“You know it was just a box of chocolates, you didn’t have to get me anything,” I tell him.

“I had planned this even before I got those chocolates,” he says. “Come on, take it.”

I go around the desk and gingerly take the bag from him, unzipping it.

Inside is a long beaded silver dress that looks like it was made from the moon and stars with sequins and sparkles and tassels.

“What is this for?” I gasp, putting my hand in the bag and running it over the dress.

“For tonight,” he says. “I need a James Bond gal on my arm for tonight’s party.”

“What party?”

“The one Kate invited you too. She invited me too. Lots of people from the office are going.”

“Aren’t we going to be a bit overdressed?”

He laughs, and the sound combined with the crinkles near his eyes makes my stomach do a million flips “When am I not overdressed? As long as you don’t mind a sweat monster as your date.”

“I don’t,” I say, smiling at him. “Is it my size?”

He nods. “I know your size, very, very well.”

I glance at the label. It says it’s a twelve and I’m normally a ten. I raise my brow at him.

“Hey,” he says quickly. “The woman who helped me with it says it runs a size small. All I know is that you’re going to look like a galaxy was poured all over you. Put it on.”

I hesitate.

“Do you want me to give you privacy?” he asks.

Normally I would say yes, but I’m not ashamed of my body, at least I never am in front of him. The way he’s always looking at me makes me feel like I’m a damn supermodel. Or at least Rhianna.

And actually the dress looks too tight and delicate to do it by myself.

“No, I think I might need help with it,” I tell him.

“Great,” he says. “Strip.”

I roll my eyes. “Yes, boss.”

“Oh god that’s fucking hot.”

“Shut up,” I tell him, pulling off my sandals, which luckily will go with the dress, then step out of my dress pants while unbuttoning my sleeveless hibiscus-print blouse.

Kessler is watching my every move, lust burning in his eyes, as I take off my bra and toss it on my desk, my breasts bouncing free.

“Fuck me,” he murmurs.

“You stay back,” I warn him.

We still haven’t had sex since that time in his office, and the last time he kissed me was just for a second at the Christmas party. We’ve been flirty with each other since then, lots of touching in rather innocent ways, but we haven’t crossed that line again.

And I still don’t plan on it, even though I am standing before him in my office in just a black thong. Like usual, he has a raging hard-on that looks like it wants to burst through his pants and come get me.

“I guess I should be stripping too,” he says, starting to undo his pants and unleash that beast.

“No.” I raise my finger at him. “You help me into the dress first and keep that thing away. If both of us are naked, it’s recipe for disaster.”

“It’s recipe for screwing you senseless is what it is. But okay.”

He manages to keep it in his pants and comes over to me, taking the dress out of the garment bag. I turn around with my back to him and raise my arms and he slowly lowers the dress over me.

I can feel his breath at the nape of my neck, hot and ragged, like he’s trying to control himself. All I know is if he doesn’t heed my warning and tries something with me, if he places those plush lips of his on my shoulder, I’m going to cave in immediately.

It’s never been so erotic, so sensual, to be dressed like this. Normally the reverse is true but here in my office, I feel like I’m being uncovered instead of being covered up, like he’s stripping me bare.

Kessler pulls the dress down, tugging just below my breasts, at the sides of my waist, below my ass, his fingers grazing my skin as he does so. I shiver, goosebumps running all over my limbs, and his breath hitches behind me. I know he can see what he’s doing to me.

God, I want him so fucking bad, I can barely breathe, barely swallow.

Somehow, Kessler manages to hold himself together and tugs the dress down to my ankles before his fingers find their place at my back, slowly doing up the zipper.

“There,” he murmurs at my neck and I can hear him swallow thickly. “All done.”

I exhale through my nose, trying to regain a sense of who I am.

“Your turn,” I tell him, turning around and I gasp.

He’s already fucking naked somehow.

“How did you get your clothes off so fast?” I exclaim, my eyes drawn to his big dick that’s bobbing in front of me, looking both delicious and deadly.

“Hidden talent,” he says, grinning, and I realize this is the first time I’ve seen him completely naked in five years. Good lord, he needs to come with a warning label, like do not stare directly at Kessler’s dick without an extra change of panties.

And of course it’s not just that damn cock of his, but his muscular legs, his rigid six-pack, rock-hard chest, and arms and shoulders like bricks and boulders.

I’m practically drooling. I have to clamp my mouth shut.

“Hey, no shame in liking what you see,” Kessler says with a grin that’s growing cockier by the second, just as his cock is growing harder.

I wave him away, averting my eyes before I lose it. “Okay, you don’t need my help, just put your damn tux on. I’m going to the washroom to touch up my makeup.”

I grab my purse and head to the washroom, leaving the office as he says, “Aww, you’re no fun.”

But when I look in the mirror, I see the face of someone who wants to have fun. The dress is gorgeous beyond belief and it really does look like liquid starshine was poured on me from shoulders to toes. But more than that, it’s my eyes that are doing most of the shining. There’s something ignited in them that wasn’t there before.

There’s lust, for sure. Good old fashioned desire. I’m definitely turned on and I probably should just take my panties off and go commando—Lord knows Kess is doing the same—since they’re already soaked through.

There’s also hope. Hope on the last day of the year. I don’t know exactly what I’m hoping for but I know it has everything to do with the naked man in my office.

Hold onto your hope, I tell myself, as I apply extra coats of mascara. Let everything go for one evening.

I keep that in my heart as I walk back to the office and see Kessler dressed in his tuxedo.

Of course, the damn man happens to look just as sexy in the tuxedo as he does naked, and that’s no small feat.

“Too much?” he asks me, adjusting his bow tie.

I walk over to him and finish fixing it, staring up at him. “Just enough,” I tell him, our faces inches apart.

Then before I get the urge to lean in and kiss him, I back off. “Okay piña colada dick, where are you taking me?”

Because downtown Honolulu is removed from the Waikiki area, he calls us a limousine to take us to the hotel where the party is being held. We head up to the roof in an elevator crammed full of people who are also dressed to the nines, thank god, and spill out onto the roof with stunning views of the city.

“Oh my god!” Kate’s voice soars above the crowd of partygoers. “Big Dick Energy is here!”

She fights her way over to us, giant umbrella-crested tiki drink in her hand.

“Which one of us is Big Dick Energy?” I ask, happy to see her.

“You both are,” she says as she looks me up and down. “Look at you, hot stuff.” She looks at Kessler in his tux. “Same to you, big dick.”

Kessler smirks. “That’s a dangerous nickname to have.”

She shrugs and takes a sip of her drink before reaching out and slapping me across the shoulder. “Hey, bitch, you said you didn’t want to come to this party.”

“I’m very convincing,” Kessler says.

“That’s the Big Dick Energy,” Kate says with a solemn nod.

“Hey it’s you guys!” Bradah Ed yells out, appearing beside Kate wearing a black suit and looking pretty spiffy. He puts his arm around her waist and to my shock, she does not shrug him off.

“I didn’t know you were coming,” he says.

“Last minute surprise,” I tell him.

“Well you look amazing. Come on over, we have a table by the fire pit over there. Teef is here too, so is Mahina and her boyfriend.”

I look up at Kessler.

“Mele Kalikimaka,” he says, and when I look impressed he adds, “I’ve been practicing.”

“You know Christmas is over.”

“But it’s always the holiday season in my heart,” he says, full of cheese, as he takes my hand in his and presses it against his heart.

But when we start walking off after the others, he doesn’t let go.

He holds it.

And I hold his hand right back.

Maybe it’s not appropriate to do this in front of the people we work with, especially when Kessler and I are so undefined and the only thing people know us is as boss and employee.

But maybe tonight you let that shit go, I tell myself. Maybe tonight you hold him just as hard as he holds onto you.

So I do.

We sit down on the couch by the fire pit and I don’t let go. I’m squished against him and his arm goes up around the back of the couch and I settle in next to him.

No one seems to pay any attention. Everyone is worrying about their own problems, focused on their own things. The champagne starts flowing and the DJ gets louder and yet I’m more and more focused on the man next to me.

The things he’s slowly doing.

The way his fingers are absently playing with my hair.

The way he leans in to talk to me, murmurs and whispers in my ear.

The way his thigh presses against mine, so that every inch of us is in contact with the other.

We’re in our own little world, our own little universe, surrounded by other stars that are getting dimmer and dimmer, leaving only us to shine.