Blog Tour: For 100 Nights | Lara Adrian
Today I am the stop for For 100 Nights by Lara Adrian! Check out today’s stop and be sure to grab your copy today!
About For 100 Nights:Avery Ross is living a dream. After struggling all of her life to make ends meet, a chance meeting with a powerful, darkly handsome man has catapulted her into a dazzling new world of penthouse luxury, elegant parties, and a wild, consuming passion with her billionaire lover, Dominic Baine. Nothing is out of his reach in business or in pleasure, yet the only woman he wants is her. Nick sweeps her to sensual heights she has never dared explore, commanding her body the same way he commands her heart. Yet Avery knows the fantasy she’s living cannot last. With dark secrets and a dangerous enemy haunting her past, Avery must find a way to trust Nick with the truth before it destroys everything they share. But Nick is harboring secrets of his own as well. And when they come to light, Avery will be forced to decide if the love she feels for Nick is strong enough to endure a betrayal she may never be able to forgive. Don't miss the bestselling first book in the series, FOR 100 DAYS - available now!
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I’m too keyed up to return to the big, empty penthouse right away. My stepbrother’s voice is on an endless loop in my head, his not-so-thinly-veiled threat looming over me like a dark ghost that I cannot shake.
Instead of taking the subway to the station closest to Nick’s building, I get off a couple of stops earlier and detour on a short walk to Central Park. Seated beneath the trees, surrounded by nearly 850 acres of nature and the sounds of children’s laughter drifting over to me from the nearby carousel, I can finally breathe again.
I hardly notice the time until the shadows start to lengthen and the packs of nannies and their young charges begin to thin out.
By the time I reach the Park Place building, it’s nearly sundown.
I hear Nick’s terse voice as soon as I step off the elevator into the penthouse. He appears in the vestibule, his phone at his ear. He looks haggard, still in his suit pants and black oxfords, his white shirt untucked and loosened at the top, the sleeves rolled up on his forearms. His gaze sears me, stark with anger . . . and relief.
“Never mind, Tasha.” When he speaks now, his voice is low. Unnervingly level. “No. She just walked in.”
He ends the call, then, without saying a word to me, strides back into the sprawling apartment and sets his phone down on the kitchen island countertop. I notice an open bottle of whisky there. Beside it is a glass with nearly two fingers of amber liquid in it. Nick downs it in one swallow.
“Where’ve you been?”
The calmness of his voice belies the displeasure I sense in every hard line of his body. Although we’re separated only by the open space of the large living room, I feel as if I’m still standing on the other side of the emotional wall he constructed between us this afternoon. I stare at the back of his dark head as I approach him.
“I had an appointment to look at an art studio sublet this afternoon.”
“So I hear. Tasha told me her aunt left you in East Harlem three hours ago.”
Had it been that long? “I decided to stop by the park for a while afterward.”
I tell myself I have no reason to feel guilty for going, yet as Nick pivots to face me now, it’s all I can do not to flinch. He is furious. I’ve only been at the receiving end of his anger once before—the night we nearly broke up because of my secrets. He had a similar look in his eyes then.
A look of suspicion.
“You just take off without saying anything? Jesus Christ, Avery. I didn’t even know you were interested in looking for a studio.”
My own temper flares now. “I didn’t realize I was required to tell you my every move. Or is that also part of your terms for our relationship? Do we even have a relationship, Nick?”
I know that’s unfair, even as I say it. But I’m still pissed at him too. I’m still hurt from the fact that he shut me out today. I don’t wait for his answer. Turning, I head into the bedroom to drop my purse on the dresser and take off my shoes.
Nick follows me in. “What’s going on? You’re upset with me, obviously. This is how you deal—by ignoring my calls and texts? I’ve been trying to reach you for hours, Avery. Then I come home and you’re not here. For fuck’s sake, I thought something happened to you.” He blows out a sharp breath. “I thought you left.”
I look at him. There’s no question he’s pissed, but I’m only now seeing the concern on his face. His lips are flat, his jaw rigid. And behind the flashing anger in his eyes is real fear.
Fear for me.
Because he came home and found me gone.
Because he thought I had left him?
“I’m sorry.” I shake my head, feeling shitty for making him worry. And I must be all kinds of awful, because that small admission that he might need me as much as I need him makes my heart begin to pound heavily in my breast. “I didn’t know you were looking for me. I . . . lost my phone today.” The lie feels sour on my tongue. “I guess I must’ve dropped it on the subway or something.”
“You’ve been walking around the city without any way to reach me all this time?” He scowls, his face darkening. “That’s one more reason I ought to bend you over my knee.”
My breath catches and I feel my cheeks flame at that remark. “I’m not a child, Nick.”
“No, you’re not.” He steps toward me. “And that’s not what I meant.”
God help me, that grim but unmistakably carnal curve of his mouth as he speaks should trigger a hundred different reactions in me. And it does, but next to shock the strongest of them is excitement. I glance away from him, unnerved by how easily this man can entice me.
His fingers are briefly under my chin, lifting my gaze back to his. “Fuck the phone. It can be replaced. As for a studio, if you want space to paint, all you had to do was say so. There’s plenty of room for you to work here.”
“Nick, you don’t—”
“Yes, Avery, I do. If you have needs—any needs at all—I will take care of them. I have the means. I think we both know I’m capable.”
I lick my lips, feeling the heat of that promise wrap around my senses. Somehow I manage to break free from the spell he’s casting over me and shake my head. “I already put money down on the sublet. It’s a shared studio with a few other artists. I need to be able to paint. Not here, but someplace of my own.” I force myself to hold his penetrating stare. “I need some boundaries between you and me and reality.”
“Reality.” His face remains impassive, but there is a flicker of surprise in his eyes. Displeasure in the way his hand slowly drops away from me. “This is because of what happened at lunch today?”
“Seeing someone you used to fuck didn’t bother me as much as what happened afterward.” It’s the truth, even though I burn with suspicion over what Kathryn once meant to him. “You shut me out today. You made me feel unimportant to you.”
As shaken as I still am over my conversation with Rodney Coyle, it’s this current confrontation that has me trembling. I don’t want to lose Nick. I don’t want to lose what we have, elusive as it may be. Today I felt our connection slip, and it terrified me. I’m still afraid to keep my heart open to him when I have nothing solid to hold on to.
When I start to withdraw from him, Nick traces the backs of his knuckles against my cheek, halting my retreat. His other hand slides around to my back, bringing me closer than I was before.
“I told you once that I don’t do relationships. Christ, I wouldn’t know how if I tried. I’m too selfish, Avery. I fuck things up. I hurt people. I guess today is a good example of that.”
He sounds remorseful, his words careful as he strokes the side of my face.
“You are important to me. This is reality.” As he speaks, he takes my hand, pressing it to his chest. His heart pounds hard and heavy against my palm. We’re standing so close now, I can also feel the heat and power of his body. His gaze is locked on mine, giving me no room to run. Nowhere to hide. “You feel pretty damn real to me.”
The temptation to give in to him right then and there overwhelming, but I need more.
Today of all days, with doubt clawing at me and my past resurrected and threatening to destroy me, I need something more from Nick than just this need for each other that neither of us can resist.
“Tell me about her. Tell me what she means to you.”
“Kathryn Tremont means nothing to me. I’ve already told you that.”
“But you haven’t told me what happened between you two.”
The few details he has shared—and only because I pressed him once before—have painted only the briefest sketch. I know she and Nick were lovers. According to him it was only for a short time soon after he first arrived in New York. I know there had been a time when his sexual needs ran considerably darker than they do now, but he’s insisted that Kathryn was never part of that with him.
Since he has no reason to lie to me, I don’t doubt any of the things he has divulged about his past. It’s the things he hasn’t shared that frighten me the most. After all, I am a master at that game too.
“Kathryn and I are ancient history, Avery. Not important—neither is she.”
“Then why do you still hate her?”
“I don’t hate her.”
“Did you love her?” I have to know, even if he won’t ever be able, or willing, to apply the word to me. Maybe especially because of that. “Were you ever in love with her?”
My relief leaks out of me on a pent-up breath.
“I cared for her, though. What’s more, I trusted her.” His jaw seems tense, though whether in reluctance to speak about her or in memory of what happened between them, I can’t be sure. “I trusted Kathryn at a time when I had nothing else to give. She betrayed me. I don’t allow anyone the chance to do it twice.”
There is a vulnerable quality to this admission, but I don’t dare take it as weakness. Not when his eyes are cold and dark with meaning. As much as he is sharing a piece of himself with me, it is also a warning.
It’s one I respect, because when it comes to trust and the penalty for breaking it, Nick and I are very much alike.
It’s a struggle to hold his penetrating stare, especially when the weight of my own lies and evasions are pressing down upon me even more now. He blinks, and some of the edge is gone from his gaze.
“I shouldn’t have left you at the curb the way I did. Seeing Kathryn made me unfit company. We’d had such a good day together up until then, I didn’t want to ruin it by bringing my shitty attitude home with you. Instead, I worked off my aggression on some contract negotiations back at the office.”
He caresses the side of my head, trailing his hand over my unbound hair. When his fingers spear into the loose strands to cup my nape, the feeling is so warm and possessive, I can’t hold back my small, pleasured moan. “If you had come home with me, I doubt your shitty attitude would’ve lasted for long.”
A faint smirk tugs at the corner of his sinful mouth. “Is that right?”
I nod, falling deeper under the spell of his touch. “Next time, talk to me. You could’ve worked off some of that aggression on me.”
A low groan rumbles in his throat. The tension I feel in him shifts instantly into something deeper, something needful and hungry. He descends on my mouth. Fevered, starving, he kisses me as if we haven’t been in each other’s arms for days, not just a few hours.
When he finally breaks contact, I’m gasping and so turned on I can hardly see straight. His mouth trails over to the sensitive spot beneath my earlobe before moving down the side of my neck and into the curve of my shoulder.
I startle when he gives me a sharp nip.
“That’s for not telling me where you were this afternoon.” When he draws back to look at me, his handsome face is taut with demand—and desire. “Don’t make me worry about your safety ever again. And never withhold your needs from me. Understood?”
I slide my hands under his untucked shirt. “Yes, sir.”
Raw sexual energy pours off him as I stare up at him and murmur those words. We’ve only played at these games a few times, enough for me to know the power my submission holds for him. His erection is already rampant, but it surges even firmer, as rigid as a thick column of stone where it presses against my abdomen.
“Baby,” he snarls, and then he takes my mouth again, his tongue thrusting as his hands move expediently to strip me of my blouse and bra. When my breasts are bared to him, he scoops them into his palms, kneading them harshly, his touch as primal as his kiss. His mouth is hot on mine, then savage on my breasts as he licks and suckles and fondles me into a state of near boneless arousal.
I fumble with the buttons on his dress shirt, but I’m too slow. My movements are impeded by the slick, hot need that’s roaring through every fiber of my being. On a wordless sound of impatience, he rips the custom-made shirt off, sending buttons scattering.