Home > Dirty Little Secret (Forbidden Desires #1)(16)

Dirty Little Secret (Forbidden Desires #1)(16)
Author: Kendall Ryan

In that moment, I knew this wouldn’t be casual, knew I wouldn’t walk away from this in one piece.

Using two firm fingers beneath my chin, Gavin tipped my face up toward him. “Do I frighten you?” he asked, amused.

“Of course not,” I lied.

And he didn’t.

He terrified me.

I knew, even without truly knowing, that Gavin had the power to hurt me deeply. I could already feel my emotions spinning out of control. Nothing about this situation was normal. But then again, nothing about this man was normal either, so what did I expect?

“Good, because you terrify me,” he murmured, taking my hand and pulling me toward the exit.

My breath caught in the back of my throat at his admission, but I was powerless to do anything but follow him to the exit and wonder what tonight had in store for me next.

Chapter Twelve


The darkened interior of the limo created a quiet, contemplative mood. The moon was high and full, illuminating the leather seats and dim lights of the vehicle, and the farther we got outside of the city, the more brightly the stars shone up above.

Gavin had asked the driver to take us someplace I’d never heard of before. Although I knew I ought to protest—to claim I was tired and wanted to go home—I couldn’t bring myself to leave him.

Not yet.

Along the way, I attempted small talk. “I’m sorry if I pried earlier, about your upbringing.”

“You’re curious.” Gavin’s voice was smooth, measured.

I nodded. “I wasn’t sure what Cooper meant. I asked how it was you came to be involved in this business. I had a feeling there was a story there.”

His eyebrows ticked up, but he didn’t meet my gaze. “You’re very intuitive.”

“Must be the librarian in me. I love a good story.”

“Which do you prefer . . . tragedy or romance?”

My smile faded. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

He nodded. “In my experience, there’s usually not a difference.”

Before I could ponder his ominous remark, Gavin took a deep breath and continued.

“First, my upbringing. We were raised by our mother.” He paused, his mouth pressed into a firm line. “Never knew who my father was.”

“Oh, I’m . . .” The word sorry died on my lips.

“Let me guess. You grew up in Connecticut, or upstate New York.”


His lips twisted into a cruel smile. “Here for us. Boston. In an area known for rough neighborhoods and even rougher streets.”

Licking my lips, I waited, unsure if I should have started this entire conversation to begin with. It was taking on a darker and more ominous tone than I was prepared for.

I thought that would be the end of our conversation, but Gavin leaned in toward me.

“We deal in the one thing we know—women.”

And sex.

He left those words unspoken, but I felt the weight of them press against me as surely as if he’d spoken them aloud. A chill raced down my spine as I was left to wonder what in the hell that meant.

The limo slowed to a stop, parking at the edge of a bluff that looked out over a spread of massive trees below. The twinkling lights of the city glowed faintly in the distance.

“It’s beautiful here,” I said, more for my own benefit than his. I wanted—no, needed—to change the subject. Needed to see that dark, twisted look in his eyes fade back into the hard determination I’d learned to accept. The look that made me feel less like molten lava inside.

Gavin pressed a button, relieving me of my seat belt, and did the same for his. “Something to drink? Or have you reached your limit?”

The challenge in his words was unmistakable, but that was good. Some indication that he’d come back from wherever it was he’d gone a few moments ago. We both knew I’d had little more than a couple of splashes of champagne, so I grinned at him.

“I think I can handle a little more.”

“Perfect.” His deep voice was smooth, more hypnotizing than it should have been. Just being here with him felt so surreal.

Gavin opened the wide leather console between us, exposing a hidden refrigerated compartment. He poured a glass of champagne in a long-stemmed flute for me, and a measure of bourbon for himself.

Tapping a few buttons on his phone, Gavin connected his playlist to the limo’s sound system. Soft, moody music filled the silence between us.

He was such an intense man, but this moment was so simple—two people sitting in a parked car, listening to music, the moon roof open so we could gaze at the stars. I wanted to ask him what he thought about when he was quiet like this, but I got the sense I’d grilled him enough for one evening. From what I could tell, Gavin wasn’t used to opening up about his feelings.

Grasping for a lighter topic, I attempted small talk. “You know my passion, but you never shared your hobbies. What interests you? Other than giving copious amounts of money to charity.”

He shifted in his seat to set his glass in the cupholder on the door, and turned toward me. “I’m much more interested in learning about you, to be honest, Miss Bell.”

“There’s really not much to tell.”

“Let’s start with why you really agreed to this. What are you looking for?”

“I . . .” I chewed on my bottom lip, trying to think of how best to explain myself. “Okay, this is going to sound a little silly.” And only half true, because the rest of my reasoning was buried so deep, even I didn’t want to admit it. “The brownstone where you picked me up tonight? I bought it, and it’s pretty much falling apart inside.”

“And you want to restore it?”

I nodded. “It’s more than that, though. The place used to belong to my grandparents. It’s been in my family for generations, and my parents were going to just give it up. I could only barely afford it, but I spent so many summers there as a girl . . . it felt too important to let someone else make it into some modern, open-concept nightmare of a house.”

He considered me for a moment. “That’s a good start.”

“What do you mean, a good start?”

“That’s part of it, I’m sure, but that’s not why you’re doing this. Not really.”

I frowned. “But it is.” I looked down, not sure if I knew how to answer his question, unsure that I even wanted to try, but frustrated at how easily he could read me.

Gavin took the champagne glass from my hand and placed it in the cupholder beside his. The air between us changed, the mood becoming something more sinful and insistent.

“Do you want to know what I think?” His voice was low, the rich tone hypnotizing.

I opened my suddenly dry mouth to say no. I didn’t want to know what he thought in the least, because some part of me knew he was going to give voice to the very thing I wanted to stay hidden. But being Gavin, he didn’t give me a chance to cut in.

“I think you want to feel desired and experience passion, but you’re afraid to ask for it. You want a man to take control, to make you feel wanted, and you want to feel pleasure like you’ve never imagined.”

His words stripped me bare, the truth in them startling me to my core. He had me pegged, and it was so cliché, I felt a rush of embarrassment. The lonely little librarian, desperate to experience the kind of passion she’d only read about.

Leaning in closer, Gavin tipped my chin up, drawing my mouth closer to his. I could feel the heat of his skin, his breath ghosting over my lips, and hazy arousal flooded my brain. Cupping my jaw, he brought my lips to his, pressing a soft kiss there—softer than I would have thought possible from him.

When I parted my lips in a silent invitation, Gavin took full control of the kiss, his hot tongue skillfully gliding against mine. We kissed for several moments before he pulled back just an inch, leaving me breathless.

He hummed against the side of my neck as his fingers roamed my skin, light touches meant to pique my interest. And they were doing a damn fine job. “You feel good.”

Funny, considering I wasn’t doing anything other than sit here, pressed against him, practically panting while he bathed me in gentle caresses.

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