Authors: May C. West
Tags: #romance, #action, #adventure, #paranormal
characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
© 2013 May C. West
over art stock
photos: Couple of lover kissing. Part of body make shape of heart
© Evasilchenko. Licensed from Dreamstime.
eiko let her hands drop. Chase stopped them in
place. He was close to her, shoulder pushing into her chest as he bent his face
She struggled through a breath. It felt trapped in
her chest. It came in a short, sharp gasp.
Chase let a hand rest on her neck, pushed it over
her hot, trembling skin, then down towards the first button of her blouse.
‘You’ll be fine,’ his breath was warm against her cheek.
It pushed her loose hair against her face, tickling at her cheeks and nose.
‘Chase,’ her voice was a whisper. ‘They’ll come
Chase turned towards her. Pulled his shoulder from
pressing into her, brought his arms around instead. He rested one hand low into
her back, pushing her into him.
She looked right up into his eyes. She swallowed,
the move tight in her throat.
She could feel his own breath hard in his chest,
but it was slower than hers, rhythmic.
‘Keiko, I won’t let anything happen to you,’ he
nuzzled into her. The light stubble on his chin shifted against her cheek, then
her neck, then her chest as he moved lower.
She didn’t pull away, but she could not stop the
thoughts from burning within.
Something was happening to her, something she could
Chase brought his hands around, the fingers stiff
but moving fast. He undid the last button on her top, tugging the fabric aside
as he slid his warm hand over her belly.
She shuddered back at the move. It made her back
arch, her toes curl.
‘This building is surrounded by security,’ he
brought his face back to her neck, talking into her hair, his cheek flush with
her own. ‘Nothing can happen to you. You’re safe here.’
God, she wanted to believe him. But she couldn’t.
Too much was happening.
Chase stopped nuzzling her for a moment, brought
his hand back from her stomach, his fingers lingering before he let his arm
drop by his side. Then he touched her shoulders, one by one. The move was
He looked right into her eyes. ‘I won’t let
anything happen. I promise.’
Her lips parted. ‘I just don’t know what... to do.’
He pushed the loose black hair from her face, using
the back of his fingers to brush it behind her ear and letting the same hand
drop back to the long scar along her neck.
He didn’t take his eyes off her once. ‘Keiko,
whatever happens, I won’t let you go this time.’
His voice shook. A little of the control gone.
It got her attention. She looked at his eyes, his
moth, then let her attention drop to his chest.
He pulled her in. Wrapped his strong arms around
She could feel him breathing into her again. This
time she let her own grip tighten around him. Took solace from the contact.
Patting at her hair, he didn’t speak again.
The antique clock to her side ticked down the seconds.
She waited there in his arms, his grip so firm and
As his chest brushed into her own, the fabric of
his expensive shirt flush against her blouse, her breasts pushing further into
him with every breath, she relaxed.
Maybe he sensed it; he brought his hands down her
arms, the move so slow and the touch of his skin so light it made her shudder.
She turned her head up towards him. As his lips
pressed into hers, he took a sharp breath, his chest now harder against her
Keiko had never slept with a billionaire. Chase had
never slept with a simple college student.
That was about to change.
Not caring what her breath sounded like, what moans
and noises escaped her lips, she moved faster into him. Letting her face press
into his neck as she pushed herself up on her toes.
Chase Harlow was one of the richest men in the country.
Keiko could only afford to buy second-hand shoes.
He pushed her towards the wall behind. The move was
not sudden and neither was it violent. Just determined, like the look in his
eye as he tugged at the last buttons of her shirt.
‘I’ll keep you safe,’ he mumbled again in her ear,
his breathing rocking and punctuated with sharp moans.
Chase Harlow took Keiko by the hand, running his
other up her side, over her breast and neck, then letting it cup behind her
Then he led her to his bedroom.
It would not last.
The building was not as safe as he had promised.
wo weeks earlier
Keiko stood before the mirror. She wore a matching
white bra and nickers. She thumbed and poked at the flesh of her tummy, a glum
look on her face.
These knickers were meant to make her feel sexy.
Well they weren’t doing their job.
Pretty little white lacy numbers, the lady in the
store had promised Keiko that men would fall to their knees over her if only
she forked out 50 bucks for them.
Keiko hardly had money for rent, and yet she’d
spent her week’s food budget on something she really didn’t need.
Because who was Keiko Teshi trying to fool? The
last time she’d slept with a man was last year. It had been an awkward fumbling
affair and the guy had never called again, despite promising she was the best
thing that had ever happened to him.
‘How are you going in there? Let me see what they
look like.’ Jenny called through the door.
Jenny was Keiko’s roommate. The tall, buxom,
outgoing one. The one who had slept with more men than she’d had hot dinners.
The one who could fill out a top, had a killer cleavage, and could balance in
even the highest heels.
Keiko was her direct opposite. Small, flat-chested,
withdrawn, and painfully shy.
‘Come on, let me see,’ Jenny knocked on the door,
the sound shaking the old and rickety wood.
Everything in this apartment was about to fall
down. Keiko was surprised it hadn’t been condemned yet. From the leaking taps
to the mold in the bathroom to the patches of ceiling that fell in after a
Still, it was the best she could afford.
‘Don’t make me break this lock,’ Jenny threatened.
Taking a sharp sigh, clamping a hand over her
stomach, Keiko opened the door. Then she leaned against it, using the bulk of
the wood to hide her form.
Jenny crossed her arms under her breasts, pushing
them together. She twisted her lips to the side as she looked Keiko up and
Keiko felt cold, embarrassed, and very poor. Oh, she
also felt stupid; only an idiot spends $50 on lace when they haven’t had a date
in months and there’s no food in the cupboard.
‘Come here,’ Jenny moved towards her, and without
invitation, she grabbed at Keiko’s bra straps tugging them higher. ‘You need
No, Keiko needed something worth lifting.
‘Don’t you dare look like that,’ Jenny got a peeved
look on her face as her plush lips snapped around her words. ‘The secret of
sexy is not what you look like, it’s how you act. Now start acting sexy,’ she
actually smacked Keiko on the shoulder. But it was a light move.
As Keiko rubbed at her arm, she kept her mouth
shut. It was very easy for someone who was the epitome of beauty to give Keiko
a lesson on attitude. With her legs and breasts and killer smile, Jenny didn’t
have to try.
It felt like Keiko was climbing a mountain of
awkward every time she even looked, let alone talked, to a guy.
‘Come here, I’m sure I’ve got a top that will go
great with that outfit.’ Jenny motioned Keiko forward with a flop of her hand.
Keiko looked hastily from side to side as she
followed Jenny through the corridor. She also danced a little on the spot,
using her arms to hide her bra.
So no one else was in the apartment and unless
someone repelled through the windows Keiko would be fine. Still, she was not
one of those girls who was comfortable swanning around in nothing but her
‘Come on, Keiko, loosen up,’ Jenny latched a hand
on her bedroom door, swung in, and grabbed at the first top she saw. She threw
it Keiko’s way as she trawled further through the mound of clothes covering her
Keiko hugged it to her chest. She was thankful for
the little decency it gave her.
‘Oh, by the way,’ Jenny popped her head up from one
of her drawers, stockings, pants, and bras spilling over the sides, ‘can you
work Friday? I’ve got a date with James.’
Keiko nodded her head, her bob bouncing around her
Of course she could. It wasn’t as if Keiko Teshi
had anything to do on a Friday night.
At least work would pay for the lace.
Chase sat in the director’s chair, hands clasped
over his lap as he turned towards the windows. The glass was clear and clean,
the view the best in the city.
‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ Victor pushed the
document he’d been flicking through over the table.
‘No,’ Harlow answered. He didn’t bother to turn
back to the table.
‘No one’s seen one of those in twenty years,’
Julius poured himself another whiskey, letting the liquid slosh in the bottom
of the glass as he rested back against the dresser.
‘Indeed,’ Chase stared out at the city. The spires,
the streets, the buildings. He tugged down on his jacket, loosening the last
‘It sounds dangerous to go after this, Chase,
remember what happened to the last one,’ Victor’s voice wavered.
Chase turned, the chair swiveling smoothly. ‘Yes,
yes I do.’
Okay, so he probably looked like a Bond villain
here, swiveling in his chair and sounding mysterious. Chase didn’t feel like
He felt like a failure. He’d been after a picture
of her, a statue, a relief,
half his life.
He had nothing to show for his efforts. A couple of
scars, some bruises, and a chunk of his wealth wasted. But nothing worth
Victor leaned back in his chair. His brow was tight
and taught, his cheeks drawn thin. ‘They’ll know. If you get this, if it’s
real, they’ll find out. Do you really want to take them on again? Remember London?’
How could he forget?
Chase leaned forward, resting his elbows on the
polished wood of the table. Shrugging his head between his shoulders, he
‘Can you imagine what it’ll be worth if it’s real?’
Julius gestured towards them with his whiskey, the golden liquid sloshing only
slightly under his controlled hand.
Neither of them had to answer that.
Priceless. Nothing more, nothing less.
‘So, do we contact them?’ Chase glanced at his two
friends. He controlled the spike of emotion that shot through his heart.
Chase Harlow was a collector. Antiques, artwork, jewelry.
His father had built an auction empire, and Chase had expanded the Harlow
corporation even further since he had taken the reigns two years ago.
Investment funding, stocks, bonds. Harlow did it all. A Forbes 500 company,
Chase’s personal wealth ranged in the billions.
Chase had it all. Except he didn’t. He would give
up his arms, his heart, his soul, his company for a picture of her.
Any man would.
eiko tugged down on her white shirt. Staring over
at the other waitresses, she tried to muster up the enthusiasm she needed. It
would be a long night, and if she served every drink and crepe with a glum
frown, she would probably be fired.
‘What’s the function for again?’ Clare asked as she
yanked her straight hair into a ponytail. ‘I always forget. It’s not like we
need to know though, anyway,’ she laughed, grabbing a bobby pin between her
teeth as she smoothed her hair further.
‘Just shut up and serve the drinks,’ Keiko cracked
‘Don’t make conversation, don’t ask people how they
are,’ Clare laughed.
‘And definitely not
they are,’ Keiko
joined in as she played with the top button of her shirt, smoothing her collar
until it sat straight.
‘These people are too important,’ they both added together,
mimicking the drawling voice of their boss.
‘So where’s Jenny? Busy again?’ Clare finished with
her hair, whipping her ponytail over her shoulder as she fumbled her brush back
into her bag.
Keiko nodded politely.
‘God you are good to her,’ Clare shook her head as
she grabbed her skirt and straightened it. ‘She’s lucky to have a roomy like
Before Keiko could thank Claire, Suzie barked at
them to get the trays ready.
The party was about to start.
Keiko glanced out the window of the kitchenette the
catering company had been assigned. The party was meant to be in the penthouse
apartment, a full two stories above. Yet the guy who’d organized it – an
incredibly anal guy according to Claire – wouldn’t let the catering go on the
same floor. It would ruin the aesthetic or something.
Which meant they would have to lug the wine,
glasses, and trays up in the elevator.
Frowning to herself, Keiko got to work. It was slow
business, but eventually the two of them loaded up all of the trays, pushed
them down to the nearest elevator, and then made it up to the penthouse
Which was incredible.
The catering company she worked for was no stranger
to expensive gigs. Keiko had been all over the city with it, but this was the
first time she’d ever been to Harlow Enterprises. And the top floor was
incredible. It seemed that a master craftsman had designed the entire thing.
From the color of the paint, to the quality of the marble, to the artwork
lining the hall, it was a testament to wealth and taste.
‘Jesus Christ,’ Clare said through her teeth,
giving a low whistle. ‘I can see why they didn’t want us to set up the catering
up here; every room is probably worth a million bucks. If we accidentally knock
over any of the artwork, we are all going to have to go into servitude to pay
Claire had a point. With the vases, dresser tables,
statues, and paintings that lined the hallway, it was a liability to anyone
with trays, let alone a catering cart. And the more Keiko looked at it, the
more worried she got.
She wasn’t exactly the steadiest woman on her feet.
Hardly a day went by without Keiko knocking into something. Jenny called her
clumsy, Keiko called it a curse.
As she helped Clare maneuver the cart past a large
blue Chinese-looking vase, a fine sweat actually picked up along Keiko’s brow.
‘Dammit, I just realized I forgot one of the trays
downstairs, can you run back down to get it?’ Clare suddenly swore.
Keiko nodded her head and turned sharply on her
foot. She made it quickly to the elevator and raced in. She made it back to the
kitchenette where the catering was being stored, grabbed the right tray, then
headed back to the elevator as fast as she could.
The function was about to start, and she knew how
much trouble they would get in if everything didn’t run smoothly.
As she leant in to hit the penthouse button, the
tray slipped in her hand, and she fumbled to correct herself. She didn’t notice
as her finger brushed up against another button in her scramble to stop the
food from all sliding off onto the floor.
‘Dammit,’ she mumbled to herself as the elevator
reached the right floor quickly, stopped, pinged, and the doors opened, Keiko
She headed down the corridor, paying as much
attention as she could to keeping the tray straight in her hand. The canapés
kept on threatening to slip off. Mumbling to herself, it took her until she was
halfway down the hall to realize it was the wrong floor.
The paint on the walls was the same, and the
artwork was still as expensive and incredible. But it was different. There was
no fantastic Chinese vase, and though her shoes still clicked over the clean
marble underneath, the pattern was different.
‘Oh great,’ Keiko mumbled.
It was then that the door to her left opened
suddenly. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ somebody snapped.
Keiko jumped, giving a soft yelp, the canapés on
her tray slipping off and falling to the floor.
The man, his brow crumpled over his eyes, his
expression less-than-friendly, cleared his throat. ‘If you’re catering, the
function is on the
‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I just got off on the
wrong floor,’ she squeaked, her hands still wobbling as she clumsily held on to
the empty tray.
She got down on her knees and quickly crammed the
canapés back on to the tray, her hands shaking a she did.
‘This floor is out of bounds to your company,’ the
man repeated in a clear, curt voice.
‘I’m so sorry,’ she managed.
‘Leave the mess, I’ll have somebody from cleaning
get to it,’ he snapped.
So with that Keiko pushed herself to her feet, her
cheeks possibly redder than burning magma. She turned on her heel, and she
practically ran for the elevators.
What a great way to start the night.
But she managed to muddle her way through the rest
of the function somehow, without breaking any expensive Chinese vases or
pissing off any more fantastically rich men.