But in my fantasies, he always walked straight up to me and whisked me away. He might first profess his love, he might passionately kiss me, or simply scoop me up in his strong arms without a word. What he absolutely never did was have his hand on another girl’s ass. That’s how I knew I wasn’t dreaming.
“Holy hell that guy’s smokin’ hot,” Mandy swooned by my side. I wished I could stop watching, but I couldn’t. “Is that Alyssa with him?”
“Mm-hmm.” It was all I could manage in confirmation.
“She’s such a slut.”
“Mm-hmm.” Alyssa had worked her way through the boys in our high school before she’d dropped out as a senior a couple of years back. She was the kind of girl your daddy warned you about becoming, the cautionary tale. How I wished I were her. Declan had his long arm stretched across her back, his hand casually cupping her ass which happened to be hanging out of the shortest pair of Daisy Dukes I’d ever seen. She might as well have saved herself the trouble and just worn a thong.
“Who’s that?” Kaylee, another friend sidled up to me and Mandy, all of us with our eyes glued to the man candy. “I want me some.”
“It’s Declan,” I mumbled.
Mandy elbowed me sharp in the ribs. “No shit!” she shrieked so loud I elbowed her back.
“You don’t need to scream!” I whispered. Thankfully, Declan kept heading toward the storefront. All I needed was for him to turn around and see me giggling and squealing about him with my dumb-ass high school friends.
“Who’s Declan?” Kaylee drooled.
“He works on Kara’s ranch!” Mandy exclaimed.
“I want to work on your ranch,” said Kaylee.
“I’m coming over tomorrow,” Mandy declared.
“No, no you guys. He’s an asshole.” I scooted quick over to Bruce’s side, snuggling up to him and landing a kiss on his cheek. He was deep into some story with Dale and his football buddies, re-living some trick play from their season. I closed my eyes for a second, willing my body, my mind, everything to cleave to Bruce. He was there with me, for me. He was my boyfriend. At least for another month or so.
I half-listened to the patter of their talk, so familiar, so safe. I knew this. I’d been a part of this world for my whole life. Declan meant something else entirely, I didn’t even know what but it didn’t matter—he wasn’t right for me and he certainly wasn’t into me. No use batting myself like a moth again and again against a glass window trying to get at the light.
But I couldn’t help it. I had to look again.
It was worse. Declan had Alyssa pressed up against a pole, tongue so deep down her throat it made me gag. She had her hand clutched up in his hair, grasping at him like she’d die if she didn’t get even more. He pulled away and she looked up at him with a low, sexy smile. So that was how you did it. It made my attempts in the bathroom mirror look like child’s play.
Then they sauntered past again, real slow, like they had all the time in the world to find a dark alleyway where they could get it on all night long.
Declan’s eyes flicked over to mine, just once. Enough. He made sure I’d seen him. In a flash, I knew. He wanted me to see him with Alyssa, wanted me to know he was off limits. I wasn’t his type. He wasn’t interested.
My face flushed with embarrassment. Here I’d been trying to do that to him, show him how hot I was and how completely taken. He’d gone and turned the tables. I had to stop this, get the message, get him off my mind. He had a type and it clearly wasn’t me. It was the opposite of me.
So what that it felt like he popped in bright, full color while the rest of everything else had dulled out in the wash. No matter that he looked exactly like the bad boy of my fantasies, so dark and sexy you wanted a big poster of him up on your wall. It made no difference that he was living in a cabin a few hundred yards from my house. I had to keep away from him for my own sanity.
But what went on in the privacy of my own bedroom was another story. Late that night when I was finally alone, when it was just me in the darkness, I let myself go. I had one of Declan’s shirts. Crazy, I knew it. He’d left it draped over a fence the other day. It didn’t need a button, didn’t need mending, but I couldn’t help myself, I’d balled it up and brought it back with me like a maniac.
Now, with the lights out, I snuck it out from behind my pillow and breathed it in. Declan’s scent, masculine and scorching hot, in bed with me. Slowly slipping my finger down under my panties, I found my sex slick and throbbing with need. Just thinking about him got me so worked up, so inflamed. His huge shoulders, the heat in his gaze, even the possessive way I’d seen him kiss another woman, pressing her up against that pole. I began to slide my finger along my slippery folds, stroking myself, starting slowly, circling my clit as my heart began to beat faster.
I imagined Declan’s mouth on me, his hands. My fingers roamed my body, finding their way to my breasts, stroking, caressing. What if it were Declan’s lips, his tongue? I pulsed with need, dripping wet, breathing in Declan’s scent from his shirt. What if it was his hand on me, his fingers pushed past my panties working my wet, slick, aching pussy?
So close to the edge, I imagined him pressing me up against the wall in the barn. I wanted him to pin me there as he fingered me, rough and demanding. I plunged two fingers up deep inside of me.
“Uh!” Arching back, waves of pleasure burst through my body. “Declan!” I called out as it washed over me, rippling and subsiding into the un-answering darkness.
The hot water pounded on my back, massaging and kneading my tense muscles. One rainforest showerhead from up above plus two jets from the sides plus a whole bunch of steam within the glass-enclosed shower equaled paradise. I stood in it for what had to be a half an hour, letting the heat and steam do their work.
Mostly my brain surrendered to the sensations, in sync with my body. But every now and then a question would pop up. Had Declan just spread me up against shelving in a stockroom and eaten me out? Surely not.
Afterwards, wrapped in a fluffy towel the size of Texas, I poured myself a glass of water. The mini fridge had its own compartment of ice. I guessed when the hotel got swanky enough they didn’t make you wander around searching for an ice machine. This hotel was nice, really nice. And Declan owned it all.
It was hard to wrap my mind around his wealth. And the insanely intense orgasm he’d given me. And there was something else I was forgetting…what was it? Oh, yes, the proposition, seven days of no-holds-barred submission to his sexual dominance. That.
Ice clinking against the glass, I flumped down on a plush crimson and cream sofa. He’d put me in a suite, one room devoted to lounging with a couch, bar and TV, the other a bedroom with a king-size bed piled so high with pillows and a down comforter it looked like something out of a fairy tale. The Girl Who Never Got out of Bed. I guessed that story hadn’t made it into the Hans Christian Anderson anthology. Not enough conflict.
That wasn’t my problem. I had some big, fat, juicy conflict in my life. And a decision I needed to make. Declan awaited my answer.
A loud knock sounded on the door. I started and nearly jumped to my feet, sloshing some water on my towel. My heart raced, both fearing and hoping. Could it be Declan, there to burst down the hotel room door, splintering it under the crush of his desire and taking me like a swashbuckling pirate captain against the wall, in the shower, handcuffed to the bed, ravishing every thought out of my head under a breathtaking onslaught of orgasms? I straightened my towel as best I could and opened the door a crack.
A woman in a hotel uniform stood holding my faded, lumpy old tote bag in one hand and a large, shiny shopping bag in the other. “A delivery for you, ma’am.”
“Me?” I took both bags, bewildered, and by the time I wondered whether I should give her a tip she’d already bid me good-night and headed off down the hallway.
I set them both up on the grey and white marble of the bar. On one side sat my crumpled tote, like a beat-down fighter
in desperate need of retirement. On the other, a fountain of crisp pink and white tissue paper erupted out of brand-spanking-new, white-on-white gloss. I eyed it suspiciously.
Declan. He’d said everything I needed would be sent to my room. But what, exactly, would be his definition of that?
I plunged my hand into the shopping bag. Something soft. Cashmere, a luxurious, cream-colored lounging robe, pale pink pajamas with lace trim, plus a fluffy pair of slippers. A large striped case held an array of creams and lotions, shampoos and conditioners, perfumes and hair care products, each with exotic ingredients like passionfruit, black honey and Tahitian Monoi Oil.
Oh my goodness. I tried hard to quell the enjoyment bubbling up inside of me. It wasn’t like Declan had picked out any of it. He must have had one of his minions take care of everything. For all I knew he kept a bag like this on hand for his conquests every weekend. I should be rolling my eyes, unimpressed by his attempt to lure me in. The heroine of a Victorian era romance would surely eschew all gifts from a man hell bent on sullying her reputation.
But, still. That cashmere was so soft. And what was Monoi oil? I read the label. Apparently it was made from soaking the petals of gardenias in coconut oil. Well, then. That sounded like a lot of work. Shame to let all that toil go to waste.
A while later, I draped my limbs back onto the couch. Buffed, smoothed and polished, swathed in a cashmere cloud I smelled like a flower garden and sighed with pleasure. What was it again that I needed to do? Right, make a decision.
I knew what I should do. I should get serious, sit down with a pen and paper and make myself a detailed pro/con list. I should map out all of the logistics, considering all the tasks required to free myself from obligations for an entire week. Then I should do some scenario planning, look at the decision from all angles and objectively play out different likely outcomes.
Of course, if I really sat down to make a list with my rational, thinking cap on I wouldn’t get past the first bullet point in the con column. “Whore for money.” Drop the mic, I’m out. If I thought about it like that, I’d be out the door and driving back to the ranch within the hour, on the phone to the toad man selling the place as soon as the sun rose. I wouldn’t even be in this hotel.
Problem was, I couldn’t find my thinking cap. I’d lost it, maybe in the changing room in the salon before my full Brazilian wax. Or maybe I’d let it drop to the floor at the fig & fennel when I’d first seen Declan. Locking eyes across a crowded room with a man that devastatingly sexy could make you do all sorts of stupid things. It could even lead to ending up in a stockroom with your dress bunched up and your panties flung off dangling from some shelf and you not minding one bit.
Whew. I took a sip of water. The man made me burn so hot. I should run not walk away from this. It was not the kind of thing good girls did, and I was a good girl. I baked. I tended the sick. I was a freaking virgin for goodness sake. This bargain, it was all kinds of wrong.