It’sobnoxious how handsome he is. What’s even more obnoxious is that he knows it. If I wasn’t so good at controlling myself, I’d probably be giving him goo-goo eyes as I watch him finish his lobster ravioli starter. I skipped the starter. This is business, not dinner. Not a date.
Which is what I keep repeating over and over in my mind to distract me from his peerless jaw, piercing eyes and obviously incredibly-in-shape body. He must have a gym at work and at home to get arms that look like they’re about to rip out of his shirt. For a CEO, he has a very rugged look to him, like he might spend half the year living in a cabin in the mountains cutting his own firewood.
“Ever been here before?” he asks.
“No. I heard it’s nice, though.”
“No guy ever took you here? It’s one of the best restaurants in the city.”
“I don’t do all that,” I reply dismissively.
“Do all what?”
“That,” I reply.
Titus chuckles. “Men?”
I nod. “Precisely.”
“All work and no play?” he suggests. “Doesn’t that make Chanel a dull girl?”
“It’s fine,” I shrug. “Listen can we talk about the deal—”
“I find it hard to believe you don’t have a man,” he interrupts. His eyes are probing. His stare intense. There’s an amusement in the way that he’s looking at me, but beyond that, an interest that makes me feel a way I haven’t felt in a long time.
“I have a man,” I quip back. “His name is Roger. He runs on batteries, knows how to please me, and never gives me a hard time.”
Jesus, why did I say that? This is a business meeting and I just told Titus about my v!brator? This is a disaster already.
Titus shakes his head. “Wow.” That’s all he says.
“Wow?” I ask. “What does that mean?”
“Nothing.” He shrugs. “That’s just the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Rich, powerful woman like you with zero personal life,” he replies. “How fulfilling can that be?”
“You know what I think?” he asks.
Did he just cut me off? And did I just let him? What is going on with me right now?
Titus has a way about him that I did not expect. It’s disarming. I may be strong. I may be successful, but Titus seems like he’s on another level. Like he’s part of some club I’ll never reach. Still, for some reason, I want to know what he has to say.
“What do you think?”
“I think you need a man.”
I wait for more. “That’s it? You just said that.”
“No, I think you need a man,” he repeats. “You’re so used to getting your way all the time, being in control, that you need someone to put you out of control. Take over for you. You know – like male CEOs that go to dominatrixes?”
“Oh, you do, do you?”
“Yeah. Like Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street with the candle in his ass?”
I can’t help but laugh. “Well, that’s an interesting…theory, Titus. Now, please, can we get back to the business?”
“By all means,” he says, flashing me that Time Magazine smile that apparently launched a thousand pairs of p*nties. “I’m prepared to buy you out for 2 billion. I’ve already had the contracts drawn up—”
My chest goes tight. “Wait, wait, what!? Buy me out?”
Titus cocks his head and frowns. “Uh, yeah. Isn’t that what this is about?”
The waiter comes over with our main courses, but I’m already on my feet. “No, that’s not what this was about! This was about you investing in my company. Not buying me out! I should have known better than to take a meeting with a guy like you.”
Fuming, I storm away from the table and head outside. The car is gone of course, so I quickly pull out my phone to text Amy, but before I can, Titus comes out behind me and snatches it out of my hands.
“What the hell are you doing!?” I snap. “Give that back!”
“My car is here,” he says, nodding to a Rolls parked up the block. “I’ll give you a ride home.”
“The hell you will!” I laugh.
“Think of it as an apology,” he suggests with a smile.
“Oh, you want to apologize?”
“I shouldn’t have said what I said.” God, his smile is obnoxiously cute. “I’m sure we can come to another arrangement.”
It doesn’t sound like a bad pickup line, but I can’t help feeling like it is one. Maybe it’s just the unignorable, female side of me that is responding to his good looks and reading into what he’s saying.
“One that doesn’t involve you buying me out of my own company?” I ask.
“Right.” He nods. Without waiting for my response, he motions to his driver, who pulls the car around in front of us. He even opens the door for me. “After you.”
This is a bad idea. I don’t even know why I get in the car. But I have to save my company. I spent my life building it, and I’m not about to let it go down in flames. If that means I have to do business with Titus, then I’ll do business with Titus.
I give the driver my address, and a few minutes later we’re pulling up to my building. Titus whistles as we get out. “Nice. You have the penthouse, I assume?”
“Of course.” I smile.
In the elevator, I use my key to unlock my floor. I glance at Titus as the doors close. He’s standing kind of close to me, so close I can smell the faintest hint of his scent beneath whatever deodorant he uses. I can even feel his body heat.
“Just so you know,” I tell him, “I never have people back to my home. Especially men.”
“You always have to be in control, don’t you?”
His question catches me off guard. There’s a tone in his voice that I haven’t heard before. It’s almost…threatening. As I’m trying to decipher his meaning, the elevator starts to rise.
“I’m the boss,” I reply. “I have to be in control.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Titus responds, circling in front of me. He moves closer, making me aware of his size. He’s well over six feet, with shoulders so broad he completely blocks the elevator doors. “You know what I think, Chanel?”
I’m used to elevators. I take this one every day, so that can’t be the reason my stomach is feeling this way…
He’s looking at me like he owns me. Like he has a plan, and I’ve just stepped into his trap.
“W-what?” I’m stammering. Feeling flummoxed.
“I think you want to be out of control. But you’ve never met a man who would allow you to do so.”
I can feel my heartbeat in my cheeks, which are warm and prickly with a blush.
The elevator slows. I hear the ding of the doors, and then it happens.
Titus moves in on me with lightning speed, wrapping me in his arms that coil around me like thick, monstrous snakes. I try to cry out as he pulls me into my apartment, but there’s barely any air left in my lungs, and all that comes out is a weak, pathetic whimper.
“Don’t even try to fight it,” he growls into my ear as he drags me across the living room of my own home. “You’re just a woman, after all.”
Adrenaline rush. My body shakes uncontrollably as a panic comes over me.
Is this really happening?
I trip over myself as he pushes me forward and collapse face first onto the couch. I roll over quickly and look up to see him pulling off his belt. His eyes, fierce, stare down at me and cause a shiver of fear to claw its way up my spine.
“No man,” he muses, twisting the belt in his hands. The creak of the leather is somehow terrifying. “How old are you again?”
“Have you ever had a man?” he asks. “Strong, independent woman like you. Wouldn’t surprise me if you hadn’t.”
“Have you!?” he bellows, shaking me to my core. I can’t speak, but manage to shake my head slowly. A smile slowly creeps across his l!ps. “That’s what I thought. A twenty-nine-year-old billionaire virgin just begging for my cock. And you know what, princess? You’re going to get it.”