Found in You: Page 19
Norma's mouth tightened as her eyes swept me from head to toe. "Congratulations, then. Honestly, I'm glad you're done with the Werner girl. She was entirely too bubbly for you, if you ask me. Plus, I never trusted her. She was up to something, Hudson."
I tensed. Never mind that the woman obviously felt familiar enough with my man to give him dating advice, she had thought Celia and Hudson were together. I'd thought that had only been the perception of their parents. Was there something I was missing?
Hudson straightened at the mention of Celia as well, and I felt his eagerness to get away from Norma-to get me away from Norma.
"It was nice to see you here tonight, Norma. Those reports-"
She touched his arm as if it was second nature. "I'll get them to you on Monday."
"Thank you, Norma."
It was a good thing Hudson pulled me into his side and led me away or I may have socked the woman in her hazel eye. Or punched him. "First name basis, huh? That's...different." Hudson rarely called anyone by first name unless they were important to him.
He was nonplussed by my aggravation. "We've known each other for years. First name basis becomes inevitable after so much time."
"Why does she think you were seeing Celia?" It felt like the Celia/Hudson conversation was a dead horse, yet new information kept popping up, and there I went beating it again.
"Celia often accompanied me to charity events and functions where Norma saw me socially. You know that."
A blush crept up the back of my neck. I'd never told him that I'd internet-stalked him. That's where I'd seen the dozens of pictures of him with Celia. He knew me too well.
His hand loosened at my hip. "Norma must have assumed we were a couple. It never occurred to me to correct her."
My mouth tasted bitter. "Because you liked that people thought you were with Celia."
"Because I liked that Norma thought I was off-limits."
"Oh." Maybe I could let the Celia horse rest for a while. But now I had a whole other slew of questions about Norma.
But before I could ask, he offered. "Norma manages the financial division of one of my companies."
"Then you're co-workers." I wondered how she'd gotten such an elite position. Had she slept her way to the top? The familiarity she had with him was unnerving.
His mouth twitched, fighting a smile. "Why, Alayna, this shade of jealousy is becoming on you."
I clenched my jaw. "That's not a comforting response."
"Not co-workers. Boss and employee."
Though I appreciated that he'd taken my mood seriously, his answer irked me. Hudson was technically my boss, after all. "That's a familiar scenario."
He stopped suddenly and turned to face me full on, his eyes blazing with determined insistence. "I've never been your boss, Alayna. If anything, you're the one who owns me."
Whatever Norma had with Hudson, she didn't have what I had. The realization was moving.
Unable to maintain the intense eye contact, I turned my gaze to the Esplanade that I hadn't quite taken in as of yet. The lush grassy spread was lined with large cherry trees, full and green.
Hudson followed my stare. "Have you seen pictures of the cherry blossoms when they're in bloom?"
"No." I'd seen pictures of the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival and imagined the Esplanade must be nearly as beautiful.
"It's breathtaking. All the trees filled with pink popcorn. The fragrance is absolutely incredible." He swept his thumb across my cheek. "We'll come here in the spring."
"That sounds lovely." I meant it. At the same time, my stomach twisted at both the prospect of still being with Hudson in the spring and the idea that I owned him. Both notions were so completely wonderful and also entirely too rushed. Could I maintain a relationship with him that long? Could I live up to the woman he obviously saw me as to him?
Rather than dwell on it, I refocused my mind on the bit of news that had set me searching for him in the first place. "Hey, I have something to tell you that you might be interested in."
Placing his arm at the small of my back, Hudson directed me out of the Esplanade.
"It doesn't have to be now," I said, realizing his intention to take me up on my information at that very moment. "You can finish your mingling first."
His mouth was hot at my ear. "The only mingling that interests me at the moment is the mingling of our genitalia."
"You're insatiable. You had me in the car." But his suggestion caused my skin to tingle with want and anticipation.
"It wasn't enough." He pulled me off the path through a hole in the hedges-somewhere we certainly weren't allowed to be-and pushed me up against a tall tree, his hip anchoring me in place. "I can never have enough of you."
My breath caught in a moment of complete adoration for the man in front of me. This man who had worked through his own demons to let me in his life, had ignored every natural inclination to stay closed off and instead was trying his damndest to be with me in the way we both wanted.
I buried my gaze in his eyes. "I love you."
He bent closer, his nose grazing the skin of my cheek. "Is that what you pulled me away to tell me? I'm not complaining if it is."
I giggled. "You pulled me away, not the other way around, silly. And it's not what I had to tell you. But I'm glad every time I get to say it."
Hudson's mouth curled into a slow smile, but movement on the path nearby caught my attention. I turned my head toward the small group walking up and spotted the salt-and-pepper man walking past. "Actually, you picked the perfect location. You see that man over there?"
Hudson followed my eyes. "The one in the tan?"
"The man next to him." I gave him a minute to make sure he got a good look. "Do you know him?"
"Not that I recall. Should I?"
I shrugged. "Not necessarily. But I overheard him talking with another guy-" I swiveled my neck around, looking for the other man. "-that I can't see right now. Anyway, not important. The salt-and-pepper man works for the company that purchased-wait for it-Plexis."
Hudson relaxed his hold on me and studied the man one more time before he walked past. "How do you know this?"
"I heard him. When I was wandering earlier. He was boasting about how he was lucky to snatch such an amazing company from the likes of Hudson Pierce."
Hudson's posture stiffened. "Go on."
I bit my lip. "You were right. They're planning to dismantle the company."
"Damn it." It wasn't often that Hudson showed any emotion where business was concerned-or showed any emotion period-yet I'd guessed he'd felt passionately about the company he'd lost. Now I knew for sure.
It made my next bit of news so much sweeter to deliver. "But he mentioned that they might be interested in selling if they got a good offer first." I waited until I saw the wheels spinning behind his eyes. "You know what that means? It means all you need to do is get in there with a good offer."
In a flash, he had me pinned again, pushing his body heavily against mine. "How about I get in you with a good offer?"
"Hudson!" I pushed lightly at his chest. "I'm serious."
"So am I." He nibbled along my jawline.
Unable to ever resist his advances, my body was already yielding, melting underneath him, throbbing with need to be closer. Still my brain continued to pursue answers. "I thought Plexis meant something to you."
"It does." He smiled as he bent in toward my lips.
I swerved my head to the side and met his eyes. "Then how come all you can think about is sexing me up? Is that all I am to you?" I knew that wasn't all I was to him, and my words were more playful than anything, but I was disappointed that I'd been wrong about Hudson's commitment to Plexis.
Adjusting his grip on me, he pressed tight to me again, and moved his lips near my ear. "No, it's not. You know that your business mind turns me on to no end, especially when your business mind is looking out for my interests. And because I'm not skilled at expressing how I feel in words, I'm wishing I could show you exactly how into you I am at the moment."
I melted. Completely.
Still my brain struggled for more validation, my voice sounding soft and full of need. "So you're grateful for the information?"
"Very." He thrust against me, his hard bulge showing me exactly how grateful.
I squirmed, trying to touch as much of him with as much of me as possible. "And you're attracted to me beyond the physical?" My words were thick.
But I must have been coherent enough to be understood, because he responded between kissing and licking at my neck. "I'm attracted to everything about you-your body, your mind, your sass. Even your 'crazy,' as you call it."
"You're crazy, too, if you're serious about that last one."
His head jerked up so I could see the sincerity in his eyes. "I've never been more serious, Alayna. You're the first person I've ever met who makes me believe I might not be crazy.
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