Home > Come As You Are(15)

Come As You Are(15)
Author: Lauren Blakely

Angel: Lucky you. All I wound up with is your start-up button.

Duke: You have my button?

Angel: I wanted something to remember you by. That’s not weird at all to be reminded of someone because of a button, is it? It did start you up, after all.

Laughing, I slip my hand into my pocket, confirming the button is where I left it earlier. It’s also right next to her panties. I place them both on the table as I sink onto my couch by the floor-to-ceiling windows that afford a stunning view of Gramercy Park and beyond. Lights from high-rise buildings flicker in the dark sky, and I wonder where in this city she is. If she’s looking at the same view. If she lives in Manhattan, even.

Duke: Not weird at all. I hope the button brings fun memories. Also, did you slip your hand in my pocket while I was fucking you against the wall?

Angel: Is it an issue that my hands were in your pants while your cock was inside me?

Her directness makes me chuckle as I set my bare feet on the glass table in front of me, next to a signed copy of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Duke: Not when you phrase it like that.

Angel: Also . . . kidding. Completely kidding. I have nothing to remember you by. Except, well, I’m not likely to forget the hottest ever sex in my entire life.

Pride surges through me as I read her text again. This is a message worth saving. Maybe soon I’ll know the name that goes with Angel, but for tonight, I’m fine keeping up our masked identities. Some part of me is damn curious who she is in my world. It’d be ironic if she worked at my biggest competitor, so I’ll hope she’s truly an angel investor.

Duke: Glad the orgasms were so memorable you don’t need the button.

Angel: Everything was memorable: the dancing, the sex, the talking . . .

Duke: Personally, the talking is what made the sex fantastic. Well, it was part of it. A big part of it.

Angel: I have to agree, and I have to agree that other big parts played their role ably, as well.

Duke: Now I’ll have to revise my earlier assessment to clever, handy, and good with wordplay. But then, I kind of knew that.

Angel: And does that make you even more powerless to resist my charms?

Duke: Considering I’m texting you an hour after you ran away from me, Dirty Cinderella–style, I’d say you have all the power.

Angel: Ha. Doubtful. But thank you for saving my undies. There’s something rather noble about rescuing a damsel’s underthings.

Duke: You’re into this whole nobility thing, aren’t you? Duke and whatnot. Perhaps you should just call me your grace next time. Or Prince Charming.

Angel: Next time, Prince Charming? That seems presumptuous. I don’t believe you arranged a next time.

Duke: No? Does asking for your number and using it sixty minutes later not count?

Angel: Should I be impressed with that timing? Is that some new sort of land speed record?

Duke: You should be impressed I remembered your number. Who can remember numbers anymore these days?

Angel: You.

Duke: It’s amazing what I can recall when I really want to.

Angel: Like?

A visceral memory of earlier in the evening flashes before me, so real I swear I can taste her. I can recall perfectly how she felt against me. I’m parked here on my couch, alone in my dark apartment, the whole of the city keeping me quiet company beyond the glass, and yet, I’m back in time to an hour ago.

Duke: The taste of your lips.

Angel: How did they taste?

Duke: Like champagne. Also, the feel of your body.

Angel: How did I feel?

Duke: Addictive, as I predicted. I want another hit.

Angel: All this talk about next times, and another time.

Duke: I’m getting there. But first, I can recall your eyes perfectly.

Angel: What about them?

Duke: Warm, glittering hazel eyes with bronze and green flecks.

She doesn’t answer right away. There are no indicator dots on my phone, and I resign myself to the possibility that she fell asleep, or reconsidered. As I click over to my Japanese app, though, her nickname flashes on my screen.

The excitement in my chest is out of proportion to what it should be. I know that, but even so, it’s there. It’s real. I feel it.

Angel: I tried to think of a clever and witty and perfect reply. But all I want to say is this—your eyes are beautiful too, and I really want to see you again. Maybe that’s too forward. Maybe in this modern world of dating in New York City, I’m supposed to let you make the first move. But I don’t care because I want to see you again. Which I already said. But it’s the truth. You’re adorable and hot at the same time.

Duke: Same to you, and I want that too. Also, I seriously can’t believe I only met you tonight. I spent all that time with you, and it was the best unexpected date in ages.

Angel: I like that you consider it a date. But please know I don’t do that.

Duke: Date?

Angel: Ha! Lately, the answer to that is no. But I meant sleep with a man I’ve just met. Everything about tonight was entirely new to me. One-night stand, sleeping with a stranger and not knowing his name.

Duke: It’s not going to be a one-night stand, Angel. Also, is it weird that I’m really happy to hear that? Especially because I’ve never done that either.

Angel: Is it weird for me to be really happy to hear that too?

Duke: Can I take you out tomorrow night?

Angel: Why, I thought you’d never ask, Prince Charming. :)

Duke: You always knew I was going to ask, Dirty Cinderella.

Angel: I don’t like to be presumptuous. But all kidding aside, I was hoping you’d make good and fast use of my number. I’ve also been on a high since I left you—not just because of the O, but also the work call that came in. It was something I’ve been hoping to hear about, and I’m really excited to get all the details. But I can be free shortly after my meeting. Meet at six p.m.?

Duke: Let’s do it. Do you have a favorite place?

Angel: Have you ever been to The Dollhouse?

Duke: No, but if it’s your favorite, I’m there. See you tomorrow. Also, I won’t be wearing a mask. Will you be okay with that?

Angel: I have a feeling I’m going to like your face.

Duke: I feel the same way about you. I’ll tell you my name when I see you.

Angel: I’ll tell you mine then too—that way, we won’t be tempted to google each other. I’d rather see your face for real first, rather than in a picture.

Duke: I was going to say the same thing. I couldn’t agree more.

Angel: For now, I picture you like this.

She sends emoticons of a tiger cub and a wolf, and the grin on my face is too wide, the lightness in my chest too much. But I’ll take it because I think I could really like this woman, my Dirty Cinderella, and I want to know more.

As I hold my phone, not wanting to say good night, I decide I better wait for tomorrow to learn any more about her.



It’s like a movie scene, when the plucky heroine from the Midwest gawks at the brand-new office building in the city, amazed at its size.

That’s understandable since the high-rise in the heart of pulsing midtown is sky-high. New Yorkers scurry past me on Monday afternoon, barking into phones, lugging messenger bags, and hefting huge purses full of everything anyone could possibly need to do battle during a day in the city.

The afternoon sun shines brightly, reflecting off the brushed black and gold skyscraper. I stare at the towering structure. Not because it’s new to me, but because I’ve always wanted to be a part of what’s inside.

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