(Ella’s just told Alex that she’s leaving Grayson’s, and Alex has gone round to her apartment to try and talk her out of it…)
Guilt twisted through her again. Before he’d taken her into Grayson’s she’d been floundering, her self-confidence still in bad shape after her mom’s asshole boyfriend had cornered her when she’d been fourteen. Her succession of part-time and casual jobs was nothing to brag about, and the only constant in her life had been her volunteer work at the Wildlife Retreat.
“I’m not leaving you in the shit. There’s plenty of time to find a replacement for me.”
He gave her a smoldering look. Oh, for fuck’s sake… “No one could take your place.”
If only he were talking about her as a woman and not his indispensable work colleague.
“Hate to say it, but you’ll probably be surprised.”
He didn’t immediately deny it, which stung more than it should.
“You plan on staying in touch?”
She couldn’t tell by his tone of voice whether he gave a damn one way or the other. So much for no one being able to take her place. Looked like he was already over it.
Don’t you dare say it. Heat flooded through her, but the words spilled out anyhow. “I might come visit you in your club one night.”
At least it wiped that infuriating, unreadable expression from his face. He stared at her as though she’d just grown a pair of horns.
“I don’t think so.”
It was the note of finality in his voice that really pissed her off—as if he thought she was joking and he didn’t find it funny.
“Why not? I think I’d really get off on a night at your club.” Take that. If only she didn’t look so rough. It was hard trying to act like a sophisticated woman of the world when she was barefoot and Alex could’ve stepped off the cover of GQ.
“Didn’t know you were into that scene.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me.” Including the fact I sleep in one of your old shirts. At least he hadn’t recognized it. Then again, it was about three years old. He’d left it here when the brothers had helped her move in, and somehow she kept forgetting to give it back to him.
Accidentally on purpose.
“I would’ve known about this.”
Was he laughing at her? He didn’t look as if he was, but it was hard to tell what he was thinking.
Whatever. She wasn’t backing down.
“I might not be hardcore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to experiment now and then.”
“Define what you mean by ‘experimenting.’”
He damn well was laughing at her. What’s the kinkiest thing I’ve read lately? “Ménages.” That’d shut him up. Or turn him on.
“You enjoy having sex with two men at the same time?”
She glared at him. “You find it so hard to believe that two men would want me?”
“That’s not what I find hard to believe.”
His quick-fire response took her breath away. Trust Alex to compliment and insult her in one easy comment.
She cleared her throat, which kind of ruined the worldly aura she was going for, but it was better than choking on her own words. “So, does your club cater for that kind of thing?”
What was she saying? She’d die if he called her bluff.
He didn’t answer right away. His eyes were all dark and smoky and it was suddenly hard to breathe properly. He seemed to be considering her question, which sent prickles of alarmed excitement over her bare skin.
“Excalibur caters for almost anything,” he said.
Hold Me Until Forever is both a friends-to-lovers and an unrequited love (or so poor Ella thinks for 8 long years) story. Alex has tried to resist her charms since forever for so many reasons, but the main one is he believes he’s far too damaged to ever have a forever kind of relationship, especially with someone as special as she is.
When both of her childhood friends have managed to find love in the past year and she’s no closer to making their brother Alex see her in “that” way, Ella knows it’s time for a change. She gives her two week notice–she’d been a part of the Grayson brothers’ business from the beginning, keeping them all organized and making herself indispensable–taking a job that will mean a cut in pay but that is closer to what she really wants to do with her life, working in an animal sanctuary. The change has the desired effect–sort of–when Alex starts to take her to his exclusive club, Excalibur. Though the scenes they have there are amazing, she’s confused about what they mean for them as a couple, because Alex doesn’t seem to want to have anything extra with her outside the club’s walls. She’s not sure she can do friends even with awesome benefits with him, because her heart has always wanted so much more.
To an extent Alex and Ella’s relationship woes could have been resolved with an in-depth conversation or two, but it’s not outside the realm of believability that it takes them so long to actually sit down and listen to each other. I really liked the way Ms. Phillips brings them back together–so adorable, and just perfect for these two. Reading Hold Me Until Forever has definitely raised my interest in the rest of the series.
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.