Is it even possible to be friends with a man I want so desperately?

When night falls, I’ve showered and brushed my teeth and done my regular nightly ritual, but I’m anything but ready for bed. My body is wound too tight. I’m beginning to think this new arrangement I’ve agreed to will never work.

After tossing and turning for an hour, I decide to go to Colton. I know my actions – going into his bedroom in the middle of the night – will define how we spend our next several months, but I don’t care. I need to see him, to talk to him, to understand what I’m getting myself into.

I creep down the hallway on tiptoes like a stealthy intruder and tap gently on his door.

No response.

Maybe he’s already asleep.

I let myself in and my eyes search out the darkened room. His blankets are in a messy heap on the bed, but I don’t see any movement.

"Colton?" I whisper.

Nothing.

I creep closer and kneel at the edge of the mattress. Now that my eyes have adjusted to the pitch darkness, I can see he’s not here. The room is quiet and empty.

A pang of disappointment, followed by curiosity flares inside me.

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I venture off in search of him.

Chapter Five

Sophie

Nightfall has bathed the house in near total blackness, save for the little path lights that are strategically placed in outlets throughout the home. It’s just enough light for me to see as I navigate the stairs and head toward Colton’s office. I pass the den on my way and confirm he’s not in there. Perhaps he couldn’t sleep either and he’s gotten up to work. His blankets were strewn across his bed like he’d fought with them. My guess is that he attempted sleep, just like me, and lost the battle.

His office door is open and a lamp provides a swath of soft light. I hear grunting sounds and my stomach lurches.

I step around the doorway and I’m utterly shocked at what I find.

Colton is sitting in his leather chair, his pants are undone and his thick cock is standing proudly. His hand is moving up and down in short, uneven strokes and he’s grunting softly.

My pussy clenches at the sight of him. I release a tiny whimper and his eyes snap up to mine.

"Christ, Sophie." He tucks himself back inside his pants, which is not an easy task. He’s rock hard and his engorged cock does not look happy to be stuffed into the confined space. I wince just watching him.

"Don’t you fucking knock?" he barks in my direction.

"The door was open," I murmur, feeling idiotic.

He looks behind me to the open doorway. "I suppose it was. What are you doing out of bed though?"

"I think the better question is, what are you?" I feel cheeky and want to watch him squirm a bit at being caught. Except he’s collected and composed, and continues watching me calmly.

He shakes his head at me, obviously not taking the bait. "Don’t ask questions that you’re not prepared to hear the answers to."

I’m not sure what he means, but I cross the room and stand before him, my legs still shaky from what I just witnessed. "You were pleasuring yourself."

He’s quiet and still.

I hadn’t meant it as an accusation, but thankfully Colton doesn’t seem to take offense. "I’m just curious…"

"I have needs, Sophie, as you know."

I nod. "We both do." I take a step closer.

"Be careful, sweetness. You’re playing with fire, tempting me, making me want something I can’t have."

"Who says you can’t?" I don’t know who the girl is taunting him, but I’m feeling bold and restless and lonely. It’s a piss poor combination, and makes me want to act out.

He lifts one dark eyebrow, watching me closely. "Did you change your mind about all this, because I’ll fuck you here and now, so deep you’ll still feel my cock inside you tomorrow."

I don’t say anything else, mostly because I don’t know what to say, but my body is humming with anticipation. My nipples harden against the flimsy tank top and my panties cling to my sensitive folds.

Colton releases a frustrated groan and pushes his palm against his erection – which is definitely still there. "What in the actual fuck, Sophie?" His tone is a cross between playful and angry.

"I’m sorry I interrupted you," I say.

"Fuck it," he says, leaning his head back against the leather chair and closing his eyes.

When he opens them again, his anger is gone. All I see is lust.

"Why didn't you ever take me?" I ask.

"As the weeks passed, you started to mean more to me. I didn't want to take something from you that wasn't mine."

It is yours, I want to tell him. "But that day that Stella showed up, you were going to." I'd seen the look of resolve in his eyes and I knew he was finally going to give himself to me.

"Because I knew in that moment you belonged to me. Even without the auction, without the agreement. You were mine."

I watch his eyes, not disagreeing in the slightest. I still am.

The way his dark gaze sweeps over to mine tells me he wants me, yet he’s choosing not to push me. I want to know why. "Why did you suggest we be just friends?" I ask.

He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Then he motions for me to sit down in one of the chairs across from his desk.

I follow his lead and sit, tucking my bare legs underneath me. The tank top and pajama short set I’m wearing is no match against the cool air conditioning. Either that or my body is still trembling from what I witnessed when I walked in.