tagRomanceHog Wild Ch. 03

Hog Wild Ch. 03

byoohsexypenguin©

Holly sat on Alex's couch, her mind abuzz with the day's events.

As soon as she had agreed to stay with him, Alex had practically swooped her back down those dreaded stairs, only allowing her enough time to grab a pair of jeans and a sweater. In between assurances that his place "was plenty big enough" for the two of them and that he'd help her pack all her belongings "tomorrow, as early as possible," she'd barely had time to think about her decision.

Now that she was lounging comfortably, her legs propped up on a fluffy cushion and an aspirin taking the edge off her pain, she was able to wrap her mind around the fact that she was in Alex's loft, and that this was her home for the time being.

What the hell have I gotten myself into? she thought, a frown coming to her face as a feeling of apprehension sprang up in her stomach.

Never one to make a hasty choice, Holly took a moment to chastise herself for her rash behavior. Sure, she'd been desperate and hysterical; that didn't justify taking Alex up on his offer, not when they'd known each other for less than 24 hours.

Stealing a glance toward the kitchen, she watched Alex preparing some sort of pasta dish. He was humming faintly, and Holly stifled a laugh as she recognized it to be a tune by a washed-up boy band. His black hair fell into his eyes, and the lines of his face were settled into a look of placid contentment.

Holly continued to watch as Alex grabbed a knife and began to chop some mushrooms. She admired the slight rippling of muscle in his tanned arms, caused by his ministrations. Suddenly finding her mouth devoid of moisture, she cleared her throat softly.

Alex looked up at the sound and shot her an easy grin. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'm okay," Holly lied. Not wanting to admit that what she was feeling was a bit more primal, she continued, "Actually, I think I'd be more comfortable if I could get out of these clothes."

Alex raised an eyebrow, his grin widening to a seductive smile. It was only then that Holly realized the innuendo in what she had said. Blushing furiously, she hastened to correct herself. "I mean... I just don't usually... sit around... in my work clothes," she explained lamely, unable to meet Alex's eyes as he laughed lowly.

"I might have some sweats you could change into," Alex said, setting down the knife and striding around the kitchen counter toward her.

"Really?" Holly said, her breath coming a bit more shallowly as he moved closer.

"Yeah," Alex said, smiling down at her as he offered his hand. "Let me help you up, and we'll go check my drawers."

Holly reluctantly placed her hand in his, allowing him to pull her up carefully. He rested her right arm over his shoulders, and she leaned her weight against him as they hobbled together down the hallway leading, presumably, to Alex's bedroom.

Holly quickly surveyed the room as he kicked the door open. It, too, had expansive white walls, only instead of framed reviews it featured framed artwork. The space was dominated by a large, wrought iron bed, the bedding of which was black and white. There was a black dresser in a corner of the room, and the large window behind the bed held a breathtaking view of the city.

"You sure are a fan of minimalistic style, aren't you?" Holly asked wryly.

"Black and white are my favorite colors, yes," Alex replied, smirking. "And I see no need for frills and fuss. I am a guy, after all."

"I guess," Holly said, taking her arm from around Alex and limping closer to one of the pieces of art. "Hey," she said, looking at Alex. "This looks like it was painted by a four year old." Glimpsing the other paintings, she added, "They all do."

"That might be because they are painted by a four year old," Alex said, walking over to stand nearer to Holly. "Well, a five year old, anyway. These were done by my niece."

"You have a niece?" Holly asked.

"I do," Alex answered, a look of amusement crossing his face. "Why do you sound so surprised?"

Holly felt her cheeks color, and she bit her lip. "I don't know," she said. "I really don't know as much about you as I thought I did, do I?"

Alex felt a wave of desire rush through him as he watched Holly's small, pearly teeth gnaw on her pink bottom lip. It must be a nervous quirk of hers, he thought, shaking his head slightly to clear his thoughts. "And what is it you know about me, little one?" he asked.

"Only what was in that short biography your agent gave me to read," Holly answered. "It didn't mention anything about your family, though." She was biting her lip again; Alex was fighting the urge to give her lip a bite, too.

"I have a younger brother," he said, quickly turning his attention back to the finger painting on his wall. "Amelia is his only child, and since she's the only niece I've got, naturally I dote on the little brat."

Holly laughed, turning to look at Alex. She saw him in profile, noticing the fondness on his face as he looked at his niece's work. Beginning to see him in a new light, she said, "Well, Amelia's got talent, I can say that for sure."

"I suppose creativity runs in the Grant family," Alex joked, waggling his eyebrows at her and making her laugh even more. "Now how about we get you into some pajamas?"

Strolling over to the dresser, Alex opened the top drawer and rummaged around for a few seconds. Holly preoccupied herself with the other paintings on the wall. One showcased what appeared to be a garden, with a giant sunflower in the middle; another featured a stick figure family in front of a large square house.

"Here you go," Alex said, prompting Holly to turn around. He tossed a pair of gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt onto the bed. "Those will most definitely hang like sacks on you, but they'll have to do for now."

"Thank you," Holly murmured, embarrassed at the thought of wearing a man's clothes.

"No problem," Alex replied, feeling a bit embarrassed himself. A moment of silence passed between them before Alex said, "I'll, uh, be in the kitchen if you need me."

He started for the door, and he was almost safely outside it when he heard Holly ask, "Is it alright if I... take a shower, too?"

Smiling slightly at the timidity in her voice, he said over his shoulder, "Go right ahead. Clean towels are in the cabinet under the sink."

He walked back toward the kitchen without another look behind him, leaving Holly wondering what she'd said to make the moment so awkward.

*

"Christ, Murray, what have I done?" Alex ranted at the cat, who was sitting on the desk and looking rather self-satisfied. Back in the kitchen, Alex ran the knife haphazardly through the mushrooms, though the recipe clearly called for a clean chop.

Absentmindedly pouring the pasta in the boiling water to cook, Alex found his thoughts consumed by the ginger-haired minx who was now naked in the bathroom.

He heard the shower turn on and pictured the water running over her creamy curves, soap foaming in most inappropriate places.

Hell, he thought. I really need to get laid.

It had been eight years since his last relationship, and it had ended so badly that he hadn't been with a woman since. In general he found the opposite sex to be annoying; in particular, he found them to be unworthy of his time.

Now that spitfire of a girl waltzes into your life and you jump all over her, Alex chided himself. What's the matter with you, old man?

Alex wasn't so sure he even knew how to handle a woman anymore. One minute he was infuriated by Holly, the next he was kissing her like his life depended on it. Then, to top it all off, he invited her to move in with him.

"Am I an idiot, or what?" Alex said, scowling at Murray. Murray simply yawned.

"You mark my words, you useless blob," Alex swore, pointing his finger at the cat, who was now bathing himself and ignoring Alex altogether. "I'm not going to touch her. I'm going to be a professional, and by the time this book is finished she'll be out of my system completely!"

There was a knock at the door, startling Alex out of his temper. Checking to make sure nothing was going to burn in his absence, he walked to the front door and looked through the peephole.

"Devon," he said as he swung the door open. "What are you doing here?"

Devon Whitcomb, a blond haired, blue eyed pretty boy, brushed past Alex, tossing his suit jacket on the back of the couch. "Checking up on you, buddy," he replied, taking a seat and propping his feet on the coffee table. "How is the new assistant working out?"

Alex regarded his agent and wondered for the millionth time why he kept him around. Devon was good at what he did; he was one of the main reasons Alex was so popular and successful.

But sometimes he could be an ass, and right now was one of those times.

"Barge right in, why don't you," Alex said, slamming the front door closed in a huff.

"Smells good, Grant," Devon said, sniffing the air and clasping his hands behind his head. "What are you making us for dinner?"

Alex rolled his eyes. "Who said this was a date?" he retorted, making his way back into the kitchen.

Devon laughed heartily, flashing his severely whitened teeth. His rich voice carried throughout the loft. "Don't tell me someone's edged me out of your heart already," he said, leaning forward and resting his arms on his knees.

Holly chose that moment to walk out of the bathroom, clad only in a big white towel.

"Alex, this is a silly question, but do you happen to have a blow dry..."

The words died in her throat as she spied Devon on the couch. Looking mortified, she clasped the towel more tightly around herself and began to back up slowly. "Oh, sorry," she stammered.

"Holly Sullivan, how nice to see you," Devon drawled as he gave her the once over, his face registering his approval. "I wasn't aware I hired you as a live-in assistant."

Alex, caught up in his own appraisal of Holly in a towel, was jerked out of his reverie by the comment. "Devon, can I have a word with you?" he asked, gesturing toward the balcony.

Holly, thankful for an out, gimped her way back into the bedroom, her face a shade of red that very nearly matched her hair color.

"Sure thing, Grant," Devon said, craning his neck in an obvious attempt to check out Holly's backside.

"Now," Alex barked, waiting at the sliding door for Devon to join him.

*

Holly shut the bathroom door, horrified at what had just transpired. What were you thinking, traipsing out there in just a towel? she thought.

Actually, what she'd been thinking was that she would like to see the look on Alex's face when he saw her in just a towel. "But that backfired, didn't it," she muttered to herself.

A small part of her had been hoping Alex would be swept up in how sexy she looked, and perhaps be inspired to kiss her again; now she was not only unkissed, but humiliated, as well. Looking at her reflection in the lightly fogged mirror, she shook her head at the sight she made. Her auburn hair was a wet, tangled mess, and her skin was pink from the steam of the shower. Her eyes still looked swollen from crying, and her lip was a bit raw from where she'd chewed on it earlier.

Sexy? Try silly, she thought harshly.

Tears of shame stung her eyes, and as she dried her hair and put on the clean clothes she swore that this was the last time she was going to make a fool out of herself in front of Alexander Grant.

*

"You're a jerk, you know that, Devon?"

Alex was livid. He was not only embarrassed for himself, but for Holly, as well. But as angry as he was, he couldn't get the image of her in that blasted white towel out of his head. She'd looked so beautiful, so alluring.

So threatening to his resolve.

"What?" Devon said, holding up his hands innocently. "You can't blame a man for appreciating a good-looking woman, Alex."

"You couldn't see how uncomfortable you made the poor girl?" Alex spat, pacing back and forth on the balcony. The sun had just set, and the twinkling lights below made a lovely sight. Alex, however, was oblivious, his thoughts focused on Holly.

"Holly?" Devon said, raising his eyebrow and looking at Alex quizzically. "Or you?"

Alex stopped, jerking his head up to meet Devon's interested gaze. "Me?" he asked, incredulous. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Devon chuckled, slipping his hands into his pockets. "I think the one who's most uncomfortable here is you, pal," he said. "I think you, dare I say it, like her."

Alex burst into laughter, shaking his head vehemently at the man's accusation. "No, no, no," he said, leaning against the railing. "You couldn't be more wrong, Devon."

"Am I?" Devon asked. "Then why did you get so upset by what happened just now?"

"Because!" Alex answered brusquely. "You were all but leering at her, and she was mortified as it is!"

Devon shrugged. "Suit yourself, Alex." He walked back into the loft, picked his jacket up off the couch and then went to the front door. "You can only remain in denial for so long," he said, winking at Alex before the door clicked shut.

Alex sighed, resting his head against the cool glass of the sliding door. Devon's words had irritated him: as much as he wanted to believe that it was because they were untrue, he knew that the reason he was so agitated was because they weren't.

Murray meowed loudly, as if calling Alex to finish with the cooking. No longer hungry, Alex marched into the kitchen and tossed what he'd been preparing into the trash can.

The bathroom door opened, and Holly walked carefully into the living room. Seeing Alex cleaning up the mess he'd made while making dinner, she asked, "Is the pasta ready, then?"

"No," Alex replied gruffly. "I've decided that you can have peanut butter and jelly instead."

"Oh," Holly said, taken aback by Alex's sudden change in temperament. She observed silently as Alex wrenched the bread from the pantry and set the necessary condiments down rather loudly on the countertop.

"You needn't bother," she intervened as Alex was about to murder a slice of bread with a butter knife and jelly. "I can do it myself."

"Fine," Alex said, throwing down the knife and going to the sink to wash his hands.

"Where did Devon go?" Holly asked hesitantly, seeing no sign of him. "Is he gone?"

Alex whipped around to look at her, a black look marring the handsome features of his face. "Yes, he's gone," he snapped. "And now it seems my appetite's gone, too."

Holly stood agape as he brushed past her, stalking off toward his bedroom. He paused in the doorway, saying quietly, "You will stay in the guest room. I already made up the bed for you." Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Sleep well."

With that, he slammed the door and turned the lock, shutting Holly out for the night.

*

Alex hadn't slept well.

The next morning he was bleary-eyed and grumpy, cursing under his breath and wishing he could just stay in bed all day. Feeling a bit guilty for taking out his frustrations on Holly the night before, he'd made up his mind to make her breakfast in an attempt at an apology.

Seeing as he didn't have any cereal, pancake mix or even eggs, he became even more cranky when he realized he'd actually have to apologize with words.

"G'morning," Holly said, startling Alex as he stirred cream into his coffee. She shuffled into the kitchen, wincing at the pain in her hip and wiping sleep out of her eyes.

"You look cute when you do that." The words were out of his mouth before he'd had time to think about them. Alex held his breath as Holly's eyes shot open, the look of sleep quickly replaced by one of surprise.

"I do?" she asked.

"Er, yeah," Alex said, clenching and unclenching his jaw nervously. "You do. And by the way... I'm really sorry about last night."

Holly didn't say anything at first, leaving Alex to wonder if she'd either entirely forgotten about it or was about to bust his balls.

Fortunately, neither was the case. "That's alright," she said, moving around him to fix her own cup of coffee. "Neither of us was in a very good mood, I guess."

Alex sighed, relieved that she'd decided to move past it. "Yeah," he said, taking a mug down from the cabinet for her when he noticed she was struggling to reach it. "I think, to be on the safe side, you should try to avoid wearing towels in front of guests, if at all possible."

Holly gasped, looking appalled. She relaxed a little as she recognized the teasing glint in Alex's eyes. "Oh, right," she said, smiling weakly. "Sure thing."

"So," Alex began, hopping up on the counter and taking a swig of his coffee. "Ready to tackle that apartment of yours?"

Holly groaned, the prospect of packing and moving many boxes seeming daunting to her.

"Is that a yes?" Alex taunted, smiling at her over his cup.

"I hate moving," Holly said, measuring out some sugar. "I've moved four times in the last three years."

"Oh?" Alex asked, surprised by this bit of information. "Why is that, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Unsteady income," Holly answered. "I've had to bounce around from place to place, looking for cheaper rent."

"I see," Alex said, frowning a little.

"What?" Holly asked, irked by his response.

"Nothing," Alex replied, taking another sip of his coffee. "It's just that I don't know what that's like, having to move around a lot."

"I wouldn't recommend it," Holly grumbled, feeling her mood darken at the thought of it.

Alex, seeing that this wasn't the best subject to discuss this early in the morning, decided to switch topics. "Why don't we stop by and check on your bike before we head to your place?" he asked, hoping to cheer her up some.

Holly's eyes immediately lit up. "I'd like that," she said, smiling slightly. "Even if it's all beat up, I still want to see it."

"Alright, then," Alex said, jumping off the counter and tossing the contents of his mug into the sink.

"Wait," Holly said. "What about your book? When are we going to work on it?"

"Oh, we've got plenty of time for that this evening," Alex said, waving his hand in a dismissive gesture. "Last one dressed is a rotten egg!" And with that he jogged into his bedroom.

"Cheater," Holly muttered, setting her unfinished coffee down on the counter and limping into the guest room. "Who in the world tries to race a gimp?"

*

Holly was not in a good mood as she sullenly threw some clothes into a suitcase. The trip to the repair shop had been painful; her bike, her treasured Harley, was scratched and dented, the paint scraped off in several places.

"The damages'll probably run you upwards of three thousand dollars," the repairman had told her, and Holly had fought a hard battle to maintain her composure.

"I don't know why you still refuse to let me pay for it."

Alex was in the corner of her bedroom, unscrewing her computer desk in order to make it easier to transport.

"It wouldn't feel right," Holly argued, zipping up the suitcase and moving to clean out the rest of her closet.

"I don't follow your logic," Alex groused, throwing the screwdriver back into the toolbox that he had brought along. "It's my fault that it's in the shop to begin with."

Holly sighed, closing her eyes against the headache that was beginning to form at the back of her head. Her hip was flaring up again; she'd forgotten to take an aspirin before they'd left the loft that morning.

"Are you okay?" Alex asked, concern evident in his tone.

Holly nodded, ignoring the dull throb the motion caused. "Yeah, I'll be alright," she said, hoping he'd let it lie.

She was wrong. Alex stood up and walked over to her, taking the wooden box she'd just retrieved from the top shelf of the closet out of her hands. "Yeah, right," he said, pointing over to the bed. "Sit down, I'll finish emptying out the closet."

"I have to help you," Holly protested. "The movers will be here at eleven, that only gives us an hour..."

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