Authors: Rosalie Stanton
Kenzie gained momentum without encouragement. She drew up and plunged back down, the wet suction of their bodies driving him home. The part of him built on the principle “seeing was believing” was desperate to see his cock sliding inside her—stranded and disbelieving, even now, that any of this was occurring outside his head. But the way she gripped him, the way she moved, the way she sighed and cooed and threw her head back, that couldn’t be imagined. He drove hard and deep, thrusting up in desperation to match her pace. He found her clit again, pressing it softly with his thumb so it teased her with every drive. The startled gasp that fluttered off her lips was chased by a grin, and he swore the world lit up with it.
She grew hotter and wetter, burning him alive. Her muscles squeezed and pulled, seemingly determined to keep him locked within her even as she drew away. Lennon’s balls tightened. He was close, so close, but he needed her to reach it first. He needed…
Kenzie’s lips crashed upon his, her whimpers pouring into his mouth as she tightened, bucked and spasmed. She milked his cock until he had no choice but to follow her over, shooting semen into the condom as white-hot spears of pure ecstasy unmade him from the inside out. Lennon had no idea how long it lasted but it felt like forever—forever, yet not long enough. And, when she finally stilled against him, her pussy hugging his slowly deflating prick, the world strangely felt new again.
Lennon wasn’t a romantic. He knew sex changed things but likewise believed he kept a level head on his shoulders. He also knew to distance the physical from the emotional, though perhaps not with the same cold detachment as those men who bedded a different woman every other night. And though he knew this thing with Kenzie was fleeting, a part of him couldn’t help but wonder.
It meant more to him than just a passing fling. That much went without saying. He just didn’t know where to go from here. As the haze around his head began to thin, the only other thing that remained concrete was his conviction that the world awaiting his return would feel strange if he didn’t take her with him. Perhaps it was foolish to hope she’d follow, but hell, he’d already proved himself a fool.
So, foolishly, he hoped.
The entire night had been an exercise in self-preservation, and Kenzie didn’t know how she had fared. The discarded Buckingham file sat on the opposite side of the elevator, along with the tape. Her body was on a high of sexual satisfaction, enjoying Lennon’s rugged after-work scent and the way his arms enveloped her fully. She sat between his legs, her head resting against his chest and her hands wedged firmly in the front pockets of her sweater. They had dressed in awkward silence once his cock had slipped out of her. The used condom… Shit, she didn’t want to know what he’d done with it. And she didn’t particularly want to know what was going through his head, or anything beyond the immediacy of now in the face of the inevitable.
The intensity of what they’d shared had shaken her foundation. Kenzie wasn’t the sort of woman who could trust things would work out for the best; therefore it wasn’t in her interest to hope needlessly where hope had no place. There was no reason to believe anything would come from what had transpired here, except perhaps the satisfaction of having fulfilled mutual fantasies. Lennon hadn’t spoken about anything more, though he had waxed loftily about what their relationship might have been under different circumstances. Wishful thinking was for fools—nothing more than castles in the sky under the duress of reality.
Tonight had provided a break from the norm and given them both a chance for closure. There was no need to call a rose by any other name. It was what it was.
Kenzie swallowed hard and settled against him. She felt Lennon inhale deeply at her movement. Silence had yet to be broken, but not speaking would make whatever came next all the more difficult.
He cleared his throat, sending imaginary tremors through her skin. “’Cause I wanted it. You did too.”
She smiled and crossed her arms. “No. Why Lennon? It’s a strange name.”
“It’s my name.”
“You have a strange name.”
“It has an appropriate amount of consonants and vowels. What makes it so strange?”
“Well,” she replied, “it makes you sound a little murder-y, for one.”
Kenzie felt him grin, though she wasn’t sure how one could feel a grin. She didn’t bother to see if she was right; she liked it when he smiled, and would prefer her mind’s image over reality if she was wrong.
“Murder-y?” Lennon asked.
”Ah. Wrong spelling.” His embrace tightened. “And the reason is I was born on November 8, 1981.”
“The…huh? The reason for what?”
“You asked about my name. My parents met, dated, and got hitched in three months. They were Beatles fans—huge Beatles fans. In fact, they’re in Tulsa this weekend to catch a McCartney concert. And John Lennon was murdered in 1980. It’s actually what got them talking.” He shrugged. “My father’s name was Jonathan, and he didn’t want me to be named after him, and since he wouldn’t have dated my mother without Lennon’s death, it seemed…you know, come to think of it, I’m not sure if naming me Lennon was really sweet or really morbid.”
“Go with sweet.” Kenzie sighed and settled back. “They must’ve plucked you right out of law school.”
Kenzie wet her lips. “Is it strange we’ve never talked like this before?”
“I don’t know about strange, but it’s definitely unfortunate.”
She felt him brush a tendril of hair from her ear and shivered when his breath tickled her skin.
He then whispered, “Why McKenzie?”
“My parents were huge Beatles fans, but thought it’d be weird to name me McCartney.”
“No.” She paused. “Ah, my mom’s best friend in high school was named McKenzie. She was killed in a drunk-driving accident.”
That statement always rubbed her the wrong way, and she heard it from everyone once divulging the origins of her name.
“Why? I never knew her. I didn’t mourn her. The only connection I have to her is I have her name.”
Just as she’d felt Lennon’s grin earlier, she felt his frown now. “I…it’s just a human response. I’m sorry. I’ll never be sorry again. Sorry.”
Kenzie snickered. “Now you’re making fun of me.”
She laughed again and elbowed him—softly, though, not wanting to hurt, rather jab in jest.
“It’s just weird. When you’re named after someone who died, especially young and tragically, people seem to want to place that dead person on your shoulders. Like I am my mom’s friend, McKenzie, and not just…me. I have the responsibility for this woman I never knew. I don’t really know where I was going with this, but—”
“No, I understand.” He nuzzled the back of her head and she heard, rather than felt, his kiss.
A soft, comfortable quiet settled between them—the sort one didn’t notice at first. It was enough for a slew of thoughts she’d held at bay to swarm inward once again. While logically she knew only a few hours at most had passed since she made her not-so-stealthy escape from Lennon’s apartment, it seemed days had rolled by. She’d entered this agreement with a firm understanding of why her motives were justified, how she deserved vindication after being cast aside, and then Lennon’s absolute, assured guilt in possessing the video. These were things that weren’t subject to interpretation. No amount of explanation could possibly validate the wrong he’d committed against her.
And then he’d pushed himself into the elevator, and her fabric of anger-woven vendetta had unraveled. Not only that, she’d learned some things about herself in the process. She’d shoved him away only to realize he wouldn’t shut her out, and somehow she doubted being trapped had anything to do with it.
Something burned deep within Kenzie’s belly. Beyond the tape, beyond the admissions, beyond the earth-shattering orgasm he’d given her along with the promise of more… Simply being held was something she’d never had. Hunter certainly hadn’t cared to snuggle after he climaxed. They had never cuddled on the couch or laughed at the same things. In fact, most of their dates revolved around him making lewd remarks and her rolling her eyes and pretending she was in on the joke. It was one thing for Lennon to hold her now. The squeezes, gentle caresses, soft kisses were a part of the package she hadn’t considered—something that separated what was real from what was desired.
That scared her more than she cared to admit.
Ostensibly, there was no reason this had to be the end of the line. Lennon had feelings for her and she had feelings for him—most adults in this situation would accept that and proceed. Perhaps her ever-elusive happily-ever-after could follow a night of forced closeness and the intimacy they now shared as a result. It was true, she could one day tell her children the story of how Mom and Dad had got together after being stuck in an elevator with one another—omitting, of course, the X-rating. It was possible, but she didn’t see it.
At the moment, she didn’t see anything. Not the hallway, her bed, what the morning would bring. Handing the Buckingham file over to Kayla Bryant at once struck her as idiotic and selfish, and Kenzie knew then she could never go through with it. Regardless of how her failure to do so would affect her bank account and her brother’s college ambitions, nothing could justify putting Lennon’s career on the line. It didn’t matter what he’d done or what she’d thought he’d done. The whole endeavor was never her—rather shades of someone she didn’t know who tried to borrow her face and personality for a few selfish hours. How she’d convinced herself to do it in the first place would forever remain a mystery.
Kenzie sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“What?” Lennon replied.
“For all of this. For breaking into your place, for taking the file—”
“You don’t need to apologize—”
“Yes, I do. It was wrong. Everything’s been wrong. I’ve been wrong.”
“What we did earlier didn’t feel wrong.”
Warmth spread through her belly. She resisted clenching her thighs in memory of him being buried between them.
“No,” she agreed slowly. “But everything else…”
“Everything else what?”
“I dunno. I’m all muddled.”
Lennon was quiet for a moment. “I’ve been thinking…about all of this. You, me…that tape and the Buckingham file—”
“I won’t fight you for it.”
“You don’t have to.” Another still beat. He expelled a deep breath. “I want you to take it.”
Kenzie froze. There was no way she’d heard him correctly. “What?”
“I had you fired—”
“You had me reassigned.”
“Yes, but I knew.” Lennon squeezed her to him, as though afraid his admission would send her running back to the other side of the elevator. “You were gone completely. On some level, I had to know.”
“You’re just telling yourself that because you know now and you feel guilty. I can’t take the file, Lennon.”
“Sure you can.”
“Not at the cost of your job or worse.”
“So what? Someone broke into my apartment. That’s not my fault.”
“You said earlier it’s not that easy!”
He inclined his head. “Well, I’ve had some time to reconsider, and I have decided it is, in fact, that easy.”
“Well, tough. I’m not taking it.”
“Yes, you are.”
“This is insane, you know.”
“This is your future, you know.”
Kenzie huffed. “At the expense of yours?”
“Why not? I sacrificed you already at the expense of more than my career.”
“You didn’t know—”
“Ignorance isn’t an argument. It’s an excuse.” He laughed bitterly. “I had a thousand chances. That tape arrived, and I ran from it. I should’ve turned it over to you the instant I realized what it was.”
Well, she agreed with him there, but that didn’t make her right, and it hardly made him wrong.
“You didn’t intend for any of this to happen.”
“You know what they say about the road to Hell, don’t you?”
“You know what they say about meaningless sayings, don’t you?”
“Why are you arguing with me?”
Kenzie waved a hand. “Because the second I return to sanity, you step out of it. Was the sex that good?”
“It was fucking amazing, but that’s hardly the point.”
The admission had her blushing again, but dammit, he would not distract her. “The point is you’ve lost your marbles and decided a one-night stand is worth flushing your career.”
“I have not.”
“I’m not worth it.”
“Yes you are. More importantly, Buckingham’s a piece of shit who deserves whatever he gets. I didn’t go to law school to become a punchline.”
“No buts,” Lennon said, his tone firm. “I want you to take the file.”
“Well, I want you to stuff it.” She wiggled. “What do you think is going to happen? Do you honestly believe we’re going to have anything resembling a normal relationship? Do you see us riding off into the sunset—”
“Is it wrong to want to see you again?”
Her heart swelled, but she knew not to push it. “I just don’t see how anything between us could work when everything up to now has been either misdirection or an outright lie. What sort of functioning relationship comes out of that?”
“That’s the purpose of dating.”
Kenzie kept her gaze on the ground. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
“Actually, it works that way all the time.”
“Not for us.”
“Because I’m not an idiot.”
Lennon paused. “Okay. Dunno where that came from, but we’re agreed there.”
“Do you have any idea what I have on my plate?” she replied. “I have a job to look for, a brother to put through school—”
“Which is why you’re taking the file.”
“Would you stop being so freaking noble? It’s wigging me out.”
It was beyond difficult having a conversation like this without looking at him, and though Kenzie was loathe to abandon his embrace, it had to happen sooner or later. The implied intimacy didn’t do her any good. She scooted away and climbed to her feet, doing her best not to acknowledge her whining muscles or the hurt look on Lennon’s face.
“This can’t work,” she said, her voice unwavering.
Lennon stared at her. “Why?” he demanded. “Why can’t we even try?”
“Because we can’t.”
“Is this a woman thing I’ll never understand?”
Kenzie waved an arm. “Look at how we got here! You never said anything to me. I never said anything to you. You got me fired and I broke into your apartment. We haven’t had a single honest moment together.”
“I think our time here has been honest.”
“And more than that.”
“It’s been wish fulfillment,” she insisted. “Nothing else. None of this would’ve happened were it not for the power outage, or whatever the hell happened out there. If this hadn’t happened, we would’ve fought and you would’ve had me arrested.”
“But this did happen,” Lennon fired back, also rising to his feet. “You can’t go around basing whatever it is between us on speculation about what might have been. That isn’t fair.”