Protecting Our Future Sneak Peek
“Madeleine, Mr. Stockton on line three. Also, as a reminder, you’re scheduled for a meeting uptown in less than an hour, and then you have the rest of the afternoon blocked off,” my assistant Simon informs me.
“Thank you. This call with Mr. Stockton won’t take long.” I pick up the phone and jump right in. “Stefan, it’s a pleasure to hear from you. I’ll keep this brief as my time is valuable. At the end of this contract, you’ll need a new agent.”
Stefan is one of my musician clients. He’s obstinate, belligerent, and refuses to heed my advice regarding projects to accept. I refuse to allow my name to be associated with his entitled behavior.
“Madeleine, please don’t do this. I need you!” Stefan whines through the phone line.
“That may be true, but I’m no longer willing to put up with your inconsistency and inability to follow simple direction to keep your image clean. I wish you the best.” I exhale and hang up the phone. This isn’t the first time I’ve let a client go, but it is the first time it’s so overdue. “Si, please call for my car.”
“Already done. Have a great afternoon, Mads.”
“Thank you.” Exiting my office, I descend to the lobby and slide into my waiting car.
I plan on it. My… I don’t even know what to call him—lover, booty call, friend with benefits—will arrive tonight. Our initial introduction was at Callie’s final concert in Atlanta. Callie has been my client since she turned eighteen. She found her forever when Connor was assigned as her bodyguard. Not only was he able to thwart all her security concerns but win her heart as well. Callie makes Connor stronger but can also bring him to his knees. Right before her final meet and greet, Callie introduced Christoph and me. When his hand surrounded mine, a prickle of awareness shot straight up my arm and nestled in my chest. Aside from a few longing glances, nothing happened between us.
The next time I saw him was at Callie’s elegant wedding. I arrived immediately after him. Christoph’s manners are impeccable. Not only did he open my car door, but he escorted me to my seat. The same awareness coursed through me when I wrapped my arm around his. At first, I thought it was in my head. He never acknowledged any attraction to me at that point. I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask him to join me for a drink. I’m not forward when it comes to dating, not even a little bit.
As much as it pains me to admit, I spent Callie’s entire wedding with my gaze locked on his. I was a terrible acquaintance on her special day. Once his obligatory groomsmen duties were complete, we shared a few drinks at the bar. At my invitation, we spent all night and the entire next day setting the sheets in my hotel suite ablaze. We have been meeting as frequently as our schedules allow ever since. Perhaps what we share isn’t the healthiest of relationships, but it’s all we can handle right now. Speaking for myself, I have no expectations aside from mind-blowing orgasms as often as we can see one another.
My driver pulls me out of my thoughts. “Miss Wilton?”
“Yes, sorry, Jack. I have a lot on my mind.” Complete lie. My mind is already past this meeting and recalling with precision the caress of Christoph’s tongue along the seam between my thighs and my core—a spot that makes me shudder in anticipation. One only he knows exists.
I exit the car and make my way into the restaurant. I rarely find myself unfocused at a business meeting, especially one where my compensation depends on the details being discussed. Yet today I want nothing more than to be with him. It makes no sense. Nothing is different since the last time I saw him. Nothing major changed in my life. I know the score. Our lives are incompatible for a relationship. We live too far from one another, and neither is able or willing to quit our jobs.
“Madeleine?” a deep voice asks.
“I’m sorry. Could you repeat your question?”
My immediate boss, Stavros Scala, repeats, “Will our client be able to follow those rules?”
“He should be willing to follow those rules and anything else we set forth. If he wants this company to represent him, behaving like an adult instead of a petulant child shouldn’t be a deal breaker.”
The table of men laugh. I’m accustomed to being the sole woman at the table. I’m the only senior agent at The Scala Agency who is female. Hell, I started over eight years ago; most women don’t make it past year two. Focus, Madi!
“Always straightforward in her requirements of our clients,” Stavros chimes in.
I nod and wish the rest of this meeting to hurry to completion. More than an hour later, I slump into the back seat of my car. Jack notices.
“Bad meeting, Miss Wilton?”
I shake my head. “No, thanks, Jack. Merely ready for the work week to be over.”
“I understand. I’ll have you home as soon as traffic allows,” he assures me.
“Much appreciated.” After a few settling moments, I scan through the emails and texts that have arrived since I left the office. There are two emails from Simon regarding my schedule for early next week. I handle those and continue down the list. There are two contracts to review for clients and a few text messages.
Estelle: Hi, sweetheart. Wanted to check on you. Love you, ladybug.
Me: Hi I’m done for the day and taking the weekend off.
Estelle: Good for you. I can’t wait to see you soon.
Me: Me too. Love you.
I’m looking forward to spending the holidays with her this year. I may be a successful agent, and I love what I do, but Grams is all I have left, and she won’t be here forever.
CA: I’ll see you in an hour.
I glance at my watch and realize he’ll probably be waiting for me when I get home. Against what my head is telling me, butterflies take flight in my stomach. Developing real feelings for Christoph isn’t an option. The car stops in front of my building.
Jack opens my door. “Have a good weekend, Miss Wilton.”
“Thank you, Jack. You’ve been driving me around for the last five years; please call me Madeleine.” Only Simon knows more about my schedule than Jack.
“I’ll try. Have a nice weekend, Madeleine.”
“You too, Jack.”
The moment I open my door to my townhouse, I know Christoph is already here. The makings of some delicious dish is spread on my island, and a bottle of wine is breathing as well.
Meeting her was sheer circumstance. When Connor was injured protecting his now wife, Callie, I stepped in to provide security while he healed. I met Madeleine during the assignment in Atlanta. The moment her hand slid into mine, my world stopped spinning. Not only is she a powerful and successful talent agent, but she’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous as well. She’s tall without her luxury red-soled shoes, with thick, long blonde hair and the most piercing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Her eyes are windows into her true feelings if you look hard enough. I’m confident the list of people she allows to read her is infinitesimal. Thankfully, I’m on the list.
The next time I saw her at Connor’s wedding, the awareness returned when I escorted her to a seat. After their reception was our first time together, and epic isn’t even an apt description. Ever since, we’ve been seeing each other whenever our hectic schedules and geographical locations allow.
Her New York apartment mirrors her outward demeanor completely. It’s modern with clean, sharp lines, and expensive. Her apartment has two terraces, one for guests and one attached to the master suite. It’s a gorgeous outdoor space in the heart of the city. Inwardly, Madeleine isn’t hard or disinterested. The small glimpses of the real her when she lets her guard down will be my undoing.
I arrive before her with an armful of groceries for dinner. I love arriving before Madeleine. As far as I can tell, she’s on her own. We may have been spending time together over the last six months, but we don’t truly share much with one another outside of work and our bodies. Her independence is fiercely attractive. It’s partially why I seize every opportunity to take care of her. So far, she hasn’t balked.
My profession affords me finely honed skills, including seeing things people try to mask. Madeleine is no different. I only read the portions of her information that were necessary to protect Callie, nothing more. If there is ever a time we’re able to be in a relationship, I’m confident she’ll share the rest of her story with me like I will with her. For now, we’re two consenting adults who have incredible chemistry and life-altering sex.
I’m well into preparing dinner when she steps through her front door. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. All the prep work is done, I simply need to cook. As usual, she looks beautiful after a long day of moving and shaking for her clients. Her suit is navy with a pencil skirt and emerald blouse. The colors make her eyes darker and more intriguing.
I approach her with a glass of her favorite red wine in hand. “Hey. How was your day?”
Madeleine accepts the glass and lightly presses her lips to mine. “Not too bad. How was your assignment?” She swirls the wine and takes a satisfying sip.
“Same. I’ve worked with this client before. Frankly, I’m not sure she needs security in place for this event. It happens once per quarter. She’s discreet, and there’s limited to no press coverage.”
“Any chance you could finish dinner later?” She points toward the food on the island.
I try to recall how long it’s been since I saw her last. Honestly, I don’t have to try. It’s been slightly less than two weeks. “Oscar not doing enough for you?” Oscar is her battery-operated boyfriend.
“He’s nowhere near an acceptable substitute for you.”
“Glad to hear I won’t be replaced anytime soon.” I slide my hand along her jaw. Her mouth tastes like pinot noir, and her curves melt against me as our tongues tangle. By the time we reach her massive bed, there’s a trail of clothes on the floor. Not only does her apartment and her shoes scream luxury, but her lingerie costs more than I spend on rent in a month. This set matches her suit, and the navy silk and lace feel decadent beneath my fingers. It’s almost as soft as her creamy skin.
I hover over her and mark her skin with my mouth, savoring her breasts with my tongue. Rolling and plucking her nipples with my fingers has her on the cusp of begging.
My name falling from her lips sounds like a prayer wrapped in desire. Her voice makes my chest tighten. Falling for Madeleine is not an option, despite the coma-inducing sex. Her plea makes me slow my pace and drive her to the edge of taking control. Sex with her is never boring.
Her hand slides between us, and her fingers circle the bundle of nerves at the apex of her thighs. I drag my tongue along the underside of her breast and wet a path down her arm, past the tips of her manicured fingers, and spear her core.
“How does it get better every damn time?” Her question is rhetorical.
I smile against her as she moves faster. Her hips bow off the duvet as she closes in on her first release of the weekend. She increases the speed of her fingers and shudders beneath me. Before her climax subsides, she wraps her other arm around me and rolls us.
Within seconds of landing flat on my back, she aligns herself and takes my shaft deep into her center.
“You make me feel so good.”
I grin up at her, set one hand on her hip, and draw circles on her clit with my thumb. She moves along my length ferociously until she’s on the verge of splintering. Leaning forward, she increases her pace with her lips plastered against mine.
Her inner muscles clench, and her body convulses around me. I thrust upward twice and fall off the edge immediately after her. Once our breathing regulates, she moves beside me and curls against me.
“You realize I don’t come visit you only for sex, right?” I care about Madeleine, but our lives aren’t conducive to a lasting relationship given the demands of our professions.
She nods against my chest. “Same for me, but sex with you is spectacular.”
I’ve never had better than her, but the sex isn’t what keeps me coming back. It certainly doesn’t hurt. There are two distinct sides of Madeleine Wilton: the successful talent agent who refuses to take no for an answer and the soft, warm woman who visits her grandmother as often as she can. The issue isn’t wanting a relationship; it’s giving her—giving us—the time necessary to thrive. Truly, it isn’t possible right now.
“Dinner?” I suggest.
“Sure. What did you decide on for tonight?”
“Spicy shrimp and linguine.”
“I don’t have any shrimp.” She lifts her eyes to mine.
“I grabbed the ingredients at the market down the block on my way here.”
“Oh.” She presses a kiss to my lips and starts to move away from me.
I tighten my hold on her and draw her against me again. I almost don’t ask, but I can’t help myself. “Did I overstep?”
She shakes her head. “No, being taken care of isn’t something I’m used to anymore.”
I nod. I heard what she didn’t say—I like being taken care of and it scares me—and brush my lips across hers again.
I’m growing attached to you too, Madeleine.
After cleaning up, I gather our strewn clothes and my bag. Dressed in long-slung sweats, I return to the kitchen. Once the water is boiling, she joins me as well.
“How can I help?” she asks.
“Do you want to sauté the shrimp or handle drinks and setting the table?”
“I’ll take the drinks and table.”
A flicker of uncertainty crosses her gorgeous face. This time I leave it alone. Once the pasta is al dente and the shrimp is cooked through, we sit at the island and eat.
“How’s Grams?” I ask between forkfuls. We haven’t shared many things that would make a solid foundation of a relationship at this point. One substantial thing we have in common is we were both raised by our grandmothers. Her parents took off for good when she was six. Mine… I have no clue about my family history other than what my grandmother told me. The story goes something like my mother showed up with a baby on her doorstep, and the next morning she was gone.
“Pretty good. She texted me earlier today. She’s happy and spry. I miss her every day. I’m looking forward to visiting her for Thanksgiving. What about you?”
“I’m working with Jake to carve out some time soon.” Jake is my boss and friend. When he formed Blackthorne Security, I jumped at the chance to leave the military for the private sector. “Is Estelle coming here, or are you going to her?”
“I’m going home.”
It dawns on me I don’t know where she’s from originally. Not surprising but unsettling. “Where is home?”
“I was born in Pennsylvania, but Estelle raised me in Maryland where she still lives. What about you?”
“I’m from North Carolina, but Betty lives in Delaware now. She moved us there when I was ten.”
“How far is it from your home?” She knows I live in Connor’s condo since he and Callie built their dream home at the farm.
“About forty minutes. It isn’t far, but I need to be off the clock to visit and truly be there.”
She nods. “I understand completely.”
“I know.” After cleaning up our dishes, we curl up in the corner of her sectional with our wine.
Once she reaches the bottom of her glass, Madeleine sets it aside. She nips and bites her way up my abs to my cleft chin—a feature she admittedly loves. “Ready for round two?”
“Always. Are you?”
A devilish twinkle materializes in her eyes. “Have I ever let you down?”
Taking my hand in hers, she leads me back to her bedroom for a night of sheet-tangling, orgasm-inducing pleasure I only achieve with her.