“Oh,” he gasped, and I remembered his words, could see in his eyes that he did, too: I want it. For you to suck my cock, and suck it so hungrily that you beg me with your eyes to let you swallow.

I held his eyes with mine, and begged.

His eyes rolled closed, cock swelling hugely against my tongue before he spilled with a helpless groan, warm and deep inside.

Niall’s hands went limp before falling to my shoulders. I pulled away, swallowing as I kissed the head before kissing his hip and sitting back on my heels.

He opened his eyes, taking a deep breath as he stared down at me. “Well. Right. That was . . .”

I stared up at the still-hard cock lying free of his pants, the bright spots of lipstick down his torso, the look of bewildered bliss curving across his perfect mouth.

Looking up at him, I said, “I feel like a criminal with a very obvious trail of evidence here.”

He laughed, staring down the length of his body. “I certainly do not feel like the victim of a crime.” His broad hands came down, maneuvering himself back into his boxers and fastening his pants. “I’m quite at a loss for words.”

“Good.” I ran a fingertip along the side of my mouth, grinning proudly up at him.

He reached down for my elbow, helped me up. “Your knees . . . ?”

In silence, we worked together to button his shirt, and then I smoothed my hands across his shoulders while he carefully reknotted his tie. I wanted him to pull me into his arms, kiss me, taste his pleasure on my lips.

I looked up at his face. “Hmm?”

I reached for his lips, my heart drooping. “Don’t.”

“Don’t say thank you?” he asked from behind my fingers.

Niall looked momentarily at a loss, before reaching up and gently pulling away my hand. “But it was astounding.”

His gaze flickered back and forth between my eyes. “Truly?”

“When you want someone as much as I want you, giving pleasure is almost better than getting it.”

He fell silent; his thumb coming up to stroke a bottom lip that I’m sure no longer had a hint of lipstick remaining.

“Mmm,” he hummed, bending and kissing me once. “Quite. I rather like it.”

He returned, kissing me deeper, lips parting and sucking, and, finally, tongue sliding along mine.

When he pulled back, he watched where his index finger drew small circles at the hollow of my throat.

“I’m still a bit amazed at the . . .” he began, and then shook his head a little before pressing his lips together.

“Yes. The intensity. But then I’m never sure . . .”

I waited for him to finish, but he simply nodded and said a quiet “Well.”

I suddenly knew what Max meant about chipping away at the outside. It wasn’t about seducing Niall in the first place. It was about keeping him from turning back inward immediately afterward.

“Let me go clean up.” I stretched, kissing his cheek and then turning for the door. Opening it, I took a peek in the hallway before making a dash to the restroom.

Inside, I stared at my reflection: at the swollen pink mouth, the hint of red in a halo all around it, the mascara blurred from my watery eyes while I sucked him.

I didn’t really need Niall to finish that thought. I knew what he would say even if he didn’t know it himself: I’m a bit amazed at the intensity . . . But then I’m never sure what to do with you afterward.

If Niall was as distracted as I was that afternoon, he didn’t show it. His attention barely wandered from the speaker as she unveiled one plan after another. He took meticulous notes, and barely spared a glance in my direction. I could still remember the shape of him against my lips, could hear the choppy, gasping breath he took just before he came. But I could not believe I’d done that in our office. My recklessness was escalating.

I’d be damned if I ever apologized for wanting something sexual, but I didn’t want to let it make me irresponsible.

Still . . . after this morning, then the blow job, then his retreat back into his own thoughts, I felt insecure. And I hated feeling insecure.

Beneath the table, I slid my foot closer until it touched his. Startling, he looked over at me and I could see in his expression when he understood that I need to know that what I did was okay with you.

And in the same way my kisses were hidden under his expensive clothes, his ankle wrapped around mine beneath the table. A secret only the two of us shared.

I’d never considered how many nerves might exist in the human foot before, but for the next two hours I grew aware of every single one. I noticed every shift of his leg and every brush of fabric. I could feel the heat of his body so close and yet I couldn’t do anything. It was maddening. When he stood to take the floor himself, my eyes bore into the places I knew were marked with red. I kept my face impassive, but inside, I burned.

Being back in the States didn’t mean my responsibilities back in England had lessened. In the time I wasn’t with Niall, I had to put in extra hours. My coursework was finished, but if I hoped to get into Professor Sheffield’s program in the fall, I had some catching up to do. Nothing could suffer at this stage, which was exactly why, at the end of the day, I decided to opt out of a group dinner that night, even if it would have meant time with Niall.