the beast loves curves

Copyright 2012 by J.S. Scott

 

 

 

THE BEAST LOVES CURVES (Big Girls And Bad Boys: A BBW Erotic Romance)

 

 

 

"Ian Campbell has requested your services."

 

Abbie Wright stared fixedly at her bald-headed, kindly boss with an astonished expression. She needed to have her hearing checked. "Excuse me, Roger? Can you repeat that?" She was certain she had misunderstood. She could have sworn he had said Ian Campbell.

 

Her elderly boss cracked a smile as he looked up at her from behind his desk. "Oh...you heard me correctly, Abbie. He needs your services as a website developer. He needs a website." The old man shrugged. "He wouldn't say what the project was and I didn't push. He would be an important client to have. "

 

Abbie sat down in the chair in front of her boss' desk, completely dumbfounded. Ian Campbell? Why? "He must have hundreds of people that can do this project at his disposal. He owns one of the biggest corporations in the country. Why would he use someone from our small firm? Why would he request me? I'm a programmer." She shot her questions out, still bewildered and confused.

 

"Apparently he saw the site you did for that children's charity organization and was very impressed. He specifically requested you." Roger leaned forward on his desk, his white eyebrow raised and a speculative look on his face that really worried Abbie. Her boss had a Santa Claus type personality. He was jovial, round and bald on top. He even had the eyeglasses that reminded her a little of Old Saint Nick. "I don't have to tell you what it would mean to my company to have him as a satisfied client, Abbie."

 

Oh...she knew. Ian Campbell was a god among men. At the age of thirty- four he had accomplished more than most men ever did in their lifetime. The problem was...he was also a nightmare for anyone that worked for him.

 

"You know what they say about him?" Abbie questioned her boss with a tinge of fear in her expression.

 

"That he's been nicknamed "the beast" because he's hell to work for? I know, Abbie." He was giving her that sad, contrite look that made her cave in every time. Damn it. Ian Campbell's business would definitely boost her boss' small company.

 

"It has to be me?" Abbie hated the hint of a whine in her voice. She was fairly resigned, but she had to give it one more shot of somehow wiggling out of the assignment.

 

"Yes." Roger sighed as he broke the rest of the bad news. "And he needs you to work on site with him at his house. He runs things from home since his accident."

 

She wasn't particularly surprised. Ian Campbell had been injured in a near fatal racing accident eight months ago. He liked fast cars, gorgeous woman and the best that money could buy. Unfortunately, he could afford it.

 

Abbie knew was a real dupe. She couldn't stand that pleading look Roger was giving her. She would never say no to him. He had been the only one kind enough to take a chance on her fresh out of school. She owed him. "What about my projects here at the office?" She knew she was taking this new project whether she liked it or not. It was only a matter of details now.

 

"Sandy will take over. Mr. Campbell's project is top priority until it's completed." He eagerly ripped a page off of his notepad and handed it to Abbie. "He asked for you to report to him at nine tomorrow morning. Here's the address."

 

Abbie reached out and took the address from her boss feeling like she was receiving a death sentence instead of a new project.

 

She left the office with a huge thank you from her boss and a heart full of lead.

 

This had been such a tough few weeks. After her boyfriend had gotten himself employed, he had left her for one of his co-workers. Tim had told her that he was embarrassed to be seen with her because she was overweight and it didn't project the image of the young executive that he hoped to be. He was working for a large weight loss company and had gotten himself a thin, pretty girlfriend that Abbie supposed must fit his so- called new image.

 

As Abbie sat her size eighteen butt in her office chair and collected her client folders her eyes misted over. It still hurt so badly. She had known Tim was slightly shallow, but she had never realized he was playing her until he found a job. She had just been a place to sleep and eat. An occasional really bad lay, according to him. The bastard had even had the audacity to lecture her about being overweight before he left, saying her sex life would always be as horrible and unexciting as it was with him unless she dropped weight. He had been brutal and unapologetic.

 

Abbie sighed as she continued to collect her files. He was right about the sex. It had been bad. Always in the dark and she was never comfortable or particularly excited. Tim had touched her as little as possible and it was over with quickly.

 

"Please tell me you are not going to cry over the world's most selfish and shallow asshole...again" The kind but chastising female voice that sounded over her shoulder made Abbie jump. Her best friend Sandy's quick grab at her files was the only thing that kept them from hitting the floor.

 

Abbie's heart was racing as she turned in her chair. "You scared me."

 

Sandy pulled up a chair and sat beside her. "The only reason I scared you is because you are mooning over "the pig" again." Sandy put a hand on Abbie's shoulder. "He doesn't deserve one single tear, honey. You're better off without him. Now maybe you can find a man that appreciates you."

 

That was so easy for Sandy to say. She was blonde, petite and pretty. She was also married to a very successful and handsome attorney. What did she know about being alone and hopeless? "He's right. I need to lose weight."

 

Abbie heard Sandy's snort of disgust before she answered, "Abbie, he needs to get a clue. You're beautiful, successful, smart and sweet. It's his loss."

 

Didn't all best friends say things like that? Abbie's eyes filled with moisture as tears dripped down her cheeks at her friend's words. Maybe she couldn't get a guy...but she had great friends. "You have to say that because you're my friend." Abbie smiled through her tears as she looked up at Sandy.

 

Sandy rolled her eyes. "I'm saying it because it's true. I would kill for your bust. You're full figured, Abbie. Lots of guys like that." Sandy also wouldn't mind having Abbie's porcelain doll face or the long black curls that cascaded down her back. She'd love to murder the guy that did a number on someone like Abbie.

 

Abbie reached for her tissues and pulled a few from the box. At the rate she went through tissues lately she wished she had bought stock in the company before her break up. "Guys are not looking for a size eighteen. Sandy, I appreciate that you are trying to cheer me up, but I'm okay."

 

She was okay. Mostly. Rationally, Abbie knew that Tim was a creep, but his comments had hurt and dug at a wound that had always been there. She had always been a big girl. Even in grade school and high school, she had been plus size. Her mother called it "full figured" like Sandy did. Her dad called her vivacious and robust. Abbie called a spade a spade...she was fat.

 

She had tried to lose weight but she swore that she had the fat gene. She hiked, she walked, she dieted. The extra curves never left her body.

 

"There's a guy out there for you, Abbie. Please don't cry anymore over a bastard like Tim." Sandy patted Abbie's shoulder and handed her the box of tissues.

 

Abbie pulled a few more from the box and dropped it on the desk.
No more crying.
She'd always been a tough woman. It was time to stop the waterworks routine. She was laying off men for a while. Tim might have wounded her, but he hadn't broken her. She would live.

 

Her resolve strengthened, she told Sandy, "I have to give you my projects. I've been recruited for a special project." She gave a last swipe to her face and tossed the used tissues in the trash.

 

"Really, what is it?" Sandy brightened, her blonde ponytail bobbing in excitement.

 

"I'm going to be doing a website for Ian Campbell," she informed Sandy with a shudder.

 

"Really? I wonder why Bill never mentioned it to me. He's a friend of Ian's." Sandy's eyes danced with mischief. Abbie hadn't known that Sandy's husband knew Ian Campbell. "Ian is incredibly handsome. I guess you'll be working pretty close together."

 

"Oh please, Sandy." Abbie gave her friend an exasperated look. "Someone of Ian Campbell's caliber wouldn't even look at me. And I've heard he is not fun to work with." Abbie thought that was putting it mildly but she didn't want to say anything unflattering about someone who was apparently a friend to Sandy and her husband.

 

"Let me fill you in on the details of those files." She waved her hand at the files that Sandy was holding on her lap, wanting to change the subject. The idea that she and Ian Campbell would have anything in common was pretty comical.

 

As Abbie gave her the details of her ongoing projects, Sandy listened with half an ear. Ian Campbell? Obviously, Abbie listened to all of the rumors. She could tell Abbie about Ian, but she thought it was better to just let Abbie find out for herself. Her best friend might be in for a pleasant surprise.

 

Sandy turned her full attention to the projects with a satisfied smile.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Ian Campbell knew he had to quit looking at the website. Damned if he wasn't tempted to donate more money to the charity every time he went there. He'd be broke if he didn't stop bringing up the site.

 

He cracked a self-deprecating smile. At least his money would go to good use. He doubted he would ever miss it. He had more money than he could spend in several lifetimes.

 

He wasn't even aware that he was massaging his sore thigh as he scrolled through the site on his desktop computer. He had just gotten his cast removed yesterday and his leg ached. It was so full of metal screws and pins that he knew he would never again be able to go through airport security without setting off the bells and whistles. It was an ugly mess, but at least he could walk again. He knew one man that would not.

 

As he thought about Leo he was even more determined to get this new foundation going. He was starting his own organization to raise funds for people who were working but had no insurance. He wanted to help people like Leo who worked hard to support their families but couldn't afford medical insurance.

 

From the moment he had decided to establish the new organization, he had known who needed to make the website. He wanted the friend of Sandy's that had designed such an incredible site for Bill's children's charity. Abbie Wright was gifted and Bill had told him that Abbie had done all of the work in her spare time for free. Bill thought highly of her and she had to be an incredible person to donate so much time for a friend.

 

Ian clicked out of the site and laid his head back in the chair with a sigh. Bill had been a good friend. He and Sandy had been his main support system along with his family during the six months he had spent in and out of the hospital. It was strange how a man found out who his real friends and loved ones were when something like this happened.

 

How had he ever become so superficial before his accident? He had been raised with good values, but somehow they had slipped away from him. Having money had been a heady feeling. Having power even more so.

 

Ian had been raised in a poor but good family. His parents had provided for him and his brother, but they had never had the extras. He and his brother had always been "those poor Campbell boys" with their clean but well worn clothing and tattered shoes.

 

It had been like he was trying to attain and experience everything that he had never had. The parties, fast cars, expensive clothes. It was funny how it had meant nothing when he was fighting for his life in a hospital. He had been just another person who would either live or die. He wasn't invincible. None of his superficial friends had been there and not one woman that he had dated had shown her face. They didn't want a broken, scarred man whose future had been questionable.

 

The life he had been living was a facade. He wasn't sure how he had tolerated the lonely, shallow life, but he couldn't pretend it didn't matter anymore. He wanted a woman he could talk to and that cared about him for something other than how he looked or the money he had. He wasn't exactly the playboy that he was rumored to be, but he had used plenty of those women for sex, just as they had used him because of his money and power.

 

The sound of the chiming doorbell pulled Ian out of his contemplative mood. He sat up in the chair, ready to meet the woman that would get the ball rolling on his site. He took a deep breath and exhaled hard. Finally, he could do something useful.

 

 

*****

 

 

 

Abbie fidgeted as she waited for someone to open the door. It was nine o'clock on the dot, so the ogre couldn't complain about her being late.

 

She smoothed down her black skirt and her fluffy red angora sweater thinking it had probably been a bad choice. She loved the sweater but it shed and the little, red fur balls were really noticeable on the black skirt. Oh well. How the hell would she know how to dress for an on site job? She had never worked outside of the office except on projects at home. Somehow she didn't think her pajamas and bunny slippers that she wore at home were really appropriate for this job.

 

The door was opened by a older woman with gray hair and a smile. "Ms. Wright?"

 

"Yes. I'm Abbie Wright. Please call me Abbie. I'm here to see Mr. Campbell. I think he's expecting me." She smiled at the woman. At least there was one friendly face here.

 

"He is. Please come in. I'm Nancy. I do the cooking and housekeeping."

The smiling, matronly woman held the door wide. As Abbie entered she had no doubt as to why he needed a housekeeper. She swore if she yelled...the huge, cavernous house would echo back at her. The foyer had marbled floors and screamed "money." It was a beautiful house. She surveyed the expensive furnishings in the living room as she followed Nancy through the ground floor. Everything was immaculate, but somehow not very...warm.

 

Abbie was so caught up into looking at the monstrous house that she nearly slammed into the back of Nancy when she stopped. She squeaked as she halted in the nick of time.

 

"This is the study." Nancy rapped twice on the door.

 

An immediate response came in a low baritone. "Come in."

 

Nancy opened the ornate door to let Abbie through. She sighed with relief as she entered the study. It was large, but it was a room that was lived in. The mahogany and leather furnishings were tasteful, but the room was warm with life. Papers scattered a huge desk in the corner and she felt the vibrations of energy here. There was a leather jacket carelessly discarded on a chair and a large pair of used running shoes beside the desk. Several books were scattered on the couch.

 

"Abbie? May I call you Abbie?" The baritone voice that had bid them to enter inquired.

 

Abbie's eyes focused on Ian Campbell as he stood to greet her. His gait was slow but steady. He was favoring his right leg but it was a barely noticeable limp.

 

He was a beast. A damn handsome beast. Abbie tried not to stare as she surveyed him...but it was difficult not to. He had to be well over six feet. He towered above her five foot six height and his body was massive. Dressed in jeans and a form fitting t-shirt, Abbie could see the well defined muscles ripple in his chest and abdomen. What a body for a man who had been seriously ill for several months! Abbie's eyes traveled to his face. His smiling face. He was looking at her expectantly.

 

"Yes. Yes, of course. I prefer to be called Abbie by all of my clients." She could barely speak.

 

He wasn't at all what she had pictured. His face was handsome. There were scars that kept it from perfection, probably from his accident, but rather than detract from his looks it actually made him rather attractive. Rugged and masculine. His deep blue eyes were smiling and his well trimmed blonde hair looked mussed, like he had been running his hand through it.

 

"Please call me Ian." He was still grinning as he held out his hand.

 

His hand was warm and firm. It was large like the rest of him and Abbie's hand was engulfed by his as she reached out to him. She shivered from the heat that raced through her body from the casual gesture.

 

"I'll bring you a breakfast tray." Abbie heard Nancy say quietly as she retreated and the door clicked shut.

 

He held her hand a little longer than necessary. Abbie had to pull away. She couldn't contain the tremor in her limbs that his vibrant touch seemed to set ignite inside of her. Where was the beast? And why did Ian Campbell have to be so damned compelling?

 

Of course he's charming.
Try to remember that he goes through women like you've been going through tissues. Use and discard. Use and discard. Focus, Abbie, focus.

 

She used her best professional voice as she queried, "Would you like to go over what you expect."

 

He waved her toward a chair in front of his desk before he seated himself behind it. "Right down to business, huh?"

 

"I thought that's what you wanted. You did hire my company for a purpose." God...she sounded uptight. She sat in the comfy leather chair and tried not to squirm, wishing he could direct his intense blue-eyed stare at something other than her. She felt like she was being dissected, his attention focused entirely on her.

 

"You're nervous. Why would a woman as talented as you be nervous?," he asked in a curious voice.

 

"Because I've heard that you're extremely difficult to work with," she blurted out the truth before she could censor herself. She hadn't meant to, but maybe it was better that way. She was tense and she needed to be at ease to do her best, creative work.

 

She started as his huge, booming laughter filled the room. She knew she was gaping at him, her mouth opening and closing like a landed fish...but she couldn't help herself.

 

*****

 

 

Ian tried to stop himself, but he couldn't hold back the laughter that welled up inside of him at her unexpected comment. People didn't usually give him honesty. They told him what he wanted to hear.

 

As he got himself under control he choked out, "The beast?"

 

"That's what they say?" She looked uncomfortable now.

 

He was still smiling as he answered, "You shouldn't listen to everything you hear, Abbie. That was a rumor that was circulated deliberately by some employees that were fired for good reason." He propped an arm under his chin as he stared into her jade green eyes. "However...I'm definitely no angel. I learned to grow up after my accident. It changed my priorities. But I was a complete asshole. I'm pretty sure I probably still am at times."

 

Ian almost groaned in disappointment as she crossed her arms over her chest. He had been so enjoying the view of those plump, ripe beauties. The woman was completely stunning. Her rounded cheeks were glowing and her startling green eyes were pinning him with a direct, challenging look that few dared to send his way. He wanted to reach out and touch that perfect skin to find out if it was as silky as it appeared. His cock was hard just from watching her. Those delicious lips were made to be kissed and that curvy body would be perfection against him. He definitely had to stop thinking about those beautiful black curls spread over his pillow.

 

"If you say you're an asshole, you're probably not." She had a sassy look on her face now and her eyes flashed.

 

He felt like a beast. Right now he'd like to play the big, bad wolf to her little red riding hood and gobble her up. "That's interesting deductive logic."

 

She shrugged. "Common sense. Most men who are assholes wouldn't admit it." She sighed as she appeared to visibly relax. "Tell me about your project, Ian."

 

And so he did.

 

*****

 

 

 

Ian Campbell was dangerous to a woman's mind and body.

 

It hadn't taken Abbie more than a day in his company to decide that Ian was nothing like the beast she had imagined. He was an even bigger threat. He was an alpha male sometimes, but completely likable and sexier than any man ought to be.

 

She pounded the computer keys and tried to concentrate on changing something on the site. She had been working closely with Ian for a week and every day she found him even more fascinating. Every day she had a more difficult time resisting his easy charm, quick wit and ultra masculine appeal.

 

Abbie stretched her legs out on the leather couch and turned her laptop computer to a better position. She had started wearing jeans and a sweater. Ian had insisted she be comfortable and make herself at home while she worked. This had turned into a dream job, and working with Ian was a joy she had never imagined when she had taken on the project.

 

Surprisingly, they shared many common interests. They laughed a lot, sharing their history, likes, dislikes and anything else that popped into their minds.

 

She had never shared the humiliation of her break up with Tim, but Ian had asked about boyfriends. Abbie had simply told him that she had broken up with someone a short time ago. When he asked why...she clammed up. She couldn't share that with him. No matter how easy he was to talk to, it was still a raw wound and demeaning as hell.

 

He was open with her, telling her about life before his accident and about the changes he wanted to make in his life. She cringed at what he had suffered in the hospital. She wished she would have known him then. At least she could have been around for him as a friend.

 

She didn't think he had been the beast that everyone thought he had been before his accident and she wasn't sure if she would have liked him or not...but she certainly liked him now.

 

Everything...absolutely everything about him was sexy. Sometimes he stood a little too close. All he had to do was bump against her and her panties were wet. Truthfully, all she had to do was hear his voice and she was moist. The man was a walking fantasy. She fantasized about him during the day and had wet dreams about him at night. She knew she was in a bad way. Ian Campbell wasn't someone who would be interested in her. He flirted...but that was just his charm.

 

She was touched by the reason he was opening the foundation. Leo was a friend that Ian had met in the hospital that would never walk again after a horrible accident. When Ian had talked about Leo's undaunted courage and his love for his adoring wife and children--she had cried like a baby. She had told Ian that she would have done the website for free if Bill had contacted her directly. Ian had blown it off, saying he would rather pay her because it meant keeping her close and having her company.

 

God...she hated it when he said things like that. Her face flushed, her breath grew hot and shallow. Abbie knew she absolutely could not take him seriously.

 

She need to finished the site. She couldn't spend much more time with the man before she jumped him. Her brain might be saying "no" but her body was saying "take me."

 

Abbie nibbled her lip as she concentrated her effort on correcting a problem on the website. She had enjoyed having total creative freedom on this project. She was a programmer, but building websites was really her favorite thing to do. She loved the process and the challenge of making a site that would touch people enough to donate funds for a worthy cause. Ian had given her the information and she had done everything. She had even written the contents.

 

"Did you know that you get a little crinkle between your eyes when you're concentrating?" Ian walked into the room with that oh-so-sexy smile that turned her blood hot. He was dressed in his usual jeans and body hugging t-shirt.

 

"I do not," She shot back with an answering smile.

 

"You do." His blue eyes pinned hers. She could swear they were filled with desire...but she knew better.

 

"It's very sexy." He leaned over and brushed his lips to her forehead. "It tempts a man to want to kiss it away."

 

She came very close to wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him senseless. There was only so much teasing a woman could take. "Stop being a flirt. I have work to do." Her answer was nearly breathless.
Get a grip, Abbie.

 

"I don't think of it as flirting. It's attempted seduction." He answered in a husky voice.

 

Abbie's heart fluttered as he kneeled beside her. "I'm working on something right now. I'll have to show you the site later. I'm hoping to finish today."

 

"Then I guess I'll have to distract you so that you don't finish," he whispered low in her ear.

 

He was slightly behind her and she could feel his warm breath caress her sensitive ear. She shivered as his tongue darted out to tease her ear lobe and his hands dropped lightly on her shoulders.

 

How easy it would be to just lean back against his massive chest and give in to the desire that had been burning inside of her all week long. If she wasn't so insecure...she might have. Ian was a hard man to resist when he was flirting.

 

He doesn't really want you.

 

"You need to let me work, Ian. You're distracting me." Her body was vibrating with tension.

 

"Am I, Abbie?," he asked as the back of hands slid along her exposed skin at the top of breasts and collarbone and his tongue trailed over the tight muscles in her neck. "God, you're skin is so soft," his strangled comment vibrated along her neck, sending tingles of awareness through her whole body. She stopped breathing as his large fingers stroked over her breasts. Her nipples were hard and she was sure he could feel them, even through the material of her lacy bra and light sweater.

 

It has to stop, Abbie. He's never gone this far.

 

She bit her lip to hold back a moan as he circled her swollen nipples, stroking a finger over each hard nub.

 

She let out her pent up breath, careful not to moan. Shit. It was too much. Her panties were soaked already and he had barely touched her.

 

His hands continued tormenting her breasts as he swung around to face her. His eyes were hot and wild. "So ripe, so lush. Are you wet, Abbie? Do you want this as much as I do?"

 

Before she could answer, his lips lowered to hers. Her breath had been coming hard between her lips and they were open and ready for his invasion. He brushed aside her computer and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her flush against him. He groaned into her mouth as his tongue swept in and tangled with hers and her breasts met his solid, muscular chest.

 

She gave in. She promised herself it would be just for a moment. Her arms wrapped around his neck and her hands tangled in his coarse, thick hair.

 

She let herself drown in sensation. His mouth was hot and demanding, his tongue working in a sensual rhythm against hers. The wet slide was erotic and scorching, making her whole body quiver as she felt his power and will overwhelm her.

 

He took her mouth over and over while his hands roamed her body, molding her against him. They moved sensually from her back to her hips, sliding under sweater.

 

She moaned as he stroked the bare skin of her back, leaving a trail of fire wherever he touched.

 

Oh shit. This had to stop. She couldn't take anymore. Her heart was hammering and every part of her was primed and ready for his possession.

 

Yanking her mouth from his was like ripping her heart out. It was physically painful and she felt her core contracting, vibrating with need. Every part of her reached out for him even as she pulled away. She pushed on his chest, trying to move away from him.

 

"I can't do this, Ian. Please." Her voice was begging him. She felt desperate...she was desperate.

 

He backed away, his chest heaving to catch his breath. He rested his hands on his thighs. They were both panting as their eyes met. She almost pulled him back. God help her...but she wanted him so badly, even if he was only playing with her.

 

He looked as needy as she was, his eyes burning and hot. She looked away from him. "Please don't do that again. It hurts," she whispered breathlessly. She hadn't meant to say it, but she ached. Her body was wound tight.

 

He took her hand and brought it to the front of his jeans, pressing it along his groin to feel a hard, large and very erect cock. "I know the feeling, sweetheart," he answered, his voice tortured.

 

Abbie looked up at him, her body humming. He really did want her. She was feeling the evidence against her palm. She wanted to rub her hand along it, play with it. He was incredibly hard and engorged. "You really do want me." For just a moment, Abbie was filled with the wonder of having a man like Ian desire her.

 

"Was there ever any doubt?" His voice was dry and incredulous. "I've been panting after you all week like a eager puppy. My cock has been hard since the first day we met."

 

He was serious. He wanted her.

 

Before she became swamped in her own needs, she reminded herself that she was the only available female in the house below the age of sixty. The man probably hadn't gotten laid since before his accident. He could have any woman he wanted, but she just happened to be available. Maybe even a chubby woman looked good to a guy that was horny.

 

Tears threatened, but Abbie held them back. If she gave in to Ian Campbell he would break her heart like no man ever had. Her break up with Tim would be like a paper cut compared to the damage Ian could do to her.

 

"I just can't, Ian. I'm sorry." She wasn't doing a one night fling with him. It would destroy her.

 

He stood, his eyes going flat and cold. "It's fine. I shouldn't have gotten carried away." He moved to his desk chair and grabbed up his running shoes. "I have to go out for a while. I have an appointment at the hospital."

 

His tone was casual, but Abbie knew how he hated the hospital. He had laughingly told her once that he couldn't go near one anymore without trembling with fear. "I'll go with you." Her heart reached out to him automatically.

 

"You will?" He looked confused, amazed by her offer. "It's only for testing, Abbie. You don't have to go."

 

She gave him a reassuring smile. "I want to...if you want me to go with you," she answered shyly. "I'd like to think we've become friends, Ian."

 

"Sweetheart, you've become more than just a friend to me," he drawled in a self mocking voice. "But if friends is all I can have...I'll take it. If you're coming with me you have to let me take you out to dinner afterwards. Anywhere you want."

 

"You don't have to bribe me, Ian. I want to go," she answered, teasing him. She didn't like to see him sad or tense.

 

"I insist. We have to eat." He didn't look at her as he continued to pull on his shoes.

 

She laughingly named the most expensive restaurants in the city. It was one that she had never been to personally. She made a decent income, but it was way over her budget.

 

He nodded as he stood. He walked to the couch and looked down at her earnestly. "It's one of my favorites."

 

She shook her head as she laughed up at him. "I was joking, Ian. Do you think I'd go to a place like that dressed like this. They wouldn't let me step through the door." She waved her hand over her well worn jeans and sweater.

 

"You look great to me. I'd let you in." His eyes raked over her thoroughly, giving his statement a whole different meaning. "Besides, I already know they'd let you in." His eyes met hers with a devilish twinkle.

 

She swallowed hard, trying to contain her lust. He was so difficult to resist when he was being a naughty boy. She crossed her arms over her chest as she met his mischievous look with a doubtful one of her own. "You look awfully full of yourself. I'm sure they have a dress code even if you are Ian Campbell."

 

He reached out his hand to pull her up beside him. She took it, shivering at the power in his grip as he easily pulled her from her seat on the couch.

He didn't let go of her hand as he pulled her along behind him to the door. He paused as his hand met the door handle to answer, "They do have a dress code. But it hardly applies to me. They would never turn us away."

 

She gaped at him. "Oh, God. You really think you're that superior."

 

"Nope. Not superior at all." His grin was wicked as he pulled the door open, his eyes never leaving hers. "But I do own the place."

 

She choked on her laughter as he pulled her out the door. She smacked him on the shoulder. "You're completely evil, Ian."

 

"Not as evil as I'd like to be," she heard his barely audible murmur.

 

He laughed and joked the rest of the afternoon as they completed his visit to the hospital, but she felt him squeeze her hand a few times as they entered. She squeezed back in reassurance.

 

When they finished he wanted to take her to his restaurant. She argued that she was supposed to get her choice.

 

He relented.

 

They ate at McDonalds.

 

 

*****

 

 

 

One more day. One more day.

 

The chant had been going through Ian's head all day long.

 

He grunted as he added more weight to his upper body workout. The gym was the only way he could work out his frustrations. It was a good thing he had his own at home. He had spent a lot of time here in the last week.

 

There was a prescribed workout for his legs due to his injuries, but he could work the hell out of his upper body.

 

Ian put his hands back on the handles, relishing the burn of the extra weight. He tried to lose himself in the effort and the rhythmic motion of the arm movements...but it wasn't working. Nothing could erase the horrified look on Abbie's face today after he had kissed her.

 

The one woman he had ever really wanted...and he couldn't have her. He had thought she wanted him. Apparently...she didn't. She was a mystery he couldn't solve. Sometimes he thought he was getting mixed signals, but that could just be wishful thinking.

 

Ian had been trying to figure it out for hours. She had left several hours ago and he had come straight to the gym, his body aching with unfulfilled lust.

 

He let go of the handles with a disgusted curse. His arms, chest and abdomen were burning from exertion and he was still as wound up as ever. He got up and grabbed a towel, wiping down his face. Sweat was trickling down his extremities, but his body was still burning with need.

 

"She'll be done tomorrow," he grumbled to himself as he wiped his arms and chest. He wondered if he could find a way to drag out the project. Just the thought of not seeing her smile every day made his blood turn cold.

 

He sat down on the bench and dropped the towel beside him. Was it possible that she couldn't see past his scars? As his eyes moved over the mangled mess of his right leg beneath his workout shorts he released a long sigh. She hadn't even seen the worst of them.

 

His head hit the wall as he leaned his head back. "Maybe she just doesn't like you, idiot," he uttered what was probably the sad truth.

 

Ian had to stop pushing her. He was chasing after her like a lovesick teenager, his time constraints worrying him. Would he ever see her again after the project was done? They had become friends, but he wanted so much more.

 

Abbie was special. Yes...he lusted after her lush body, but he wanted all of her. He knew he'd never find another woman like her. It had taken him thirty-four years to find perfection and he didn't want to let her go.

 

He needed to get it through his thick head that she just didn't care the same way that he did. That fact clawed at his insides and raked at his gut. How was he going to survive a day without her? Who was going to make him laugh at himself when he got too serious? Who would challenge him and keep him on his toes? Abbie did all of that and more. He got up every day looking forward to seeing her and fell asleep each night with her image in his mind.