Sugar - Lydia Michaels Page 0,1

as a dangerous female connoisseur, so undeniably handsome there’d be little challenge for him to find a date. Affluence and good looks with a hint of arrogance hid in those deep blue eyes. And the sheer size of his hands, the breadth of his shoulders, and the smolder of his gaze… His inarguable appeal sucked the air right out of our private, little hallway.

My manicured finger nudged the elevator button to a golden glow as the antique dial ticked up to our floor. My will trembled, as I demanded I not look back. I worked damn hard to get here, and I couldn’t afford any distractions. Literally.

Six seconds left.

His throat cleared just as the brass dial hit our floor and the doors parted with a delicate ping. The slender five-inch heels of my Prada pumps crossed the threshold, my mind waiting for the precise moment I’d make eye contact, knowing full well it would be sharp and jolting, like a roller coaster letting go at the top of a steep hill.

Eyes down, I stepped over the threshold and turned, still not giving him the satisfaction of my full attention. I’d mastered the art of coy and unknowing long ago, but normally there wasn’t much risk involved. Something told me he was different from my usual mark. Perhaps it was the fear that he somehow knew I was different.

I might look delicate, but I could make a grown man cry. Therefore eye contact was a gamble I shouldn’t take with him.

But I wanted to see his response to my gaze. I wanted to try to read him the way he was trying to read me.

How would he respond if I met his stare head on, without a hint of shyness? Would he suck in a sharp breath, hold it? Look away?

My insides clenched with acute anticipation. I needed to experience that intoxicating split second in time when he knew I noticed him—when I chose to do so.

I wasn’t a bitch, and I wasn’t self-centered, but I lived alone in a scary world with a dirty history, and my façade remained the only veneer separating me from a muddied past. My appearance served as an opaque distraction hiding the girl I used to be from the world I desperately wanted to belong to.

I’d mastered the role I needed to portray, my chance to bury my past once and for all. I refused to go back to where I came from, back to being that girl. Avery Johansson had become my present and my future, she remained the only woman he and every other man would ever see.

Tipping my head at just the right angle to show off the contours of my high cheekbones and smoky eyes, I slowly raised my gaze, pretending to notice him for the first time. My fingers already called the doors to close, but I couldn’t resist.

Our eyes met and my knees softened. Our gazes locked. Intense, provocative desire thrummed through the charged air as this silent game of how good we could fuck played out in a snapshot of time that would never come true.

He drew in that breath just as I’d hoped he would—a reward for him, a reward for me. A shame we’d never actually be more than neighbors.

The elevator doors glided shut. “Wait—”

The door closed, and I let out a relieved sigh, a twisted smirk pulling at the corner of my mouth. I loved playing cat and mouse, but only when I held the role of the cat.

I wouldn’t necessarily classify him as mousey or timid. Despite his indisputable good looks and palpable, pretty boy propriety, something savage lingered under the surface, something untamed. It was dangerous to taunt a tiger. Maybe that’s why my panties were wet because I knew I was doing something I shouldn’t.

A satisfied heat coiled in my stomach as I stashed away all thoughts of my sexy neighbor and focused on the evening ahead. But the thought of him didn’t go away easily. I carefully folded each memory into the tightest origami and tucked it somewhere out of reach. I’d never resist the temptation to keep considering all the various positions we could find ourselves in, dwelling on his every sexy detail down to the delicate divot of his upper lip.

My neighbor certainly qualified as handsome. Masculine yet beautiful. Devastating blue eyes. A true distraction that lingered long after I willed myself to stop imagining him—naked—at my feet—on his knees.

The elevator jostled and slowed as I drew in a