Vincent booked a VIP lounge upstairs for us, which didn’t come as a surprise. He was, after all, a billionaire. Though I didn’t understand his need to spend time with me. He could’ve had anyone in the club, even one of those girls his friend was with.

The area was larger than the lounges with a semi-round couch around a round table that had a red wine bottle dipped in a bucket of ice.

"Deux verres, s'il vous plaît," V said to the waiter, who handed him two glasses and walked away with a grin.

I looked back at Vincent and said, “You seem to be quite fluent in French. Were you born here?” I sat on the couch with one leg crossed over the other.

He popped open the wine and poured us both a glass. “I was born in London. But when one’s doing international business, it’s best to be multilingual, is it not?

“That’s exactly what I get told now and then. The only languages I can speak are English, as you know, and Italian and Spanish.” I shrugged. “Though I can say a few words in French, it’s not one of my best suits.

He smiled and walked toward the couch to give me a flute before taking his seat beside me. The couch had plenty of space to sit, yet he had chosen the seat closest to me, so close that our arms brushed. The slightest touch made me straighten and gulp, my entire body tightening.

The thought that I was now free of my tormented past was wrong. There were times when I felt like I couldn’t be near a man, simply because I feared being touched. But with Vincent, it was strange. It was as though I knew he was safe, yet it scared me where this night might lead to.

“What brings you here to Paris?” I asked, trying to keep up the conversation because silence was risky.

“Business,” he answered. “But luckily I finished early and came here to relieve my mind of all the shit I deal with. Now I’m glad I came with my friend, despite him being a bit of an ass.

His accent was a mix of American and British, with a bit more stress on the British side. I wished I had paid more attention to the magazines. I had only noticed his pretty face, had commented on how he had ladies lined and the way he treated them. Now it was my turn to see how he treated them.

“What about you? What brings you to Paris?

“Same as you. Work.” I slumped back with the untouched glass of wine still in my hands. “Met some investors. Got the contract signed.

“Sounds like an interesting job. What do you do?

“I work at my father’s firm. Still getting a grasp of things. Today’s contract was the latest development project Dad has been working on for quite some time.

“Development projects? What’s the name of the firm? I may know it.

I arched a brow at him, taking a tiny sip of the wine. I wasn’t sure drinking with him was a good idea, given how devilishly handsome he was and the way he made me feel. “Now that defeats the whole purpose of remaining strangers, doesn’t it?

“Is it too late to say I hate the idea?

I chuckled. “Yes. I’m afraid it is.

His eyes dropped to my lips as I twisted my head to look at his face. It was hard not to. He should’ve sat across the couch from me so that I could see his face while keeping a safe distance between me and him. As if his presence wasn't alluring enough, his strong, minty scent wafted to my nose, rendering me stiff for a moment before I forcefully averted my gaze.

I was tipsy but not drunk enough to not be in my senses. But being in my senses didn't seem enough.

He wanted me. And not just in a let-us-go-get-a-few-drinks kind of way. He wanted to devour me, taste me, and make me go mad with obsession. At least, that was what his penetrating gaze said.

“Are you committed to anyone, Joy?

As if that mattered. “Would you ask me to leave if I say yes?

He shook his head. “No, I will not. But if you are committed, I would like to keep my thoughts at bay.

“Then you should be glad to know I am not committed. If I were, I wouldn't have been here with you.” I couldn’t remember the last time I had dated. Dating had never been my best forte after what I’d been through. Hooking up was also never an option because of my fear. “Why would my commitment to someone else stop you from having thoughts?

“I don’t cheat and I dislike being the commodity for cheating, either.

“A wise man.” Resting my elbow over my knee, I rested my chin at the back of my palm and questioned, “But I bet you’ve had plenty of women leaving their boyfriends for you, since you have the no cheating policy, don’t you?

“I don’t sleep around with every woman that approaches me. I am picky when it comes to women.

“You portray women like they are jewellery you can pick from.

He laughed. “Don't get me wrong. I have full respect for the opposite sex. What I mean is that people usually want me for the way I look, sex and the amount I make, which they feel are the two most important things in the world.” He ran a hand through his dark hair and went on, “Seldom does anyone judge me as a character and always label me as a promiscuous bastard.

I felt bad for him. What he had been through, I had seen my dad go through as well. Especially after Mom had left, many women were lined up to get my father’s attention. They didn’t care about me or my brother, or even Dad. They just wanted his money and the stability he could offer.

“Seems like you’re just misjudged,” I whispered. “Must be pretty hard to be who you are. You can trust no one.

“Absolutely no one. There have even been women who’ve tried to blackmail me into marrying them.” He said it as though it was a daily occurrence. If this happened to me, I’d have nightmares for the rest of my life and severe trust issues, not that I didn't have that already.

“Blackmail you with what?

“Sex tapes.

“How do you handle them?

“I have an entire legal team for that.

I burst out laughing as he winked at me. “You must highly pay your legal team for it.

“Oh, they are,” he said in a low voice. “You looked like the only normal person in the club."

"Define normal."

“You didn’t seem too interested in me.

“That’s what attracted you to me?” I arched a brow. "I guess people love going after the things they can't have."

He shook his head. “It's not that. Though it was one of the key reasons. I just had this . . . urge to talk to you, to know you because of that smile you were giving. I didn't want to regret overlooking my intuitions.

"So you're suggesting some good can come out of this?"

"It feels like it, doesn't it? Both of us being here for business, finishing up early and being ditched by our friends at the same time in the same club." He puckered his lips and added, "What are the odds?"

I mocked, "You sound like a man who believes in fate."

"My mama says it's the only working force in the universe. And I think that's what drew me to you."

My cheeks heated, and I looked away. His words had helped me to be a lot calmer around him. Now his closeness didn’t scare me. Instead, I wanted to pull him even closer. I wanted to kiss him. I hadn’t been kissed in years.

He took the glass from my hand as I was about to take another sip. I looked at him, confused at the gesture.

“On a scale of one to ten, how drunk are you?

“I’m not drunk. I’m tipsy.” Turning to meet his gaze again, I asked, “Why?

“Because of what I’m about to do, I need you not drunk.

Before I could say something to lighten the heated air around us, he gripped the side of my head with one hand and slid the other around my waist. He buried his face in the crook of my neck and took a deep whiff. I shuddered as he exhaled slowly, the warm breath acting like a blanket on my skin.

One of my hands shot out to grip the back of his neck while the other remained on my thigh, clutching onto my dress tightly.

“I’ve wanted to do this since we got here, since I sat beside you and your sweet scent maddened my senses," he said against my throbbing pulse point. 

The vibration of each word shot down between my legs to where I needed him the most.

I’d never let people touch me, but with him, I didn’t want him to stop. My entire body was calling out to him. Perhaps more than he needed me.

“Sweet Joy,” he grumbled, pushing his hand into my hair and pulling my head back. The way he said my name, it felt like he knew it was my name and not a fake one I’d used for the night.

“Vi—” I bit my tongue as he pulled his head back. I had almost said his real name, which was a lot more melodious than the initial.

“I’ll kiss you now.

I let out a soft moan as his lips collided with mine. But even though I wanted to kiss him back, my body froze at the contact. Six years. That was how long I hadn’t been kissed on the lips.

Vincent pulled back, as if sensing my fear, and looked at me, his eyes filled with desire and longing. My chest heaved as I took deep breaths, not knowing what to say. I wanted to kiss him back.

He rested his forehead on mine and moved his hand to caress my cheeks, his thumb stroking the seam of my lips. The tenderness—I liked the swirling feeling as it spread inside my chest. All my thoughts were gone in seconds. How could a touch feel so good? 

The next thing I knew, I was the one pulling Vincent by the lapel of his jacket into a rough kiss. His lips covered mine with the force of his need, sucking every breath left in my lungs. I returned the favour and parted my lips, letting his tongue slip in and chafe mine—battle mine for control.

He hovered over me as I lay on the couch, my legs straddling him. There was an ache at the apex of my thighs that craved for him. My skin craved him. Maybe it was the wine and all the margaritas. Whatever it was, I wanted nothing to ruin this moment.

The hand that had been around my waist all this time, he pulled it back and gripped the back of my thigh. He pushed his hips against mine and I moaned into his mouth, feeling his erection through all the layers of garments. Thank fuck for the dim lights or this would’ve set a show.

I hugged his shoulders to keep him close, his chest pressed to mine, giving me a dirty vision in my hands of our bodies in the same way, but naked. The vibrations in my nerves doubled.

He drew his hands down to my neck but didn’t stop there. But that was when I messed up.



God, I wanted to do so many things to her, things that were more sinful to think of, things that were making me hard underneath my briefs. If she ever found out, she would want to run for the hills. But I didn’t care. She wanted me just as much as I wanted her. And that was all that mattered.

As my hands moved down to her firm breasts, a sharp sensation pierced my lips. I quickly sprang up and laved my lowered lips with my tongue and felt the metallic taste of blood.

Joy had bitten me.

"What was that for?" I groaned.

She pulled herself up and looked at me, her eyes wide with horror and flickering. “I’m sorry . . . I didn’t mean to. I just . . . I—”

I turned away, afraid to watch her cry. A part of me felt betrayed and confused at the same time. I tried pointing out the reasons she was so uncomfortable around me. But something told me she wasn’t just uncomfortable, she feared something.

I got up from the couch. "It's getting late. I’ll drop you back to your hotel," was the only thing I said. This was unnecessary and immature, I knew. But as the saying goes, ‘habits are the second nature that kills the first’. This situation was a great example of it.

She sat in silence and got up when the waiter handed my card back. I’d even tried to make eye contact after, hoping to get a hint of what she was thinking, but failed. She was an expert at avoiding unnecessary contact.

I was mentally apologising, but couldn’t get the words out. I fucking hated myself.

She told me the name of her hotel, and entering it on the GPS, I started the car. The entire ride to her hotel was full of awkwardness, but there was also a lot of sexual tension, a lot more than I could handle.

My heart picked up its pace as I parked the car in front of the entrance of the hotel she was staying at. I didn't want her to go back to her room and feel it was her fault I had acted like an asshole.

I tilted my head to look at her, only to find her clutching her long blonde hair into a low bun. My eyes trailed to her neck, down to her throat where I’d kissed her, wanted to kiss her again.

"I’m sorry for that," Joy mumbled, clearing her throat to break the silence. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.” She twisted her head toward me, a frown plastered on her face. “I just haven’t been intimate with anyone in a long time, so when you touched my boobs, I just kinda overreacted. And I take full blame for it.

She hadn’t been intimate with anyone? This was the reason? And all this time I had played different sceneries of her having a crush or a boyfriend she had lied about.

Before I could speak, a smile appeared on her lips. The smile was so genuine that a fluttery feeling spread across my chest. I could watch her smile all day.

"Well, I won’t keep you from enjoying your night. Goodnight. It was nice knowing you, V."

I watched in silence as she opened the door and stepped out of the car. I wanted to pull her back in and take her right here in the car. Kiss every square inch of her body. I’d given up a lot of things in life, things that I wanted just for the sake of others. This was the one thing I didn’t want to let go of.

I got out as well and closed the door with a loud thing. "Fuck it!" Whatever happened tonight, I would make this woman feel special, make her time with me worth it.

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