A Cruel Game

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I sigh, sinking to my knees onto the overstuffed cushion and tucking my legs as delicately as possible underneath me

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I sigh, sinking to my knees onto the overstuffed cushion and tucking my legs as delicately as possible underneath me. My skin is warm and tingly. The gas fire behind me throws off a surprising amount of heat.

Rafa returns after what seems like an eternity with an open bottle of wine and an oversized plate. He sets both on the table and drops to his knees on the pillow next to me.

"Only one wine glass? Only one plate?" I ask.

"We're sharing. Open up."

I open my mouth, and he pops a chorizo-stuffed date wrapped in bacon onto my tongue. I roll my eyes in pleasure as I chew and swallow.

We eat in silence for a few minutes, and then he flashes me a grin. "Let's talk about our arrangement."

I greedily snatch an empanada off the plate and take a bite. "Oh God, it's ground beef. Where did you get these?" I grunt a little while chewing and mention a Cuban restaurant in town. "Their food usually isn't this good."

"I sent a plane to pick up food from Puerto Sagua."

I blink several times. "You sent a plane all the way to South Beach to pick up Cuban food?"

He grins. "You loved Puerto Sagua."

I pick up a croqueta. "That's not very environmentally friendly."

He pushes out an exaggerated sigh. "I know. But I wanted you to have your favorite. Figured you hadn't in a while."

I'm too busy stuffing my face with the delicious Cuban food to do anything but moan in pleasure. "Fried plantains," I murmur. He spears one and feeds me the caramelized fruit, and I hum.

After several minutes of eating—with him mostly watching me, an amused and tender look on his face—I wipe my mouth on the napkin. "Um. So. Our arrangement. Are we going to have a written contract?"

He grins, shakes his head, and sips from the wine glass.

"No. The details are private. Between us. I do trust you to a certain degree, Justine. You wouldn't tell anyone or leak this to the press, I'm sure of that. I know you're like me, guarded with your own reputation, and I admire that."

I nod. My stomach feels heavy, possibly from all the food. He lifts a shrimp and dangles it in front of my mouth. I tease it with my tongue and bite it sensually while looking him in the eye.

"Fine. And as far as the paper, we can do a story on Monday about the deal. I want to be as transparent as possible with the readers. I don't want local bloggers finding out about this before my employees."

"As you like. Are there any other conditions you'd like to go over?"

He feeds me another shrimp, and we stare warily at each other in silence as I chew.

"Yes. I want to remain publisher."

"Absolutely. Although we might have to revisit that in the future if the paper's not making money in a year or two."

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