His first instinct was to fight Cole off as the man held him pinned against the wall. The kiss was hard, unrelenting, and before it could go further, Savan pushed against Cole’s chest.
Cole wouldn’t have it. He shackled Savan’s wrists and pinned them above Savan’s head so that he was now Cole’s unwilling prisoner.
Savan could barely breathe.
He felt like he was drowning. Everything inside him focused on Cole’s tongue sliding against his, playing with every nerve ending in his body. Heat flooded his body, his cock hardened. He melted—melted—into Cole’s warmth. Eyes closed as Cole plundered his mouth in the middle of the hallway in his very busy salon.
It wasn’t a gentle kiss.
Cole kissed with remorseless passion and aggression. He was in control and it scared the hell out of Savan. He was losing himself under Cole’s assault. He trembled with need and the feeling had him jerking his head back in terror.
“Get off me,” Savan said, irritated when he heard how strained his voice was.
His body was screaming for release, his heart hammering with fear at the fierce intensity of his need. Savan clung to his self-control, barely.
“Let go of me Cole and get the hell out of my business. I never want to see you again.”
Cole chuckled, tightening his hold on Savan’s wrists.
Savan’s gaze was drawn to those sensuous lips, curved now into a slight smile.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting? A moment ago, your body was melting into mine, asking for more. Begging—”
“Get off me right now,” Savan cut him off, mortified by his reaction to a simple kiss. “You’re not the one to satisfy any needs I may have. I doubt you could manage. I’ll have to go across the street when you leave and work it out of my system with Ahmon Sanori.”
“Don’t,” Cole snapped, his eyes darkening with anger. “Don’t say another word.”
“Can’t take the reality?” Savan asked, feeling reckless.
He was never going to let this thing happen again. It was too much; too hot, too delicious, too complicated—
“I don’t need you to satisfy my needs, Cole. I don’t need this.”
Cole let go of him and stepped away, his fingers clenched, clearly trying to remain calm.
Savan wished Cole would lose it. He needed to destroy any faith between them, cleanly finish any connection they had.
Cole turned away from him and Savan sagged against the wall taking in deep breaths.
The feel of Cole kiss—
He shook his head. He’d had kisses before from other lovers, hell, he’d been kissing Ahmon a few nights ago, why hadn’t he felt like this?
Pressing a fist to his lips, his gaze on Cole’s tense broad shoulders, he resolved to end this for good. Straightening up, he stepped away from the wall.
“I think it’s better if we don’t see each other anymore.”
“Better for whom?” Cole asked, turning to look at him. “For you and that bastard boyfriend of yours? Isn’t he the reason why you have that bruise on your eye? Is that the kind of thing you prefer?”
“My life is my business, and you’re not in it, so piss off,” Savan said.
Cole’s conclusion disturbed him a bit, he didn’t like that the man could so easily guess how he’d gotten the bruise. That he hadn’t even talked to Ahmon about it made him feel worse.
“Please, just leave.”
Cole narrowed his gaze at him.
Savan wished someone would interrupt this little volcano. A quick glance up and down the hallway disappointed him. Where was the nosy Richie when he needed him?
“If I leave without your consent to work with Takayumi, your staff is getting a negative press campaign. I’ll make sure no one can trust them with a pair of scissors in this town.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“I don’t bluff,” Cole said with a raised brow. “I won’t hesitate, Savan. Unless you give me what I want, I’ll go after every employee you have in this salon. I’m very capable, don’t doubt it.”
“Go ahead and do it,” Savan said, although he wasn’t sure he should be pushing like this. They couldn’t afford any kind of publicity. He guarded his and Liang’s privacy fiercely, and Cole knew that. “What do you think it will get you?”
“Don’t pretend not to care about your business, Savan. I know it matters to you what happens to Bovian Image. Takayumi and I will be having the first meeting tomorrow at ten o’clock. You had better be in that conference room.”
“Bastard,” Savan cursed as Cole turned and left without another word.
Letting out a harsh sigh, he slapped a palm against the wall.
The next morning, Savan sat on his motorcycle outside the Niad Fashions Building staring at the entrance doors with disparagement. He wished he could drive off, but Liang hadn’t given him a choice.
Their way of life didn’t give him a choice, he thought.
None of them could afford any kind of press sniffing around the salon. Pulling off his helmet, he ran fingers through his hair and glanced around the parking lot.
Cole was playing a dangerous game. That kiss in the hallway, as good as it had been, couldn’t happen again. Getting off the motorcycle, Savan locked it and grabbed the helmet. He was walking up the short stairs to the glass entrance doors when a hand on his shoulder made him turn around.
“I can never surprise you,” Takayumi said with a wide grin.
Savan couldn’t help returning the smile at the sight of the older man.
Dressed in a gray t-shirt and matching slacks, long hair down his back in a ponytail topped off with a gray fedora hat, Takayumi looked impossibly handsome.
Savan couldn’t help the laugh when he was pulled into a tight hug right there on the stairs.
“You’ve been neglecting me,” Takayumi complained, his tone warm. “My wife thinks you’ve found someone to occupy your time. I told her that you were pining away for me. Which one is it?”
“Sensei, I think I’ll go with the second one. But if I do, you can’t tell your wife, she’ll have my head.”
“Good boy,” Takayumi said, reaching up to mess up Savan’s hair. “I see you are still wearing your wild reckless nature.”
Takayumi tugged on the blonde fringe falling over Savan’s eye.
Savan blushed at the keen gaze studying him. Takayumi gave him a thorough inspection then shook his head in disappointment.
“You’re not taking care of yourself, you’re too skinny.”
“I’m fine,” Savan said, moving back a few steps with a shrug. “Just really busy, I promise to come and visit the family soon. We can drink into the night.”
“It might be sooner than you think,” Takayumi replied, motioning for them to continue into the building. “I saw you watching these doors. I suspect you’re not happy with my demands.”
“I’m not thrilled,” Savan said honestly. “I wish you’d take Liang, I need not to be here.”
“Is it the young designer?” Takayumi asked, with a wink. “He has a soft spot for you, I’ve seen it. I couldn’t resist.”
“I should have known what you were doing.” Savan groaned when they were in the lobby. “Can I convince you to stop this game?”
“You’re my friend, Savan,” Takayumi said, as they walked to the elevators. “I look after my friends. I think you two will be perfect for this campaign. So, indulge an old man, I’m getting bored living a life of luxury. I need drama.”
“Your wife provides you with plenty,” Savan scoffed. “And what old are you talking about. Can a forty-something man really claim such a thing?”
“You wound me,” Takayumi said, with a smirk as the elevator dinged its arrival. “Do you need me to find a cane so that you can believe me?”
Savan chuckled and followed the impossible man into the elevator.
“No cane for you, Sensei. You owe me for this one. That young designer you’re so fond of is driving me crazy. This is going to be like hell for me.”
“I doubt that,” Takayumi replied mysteriously. “Give it a chance, Savan. Now, tell me about Liang. Is he still running after all the young fillies in your salon?”
“No one calls women fillies, Taka,” Savan said with a laugh.
Despite his reservations on the campaign, Savan found that he was happy to be included in the project. Niad Fashions and Takayumi Jewelry were running a publicity campaign, combining fabric with jewelry made of precious stones.
Takayumi would design the jewelry while Cole’s team would create the clothes to match the jewelry. The conceptual designs, which were a preview of Niad’s coming line, would have a fashion show in four weeks.
Savan would be responsible for finding the models and styling.
Savan found himself buried in a frenzy of preparation immediately after that first meeting. Four weeks wasn’t long enough to prepare such a high profile show. Auditioning models, meeting with Takayumi and going over his ideas, and then heading to Niad to consult with the designers. Savan barely had time to think about the reason why he was in the project at all.
A week and a half into preparation, Savan sat in the Niad cafeteria busy going through the pictures of models he’d met, when a shadow fell over the table.
Glancing up, he frowned when he saw Cole standing there.
“You’re blocking the light,” he said, when Cole didn’t move.
“You’ve been ignoring me for almost two weeks. How do you do that?”
“It’s easy. Let me demonstrate,” Savan replied.
He returned his attention to the pictures on the table and proceeded to mark the ones he wanted to see again.
“I’m sorry I threatened you,” Cole said, after a moment. Savan couldn’t help rolling his eyes at that apology. “I wouldn’t have done it.”
“How was I to know you wouldn’t do it?” Savan asked, shuffling pictures and putting them on a slush pile on his right. He reached for a new pile on his left. “Go bother someone else. Don’t you have designers to yell at?”
Cole pulled a chair out and sat. Picking up a picture from the discard pile, he stared at it before he returned it.
“Can’t we talk for a bit?”
“Unless it’s about the project, I have nothing to say to you.”
“There is a lot to say,” Cole said, leaning his elbows on the table. “I want to know more about you.”
“I don’t want to tell you,” Savan replied, abandoning the pictures and sitting back in his seat.
His gaze drunk in Cole’s handsome face, his eyes falling on soft lips, the memory of them moving over his own had him looking away.
“Why won’t you stop this?”
“I have a theory,” Cole said ignoring his question. “Don’t you want to hear it?”
“I’m sure you’ll tell me whether I want to hear it or not.”
“My theory is that you push people away because you are afraid to care too much. To cover your soft side, you keep up this rough facade, but I can see right through it now.”
“You see nothing,” Savan said, shaking his head. “Now can you go away so that I finish working here? I have to meet Liang back at the salon for a client consultation.”
“I promise to leave when you answer three questions,” Cole said, reaching for another photograph. He studied it for a moment then placed it on the slush pile. Glancing at Savan, he lifted a brow in amusement.
“Don’t you want me to leave?”
“Fine, if it will get you away from me,” Savan replied.
Cole smiled, and once again, that helpless need to stare at those lips overtook Savan. That stupid simple kiss was ruining his life.
“Are you really dating Ahmon Sanori?”
Folding his arms over his chest, Savan toyed with the idea of lying to the man, but he found he couldn’t. Thinking up a lie was too much work, so he opted for the truth.
Dark eyes shone with pleasure, that smile showed up again sending all the blood in his head down to his cock. He wasn’t sure he could walk out of the cafeteria without embarrassing himself.
“I like kissing you,” Cole declared, tilting his head to the side. “I’ve been thinking about our kiss for days now, it’s driving me crazy. Are you thinking about it?”
Savan was glad they were the only people in the cafeteria. The rate at which his pulse was beating right now bordered on critical. His erection was threatening to rip the zip on his pants. Savan let out a silent breath and moved his chair back from the table. Cole was doing this deliberately.
“You’re lying to me. Your pulse is fast, I can see it at your neck. It’s tempting actually, that pulse there, if I press my lips to it, I wonder if you’d moan. The sound of your moan is very erotic to me, did you know that?”
“What’s the last question?” Savan asked, fighting the need to run out of the room.
Cole was turning into a little devil. Not little, he adjusted his thoughts when Cole grinned knowingly at him.
“You’re a monster.”
“At least I’m honest with myself,” Cole said, leaning back in his seat. “Will you go out with me?”
“No,” Savan replied.
Standing up, Savan gathered the files on the table.
Cole pushed his chair back and moved around the table. Crowding Savan against the windows, he pressed his palms on the cool glass trapping Savan with his body. He was so close Savan could see the length of Cole’s lashes.
“This again,” Savan complained. “You have a problem with personal space.”
“You answered no to all my questions. Two of those answers are wrong. I only believe the first answer.”
“Maybe I was lying about that first one as well,” Savan said with a small smile.
“I don’t think so,” Cole said, studying his lips. “Savan, stop pushing me away. I might start stalking you at this rate.”
“Aren’t you already?” Savan asked, his hands coming up to rest on Cole’s waist when Cole pressed his body against his. The feel of him was more than enough to make Savan wish for more, but they were in a public place. It was mid-afternoon, and everyone was working. “Do you have a fetish for walls? You keep pushing me into them.”
“This is not a wall. These are windows,” Cole replied in a soft tone. “Besides, you like it even though you keep trying to push me away.”
Cole leaned his head down and Savan couldn’t help but watch Cole’s lips move closer. He fisted the back of Cole’s shirt, ready to pull him away, but then Cole’s lips brushed against his. His eyes slid closed. Cole didn’t disappoint him. Capturing his lips in a deep kiss that had him clinging to Cole. The kiss was hot, needy, it made him breathless.
Cole pulled away slowly.
“I think that it’s best to take away the decision-making in this relationship from you. We’ll follow what I want for now until you stop fighting me.”
“What relationship?” Savan asked, blinking up at Cole. “Who told you that I’d agree to do anything?”
“I’ll pick you up at eight o’clock tonight. Dress nice, I’m sure you have something better than ratty old jeans in your closet. We’re going on a date. Feel free to tell that Ahmon and Liang about it. If you’re not ready, Savan, I’ll come up to your loft and dress you myself.”
Stepping away, Cole grinned, a wide show of teeth, before he turned on his heel and left the cafeteria in quick strides.
Savan was left leaning on the windows staring after him in surprise.
“Where are we going?” Savan asked gruffly from the passenger seat.
Cole hid a smile at the irritated tone and adjusted his seat belt. He hadn’t been sure Savan would be ready, so he’d been pleasantly surprised to find Savan waiting in the lobby at Bovian Image.
Savan looked impeccable in black: it seemed to be his favorite color. The jacket over a black shirt and slacks clung to his body to perfection. At some point after he’d seen him in the cafeteria, Savan had changed his hair. The fringe over his eye was black now, and the number of earrings at his ear had reduced to two. He was so handsome.
“Watch where you’re driving,” Savan said in amusement.
“You look good enough to eat. Maybe I should drive back to my apartment and we can just get on with it,” Cole suggested with a sly smile.
“I have no idea what you mean by getting on with it.”
“Don’t tell me you’re a virgin,” Cole said in mock surprise as he geared the car.
They were on the highway now. Settling in his seat, Cole spared Savan a glance.
“I could have sworn you had experience.”
“Do you wish I was a virgin? That way, it would be easier to take advantage of me?”
“I'd love to take advantage of you,” Cole said. "But you're so hard headed you won't let me do it. Maybe after I get you drunk you'll let me. I need you wanting me as much as I want you, Savan."
Savan gave him an annoyed glance and turned to stare out his window. Cole hid a smile at the reaction. He was glad for the progress, although he hadn’t imagined that it would take almost two weeks to get this close.
Two weeks of hell, he grimaced at the memory of it. Dreams of a writhing Savan, moaning and screaming his name in ecstasy every night were torture. It wasn’t enough to have Savan sitting beside him, Cole thought. He wasn't going to be satisfied until Savan felt the same maddening need for him.