“Sure, I get that. I’m not trying to encourage keeping secrets or anything, but he’s so weird where you’re concerned. Protective or something. The last time I talked to you, he was pissed for days. He thinks I’m going to turn you against him or something.” She rolled her eyes. “But it’s up to you. Just let me know so I’m on the same page.”
“Okay.” But I planned on telling Hudson about Celia. We were supposed to be working on honesty and the weight from two secrets was heavy enough without adding a third one.
It was a quarter after two when I answered my phone to Hudson’s voice. We hadn’t seen each other that morning. He’d slipped out while I was asleep in his bed, but he’d left my phone next to my head and a text message flashed on it telling me to make myself at home and he’d call me later.
Now, hearing him on the other end of the line, I realized how much I’d missed him in the mere handful of hours we’d been apart.
“Hey,” I sighed into the receiver. “I’m glad you called.”
“I said that I would.”
We’d had so few phone conversations that they still took me by surprise, still delighted me to no end. “I’m glad both that you said you would and that you did.”
“You are easily pleased.” The smile on his face was apparent through the phone. “How has your day been?”
“Dreadful until this very moment.” After Celia and I had parted ways, I’d thrown myself into putting together packages for Julia. The work had been fun and had occupied my mind completely. Still, the horror of the morning clung to me like a shadow.
“Oh? Why? What’s wrong?” Immediately Hudson was on guard, ready to fight whatever battle I was facing.
His reaction made me eager to tell him about seeing Paul, but I swiftly reminded myself why that would be a bad idea. “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. Just everything is dreadful in comparison to being with you.”
“I feel the same.”
Just like that, Hudson could make me weak in the knees. “You don’t know what that does to me to hear you say that.”
“I can imagine.” The husky tone of his words suggested he was imagining much naughtier things than he was saying out loud.
“How did your meetings go?” His change of subject was abrupt, and I was sure he’d been thinking naughty things and now he needed a safer topic of discussion.
Though pleased at Hudson’s obvious arousal, I felt the chill of a shadow at the mention of my earlier meeting. “I’ve only met with one company so far. And it went well. I have to follow up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal.”
“Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want to work with you?”
“Should I make a list?” Before that morning, that list would have included Paul Kresh. Funny how quickly things changed.
“Yes, do. And I’ll have each and every one of them shot.” Something told me he was only half-kidding. Maybe even less than half. “Do you have any plans this evening?”
I switched over to my browser on my computer and loaded up an image of Hudson to stare at while he spoke. “I had planned to be adored by a hot, virile man.” I traced my finger along the strong jaw of the picture on my monitor. “But I could cancel with him if you have something better in mind.”
“You are, and I don’t like it.” His jealous growl was a turn-on. “Some people I know are holding an event at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and I’d like to be there. With you.”
“I’m all yours, H. Every time.”
“Good. I’ll pick you up at the club around six.”
I looked down at my outfit—a dark green flare dress with a cut-out row of crisscrosses across my abdomen. It had a sense of class to it but perhaps was a little too risqué. “No, pick me up at my apartment. I need to change first.”
“What you’re wearing is perfect.”
“How do you know what I’m wearing?” I looked around, half-surprised when I didn’t see him standing in the office doorway. “Do you have security cameras in the club or something?” I wouldn’t put it past him. I shivered, realizing what else cameras might have recorded. Like my meeting with Paul.
“Of course I have cameras. But I don’t monitor their feed. Jordan told me what you were wearing.”
“Ah, yes, Jordan.” This was the second time my actions had been given away by him. If Hudson had spoken to my driver today, had he learned that Celia had been inquiring after me? How much did Hudson rely on Jordan to fill him in?
I tensed, the stress of carrying my secrets beginning to wear on me and raising my level of paranoia. “Tell me—is Jordan more than just my driver?”
“You didn’t want a bodyguard. I had to compromise.”
Hudson’s matter-of-factness was almost as unnerving as what he was admitting. “So Jordan spies on me for you?”
“Spy is not an accurate description of what he does. He drives you places, makes sure you’re safe, and reports back to me.”
For a moment I considered arguing about the arrangement. But after I let the idea settle, I realized it wasn’t so bad to be cared for by an overly cautious boyfriend.
I exhaled, letting my anxiety go.
“I heard that sigh. Tell me what bothers you about this?”
“Nothing, really. Only I wouldn’t have come on to Jordan so unmistakably if I’d known he was reporting back to you.” It was an obvious joke, considering Jordan was hired to drive me because he was g*y.
“We both know that didn’t happen,” he scolded. “That’s twice you’ve tried to rile me. What exactly is your motive?”
“No motive. It’s just fun to hear you get all possessive alpha male.”
“If you want possessive alpha male, I can certainly comply.”
I smiled, leaning back into my seat. “I want you to be you. Which is already really possessive alpha male, but if there’s more of that you’re keeping from me, bring it on.”
“I changed my mind. I’ll pick you up at five-thirty.”
“Okay. Extra stop planned?”
“No. I need time to f**k you on the way over in the limo without worrying about being rushed.”
I was glad I was already seated. Otherwise, I may have hit the floor. “You need to mark your territory?”