Found in You: Page 1
I paused at the doorway to the Park Avenue high-rise and stared at the building's name engraved on the stone. The Bowery. Jordan had already pulled away from the curb behind me. He probably felt I was safe enough to be left with the doorman who held the door for me while I stood frozen in thought.
This was real, a big step-a giant step-moving deeper into Hudson's life than anyone had ever been before. I was excited, of course. I loved the man. But did I really even know him? Could I truly love him based on the little I knew about him? His address had been a mystery to me until two minutes ago when his driver had dropped me off. And what would I find inside the building? What was inside Hudson Pierce, behind the mask he wore so well?
I felt like I'd seen the true Hudson, like I was probably the only person in the world who truly had, but I'd barely scratched the surface. There was still so much left to uncover and learn about the young business mogul who had captured my heart.
I also knew that Hudson held secrets. He'd abandoned his mind games and predilection for manipulating women before meeting me, but the possibility of his past habits returning was very real. As real as the possibility of mine returning.
And that was the fear that overwhelmed me most-that I might be driven to my old habits of obsession. Of all the relationships I'd destroyed with my stalking and unfounded jealousy, I knew that f**king this one up would destroy me. Thankfully, so far, I had felt fixed with Hudson. Only time would tell if that would last.
The doorman looked at me, an anxious expression on his face-should he continue holding the door open for the crazy indecisive woman, or should he let it go?
I eased him with a smile. "I'll be just a minute."
He returned the smile with a nod and closed the door.
Taking a deep breath, I looked toward the top floor where Hudson's apartment was surely located-I didn't even know his unit number. Was he awake up there? Was he looking for me from his window? Could he see me down here, hesitating?
He said he'd be sleeping, but it was that last idea that gave me the courage to move. I wouldn't put it past him to wait up for me and I didn't want him to suspect I felt any doubt at all. Because I didn't have doubts. Not about him. My doubts were about me, about whether I could handle us. And truly, if I let my hopes take root-hopes that I could finally have a real relationship with another person without losing myself to the fears and unhealthy habits of my obsessive past-then even those doubts were superficial.
The doorman smiled again as I stepped toward him, opening the door for me. Inside, another man sat at the security desk in front of the elevators.
"Ms. Withers?" he asked before I had a chance to give him my name.
I shouldn't have been surprised. Hudson said he'd leave a key for me at the desk and it was three-thirty in the morning. Who else would I be?
"Mr. Pierce left you this key. Both elevators on the left will take you to the penthouse. Simply insert the key into the panel when you get inside."
The doors opened the minute I pushed the call button. Inside the elevator car, my hand shook as I inserted the key in the panel, and I was grateful to no longer be in sight of the security guard. The ride to the penthouse was fast, but not fast enough. As soon as I'd squashed down my trepidation, the emotion had been replaced with eagerness. I wanted to be in Hudson's space, in his arms. I wanted to be with him and even the minute that it took to arrive at the top floor was too long to be away from him.
The doors of the elevator opened into a small vestibule. I stepped out and turned the only direction I could, finding myself in a foyer. The space was quiet, but I could hear the sound of a clock ticking somewhere nearby, and there were very few lights on. I suspected the bedrooms were to my left, because my right opened up to a large living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
As anxious as I was to find Hudson, I turned instead into the living room, attracted by the gorgeous view. Before I made it to the windows, though, a lamp flipped on and I saw him sitting in an armchair.
Startled, my mouth fell open and then stayed open as I ogled the gorgeous man dressed only in boxer shorts. The definition of his sculpted chest quickened my heart before my gaze caught his gray eyes through the flop of his brown hair in the dim light. I'd never seen him in boxer shorts, and damn, had I been missing out. It struck me again how little I knew him, but this time the thought didn't scare me-it excited me. How much more there was to discover about this man, and I was ready to dive in and explore.
Yet, the excitement didn't ease the awkwardness, the anxiety. This was new territory, and I didn't know how to proceed. Certainly, Hudson felt the same.
My hand held tight to my purse while the other absentmindedly clutched at the blue fabric of my dress, a short A-line that hedged the border of professional and sexy. It was the type of outfit I always wore at The Sky Launch, the nightclub where I worked as an assistant manager. The nightclub Hudson owned. The place I'd met him.
A memory flashed through my mind of the first time I'd seen him sitting at the end of the club's bar, of how he took my breath away. I'd known then I should've run. But I didn't. And now, I couldn't be more grateful.
He took my breath away now like he did then. With a meek smile, I braved breaking the silence. "You're awake."
"I thought it would be best to be waiting for you when you got here so that you wouldn't be disoriented."
"But you should be sleeping." As president of Pierce Industries, a multi-billion dollar company, his hours conflicted with mine at the club. Coming over in the middle of the night, when his daily wake-up time was six in the morning-what was I doing? How could our two very separate lives ever be compatible?
No, I wouldn't think that way. That was an excuse to deny myself happiness. And Hudson and I both deserved some happiness, for once in our lives.
The object of my desire stood and crossed to me, lifting the hand that held my purse. "I slept. Now I'm awake." That simple touch quieted my trepidation to a dull buzz, easy to ignore under the thud of my heart. That's what Hudson did to me, overwhelmed and astounded me in such a beautifully delicious way.
He took my purse from me and moved to set it on the end table.
Without his contact, my nerves returned and mindless small talk slipped from my lips. "I've never been in a penthouse before. Unless you count the loft." The loft above his office, the place where he'd f**ked me to oblivion. Thank god the dark room hid my blush. "This is beautiful, H."
"You've barely seen any of it." He didn't cringe at my absurd nickname for him. Perhaps he was getting used to it.
"But what I can see..." My eyes scanned the expansive living room, noting the ornate detail of the architecture and the simplicity of the styling. "It's incredible."
"I'm glad you like it."
"It's much different than I expected. Not like the loft. That's what I thought it would be like." The loft was black and leather, masculine and strong. This place was white and light-I could tell that even in the low glow of the lamp and the moon.
My name on his tongue sent goose bumps to the surface of my skin. How could he still do that to me? Turn me on with only a word? Turn me into knots so easily?
"The furniture is so different, too." Nervousness drove me to talk, avoiding the connection we'd make the minute I gave in. I stepped toward the white sofa and ran my hand across the expensive upholstery. "But Celia decorated this place too, right?"
His voice tightened. "She did."
Celia Werner, his childhood friend and ex-fiancée. Well, not really, but practically. Why had I brought her up? Was I trying to destroy us? Celia had been a constant source of tension in our relationship since Hudson had hired me to convince his mother that we were together. Sophia Pierce, believing her son was incapable of love, thought a pairing with the daughter of her good friends the Werners was a perfect match for Hudson. Even if he couldn't feel anything for her, Celia could at least keep him in line-keep him from getting in trouble with his addictions.
Except it turned out Hudson could love. And during our ruse, he'd fallen in love with me.
Still, Hudson had something with Celia, a bond that fueled my jealousy. Deflecting, I moved to the windows. "The view here... "
I pressed my face against the glass and looked down to the world far below. "It's gorgeous."
Hudson came up behind me, his warmth emanating against my back even though he hadn't yet touched me. "Alayna, look at me."
Slowly, I turned to him.
He lifted my chin up, forcing me to meet his eyes. "You're nervous
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