Home > When I'm with You (Because You Are Mine #2)

When I'm with You (Because You Are Mine #2)
Author: Beth Kery

PART I: When We Touch

Chapter One

It was past midnight when Lucien opened the rear entrance to his restaurant and immediately went on high alert, hushing his movements. In the distance he heard the sound of a low male voice. An intruder had breached his restaurant’s security. Although Fusion was frequently bustling with the chic late-night dinner and nightclub crowd, it was closed on Sunday and Monday. There definitely shouldn’t be anyone inside. Quietly, he closed the rear door, his fist tightening around the polo mallet he carried. He’d been planning on replacing this cracked one with an intact one from his storage closet at Fusion. He had different plans for it now.

For the most part, Lucien maintained the vaguely amused, cynical stance of an experienced, world-weary libertine, a man who claimed no family, no country, no creed, and few of the worldly possessions to which he was entitled by law, which were many. But what he did claim, he fought for. Always. He just hadn’t realized that the restaurant he’d recently bought had gotten so deeply into his bones until this very moment, when he was ready to do battle for it.

He eased down the dim hallway, following the glow of a light shining around a partially closed door that led to the large bar area of the restaurant. He turned his head, his hearing pitched to pick up the slightest sound. A tingle went down his spine at the sound of female laughter. A man’s low chuckle twined with it—rough and intimate. He heard the unmistakable sound of glassware clinking, as if in a toast.

Lucien approached the door and leaned his head into the crack.

“Why do you play games with me?” he heard a man ask.

“Play games?”

Lucien’s escalated heartbeat seemed to hesitate for a moment at the woman’s voice. Strange. She was from the country of his birth. The female’s tone was amused, melodious and light, her French accent laced with a British tinge. Perhaps he recognized the accent because it was very similar to his own.

“You are taunting me,” the man said roughly. “You have been all night. Not just me. There wasn’t a man in that restaurant tonight who wasn’t bewitched by you.”

“I’m actually being very cautious. We are going to work together, after all,” the woman replied, her tone suddenly brisker, cooler. Lucien got the impression she was sending up red flags.

“I want more than just to work with you. I want to help you. I want you in my house . . . my bed,” the man said, ignoring the female’s warning. Lucien went from high alert to irritated in a second flat when he recognized the man speaking. He hadn’t interrupted a burglary on his premises.

He’d walked in on a seduction.

Disgusted, he pushed open the door and strode into the dimly lit, sleek restaurant. The couple stood next to the shining mahogany bar facing each other, their hands curled around crystal brandy snifters. He noticed the woman backing away slightly from the man, as if repelled by his hovering. Distantly, he registered that she wore a blue and silver evening gown that clung to full, firm breasts and taut curves. The dress plunged in the back, revealing a glimpse of white, flawless skin that shone luminous in the soft lighting. The vision of Mario Vincente’s hand splayed across that expanse of bare skin inexplicably ratcheted up Lucien’s irritation to anger. The extremely talented chef Lucien had hired from a top-rated restaurant in Las Vegas was a bit of a diva. Mario didn’t notice Lucien until he was just feet away. When he did, his brown eyes went wide.

“Lucien!” The brandy-filled glass sagged in Mario’s hand. Lucien’s gaze flicked rapidly to the singular bottle sitting on the counter—Cognac Dudognon Héritage, an item from the private stock in his office. Lucien tossed the polo mallet he’d been carrying on the mahogany bar, the sound of it ringing in the air like a remonstrance.

“I hadn’t realized I’d provided you with Fusion’s security code. Or permission to access my office and private bar. Explain yourself, Mario,” Lucien said, his tone crisp but neutral now that he understood the nature of the intrusion on his property. True, he was irritated at Mario’s infraction, and he would make sure his employee knew it. He just hadn’t yet decided if he’d terminate the idiot. He’d never had a soft spot for Mario, but chefs as talented as him were hard to come by, after all.

“I . . . I didn’t expect to see you,” Mario fumbled.


Lucien noticed the woman’s bare, lithesome arm dip, the liquor in her glass sloshing into the curved bowl. For the first time, he gave the other occupant of the room's face a cursory glance. He did a double take.



“What are you doing here, Elise?”

Surely he was seeing things—a face from his past . . . a beautiful face but one he’d most definitely rather not appear at this juncture of his life. What the hell was Elise Martin doing in his restaurant in Chicago, thousands of miles from their country of origin, leagues from the gilded cage of their common past? Was this some sort of cosmic joke?

“I might ask the same of you,” Elise replied rapidly, dark blue eyes flashing. Understanding made her features flatten. “Lucien . . . you’re Lucien Lenault. You own this place?”

“What? You two know one another?” Mario asked.

Lucien threw Elise a repressive glance. Her lush lips snapped closed, and she gave him a defiant glare. She’d caught his warning for silence regarding their association all right, but that didn’t guarantee anything. Knowing Elise, she hadn’t decided yet whether she’d keep quiet or not. A flicker of anxiety went through him. He had to get her out of Fusion at all costs . . . out of his life here in Chicago. Elise Martin would cause havoc anywhere she set a perfectly pedicured, elegant toe. More specifically, she could ruin everything he’d gained on his mission with regard to billionaire entrepreneur Ian Noble.

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