In Beautiful Secret, Ruby Miller's crush on her sexy but uptight co-worker Niall Stella is not going to be a secret for much longer. When her boss sends her on a monthlong business trip to New York City with the irresistible Niall, things start heating up from the moment they board the overnight flight from London to New York together.
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Ruby fell back against the mattress with a satisfied groan. "Whatever happens tonight, just know you're in competition with that cheeseburger for best in show."
"I fear Burger Joint has a bit more experience with cheeseburgers than I do."
"Then bring your mad seduction skills, Mr. Stella," she teased.
Dinner had been good, but I hadn't paid much attention, moving mostly on autopilot. I knew without a doubt that I didn't want to move too fast, and given her honesty with me tonight, I wanted to be particularly careful with her emotions, too.
I moved the table away from the side of the bed and returned to her, maneuvering so that I lay beside her, hovering above.
"Good start," she whispered, hands moving to begin unbuttoning my dress shirt. Again.
My fingers played with the button at the top of her silk shirt.
"Are you having second thoughts?" she asked, perhaps after I lingered too long on my action.
I shook my head, thinking. Her green eyes scanned my face, patient but intense.
"I suppose I just want it to be clear what we're doing tonight," I admitted at length. "I'm a bit thrown by what you've told me."
Her forehead relaxed in understanding and she pushed her head back into the pillow a bit to see me better. "About Paul."
"And your reaction after of running headlong into sexual relationships."
A flash of hurt crossed her face but she hid it away quickly. "I haven't done that in a long time."
I smiled at this. She was twenty-three. A long time was such a relative thing. "I'm not trying to judge you, Ruby. Perhaps it's a good reminder for me, as well, to take this slow."
"No sex, you mean."
Looking into her eyes, I nodded. "I'm old-fashioned, I realize, but that's something I do want to do only when I'm in love."
Her face registered some unrecognizable emotion and she looked like she was going to say something but instead, she simply nodded.
I wanted to clarify my words, knowing how she may have interpreted them—that ours wasn't that kind of relationship, that we weren't headed in that direction—but how was I to know whether or not we would? In my lucid moments near her, it occurred to me that all of this seemed so impossibly easy. I wanted to enjoy her for whatever this was, and not expect too much. My default always seemed to be so bloody sincere about it all. Maybe this was just meant to be something lovely, and easy but, ultimately, primarily sexual.
Most people had several relationships in their lives; I liked the idea that Ruby could be something more permanent, but I'd known her just two weeks.
"I can practically hear you thinking," she whispered, pulling my head down so she could kiss me once, sweetly. "Why does being alone with me in this hotel trip your panic button? No one is labeling this." It was as if she read my thoughts. "I like you. I want to be close to you, whatever that means right now."
Whatever that means right now.
The words liberated me, and I leaned into her touch, relishing the feel of her hands sliding up my neck and into my hair. I loved the tugging, the nails scratching. I loved the signs of passion that had always been absent from my romantic life.
Ruby's lips were full, and warm, tasting of Sprite and the little chocolate mint that had been placed beside our dinner plates. Her mouth opened, tongue sliding out across her lips to mine, dipping into my mouth and letting me feel the small, sweet vibrations of her moan.
I was thinking too much; I was always thinking too bloody much. I slid my hand up her ribs, over her breasts, and back to the button that had made my entire brain hit pause.
I slipped the first one free, and then the next, and the next, until Ruby was shrugging out of her shirt and lying beneath me in a pale yellow bra.
Sweet Lord, I could lay my face on that skin and never need for anything more.
"You have the most perfect breasts I've ever laid eyes on."
She stilled beneath me and then brought her hands to her face, hiding.
I stared down at her. What had I said? That she had perfect breasts? Were we meant to do this without comment?
"I'm having a moment, just give me a second," she said, her voice muffled by her palms.
"Was I too forward?"
"No," she said, dropping her hands and looking up at me with these crazy, beautiful eyes. "I just had an out-of-body experience. Niall Stella just took off my shirt and admired my chest."
"Do you need to text someone?" I said, stifling a laugh.
"I just need to remember to add it to my spreadsheet of Niall Stella Moments," she joked, and reached for my head again, pulling me down.
I traced the straight line of her collarbone, across to the middle and over to the other shoulder.
She arched beneath me. "Niall."
I made a faint tsking sound before saying, "Patience."
Her bra strap was silky and thin, a wisp of fabric holding up such plump, perfect breasts. I almost didn't want to reveal them; the anticipation was too sublime.
"You've seen me completely naked," she reminded me.
"But I haven't touched you when you were completely naked." Looking up at her face, I smiled. "I have never been directly responsible for making you completely naked."
She gave me a playfully exasperated look, but behind her eyes I could see her urgency and it set a fire inside me. "Can you make me completely naked now?"
"You aren't something to rush through." I bent, smelling her neck. "Your skin is meant to be savored. Your pleasure is meant to be drawn out, stretched thin, seduced from within you." Looking up at her I told her, "I'm not making love to you tonight with anything but my hands—but I want you to come so violently on my fingers that you'll wake in the middle of the night, desperate to re-create it . . . " I kissed her shoulder, murmuring, "only to fail."
Her mouth fell open.
"You won't have the right angle, you see." I ran a finger along her jaw. "Or the right size of finger, or depth. But mostly you'll fail at making yourself feel as good as I will because you won't be patient."
He growled, digging her hands into my hair and pulling.
I drew my finger down from the hollow of her throat to her breastbone. "You won't want to linger at these perfect spots: the warm skin here, the sole freckle on your torso just there. You won't be able to kiss your own rib."
I bent kissing her just beneath her bra before sliding my hand beneath her, releasing the clasp and leaving it there to loosen as she arched for me, as she wiggled and whined on the bed. The left strap fell from her shoulder, looping down over her bicep, and I kissed the tiny new spot it revealed.
"Take it off?" she whispered, back lifted from the mattress.
She paused, breathing heavily while I sucked at the skin just beneath her breast, my hand working to unbutton her skirt, to slide it down her hips. "Niall?"
My laugh came out as a small breath on her skin. "Do you?"
"You can linger all you want just put your hand on me."
"I'll put my hands all over you when I'm ready. Trust me." I'd never been able to take my time like this, to enjoy and relish and taste. Compared to my time with Ruby, my sexual experience to date felt like digital code entered bleakly into a program.
I bent, sucking at the top swell of her breast. So full and firm. I pressed my teeth into the skin, groaning. I wanted to bite and suck and consume. Her breasts made me want to turn savage, groping and biting and . . . Christ, just f*cking. I imagined myself crawling up her body, pressing her breasts around my c*ck, and shifting over her, selfishly chasing the pleasure I craved being this close to her skin, her scent, her hoarse, gasping noises.
A small part of me curled instinctively at such a crude, bare thought, but Ruby's voice in my mind was louder: Let go, she said. Show me what you need. Take what you want.
With a growl, I climbed over her, cupping her breasts over her bra and pressing them together, sucking at the skin where they met, sliding my tongue in and around the delicious crevasse.
Beneath me she gasped, arching, her hands working their way back into my hair, her legs wrapping around me, pulling my hips to hers so she could rock up into me.
I pulled her bra straps down her arm, tossing the garment aside before returning to her. Her nipples were the same warm pink as her lips, and without thinking—without even a moment of hesitation—I bent, pulling one into my mouth, sucking hungrily while my palm gripped her other breast.
Ruby arched from the mattress, crying out and pulling so hard at my hair that the sensation teetered between pleasure and pain.
"Niall," she gasped. "Oh, God. Oh, God."
The intensity of her response threw me; I was causing this simply by licking her breast and covering her body with mine. I wanted to own this reaction, wrapping it carefully and hiding it away. My thoughts shifted away from relieving my own ache, to giving her more of this pleasure. I needed to feed on her reactions until she was sweaty and screaming beneath me.
Her skin seemed to glow under my touch; my lips followed the fit lines of her abdomen, the perfect circle of her belly button, the sharp spike of her hipbone. I drew my teeth over each of these discoveries, following with my fingertips, hungry to know every inch. Pushing my hips into the mattress, I grew desperate for relief.
Beneath me, Ruby rocked up into my hands, mindless and begging; a fine sweat had broken out on her chest. My hair was a mess from her hands, tugging fingers and scratching nails.
Oh, she was a f*cking wonder.
"Let me taste you," she begged. "Let me touch you."
Her words sent a spike of electricity down my spine and along my c*ck. "Wait, darling."
I pushed the top elastic of her knickers aside, kissing the softest skin of her navel, just above her pubic bone.
She hissed out a Yes and gasped when I slid the light yellow lace down her hips and thighs, undressing her entirely.
Ruby was completely naked and she was f*cking perfect.
I felt her eyes on me as I slid my hand up her leg, watching my fingers move over her skin, mine darker than hers, tan against pale. Her inner thigh was the softest skin I'd ever felt, and my fingers trembled slightly as I moved them higher. Inside my chest, my heart hammered. I'd touched her between her legs before, of course, but it was different at the office: rushed and intense. Here, I had hours. I could keep her up all night with my hands giving her pleasure and my mouth on her breasts, her ribs, her stomach.
My fingers reached the juncture where hip met thigh and I lingered, barely an inch away from where she wanted me. Under my hand, she shook, pushing her hips off the bed.
"You're killing me with the teasing," she whispered, reaching to wrap her hand around my wrist. "I swear I'm going to come the second you touch me."
The way she said come, and the idea that she was this worked up—that my touch could do this so easily—rocked me. With a smile pressed to her hip, I slid my fingers over her, groaning at the sound of her sharp cry. She was drenched, and slick and warm and it was all I could do to not bend to kiss her there, or—even more tempting—lift my body over hers and simply slide inside. I couldn't begin to fathom how it would feel to be inside her.
I was grateful for the barrier of my trousers, and of the kernel of hesitation still residing in my thoughts, the constant reminder to take this slowly.
It was impossible not to compare this experience to the only other one I'd really had—late-night pub fumbling aside—even though guilt tried to shove the thoughts away. I knew I shouldn't think of Portia right now, not even in relief of my independence from her, but with Ruby naked against me and my brain fried to bits at the thought of giving this sublime creature pleasure, I didn't have the discipline of thought to which I was accustomed. Ruby unraveled me, opened something inside me, and made me want to be more transparent with myself, with her.
And as I touched her, and gave her pleasure with first two fingers, and then three, I let my thoughts flap wildly in my mind. This is what it should feel like to be intimate, giving pleasure to someone who wants it hungrily, both partners wholly giving in to it. She'd opened up to me tonight—it was the entire purpose of her admission, I realized—and in turn it had given me some freedom to relax with her, with this. With each circle of my hand and each moan that pushed past her lips, my confidence multiplied until I was convinced no man had ever wanted a woman more than I wanted the one beside me just now.
I wanted to kiss her and lick her and f*ck her, but a baser part of me—a dark piece I'd never acknowledged—wanted a greater ownership over her lips, her glowing skin, aching sounds, soft thighs and—I let myself admit it—the most beautiful, soaking-wet p*ssy I'd ever dreamed of. I wanted to look at her and have a deeper sense that she was mine.
She started to clench under my movements and my insides began to simmer, thrilled. How odd it is, I thought, that my whole body should ache for the curve of her shoulder, the straight, downward slope of her navel, the pounding pulse at the side of her neck.
Watching her unravel under my touch seemed to literally bring my heart into my throat. I lifted my gaze from where I touched her to move up and suck savagely at her breast as she first seemed to calm—her breaths came out slow and deep—and then she pushed her head back into the pillow and nearly screamed as her orgasm tore through her and pressed down against my fingers inside.
She stilled for only a breath before pulling me by my hair so we were face-to-face and I could lick away the quick, relieved exhales falling from her lips.
"Holy sh*t." She closed her eyes, going limp beneath me. "I just . . . "
"You're exquisite when you come," I whispered, sucking at her jaw, her neck, her mouth.
"That . . . " she began, looking up at me. "Right now you seem like something I made up when I was lying awake at night."
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