“Well, I made it this week!”
“You don’t take care of yourself. You’re running yourself ragged at the university.”
“I do take care of myself. In fact, I was taking care of myself on Friday night but someone ruined my downtime.”
“He was an arse.”
Elodie cleared her throat meaningfully.
Adam held up an apologetic hand. “He was a butt.”
Declan and Hannah giggled. Maybe I did too.
“You don’t even know him. And thanks to you, I never will.”
“Stop changing the subject. I told you to make an appointment with the doctor’s office weeks ago.”
“You’re not my dad.”
“You’re being a child.”
“I’m being a child. Listen to you. He was a butt? What the hell, Adam? You’re making my headache worse.”
He frowned, and lowered his voice. “I’m just worried about you.”
Oh he was worried about her alright. I tilted my head to the side, watching him. God, he was looking at her like James looked at Rhian.
Was Adam in love with Ellie?
I stifled the urge to throw my fork at him and tell him to man up. If he cared about her, he should just be with her. What was so difficult about that?
“I would think you of all people would understand what was so difficult about that?” Dr. Pritchard frowned at me.
And I would know this… how? “Um… what?”
“You cared about Kyle Ramsey.”
I felt the knot in my stomach appear as it always did when I thought about him. “He was just a boy.”
“Who you didn’t want to care about because of Dru.”
Shit. She was right. I hung my head in my pain. “Then Adam’s doing the right thing, isn’t he? Braden would just get hurt. Like Dru did.”
“You didn’t kill Dru, Joss.”
I drew in a breath. “I wasn’t the bullet, no. But I was the trigger.” I looked the good doctor in the eye. “It’s still my fault.”
“One day, you’re going to realize that it wasn’t.”
After Sunday dinner at Elodie’s where Ellie and Adam acted as our entertainment, I was kind of exhausted watching them by the time we got home. A still not feeling well, and still pissed off, Ellie disappeared into her room and didn’t come out.
I, on the other hand, sat at my computer and started to write.
My phone beeped and I picked it up to find I had a text message from Braden.
I forgot how nice and big my office desk is at the club. I definitely need to f**k you on it.
I shook my head, my lips curled upwards as I text back. Luckily for you, I can work with nice and big.
I got an instant text back. I know 😉
For some reason, Braden texting me a winky face made me grin like an idiot. For someone who was seriously intimidating when he wanted to be, he was also incredibly playful.
So when do you want to schedule me in for office desk sex? Let me know so I can pencil you in. My sex diary is filling up pretty fast here.
When he didn’t reply after five minutes, I bit my lip, remembering how serious he’d been about the whole ‘not sharing me’ thing.
I text him again. It was a joke, Braden. Lighten up.
I didn’t think he was going to reply, and was trying not to worry if I’d said the wrong thing— this whole f**k buddy thing wasn’t quite as stress-free as I’d been led to believe—when my phone beeped five minutes later. Hard to tell with you sometimes. Speaking of hard…
I was caught between laughing and scowling. What did he mean it was hard to tell with me sometimes? Deciding it best to let it go, since he was joking again, I text back … wood floor?
… back book?
Think more anatomical…
OK, you just took the sexy out of it.
I laughed out loud, quickly texting him back. Last text. I’m working on my novel. I’ll see you and your hard c*ck on your nice and big office desk for sex later.
Good luck with the writing, babe. x
The kiss freaked me out.
Better to pretend it was a smiley face. Just a smiley face…
My phone rang in the middle of my freak out over one little kiss. It was Rhian.
“Hey,” I answered breathily, still thinking about the little kiss and what it meant.
“Are you okay?” Rhian asked warily. “You sound… weird.”
“I’m fine. What’s up?”
“Just checking in. We haven’t spoken in a while.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m screwing Ellie’s brother. How are you and James?”
Braden was the master of the dirty text message. Sometimes he was subtle… other times well…
I can’t wait to be inside you again, babe. x
… not so much.
Buried with work, Braden was A.W.O.L. over the next few days. If I was a different kind of girl, I might have been freaking out that after we’d had sex he’d disappeared, but in all honesty, I enjoyed having that time away from him to breathe. We’d only started ‘our arrangement’ and already it felt like weeks. By Tuesday afternoon, his text messages were starting to get to me. As in… turning me on. It was amazing how for four years I had been fairly okay without sex. I saw to myself and I got by. However, hav**g s*x with Braden had awakened my appetite. An apparently never-ending appetite. I wanted food all the time. And only Braden’s food would do. Of course, I didn’t confess this to Rhian, even though she had a bunch of questions about the guy who’d managed to pull me out of my four year dry spell. I told her he was hot. That the sex was hot. The rest of the conversation consisted of her repeating, ‘I just can’t believe it.’
Yeah, that wasn’t very flattering.
Telling Rhian about the hot sex only made me hungrier. That’s why I found myself at the gym. Again. I’d already been there the day before. Pounding my feet into the treadmill, racing the exercise bike and rowing the hell out of the rowing machine, I hoped to burn out all the sexual tension inside of me. It didn’t really help.
I looked at the guy who had stopped by my treadmill. Ah. Gavin. The personal trainer who had been flirting silently with me for the past few weeks, ever since the incident on the treadmill. “Yeah?” I asked casually.
Gavin smiled sweetly at me and I groaned inwardly. One: clean-cut pretty boys weren’t my type. Two: I already had my hands full with a Scotsman. “Back again, so soon.”
Yay, he was watching me. That wasn’t creepy at all. “Uh huh.”
He shifted on his feet, clearly unprepared for my less than enthusiastic response to him barging in on my ‘operation relieve sexual frustration caused by a missing-in-action Braden Carmichael’. “Look, I was just wondering if you maybe fancied getting dinner together some time?”
I stopped the machine and stepped as gracefully off of it as I could, considering I was sweaty and icky. I gave him a platonic smile—you know the one; the pressing of the lips, no teeth showing. “Thanks. But I’m already seeing someone.” I left before he could respond, smiling as I realized that at least the arrangement with Braden had some positives. Not counting multiple orgasms.
After I showered and changed, I left the gym, dodging Gavin, and as soon as I turned on my phone I had a text from Braden.
Make yourself available Thursday night. Business Dinner. Put on a nice dress. I’ll pick you up at 7.30pm. x
I rolled my eyes. It hadn’t even occurred to him I might not be free. Bossy bastard. I text back: Only because you asked so nicely.
Annoyed, I strode down the sidewalk clutching my phone tight in my hand. I’d have to talk to him about his tendency towards obnoxious. My phone beeped and I stopped, still scowling. A scowl that fell away at his one word text: Babe. x
I could hear him say it with a teasing smile in his voice and I shook my head, smiling in exasperation. Jackhole was too damn charming for his own good.
Not that I had much to go on about the business dinner – who we would be dining with, or where we would be dining – I did know I didn’t have a dress that would do. So for once I decided to use my money for something frivolous, and head into Harvey Nichols on St. Andrews Square. After two hours of trying on dresses (some of which cost more than my monthly rent), I finally decided on a classy, but sexy Donna Karan dress. In the silhouette of a calf-length pencil dress, the silver-grey jersey material clung to every curve. A drape twisted from the right shoulder to the left hip, adding a touch of elegance to what would normally be just a sexy/casual dress. Adding in a ridiculously expensive black clutch purse by Alexander McQueen with the signature gold skull clasp—I thought the skull appropriate— and black leather platform pumps by Yves Saint Laurent, I looked hot. In fact it was the hottest I’d ever looked. And the most I’d ever spent on one outfit. Ellie was in raptures over it.
Ellie could be in raptures over it all she wanted. I was nervous about Braden’s reaction.
Turns out I didn’t need to be.
Well, depends on how you look at it.
Thursday night, I was standing in the sitting room sipping a glass of wine with Ellie while I waited on Braden. I’d left my hair down and it fell down my back in loose natural curls that Ellie had oohed and aahed over, begging me to wear my hair down all the time. Nope to that. I didn’t really do make up, but I’d put on some blush, mascara, and a deep scarlet lipstick that took the outfit up a notch.
Our front door opened and shut and my stomach flipped.
“It’s me,” Braden called. “I’ve got a cab waiting so we sh-” he stopped speaking as he entered the sitting room, his eyes frozen on me. “Fuck.”
I squinted an eye at him. “Is that a good fuck?”
He grinned. “Well you’re that too, babe.”
“Euch,” Ellie made a choking sound. “Gag me.”
Ignoring her, Braden sauntered casually towards me. He was wearing a simple, but elegantly cut black skinny suit with a slim velvet lapel, white-gold cufflinks and a dark silver-grey shirt that matched my dress perfectly. His skinny tie was blood-red like my lipstick. We had unknowingly coordinated.
He looked yummier than I did though.
His eyes scanned me from head to toe, and by the time they came back up to my face they were blazing. “Come with me.” He grabbed my wrist and I just managed to hand Ellie my wine glass before I was hauled down the hall in shoes I’d had to practice walking in, and dragged into my bedroom.
He spun around, hooking an arm around my waist and tugging me towards him.
“You have got to stop doing that,” I complained.
“Babe, you look… let’s just say if there wasn’t a taxi waiting to take us to the restaurant for our reservation, you’d be on your back right now.”
“In fact…” he murmured, squeezing my waist, his eyes dipping to the low neckline of the dress.
He jerked his eyes back to mine. “You look beautiful, Jocelyn.”