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My mouth becomes cottony dry and I'm wishing I at least ran a hand through my Afro puff before I answered. Soul grins back at me with those chiseled cheekbones, and sensual lips that I remember how plump and juicy they were all over my body. He's shirtless and I see just the faintest visual of his muscular chest.

He's also in his bedroom, and it looks like he's about to go to sleep as well. I remember how he cuddled up against me after we made love the entire night and how strong his arms were around my body, as if he were protecting me.

I naturally cross my legs to tame down the tingling between my thighs. I don't know what it is about Soul that makes me so crazy about him. He should've been a long-ago memory from way back when, and yet, he's very much in my present and possibly future.

"Bae..." His deep baritone vibrates against my core and I'm shooketh all over. " are you doing, beautiful?"

I sigh and grin. My mind hates him for what he did earlier but my heart and yoni wants to welcome him back home. "Good, though I'm a bit mad at you."

"You're a bit mad at me?" He repeats. "Isn't that like being a little pregnant?"

"You didn't tell me about the ad, Soul." I brush off his humor, though I'm smiling. Damn him. "It would've been nice if I got a heads up about it."

"If I did, you would've tried to talk me out of it. The ad was decided long before last night if that's what you're implying." He quickly responds.

"How long ago are we talking about?" I cautiously ask. "Those pictures are from two years ago."

"And I decided to run the ad about three months ago. You still look the same." He makes no apologies and I don't expect any. "And they're lovely pictures, Ari. I especially love the one where I'm kissing the back of your neck. That was your spot, wasn't it?"

My lungs push out air through my mouth. Those tingles are back now and it doesn't help Soul is also in L.A. I wonder how quickly could he come over to break me off something proper. "Next time give me a warning. I'm the trending topic today. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook...everyone is talking about how I'm in your ad despite our history."

"You think I give a damn?" He declares and on God, I wanted to ride his face the moment he said that.

"I should've been prepared, Soul." I meet his tone and he returns a sexy smirk at me. I swear my mind can't decide if I want to fight him or fuck him. Maybe both.

"If you want to address it, so be it. Say with it with your chest is all I'm requesting." His answer doesn't indicate how he feels about my comfort level one way or another. It does, however, tell me he wants nothing but honesty and transparency between us.

I pause for a moment and think about what I'm doing, what we're doing. I fold my lips in and grin. "I need to go to sleep, Soul."

"Sleep well, baby." He rubs a hand over his fade and down to his beard. Ugh, he's so damn sexy it hurts. "I hope you have beautiful dreams tonight."

"Soul..." I don't want to disconnect quite yet but I don't know why I'm still entertaining him when I have to be up very early. "...out of all of the pictures you chose for the ad? The ones the kids took...why did you choose that one with us? You have never highlighted yourself in your ads before."

"I still haven't," he calmly replied, "you're the highlight."

The compliment soothes me like a warm blanket on a freezing day. "Hmm..." I want to believe him but I don't see the purpose of him coming back into my life years later. "Okay."

"Why?" He studies my face and there's a look of concern on his. "You honestly think I'm inveigling you?"

"Wow, you really did have a perfect SAT score," I counter.

His baritone laugh covers my body. "I'll never lead you on into believing something when it's something else I'm after. If I want you, that's all I want."

"Why do you want me?" I cut to the chase with no chaser.

"Because I love you." He doesn't hesitate to answer and it's loud and clear. "Should I not?"

No man has ever declared his love for me so emphatically. He said it in a way where he dared someone to challenge him. "It's been two years, Soul." I push out the words. "Two years and it was a brief fling."

"Fling?" His eyebrow rose. "You lived with me, Ari."

"I temporarily stayed with you," I correct. "We weren't a couple."

"We did couple things." His dark eyes turn sensual and my body flutters in response. "I treated as if you were someone I was interested in. You remember how sweet this tongue was on your cunt. I don't eat unless I want her to be my wife."

Oral sex wasn't something Soul did period. He wasn't a big giver in that respect. Yet, he gave me the best head I've had in my entire life.

Soul showed me nothing but love and respect the time I stayed with him. I could only imagine how the treatment would've been if things progressed further. "I need to go to bed, Soul."

"Good night, baby." He blows me a kiss and I lightly sigh at the simple yet potent affection.

"Good night," I pause for a moment before I speak again, "Soul?"

"Yeah, baby?"

I know I'm playing with fire with this next request and I know he'll know it, too. But if I'm going to pursue this man, I need to have some say on what goes on. "If you're going to surprise me again, I don't want an international audience to see it."

It was the answer Soul'd been looking for and his smile reflects that. "They didn't today."

I don't understand what he says until it hits me. "You pulled the fire alarm, didn't you?"

He smiles again and a low vibration buzzes through me, down to my core. "Does it matter?"

I ponder the question. Clearly, it really doesn't. He protected me when he knew what I was up against. I don't think I will ever figure out that man. "Thank you."

"I'll do anything for you, Ari." He lets out a small sigh. "Anything."

As I say a final goodbye to him and put my phone away for the night, I wonder what I'm getting my self into. The Ellisons are not the typical rich family with a few connections. They're a powerful dynasty, a force to be reckoned with, and anyone who has ever crossed them ended up regretting it after the fact.

I just hope I survive. 

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