to the point of pain.

When she winced, he let out a breath. Heat flickered in his gaze. But he didn’t let her go.

“You have no trouble asking for what you want, do you?” Elliott said.

Simone blinked. Her nipples had gone tight from the look on his face. Heat ignited low in her belly. Between her legs, the slow and steady throb of arousal that had begun in the club was getting more intense.

She focused on him. “Not usually. No.”

His grip twisted slightly as he studied her. “You . . . like this.”

Simone smiled at that and ran her tongue along her bottom lip. “Yes, Elliott. I like it.”

His thumb passed gently back and forth over her pulse beating in her wrist. The sensation sent a shiver of pleasure through her. “Why?”

“Why does anyone like what they like?”

With a sharp jerk, he yanked her closer. Bent to her neck, running his mouth along it, then her jaw. Lower, where he pressed his teeth. When Simone let out a small, hitching gasp, he replaced the promise of a bite with one of a kiss. His other hand pressed the small of her back, keeping her close.

They stayed that way for the span of several heartbeats. Simone closed her eyes. Waiting.

“You smell so good,” she said after she’d counted to five and he still said nothing.

Elliott chuffed what sounded like laughter, but with her eyes closed she couldn’t see if he were smiling. He loosened his grasp on her wrist, which ached. He put both hands on her ass, pushing her against his hard cock.

“You are . . . I don’t know what you are, Simone.”

She turned her head to whisper in his ear. The soft brush of his dark hair tickled her face. “Well, tonight, I’m yours. If you want me.”

She’d been with men who’d gasped or sighed or moaned. A few who’d muttered. One or two who’d shouted, and one memorable one who’d wept.

She’d never been with a man who’d growled, but that was, very distinctly, the noise that came out of Elliott’s throat. She’d been half doubtful before that, uncertain if he were going to stay or leave her there again the way he had the first night. At the sound of that noise, though, Simone had no more doubts.

She put her hands on him.

Then her mouth. Cupping his hard cock, stroking it through the fabric of his trousers, Simone put her other hand to the back of Elliott’s neck and drew him closer to her. She opened her mouth, breathing an invitation.

“Kiss me,” she said when he didn’t take it, and when he didn’t move, she didn’t wait.

She kissed him. Long and hard and fierce, until both of them were gasping and she could feel the throb of his heart in every place she was touching. Her own, too.

With another of those low, greedy growls, Elliott scooped her up. “Bedroom?”

“End of the hall–” Her breath left her when he kissed her harder.

He carried her without effort down the hall, past the guest room she used as an office and the bathroom and the small, odd-shaped room that would never be a bedroom, only a walk-in closet. Her bedroom door was half-closed because of the drafts, and he kicked it open.

Kicked. It. Open.

“Oh, fuck,” Simone breathed, every nerve in her body humming with arousal.

Elliott put her down next to the bed and kissed her again. His hands roamed, one between her legs. The other the back of her neck. He held her still with just that touch, though she wanted to writhe.

His fingers hooked into the lacy waistband of her panties. With a short, sharp tug, Elliott tore them away from her. The motion jerked her forward, clashing their teeth together. His clipped her tongue.

Instant, bright pain. Stars flashed in her vision. She cried out, then again when his hand moved between her legs again. A finger slid inside her. Then another. His thumb pressed her clit.

Somehow they were on the bed, Elliott kneeling over her. Her skirt had hitched up to her waist. Her blouse buttons gaped. He undressed her swiftly and with a competence that shouldn’t have surprised her but did. When she was naked, he pushed her back roughly against the pillows.

“I want to see you, Simone. Open your legs.”

He’d done no more than loosen his tie. He’d made no move even to undo his belt. For a moment, she hesitated, but he hadn’t demanded, he’d asked. There was a difference.

Was there anything more vulnerable than being naked with someone who wasn’t? It was a different sort of pain, one Simone didn’t generally crave. Still, she found herself letting her knees fall wide to tease him with the sight of her wetness.

“Touch yourself for me.”

Her fingers slid between her legs. Circled her clit. She dipped inside, getting them wet and slick. She watched him watching her, and didn’t feel vulnerable anymore. She felt powerful. Feminine.

Desired.

Every Part of You: Taunts Me (#3)

Elliott made a mistake in pushing Simone away, but is it too late for him to pull her close again?

Admitting to Simone that he really likes her is a big step for Elliott, but before they can move on with this new relationship, there are some things they need to get straight. Amused by his “guidelines,” Simone is willing to try to understand Elliott’s point of view, so long as he gives her what she wants, too. Everything seems to be moving along until a misunderstanding about Simone’s relationship with an ex lover forces them to face their real feelings for each other.

Excerpt:

Elliott was not used to a woman in his bed. He’d lain awake for a long time last night, but woke at his normal time even though he was exhausted. He’d stared for a while at the ceiling, waiting for the room to get light enough for him to see, but ultimately, the soft, relentless sigh of Simone’s breathing beside him had pushed him from the bed.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want her there. That wasn’t why he’d gone downstairs without waking her, or why he now sipped coffee as he stood outside on the back porch and watched the sun get higher in the sky. It was because although it had taken him awhile to fall asleep, waking beside Simone had felt so natural that he couldn’t imagine not doing it every day.

She had driven him crazy the night before.

He wanted her to drive him crazy again.

The creak of the stairs was as familiar to him as the sound of his own heartbeat. How many times had he forgotten to skip that fourth step from the bottom when he was sneaking out . . . or sneaking in? He knew the sound of the floorboards in this house, too. The squeak of the linoleum. Still, he didn’t turn, even when he heard the click of the screen door opening behind him.

“I got up and you were gone.” Simone yawned.

She had indeed helped herself to one of his T-shirts, a V-neck. It hung to her thighs but shifted to reveal a hint of her perfect breasts when she leaned on the porch railing to look out over the backyard. She nudged him with her hip.

“I get up early,” Elliott said.

“I know. You told me that. Remember?”

He held out his coffee mug without a word, and she sipped from it with a grimace before handing it back.

“Too sweet,” she told him.

“I can get you your own.”

She smiled. “I can get it.”

She didn’t wait for him to stop her, just went inside and helped herself to the cupboard for a mug. Filled it. Dug around in his fridge for cream, too, though she didn’t take sugar.

She looked at him watching her. “What?”

“It’s just . . .” He stopped himself.

Simone looked at him, the mug held in both her hands. A kind of understanding dawned in her eyes. She looked at the cupboard doors, several of them still hanging open. Then the mug in her hands.

“Oh. Guidelines,” she said.

Elliott walked past her to shut the cupboard drawers, the sound of each a lot louder than he’d intended. When he turned, she’d settled herself at the table. She turned the mug around, around and around. He didn’t sit across from her. He stayed standing at the counter.

“I’m very particular,” Elliott said.

Simone laughed. “Baby, I know that. You like things a certain way. You’re very precise.”

“I’ve lived alone for a long time, that’s all. It’s my house. I like it to be the way I like it.”

“Nothing wrong with that. I like my house the way I like it, too.” She paused, looking around, then back at him. “How long have you lived here? I asked you last night, but you never answered.”

He hadn’t on purpose, because answering it would require explaining other things he didn’t want to get into. “A long time.”

“Was it your parents’ house?”

He hesitated before replying; she was so freaking astute. “My stepmother’s house.”

“You lived here when you were a kid?”

“No. Not until I was seventeen.”

“That’s still a kid,” Simone said.

Elliott frowned, thinking about being seventeen. He hadn’t felt like a kid. “I didn’t grow up in this house, if that’s what you meant. I moved here when I was seventeen and lived here until after college. I bought it from my stepmother after my father went away.”

“Where did he go?” Elliott didn’t answer her. To give her credit, Simone got the hint. She shrugged. “Families are always messy business.”

That was an understatement. He looked around the kitchen, trying to see it through her eyes. It was outdated. Worn. The appliances in Harvest Gold, the wallpaper covered with wagon wheels and the silhouettes of covered wagons.

“I used to have a place on the river,” he said, uncertain why he was revealing that to her.

Simone looked impressed. “Nice. Swanky. How come you moved back home?”

“It’s not . . .” It wasn’t home, not exactly. “Well, I owned it, so why pay rent? And I didn’t want to leave it empty. Didn’t want to rent it. I figured I’d fix it up and sell it, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.”

He braced himself for the questions about why the house was empty, what had happened to his stepmother. Why it wasn’t “home.” But Simone didn’t ask him that. Instead, she gave him one of those slow, sexy smiles that made the hairs on the back of his neck rise and made him remember the sounds she made when she came on his tongue.

“So your guidelines are, don’t mess up stuff in your house. That’s just a matter of respect, Elliott. I can handle that. I’m kind of a slob, but I can be careful. I’m not,” she added, “a total dick either.”

He wasn’t about to tell her that she was the only woman he’d brought to this house since he’d been in college. She’d smile if he said it. Maybe she’d comment, maybe she wouldn’t. But then she’d know, and it would give her the wrong impression, that somehow this was something more than it was.

“I don’t like dating,” Elliott said bluntly.

It took a little longer for her to reply to that one, and for a moment he was sure he’d made her angry again. Then Simone sipped coffee and smiled, at first tentatively. Then brightly.

“At least not more than once or twice,” she said.

“I don’t want a relationship. Long-term. I haven’t ever been good at it, and I don’t do well with someone else asking things of me.”

Simone frowned. “Barry asks things of you.”

“Relationship things,” Elliott said. “The kinds of things you’re supposed to do with a girlfriend. I don’t do them. I don’t like to do them.”

“You don’t like to be kind or generous or loving?” Simone asked quietly.

“I don’t think I am kind or generous or loving.”

Her brows went up at that, but she didn’t say anything.

“I mean things that women want. Like flowers. Or spending time together. I like my space.”

“Well, if you must know, I hate cut flowers. They’re a ridiculous waste of money, and I’d rather have a box of expensive chocolates. And I like my space, too, Elliott. Listen . . . we’ve been together a few times. I’m not asking you to be my boyfriend.” She looked irritated, but focused again on the coffee before smoothing her expression. “You know, it is possible for a woman to be okay with just fucking someone every once in a while without all that other stuff. Especially when the sex is so great.”

He smiled at that. “It’s that great, huh?”

“Elliott,” Simone said, “I never pictured you as a guy who needed his ego stroked.”

“How did you picture me?”

She studied him for a moment, then smiled. “Powerful business man. Wears a suit and tie every day to work, and they always fit you like you’ve had them tailored just for you, but they’re the same ones. You have what, seven?”

“Six. You counted them?”

“No. I just paid attention. Made a guess.” She sipped her coffee.

“You paid attention to me.”

Something shifted in her gaze for a moment. “You’re a hard man not to notice. We rode the elevator a lot of times before you ever paid attention to me.”

That was the truth, and he felt bad about it now. “I’m not just a suit and tie.”

“I know that, too.”

Every Part of You: Denies Me (#4)

Passion has bloomed to love, but when Elliott’s estranged father shows up back on the scene, he brings trouble with him.

The dating thing goes well at first, with both of them taking things slow…though their passion can’t be contained. But when Elliott’s stepmother tells him she’s been in touch with his father, Elliott’s past comes back to remind him that hurting other people is wrong. Despite Simone trying to tell him there’s a difference between the sort of things they do in the bedroom and hurting someone in anger, Elliott again puts up an emotional block and Simone seeks refuge in a former lover’s embrace.

Excerpt:

“I’m a little overdressed.” Simone looked down at what she was wearing with a rueful grin. “I thought we were going out.”

“I wanted to cook for you.” Elliott pulled out the chair at the kitchen table for her to sit in. “Can I get you a drink? I have red wine, white wine. I could make you a margarita. Whiskey sour?”

“Red’s fine. Can I help you with anything?”

He shook his head, pouring her a glass from the bottle he’d let breathe on the counter. “Nope. I have everything all ready to go. I hope you like pasta.”

It was about all he could make. Simone grinned. Something twisted inside his chest at the sight of it.

“I love pasta.” She paused. “Lots of garlic? Are you trying to tell me something?”

“That I’m not a vampire?”

“That you don’t want to kiss me?” Simone laughed.

After a moment, he did, too. Should he have kissed her already? After their last official “date,” when she’d given him the brush-off at her front door, Elliott hadn’t been sure what to expect. Their phone and text conversations hadn’t changed. It wasn’t like she’d stopped answering him. And she had agreed to go out with him again.

“Do you want me to kiss you, Simone?”

She hesitated. “Umm, only if you want to. I mean . . .”

He kissed her, bending to reach her mouth while she didn’t move from the chair. She parted her lips at the touch of his, and one of his hands went naturally to cup the back of her head. He kept his other hand from going where it wanted to go, though.

She still had her eyes closed when he pulled away from her, but she was smiling. “Mmm. That’s nice.”

“It’ll still be nice when you taste like garlic.”

She opened her eyes, then. “Elliott. You . . . are . . . so surprising.”

“Is that a good thing?” He went to the stove to add some olive oil to the pan, along with some chopped scallions, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and yes, a lot of garlic.

“It can be. Are you sure I can’t help you?”

“I got it. You sit.” He glanced at her over his shoulder. “I wish it were more impressive.”

Simone laughed. “Listen. Anything you make for me is going to be impressive because you took the time to do it for me.”

“What if I’d made you a tuna sandwich and macaroni and cheese?”

“I’d love it,” she told him.

He believed her.

With the meal on the table, they both dug in. Simone oohed and ahhed over the pasta and homemade sauce, and even though the garlic bread had come out of a foil packet from the freezer, she praised that, too. The simple salad he’d tossed together with Molly’s recipe for homemade vinaigrette dressing made her sigh with delight.

“This is amazing, Elliott. Really.” She wiped her mouth with a napkin, leaving behind a crimson smear.

He liked her mouth better naked. Soft and lush, ready for kissing. He knew he was staring, but couldn’t stop himself, or maybe didn’t want to badly enough.

“It was my father’s wife’s favorite.” He stabbed some greens, dragging them through the dressing. “She taught me how to make it. Said that if I could learn how to make a good salad dressing, a marinade, and a pasta sauce, I was fit to live on my own.”

“She was right.” Simone dunked a piece of garlic bread in the sauce and nibbled it with another appreciative, ecstatic little sigh.

It was so close to the noises she made when she was making love that he had to shift in his seat to cover the sudden throb in his cock. “I thought we could watch a movie after dinner. If you want to.”

“Hmm.” She gave him a mischievous grin. “Is that your way of trying to get me to make out with you?”

“Will you? If I slide my arm along the back of the couch real subtle-like, maybe pretend I’m yawning?”

She laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. She had a great laugh. A great smile. And, because he wasn’t used to making women laugh, Elliott discovered that he wanted to keep doing and saying things that urged Simone to giggle.

He mimed a huge yawn and stretch. “Like that?”

She giggled again. “Oh. Very good. I’d never fall for something like that, though. No way.”

“I can be pretty persuasive.”

“Oh. No doubt.” She helped herself to more salad. “You are panty dampener for sure. A player.”

He paused at that. “That’s what you think about me, huh?”

She looked up from the bowl of salad, then set it down carefully. “Am I wrong? I thought we’d sort of established that already.”

“You mean because I date a lot of women.”

She shrugged.

Elliott frowned. “Simone. Does that bother you?”

“It didn’t used to,” she said slowly. “Before.”

They stared at each other across the table. If he told her that he hadn’t been out with any other women since the night he’d taken her to Barry’s party, it might give her the wrong idea. Except, he thought, was it wrong?

“I’m not a player.”

She laughed at that. Loudly. Tipping her head back, then shaking it as she stared at him with shining eyes. “You are so full of shit.”

“I’m not!” He protested. “Dating a lot of women doesn’t make me a player, Simone. I never lied to any of them. I never made the promises. I never led them on.”

Her smile faded a little as she stared at him. “I don’t expect you to make me any promises.”

Shit. That wasn’t what he’d meant. He got up to serve himself another portion of pasta and sauce, to give himself something to do so he wouldn’t have to look at her.

“I like you, Elliott.”

He turned, glad for the distance between them that made this conversation seem a little more casual than it actually was. “I like you, too, Simone.”

She smiled. “Good.”

“Good,” he added.

“I haven’t liked a guy this way for a really long time.” She took a deep breath. “And I don’t want to fuck it up. That’s all.”

“What makes you think you’re the one who’s going to fuck it up?”

She eyed him. “Well. It could be you. I mean, either one of us could. Neither of us are the best relationship material.”

“What a vote of confidence.” He burst into low laughter, shaking his head. She was like no woman he’d ever met. He couldn’t get enough.

“I’m not really the kind of girl who gets all caught up in stuff just because of sex, I promise you I don’t. I’ve had lots of sex without dating.”

He frowned, not wanting to think about her with any other men, which told him more than anything else how she made him feel.

“But then you wanted to go on dates.” She took a deep breath. “And I thought, well, we could try it a little bit, it doesn’t have to mean anything. But the truth is, Elliott, that I like you so fucking much, and I want to fuck you again, because it was amazing and fantastic and oh my god, the thought of never having you naked inside me again is enough to make me crazy, so then I overthink it, and I didn’t want this to end up out of control, so I just thought if we were going to date, that we should you know, take our time.”

“And not fuck?” he said slowly, wondering how in the world the conversation had ended up here.

“Oh . . . god, no,” Simone said. “To tell you the truth, I want you so much right now, it’s all I can do not to jump across the table right now and fuck you right here.”

Every Part of You: Takes Me (#5)

Together, they were on fire. Apart, they’re miserable. Can Simone and Elliott find their way back to each other?

Bereft after Elliott leaves her, Simone is urged to find solace in a non-emotional connection with a stranger that leaves her body fulfilled but her heart still empty. When Elliott learns she’s been with someone else, jealousy prompts him to make a move on her, but passion is no longer enough. He needs to open up to Simone, who’s not sure she can accept even his sincerest apology. A final run-in with his father convinces Elliott he has to make amends with Simone, no matter what it takes.

Excerpt:

Halfway through another page, another call came through. Then a text. Simone ignored them both and burrowed deeper into her blankets. She’d lost the remote, which was a pain in the ass because she wanted to turn up the volume so she couldn’t even hear the faintest of peeps from her phone. Before she could find it, her doorbell rang.

There was no fucking way she was getting out of bed to answer it.

No.

Fucking.

Way.

It rang again, and once more she ignored it. Diving on the remote, Simone turned up the volume even though she’d long ago stopped understanding what was happening in the movie. As she found the second remote to pause and rewind–not that she cared anymore what was happening, because she didn’t, she heard her front door open.

Simone froze. She made a quick assessment of the situation. Clad in only a belly baring T-shirt and tiny panties, she was the perfect random ax-murderer victim, at least according to every horror movie she’d ever seen. Home alone, underdressed, with only a TV remote as a weapon. Yep, she was going to get a machete to someplace soft. She was halfway to her closet to grab something she could use to defend herself, a stiletto could do major damage, after all, when her bedroom door creaked open.

“. . . Simone?”

Simone paused. “Corrina? What the hell?”

Aidan’s girlfriend, his submissive girlfriend, Simone reminded herself, pushed open the door a little further and peeked through, looking a little embarrassed. “Hi. Aidan gave me the key.”

Not sure what to say, Simone tossed the shoe back into the closet. She’d forgotten she’d given him a key, but that didn’t explain what Corrina was doing there. Unless it was to throw down in some kind of epic girl-on-girl catfight, and somehow, Simone doubted that. “Is he here?”

Corrina had the grace to blush and scuff a toe along the hardwood floor. “No. He sent me to get you. He said I wasn’t to leave until you came with me.”

“Oh, yeah?” Simone put her hands on her hips and gave the other woman a glare that didn’t seem to phase her. “Where’s he think you’re going to take me?”

“To Leather.”

Simone grimaced. “Oh. No. Oh, hell no! That place? No fucking way!”

“He told me you’d say that.” Corrina grinned. “I’m still taking you.”

“I’m not going to some throwback sex club where they play “Enigma” on a constant loop and everyone wears fishnets on their arms. No.” Simone had been to Leather a handful of times, back in the early nineties when it had all seemed crazy and decadent and debauched instead of cheesy and sad. The last time she’d gone with Aidan, both of them nostalgic for the days of dog collars and public floggings, they’d discovered the club had not kept up with the times. It had become seedy, dirty. Gross.

“It’s under new management. Aidan has a membership there.” Corrina said that like it made a difference.

Simone drew in a breath that hitched and caught in her throat, much to her dismay. She forced the burning in her eyes away. “I’m not going.”

“You’re going,” said Corrina, heading for Simone’s closet. “Aidan told me it would be very bad for me if you didn’t.”

Simone crossed her arms. “You like spanking, so he’ll spank you, what’s the big deal. I thought you got off on that.”

Corrina turned, slowly, with one of Simone’s black dresses on a hanger in her hand. Her brow furrowed, followed by a frown. A moment later her chin lifted. She looked Simone straight in the face.

“I love Aidan, and I want to make him happy. I thought you’d understand that,” she said icily, “even if you don’t agree with the way we work it.”

It was a slap, and one Simone supposed she deserved. “Look, it’s not my place to judge–”

“No. It’s not. So, don’t. Just get dressed.”

Simone tried again, backing toward the bed and sitting on the edge of it. “I don’t want to go to Leather. I don’t know why Aidan would want me to go, but if he’s going to punish you for something you can’t control, then he’s not being your dom, he’s being a dick.”

Corrina shrugged. “I want to please him. You understand that, at least, don’t you? Wanting to make the person you love happy?”

Simone burst into wracking, raucous, and completely horrifying tears. She buried her face in her hands, but it was too late. She was lost in the grief and pain of it all again. Being swept away.

The bed dipped as Corrina sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulders. She said nothing while Simone wept, handed her tissues when the snot got out of control and then got up to bring her a glass of water from the bathroom when Simone’s sobs had tapered off into a series of hiccupping coughs.

“I’m sorry,” Corrina said when Simone quieted. “It sucks. I know.”

“I am so fucked,” Simone whispered, half ashamed. “I love him, Corrina. Oh my god, I’ve never loved anyone this way. And I hate him for making me love him, when all I wanted was to fuck him. I love him, and I hate him, and all I can think about is how I don’t know how I’m going to spend the rest of my life without him in it.”

Corrina put her arm around Simone’s shoulders and said nothing. Just squeezed. Simone drew in a long, cleansing breath that did nothing to make her feel better. If anything, it reminded her body of all the bits and pieces that had once been filled up with him, and that were now empty.

“Aidan said you need to come because it will do you good,” Corrina insisted, then hesitated. She looked firmly into Simone’s eyes. “He said he still knows what you need, and if you won’t let him be the one to give it to you, at the very least, you should let him help you get it.”

* * *

Corrina had told her she was taking Simone to Leather, but the discreet sign posted by the door said the place was now called Briar. Simone liked that name better. Leather had evoked burly men in assless chaps parading their subs around on the ends of leashes, which was her last memory of the place.

Briar, on the other hand, made her think of pain.

The prick and sting of thorns. The sweet, sliding warmth of blood trickling and tickling down her back or over her breasts. With that thought, Simone’s nipples peaked into twin, tight buds that strained against the thin material of the black tank top she wore paired with formfitting skinny jeans and crimson ballet flats. She’d sleeked her hair back from her face, adding twin pin curls on her cheeks, but lined her eyes with thick black liner, the rest of her face pale. Mouth as red as the shoes, red as the apple the witch gave Snow White. Red as blood.

Still, she didn’t go in right away. Aidan had called ahead to arrange for her and Corrina to be allowed inside, but even if he hadn’t, Simone was sure she’d have been given entrance. It was that sort of night. Beside her, Corrina stood patiently, waiting for Simone to knock. She would wait however long it took, Simone figured.

Suddenly, Simone didn’t want to wait any longer. She didn’t want to hold on to Elliott. She didn’t want to cling to that love, because even though it hurt her and she craved and loved pain the way some women yearned for diamonds, bruises on her inner thighs were nothing like shredding her heart in the cheese grater of emotional upheaval.

He did not love her.

He did not want her.

“All right,” she murmured. “Let’s go.”