Griffin sat on the couch processing everything for a moment. Knowing Helen’s history, he was glad to see she was standing up for herself. Too bad it had to be against him. Nevertheless, he wasn’t going to back down, but he had to figure out a way to get her to see things his way.
“Helen, please sit down for a moment. I promise to stop being a prick. I just want to talk to you.” Griffin tugged at her hand until she reluctantly sat next to him.
“I’m really not good at this confrontation thing. Can’t you just be a normal guy and say sayonara?”
“Nope, you better get used to it because I’m not a ‘normal’ guy. So, why are you running from a relationship?” Griffin still held her hand, stroking the pale skin of her wrist.
“Come on, Griffin, I’m not an idiot. You work for Marc, so I’m sure you’re well aware of the more … interesting facts of my married life. There is no way I’d ever willingly step back into that role.”
“You can’t seriously be judging all men based on that asshole you were married to. Do you think your sons are like him? Or Marc?” Griffin deliberately left out his own name, not wanting to hear her admit she didn’t trust him.
“Of course not, but … you don’t understand. Women of my generation naturally acquiesced to their husbands. I don’t ever want to feel helpless and out of control again. I won’t do it for any man.”
“So you would willingly give up love and companionship forever?” Griffin didn’t mention the hot sex he was also thinking about. There was no telling how her husband had warped her thoughts on sex.
Helen sat for a moment, head bent, not answering him. Griffin reached forward and, with a finger beneath her chin, tilted her face up. Although she wasn’t crying, he could see the tears shining in her eyes. “I’m afraid to take that step,” she whispered. “I don’t know if I can allow myself to be vulnerable and trust a man to be in control.”
“Then don’t. You be in control.” Griffin had found the hook, now all he had to do was get her to take the bait. He had no problem letting a woman be in control. He just needed Helen to be that woman.
Helen’s eyes widened a bit. The tears she held back seemed to make her eyes sparkle like a sapphire lake. “Don’t make fun of me.”
“I wouldn’t dare.” Griffin crossed his hand over his heart, trying to look as trustworthy as possible. “Whatever it is you need, I want to provide it. If security is your thing, I’m the man for the job.”
“What are you saying?” Distrust had erased the wary look from her eyes, which suited Griffin just fine. He’d rather Helen mistrust him than fear him. Trust he could earn, he would earn. Griffin just hoped it was sooner rather than later.
“I’m saying I want to prove to you that you can trust me.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible.” Helen stood and moved away from the couch. When she turned back to face him, she was wearing a phony smile that made Griffin want to kill her dead husband all over again. She was going to run. “Look, Griffin, I know that …”
“Pardon my language, Helen, but you don’t know dick. Not about me, and damn sure not about yourself.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I know all I need to know about you.”
“Really?” Griffin stood and walked toward her, stopping when he was just a hair’s breadth away from her. “Then tell me what you know.”
“I know you’re used to getting your way.” Helen didn’t back down from him; instead the little spitfire seemed to dig her heels in as she faced him head on. “I also know you’re not above bullying people into getting what you want.”
“I want you.”
“For the life of me, I don’t understand why.”
Griffin couldn’t hold his smile at bay. “Would you like me to give you a list numerically or alphabetically?”
Shaking her head, Helen turned to walk away, but was stopped short by Griffin, who grabbed her hand. “I want you, Helen, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to prove it to you.”
“Then don’t push me.”
“Fine, I’m not pushing. I told you you’d be the one in control. Why don’t you try it?”
“Try it how?”
Griffin suppressed the grin he could feel bubbling inside. Oh, yeah, she was taking the bait.
Helen stood blinking at him for a moment before she burst into laughter. This was not a good sign. “You can’t be serious. I’ve never initiated …” Helen’s hands flew to her cheeks, covering the blush creeping up her face. “I can’t believe I just told you that.”
Griffin pulled her toward him, holding her loosely in his embrace. “I’ll just close my eyes, and you lean close and -- what’s the old phrase -- ‘put your lips together and blow’?”
Helen gazed back at him before her face lit with a smile of pure seduction. “So close your eyes already.”
Griffin immediately closed his eyes and opened his other senses. He could feel Helen’s body swaying softly in his arms. She stepped closer into his embrace, and the faint hint of her perfume wafted toward him. He didn’t recognize the scent, but forever hereafter it would remind him of this moment.
Helen placed her hands on his shoulders and softly pressed her lips against his. Griffin struggled to remain perfectly still when his body screamed at him to pull her close and deepen the kiss. Licking lightly at the seam of his lips, Helen coaxed him to open his mouth. She kissed him, her tongue gently exploring.
Previously tentatively clutching at his shoulders, her hands suddenly pulled him closer and wrapped around his neck. Tilting her head, Helen deepened the kiss, as if she could read the subtle hints he was sending her way. Although the kiss had his body primed for her, her gentle touches were driving him insane. She stroked the fine hairs at the back of his neck, sending shivers down his spine.
The sudden cessation of the kiss caused Griffin to open his eyes, staring down into Helen’s passion-filled gaze. “Oh, my, that was …” Helen shook her head, looking slightly dazed.
“Intense, empowering, wonderful … I could go on and on with the adjectives all day.”
Helen shakily released her arms from around his neck and stepped back. Her gaze looked everywhere but at him as she gave a light laugh.
It was a sound so lyrical and beautiful, Griffin wanted tease her with kisses again, just so he could hear it. “So shy now, Helen?”
“Now, then, before, after, it’s all the same thing.”
“I don’t want you to be shy with me.” Griffin brushed his hand against the downy softness of her curly blonde hair. “I want you to be free with me.”
“Free to do what?”
“Whatever your little heart desires.”
“Whatever?” The teasing grin that spread across her pretty pink lips had Griffin’s cock rock hard. He’d give his kingdom, or the parts of Marc’s kingdoms he had access to, to know what was going on inside of her head.
“Consider me your personal pleasure genie. Anything you want, I’ll do. No questions asked.”
“You do remember what that is, don’t you?”
Helen’s grin turned into a full-fledged laugh. “If I think back really far, I might see a smidgeon of it in my memory.”
“It doesn’t have to be just a memory.” Helen’s smiled dimmed as if she realized she was the only one laughing. Despite his corny phrasing, Griffin was completely serious. “I want to bring you pleasure.”
Taking a deep breath, Helen moved past Griffin and back to the couch, where she sat down quickly, as if her legs had given out. “Were you serious about letting me set the pace?”
“Set the pace, control the speed, be the one in complete charge in the bedroom.”
“So if I ask you to undress now…”
Griffin’s hand immediately went to the buttons on his shirt. “Wait,” she called out shakily. “It was a rhetorical question.”
“I’m ready, willing, and able, Helen. You just need to say the word.”
“I just … I mean, you’re so much younger than me. There’s no future for us. I’m going to be a grandmother; I can’t be having an affair.”
Griffin raised his eyebrows at her excuses. She might be trying to convince herself, but as long as she wasn’t saying no, she wasn’t convincing him. “You are still a vibrant woman, Helen. Don’t let society and excuses stop you from enjoying life.”
Kneeling on the couch next to her, Griffin slowly lowered his head until they were only inches apart. “Say yes, Helen. Do something wild and crazy and just for you, if only this one time.”
Helen licked her lips nervously, but she didn’t back away. She closed her eyes for a moment, and Griffin was afraid the next words out of her mouth were going to be a diatribe on just where he could go. Instead she opened her eyes and whispered, “Yes.”
Liz Andrews and Lena Matthews