Room Service Read online

  “That wasn’t all that was different.”

  “You probably don’t do a lot of barhopping, either. At least the kind of bar I took you to.”

  “I didn’t mean different bad.” She looked at him as if she could see right through him, damn it, into the very black depths of his soul. “I meant different…scary.”

  Scary? He’d scared her? Christ. “Em…” He squeezed his eyes closed tight. “I didn’t mean to…I wouldn’t—”

  “No.” She turned him to face her, both hands on his arms. “No.” She smiled. “Scary good. I’m trying to tell you that I had the most amazing time, and yes it was different, and yes it scared me because it was different. Different as in more meaningful. What we shared last night when we made love—”

  “Wait.” He shook his head. God, he couldn’t let her finish. “I think you should stop right there. Before you say something you’re going to regret in the name of lust.”

  “It wasn’t just lust.”

  “Yes,” he said. “It was. It was just a normal night of lust.”

  “Oh.” She blinked once, the hurt in those depths unmistakable. “I see.”

  Hell. He should have left last night. He was a complete idiot. “I don’t want to hurt you—”

  “No. No, it’s okay. I understand. It was a casual thing.”

  “That’s right. Just a normal night out—”

  “I get it.” She nodded. She took her hands from his arms. Backed up a step. Even curved her mouth into a smile.

  Though it didn’t come close to reaching her eyes.

  “Don’t worry,” she said, trying to soothe him, which made him feel even more like slime. “I’m fine.”

  From somewhere behind them her cell phone rang and she jerked as if she’d been shot. “Excuse me, I’ve got to get that—”

  “Yeah. Uh…good luck with your auditions.” At his own lame words, he winced. Good luck? Could he be a bigger ass? “Em—”

  But she’d already turned away.

  Just as he’d wanted.

  EM PICKED UP her ringing cell phone. When she heard her hotel room door close behind Jacob, she closed her eyes. He was gone…

  Just a normal night out.

  She was such a fool, such a damn fool, she thought angrily as she flipped open her phone. “Hello?”


  “Eric.” She let out a breath and concentrated on the here and now. “I take it you’re not still…tied up.”

  “Uh, no.” He lowered his voice. “Look, it was great. But…”

  “But what?”

  “Afterward…” He sighed. “She cried, Em. It broke my heart.”

  “Why are you whispering?”

  “Because she’s asleep right next to me. Why did she cry?”

  Em sank to the bed. “Did you ask her?”

  “She denied doing it, but I saw the tears.”

  “What happened after that?”

  “We, uh, did it again. It was…well, words fail,” he said in an awed voice. “Not the sex, the connection, you know?”

  Yeah. She knew.

  “I fell in love with her all over again.”

  Em let out a long breath. She was falling, too.

  “God,” Eric whispered. “I think she’s just screwing with my head. What do I do?”

  She laughed a little harshly. “Eric, what in our history together makes you think that I have any clue when it comes to love?”

  “Because your heart’s always in the right place. You’re all about heart and soul, Em, making memories, shit like that.”

  “Yeah, well, I’m really a pretty big screwup in that area. Right now all that matters is that we’re going to be unemployed and eating canned soup for the rest of our lives if I don’t get downstairs and get going on the auditions—”

  “She cried, Em.”

  Em rubbed her aching temples. Other things ached, too. Between her thighs.

  But the biggest ache of all came from her heart, which she reached up and rubbed now, though it didn’t help. “If I had to guess, she cried because she loves you, too.”

  Utter silence greeted this.

  “Eric? You there?”

  “She told me she doesn’t.”

  “Even you are not that clueless as to believe her.”

  “Look, I’m just a guy,” he pleaded. “We were born clueless.”

  “Okay, listen, I haven’t had caffeine, and my night was…well.” She drew a deep breath. “But I think she just doesn’t know how to deal with the love she feels for you, or even how to show it. Tying you up was symbolic. You get it? You’re hers. You’re tied to her. You see?”

  He was quiet for a moment. “I guess.”

  “You know what happened before. The two of you were too hot, too heavy. You didn’t share the stuff that scared you. You didn’t do the things you need to do to make it last.”


  “You burned it out.”

  “I know.” He sounded terrified. “I don’t want that to happen again.”

  “Then do more than the wild sex. Talk. Communicate. Listen to each other. Be there for each other.”

  “I can do that. But pinning Liza down is hard. She’s not exactly the communicative type.”

  “Well, turnaround is fair play,” she said, quoting Jacob.

  He paused. “You mean…tie her up?”

  “Give the boy an A.”

  He laughed softly. “Gotcha. Now tell me about your night. You have a bad one?”

  Bad? No. Good? No. Try the best night of her entire life. “Hard to explain.” Especially since, for Jacob, it had all been…“normal.” Heat filled her face at that. Bastard.

  From its perch still on her floor, the alarm clock went off again, and she sighed. “We’ve got to get a move on. Get up. Get Liza up. Meet me in the conference room for round two.”

  “Oh, boy,” Eric said. “Here we go again.”

  Yeah. Here we go.

  THOUGH HE COULD HAVE showered and changed at Hush, Jacob went back to his apartment. Right now he wanted to be in his own space. But as he climbed the three flights of stairs, he knew the problem wasn’t the outside world, but the thoughts racing inside his own head.

  He wished he was still in bed with Em. He wished she was tucked beneath him, while he was buried deep inside her, taking them both to that nameless place of abandon they’d been to several times in the night.

  How many women had he been with? Many, and not once when a woman had called out his name while lost in passion had he stopped just to watch her.

  With Em, he hadn’t been able to tear his eyes away. He loved the way she arched up, her throat open and vulnerable, the way she panted his name in that serrated, husky voice that always sounded so…surprised.

  Yeah, that was it. Every time she’d come, she’d been honestly surprised.

  Watching her unravel had the been the sexiest, most erotically charged experience of his entire life.

  Then morning had come and she had wanted to obsess and tear it all apart and look for the meaning.

  And he’d hurt her.

  Damn it, he knew he had, but at the time he hadn’t cared. He’d been choking, panicking, as he’d stared at her, wanting nothing more than to haul her close, bury his face in her hair, and not let go.

  Never let go.

  He scrubbed his hands over his face but the longing remained. And he didn’t know what to do with it. Why wasn’t it gone? Why hadn’t one night been enough? One night had to be enough.

  He came to the landing outside his front door and stared in surprise at Pru, who was sitting there waiting for him. “I’m going crazy,” she said, and rose to her feet.

  Jacob unlocked his door, shaking his head when Pru pushed ahead of him and entered.

  “Come on in,” he said dryly.

  “Did you hear me?” She whirled to face him, her neat, long braid nearly blinding him. “I’m losing it here.”

  “Join the club.” He stood in the middle of his living roo