Ten

Dinner over, Hunter and Sinclair each found a comfortable spot on the leather couch. They had a box of chocolate truffles between them, and another bottle of Ch?teau Rothschild on the coffee table. He would have liked to draw her into his arms, or into his lap, or at least over beside him. But until she sent a signal, he didn’t intend to make a move.

She curled up, her legs beneath her, and her pert breasts rounded out against the tight tank top. He could make out the outline of her nipples in the dim light, and he stared at them with a fatalistic longing. Her shoulders were tanned and smooth, her bare waist and cute belly button were nipped in above the low cut pants. And he could see the barest hint of her satin panties along the line of her hip.

She reached for a chocolate. “Did you try the Grande Marnier?” Her lips wrapped halfway around the dark globe, and she bit down with an appreciate groan.

He wasn’t going to make it through the movie.

There was absolutely no way he was going to make it through the movie.

“Here.” She held out the other half of the chocolate.

He leaned forward, and she popped it into his mouth. Then she licked the remaining chocolate cream from her fingertips.

“Good?” she asked.

He nodded, unable to form an actual word.

The American frontier bloomed up on the wide screen.

Sinclair reached for her wine. “Here we go.”

He didn’t even glance at the colorful screen. Instead, he stared at her profile, remembering what it felt like to kiss her lips, to taste the smooth skin of her shoulders and breasts, to stroke his fingers along the most intimate parts of her body.

She sipped her wine, and he watched her swallow. She smiled, then frowned, her eyes squinting down in reaction to the story.

“You done?” he asked, moving the chocolate box to the coffee table, clearing his path. If he had an opportunity to move closer, he’d take it in a split second.

She glanced at the box. Then she nodded.

Using the excuse of replacing the lid, he eased toward the middle of the couch, then he settled back to bide his time while the story unfolded.

As the heroine’s party made their way through the bush and the music signaled the tension and danger, Sinclair pushed herself to the back of the couch.

Hunter moved a little closer, stretching his arm across the back. “You okay?” he asked.

She nodded, gaze not leaving the screen.

The first attack came, and she jerked in reaction. Hunter covered her shoulder in comfort, and her hand came up to squeeze his. Her skin was soft and warm against his palm, and her fingers were delicate where they entwined with his own.

The story moved on until the hero and heroine were pinned down in the woods. They joined forces, and Sinclair sighed. Hunter had to admit this was a much better date movie than Die Hard.

He shifted closer still, so that their thighs brushed together. When, under gunfire, the hero and heroine finally came together to make love, Sinclair leaned her head on Hunter’s shoulder.

Unable to resist, he kissed the top of her head, and wrapped an arm tight around her.

By the time the action got bloody, she was burying her face in his chest. And, at the resolution, she relaxed, molding against his body while she tipped her chin up to look him in the eyes.

“Hey,” he said gruffly.

“Inspiring story,” she returned.

Neither moved away, and they stared at each other in silence, her eyes reflecting the longing in his blood.

“Your sister’s right,” he finally offered in a last ditch attempt to be a gentleman.

Sinclair didn’t answer, instead her hand crept up along his chest, finding the bare skin of his neck, and caressing it in a way that made him groan.

“My sister’s sleeping with your cousin,” she said.

Hunter didn’t understand the point, but he couldn’t formulate the right question.

Sinclair stretched up to kiss the corner of his mouth. “That means she can afford to be right.” She gave him a swift kiss on the center of his lips.

He automatically puckered in response.

“I, on the other hand, am in the mood to be very, very wrong.”

“So am I,” he breathed, scooping his hand beneath her bottom and easing her into a reclining position beside him.

His lips came down on hers with all the purpose in the world.

Then he stripped off her tank top, wrapping his arms around her bare back and pulling her breasts flush against his body.

“I want you so bad,” he rasped, kissing her collarbone, her breasts, the tight pebble of her nipple that he’d been watching for two long, painful hours.

“I’ve missed you,” she confessed. “I don’t care that we have to go back. I don’t care that it has to end.”

He slipped a hand beneath her sweatpants, beneath her satin panties, to her bare buttocks. “Nothing’s going to end tonight. Not for a very, very long time.”

She smiled up at him, her blue eyes turning to midnight sky as her fingers tugged his shirt from his waistband. “I want to touch every inch of your body.”

“Good.”

“I want you inside me for hours.”

“Better.”

“I want to make love so long and so hard…”

Hunter kissed her mouth, over and over, completely speechless with desire.

“What should I do?” she breathed.

“You’re already doing it.”

His hot gaze took in her bare breasts. He stripped off the sweat pants and stared at the satin panties he’d glimpsed earlier. He ran his hand down her thigh, along her calf, over the arch of her foot.

She managed to slip off his shirt.

Her hands went to his chest, stroking upward, pausing on his nipples. “I don’t think we’ll be waxing,” she said, and he chuckled at her joke.

He ran his hand up her calf again. “Somebody’s been waxing.”

“It doesn’t hurt that much.”

“Glad you’re tough.” He ran the hand back down. “Really glad you’re tough.”

“Smooth, huh?”

“Smooth as silk.” He trickled his fingers up her thigh, slipping them beneath her panties, teasing the smooth skin near the top.

Sinclair gasped at the sensation, arching her back, plastering her body against his, feeling the rough texture of his slacks against her thighs.

“You are amazing,” he gasped.

“You are…You are…” She didn’t even have words for it.

“Impatient,” he supplied, pushing his way out of his slacks.

“Thank goodness.” She smiled.

But he stopped, their naked bodies flush against each other. He rubbed a thumb across her sensitive lips, kissed them thoroughly, then rubbed it once more. “You sure you’re ready?”

She nodded. Her entire body tingled in anticipation. Hunter. She was getting Hunter again. Finally.

He stroked her thighs, parting them, then slowly pushed his way inside.

A powerful, unfamiliar feeling surged through her body. She tunneled her fingers into his hair, she clutched his back, arching against him, delving into their kiss until the rest of the world disappeared.

“Damn,” he muttered, pulling back ever so slightly, blinking his eyes. He glanced down to where their bodies met. “This has to last.”

“Make it last,” she whispered. Forever and ever and ever.

She kissed his forehead, his eyelids, his cheeks. Then she got serious again on his mouth.

His fingers moved to the small of her back. Then his hands cupped her bottom and he rocked her pelvis as his hard length moved in and out. The low buzz in her body ratcheted up to a roar. Shots of sparkling heat radiated out from her center. Her breath came in small gasps against his lips.

Her hands fisted on his back. Her thighs tightened, her eyes fluttered closed, and she rocked herself hard into his rhythm.

“I…can’t…” she panted. “Oh…please…”

He lifted her ever so slightly, changing the angle, making her eyes pop open in wonder.

They both stilled, faces mere inches apart, staring at each other, gasping the same air. And then he moved, and she groaned, and her universe contracted to the place where their bodies were joined.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight, inhaling his scent as deep as she could manage, tasting the salt of his skin, feeling his taught muscles surround her and block out the world.

They both made it last, refusing to give in to the ultimate pleasure as the minutes ticked by and slick sweat gathered between their bodies.

Hunter’s name began pounding in her brain. An exquisite pulse started low, becoming more insistent, forcing a moan from her lips and making her hips buck uncontrollably.

He whispered her name, and she was lost.

He followed her, her name on his lips over and over and over again.

They switched to the bed and made love again. Sinclair clung to him with all her might, wishing she could hold off the morning.

But when they finally separated, gasping and exhausted, the sun was an orange glow on the horizon.

“Now that was reckless and impulsive,” said Hunter.

“Your family should really stop trying to beat those impulses out of you.”

“You want to tell them that?”

“I do. Hand me your cell phone.”

He did.

She pressed Jack’s speed-dial button before Hunter whisked it out of her hand.

“I thought you were bluffing,” he said.

She grinned. “And I thought you could wrestle a six-foot alligator.”

“Okay,” he groaned, dropping the phone on the bedside table. “All kidding aside. We’ve got trouble.”

“We certainly do.”

He propped himself up on his elbow and traced a line from her shoulder to her wrist. “Question is,” he drawled softly, “what do we do about it?”

“You’re still my boss,” she said.

“I am.”

“We still can’t have an office fling.”

“Agreed.”

“Of course, we’re not in the office now.”

“I like the way you’re thinking.”

She popped up on her elbow, facing him, matching his posture. “We could keep it up until we get home.”

Hunter watched her for a few minutes, concern flitting across his expression. “Kristy’s afraid you’ll fall for me.”

“I know she is.”

He took a breath as if he was steeling himself. “You gonna fall for me, Sinclair?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” she quickly put in. “You’re too reckless and impulsive to be a long-term bet.”

“Plus, I lie.”

“Plus,” she agreed with a nod, “you lie.”

He reached out to stroke her cheek with the pad of his thumb, brushing back her hair.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.

She squelched her softer feelings. It was a fling or nothing, and that was the hard, cold truth of the matter. And she didn’t want nothing, so she was taking the fling.

“What if I hurt you?” she suggested in return, just to keep things fair.

“I don’t think Kristy cares so much about that.” He paused. “We’ve got three whole days until the Valentine’s ball.”

“And two whole nights to go with them.”

He kissed her nose. “So we’re decided then?”

She nodded against him. “I think our only hope is to get it out of our system.”

“Agreed.”

Sinclair pushed to a sitting position. “We’re going to see the spas today, right?”

“Paris, London and Brussels.”

“Then we should get going.”

Hunter groaned, tugging her back into place and pulling the covers over them. “First, we sleep.”

“The sooner we get going, the sooner we get back.”

He paused and opened one eye. “To this big, lovely bed.”

“In this big, lovely suite.”

“Can we get room service this time?”

“Poor baby,” she cooed, drawing his fingertips to her lips and kissing them one by one. “Did you cut yourself chopping?”

“It’s a time-saving ploy,” he explained. “I have my sights set on the whirlpool.”

Sinclair hopped up. “I’m in.”

They laughed their way through the shower and into their clothes. Hunter had Simon pour on the power across the Channel and then back through Belgium. Sinclair gave the spa managers an orientation to the Luscious Lavender products, put them in touch with Ethan, and with Mary-Anne from distribution, then they hightailed it back to the heart of Paris.

By early evening, they were in the whirlpool.

Hunter pulled Sinclair back into the cradle of his thighs, handing her a flute of champagne and kissing her damp neck. She sighed in contentment, sipping the sweet, bubbly liquid while he lazily scrubbed a foamy loofah sponge over her back.

With his other hand, he touched the jeweled fish on her bracelet.

Sinclair had forgotten she still had it on. She jangled it in front of her eyes. “I think it’s my favorite.”

He drew her wrist forward to kiss the tender, inside skin. “This is my favorite.”

“Really?” She pointed to her elbow. “I thought this was your favorite.”

He kissed her there. “That, too.”

“And this?” she pointed to her shoulder.

“Of course.”

“This?” Her neck.

“All of it.”

She laughed.

He sat back and his sponge strokes grew longer along her spine.

“Did you get a hold of Roger?” he asked.

“I did. He wasn’t thrilled about me delaying my return even longer.”

“You mean Chantal’s not the wunderkind we all imagined?”

“He didn’t complain about her. He said I was setting a bad example.”

“By taking your holidays?”

“I guess.”

“Want me to talk to him?”

“Oh, yeah. Great idea. Why don’t you call him up?”

Sinclair’s cell phone chimed.

“If that’s Roger,” said Hunter. “Tell him I say ‘hey.’”

She elbowed Hunter in the ribs, drying one hand before reaching for her phone. “Hello?”

“Hey, you.”

Sinclair guiltily pushed Hunter’s sponge hand away. “Hi, Kristy.”

He continued to rub her back.

“What’s up?” asked Kristy.

“Not much. Where are you?”

“Off the coast of New Zealand. We just got cell service back.”

“Great.”

“So, what are you doing?”

Hunter’s hand slipped around to her stomach. “Went to the spa in Brussels today, and the one in London. Met with the managers. Got them all set up for Friday’s launch.”

“Good for you.” Kristy paused. “Hunter still in Paris?”

“He’s here. But he was a little standoffish after you left.”

Hunter choked back a laugh.

“I guess he came to his senses,” said Kristy.

“I guess he did,” Sinclair agreed, as the sponge meandered toward her breast. She clutched it to her stomach to stop his progress.

“So, when are you coming home?”

“By the fourteenth, for sure. I need to be there for the ball.”

Hunter wrenched his hand free.

Sinclair bit down on her lip to keep from gasping as the sponge brushed between her legs. “I better go,” she blurted, grappling for Hunter’s meandering hands.

“Anything wrong?”

“Uh, something’s boiling on the stove.”

“The stove?

“I moved to a suite. Talk to you in a few days.” She disconnected.

She turned on him. “Are you crazy?”

“No.” He kissed her mouth.

“Do you know what would happen-”

He kissed her again.

“If they-”

He kissed her a third time.

She gave in and wrapped her arms around his neck, turning to press her body into his, the water slick and hot between them.

Hunter’s phone rang.

“For the love of-”

“Give me the sponge,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Forget it.”

She snapped her fingers, then wiggled them in a give it motion. “Fair’s fair.”

He dried his hand, then lifted his phone, at the same time tossing the sponge to her.

She eased back on her heels and snagged it with both hands.

“Hunter Osland,” he greeted.

There was a pause. “Hey, Jack.” And he grinned at Sinclair, spreading his arms, giving her a wide-open target.

She couldn’t decide whether to go for it or not.

Then Hunter’s attention clearly shifted to the phone call. “I’d still use the mine as collateral.”

He paused.

“Maybe in the short term, sure.” He slicked his wet hair back from his forehead.

“Of course he’ll be ticked off. Everything ticks him off.”

Hunter absently smoothed the droplets of water down Sinclair’s arm. She gave up goofing around and curled against him, leaning her head on his shoulder.

“Get in and out before the Paraguay election, and you won’t have a problem.” Hunter’s hand worked its way across her stomach.

She glanced up to see if he was teasing her again, but he seemed absorbed in the call. He wasn’t messing with her, just unconsciously caressing her body. She sighed and relaxed against him.

Hunter chuckled, jiggling his chest. “We’ll check it out sometime.” A pause. “I mean me, of course. I’ll check it out sometime. None of your business.” Hunter’s hand squeezed Sinclair. “I’m going now,” he said to Jack. “A nap, that’s what. Time zone change. Okay by me. I’m turning off my phone. Uh-huh. Goodbye.”

He hit the off button with his thumb and held it down until it chimed. Then he dropped it on the shelf beside them and hauled Sinclair up for a kiss.

“You are so distracting,” he muttered.

“I was being good.”

“You were being damn good.”

She giggled as his mouth came down, hot and moist and demanding against her own.

The water splashed around the whirlpool in waves as they rediscovered each other’s bodies.

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