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Daniel’s touch was insistent yet gentle as he traced a path down the curve of my belly to the thatch of auburn curls which lay between my legs. He was so close to touching me that I held my breath, willing him silently to continue his downward journey, to find the wetness which his kisses had drawn from within me. My whimper of annoyance was loud in his silent bedroom. Daniel chuckled.

“Haven’t we spoken about patience?” he asked blithely, ignoring my grimace of displeasure at being lectured at an inopportune moment. I just wanted him to touch me. I wiggled with exasperation, Daniel removed his hand.

“Come on,” I pleaded, trying to dig up a flirtatious smile while at the same time hide my amazement that Daniel still continued to hold this mysterious power over me. It was just sex, yet I knew without question that no one had ever made me feel as good as Daniel did and probably never would. I also knew without asking that he was equally aware of it.

“You’re so cute when you’re angry,” Daniel teased, running just the tips of fingers through my red curls. I arched my back at his touch, unsuccessful in gaining a stronger caress. I pouted to a renewed round of deep laughter.

“You’re so mean,” I grumbled with no small amount of petulance. “I want you to touch me Daniel. Make me come. Please?”

Daniel lowered his dark head to my bare breast, but not before shooting me a devastatingly sexy grin. “Always so polite, Clara. Your mother would be proud.”

“Let’s not talk about her right now,” I laughed, watching with half-closed eyes as Daniel’s lips hovered temptingly over my hardened nipple. The feeling of his hot breath against my skin was a delicious tease. As much as I complained to myself about his driving need to control our sex life, to play every game the way he wanted to, secretly I loved the way it made me feel to let go of my control, to trust Daniel to take me to the finish line with blinding, earth-shattering satisfaction. He hadn’t failed me yet.

“What if I ask you very nicely?” I inquired with a gasp as Daniel brushed his lips lightly against the taut pinkness of my nipple. The lightest touch he was capable of still felt amazing.

He arched a dark, handsome eyebrow in a gesture which was endearingly familiar now that I knew him better. Two months ago the same look would have sent me scurrying for cover, now I smoothed the eyebrow in question with my finger and purred with an odd sense of contentment.

Despite Daniel’s constant need to hide his feelings, to mask his expressions and remain aloof, I knew I’d gotten to him, at least personally, if not professionally. When we were alone together it was more often than not that he’d smile and laugh. He looked younger for it, happier, and I think even the people at work were beginning to notice. I wanted to take the credit for it, but we’d kept our relationship quiet, trying our hardest to maintain a professional veneer, to give our gossip-hungry co-workers nothing to talk about.

I won’t lie and say it hasn’t been difficult because for me, at least, it has. It was hard to forget what my alone time with Daniel was like, the small smiles he bestowed on me, the private jokes we shared, the way he made me feel, the sensation of his body against my own. I wanted to disconnect our personal life from our professional one, but I was finding it increasingly difficult as time went by.

Daniel, on the other hand, seemed to find it easy to keep the two aspects of our relationship separate. His demeanour at work was almost as antagonistic and power-hungry as it had always been, and if I hadn’t known him as well as I did I could almost believe he was fooling people. He still scowled and snapped and revelled in making the underlings scurry to do his bidding, but I caught him smiling at the administrative assistants from time to time or thanking a junior architect when he thought no one else would hear. I resisted the urge to point these occurrences out to him; for all that had happened between me and Daniel he was still the Dragon and every bit as capable of bringing his wrath down upon those of us beneath him as he always was.

“Clara?” Daniel asked with a hoarse whisper. He was still poised expectantly over my breast. I smiled dreamily down at him. “You were miles away just then,” he said. “We’ve only been at this a few weeks and already you’re thinking of someone else?”

Daniel was teasing, but there was a hint of uncertainty in his deep voice which wounded me and made my temper rise to the surface. I fought to hold it back and keep from ruining what started off as a very promising encounter between us. I wasn’t very good at biting back my rude retorts, and despite all that had passed between us since we’d started sleeping together, Daniel still had the power to piss me off with little more than a few words and a prescient glance.

“Not someone else,” I managed to smile softly all the while hoping I was hiding my own hurt. How could he think it was possible for me to be thinking of anyone but him? Didn’t he know me better than illegal bahis that by now? “I was thinking it would be nice for you to hurry the hell up.”

Daniel bit my nipple playfully, laughing when the sharp sensation made me squeal. “That’s what I like about you, Clara,” he confessed. His handsome face was stoic, composed, but there was a glint in his blue-grey eyes which warmed me through. “You never back down. You fight for what you want.”

I watched Daniel wordlessly as his mouth descended once more to the delicate flesh of my breast. His tongue was wet and hot and drew a moan from deep within my lungs with skilful intensity. I wanted to open my mouth and say something witty, to parry words with him like I’d always done, but I was rendered speechless by the passion Daniel evoked in me with the simplest of touches.

“What is it that you want this time?” Daniel asked, his voice heavy and slow.

“You,” I gasped as he drew my nipple into his mouth with sweet suction. My back arched off the mattress again, desperate to be closer to the heat of him, the sensation of his mouth on me.

“Good,” he muttered against my skin. There was a satisfied, smug look on his handsome face which should have pissed me off, but which only served to fuel my own desire. He still wanted me, and although he constantly had the upper hand in all aspects of our life together, knowing that he desired me so much pushed the power a little more in my favour. It was only for a brief period each time we were together, but I relished those moments when Daniel let me see his need. It made him human. It made him sexy as hell.

“Now,” I cried, shifting my weight, pulling Daniel down to the bed. His silver eyes watched hungrily as I pushed myself up against him, straddling him. His smile melted away to reveal a much fiercer expression, the one reserved for Daniel at his most intense; he was the Dragon through and through, and that would never change. His erection pressed against my wetness and I ground against him, forcing lengthy moans from us both.

For once Daniel said nothing, issued no orders, but watched unwaveringly as I rose up to take him inside of me, sliding down until his generous length was buried completely in the heat of my body. Dear Lord, he felt so good it was unbelievable.

Daniel clutched at my ass but said nothing and did not move as I angled my hips and moved above him, rising and lowering myself again and again, feeling each inch of him as my muscles throbbed and contracted. I threw back my head and wailed as the sensation built and still Daniel remained silent, but I could feel the strength of his grip on me tighten as he slowed my movements, knowing instinctively as always just how to bring me the greatest pleasure.

There was nothing else in the world at that moment but Daniel, the hard, lean, solid anchor of his body beneath me, the frantic rasp of his breathing, the unmistakable scent of his lust. I wanted him so badly that it hurt; an actual physical ache inside my chest that could only be relieved by one thing. I ignored Daniel’s attempt to slow my thrusts; all I wanted was to bring him to the edge, to give him the same pleasure he’d given me time and again, and taken from me just as often. This time it was me doing the giving, the taking, and it was more exciting than I would have guessed.

“Clara,” Daniel ground out through clenched teeth as I shook off his iron grip on my ass and rode him with every ounce of energy I had. “Sweet Jesus!”

I laughed, shaking my hair out of my face, feeling the blissful flutter of an orgasm dance within my belly. I was so close to the greatest pleasure I’d ever known and was determined to bring Daniel with me.

I bent down to kiss Daniel, relishing the frantic lash of his tongue against my own, the wet heat of his mouth. I angled my hips differently and increased my pace, moaning against him, catching his groan of response within my lungs. Daniel’s hands were everywhere, caressing every inch of skin he could reach, his touch so insistent, so encouraging that it pushed me further. Every muscle I had contracted with need as my orgasm burst upon us, coupled with my loud wail of satisfaction.

“Don’t stop,” Daniel grunted as my hips began to slow. “Dear Lord, Clara, don’t stop now.” The desire reflected in his stern expression and silver eyes cleared my head a little and brought me back to the matter at hand.

I dug my fingernails into the solid mass of his shoulders and fucked Daniel hard, drinking in the noises he didn’t know he was making, feeling every throb of his cock as it filled me up. This was the way it was supposed to be: the frantic passion, the feeling of completeness, the intense sensation. Every gasp, every groan imprinted itself on my brain and went straight to my core, bringing with it another orgasm of my own, followed swiftly by Daniel’s.

I knew his tenacious grip on my hips would leave bruises, but it was worth it just to hear him cry my name while he emptied himself into me. Nothing could top the feeling of Daniel’s body illegal bahis siteleri relaxing beneath my own or the comfort of his large hand as it wove into my hair and clasped the back of my head, holding me to the damp crook of his neck. He kissed my hair softly. We were both breathing hard.

“Stay here tonight,” Daniel whispered into my hair. His voice was rough and edged with sleep. I’d tried not to make it a habit of sleeping over at Daniel’s after the first weekend we’d been together, especially if we had to work the next morning. Most days we were together all day at the office and I still wasn’t sure how much of me Daniel wanted to see, so I’d been trying to give him some space. I smiled against the salty skin of Daniel’s neck; his stubble was scratchy yet pleasantly, quintessentially male. I was perfectly content to remain where I was and already I could feel the heavy weight of sleep take over my limbs. My response was little more than a satisfied whimper.

——-

I was awake and mobile the next morning before Daniel was, a rare occurrence since he was a self-acclaimed early bird and I was most definitely not. I’d slept the profound sleep of the extremely satisfied and Daniel had only woken me once in the night to make love again, slowly and quietly in the darkest hour of the morning, our final moments lit by the pinkish creep of dawn. In sleep Daniel looked younger, the stern lines of worry melted away to reveal the chiselled edges of his breathtakingly handsome profile. I couldn’t resist a small kiss in-between the strong, dark slash of his usually disapproving eyebrows.

I dressed myself in silence, slipping from the quiet apartment without incident. The harsh light inside the elevator slightly revived my still weary self. My thighs ached from the night before and there were bruises on my hips from Daniel’s strong grip which would take days to fade. I smiled into the empty elevator despite my unsettled stomach. I had an early meeting with Mrs. Kendall and the land developers and I was nervous as hell.

Meeting with the land developers was actually Mrs. Kendall’s idea. She assured me she had no intention of selling the house we were all trying desperately to save, but wisely figured if we appeared as if we were playing along it would buy us more time to get the building historically designated and save it from the wrecking ball. It was a gusty move which both Daniel and I were sceptical about, but Mrs. Kendall had been playing in the big leagues of real estate for decades, so there was little we could do but trust her.

I did see a modicum of sense in her plan; if City Hall and the land developers thought we were going to sell, it just might stop them from looking any deeper into our activities. If they thought they were courting the wealthy and influential Mrs. Kendall, it would more than likely buy us time.

She might appear crusty and hard-headed on the outside, but I was coming to respect and like Mrs. Kendall. Daniel called her the “old battle-axe”, but grudgingly admitted he was as glad as I that she was on our side. Her stubborn will was indomitable, and she was just as determined to save her house from demolition as Daniel and I were.

The elevator slowed to a stop at the eleventh floor with a cheery, musical ‘bing’. I held my breath. The doorman had become accustomed to my coming and going at all hours and said nothing more than a cheery hello or goodbye, depending on which direction I was headed, but in all the time that I’d been practically sneaking in and out of Daniel’s apartment, I’d yet to run across anyone else, so it didn’t bode well for the rest of the day when the doors slid open to reveal the handsome, blond man I’d met more than a month earlier in the very same elevator.

He stepped in and eyed my rumpled clothing, recycled from the day before until I could get home to shower and change. I wore no make-up and had thrown my hair into a messy ponytail to keep it out of my face on the drive home. One look in Mr. Mallory’s brown eyes told me he knew exactly what Daniel and I had been up to.

“Good morning,” he drawled, standing a little too close than was proper in the large elevator. I took a step away as the doors slid closed and the elevator lurched into motion. “You’re up awful early, Gorgeous. Looks like it was a late night. And by the way, how is Sutcliffe?”

I tore my gaze from the control panel of the elevator to look up at Lawrence Mallory. His handsome face was a mask of bland courtesy, but the look in eyes said much more. He wasn’t asking after Daniel’s health.

“Fantastic, actually,” I replied coldly, garnering a somewhat shocked look from the haughty man. “Makes me see stars, thanks for asking.”

Mr. Mallory opened his mouth to reply but evidently thought better of it and closed it with an audible snap which had me stifling the urge to laugh. He really was terribly ridiculous. Probably thought he was God’s gift to women and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want him. Sure he was cute, but he lacked any sort of the charisma and canlı bahis siteleri power which Daniel seemed to easily radiate. Mallory’s handsome face was painted with a look which bordered on contempt and whether it was for me or Daniel, I couldn’t be sure.

“Have a nice day,” I taunted with a smirk as the elevator slowed to a stop at the lobby. I could feel his eyes follow me out.

——-

The meeting was between Mrs. Kendall and the land developers took place at City Hall and to say that the decision to put us in the largest, most intimidating boardroom I’d ever seen was a co-incidence would have been a lie. I was glad to be sitting between Mrs. Kendall and Mr. Maddock. We’d all decided having Daniel attend probably wasn’t the best idea, since his ability to control his temper and hide his dislike was questionable on a good day, never mind when he was passionately fighting for something. Mr. Maddock had taken an additional interest in our project since we’d begun our fight against City Hall, so it was of little surprise when he offered to accompany me and Mrs. Kendall to the meeting in Daniel’s stead.

To my left Mrs. Kendall was chatting quietly with her lawyer while we waited for the City Hall officials, the land developers, and their teams of lawyers to arrive. Beside me Mr. Maddock fidgeted with his fountain pen.

“Can I ask you a question, Ms. Kovacs?” he asked quietly in a soft spoken, grandfatherly voice which belied his quick mind. I nodded. “You’ve been working on this project with Sutcliffe for how long?”

“Almost three months,” I replied automatically.

“So it’s fair to say that you know him pretty well by now.”

I could feel the hot blush creep up my cheeks despite my frantic desire to keep it down. I nodded, saying nothing. Where was Maddock going with this line of questioning? My heart raced.

“I’ve been giving Daniel a great deal of thought lately,” Maddock confessed, giving me a small, reassuring smile. “And I’ve been thinking of making him partner once this whole kerfuffle with City Hall is finished. What do you think?”

“I-it’s hardly my decision to make, Sir,” I stammered. My ears were ringing with disbelief. To my left Mrs. Kendall and her lawyer chattered on.

“I know,” Maddock replied jovially. “But I figure you’ve gotten the measure of him by now and I value your opinion. No other architect in the firm has worked with him on a project for so long, he usually scares them away after a week or two. Daniel’s worked for me for twenty years, so I know his worth, but after all it won’t be me working with him in the long run. My retirement is looming, Ms. Kovacs, and I’d like to know I’m leaving my firm in the hands of the right person.”

I sat in stunned silence, wishing Daniel could be privy to this conversation. He’d worked his ass off for Maddock for two decades and I knew unequivocally that he deserved the promotion. I told Maddock so in just a few words. He nodded and patted my arm in his grandfatherly way.

“That seals it, Ms. Kovacs. After all this is over, Sutcliffe gets promoted to partner and you get promoted from junior architect. Just don’t tell him before I do, I’d like to break the news myself.”

I nodded without speaking, hearing Maddock as if from far away. Both Daniel and I would get promotions? I’d be a full architect in the firm? I felt a little dizzy and resisted the urge to lay my head down on the conference table to catch my breath.

Behind us the boardroom doors opened and a veritable flood of suit-clad men washed in bearing briefcases, laptops, and rolled-up charts and plans. The land developers had arrived and at the end of the line was a handsome blond I recognized with a groan. He fixed me with a knowing smirk before seating himself across the table from me. I felt the pit of my stomach drop out as Lawrence Mallory sized up the figure of Maddock sitting beside me. I had little doubt he knew exactly who Mr. Maddock was and had even smaller doubt of what Mr. Mallory would say to us when he had the chance.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” a tall, grey-haired man in an Armani suit said from the head of the table. “I’d like to introduce a few key players from Green and Worthington, they’re the city’s foremost land developers and City Hall’s partners in this project.” He rattled off a list of names, none of which I recognized save that of Lawrence Mallory. Mrs. Kendall’s lawyer stood and did the same for our side of the table, which was a significantly shorter list of names.

I only half-heard the opening negotiations, which were tempered with legal terms I was only vaguely familiar with. Both Mrs. Kendall and her lawyer seemed comfortable with the entire procedure, and referred only a few times to either Maddock or myself to answer questions regarding the building’s architectural significance or perceived structural issues.

Mrs. Kendall played the batty old millionaire character to perfection, stumbling over her words and acting confused at times, both of which were completely out of her usual mien. The land developers lapped it all up and it was evident to even a rookie like me that they thought she was half-senile and totally ignorant. Lawrence Mallory’s cocky grin revealed what the rest of his team was thinking. They thought they had the sale in the bag.

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