Authors: Sally Clements
Her head ached.
Jake slid the canister carefully back into the small box and stowed it into his pocket. Maybe if they talked business it would clear this sensual fog.
‘Did you find Carter, or did you have to break in?’
There it was again, so subtle she might have missed it if she wasn’t looking for it. He looked down and to the right, in exactly the same way he had the last time she’d asked him about Carter.
‘I saw him.’ Slowly, Jake raised his eyes to hers, and the deception in them froze her heart. He was hiding something. ‘He handed over the transmitters and I filled him in on the operation.’
Her nerves were on edge and she took another sip of her whiskey. It should help, but didn’t. He was lying. She felt it. Her intuition was rarely wrong.
Jake gestured towards a small pile of items he had dropped on the coffee table as he came in. ‘I brought some stuff for your hair. Would you like me to dry it for you?’
Without waiting for her response, Jake picked up the fluffy white towel and moved closer, draping it over her head and surrounding her with its warmth. He took the glass of whiskey from her nerveless fingers and placed it on a small table nearby. His thighs brushed hers as he rubbed at her hair. Her temperature rose at his nearness, memories of his lips on her wrists on the island flooding back.
Jake pulled the towel away from her hair and sat down on the rug in front of the flames. He picked up her heavy hairbrush from the coffee table, and tossed a cushion down in front of him. ‘Sit here. I’ll brush it before it tangles.’
It seemed foolish and immature to refuse, her hair felt rough and uncomfortable after his attempts at drying it, and anyway there wasn’t any good reason to deny herself the undeniably sensual experience of having her hair brushed by a good looking man in front of a blazing fire. Tempest accepted his outstretched hand and sank down onto the rug in front of him.
‘Shift a bit to the right.’ Jake positioned her between his legs and massaged the back of her neck with one lazy hand.
‘Calm down.’ His strong fingers rubbed the knotted muscles. ‘You’re wound as tight as a drum.’
His hands moved over her shoulders, pushing back the heavy towelling of the robe. She breathed in the subtle woodsy smell of shaving cream mingled with his unique scent, and her eyes drifted shut. His body was familiar in the darkness, like their time in the lighthouse. She almost moaned when he pushed the towelling shoulders of the robe back in place.
‘I’ll brush your hair now.’
To her satisfaction there was an unsteady note to his deep tones, he wasn’t as detached as he pretended. The strong, rhythmic brushing soon transformed her birds nest into a smooth mirror of shining curls and she sighed in sensual bliss. ‘That was great.’
‘No, this is going to be great.’ He turned her around in his arms, and she went willingly, arms snaking around his neck as his mouth came closer. His warm breath teased her lips. ‘I’ve wanted to do this for hours.’
Blood pounded in Tempest’s ears as his mouth teased hers. Her fingers tugged frantically at his T-shirt, and obeying her silent command Jake pulled it off in one smooth movement and tossed it onto the floor. His skin was warm. The flesh under her fingers smooth and strong. Holding him, touching him like this set her whole body aflame.
She caressed his shoulders, and then slid her hands down his arms, as her lips trailed over the smooth skin of his neck, planting tiny kisses. His skin shivered under her mouth, and her mouth curved into a smile. She wasn’t alone in the passion that burned her to her core, his body’s reaction proved it. Her fingers sought, and then found, his flat stomach.
‘You, Red, have too many clothes on.’
Jake pushed the heavy towelling from her shoulders with one hand. The other entwined itself in her hair, tugging gently to angle her chin up revealing her pale neck and exposed shoulder to his gaze.
‘Mmm. My favourite part.’ Jake nuzzled her exposed clavicle, running his firm lips gently over the bone and then working around to the side of her neck.
Tempest shuddered in delight. ‘Oh, that’s sort of tickly.’
She ran her outstretched palms over his chest, loving the warm feel of him. Tiny goosebumps sprung to attention under her fingertips and she moaned in approval. His hands caressed in ever-increasing circles. The soft towelling fell from her shoulders, exposing her naked back. She arched like a cat under his hands and brushed erect nipples against his chest. The sensation was so erotic, her inner muscles clenched.
Jake’s large hands slid around to cup her breasts. His mouth descended again, and he kissed her long and hard until both of them were breathing heavily.
‘Upstairs?’ he whispered.
‘My room’s at the top of the stairs.’
Her robe fell off as he picked her up in his arms and strode to the foot of the staircase. A brief moment of embarrassment at being naked in his arms melted away at the heat blazing in his eyes.
‘You’ll do your back in.’
She was small but curvy. It would be a disaster if her white knight collapsed beneath her.
His pirate grin with killer dimples was back, and he took the stairs two at a time with her safely bundled in his arms. He pushed open the door and laid her down carefully on the dark blue velvet eiderdown. He stared, and the heat of a blush suffused her face under his rapt gaze.
‘You’ve gone pink,’ he muttered, entranced.
‘Yeah, it’s called blushing,’ she whispered, cursing the affliction which had plagued her since her teens.
‘It’s not just your face.’ His fingers traced the faint flush down her neck to her cleavage. ‘It goes all the way down here.’
‘Stop talking.’ Another wave flooded her features as she desperately tried to focus his attention anywhere else but on her blushing.
His words stopped her mid squirm. Her heart stuttered as he undid the buttons of his jeans, shoving them down to reveal a strong erection pushing against the soft fabric of his boxer shorts.
‘Come here.’ She reached for him and smiled as the bed dipped under his weight and warm lips followed the same path hungry eyes had moments before.
The muscles of her stomach contracted as the soft brush of his long hair tickled them. He reached up and clasped her hand lightly, pulling the inside of her wrist to his lips and nuzzling. The feel of his lips there jolted her back to their captivity.
‘Remember this?’ He nibbled gently, and then kissed up to the inside of her elbow. ‘I’ve wanted to do that for a long time, ever since you started moaning in the basement.’
‘I never moaned in the basement!’
I was damn careful not to.
Even cold and frightened in the dark the sensation of his lips in the darkness had been a powerful aphrodisiac.
‘Not very loudly,’ he added, his voice teasing. ‘But I definitely heard you.’ He moved his hands over her hips and cupped them as his lips moved to her hipbones. His hair tickled her stomach again as he stroked her outer thigh. ‘It sounded just like that.’
Was she moaning? She was way past caring. His skin was warm and firm under her restless fingers.
Tempest barely recognized her husky voice. ‘I have condoms in the bedside table.’
Her body was caught up in a restless urgency to have him closer. To have him inside her. Jake moved away, taking a moment to strip and sheath himself. He stood by the side of the bed, gazing down at her for a moment. She pushed herself up to sitting position, reaching for his hand.
‘Come here.’ She tugged, wanting him with a desperate urgency.
‘Slow down. I want to make it perfect for you.’
He eased himself gently on top of her, his breath quickening as hers did as their bodies melded.
‘I want you now.’ She reached between their bodies and stroked him. ‘We can go slower next time.’
He grasped her behind her knee and gently opened her legs, then slid his warm heat between her thighs and entered her. A long sigh escaped her lips as her inner muscles stretched to enclose him. Cupping both sides of her face in his hands, his lips angled over hers again, thumb caressing her jawbone as their bodies undulated slowly.
‘Faster,’ she muttered into his mouth.
‘Not yet,’ he whispered back, building the tension to unbearable lengths.
Little flames licked through her body from her toes, and her breath came in agonized gasps. Her mind went blank as his body slid harder and faster into hers, until she couldn’t hold on any longer, and waves of orgasm flowed over her at the same moment as his body surged into hers, bringing them to release together.
The embers were almost cold when Jake crept down into the sitting room in the dawn chill. He reached into the front pocket of his jeans and retrieved the thin sheet of paper Carter had pushed into his hand as Jake left the apartment.
‘She checks out, they all check out,’ he’d muttered, and Jake had carefully scanned the pages by the car’s interior light before setting off back to the cottage.
Tempest checked out. He could trust her.
Jake tossed the paper into the dying fire and stared into the embers. His toes curled into the long fibres of the rug until the fragments had totally disintegrated.
The evidence that he’d checked up on her was gone. She’d never know. Requesting the security check was just good sense, but she’d see it differently. She was a dreamer. A woman who followed her instincts. She trusted him without question.
She wasn’t like the tall, blonde, elegant women he occasionally dated in New York. He always went for the same type, women who were after the same things he was. The evenings they spent together followed a predictable route, a quiet dinner or perhaps a party followed by a satisfying night for both of them. Long before they put him on speed dial he was extricating himself, keen to make his escape before things got too serious. He was no monk, but Jake prided himself on being honest with women. He had a cast-iron reputation as a charming companion, but not as a keeper.
He ran a hand through his dishevelled hair. Tempest was different. She’d trusted him, and he hadn’t returned the favour until he had proof of her innocence in writing. He couldn’t pinpoint the moment things had changed for him, but it was long before they had tumbled into bed together. Pain welled up in his chest with memories of his father and that horrible moment when his mother had broken the news of his death. He’d vowed to himself that day to protect himself and live an independent life, relying on no-one. Despite his attraction to Tempest, that was one vow he couldn’t break.
Jake was hogging the duvet. It was a new experience, waking up with a man in her bed. Tempest released a contented sigh and snuggled closer.
She felt Jake’s voice rumble through his chest. ‘Oh, so you’re awake now are you?’ He must have been awake for a while; the fragrant smell of coffee was in the air. ‘You don’t seem your usual grumpy self this morning, but would you like some coffee anyway?’
He kissed her slowly, but pulled away as the kiss deepened in intensity. ‘We should get up, we’ve lots to do.’
Tempest glanced at the alarm clock. ‘Oh no, it’s after ten!’
She sat up in bed and blushed as the sheet slid down to reveal her nakedness.
‘There goes the blush again.’ His eyes were on her as her body flushed pink, and she pulled the sheet up covering her breasts in embarrassment.
‘Stop. We really do have to get going.’
He sat up next to her, reaching to cup the back of her head with one big tanned hand.
‘I want to kiss you one more time before we do.’ His mouth covered hers briefly, before he reluctantly released her. ‘Last night was incredible.’
His long fingers played with her hair, seemingly fascinated by the unruly curls that tangled around them.
She pulled away, climbed out of bed and walked to the bathroom door.
‘I hope tonight will be just as good.’
She grinned broadly as his eyes darkened, then nipped briskly into the bathroom, closing the door behind her to take a tepid shower, to wake her up and cool her rampant desire.
They worked through the morning together in her workshop. Tempest carefully fixed the tiny transmitters into the centre of the lapis stones that formed the bodies of the stylized birds comprising the centrepiece of each bracelet. As she worked on the second bracelet, Jake tested the devices to make sure the density of the lapis was not interfering with the strength of the signal.
‘Time for a field test,’ he said at last. ‘I’m going to take Daniel’s car and see how far the signal carries.’
‘OK, see you later.’
She waved vaguely in his direction, her work too intricate to risk looking up, especially since every time their eyes met, her body hummed into awareness. Their bodies had found each other in the darkness too many times to count last night. She should be sated, but if anything, her desire for him this morning was stronger than ever.
She ran a hand over her eyes as the door slammed shut. Traumatic situations magnified emotions. Jake’s mother was in danger. It was hardly surprising that their coming together was so frantic. A little voice inside protested. She’d never felt like this, it was the man, not the circumstances. She forced it away. There was a job to do. The second bracelet lay finished on the counter, and Tempest had just flicked the kettle on as Skye opened the back door.
‘Kettle’s just boiled, you want a coffee?’ Tempest asked.
‘Love one.’ Skye took the cup from her and parked herself at the heavy wooden table, reaching for the biscuit tin. She fished around and found a chocolate digestive. ‘Mmm, I love these.’
She bit into the thick chocolate, scrunching her eyes up tight.
Tempest sat down, reached for one too, and dunked it. ‘I’ve finished the bracelets. Jake’s out running a test.’
‘I know, I saw him when he came in for Daniel’s keys. He’s looking very happy this morning. As, indeed, are you,’ Skye teased. ‘Anything going on I should know about?’
‘No.’ Tempest fidgeted under her sister’s eagle eyed gaze. It was all too new, too raw. Not ready to be probed and dissected. Skye just stared back, like an eagle eyeing a mouse. Her curiosity was piqued and she wasn’t going to give up. Tempest pulled in a deep breath, and gave in.