And yet, still terrified.

I reached the lobby and looked around for Niall, but I didn’t have to look long. He was behind me, back near the registration desk, and help me Jesus because paired with the overcoat he had slung over his arm, his suit was straight-up business porn.

I’d thought those words a hundred times over the last few months. Thousands. I’d said them under my breath as I’d passed him in the halls and it was possible I’d had more than one X-rated fantasy that started out with those exact words. But never, not in any of them did he swallow, look down the length of my body, and reply with “I suspect you wear everything well.”

And then immediately look like he wanted to shove the words back into his mouth and die.

When I was little I had an Etch A Sketch. I spent hours staring at that red frame and flat gray board, pulling it out to doodle whenever my bus was late or while entertaining myself on a drive home. Most people drew pictures or played games, but I was obsessed with drawing my name and perfecting the art of getting each letter down without seeing the line where they connected.

My mom would tell me to draw something else, that I would burn the image of those letters into the screen if I continued to do the same thing, over and over. And she was right. Eventually, no matter how many times I shook the board, hoping to clear the image, a ghost of the letters still showed on the screen.

I knew this would be the exact same thing, but it would be branded on my brain for the rest of time.

I suspect you wear everything well.

Had Niall Stella really said that? Was I having a stroke? Would I ever think of any other sentence for the rest of my life?

When I came to my senses, I realized he was already off and nearly gone. I quickened my steps and followed him out the hotel’s revolving door and left, down Fifty-Sixth Street.

I suspect you wear everything well.

“—all right?” he said, and I blinked.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, rushing to keep up with his long strides. Seriously, walking beside him was like galloping next to a giraffe.

“I asked if my assistant Jo had sent everything along? Whether everything had come across all right? Normally I wouldn’t send you things, as you’re not working for me here, but thought it might be best if we were both on the same page.”

“Oh, yes. Yes,” I said, nodding. “Emails arrived yesterday as soon as we’d landed. She’s very . . . efficient.”

Niall Stella blinked over to me with his obscenely long lashes. “She is.”

“How long has she worked for you?” I asked, my voice sounding a bit distracted, even to my own ears. I’d never been with him out in broad daylight like this, and I was feeling flustered with just how good-looking he was: his skin was gorgeous, clear and smooth and absolutely flawless. It was obvious he took his time shaving, and everything was perfect, right down to his sideburns. I wondered if he measured them with a ruler.

He considered this. “Four years, this twelfth of September.”

He smiled, looking back to his phone.

I suspect you wear everything well.

The morning air was cool on my face, and I closed my eyes, grateful for the touch of biting wind this morning. It helped clear my head as we covered the first block, and turned right onto Avenue of the Americas.

Only now did it occur to me that this was my first morning in New York City. London felt like a city, yes, and it was huge. But I always had the sense that I was standing in a place that had been there for centuries, that the trees and buildings and even the walkways I strolled on looked much like they had since they were put in. New York clearly had its older buildings, but many things were modern and new, steel and glass that stretched to the sky. It seemed to be in a constant cycle of rebirth. Scaffolding lined much of the sidewalks and we simply walked under it, or followed signs that led us around.

I tried to use this time to go over what might be waiting for us today: setting up meetings with the local officials, getting the complete schedule of all the different speakers, and compiling a list of which stations were most in need of repairs.

But I couldn’t focus, and each time the sound of traffic dulled and my thoughts finally started to string together, Niall would walk around someone and brush my shoulder. Maybe notice a loose board in a construction walkway, and touch my forearm while pointing it out in warning. We’d walked five minutes and if someone had asked what I’d been thinking about, I would have stuttered out some unintelligible nonsense and laughed awkwardly.

We reached the corner and waited for the signal to walk. Niall pocketed his phone and stood a respectable distance away from me, but close enough that the arm of his jacket brushed against mine when I hitched my bag higher on my shoulder. The morning was cold, and each one of his exhales sent a little puff of condensation out into the air in front of him. I had to force myself not to stare at his lips and the way his tongue peeked out to wet them.

When the light changed, the crowd moved in front of us, and I felt the press of his palm on the small of my back, urging me forward.

His hand on my lower back . . . just inches away from my ass. And if he was going to touch my ass, it was basically the same as him touching me between my legs. So, yes, my brain reacted like Niall Stella was touching my clit and I nearly tripped and sprawled flat in the intersection.

We reached the sidewalk on the other side, and he seemed to make a conscious effort to slow his steps.