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Nude for you
Dedicated to Dr. David Alain Goodwin with unlimited love and gratitude.
Thank you, Dave. You saved my life.
This book is a work of art. All names, images, places and events are the fruit of the author’s imagination or were used without intent. Possible similarity with real people, both living and dead, places of action or events is the result of a purely coincidence.
I express my deepest gratitude to my editor, Hilary Cyres, who literally clung to this work and made me work on it. Mostly kicks in the ass. Her constant demandingness, which did not allow me to neglect the details, forced me to work more efficiently, which ultimately made the book much, much more! – it is better.
Without you, Hilary, “Nude for you” would not be what it is.
Thank you very much!
Martha Trachtenberg, a terrific text editor. This book is very important to me, to which it reacted with the fullest understanding. Thank you, Martha!
Victoria Kolota, for her tireless work on the design and selection of fonts. She took my simple text and gave it expression. Thank you, Victoria!
Tere Kleinffelter, who, after reading the first half of the book, confessed to me that she was fascinated by her. Thank you, Tera!
All the girls that at some point in their youth they visited Cross Creek. May all your dreams come true. You deserve it.
And also Alistair and Jessica from Seven Sinful Years, who inspired me to write a story about Gideon and Eve. I am so happy when inspiration visits twice!
– And if we don’t fall into the bar to celebrate such an event?
The similar offer of my flatmate did not surprise me at all. Someone who, and Carey Taylor, was always ready to celebrate anything for any reason. And this was one of the secrets of his charm.
– In my opinion, getting drunk before going to a new job is not a good idea.
– Come on, Eve!
Cary, smiling triumphantly, was sitting on the floor of our new living room amidst a half-dozen boxes. And although several days have passed since the move, we did not have time to unpack them. That did not stop Cary from looking great. Dark, dark-haired and green-eyed, he was one of those rare men who are great at any time of the day or night. I could only tolerate such familiarity from him, since he was for me the most dear person on earth.
“I’m not talking about binge,” Carey bent his line. “Just a glass of different wine.” We can sit down nicely for an hour, and come back at eight.
“Well, I don’t know if I have enough for all the time,” I replied, pointing at the pants and the jersey for yoga. – Actually, after the walk to the office I was going to hit the gym with my view.
“You’ll take a quick walk, and you can practice even faster,” said Carey, while arching an eyebrow so much that I burst out laughing.
Honestly, I waited from day to day for him to pull on a million dollars face to finally decorate billboards and covers of glossy magazines. He was stunning regardless of the expression on his face.
– How about you celebrate tomorrow after work? – I put forward a counter offer. – If my first day is successful, then there really will be something to celebrate.
– Agreed. And I will update our kitchen: I cook something for lunch.
– Hmm … – (Cary was madly fond of cooking, although this was not one of his talents.) – Great!
Having blown off a disobedient strand of hair that fell on his face, he grinned:
– Our kitchen is just a class, for such a restaurant would hang. It is simply impossible to cook badly.
And although I still had strong doubts about this, I preferred to start talking about food, and therefore, waving my hand to him, I headed for the door. I called the elevator, went down to the first floor and, sending a smile to the doorman, who opened the door wide for me, went out into the street.
It was worth being outside, as I was shrouded, as if inviting me to get to know each other better, the sounds and smells of Manhattan. It seemed as though not only the whole country, but also whole worlds, separated me from my former home in San Diego. The two largest metropolis: one infinitely restrained and permeated with sensual laziness, and the other – overflowing with life and violent energy. Actually, I dreamed of settling in Brooklyn, in a house without an elevator, however, being an obedient daughter, I ended up on the Upper West Side. If Carey hadn’t been around, I would have felt miserable and lonely in a huge apartment that cost more per month than most people earn in a year.
“Good evening, Miss Tramell,” the doorman said, lightly touching his hat. – you call a taxi?
– No, Paul, thank you. – I rocked on the heels of sports shoes. – Walk on foot.
“It has become cooler since noon.” The weather promises to be pleasant, – he smiled.
– I was told to enjoy June, until July came with its damn heat.
“Very sensible advice, Miss Tremell.”
I walked out from under the ultramodern glass overhang, oddly enough, did not absolutely contrast with the respectable to our and neighboring buildings, and went ahead, enjoying the peace of my relatively quiet street, until I reached the noisy, bustling, crowded with Broadway transport. I did not leave hope that one day, which will come soon enough, I will be able to merge with the city into a single whole, but have not yet felt like a real resident of New York. Yes, I already had a home address and a job, but I was still a little afraid of the subway, I was not too successful in the art of catching a taxi and could not stare at the sides, although I tried to force myself not to do it. There were too many new sensations and impressions.
What a stunning blend of exhaust and food smells from stalls of street vendors cost, cacophony of voices and music of street performers, awe-inspiring variety of faces, images, styles, accents, stunning architectural wonders … and cars! Oh my God! I had never seen anything like this continuous dense flow of transport.
Now and then the street was announced with a siren of tears: ambulance, a police or fire engine tried to clear their way among a multitude of yellow taxis. Awkward, heavy garbage trucks, managed to make their way through the narrow side streets with one-way traffic, or nimble wagons, miraculously slipped almost close, but did not hurt anyone, just terrified me.
Real New Yorkers took it all for granted, the city was familiar and cozy for them, like home slippers. They paid no attention to the steam that curled over the air vents on the sidewalks. They did not react when another subway train rushed down with a roar, while I, with an idiotic smirk on my face, involuntarily shuddered every time. Having fallen in love with New York at first sight, I enthusiastically absorbed everything that the city showed me, and my feelings became even stronger because now I not only lived here, but also worked.
It was nice to know that I was going to the building where I had to work. And this, among other things, meant finding a new path in life. Starting tomorrow morning, I began to work as an assistant to Mark Garrity at Waters, Field and Leam, one of the most prominent US advertising agencies. My stepfather, a major financier Richard Stanton, was unhappy that I agreed to a similar position. He believed that if it were not for my pride, I would have settled in the office of his friend. And the benefits of this, in his opinion, would be much more.
“You’re as stubborn as your father,” he told me. – He also strives to do everything himself, although with his cop salary he will have to repay loans for your education all his life.
Yes, for both of them it was a stumbling block: my father did not agree to give in to anything.
“Damn it for two, I will allow someone else to pay for my daughter,” said Victor Reyes when Stanton leaned toward him with such an offer.
I respected the position of my father. I suspect that Stanton, too, although he did not want to admit it. In principle, I understood both of them well, as I struggled to pay my bills myself. But so far unsuccessfully. As for the father, for him it was a matter of honor. At one time, my mother flatly refused to marry him, which did not prevent him from strictly fulfilling her fatherly duties towards me.
Remembering the mistakes of the past and realizing that it was useless to annoy them, I focused on getting to the workplace as quickly as possible. I specifically chose Monday for this with its businesslike crowd, and when I noticed time, I was pleased to note that the road to Crossfire Building, where the Waters, Field and Lehman office was located, took less than half an hour.
I threw back my head and glanced along the front of the building, up to the thin strip of sky above. The skyscraper made a strong impression: trimmed with blue glass, it sparkled all over and seemed to penetrate the clouds. As I was interviewing here, I already knew that the interior on the other side of the richly decorated copper-clad revolving doors inspired awe: the floors and walls were white with golden streaks of marble, and the turnstiles were polished aluminum.
Pulling my brand new pass out of my pocket, I showed it to two guards in black suits. They missed me immediately, most likely due to the fact that I was not dressed in a businesslike manner, but nevertheless missed. It remains to take the elevator to the twentieth floor and walk to the office door. Time has gone.
I was already heading for the elevators when a slim, well-groomed brunette hooked her purse on the turnstile with her purse. From there rain drifted fines. The coins rang on the marble floor with a ringing sound, and nearby people pretended not to notice anything. With a sympathetic smile, I squatted down to help the stranger collect coins. One of the guards followed my example.
“Thank you,” she smiled shyly.
“Not at all,” I replied, smiling back. – It happened to me.
Squatting, I reached for a five-cent coin lying at the aisle and stumbled upon a pair of luxurious men’s shoes, on which black trousers sewn to order fell. I waited for the stranger to remove his leg, but since he didn’t even think to do it, I had to throw my head back to get a better look at the unexpected obstacle. First, I drew attention to the luxurious three-piece suit, and then – to its owner, who was distinguished by an amazingly slim and strong physique. But, having seen his face, I experienced a real shock.
“Wow … I have no words! Wow! ”
With the animal grace, he squatted on his haunches right in front of me, and, finding myself face to face with this embodiment of exquisite masculinity, I could only look at that by opening my mouth.
And then something like an electrical discharge ran between us.
The stranger’s eyes changed, as if a protective shield slipped from his eyes, revealing a withering willpower, literally pulling the air out of my lungs. The magnetism emitted by him intensified to such an extent that it already seemed to be perceived on the physical level as a kind of vibrating force field.
I instinctively recoiled – and plopped down on my ass, and at the same time I thoroughly applied my elbows to the marble floor, although I hardly felt any pain. All my attention was riveted on the man in front of me. Blue-black hair framed a surprisingly beautiful face, worthy of a sculptor’s chisel. A solid line of the mouth, a straight nose, bright blue eyes. Somewhat barbaric beauty. His eyes narrowed slightly, but his face remained impassive.
The costume and shirt of the stranger were black, and his tie was blue, the color of his eyes. And the appreciative gaze of those blue eyes was on me. My heart began to beat faster, my lips parted involuntarily. And it smelled of something pleasant and at the same time sinful. Not cologne. Maybe soap. Or shampoo. Something amazingly engaging. Like him.
He gave me his hand, showing onyx cufflinks and a very expensive-looking watch.
With a convulsive sigh, I put my hand in his hand, and when he squeezed it, my heart sank. From his touch on my body like ran a current, forcing the hairs to rise behind the neck. For a moment the stranger remained motionless, a wrinkle lay between his beautiful eyebrows.
– Are you okay?
His voice, pleasant and sonorous, was touched by a hoarseness, from which a shudder blew through me, arousing thoughts about sex. Awesome sex. For a second it seemed to me that a little more – and he would bring me to orgasm.
“Everything is beautiful,” I squeezed out, licking my dry lips.
He rose with the grace of a panther, then helped me to my feet. We still looked at each other, because I simply could not look away. He was younger than I thought at first. According to my estimates, he was not even thirty, although in his eyes he saw life experience. And also hardness and sharp mind.
I felt like I was attracted to him, as if he threw a lasso on me and slowly, but inexorably drawn to him.
But, despite my half-conscious state, I still found the strength to withdraw. He was not just handsome, he looked so that he literally struck outright. The stranger belonged to the category of guys, from one type of which a woman has a desire to tear off their shirt, so that the buttons fly apart in all directions, and with them – the remnants of restraint. I looked at him, sophisticated and elegant in this very expensive suit, and thought only of rough, primitive, crazy sex.
He bent down to raise the pass, which I happened to drop, and I miraculously managed to free myself from the power of his provocative gaze and more or less come to my senses.
And I immediately experienced wild irritation. Wow, he was calm himself, but suddenly something unexpectedly rolled over me for no reason! And why would it? Damn it, he blinded me!
The stranger looked at me again, and from his posture – he was kneeling before me almost – my head was spinning again. Without taking his eyes off me, he began to slowly rise.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” In my opinion, it would not hurt you to sit down for a moment.
I got hot. Yeah, good enough: look like a clumsy stupid in the eyes of the most attractive and confident man I have ever met.
– Nothing wrong. I just lost my balance. It’s okay
I turned to the culprit of the incident. Thanking the guard who helped her, she apologized to me. I handed her a handful of collected coins, but her eyes fell on the deity in a black suit, and she instantly forgot about my existence. After waiting for the moment, I just poured the little things into her purse, and when I risked raising my eyes to the stranger again, I saw that he was looking straight at me, not paying attention to the brunette who was crucifying in front of him. Yes, yes, before him, and not at all before me, although it was I who came to her rescue!
– Excuse me, can I take my pass? – Ignoring the brunette, I said.
A stranger handed me a pass. I tried to take it in such a way as to avoid direct contact with his hand, however, our fingers touched, and it seemed as if I were electrocuted again.
“Thank you,” I muttered.
Having jumped out through the revolving door into the street, I stopped and frantically inhaled the air of New York, saturated with millions of various smells.
There was a shiny black Bentley SUV in front of the building, and I could see my reflection in its tinted windows. His face was flushed, his gray eyes burned with feverish fire. That was how I saw myself only in the bathroom mirror, when I was making a marafet, before going to bed with a man. This expression could not be confused with anything: that was how I looked in anticipation of sex, which I didn’t seem to smell like.
“Lord! Get a hold of yourself!”
Some five minutes spent with Dangerous Brunette filled me with passionate, irrepressible energy. I still felt his magnetism. I was so drawn back to him. Of course, one could try to explain this by saying that I simply did not complete what I came to Crossfire Building for, but why deceive myself ?!
“Enough,” I muttered quietly to myself. – Come on, let’s move!
The deafening signal of a taxi slipped right in front of the other. The driver managed to hit the brakes and simply miraculously did not hit the pedestrians who had stepped ahead of time on the carriageway. Both drivers and pedestrians broke out in indignant shouts, waved their hands frantically, but rather for order, because within a minute they will remember the unpleasant episode as another stroke of the everyday life of a big city.
Merging with the flow of pedestrians, I headed towards the gym, and my lips were touched by a smile.
Oh, New York, I thought, feeling like I was recovering again. “You won’t be bored with you.”
I intended to warm up on the treadmill, and then spend an hour on the simulators, but when I saw the beginner kickboxers gathered at the training, I decided to join them. At the end of the class, my whole body ached with fatigue, and I knew for sure that today I fall asleep as dead.
– You’re doing great.
Wiping the sweat from my face with a towel, I glanced at the young man who had spoken to me. Tall, slim, muscular, with penetrating brown eyes and smooth skin the color of coffee with milk. His long, thick eyelashes contrasted with a shaved head.
“Thank you,” I said, slightly curling my lips. – Probably, it is immediately clear that this is my first training?
He grinned and held out his hand.
– You, Eve, have natural dexterity. Another pair of workouts – and you will have a knockout punch. In a city like New York, the ability to stand up for yourself is vital. – He waved in the direction of the corkboard hanging on the wall, to which leaflets with ads were stuck. Tearing off a strip from one of them, he handed it to me: – Have you ever heard of Krav Maga?
– Yeah, I saw in a movie with Jennifer Lopez.
– I teach this martial art and I will be glad to see you in our ranks. Here is the address of my site and the phone number of the gym.
I liked his spontaneity, open look and sincere smile. It is possible that he simply pasted me, but he was not completely sure: he was confused by his calm restraint. Parker stood with his arms folded, which favorably emphasized his relief biceps. He was wearing a black T-shirt and elongated shorts and worn Converse sneakers on his feet. The neck was decorated with ethnic tattoo.
– The site shows the time. Come check if it suits you.
– By all means I will think about it.
– Yes, think about it. – He again extended his hand to me, and I felt his strong, trusting handshake. “Hope to see you again.”