Authors: Orla Bailey
Everything for You
Inheriting a company has its problems. Not least of these for Tabitha, is having to confront her most difficult client – the mega successful businessman who once spurned her pitiful attentions without a backward glance.
Now she’s infinitely more guarded.
As magnetic and uncompromising as ever, Jack has a clear idea about what he can do for the beautiful Tabby.
And what she can do for him…
Copyright © 2015 Orla Bailey
All rights reserved.
Cover design Melody Simmonds
TO THOSE THAT STAY BESIDE US FOR THE WHOLE JOURNEY
Even in sleep I feel his touch at my hip. He wakes aroused to stir my sleeping senses to his pressing need.
Each blissful caress ramps up my longing and the faint growls of pleasure I hear seated low in his throat draw my reply. His long proficient fingers glide the surface of my skin in their deliberate taking and giving. He marks my body with his until it undulates in fervour and he rolls me beneath him. He covers me quickly, impatient with lust, weighting me beneath a hunger so strong, I burn.
I cannot see him in the darkness nor draw breath against the might of his will.
But I’d know him anywhere.
He nestles in the cradle of my hot, damp desire, a rampant, commanding masculinity; a growing urgency to which I surrender, gasping at the abruptness of his taking.
All I know beyond each vital breath is the unrelenting knock, knock, knocking of the bedframe against the wall, thundering through my senses, louder and louder, as our bodies meld...
* * *
…I wake from some dissolution of a dream.
Unable to move, I lie out flat, eyes shut, arms and legs splayed wide. The spinning bedroom pins me to the mattress and I wonder if that god-awful knocking is coming from inside my head or out. As fast as each boom wobbles my brain agonizingly against my skull, it filters away like water through sand. I can make no sense of it. And I have little energy to care.
Hours earlier, I locked myself inside with a couple of bottles of Snow Queen vodka. That’s all I remember as I pass out again…
… and wake in a sticky sweat of discomfort. I ignore the persistent pounding for as long as I am able yet it won’t stop. Infinitely slowly, I prise open one eye to reach for the long-tall glass on my bedside cabinet. Alcohol kills most things, I remember. Especially feelings.
But my glass is empty.
I mentally replay my typical Friday evening. I downed the first glass neat, like medicine, just as I always do to get the ball rolling. The second, I raised in tribute to my recently deceased former guardian, Harry Caid, the very best of reasons for a woman to get wasted. I have many more but just don’t recall how much I poured down my throat in tribute to them.
The banging goes on and on.
Its relentless hammering yanks me from my pity party, shooting a straight, painful stab through both temples so I decide to abandon the complications of highball filling to focus on direct delivery. Leaning precariously over the bed, ignoring all warnings from my inner ear, I grope about the floor. It never fails to amaze me how sufficient alcohol makes you forget almost everything except where you left the bottle or how long it’s been since you last had any decent sex.
Any sex, in my case.
A whisper of dream surfaces but sinks without trace.
I heave a relieved sigh when the thumping finally stops even before I manage to get more vodka down my throat, but what the hell. I’m a woman who commits. And hasn’t that always been my problem.
A swift explosion reverberates through my apartment but I’m long past caring. I hang upside down – a snuffling fruit bat – navigating the sonic echoes swirling through my head-rush as I probe beneath the bed. I’m certain I trailed one bottle back with me from the shower as I planned to wake up here eventually, rather than come to, passed out on the floor, like last weekend with a neck that twinged for days. Which rings another bell. I’d lifted that third glass to the momentous discovery that I am capable of learning from my mistakes.
However hard that might be to believe.
My hand locates the smooth glass shape it’s searching for and I haul it towards my mouth considering how to solve the next problem of getting fluids flowing in the right direction. Gravity’s a troublesome bitch.
Suddenly I’m aware of a Sahara dryness in my mouth yet I shiver when the rest of me grows clammy like a damp squall has just blown in, brewing up a storm. I haven’t sensed the Sirocco winds in a long, long time.
When the faint notes of familiar scent catch in my nostrils, my body stiffens like a corpse.
“Go away-yy,” I wail.
I collapse, swinging, hair covering my face, hand ensuring the bottle doesn’t tip completely. I mustn’t spill vodka and I can’t deal with painful recollections of Jack Keogh right now. Four whole years since he dumped me yet his phantom pops up every now and then to taunt me whenever I’m feeling low. Or drunk. And especially when I’m horny.
The bottle slips sideways, out from between my lips and I can’t work that one out either. It seems the laws of physics are determined to stop me taking another mouthful but I grasp onto the cold charms of the sinful icy Queen and hang on tight.
“Let it go, Tabitha.” The spectre speaks my name.
The note of authority, undiminished by its soft Irish brogue sends shivers through my belly. I loved that voice once. It did such delicious things to my insides. Memory can be so cruel.
“Depart,” I command the vision. “I can’t handle you right now.” I fleetingly wonder why I’m even bothering to talk to a figment of my imagination.
“Looks like you can’t handle much of anything.”
“You’re only a nightmare.”
“You’ve no idea how fast I can become one if you don’t let go of that bottle.”
I groan pathetically. Even the apparition reminds me far too much of its original. And that delicious smell of Clive Christian No. 1 cologne wafts even closer, stippling me with goose-bumps all over. Too much realism has me wondering if I’ve finally cracked. I try to see how far down the bottle I’ve managed to swallow.
The ghost prises my grasping fingers off, one by one, then fades away so I can finally breathe again in the certain knowledge it’s departed back to the depths of my fevered brain from whence it sprung. Although I can’t understand why I’d conjure up the glugging noise that sounds horribly like the remnants of my much-distilled, passage-to-oblivion being tossed down the plughole. I try to haul myself upright indignantly but can’t quite manage it. I’m stuck here for good like some stupid fat beetle, limbs thrashing hopelessly.
Only when I remember the second litre of Russian I have waiting in my freezer, does any sense of hope return. I really should have brought both bottles to bed with me. And whilst on the topic of things I should have done that with, a few more slugs of vodka ought to make any provocative male spirits from the past disappear for good.
If I can only wriggle myself to it, get it open and down my neck, this current visitation will shrink to nothing, like all those before it, and cease tormenting me. With one mighty heave I slide towards the floor, face first.
I’m hauled bodily backwards into bed as the room reels violently. I won’t throw up. I won’t… With my massive head propped upright on my shoulders by some invisible force centred on my forehead, I peer through matted tangles to see the most realistic hallucination of Jack Keogh I’ve ever seen, staring straight back at me. My dangling mane is miraculously swiped from before my eyes.
His floor me.
It’s been a long time since I last stared into the deceptive purity of those Arctic-ice-blues but no matter how squandered I am, they still have the ability to punch the breath from my lungs. I can’t even shut my eyes against such devilry. They trap me like a lodestone. So intense. So beautiful. They do things to me they ought not to. Not anymore.
A seismic tremor passes through my body as a mysterious force of nature shakes me to my core.
I haul oxygen, gradually refilling empty lungs enough to see frown lines appearing between dark troubled eyebrows. My subconscious remembers those only too well and I reach out. It takes a few attempts to hit the correct spot in order to smooth the lines away with my thumb but far from co-operating they keep coming back deeper than ever.
“That’s not the way you’re supposed to look at me,” I inform my vision.
In all other fantasies of Jack, he’s ecstatic to be beside me, swearing he made one monumental mistake leaving me, begging me to give him one more chance.
I grin, remembering I generally like to torture him a bit in the interests of romantic justice before nudging him towards initiating really hot,
sex. Which I always agree to, in the end, to let bygones be bygones. I’m not a girl to hold a grudge. Only then do I allow him to worship my body with his drugging kisses. To slowly pleasure me in passionate, eternal gratitude for my merciful nature.
It’s such a hot, familiar dream – one my body understands intimately, even in my inebriated state – I’m quickly aroused. I silently congratulate myself on having such a creative imagination considering I’ve never actually experienced the real thing. At least not with the fiend in question. That will always remain a dream.
“Quit pawing at me, Tabitha. You get yourself in this dangerous state. How am I supposed to be looking at you?”
The vision of hot masculinity sounds pretty crabby. I’m not used to the weird nature of this evening’s fantasy experience but it does make his gorgeous Dublin accent even more pronounced and I’m a female who focuses on the positives.
Until I remember I always wake from dreams alone. My heart hurts.
“Like you might actually give a damn.” Now I would never say that to the real Jack Keogh in a million years. Never. I’d rather die.
Not that that bastard would give a toss if I did.
I suppose I ought to be eternally grateful to my fanciful mind for conjuring up his lovelier reproduction. It’s certainly more pleasant than the real thing ever turned out to be. The real Jack Keogh was so tough, uncompromising and goal-focused on achievement he would never have cared how much I tried to make him notice me.
No. I much prefer the make-believe man of my dreams and these wild, abandoned fantasies where I work through a lot of the devastation since Jack dumped me.
“You were raised to be a lady.”
I snort. “Lady, my arse.” For fantasy Jack, I’m a hot whore who makes him sit up and beg for more.
I decide to cut out any unnecessary soul-searching foreplay and cut to the good stuff as I fling my arms round his imaginary neck and press my tingling lips up tight against his. Unusually, he freezes in shock.
Fair enough. This evening’s fantasy seems to be a unique scenario for both of us. Normally the roles of initiator and eventually-willing subject are reversed in my head but I’m enjoying the remarkably realistic warmth of his mouth crushed beneath mine so much, I decide to roll with it. And tonight, for some strange reason, he seems to be taking a holy long time to start pleading for the ecstasy of my favours.
His ragged breath sparkles across my tongue when I part my lips against his. It teases me enough to plunge my tongue inside his mouth.
He rears back. “Whoa. Don’t.” His words are stilted. He unlocks my fingers from the back of his neck and gently pushes me from him. “You have no idea what you’re doing.”
That’s a fact. He’s never stopped us kissing in all my previous fancies. I usually slap his face a bit until he looks so sorry for what he’s done to me I relent and let him plunder the nectar of my mouth like I’m reviving a fallen angel.
Clearly I haven’t got anywhere near enough Vodka down me if my own illusions are denying me too. “I need a drink.”