“So you’re a chef?” She was close, her lips almost touching his ear. Still, he barely made out her words. It wasn’t just the music blasting from the speakers next to them, it was the way his body hummed at her closeness. He’d never responded to anyone the way he did to her presence.
Mike ran his fingers down her spine, enjoying the silky material of her dress almost as much as he enjoyed her pale blonde hair tickling his neck. “Yes. I’m actually a silent partner in Arbore’s,” he said. That line was usually a closer, now the Italian restaurant he worked for was up and happening again.
“No, actually. You’re not,” she said with a little laugh. “I still can’t believe Derek let you get away with this for so long.”
Her laugh, throaty and full, had sent an electric jolt through Mike, but her words made him stop caressing her back. “You know Derek?” Was she Derek’s family? Nah, Mike would have met her before. Maybe she was related to Amanda?
The blonde pulled his ear lobe between her lips, and worried it with her teeth. “Do you wanna talk about this some more, or do you wanna fuck me?”
“Where?” Figuring things out could wait.
He nodded. “You go first, and I’ll be there in two.”
“Or we could both go now.” She licked a trail up the side of his neck. Bit him lightly.
She was either the coolest or the craziest chick ever. He didn’t care to figure out which, because she was definitely the hottest, and that was all that mattered. He stood and held out his hand. She grabbed it, jumped up, and let him lead her downstairs.
The lack of a queue was a miracle, but Mike wouldn’t have minded cutting in front of an army, to get inside the blonde next to him as soon as possible.
“I don’t even know your name,” he whispered in her ear. He didn’t have to duck his head; in her high heels, she stood almost as tall as he did. Which would work out awesomely for standing-up sex. For any kind of sex, really. The woman was a goddess.
She seemed to consider it a moment. “Ana,” she said. “Call me Ana.”
“But it’s not your real name?” That was a lame-ass question to ask. Especially after he’d lied about what he did for a living—well, the chef part was true. Mostly.
“It’s a nickname I haven’t used in a while,” she said.
Sudden panic ripped through his lust-addled brain. “Wait. Are you legal?” She looked mid-twenties, but he couldn’t risk it.
“Twenty-six last week. Want to card me?”
He might have, but she pushed him against the tiled wall and shoved her tongue in his mouth before the door swung closed behind them.
At a loss for words or not, he wasn’t the type to sit back and watch, while a gorgeous, horny woman had her way with him. He held her and spun, so she was sandwiched between him and the door. “I’ve wanted you since you walked in the restaurant,” he said. He wedged one thigh between her legs and busied his fingers with undoing his belt.
She nibbled on his jaw. “I know. It’s why I asked you for a drink.” She angled her hips, and naked wet flesh slid against his knuckles.
“I knew you’d appreciate it.”
Had she taken her panties off at some point between the restaurant and the club? She’d certainly had time to; she’d had dinner before nine, but waited for him to get off his shift at one in the morning. Irrational jealousy flooded his veins at the thought that maybe she’d left her home without underwear, hoping to meet someone—anyone—to give her a dirty fuck.
“Was it for me?” He managed an easy, conversational tone, as he slipped a finger inside her. She was hot and tight, and he could barely hold back from shoving his cock inside her to the hilt.
Her gasp turned into a mewl, as he withdrew his hand and rubbed the blunt head of his cock against her clit. “Always for you,” she said.
Since she’d never laid eyes on him before tonight, her answer was a blatant lie, but it was good for his ego nonetheless. “Want my dick?” he asked.
“Yes.” She met and held his gaze, and there was a challenge in those baby-blue eyes that he couldn’t ignore.
He took a step back and fished a condom out of his back pocket. Letting her stand there and watch him, he tore the packaging with his teeth, and took his time rolling the latex down his length. She liked watching. He could tell. “Beg me for it,” he said, closing the distance between them.
He slanted his mouth to hers and took his time tasting her lips. He needed to do this his way, needed to regain control of the situation, before he lost it like a horny teenager. When he felt her melt against him, her tongue seeking his, he whispered, “Turn around.”
She did, and he bent her over the nearest sink.
“Please fuck me. Now, Mike.” Their gazes met in the mirror, and hers held longing the likes of which he’d never seen before.
Bullshit. She was just up for a good time. And wasn’t that a lucky coincidence?
He skimmed his palms up the back of her thighs, lifting the hem of her dress and tracing the perfect curve of her ass. Then, one hand on her lower back, he began easing his length inside her, not taking his eyes off her reflection.
Her eyes were half closed, her face tense with anticipation. Her full lips formed a perfect oh. He regretted turning her away from him. He wanted to kiss those lips. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”
“No,” she said.
Mike froze in place. Had she changed her mind? Had he done something wrong? “Should I stop?”
“God, no.” She twisted her body, fisted one hand in his shoulder-length hair, and pulled him to her for a ferocious kiss that left his lips feeling swollen. “Stop being gentle. I want you to fuck me. Give me all you’ve got. And no talking.”
Mike had never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He pushed inside her, and began thrusting as hard and fast as his need for release commanded. He could see her knuckles whiten with the intensity of her hold on the porcelain, and he dug his fingers in her hips and moved even harder, until the sink began rattling.
When she tried to pull away, he held her in place by the nape of her neck and smacked her ass with enough force to leave a red hand print. “Tell me if you want me to stop,” he whispered, caressing the flushed skin.
Ana pushed back, and he snaked a hand around her to rub her clit at the rhythm of his thrusts.
She threw her head back, and Mike draped his body over hers and swept her blonde mane out of the way so he could lick the salty sweat trickling down her neck.
Everything about the woman was perfect, from her throaty moans, to the way she clenched around him. He could hear people outside. Their coupling was no longer a secret, but all he cared about was the heavenly pussy he was pounding. He took in her blissful look, eyes hooded with desire, but gaze never wavering from his as he drove their pleasure to ever higher peaks. She was the most erotic creature he’d ever met.
And when she came… The way she gave in to it, her body thrashing beneath him, her perfect teeth digging into the full flesh of her lower lip—if Mike believed in dating, he might have asked her out right then.
As things stood, he let her ride out her orgasm, before focusing on expediting his. In mere seconds, he was almost there, but Ana’s voice cut through his lust-induced haze.
“Wait. Want you in my mouth.”
He pulled out, snapped off the rubber, and watched her sink to her knees in front of him. He hadn’t allowed her much space to negotiate her new position, but she managed to fold her long, lithe body, and wrap her luscious lips around the head of his cock.
He was already coming, when she took him down her throat, and she kept swallowing until he was spent.
If he weren’t the shallowest man on earth, he might have fallen for her right there and then.
Ana licked his cock clean and arched an eyebrow. “Are you going to help me up?”
“Of course.” He was pretty sure he stammered. He pulled her up and to him, and gave her a lingering kiss—hey, if she was okay with swallowing his come, least he could do was taste it.
“Can I have your number?” he asked before he could stop himself.
She shook her head and gave him that same little laugh that said she knew so much more than he thought she did. “Oh, Mike, we both know you aren’t the guy to call back. I’d better go first this time.” She smoothed down her dress and raked her fingers through her hair. “Do I look like I was just fucked?”
“Oh, well.” She threw the door open and walked out, before he had time to tuck himself in.
Bella reached for the alarm clock without lifting her face from her pillow. She miscalculated, and instead of hitting the snooze button, ended up tossing the stupid thing on the hardwood floor. She heard it roll under the bed. That was what she got for wanting a designer alarm clock. If it were less curvy and stylish, it might stay put once in a while.
Shit. Now she had to get up if she wanted the demonic ringing to ever stop. At least she got to finish her dream before she woke up.
She rolled to her back and stretched, feeling pleasantly sore. Inexplicably sore. She remembered his hands on her. The rough palms. The long fingers. She hadn’t seen much of him naked, but the black T-shirt fit him like a second skin, stretching across the expanse of his chest and straining over his back and shoulders, defining muscle she wanted to have licked.
She’d tasted some of him, all right.
She ran her palm over her face and shook off the memories. They served no purpose other than to add to the melancholy that was today.
Could she possibly stay in bed?
The alarm clock ruled out that option.
Bella dragged her ass to the edge of the bed and let her legs fall over the side. “Will you please shut up, already?” She ducked and closed her fingers around the mostly plastic cylinder. “I should have gotten a voice-responsive model, damn it.” Maybe she would this afternoon, as a treat for going through all that and coming out stronger.
And only a little bit lonely.
She huffed and clapped her hands once. “Water. Room temp,” she said. “And start coffee maker.” A shower and an iced coffee should help lift her spirits.
At least she thought so, until her gaze fell on her wedding ring, discarded by the side of the sink. Where it had been, for over three months now. The sight never failed to cause fresh pain, but she refused to do something about it. She needed the reminder of the hurt he’d caused, so she wouldn’t slip and take his call next time.
She ran the perfect, room-temperature water and splashed some on her face, before studying her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes looked tired, because they were tired. Tired of crying over a cheater, who didn’t have the balls to admit his guilt when he was caught in the act.
She might have been more lenient, if she hadn’t given up everything for him. She might have forced herself to give him another chance if there were children keeping them together, but all they had was their unconditional love for each other. And he’d betrayed her and left her with nothing. He ripped her life and her heart in two, and he compounded his offense by lying about it, even after she showed him the pictures.
After fourteen years of marriage—sixteen years with him—the lie hurt maybe more than the fact he’d put his cock inside a stranger.
Bella felt faint and grasped the sink. Cold and solid, it anchored her. It also brought to mind memories of the previous night. Of another night, so many years ago.
Things had been different then, of course. She’d been easy prey for the experienced man, who seduced her with his sure touch and deep voice. She’d enjoyed every minute of that seduction, as much as she enjoyed taking the lead last night.
“Last night never happened,” she told her image.
Her navy-blue pantsuit waited for her, hung outside her closet. It was crisply ironed and smelled of freshness. She almost regretted having to wear it on the drive to her lawyer’s office.
A text flashed on the screen of her cell phone when she was at the door.
Please reconsider. Hear me out before you sign. This has to be a mistake.
There’d been a mistake all right, when he slipped and fell into another woman’s cunt. Bella wanted to reconsider. She wanted to forget the whole thing. She wanted to believe him. Sometimes she caught herself right before calling him. Her existence had revolved around him for so long, and now she’d lost her center.
Because he went and got lost between another woman’s thighs, the fucker.
Bella needed to destroy something. Obliterate it, like he obliterated their years together. She picked up the ugly-ass statue her cousin Angie had given her, and hefted it in her hand. It would have made a nice dent in the cheater’s head, and would no doubt crumble to pieces against a wall, but she didn’t want to waste the gift. She snorted. The ceramic miniature depicted the Aztec god Xochipilli, also known as the Prince of Flowers, and it was supposed to be a good-luck charm. It hadn’t exactly worked, but Angie loved it, and Bella wouldn’t trash it.
Instead, she grabbed the crystal swan that sat on the coffee table, and smashed it into the fireplace, enjoying both the brilliant sound and the million shards that reflected the morning light.
Her glee didn’t last long, once she remembered she’d given the cleaning lady the week off. Eh, she’d deal with that later. First she had to go sign the official dissolution of her marriage.
San Francisco hadn’t changed much the past decade and a half, but the air had gotten cleaner. Bella didn’t miss the smell of car exhaust, though she did miss the rumbling purr of her old car. This one was completely quiet and allowed her to hear her thoughts all too well. And her thoughts returned to last night much more often that she was comfortable with.
The throbbing between her legs brought to mind the way he’d thrust inside her, unable to control his passion. She rubbed against the inseam of her pants and felt a deep ache. Had she masturbated in her sleep? It’d make sense, with the tricks her subconscious was playing on her.
She still couldn’t believe how vivid the images and sensations had been. Incredible what her subconscious had dredged up from the deep freezer that held her happy memories. She’d been so young in her dream, but filled with the self-assurance she’d felt in her late thirties—before he turned her in an insecure mess.
She wouldn’t think of him. She’d think of the young chef, who lied to get laid and looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman on earth. She barked a laugh. She really needed to get out there and get some, in real life.
She left the car in an underground parking lot, keycard in the slot, and scanned her phone at the entrance hub. “Two hours, max,” she said to the microphone.
A heartbeat later, she heard the beep that signified a successful transaction. “Thank you,” she told the empty space and crossed the pavement to the nearest elevator. The doors slid open the moment she pressed the button. At least something was going her way.
She was checking her email as she entered the cabin, and didn’t look up until she heard a voice call her name.
“Ana?” It was barely more than a whisper, but it hit her like a punch to the stomach. “You cut your hair.”
She tugged at the short strand that barely reached her chin. She’d cut it to spite him; he always loved her long blonde tresses.
“Ana, please listen to me. I don’t know who sent you these pictures and why, but I never cheated on you.”
She refused to raise her gaze toward him.
“Please, baby. You have to believe me.” He approached her with slow, tentative steps, as if she were a wounded animal—and wasn’t she?
Why wouldn’t the stupid elevator move faster? She couldn’t breathe when he was so close. She couldn’t be strong, when all she could think of was how she’d die for one more night in his arms.
He stood in front of her now. She could see his shoes. Black, patent, and shiny. Shiny like the pictures in her email, that showed him with that redhead. Looked barely twenty. Younger than Bella was when they started dating.
The elevator stopped, but the doors took an eternity to open.
He reached for her hand. “You know there’s been nobody but you. Since the night we met, I didn’t even think of another woman. Ever.”
She looked up and gulped. He was painfully beautiful. His hair was shorter than back then, showing his graying temples, and his dark-brown eyes were filled with infinite pain, but he was as striking as the first time their gazes met across a crowded restaurant. His body was well defined under his button-down—who ironed that for him?—and the lines framing his mouth were as sexy as ever.
And he would still play her for a fool, if she let him.
A shy smile began curving his lips, and she realized he’d mistaken her silence for consent to keep trying. To keep lying to her.
“I’m signing the papers,” she said, her voice low but heavy with finality. This time, she’d be the one making the hard choices. “We’re done, Mike. For good.”