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Because He Takes Me

By´╝ÜHannah Ford


“So I don’t get it,” Nessa said, peering into the open suitcase that was lying on my bed. “You’re going away for a whole weekend with him? Is that safe?”

“It’s not really a whole weekend,” I said, trying to keep my tone light as I flicked through the clothes in my closet. Why oh why hadn’t I bought more things with me from Michigan? Because you didn’t have anything in Michigan, I reminded myself. Certainly nothing suitable for a weekend away in Florida with a gorgeous billionaire. The other problem, besides my lack of suitable attire, was that I had no idea how we would be spending our time. Did I need clothes for going out? Or were we going to stay in the hotel the whole time having sex? What would I do while Callum was attending his business meetings?

“It’s today and tomorrow,” Nessa pressed. “Saturday and Sunday. That’s the weekend.”

“But it’s only one night,” I said, cringing as I said the words. They sounded so cheap. My heart constricted at the thought of no-strings-attached, just-for-one-night sex. What if I liked it? What if I wanted to see him again?

Stop, I chided myself. This is not a romance. You barely know the man. And if you’re going to start getting all worked up about him, then you better not even go on this trip.

“Still,” Nessa said, playing with the zipper on my suitcase. “I mean, are you… do you even know anything about him? He could be a murderer or a crazed stalker.”

“I don’t think so,” I said, throwing a short black summer dress onto the rumpled pile of clothes in my suitcase and staring critically at the whole, tangled mess. “I googled him.”

“So?” Nessa said. “You can’t tell everything about someone from googling them. Someone’s LinkedIn profile or facebook page isn’t going to tell you if they have a criminal record.”

I bit my lip and felt my face start to flush. I crossed the room and pulled a white t-shirt out of my drawer and folded it in half, then placed it carefully in my suitcase.

“What is it?” Nessa asked. “Why do you have red cheeks and a quiet mouth?”

“I don’t,” I said quickly, but it was too late.

“Adriana O’Connor,” she said, jumping up from the bed. “You’re hiding something. And I don’t like it.”

“I’m not hid –” I started, but then I realized Nessa had a bit of a point. There was a difference between trying to be coy, and staying safe. Someone should know exactly where I was and who I was with. “Okay,” I said, sitting down on the side of the bed. “It’s… I’m going with Callum Wilder.”

Nessa frowned, confusion passing over her face for a moment before understanding dawned in her green eyes. “Callum Wilder? The billionaire Callum Wilder?” She shifted excitedly on the bed, threatening to send the topsy-turvy pile of clothes in my suitcase tumbling to the floor. “Are you serious? How the hell did you meet him?”

“At the, um…. I met him the night my date stood me up.”

“At the BDSM club?” I could hear the thin thread of disapproval laced through her voice.

“No,” I said, the lie slipping out before I could stop it. “No, I went to another place after that, to console myself with a drink.”

“Wow,” she said, her eyebrows furrowing into a skeptical V. “It must have been a pretty swanky place.”

“It was,” I said, standing up and heading back to my dresser so Nessa wouldn’t be able to see my face.

I began pawing through my underwear drawer just in case there was something I’d missed. It had been two days since my lunch with Callum, and I’d spent some of that time trying to do something about my lingerie collection. I didn’t have the money for the expensive things they sold at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom – La Perla and Rose & Fox and all kinds of other brands that sounded foreign and exotic. But the Frederick’s of Hollywood website seemed a little too trashy, so I’d compromised with a bra and panty set from Victoria’s Secret. That, along with the waxing I’d had at the salon down the street and a pretty maxi dress in a turquoise and cream print I’d purchased at a tiny boutique on the Upper West Side, had put a serious dent in my bank account.

“So, what, he just came up to you and asked you for your number?” Nessa pressed.

“Yeah,” I said. “Well, not at first. At first we just, you know, got to talking. And then when I was leaving he asked for my number.”

“And your address?”

I knew she was thinking about the flowers Callum had sent, trying to figure out how he’d known where to send them. “Um, well, my name. So he probably just googled me.”