She was a craving. A dark addiction. Her body beckoned him with more conductivity than any magnet he'd ever been exposed to. And now that he'd allowed himself that one forbidden taste, he needed more. His desire for her left a smoky taste in his mouth, his body a raging inferno as he watched her move across the bullpen below him.
Damn her and her bewitching body for doing this to him.
He knew he was a man…he had normal healthy urges like every other red-blooded male…but this…this was different. This feeling was consuming…all encompassing and he knew he was out of his element. All because he couldn't leash the rising tide of need inside him. He couldn't quiet the voice in his mind screaming for release…an end to the torture. His body elementally knew that her body provided that elusive succor. A brief respite from the pain and madness that dwelled within him daily.
She caught his eye from below, a smoldering knowledge burning within them. She knew. Damn it! He could see the cool comprehension on her face. He watched her nod slightly…an acknowledgement…a warning…a promise? Hell, he wasn't sure anymore.
Had he ever been sure?
Turning, he walked back into his office, closing the door behind him, praying they would all leave him to his misery tonight. He needed the seclusion his office provided. He needed to regain control of his mind and body. And he wondered, for a moment, if he'd ever really had any control at all or if it was all some illusion he'd dreamed for himself.
Collapsing in his leather chair behind his mahogany desk, he stared through the slit blinds of his office aimlessly, idly noting that the lights from the bullpen seemed to have dimmed, a sure sign that the day was ending outside his door. He allowed relief to swell around him for a moment. Maybe he'd successfully fought the war for another endless day. Kept the demons at bay for just a little while longer.
But as his door swung open, the squeak announcing a new arrival, he knew he'd hoped in vain. The flash of shimmering black tresses caught his eye for the barest of seconds. The temptress had sought him out within his own lair. Maybe he ought to hang a shingle – "Here there be dragons." Although he had a feeling the raven-haired beauty in his doorway would simply laugh at the warning, dismissing it with ease. Absolutely nothing he'd thrown in her way had dissuaded her so far.
"Go home, Prentiss," he ordered, his voice deep and rough as he averted his eyes to the open file on his desk. Mentally laughing in derision at his feeble attempt, he knew she'd never be so easily dismissed.
"You know that you aren't the boss anymore. No one expects you to eat, sleep and breathe this place anymore," she said, her voice smooth, like silk, as she propped a hip against the door frame, watching him…always watching him.
"I need to focus here, Prentiss," he murmured, keeping his eyes on the papers in front of his nose…the letters and words a blur as he fought the urge to squeeze his eyes shut against the wave of desire that washed over him as her scent filled his nostrils. Even from his well-kept distance, he could recognize the subtle fragrance that was uniquely her. Vanilla. Vanilla with a hint of cinnamon. And there wasn't a place on her body that didn't smell that sweet. He knew, each moment of their tryst catalogued in his thoughts. Images that tormented him…tortured him during his waking moments as well as his dreams.
Stepping into the dim room, the only light shining from the decorative lamp on his desk, Emily wondered if she'd ever be allowed to see this man without shadows hovering around him. Even their night together, he'd insisted on darkness, choosing to feel his way around her body. Closing the door gently, Emily asked, her words low and modulated, "Do you find me a distraction, Hotch?"
God, how he needed to concentrate. Find a way to get her out of his office…his life…his mind. He'd never quite been able to develop an adequate shield against this woman. Somehow, she always found a way in…to his space…to his psyche. And now, here she was, physically once again standing before him. "Emily," he whispered, unconsciously using her first name, "this isn't a good idea," he said huskily, keeping his eyes anywhere but her alluring body. It hadn't been a good idea three days ago either, his mind argued, but he'd done it anyway. Again and again. But he couldn't allow his body to listen to his mind again.
Shrugging her trim shoulders, Emily studied his tense expression. He was struggling, she knew. With everything…Foyet…his son's sudden absence from his life…his career. Perhaps it wasn't fair to pursue him while he was in a weakened condition. But, she fully realized that this might be the only time he'd ever allow her to catch him. To succeed. And she had to take advantage of every opportunity she was afforded. "Everyone's gone home. Even Rossi," Emily informed him quietly, slowly crossing the room to stand beside his chair behind the desk.
"Another reason that we shouldn't be here alone together," he replied hoarsely, his hands tightening into fists against his desk blotter, her nearness drawing the air from the atmosphere surrounding them.
"Why? Are you afraid of me?" Emily asked gently, reaching a fingertip to trace the nape of his neck. Feeling his muscles tighten beneath her fingertip, she smiled. He wasn't unaffected by her. Quite the opposite. And she felt an odd surge of power knowing that simple truth.
"Not afraid," Hotch replied carefully, the small breaths escaping her lips flitting against his ears. "But I will admit that you're dangerous, Emily," Hotch confessed, his voice still barely audible in the still room, the only sound, the whir of the ceiling fan circulating above them.
"Dangerous can be exciting," Emily suggested, stepping behind him to trail her fingertips down his rigid spine. With ever twitch, every shudder of his defined muscles, she felt her own body responding in kind, urging her forward.
Once again, his memories assailed him, the feel of her skin against his, even the merest touch of her fingers reminding him of the passion that huddled barely beneath the surface. Of both of them. Hands tightening around the edge of his desk, Hotch warned darkly, "You aren't the only dangerous person in this room, Emily. You need to leave. Now."
"And if I don't," she whispered, leaning forward to whisper the words against his ear, her warm breath fanning the side of his neck. Every move calculated to draw this man out of his self-imposed shell, she hovered, the electricity static between them.
"You risk unleashing something not even you may be able to contain," Hotch replied sharply as his jaw twitched, fighting the temptation to shove her away from him. He needed to run…to escape. Unfortunately, he knew Emily Prentiss was fairly effective at avoiding his evasions. She'd perfected the art of the evasive maneuver. She knew all the tricks he had AND how to combat them. A sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach reminded him that he might have met his match.
"I think I like my odds, Hotch," Emily murmured, slowly rolling his chair around toward her, her foot tangling with his as she locked the wheels in place.
Staring up into her dark eyes, he wanted more than anything to lose himself in her depths, to surrender to the tidal wave, letting it sweep them both out to sea. But somewhere in the dulled recesses of his mind, he knew he owed her better than this. "Damn it, Prentiss! Be smart here. I'm not even a whole man anymore. I've been broken in more ways than one," he ground out, digging his hands like claws into the arms of his chair as he was forced to face her.
Staring into his darkened eyes, the flashes of anger throwing gold sparks, Emily let a smile barely grace her lips. "Good thing for you, I like the pieces that got left behind," she whispered, lowering her mouth to his. Whispering against his parted lips, "And, for the record, I'm an expert at putting back together broken pieces."