Chapter Nine

Joy

 

Tapping on the door.

Ignore it. It’ll stop.

It doesn’t.

Crap, did I sleep through all three alarm clocks?

I sit up and kick away the sheets. “I’ll be right out.” Did that sound awake enough? The thought that the other writers—accomplished writers—will know I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn to write makes me feel like a phony.

“Joy?” A pause. Then— “Hara?” It’s barely above a whisper, but I recognize Hermes voice.

The name I haven’t heard in forever acts like a shot of espresso. I blink away the last vestiges of sleep and glance at the closed shutters. No light peeks in between the rails. It’s still dark out. I switch on the lamp on my nightstand, hurry to the door, and open it a sliver.

“What time is it?” I ask. Idiot. That’s not the question; the question is what is he doing here at whatever-time-it-is o’clock.

He leans against the doorway and licks his lips. I wanna do that. I wanna lick and bite them. Suck and nibble.

He grins, and my nipples harden against the wood of the door. Because I’m shirtless.

“Midnight? One? I don’t know,” he says.

“Is everything okay?” That sounded cool, right? Not like I’m painfully aware of my semi-nakedness and aching for his touch. Not like I can’t stop staring at his mouth. Remembering how his lips on my nipple almost made me come.

His nostrils flare, and he drops his gaze. It’s like he can see me through the door and knows how wet I am for him. “Everything is fine.” His voice goes lower. Gruffer. “I wanted to see you.” He closes his eyes. Chuckles. When he opens them again, silver swims in the blue. “I’m lying. I wanted to touch you. To feel you in my arms again.”

“I don’t know if I want to sleep with you.” I snap my mouth shut, but it’s too late. The words are out. And they’re a blatant lie, because I know perfectly well I want to sleep with him. Whether I should is another matter entirely.

Hermes tucks his tongue behind his teeth and waggles his brows. “Guess we can just fuck, then.”

Of course that’s why he’s here. He was playing hard to get earlier, and when I didn’t run after him, he went with Plan B—straight for the money-shot.

“I’m messing with you. I don’t have to fuck you, but I can’t stop thinking about tasting you.”

It’s possible I’m gaping like a fish. As if looking like an idiot isn’t enough, and I have to sound like one too, I say, “I’m dreaming, aren’t I?”

In lieu of an answer, he asks, “May I come in?”

A vague sense of foreboding makes me hesitate. In my book, Iokaste will invite Periandros in when she’s finally ready to admit her feelings—to herself, if not to him.

And that has nothing to do with Hermes and me. Iokaste and Periandros share a love for the ages. Hermes and I will have a fling, if that, and then I’ll leave and never see him again.

My heart screams for me to stop, but my feet are already shuffling backward, and I’m pulling the door all the way open. I make no effort to cover myself, and he makes no move to enter. Is this a staring match?

If it is, I lose. “Come in,” I say, because I can’t say the words swirling in my mind. Take me. Make me yours. For once, I want to feel the passion I write about. I want to experience every scorching moment of intimacy. Knowing there is no future to be had will have to keep me safe. Keep me from giving more than I can bare without losing myself.

Hermes slips inside and shuts the door. He closes the distance between us and all but crashes into me, as he grabs my ass with both hands. Without slowing down, he lifts me and walks me backward. I wrap my legs around him, and hold his gaze until something hard digs into the backs of my thighs. The desk.

“My laptop,” I whisper.

“I’ll be careful.” And he is, as he flicks his tongue across my lips. “Do you realize how intoxicating you are?” he whispers, ghosting his mouth down the side of my neck. “I’ve barely kissed you, and I’m drunk with you. Hooked on you.”

God, I should stop him and write these things down, for when Periandros declares his feelings to Iokaste. His teeth graze my shoulder, as he kneads my ass and presses me against him, and my book no longer matters. Nothing matters but the throbbing between my legs. I reach between us, and my fingers find silken skin. His euphemism for a dress is riding high, revealing the tip of his hard cock. I push aside the fabric and close my fist around him. Or try to. His shaft is too wide for my fingers to circle.

Will it fit inside me?

His kiss, his touch, his every movement is more languid than before, the sense of urgency we shared on the beach absent from the leisurely manner in which he licks a trail down my sternum. His hand covers mine and unfolds it, releasing his cock from my grip.

Did I do something wrong?

“You’re perfect,” he mutters against my skin, lowering to bury his face between my breasts and draw a deep breath. He nuzzles them in turn, his five o’clock shadow scratching the tender skin and making me shiver in anticipation. “Perfect and all mine.”

Woah there, buddy. I belong to no man. Not gonna start an argument when he’s placing open-mouthed kisses across my belly, though.

I suck in my stomach. Shouldn’t have had so many carbs for dinner. On a daily basis. For as long as I can remember.

“Perfect,” he says again, and raises his face to meet my gaze before he drops to his knees between my legs. His expression of awe makes my chest constrict. How can he look at me like that?

I cup his face and study his silver-blue eyes with their thick fringe of lashes, the cheekbones carved by a sculptor, the square jaw that would be too harsh but for the soft curve of his mouth. “Why did you leave? Before?” I hate myself for asking, for interrupting the moment, but this is important. He told me what he wants, but what changed from when he left me panting outside the door?

He rubs his cheek against my palm and tilts his head to lay a kiss on my fingertips. “Because I was an idiot. I realized you were Hara, from the foster home, and it threw me off. I never thought I’d see you again. When I…” He shakes off the rest of that sentence, clasps my arm, and kisses my inner wrist before closing my hand over the edge of the desk.

“So you are that Hermes?” I should say more. Ask what happened to him—why he asked me about his adoption—but he skates a large palm up my thigh, and coherent thought dissolves and scatters from my grasp.

He nods, holding my gaze. “I had to reconcile the little girl I wanted to protect as a kid with the luscious woman you’ve become. I couldn’t do this until I’d sorted things out.”

What this? My heart races inside my ribcage. Is he talking about sex, or…?

He’s talking about sex, Joy. Snap out of it.

Sex now, going by how he helps me grip the desk with my second hand too.

“And now you have?” My question comes out a whisper, because he’s ghosting his knuckles up my bare inner thigh, and that makes it hard to focus on words.

His mouth follows the path his hand draws, and he nudges me to lie back. I don’t want to. I want to watch him. Savor every moment. I prop myself up on my elbows and try to keep my trembling to a minimum when he hooks my right leg over his shoulder. He inches his thumb beneath the crotch of my boyshorts and slides it up my slit.

“So smooth.” He may as well be talking to himself; his voice is so low.

Should I tell him I waxed because I was planning to hit the beach on this trip, not because I had in mind sex with a scorching-hot stranger? That I didn’t come here looking for sexy-fun times? That nobody was supposed to touch me there during this retreat? That… What? That I’m not that kind of woman? The kind that’s now tilting up her hips, seeking more of his touch?

Shit, I should have worn sexier underwear.

He kisses my mons over the cotton. “Nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasure your body is capable of.”

Can he hear my thoughts?

No, stupid. He sensed me tense. This can’t be his first rodeo with a chubby girl who’s a little too eager for attention.

And it’s no longer expectation that has me tensing. I try to close my legs, but his head is in the way. “I can’t— I don’t…” Words should be easy, damn it. I’m a fucking author. “Why me?” I don’t want to know, but I need to.

“Because you’re the one. From the moment I ran into you, I knew there was something about you…” He pushes my underwear out of the way and traces my labia with his thumb again. He seems transfixed by my pussy, and all I can think about is how I hate the curve of my belly.

I drop my head back and help him out. “You knew I’d be an easy lay?”

His shocked gasp makes me close my eyes. I did it—I killed the mood. What did I expect him to do? Confess his undying love? He’s here because I’m convenient, and I’m with him because he’s hot.

Way to sell us both short.

Awesome. Now my thoughts are in his voice.

“Joy, look at me,” he says.

I force myself to, and it’s almost painful. How can a man be so beautiful and so breathtakingly masculine at the same time?

“I want you.” His hands are on my knees, and even that contact makes my head light with desire.

“But why?” God, why can’t I shut up? Why do I have to sound so small and insecure? And does it matter why he wants me? We both have an itch to scratch.

Before I can blink, his hand is on mine. “Because you’re beautiful and smart and funny. And so passionate about your craft, you traveled halfway around the world to work on it. Doesn’t hurt that you kiss like a demon, and I bet you’re spectacular in bed. But mostly because you’re absolutely stunning.”

I snort and wipe wetness off my cheeks. Are those tears? Damn it. “I’m stunning?” I manage to sound casual. I think. “Have you seen you?”

He laughs and nibbles on my inner thigh. “Yeah, I’m pretty stunning myself. Wait till you see me naked. I’ll ruin you for other men.”

Something in my chest loosens enough that I can laugh too. “Someone’s cocky.”

“With good reason, too.” His face grows serious. “I want to lose myself between your long legs. I want to fuck you. And I want to make love to you. I want to wake up with you in the morning and toss plot bunnies with you over breakfast. And then I want to finger you under the table and take you again, against that door, as soon as we’re back in your room. But before all that, I want to eat you out until your legs can’t hold you upright and you’re unable to wipe the silly smile of utter satisfaction from your face.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sold.” I lie back again. “I mean, if you’re that good.”

He buries his face in my pussy and chuckles, the sound vibrating to my core and his warm breath seeping through the cotton. He inhales deeply, and my cheeks burn. I’ve never felt this exposed, and it only gets worse when he clasps the elastic of my underwear with both hands and moves back so he can glide them down my legs. He raises first my one foot, then the other, to slip off my boyshorts, bunches them in one hand and takes another sniff. As he sets them aside, he says, “These are mine now.”

First I’m his, and now my underwear is? I should remember to yell at him later, when he isn’t teasing his tongue between my bare labia.

“I don’t do this often. Or ever,” I whisper.

He groans and dips his tongue in my pussy, before drawing it higher, to tap my clit.

“No, really.” For some reason, it’s imperative that he believe me.

“I know,” he says. But how does he say it, when his lips are wrapped around my clit, sucking? Another suck, the barest touch of a tooth, a finger—no, two—inching inside me, and I don’t care. My brain shuts down, as my being swirls around the pleasure building in my core with every thrust of his hand and every tug of his mouth.

He hums… No, he’s muttering. I don’t know what he’s saying, but his tone soothes and excites me almost as much as his attentions do. Liquid fire burns in my veins as he picks up his tempo. I try to raise my legs. To find purchase on his shoulders. I can’t control my limbs, though. They’re heavy and shaking. The fire in my belly swirls wildly, setting my nerve-endings alight, until I’m burning. I’m glowing. I’m coming harder than I’ve ever come, my hips pumping off the desk and my head thudding back in the rhythm he set.

Hermes adds one more finger, stretching me almost painfully, and withdraws his mouth. Putting all I have into ordering my neck muscles to work, I raise my head and meet his gaze. His eyes are glassy, shining fully silver. He licks his lips, and I can feel his tongue playing with mine. Can taste myself in a kiss that isn’t possible.

My lids drifts shut, and I lie back down, hovering on the edge until he finger-fucks me into another orgasm that has nonsensical cries tearing out of my throat. A flailing arm sends something heavy crashing over the edge of the desk. I don’t care. I’m hovering over my body, wrapped in a cloud of bliss, Hermes’ hands and mouth covering every square inch of me. At once.

In between kisses, he chants something. It’s in Greek, and if I understand him correctly, it means my love.

It’s weird, when we only just met. Definitely a red flag. Should no way be hurtling me into yet another orgasm.

Shouldn’t feel so right.

 

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