He mistook my motion, seeming to think I was searching for further stability. “Alayna,” his voice flowed over me like liquid sex. “I’ve got you.”
I’ve got you. Boy, did he.
“Laynie, are you okay?” David peered at me over Hudson’s shoulder. Did he have to ask? Couldn’t he see that I was drowning in lust?
“Yeah,” I managed. “I’m, um, new shoes.”
Hudson glanced down at my strappy rhinestone embellished sandals. “They’re lovely.” His voice came out so deep it rumbled and my belly knotted with the sound.
“Uh, thanks.” I was breathless. And embarrassed when I realized I was still in Hudson’s arms. I eased my grip and pushed myself into a standing position.
“Sorry we kept you waiting.” Hudson’s hands lingered on me until I was steady. “I had a few things to discuss with David privately.”
“No problem.” I still felt the burn of Hudson’s hands on my bare skin. For distraction, I dove into business discussions. “I have so many ideas I’d like to share about the club. I put them into a presentation. I brought my laptop.”
Hudson’s lips curled with a hint of amusement. “How thoughtful. Set up a time with David. I’m sure he’s very interested.”
How thoughtful. As if I’d done something cute. Something only big boys did. How f**king patronizing.
My heart plummeted. I really shouldn’t have been so disappointed. It wasn’t as if I’d been asked to prepare anything. That had been my own hyper-focusing. In fact, I hadn’t even known why I’d been invited to the meeting. Especially now that it was apparently over and I hadn’t even been in on it.
“How about tomorrow, Laynie?” David suggested. “You’re opening anyway. Why not come early? Does six-thirty give you enough time to present?”
“Yeah. I’ll leave my laptop here if you don’t mind.” I bent to pick up my bag, but Hudson reached it before I did.
He handed it to David. “David, could you lock this in the office? I need to eat something. Alayna will join me. I’ve reserved one of the bubbles.” His eyes narrowed as he surveyed the empty rooms. “Though it doesn’t seem a reservation was required.”
I tensed at Hudson’s latest demand. Why wasn’t David joining us? Did Hudson plan on firing me over pecan-crusted salmon? Was that what they had discussed privately?
Or maybe Hudson’s interest in me was less business and more pleasure. The looks he’d given me had suggested it was, and after receiving the same expression on several occasions, I realized I may not have imagined it like I kept trying to convince myself I had.
And that was a scarier thought than being fired. Especially when I’d already felt a tug of fixation. I’d been so stable for the past three years—I couldn’t open myself to get all obsessive over my hot boss. That was a disaster waiting to happen. I definitely should say no to the bubble room.
Except I hadn’t given up on my promotion. And because there was a slight possibility that Hudson wanted to talk to me about that, I had to say yes to dinner, though my acquiescence hardly seemed necessary since he’d had his hand pressed against the small of my back directing me to one of the more private bubbles before I’d even agreed to join him. My body tensed under his touch, and my stomach twisted in a nervous knot that wasn’t exactly unpleasant.
And I was very aware of the eyes that followed us, few as there were in the club, sure that many of them flashed with envy. Alone in a bubble room with Hudson Pierce? All the women in Manhattan should be jealous. Kinky things had been known to happen in those bubbles. I smiled at the possibilities.
Goddammit. What the hell was I thinking? The guy had invited me to dinner, not to his bed. Just because I was all gaga over him, reading sex into his every move, didn’t mean he reciprocated. And the gaga needed to stop once and for all, even if he did reciprocate.
Inside the room, I turned on the occupied light out of habit. Usually a hostess would have done that when they seated the customer, but since we’d sort of skipped the whole hostess formality, I took it upon myself. And I had to do something with my nervous energy. Continuing the job, I grabbed a menu from the wall and handed it to Hudson who stood waiting at the edge of the seating.
He took the menu from me and gestured for me to sit. “After you.”
It had been quite some time since I’d been in a bubble room off-duty and the reversal in my role combined with the “Fuck Me” aura that surrounded Hudson unbalanced me. I slid onto the plush cushion, gripping the table for support.
Hudson stayed standing, watching me intently for several seconds before he removed his gray suit jacket and hung it on the hook behind him. Damn. He was even hotter in only his fitted gray dress shirt. I bit the inside of my cheek, admiring his hard thighs straining against his pants’ fabric as he sat down. God, he was so yummy.
God, I was in trouble.
He tossed the laminated menu on the table without looking at it. “I don’t need this. Do you?”
“No, thank you, Mr. Pierce.” I had the menu memorized. Besides, there was no way I could eat in his presence.
“Hudson,” he corrected.
“No, thank you, Hudson.” His eyes widened slightly when I said his name. “I’ve already eaten.”
“A drink then? Though, I know you work at eleven.”
I licked my lips, thinking more about the man sitting across from me than of thirst, wondering what he had in store for me. “Maybe an iced tea.”
Out of habit, I reached to press the button in the middle of the table to summon the waitress, but he beat me to it, our fingers colliding. I moved to pull my hand away, but he was quicker again, taking my hand into his. I inhaled sharply at the sensation of his skin against mine.
“I didn’t mean to startle you. I was admiring your soft skin.” But his eyes never left mine.
“Oh.” I thought about saying I’d been to an amazing spa, but really, did he care? And besides, talking was difficult with that thing he was doing to my skin, burning it so thoroughly with his caress.
His phone rang and he let go of my hand. I pulled it to my lap, needing the warmth of my body once it’d lost the warmth of his.
“Excuse me,” he said, taking his phone out of his pants pocket and silencing it without looking at the screen.
“You can take it if you need to.” I could use a few minutes to gather my thoughts. Because, what the hell did he want with me? Not only was not knowing killing me, but the more time I spent with Hudson, the easier it was for me to think about him and his amazing gray eyes. And his hard body. And his smooth voice.