Driving up to the place made her realize that life had handed Hunter a far better hand since their split. He lived in a grand three-story manor on the opposite side of town in a neighborhood suited for CEOs of huge companies. The long driveway led up to a house that was three times larger than her own and had to have a live-in staff. To the left of the house was an illuminated garden that she could picture in vibrant colors in the daylight. Gazelle would lay money that he had a white gazebo with a pond somewhere in the back. Probably took his tea and crumpets back there as well.
As she pulled in, a valet came around to hand her out of the car and she knew a moment’s embarrassment. Her ratty Mazda looked out-of-place behind the row of Chrysler 300s and Lincoln MKZs. The people streaming into the house made her feel like the not so nicely dressed Cinderella at a ball.
Perhaps wearing the sheath dress wasn’t the best move on her part. Considering the colors some of the women had on – one woman wore the loudest shade of yellow that bordered on blinding – her little black dress came across as rather plain. It hugged her curves and gave her a lush appearance, but she’d be a dandelion in a field of lilies. A damn sexy dandelion at least.
She smoothed her dress down and eyed the white do oak door. “I can do this. He’s moved on and I need to show that I’ve moved on, too.”
Except she hadn’t, her subconscious reminded her. She ignored the jab, straightened her shoulders, and marched up to the door. A white-haired man opened the door right as she raised her hand to knock. From his stoic expression, long-tailed black jacket, white shirt, and white gloves, Gazelle assumed he was the butler.
The man bowed as he stepped aside, then raised a hand for her to move into the hall. Stepping into the house, she felt Hunter’s presence all around her. Strangeness engulfed her at being so near to him, the setting almost intimate. Even in the entrance, the decorations made her think of him; dark woods, clean lines, neutral wall colors, and photos with exotic scenery filling the space. The scent of him surrounded her as she moved along the hall. A spicy, masculine smell that was distinctly Hunter.
She followed the sounds of the party down the dark wood-paneled hallway into a large living room. Ballroom was a more accurate assessment with its high ceiling and wooden floor. The sheer volume of people still seemed to overwhelm the large space, the din enough to make her consider going home.
More shoulder squaring and she was plunging into the midst of it all.
Hunter’s weekend long parties catered to the sexually adventurous. A person could indulge fetishes of all varieties without censure in his midst. From experience, she knew that most activities took place in rooms out of sight. Her hang-ups prevented her from ever exploring those rooms, but she knew what pleasures awaited the intrepid.
Many people couldn’t wait, and the dance floor was usually rife with people shading inhibitions. Tonight was no exception as she waded through the heavy pheromones and scantily clad couples that writhed in time to the music. Her eyes couldn’t help wandering over the bare flesh, or absorbing the cries of satisfaction.
Bypassing the bar itself, she found an empty table with a low couch and sank down into it. Her skin felt hot and tight just from the trip through the room. It was a perfect place to observe the crowd and regain her equilibrium.
A number of black vested men and women in white shirts circulated around the perimeter of the room offering drink. Gazelle observed the interactions of her fellow partygoers, enjoying how primal people became when you stripped pretense away. Money or not, many of the people were there to find a piece of ass. It was true hunter/prey dynamics at work and something she’d made it a point to avoid since splitting with Hunter
Shaking off that melancholy train of thought, Gazelle watched a tall man in a fitted suit track a brightly dressed blonde woman standing at the bar. She was unable to stop herself from imagining herself as that woman. The need to feel the heat of a determined man’s attention.
The way his eyes slid over her back and down to her butt would feel like a physical touch. Gazelle felt her nipples tighten as the man prowled over to the woman. His hungry eyes devouring, heating bare skin, and staking claim. The man was a master as he subtly separated her from her friends so it was just the two of them talking.
Sitting forward in her chair, Gazelle watched him flash the woman a smile that showed his teeth. The woman turned her body toward him enough to show her interest. Gazelle saw the way her breasts jutted out with each breath, her high laughter carried over the music, her lips tipped in a coy smile that spoke of wanting more.
His hand slipped around to the woman’s low back, then lower, his palm cupping her bottom. That touch spoke of possession, and Gazelle felt her arousal spike. It was the point of capture and she knew it would lead to something more. His gaze was too hot; the electricity bouncing between those two was too good for it not to end any other way. Gazelle felt the thrill of that chase though it wasn’t her experiencing it.
Gazelle felt the way her pussy lips slicked against each other as she shifted in her seat. Watching the man’s lips trace a path down the other woman’s neck made her tingle. She let her hand drop to her waist, unable to resist the pull of need.
“A drink, miss?” The man’s expression was bland, but she felt as though he knew what she’d been thinking.
Squashing her embarrassment, she answered over the din, “Whiskey sour. Light on the ice.”
A nod and he disappeared without another word. The couple no longer lingered at that bar, and that left her to contemplate why she’d actually come to the party. Gazelle obviously missed the thrill of a man’s attention.
She missed Hunter.
Slumping back on the butter-soft couch, she allowed the truth to slide through her. There was no denying that she’d come to see him. There was no denying she wasn’t over him and probably never would get over her feelings.
Her drink appeared in a cut crystal glass and she took down half of it before he moved. “Another, miss?”
She eyed him over the top of her glass. Her nod was enough to send him on his way.
The last of her drink burned down her throat and she started to feel the effect of the alcohol on her system. Her body felt warm, her limbs loose, and a relaxed smile spread across her lips. Her personal butler needed to get back with more alcohol to make her night better.
“Miss.” The glass clunked as it hit the table in front of her.
She graced the man with a beautiful smile. “I’ll have to tip you before the night is over.” The man’s neutral stare didn’t change and it only made her smile wider as she picked up her glass.
The alcohol swirled in her stomach, warming her up more. She watched the crowd as they mingled and mated. Hands caressing bare flesh, music and pheromones twirling to form a heady drug she felt in her blood. It was a delicious mix.
Laying her head back, Gazelle let the feeling sweep through her. Her nipples tightened in anticipation when her fingers brushed the swell of her breast. She dipped her hand down the front of her dress, her eyes dropped to half-mast as she tweaked her nipple. Another tug and her eyes closed all the way. Mm, that felt exquisite.
Some tiny part of her wondered at her behavior, but the music and the smell of sex pulled too much. She dropped a hand to her thigh, and lifted the hem as she caressed, confident that the table protected her from prying eyes. The tempo increased the moment she touched the wet front of her panties. Her hips flexed forward, her thighs parted wider, as she aroused with her fingertips. Gentle teasing through the fabric was all she needed just then.
The music died away before she found any satisfaction. It was just as well; enough common sense had returned for her to realize the wantonness of her behavior.
A murmur moved through the crowd as the lights came up in the room. Gazelle was too far from the entrance to see, but someone had entered and tension ramped up the room. As the crowd started shifting, she rose to her feet downing the rest of her drink before moving to get a better look.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” Hunter’s smooth voice stopped her in her tracks.
Memories washed over her. The last time they’d made love and he’d whispered how much he needed her and his hoarse cries as he flooded her body with his heat. She shivered, her arousal returning tenfold.
Pushing into the crush, Gazelle moved closer until she spotted him on a slightly raised podium, microphone in hand. A lump rose in her throat at the sight of him. The postcard picture didn’t do him justice; he was tall, commanding, and so damn gorgeous it stole her breath. Laugh lines framed the corners of his mouth, but they made him seem sophisticated and more in control.
“Welcome to my annual Gaming Party. Or should I say the mating game.” He flashed a broad smile and Gazelle’s knees weakened. A sweep of his hand encompassed the whole room. “Continue to make yourself at home here. I’ve had each room prepared to meet whatever… need you may have.”
The murmur grew louder as his eyes swept over the crowd. She thought she’d be invisible in the crowd, far enough back in the crush that he couldn’t see her. How wrong she was when like a heat seeking missile, his eyes found hers.