On the Sly
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Edinburgh socialite Ellie has run away from her powerful father and the scandal that destroyed her perfectly balanced life. Now she is a rookie reporter, searching for her first breakthrough story and hiding out in her newly purchased apartment. After weeks of lying low and trying to stay out of the gossip pages, she attends a mixer party, hoping that a one-night stand with a stranger might help her forget the past. She chooses a partner poorly and quickly regrets it, but then is rescued by tough, enigmatic Mack. The attraction between them is sizzling, the sex electrifying. Waking to find him gone, Ellie wonders if she will ever see him again. And then a chance encounter with her new neighbours reveals that he lives two doors away from her… with another woman.
I held the invitation between my sweaty palms, standing outside the door to apartment thirty-one, feeling like I had swallowed a ton of bricks. One night of anonymous, hot sex sounded great in theory, but in practise I wasn’t quite sure if I was cut out for it. Last week when I had come back from my shopping trip, there had been a white envelope on my doorstep, a stylish, shiny invitation to a private party. There was no return address or even the name of the host on the back.
“Are you planning on going in?”
A clipped annoyed voice pulled me out of my thoughts. A blond woman stood behind me in an expensive black cocktail dress. For a split second I was ready to run away, but instead I nodded shyly and knocked. It was time to let go of my insecurities and just get on with it.
Behind the apartment door I could hear other people enjoying themselves and soft slow music. It seemed like the party had been going on for a while. A few seconds later, the door opened and a tall, good-looking man in a well-tailored suit appeared, eyeing me with interest. I couldn’t avoid his eyes: they were a piercing cobalt blue that stared right into me. He looked like the sort of guy that no one would mess around with. Tall, confident and intense looking, he was certainly imposing. I told myself that I was ready for this, but my head kept on rehashing events from a few weeks ago, reminding me that my confidence had shrunk after my foolish affair with a married man.
“Veronica, nice to see you again,” the handsome man said with a bright smile, looking behind me. “How are you?”
“Fabulous, darling. As usual, you look well,” the pretty woman replied as she passed me on the way in.
His eyes sparkled with mischief when he finally glanced at me.
“I see that you received my invitation. Welcome to my home. I’m Harry, the host,” Harry said with a bright smile. I waited, worried that he would make out who I was, but when his face didn’t show any kind of recognition, I relaxed. No one in Edinburgh knew who I was and the surname that I had chosen to use was common enough.
“Yes, I did,” I said, trying to sound like I was excited rather than nervous. Only two weeks had passed since my purchase of the apartment had gone through and I hadn’t had a chance to make any new friends in Edinburgh yet. I was hoping that my old bunch of girlfriends would reach out and we would go out like we used to. They didn’t; they all pretended to be too busy. Deep down I knew that it was because of the mess of the scandal. They didn’t want to be seen with me.
“The rules at my parties are simple and straightforward. Everyone here is single and available for sex. I don’t expect you to drop your knickers down for anyone straight away. We are all civilised adults, but I always mention that my bedrooms are available to use if needed. Most people show up here to get to know each other first, before any kind of interaction can take place.”
Harry was having this bizarre conversation with me on the threshold and we hadn’t even been properly introduced yet. Meanwhile, my heart hadn’t stopped racing since I made the decision to come here. I really needed to get a grip on myself. This was my opportunity to be anonymous for at least one evening. I needed to blow off some steam from all the stress in my life and everything that had recently gone wrong. I had given Andrew my heart and he stomped on it and then wrecked my whole life. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself.
“I’m Ellie Frasier,” I introduced myself. Harry kissed my palm and opened the door wider to let me through. I caught the scent of his cologne and I liked it. It was very masculine. I reminded myself that I needed to hook up with a complete stranger, someone I wouldn’t ever have to see again after tonight.
“I hope you enjoy yourself tonight, Ellie,” Harry added. He seemed charming and very confident. The kind of guy that I needed to avoid like the plague. I bet his blue eyes hid a corrupted soul and a darkness that could swallow you. After my affair, I had learned how to recognise those types of men.
Harry’s apartment was much bigger than mine with a large open plan living room and a bog standard kitchen. There were people standing around, chatting and drinking as if it were a normal get-together. The invitation had said that food and entertainment would be provided and I assumed that the pole in the middle of the room was supposed to arouse the atmosphere of power and make you surrender to it. My heart leapt in my throat and I was seized by an intense moment of total deja vu. A year ago I had taken some pole-dancing lessons to impress the man that I’d thought I loved. My teacher had always praised me and I managed to start creating my own complicated routines. All of this had to stop when I was forced to leave Glasgow.
I used to attend parties like this one all the time when I was Daddy’s favourite daughter. Now I was no one, just a broke twenty-five-year-old woman trying to make it as a reporter and erase the memories of a scandal that everyone still fed on.
I circled around the room for some time, watching the men and women. A few handsome guys smiled and showed an interest, but I was too scared to actually approach anyone. Everyone here was so glamorous and probably wealthy. Doubts started creeping in, making me feel vulnerable and quite lost.
“Champagne?” asked a shorter, dark-haired guy that suddenly appeared at my side, holding out a glass of bubbly for me to accept. He had a very thick Edinburgh accent and nicely cut suit. I hesitated for a split second before I accepted it. He wasn’t bad-looking, not really my usual type but cute enough. He had bulky, defined eyebrows and a nice smile, so I assumed that he would be appropriate. Not too handsome or ugly either. I imagined him undressing me and then letting me forget who I was, at least for a night. Tingles of excitement travelled down my spine. It was obvious why he was here.
“Thank you. I’m Ellie,” I finally said, smiling.
His eyes gleamed with curiosity and many unanswered questions. “Gavin.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Gavin.”
“Ellie—I like that name. You’re new here, and presumably available and open to possibilities?”
I nearly choked on my champagne when he asked that question. Yes, I was available and I wouldn’t mind getting myself acquainted with this stranger at all, but this whole thing was happening fast, maybe way too fast. My own deep-seated insecurities were slowly accelerating my sudden panic. Maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe it was too soon? In the end I decided to improvise.
“You could say that, Gavin,” I replied, moving my finger over the edge of the glass. “Have you been to many parties such as this?”
He arched one bulky eyebrow, moving closer to me. I had to admit, I wasn’t too keen on his aftershave. It was strong and too overpowering.
“A few, and I never leave empty-handed. I’m feeling particularly on edge tonight and you’re very beautiful, Ellie.”
Wow, he didn’t waste much time. I drank some more champagne, feeling braver than usual. I felt sexy wearing my long red dress that emphasised my slender figure. I could do this. Sex was something that I wanted and Gavin appeared to be aiming for exactly the same thing.
“On edge, hmmm… what do you mean by that?” I teased, biting my lip. Soft, sexy music was blasting from the speakers that were set at the corners. A few couples had already formed. The invitation had said that there was going to be some sort of entertainment later on, a stripper or a dancer, so the pole in the middle suddenly made sense.
“I’m going to cut to the chase, darling. I haven’t fucked for over a week and I want you, so how about I take you to one of the bedrooms back there and we get to know each other better?” Gavin asked, shooting me a heated look.
I dragged air into my lungs. I wasn’t expecting this to be that easy. Here was this guy offering to bang the problems out of my head with his cock.
I decided it was just going to be one night where I didn’t have to worry about expectations and unfulfilled promises. I finished the champagne in one go and tossed my brown hair behind me.
“Okay. Lead on, stranger,” I said. Gavin smirked, took me by the elbow, and we started walking towards the corridor. Five minutes later, I found myself in a big stylish bedroom and my excitement grew. Gavin shut the door, looking like he was ready to get straight down to business.
“Come here, Ellie,” he ordered, his thick accented voice sending a shiver down my spine. I dropped my purse on the bed and obeyed him, keeping that sinful smile on my face.
His movements were quick and he had his lips on mine before I knew it. The kiss was greedy and it took me by surprise. Gavin cradled me against his wide chest, moving his palms down to my buttocks and then squeezing. Heat brewed between us and I knew that I was wet enough to actually go through with this whole thing. He caressed my lips with his tongue, and I moaned into his mouth. My pulse was racing with excitement.
He pulled away, still holding my head close to his mouth and staring at my face for a little while. “You look really familiar. Are you sure that we haven’t met before?” he asked suddenly.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said, feeling like someone had just doused me with ice-cold water. The spell had been broken and I knew that sooner or later he would know who I was. My pictures were mainly online on all the gossip sites, and the occasional tabloid used my father’s name to gain more exposure and probably sales. After all, my affair had shocked many important and influential people that were close to my father.
Ugly, wracking memories slipped in and I panicked. My renowned surname had been splashed all over the news. Andrew and his accusations were titillation in my social circle. My father’s disappointment and his raging anger followed.
“I do recognise your face from somewhere—”
“You’re wrong. I’m just a stranger, a nobody. We’ve never met,” I cut him off, trying to get away, but he gripped my wrists tighter and pulled me back to his chest, smiling wider.
“I think you’re lying to me, flower,” he said.
“Right, I think I’ve made a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here,” I snapped, getting aggravated. He laughed, not loosening his grip at all, pretending like we were playing a game. I knew that I had to get out of this room, get away from him. A one-night stand seemed like a really bad idea all of a sudden.
“Oh no, you’re not going anywhere, sweetheart,” he growled and then started forcing himself on me, trying to merge his mouth with mine. “We are going to fuck like you’ve promised and you’d better be good.”
I went to take a piss just to get away from all the stares and judgmental looks in the other room. I was trying to find the loo, getting lost in this huge apartment, when I heard a scream. The noise came from the room opposite. I stopped for a second and waited just to be sure that I wasn’t being paranoid.
“Get the hell away from me. I said that I don’t want you to touch me!”
“Shut up and get down on your knees. Your sweet mouth is going to suck my cock,” said a strong masculine voice behind the door.
“No, let me go, arghhh…”
I barged inside the room, not wasting any more time. The woman sounded like she was in distress. My eyes swept the room quickly. A guy that I had seen earlier on was holding a petite woman by her wrists, close to his chest. He lost his pathetic smile when he saw me.
“What the fuck do you want, mate? This is a private party,” he snarled, not letting go of the girl.
“You’re hurting the lady,” I stated, staring straight at the dark-haired woman who was trying to move away from that asshole and looking pretty frightened.
“She’s fine, mate. Get the fuck—”
I was next to him before he had a chance to draw another breath and finish his sentence. I fucking hated assholes who didn’t respect women. Maybe this was rash and impulsive, but I threw a punch and he went down, crashing against a small chest of drawers. My knuckles stung, but hell, I was ready to beat the shit out of him. He just needed to continue to provoke me.
“Did he hurt you?” I asked the woman, who stood shocked and frozen, staring at me with her mouth wide open. I’d gotten mixed up in someone else’s business again. This wasn’t good. The woman shook her head, while the guy on the floor cursed a few times, trying to get up.
A few seconds later another man appeared at the door, the one that greeted me at the entrance.
“What the hell is going on in here?” he shouted, spotting the asshole on the floor.
“This imbecile was trying to force the lady here into something that she didn’t want to do, so I took care of the problem,” I told him.
“She wanted my cock, Harry, and that asshole fucking hit me!” shouted the guy I had tried to teach a lesson only a second ago, obviously without results. He was bleeding, but I didn’t care. The shithead needed to be put in his place.
Harry looked furious.
“Gavin, you have crossed the line this time. I’m done with your bullshit,” Harry said and started dragging the idiot away from the room by his collar.
I exhaled when the asshole was out of my sight. I shouldn’t have gotten involved in this kind of mess when I had more important things to worry about. Someone had dropped an invitation on my doorstep and I’d contemplated for some time if it was the right thing to do to attend. I was frustrated, fucked off by the situation that I had found myself in. Endless hours of surveillance and preparation were for nothing and I figured I needed to take a break, ease the tension.
“Th-thank you,” stuttered the woman, glancing at me. I finally remembered that she was still in the room. When I looked at her my dick twitched. What the hell? I hadn’t gotten sticky about anyone else since my Charlotte.
The woman wiped her tears away, but she looked pretty shaky. She was beautiful; I couldn’t miss that. Her wide hazel eyes were staring straight at me, like she was seeing into me, into my soul, aware of my unhealed scars and sorrowful emotions. Her skin was smooth and slightly tanned. I had a sudden urge to run my finger over her arm, touch it and caress it. Hell, my dick was reacting to her, but this was not the time or place for this kind of crap. She was upset.
“You won’t be staying here. Let’s go. I’ll take you home,” I said, not wanting to see her around any other assholes that only wanted to use her. I had showed up here thinking that I could just fuck someone, release some of my frustration and pain, maybe find a woman that could temporarily heal me with her touch, but I thought wrong.
She glanced at me, hesitating. I had no idea what got into me, but I grabbed her hand and quickly left the room. The contact with her skin sent ravaging heat down to my fucking boxers.
“I live in apartment thirteen,” she blurted out when we passed through the corridor. People were staring, glancing at us as we walked past them. I held her hand tightly, wanting to devour her body slowly, with care and desire. We took the stairs, not speaking to each other, and I was baffled when I realised where she lived. I had to make sure it was safe inside.
“Would you like to come in for a coffee?” she asked. Her hands were still shaking and I should have said no, but I wasn’t an asshole, so I nodded.
“Sure, lead on.”
I was feeling a little odd. My own place was two doors away and I hadn’t even realised that I had a neighbour. I took my jacket off and put it on the chair.
“Thank you again,” she said, standing close to me. I inhaled sharply, aware of the fact that I wanted to take her to my bed and fuck her slowly until dawn. “What would you like to drink?”
“White coffee please, and stop thanking me. It’s fine. You don’t have to worry about any other assholes. I hate guys like that. They don’t know how to treat women, particularly a beautiful woman like you,” I stated. She smiled widely and my dick twitched. This was wrong. I needed to remember that she was a victim and probably traumatised, not someone that I should be fantasising about. She went away to the kitchen to take care of the coffee. I dragged my hand through my hair, remembering my place, the undercover operation that I was supposed to be involved in.
I looked around her stylish apartment, feeling slight
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