Friday, March 13, 2015

Beneath This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas

This Man #2
It's been 5 days since she found out and then saw Jesse drunk. The guys come over and say they haven't heard from him. They tell her another truth. Ava is reeling again. She goes with them to the penthouse and break in. Ava finds him passed out on the terrace. Her heart is breaking. She loves this man even though he does not reveal his secrets. What is going to happen next?
It looks like someone is after Ava but who?  There are some weirdos in Jesse's past - which one is it?

I read this in a few hours - I was so into it! Love Jesse and Ava. Has she heard it all yet?

From the author:
She knew she was heading towards disaster. Every instinct told her to run, but Jesse Ward was a hard man to escape.
It has been five days’ since Ava O’Shea left Jesse drunk and raging at Lusso – left behind a man who drowned her in his intensity and blindsided her with his touch. Getting over this man was never going to be easy.
And now he’s back in her life.
She has questions that she needs answering, but her determination to get these answers will give the pleasure-seeking playboy the power to destroy her again. She needs to keep her eyes wide open and caution at the forefront of her mind – an ambitious intention when Jesse Ward is within touching distance.
And he plans to be.
He’s dark, he’s broken – Ava knows this, but the only way to find out how dark and how broken is to get beneath the steely exterior of this man.

Jesse screeches up outside The Royal Park and waves a delighted looking valet away when he approaches to collect Jesse’s car. 

‘I’ll see you at home.’ He wraps his palm around the back of my neck and yanks me over to him, taking his time to say his goodbye. I let him. I could crawl all over him. Sod the valet stood close by, looking longingly at the DBS.

‘Six-ish.’ I confirm as he kisses the corner of my mouth.
He grins. ‘ish.’

I know it’s not the right time to approach the subject, but it’s going to eat away at me for the rest of the day. He can’t be serious, surely? ‘I can’t retire at twenty six.’

He sits back in his seat, the stupid, sodding cogs kicking into action. It worries me instantly. He is serious. ‘I told you, I don’t like sharing you.’

‘That’s stupid.’ I blurt, which was obviously wrong, judging by the scowl that has just flashed across his face.

‘Don’t call me stupid, Ava.’

‘I wasn’t calling you stupid. I was calling your ambitious intention stupid.’ I argue quietly. ‘I’m never going to leave you.’ I reach over and slide my hand across the back of his neck. Does he need re-assurance on this?

His lip disappears between his teeth as he stares at the steering wheel of the DBS. ‘That doesn’t stop people from trying to take you. I can’t let that happen.’ He turns tortured eyes onto me. It punches a massive hole in my stomach.

‘What people?’ I ask, alarm clear in my tone.

He shakes his head. ‘No specific people. I don’t deserve you, Ava, but by some fucking miracle, I’ve got you. I’ll protect you fiercely – eliminate any threat.’ His hands slide over the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white from his harsh grip. ‘Okay, we need to stop talking about this because I’m feeling a bit violent.’

I sit and look across at my beautiful, neurotic control freak and wish I could give him the reassurance that he needs. My words won’t ever work. I absolutely realise that now. I’m also fully aware that what he actually means is he’ll eliminate any male threat to him, not me.

I undo my belt and crawl across the car to straddle his lap, with complete disregard for the valet, who is still dribbling all over the DBS. I pull his face up to mine, cupping his cheeks and lowering my lips to his. He moans and slides his hands around to clench my bum and pull me in towards his hips. I want him to take me back to Lusso right now, but I can’t brush Mikael off.

Our tongues slowly sweep together, rolling, pulling back and plunging again, time and time again. I ache with need for this man – painful, constant aching, and I know he feels exactly the same about me.
I pull back and find his eyes clenched shut. I’ve seen that look before, and the last time I saw it, it was because he had something to tell me. ‘What’s wrong?’ I ask nervously.

His eyes fly open quickly, like he’s suddenly realised that he was pulling a complete give away face.

‘Nothing is wrong.’ He brushes away a loose tendril of my hair. ‘Everything is right.’
I stiffen in his lap. He’s said that before too, and everything really wasn’t right. ‘You have something you want to tell me.’ I state it as a fact.

‘You’re right, I do.’ His head drops, and I feel sick – stomach churning sick, but then his eyes lift again and find mine. ‘I crazy love you, baby.’

I recoil slightly. ‘That’s not what you want to tell me.’ I say suspiciously.
He reduces me to a pool of steam on his lap when he blasts me with his smile, reserved only for women. ‘Yes, it is. And I’ll keep telling you until you get fed up of hearing it. It’s a novelty to me.’ He shrugs. ‘I like saying it.’

‘I won’t get fed up of hearing it, and don’t be saying it to anyone else. I don’t care how much you like saying it.’

He grins, a real boyish, cheeky grin. ‘Would that make you jealous?’

I scoff. ‘Mr Ward, let’s not talk about jealously when you’ve just vowed to eliminate any threat.’ I say dryly.

‘Okay, let’s not.’ He pulls me in and rolls his hips upwards, unearthing a wicked beat at my very centre. ‘Let’s get a room instead.’ he whispers, flicking those damn delectable hips up once more.
I frantically scramble out of his lap, eager to escape that mind melting touch before I rip his suit off here and now. ‘I’m going to be late for my meeting.’ I grab my bag and press my lips briefly on his. ‘I need you waiting in bed when I get home.’

He smiles a satisfied smile. ‘Are you making demands, Miss O’Shea?’

‘Are you going to deny me, Mr Ward?’

‘Never, but you do remember who has the power, don’t you?’ He makes a grab for me, but I bat his hands away quickly, jumping out of the car before he completely swallows me up.
I pop my head back in. ‘You do, but I need you. So could you please be naked and waiting?’

‘You need me?’ he asks, a triumphant look on his face.

‘Always. See you at yours.’ I shut the door, hearing him yell OURS as I walk off.

I’m suddenly aware of eyes drilling into me, and I turn to find the valet with the biggest grin on his face. I blush profusely and scuttle up the steps into the hotel. I am thoroughly contented and bronzing nicely on Central Jesse Cloud Nine.

I rummage through my bag when I hear my text chime.
It’s Jesse.

I miss you, I love you, I need you too Jx

I laugh. How did he do that so quickly? He only left me three seconds ago. I toss my phone in my bag and skip through the foyer of the Royal Park.

I’m shown to the same snug where Mikael and I last met, and Mikael is already waiting for me. He has the mood boards laid out on the table and is studying them. He looks more casual today, his suit jacket removed, his tie loose, but his pale blonde hair still perfectly styled.

He looks up when I walk in. ‘Ava, very good to see you again.’ His lightly accented voice is as smooth as ever.

‘And you, Mikael. You received the drafts?’ I nod at the boards as I set my bag down on one of the large, green leather couches.

‘Yes, but the problem is I love them all. You’re too good.’ He puts his hand out, and I take it.

‘I’m glad.’ I smile brightly while he shakes my hand gently.

He releases me and turns back towards the table. ‘I’m veering towards this one, though.’ He points to the cream and white scheme that I’m favouring myself.

‘That would be my choice too.’ I say cheerily. ‘I think it encapsulates your aspiration best.’

‘It does.’ he agrees, smiling warmly at me. ‘Take a seat, Ava. Would you like a drink?’

I perch on a sofa. ‘Water would be good, thank you.’

He signals to the waiter at the doorway before lowering himself onto the sofa next to me. ‘I apologise for the hold up on our meeting. Things didn’t go as swiftly as I planned back home.’

Oh. That would be his divorce then. I can’t imagine things would go smoothly when you are as rich as Mikael. His wife is probably trying to take him for every penny. Why else would it not be going smoothly? I don’t say anything, though. I suspect Ingrid shouldn’t have divulged as much as she did. I don’t want to get her sacked. I liked her.

‘It’s not a problem, really.’ I smile and return my eyes to the mood boards. ‘So, we’re swinging towards this one then?’ I place my hand on the cream and white scheme.

He shifts forward. ‘Yes, I like the simplicity and warmness. You are very clever. One would think it would come across insipid and cold, but it doesn’t at all.’

‘Thank you, It’s all about the fabrics and tones.’
He smiles, his blue eyes shimmering. ‘Yes, I guess it is.’

We spend a few hours discussing the time frames, schedules and budgets. He is really quite easy to be around, which is a huge relief after he invited me to dinner at our previous meeting. I was worried things would be awkward, but it’s not at all. He took my answer on the chin and has said no more.

‘It will all be sustainable material, yes?’ He runs his long finger over the drawings of a bespoke four-poster bed I have sketched.

‘Of course,’ I mentally thank Ingrid for the important piece of information that Mikael neglected to tell me previously. I indicate the other pieces of furniture I’ve drafted. ‘It’s all sustainable, as per you specification. I understand the forestry commission in Scandinavia is a serious business.’

‘It is,’ he laughs. ‘We all have to do our bit for the environment. We got some bad press after Lusso.’

My mind’s eye is flooded with an image of twelve superbikes and a petrol guzzling DBS. I bet Mikael drives a Hybrid Prius. ‘We do,’ I agree. He casts his eyes to mine, and I smile mildly. ‘Excuse me while I use the ladies’.’ I collect my bag and leave him.

I spend five minutes in the toilets refreshing my face and using the facilities. I’m pleased with how the meeting is progressing, and I’m eager to get back to the office to start working on the master design. I ruffle my hair, pinch my cheeks and exit the ladies’, walking across the lobby of the hotel and back to the snug.

As I enter, I nearly choke on thin air when I see Jesse stood next to Mikael, bold as bloody brass, looking over my designs.

What the f**king hell is he doing here?

Read more here.

Pages: 544
Published: 2013

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