A knock on the shower door interrupted me. “Ms. King,” the massage therapist called, “are you ready?”
Once again, I found myself under warm blankets. I promised myself I’d stay awake this time so I’d remember the massage. Up to that point, I’d only had the one Nathaniel gave me on the plane. Hot wax and Nathaniel. Yum. I wondered what he had planned for the flight home?
“Any sore areas you need me to work on?” the therapist asked.
I wondered briefly what she’d do if I mentioned the particular soreness I had as a result of the previous night’s activities…
“No,” I said. “Not really.”
Before too long, I was in the spa’s ivory-colored dining area, waiting for Felicia, Elaina, and Linda. Soft music played in the background and candles flickered on the tables. I lay back in a thickly padded lounger and closed my eyes as I waited.
“Abby?” Linda said.
I sat up. “Linda, hey. I was just relaxing a bit.”
She sat down beside me. “Did you have a good morning?”
“Oh, yes, the best. It was so nice of you and Elaina to arrange this for us.”
She reached for a glass of water. “It was Elaina’s idea. I’d planned to spend the day shopping. This was a much better idea.”
Felicia and Elaina came in together as Linda was talking. They were laughing at something Elaina had said. They sat down right as four grilled chicken salads were delivered. They looked delicious—fresh greens, feta cheese, almonds, and cranberries. I smiled. Nathaniel would approve.
“Did everyone have a good night last night?” Linda asked, spearing a chunk of chicken.
Elaina smiled at her. “You and I have discussed the benefits of hotel sex many times in the past, Linda.”
Just a hint of color spread across Linda’s cheeks. “Yes, Elaina, but I was actually asking to make sure Jackson and Nathaniel were being good hosts, and acting like the gentlemen I raised them to be.”
“I’m not sure gentleman is the right word for Todd,” Elaina said, putting a napkin in her lap, “but he was good all right.”
Felicia snorted on her water.
Elaina and Linda obviously had a closer relationship than I’d thought. Regardless, I loved the way they could tease each other. The way they talked about sex and men like sisters would.
“Abby,” Linda said, changing the subject, “I understand you went to Columbia?”
“Yes,” I said. “Same as Todd, right?”
Elaina chimed in. “He did his graduate work there.”
“And Nathaniel went to Dartmouth.” I took a bite of cranberry with feta. You could never have too much feta. Feta went with everything.
“Yes,” Linda confirmed. “For the longest time he wanted to go to the Naval Academy. We had even arranged an appointment for him. But he changed his mind and went to Dartmouth instead.” She got a faraway look. “He was always a withdrawn child. I guess you can understand why. My sister’s death was very hard on him.”
I looked down at my plate, remembering the haunted look he had while I was at the hospital.
“Now Jackson,” Linda said, taking Felicia’s hand, “Jackson was always my wild child. It’s a good thing we steered him toward sports—there’s no telling what kind of trouble he’d have gotten himself into otherwise.”
“He still gets in plenty of trouble,” Elaina said in between bites. “Remember the skydiving incident?”
Linda laughed. “The coach made him sit out the next game as a result of that little incident. I don’t think he’s ever tried skydiving again.”
After we ate lunch, we changed into swimsuits and hung out in the hot tub. I pulled my hair to the left side to cover up the mark Felicia had noticed. I thought back to the previous night, trying to remember when Nathaniel might have marked me, but I couldn’t. I remembered pain in other parts of my body, but not my shoulder. Mostly I remembered the pleasure.
I think I spaced out in the hot tub for several long minutes just thinking back to the night before. I glanced up at the clock they had in one corner of the pool room. How long until I saw Nathaniel again?
“Abby,” Elaina said. “Did Nathaniel tell you?”
“Tell me what?” I asked.
She walked through the tub to sit next to me. “Linda’s turning in early, Jackson and Felicia are hanging out with some of his teammates, so you, me, Todd, and Nathaniel are having dinner together.”
Normally, I’d have loved to have dinner with Todd and Elaina, but after spending the entire day apart from Nathaniel, my thoughts had been drifting toward an intimate dinner in the suite. Dinner in the suite naked.
“Don’t look so disappointed,” she said, bumping my shoulder gently. “Nathaniel sees you all the time—I only get you for today.” She leaned in close. “And we’ll have you back plenty early. Tomorrow’s the big day, you know. Better get plenty of sleep.”
Sleep, right. Who needed sleep?
After our hot tub, we went to another room to have our nails done. The four of us were lined up with different techs doing our manicures and pedicures. We all decided to go for the same color—After Sex—a deep red. Elaina had a good laugh over the name and we all joined in like a group of crazy sorority sisters.
We hugged each other goodbye afterward and headed to our rooms. There was a brunch the next day we’d all be attending. Elaina blew me a kiss and told me she’d see me soon.
I was so ready to see Nathaniel.
He was waiting in the suite, reading a newspaper. When I came in, he looked up. His eyes smoldered.
“Did you enjoy your day?” he asked, being the gentleman. Like his eyes weren’t telling me in six different ways he wanted me. Wanted me badly.
He stood up, the collar in his hand. “Miss something?”
“Do you want it back?” he asked, walking to me.
I nodded again.
“Say it,” he said. His voice dropped. “Say you want it.”
“I want it,” I whispered as he moved behind me. “I want your collar.”
He drew my shirt over my head, swept my hair to the right. Kissing the mark on my shoulder, he murmured against my skin. “I marked you last night. Marked you as mine and I’ll do it again.” His teeth grazed my shoulder. “There are so many ways I can mark you.”
It took all my self-control not to beg him, because, damn it, I wanted him to mark me. My legs felt all wobbly just thinking about it.
“Unfortunately,” he said, fastening the collar, “we have to have dinner with Todd and Elaina. Go change. I have your clothes out on the bed.”
A long-sleeved cotton dress waited for me, with a pair of flats on the floor. No hose. I took the hint and left my panties off.
Nathaniel stood by the couch when I reappeared. “Bend over the arm of the couch, Abigail.”
I did as he asked, wondering where he was going with this. We had to leave soon. He stood behind me and lifted my skirt, ran his hand over my bare skin. He chuckled.
“How well you read my mind. Too bad. I was looking forward to giving you a spanking before dinner.”
I made a mental note to wear panties next time.
We drove to a waterfront bistro, probably not far from where Jackson and Felicia had talked last night.
“There will be several fish dishes on the menu,” Nathaniel said in the car. “You will order one of them.”
Fortunately, I loved fish. I wondered what would happen when he asked me to do something I didn’t want to do.
We arrived before Todd and Elaina and went inside to sit down at a booth. Nathaniel motioned for me to enter first.
I was looking over the menu, trying to decide between salmon and grouper, when Todd and Elaina arrived.
“Abby,” Todd said in a tight voice.
I was surprised. Had I done something to make him angry? I looked up, but he was glaring at Nathaniel—he wasn’t mad at me after all.
I glanced over to Elaina. She shrugged her shoulders. Either she didn’t want me to know what was wrong or she didn’t know herself.
The waiter came to take our drink order. When he left, Todd slapped his menu on the table. Nathaniel scowled at him.
“So, Nathaniel,” Elaina said, eyes bouncing from Nathaniel to her husband. “Where’s Apollo this weekend?”
“At a kennel,” Nathaniel said, still looking at Todd.
“He’s better, then?” she asked. “You can leave him there?”
I wanted to ask why he wouldn’t be able to leave Apollo at the kennel, but I couldn’t get past Todd’s expression. What had happened between him and Nathaniel?
“He’s made marginal improvements.”
Todd mumbled something under his breath.
The waiter came back with our drinks. “Everyone have a chance to look over the menu?” he asked. His gaze traveled to Elaina’s hand. Her large engagement ring and wedding band sparkled in the light. He wrote their order down and looked to our side of the table.
“Ma’am?” he asked me.
“I’ll have the salmon,” I said, handing the menu to Nathaniel.
“Wonderful choice,” he said. “The salmon’s one of our bestsellers.” He winked at me.
Nathaniel cleared his throat.
“Yes, sir,” the waiter said, shifting his gaze to him. “What would you like?”
“The salmon,” Nathaniel said and handed him our menus.
The waiter wrote the order down and rocked back on his heels. “You guys in town for the game?” he asked, looking at me.
I scooted closer to Nathaniel. Sorry, I tried to tell the waiter. Taken.
His lips lifted at the corner.
“Of course,” Elaina piped up when no one else did. “Giants all the way.”
“You know,” Nathaniel said to the waiter, “if you put in our order, we’ll get our food faster, and get out of here quicker.”
The waiter shot me one more glance and left.
We all sat in silence for several long minutes. I glanced out the window to the water, still trying to figure out what was wrong between Todd and Nathaniel. I wondered if it had something to do with me.
“I need to hit the restroom,” Elaina said. “Abby?”
“Sure,” I said.
Nathaniel stood to let me out.
“What in the world is going on?” I asked once we were in the bathroom.
“I have no idea,” she said. “I think something happened after the golf game, but I’m not sure. I hope they’re over it by tomorrow. It’ll make for a long day if they’re not.”
“Do you think it’s something to do with me?”
She shook her head. “I really don’t think so. He knows about you and Nathaniel.” She turned to the mirror and played with her hair. “It’s strange Todd won’t tell me.”
As we left the bathroom, I saw Nathaniel and Todd arguing. Todd looked up, saw us approaching, and they stopped.
Dinner was tense. Elaina kept trying to start a conversation, but it never went anywhere. Even the waiter picked up on it, dropping our dinners off and coming back only to refill our drinks.
Nathaniel and I were both out of sorts by the time we made it back to the hotel room. He slammed the door behind us and I jumped. In one swift move, he had me against the door.
“Damn it, damn it, damn it,” he said against my skin as his hands drew my dress up and over my head. He tore my bra off, throwing it to the floor.
His wild, uncontained actions excited me and a surge of pure lust pulsed through my body. I wanted him. Wanted him as badly as he wanted me. He stepped back and jerked his pants down. Kicked them off.
He picked me up and pushed me against the door. “Next weekend you’re not wearing a bit of clothing from the time you arrive until the second you leave my house.”
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