So, maybe collecting evidence was more of an attack than a discussion tactic. As long as I didn’t end up throwing them, I considered it an improvement on my past.
Hudson wasn’t in the bedroom when I came out, so I made my way out through the apartment until I found him in the kitchen. He’d donned his suit jacket now, and he stood at the kitchen table, reading the paper as he drank from a mug.
He looked up when I appeared. “I made you some—”
“Why do you have all this stuff?” Though I’d cut him off, I was pretty sure my question sounded more curious than accusatory. Hopefully.
“This stuff.” I set the bottles on the table in front of him. All right, maybe it was closer to a slam. “And you have a plethora of toothbrushes and this woman’s robe. Why do you have a woman’s robe?”
His eyes narrowed and he took a sip from his beverage before answering. “I have more than the robe. I have several pieces of women’s clothing in the extra closet in my bedroom.”
“That’s not helping.” The panic I thought I had smothered deep inside worked its way up my throat, tightening my voice. “You told me you never had a woman here before.”
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”
The gleam in his eye unleashed me. “You detect more than a f**king hint. Also, a whole lot of suspicion. Come on, H, this isn’t any way to start a relationship. If you’ve had a woman here—if this is someone else’s clothing I’m wearing—I need to know.” My eyes burned, but I managed to keep them pinned on him.
Hudson set his mug down and turned his whole body toward me.
I kept my hand on the table, bracing myself for whatever excuse he’d give. What he said—if he chose to speak the truth, if I chose to believe him—it could make or break us.
“They’re yours, Alayna.”
“What?” That, I wasn’t expecting.
“I purchased them for you. Except the toothbrushes. My housekeeper buys me those so I have plenty for when I travel. The clothing and cosmetics are yours.”
No, it wasn’t possible.
I swallowed. “When did you get them?” Had he been planning for me to be there before he invited me? Or was this part of the scam we’d tried to pull on his mother, a piece of proof that we were a couple should anyone look in his closet?
“Last night after I left the club.”
Last night. “But that was almost eight.” He’d left me at the start of my shift. That couldn’t have possibly been enough time to arrange anything. “How did—”
“I understand what it looks like,” he cut me off. “There’s likely still a tag on the robe if you…” He reached his hand inside my collar and tugged. “Yes, see?” He held up a tag, the price—an extravagant price for a robe—listed boldly under the size.
I glanced over at the cosmetic bottles again. They were completely full, seemingly unused. I hadn’t realized that in my heated emotion. But, still, I had questions. “Why? How…?”
“Why? Because I knew you’d have nothing to wear today and I didn’t want you to have to do the so-called walk of shame through my lobby. Plus I figured you’d want to wash that club makeup off your face and freshen up a bit. As for how…I have people.”
I ran my hands through my hair. “You have people.” The tension in my shoulders relaxed slightly as I processed what he’d said. He’d left me at work and then he’d prepared. As he always prepared. He’d canceled his morning. He’d arranged to have clothing for me. Even at that late hour, Hudson managed to make arrangements. Because he had people.
“Mirabelle?” I asked. Hudson’s sister, Mira, owned her own boutique. She knew my size, knew what I’d look good in.
“Yes.” He cocked his head. “And others.”
Others like the same people he had launder and deliver my undies within a couple of hours when I’d left them at his office one time. Like Jordan who was always available to drive me to and fro at the drop of a hat. I’d known he had others.
“Oh.” A medley of emotions washed over me as I let the pieces settle into place. I was relieved to find my jealousy was unfounded and delighted to realize how much thought Hudson had put into my arrival at his apartment. I was also touched to know he was serious about wanting our relationship to work, because didn’t this type of preparation show sincerity?
But then I also felt embarrassed. And ashamed. I’d overreacted, and even though I hadn’t gone crazy like I would have in the past, I felt the seed of it inside. It scared me. Scared me to know Hudson saw it too.
I lowered my eyes to my hands where I wrung the sash of the robe anxiously. “It must be nice to have people,” I mumbled. “I want people.” Silly, senseless words, but they were all I had.
Hudson lifted my chin to meet his stare. “I want you.”
The look on his face—he wasn’t upset by my outburst at all. Other men had been scared away by similar unfounded accusations. But Hudson—not only did his expression show an absence of fear, it showed hunger, desire. Almost as though my paranoia was a turn-on.
“You have me,” I whispered.
He took the sash from my hands and pulled the knot free. “I want you right now.” His hand wrapped around my breast, squeezing as his thumb flicked across my nipple.
“Oh, you want me, want me.”
“Uh-huh.” He shifted me so my backside was against the table. Flattening his palm between my br**sts, he pushed me down; the surface of the table met hard with my backside and a brief flash of worry about spilling his coffee and breaking the cosmetic bottles entered my mind.
“And I want you now.”
Fuck the coffee. Let it spill.
Hudson nudged me back so that my bottom met up with the edge of the table, scooting the bottles out of the way with his arm as he did. I was laid out before him now, my robe open to expose the most intimate parts of me.
His eyes darkened as he rubbed his hands in long strokes from my belly up to my br**sts and back again. Then they went lower, to the center of my desire.
“I could stare at your pu**y all day long.” His fingers slid through my folds and circled my hole.
“Don’t you have to be somewhere?” My voice didn’t sound like mine, breathy and needy and desperate.
And what the hell was I doing? I didn’t want him to leave. I didn’t want him to stop. Please, god, don’t let him stop.