Devoured (CHAPTER EIGHT)

I don't sleep well. I'm fitful and nervous about the coming days so it takes no physical effort at all to leave the comfort of my bed behind at 5am. The force holding me back is mental, emotional, and I take my time carefully making the bed, running my fingertips over the worn pink and orange comforter as I smooth it out over the sheets.

"Jesus Christ, Jensen, pull your shit together," I mutter to myself, clenching a large chunk of fabric in either hand and then re-tucking it. By the way I'm acting, you'd think it were the last time I'll ever see Gram's house and not like I'm going only six miles up the road.

To a house where I'm expected to do as I'm told, but still.

After I open up an Internet radio station, I flip my suitcase open and set about the tedious task of pulling my clothes down from the hangers and neatly storing them into the bag. As I work, I sit as many of my black items of clothing aside.

Black drop waist dress that I've only worn once.

Ankle pants and a tight black cardigan, a lace edged camisole.

The flutter sleeve top I wore when I first came her and the 4-inch pumps that Tori swears make my legs look amazing but I've always been skeptical because they boost me up to well over 6 feet. The tweed pencil skirt, too, which is charcoal gray, but I doubt he'll notice.

The music straining softly from my laptop switches to another song – an older Your Toxic Sequel sex ballad called "Crave It".  Automatically, the corners of my lips drag up into a nervous smile because of the irony of it all.

"I'll hold out 'til you crave it," Lucas Wolfe sings and tingles that border pain and pleasure streak through me, from my nipples to between my legs.

"Ten days," I muse aloud. "I can hold out on your ass for ten days." I pad into the bathroom, shrugging out of the spaghetti strap tank top and shorts I wore to bed last night. The tips of my thumbs skim over the dampness in the skimpy pink shorts, and I shiver. "I mean, I've worked for Tomas for more than 10 months."

Of course, Tomas is a short, balding guy prone to temper tantrums and breaking things. Lucas Wolfe is a rock god with the ability to inspire spontaneous wetness just by me listening to him over Internet radio. Lucas Wolfe is a gorgeous and infuriating and unavoidable man prone to . . .

Dominant behavior.

Pressing my forehead against the shower wall, I support myself with my forearm and let the downpour of water beat down upon me, first icy cold and then so hot my skin screams. Neither really bothers me at all. My mind focuses on Lucas, on whether today and the nine following it will work well in my favor.

I'm still thinking of Lucas when my fingertips push past my damp folds, seeking out my swollen clit. My breath catches in my throat as I draw the sensitive flesh between my thumb and forefinger, carefully rubbing my fingers in a back and forth motion. Slip and slide. Forward and back. My knees buckle, and I moan. Trailing my fingers away from my clit, I slip two inside of me, moving against them. My hipbone beats against the tile wall but I imagine it's Lucas's body touching me, his hands digging into my hips as he plunges his cock into my tightness.

I sink my teeth into the wrist of the arm supporting me to hold back a sob. When I think of his face hovering above mine – and his sweat-dampened hair clinging to my wet skin – I come quick and hard. Slumping, I reach up and grab the shower bar for support. I tell myself that by getting this over now I won't want him. I won't let myself be sucked in by the inevitable that he swears by.

But damn me, he's still on my mind as I send Tori a message, a brand new lie for yet another person I care about. Hey, I'm still alive. Still immune to Lucas's charms. Still . . . well, you get the picture. I'll call you when I get the chance – things are busy around here what with everything going on. Miss you.

I dress in the ankle pants, the cardigan, and the camisole – all black, just as he's requested.

And I wear red underwear beneath my clothes.

My grandmother insists on preparing breakfast for me, though to be honest, I'm not the least bit hungry. I feel nervous about lying to her. And sick to my stomach whenever I think about the next week and a half. There are millions of tiny butterflies in the pit of my stomach, swarming around, making me more and more nauseous as the time seems to zoom by.

6:02.

"I've left some clothes in the closet, for my return, so don't give them to Goodwill, okay." It's my best attempt to lighten the dark mood that hovers over the dining room table and a poor attempt at that.

Gram smiles, genuinely, and the corners of her blue eyes crinkle. God, Kylie was right about one thing – there is nothing that's not worth seeing my grandmother face light up that way.

"So you'll certainly be back then," she replies, taking a sip of her black coffee. I can't mistake the relief in her voice or how her face seems less strained once her smile fades.

"There's nothing that can stop me. And then we'll fix things."

She laughs. "If determination could win this thing we would be set, sweetheart."

That's something else that I'll have to work on while I'm with Lucas – coming up with what to tell Gram when I suddenly show up with the deed to her house and, quite literally, save the day. I nearly groan out loud because it means I'll have to tell Gram more lies and dig myself deeper into holes I prefer not to sink my shovel into.

6:37.

"Determination and hope have won wars," I say and Gram just smiles, granting me one of those looks she gave me when I was younger and I came up with wistful dreams. While my mom shot them down, my grandmother nurtured it. Even if she didn't believe something was possible, she never let me know that.

"Yes, I suppose you're right."

More than you'll ever know.

6:45.

The cab driver seems skeptical about taking me to an address that's in Green Hills, the ritzy part of Nashville, especially since Gram tells me to have a safe flight right in front of him. I tell him I've got to make a stop to visit a friend, and that they'll take me to the airport, though I don't know why I feel the need to explain myself to him. The long driveway to the palatial corner lot mansion is gated, but Lucas quickly answers the intercom.

"It's me," I say, blushing when the cab driver gives me a knowing look in the rearview mirror. A second later, the gate buzzes and the driver pulls forward.

The home itself is stunning – three stories and all brick, with a long, high fence encompassing the back yard. Over the years, I've retained very little information from the days I spent helping my grandfather in the office of his construction business, but I know enough to definitively say this house is Euro style.

And probably worth more than I'll make in my entire life, save for the house Lucas has promised me, but then again that's not really mine.

I'm almost reluctant to let go of the $40 the cab driver collects from me – my bank account is just that pathetic – but I take a deep breath, reassure myself again that it's only money. For some reason, when words like that come from me, they don't have nearly the same effect as when Lucas says them so flippantly.

It's 8:04 when I ring the doorbell. To my surprise, Lucas's attorney opens the door – the male lawyer. I wonder if Boobs McBeal is inside the house, too, but I hope like crazy she's not. I'm not in the mood to witness her jutting her breasts out toward Lucas first thing this morning.

"I'm Court Holder and you must be Ms. Jensen," he says pleasantly, taking my hand into his as soon as he closes and locks the door behind us. As he activates the security system on the wall behind him, I decide that his name has got to be the most kickass lawyer's name I've ever heard in my life. "I've heard so much about you."

My body freezes in place. What exactly has Court Holder heard about me? The idea of Lucas revealing details about me to his attorney is enough to make me sweat. I mutter my mantra over and over again in my head to keep from turning around and saying screw this.

It has to all be worth this.

"Nice to know Lucas – I mean, Mr. Wolfe – talks up all his help," I reply through a clenched smile.

Court chuckles, reaching out his hands to take my suitcase. My fingertips brush across his palms as we make the exchange. His hands are smooth and his fingers are neatly manicured, the opposite of Lucas's calloused hands. Placing my Coach suitcase with its worn, brown leather piping at the foot of the stairs, Court tells me that the couple who comes to clean every afternoon will take it in the room Lucas designates to me. Then, motioning me to follow him, he ushers me through the house.

"This contract is ready for your signature," he explains, and I bob my head in understanding. "You will, of course, agree to take over Ms. Wolfe-Martin's duties until she returns and then I'll assist Mr. Wolfe in initiating the transaction to return Mrs. Previn's home. The contract is extremely . . . simple." But another word hangs in the air, and silently, I mutter it.

Generous.

Does the contract mention anything specific from the instruction list I received yesterday evening? My agreement to obey, to listen, to Mr. Wolfe in exchange for the house? Our mutual agreement about emotions and sex?

Unless I ask for it, I'm safe from his affections, and I've already decided that I'll fight the temptation with all my might.

As Court and I navigate our way towards the very back of the house, I take in the place I'll be living in over the next couple days at least. There are photos and awards lining the walls of several of the rooms, and when we pass through the living room, I notice a giant image of a short man in a suit along with the members of Your Toxic Sequel and the lead singer of Wicked Lambs, Cilla Craig. She and Lucas have their arms around each other, and my stomach hardens.

"Their record producer?" I ask Court, pausing in front of the photo. I choose to ignore the sliver of jealousy I felt a second ago.

Jutting his square chin out, Court corrects me. "The executive. It's his house, and I'm his personal attorney, of course." He sounds incredibly proud of himself for being able to handle everything from carrying out eviction proceedings to acting as an entertainment attorney.

I consider patting him on the back, but I stop myself, locking my fingers in an uncomfortable angle by my side. This attorney will be handling the transfer of property once I've fulfilled my agreement with Lucas. The last thing I want to do is piss him off thanks to some sudden burst of rebellion and cause a delay in the whole freaking process.

Smiling sweetly, I say, "It's a beautiful house."

"I live right up the block," he tells me in an almost superior tone. "In the Tudor."

Lucas is waiting for me in an office with bamboo flooring and a high ceiling. He looks every bit the kickass rockstar with his shaggy dark hair tousled about, distressed jeans, and a vintage Pink Floyd t-shirt, but he's so much more that.

Seated behind the L-shaped desk with his hands clasped together, he's all business. All in control.

Suddenly, I'm tingling all over.

"It's 8:10," Lucas points out, standing up. "You agreed to be here at 8am."

I take a tentative step forward. Then another until I'm on the other side of the desk with my thighs pressed against the hardwood. I stare up into Lucas's eyes and say, "Sorry, Lu – Mr. Wolfe – my taxi was late picking me up from my grandmother's place."

His hazel eyes seem to go from green to toxic brown in a matter of seconds. "Do you make excuses like this to Tomas Costa?" he asks me, his voice dark. Oh God, he knows my bosses full name? Has he contacted Tomas? What else has he discovered about me? "I play music but I've got the same expectations as any other employer you've had. Probably more. Do you understand?"

I nod. "Yes," I whisper, and when his eyebrow shoots up, I quietly add, "Mr. Wolfe."

He gives me a smile as if he wants to eat me, and then motions Court – who's lagged cautiously behind and is staring between the two of us with the blankest face he can manage – forward. "We're ready to sign the contracts," he says.

Court produces three copies of the document from the expensive leather briefcase that's sitting beside of the plush, black leather couch across from the desk. Hobbling over to us, he hands one copy to Lucas and another to me. Then, he goes over the terms of the agreement, explaining all the technical terms in detail. Lucas pays close attention to everything Court says, even though he's probably already read over this a hundred times.

Thankfully, the contract is only a couple pages long, and there's very little reference to the instructions I've received except for a one line blurb. I heave a sigh of relief, pleased that Court Holder has very little – if any knowledge – about just how significant the words like "rules" and "obey" are to this agreement.

I start to scribble my name across the section for my signature on my copy of the contract but I stop after I've written the "A" in my first name. I glance up at Court and Lucas. Lucas gazes down at me expectantly, but Court's face creases into a frown.

"Is there something wrong with the language in the – "

Shaking my head fiercely to each side, I wave my hand in protest. "No, no, nothing like that, it's just that . . ." I roll my tongue back and forth in my mouth to get rid of the sudden case of dry mouth and drop my eyes back down to the papers on the desk. "I want to make sure none of this will be mentioned to my grandmother."

"Maybe it would help if you looked up when you're talking," Lucas says in a voice that's sympathetic and strong. Commanding

Slowly, I drag my eyes back up. Lucas is leaning back, his body at ease, his smile satisfied. "I want your word that nothing about this agreement will get back to my grandma or her attorney, Richard Nielson."

Court begins stuttering, so Lucas confidently takes the reigns to answer my question. "Although Court is bound by attorney and client privilege, I've went ahead and had him sign another agreement. Trust me, if he wants to keep his practice and all his cash cows, he knows better."

Court laughs – a nervous, cough-ridden sound – as I finish scrawling my name. I complete the other two copies and afterward, he and Lucas do the same. Then Court claims he's got to go – client meeting in an hour – and Lucas smiles at him dismissively.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, a little wary, and utterly confused, I turn my attention away from the door and to Lucas when he clears his throat. "And now they are official," he says, his voice and eyes far away.

That they are.