Page 66

Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas


I wash my face and make a grab for Jesse’s toothbrush, only to find my own in the holder with it. Huh? I cake it in paste on a frown and set about brushing my teeth, glancing in the mirror to the shower and spotting my shampoo and conditioner on the shelf, along with my razor and body wash. Has he moved me in? I carry on brushing my teeth, opening the door back into the bedroom, finding Jesse sprawled on his front with his face buried in the pillow. I walk past him into the walk-in-wardrobe, nearly choking on my toothpaste when I see a selection of my clothes hanging there.


He has moved me in! That’s a bit presumptuous, isn’t it? Did I not get a say? I might very well love him, but I’ve known him for a few weeks. Moving in? What does this mean? Does he want me here to take care of me? Well, if so, he can sod right off. Control me, more like.


‘Problem?’


I swing around, my toothbrush hanging from my mouth, to find Jesse filling the doorway of the wardrobe, looking slightly apprehensive. It’s a look that I’ve not seen on him before. My eyes drift down his torso, delighting in the flex of his muscles as he braces himself on the door frame with both hands. But I quickly re-focus my attention away from his distracting chest, suddenly remembering why I’m in the wardrobe. I garble a load of inaudible words around my toothpaste and brush.


‘I’m sorry, run that by me again.’ His lips twitch at the corners as I yank my brush from my mouth.


He bloody well knows what’s wrong with me. I garble again, my words a little more comprehensible with the absence of my brush, but the paste is still hindering proper speech.


He rolls his eyes and picks me up, taking me to the bathroom. ‘Spit.’ he commands as he places me on my feet.


I rid my mouth of all the paste and turn to face my unreasonable control freak. ‘What’s all this?’ I wave my arm around in the general direction of everything.


He clamps his lips together to suppress a smile and leans forward, licking off the remnants of the paste from around my mouth, his hot tongue sweeping across my bottom lip slowly. ‘There. What’s what?’ He flicks his tongue up to my temple, blowing a long, hot breath in my ear. I tense when he reaches down to cup my sex, sending chills of pleasure flying through me.


‘No!’ I push him away from me. ‘You’re not manipulating me with your delicious Godliness!’


He grins that roguish grin. ‘You think I’m a God?’


I huff, turning back to the mirror. His head is expanding at a rate so fast, I might be forced to jump out the bathroom window before I’m squashed against a wall.


He curves his arm around my waist and pulls me against his front. Leaning down and resting his chin on my shoulder, he studies me in the reflection of the mirror. Pushing his erection between my thighs, he circles his hips, sending my hands flying down to catch the side of the vanity unit.


‘I don’t mind being your God.’ he whispers on a husk.


‘Why is my stuff here?’ I ask his reflection, willing my body to behave and not get swallowed up by all his lovely Godliness.


‘I collected it from Kate’s earlier. I thought you could stay here for a few days.’


‘Do I get a say?’


He circles those damn hips again, milking a small cry from me. ‘Do you ever?’


I shake my head at him in the mirror. One corner of his mouth rises on a mischievous smile as he circles again. I’m not going to react to his damn hip swivels because I know he’s going to leave me hanging again. And what’s Kate playing at, letting all these men rummage through my belongings? There’s more than two days’ worth of clothes hanging in that wardrobe. What’s his game?


‘Get yourself ready, lady.’ He kisses my neck and smacks my arse. ‘I’m taking you out. Where would you like to go?’


I look at him stunned. ‘I get to choose?’


He shrugs. ‘I have to let you have your way some of the time.’ His face is dead pan. He’s completely serious.


I should grab his offer of power with both hands while he’s being so reasonable, but I’m suspicious. After his reaction last night, his massacre of the taboo dress and the silent treatment, I‘m befuddled as to why he’s woken up all balanced and stable.


‘So, what would you like to do?’ he asks.


‘Let’s go to Camden.’ I suggest, bracing myself for his refusal. Men hate all that hustle and bustle and roaming around browsing at stuff.


‘Okay.’ He turns to get in the shower, leaving me at the sink wondering where my challenging control freak has gone. Now, I’m most definitely suspicious.


I land at the bottom of the stairs to hear Jesse talking on his phone. I walk into the kitchen and dribble a little. He looks glorious in some worn jeans and a navy polo shirt, collar turned up – Jesse style. He’s shaved and shoved some wax in his hair. He really is unreasonably handsome, as well as unreasonable everything else.


‘I’ll be in tomorrow, is everything okay?’ He turns from his stool, running an eye down my body. ‘Thanks, John. Call me if you need me.’ He places his phone down without looking away from me, folding his arms over his chest. ‘I like your dress.’ His voice is all low and husky.


I look down at my flowing, floral tea dress. It sits on my knee so the length probably meets with his approval. I’m surprised Kate packed it; it’s a bit summery, with its cut out back and lack of sleeves. I smile to myself. He hasn’t seen the back yet. And I’m not showing him either. He’ll make me change. I know it.


I pull on my thin knitted, cream cardigan, then position my suede bag across my body. ‘Ready?’ I ask.


He pushes himself to his feet, approaching me all moodily. I expect a deep kiss, but I don’t get one. Instead, he slips his Wayfarers on, takes my hand and pulls me towards the door. I get to spend the whole day with him and he’s not even going to kiss me?


‘You’re not going to touch me all day, are you?’


He looks down at our joined hands. ‘I’m touching you.’


‘You know what I mean. You’re punishing me.’


‘Why would I do that, Ava?’ He pulls me into the elevator. He knows damn well what my point is.


I look up at him. ‘I want you to touch me.’


‘I know you do.’ He punches in the code.


‘But you won’t?’


‘Give me what I want, and I will.’ He doesn’t look at me.


I don’t believe this. ‘An apology?’


‘I don’t know, Ava. Do you need to apologise?’ He still keeps his focus straight ahead. Even in the reflection of the doors, he still won’t meet my eyes.


‘I’m sorry.’ I practically spit. I can’t believe he’s doing this. And I can’t believe I’m this desperate for the contact.


‘Now, if you’re going to apologise, at least sound sorry.’


‘I’m sorry.’


His eyes meet mine in the mirror. ‘Are you?’


‘Yes, I’m sorry.’


‘You want me to touch you?’


‘Yes.’


He turns into me fast, pushing me up against the mirrored wall and completely blanketing me with his body. I feel instantly better. That wasn’t too hard at all. ‘You’re beginning to understand, aren’t you?’ His lips hover over mine, his hips pushing into my lower stomach.


‘I understand.’ I pant.


He takes my mouth, my hands finding his shoulders, my nails digging straight into his muscles. Yes, that’s much better. I meet his tongue, melting into him completely.


‘Happy?’ he asks, breaking our kiss.


‘Yes.’


‘Me too. Let’s go.’


We pull up in Camden for breakfast after Jesse got his way and drove. It’s a beautiful day, and I’m already too warm in my cardigan, but I’ll suffer for a little longer. There’s still scope for him to take me home in disgrace and make me change.


Jesse collects me from the pavement, leading me across the road to a lovely little quaint café. ‘You’ll love it here. We’ll sit outside.’ He pulls out a large wicker chair for me.


‘Why will I love it?’ I ask as I sit on the polka dot cushion.


‘They do the best Eggs Benedict.’ He smiles brightly at me when he sees my eyes light up.


The waitress approaches on a dribble when she spots Jesse in all his manly Godliness, but he’s completely oblivious.


‘Can we have two of the Eggs Benedict,’ He points at the menu, ‘a strong black coffee and a cappuccino with an extra shot, no chocolate or sugar, please.’ He turns his face up to the waitress, blasting her with one of his smiles, reserved only for women. ‘Thank you.’


She appears to stagger slightly. I laugh to myself. Yes, he had that exact same affect on me.


She eventually finds her voice. ‘Would you like ham or salmon with your eggs?’


He hands her the menu, taking off his Wayfarers so she gets the full impact of his stunning face. ‘Salmon, please.’


I shake my head in dismay and check my phone, while the waitress makes a meal of writing out our basic order. I wonder how Victoria and Drew got on. I’m not so bothered about Tom – he’s undoubtedly in love again with the latest soul mate.


‘White or granary?’


‘Sorry?’ I glance up from my phone and find the waitress still hovering.


‘Would you like white or granary bread?’ Jesse repeats on a small smile.


‘Oh, granary, please,’


He returns his glorious greens to the wilting waitress. ‘Both granary, thank you,’


She flashes her most willing smile before finally leaving us. The woman’s reaction to Jesse reminds me of how many others would have been before me. It makes me feel crap. Was he as unreasonable and controlling with all the others? Christ, I bet there have been a few. I place my phone on the table and look across at Jesse, who’s watching me closely, chewing his lip. What’s he considering?


‘How are your legs?’ he asks, but I know that’s not what’s got him chomping on his bottom lip.


‘Fine, do you run often?’ I already know the answer to this. No one gets up in the middle of the night to run fourteen miles unless they’re serious about it.


‘It distracts me.’ He shrugs, sitting back in his chair, his expression thoughtful.


‘Distracts you from what?’


He keeps his eyes on me. ‘You,’


I scoff. He’s obviously not running very much at the moment then, because he’s spending most of his time trampling all over me. ‘Why do you need distracting from me?’


‘Because, Ava…’ He sighs. ‘I can’t seem to stay away from you and, more worryingly, I don’t won’t to.’ His tone harbours frustration. Is he frustrated with me or with himself?


The waitress places our coffees on the table and lingers for a while, but she doesn’t get blessed with another knock out smile. He’s focused on me alone. His statement is bitter sweet. I’m delighted that he can’t stay away from me, but slightly affronted that it seems to annoy him.


‘Why would that be worrying?’ I ask nonchalantly, while stirring my cappuccino and mentally pleading for some satisfactory answers. After a few moments have passed, he still hasn’t answered so I glance up, discovering the cogs whirling at a hundred miles an hour and his bottom lip getting a punishing chew.


He eventually exhales noisily, dropping his eyes. ‘It’s worrying because I feel out of control,’ He returns his eyes to me, penetrating me with his fixed, green stare. ‘Feeling out of control is not something I do well, Ava. Not where you’re concerned.’


Ah! Is he admitting that he’s a complete unreasonable control freak? It’s bloody obvious that he doesn’t cope when he’s defied – I’ve seen hard evidence of that.

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