I paused at the doorway to the Park Avenue high-rise and stared at the building’s name engraved on the stone. The Bowery. Jordan had already pulled away from the curb behind me. He probably felt I was safe enough to be left with the doorman who held the door for me while I stood frozen in thought.
This was real, a big step—a giant step—moving deeper into Hudson’s life than anyone had ever been before. I was excited, of course. I loved the man. But did I really even know him? Could I truly love him based on the little I knew about him? His address had been a mystery to me until two minutes ago when his driver had dropped me off. And what would I find inside the building? What was inside Hudson Pierce, behind the mask he wore so well?
I felt like I’d seen the true Hudson, like I was probably the only person in the world who truly had, but I’d barely scratched the surface. There was still so much left to uncover and learn about the young business mogul who had captured my heart.
I also knew that Hudson held secrets. He’d abandoned his mind games and predilection for manipulating women before meeting me, but the possibility of his past habits returning was very real. As real as the possibility of mine returning.
And that was the fear that overwhelmed me most—that I might be driven to my old habits of obsession. Of all the relationships I’d destroyed with my stalking and unfounded jealousy, I knew that fucking this one up would destroy me. Thankfully, so far, I had felt fixed with Hudson. Only time would tell if that would last.
The doorman looked at me, an anxious expression on his face—should he continue holding the door open for the crazy indecisive
woman, or should he let it go?
I eased him with a smile. “I’ll be just a minute.”
He returned the smile with a nod and closed the door.
Taking a deep breath, I looked toward the top floor where Hudson’s apartment was surely located—I didn’t even know his unit number. Was he awake up there? Was he looking for me from his window? Could he see me down here, hesitating?
He said he’d be sleeping, but it was that last idea that gave me the courage to move. I wouldn’t put it past him to wait up for me and I didn’t want him to suspect I felt any doubt at all. Because I didn’t have doubts. Not about him. My doubts were about me, about whether I could handle us. And truly, if I let my hopes take root—hopes that I could finally have a real relationship with another person without losing myself to the fears and unhealthy habits of my obsessive past—then even those doubts were superficial.
The doorman smiled again as I stepped toward him, opening the door for me. Inside, another man sat at the security desk in front of the elevators.
“Ms. Withers?” he asked before I had a chance to give him my name.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Hudson said he’d leave a key for me at the desk and it was three-thirty in the morning. Who else would I be?
“Mr. Pierce left you this key. Both elevators on the left will take you to the penthouse. Simply insert the key into the panel when you get inside.”
The doors opened the minute I pushed the call button. Inside the elevator car, my hand shook as I inserted the key in the panel, and I was grateful to no longer be in sight of the
security guard. The ride to the penthouse was fast, but not fast enough. As soon as I’d squashed down my trepidation, the emotion had been replaced with eagerness. I wanted to be in Hudson’s space, in his arms. I wanted to be with him and even the minute that it took to arrive at the top floor was too long to be away from him.
The doors of the elevator opened into a small vestibule. I stepped out and turned the only direction I could, finding myself in a foyer. The space was quiet, but I could hear the sound of a clock ticking somewhere nearby, and there were very few lights on. I suspected the bedrooms were to my left, because my right opened up to a large living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
As anxious as I was to find Hudson, I turned instead into the living room, attracted by the gorgeous view. Before I made it to the windows, though, a lamp flipped on and I saw him sitting in an armchair.
Startled, my mouth fell open and then stayed open as I ogled the gorgeous man dressed only in boxer shorts. The definition of his sculpted chest quickened my heart before my gaze caught his gray eyes through the flop of his brown hair in the dim light. I’d never seen him in boxer shorts, and damn, had I been missing out. It struck me again how little I knew him, but this time the thought didn’t scare me—it excited me. How much more there was to discover about this man, and I was ready to dive in and explore.
Yet, the excitement didn’t ease the awkwardness, the anxiety. This was new territory, and I didn’t know how to proceed. Certainly, Hudson felt the same.