Authors: Catherine Avril Morris
fter a second, Adam raised his head. “Lisa?”
She came back to reality in a rush. Had she spoken aloud? No, she didn’t think so.
“Is something wrong?”
No, nothing was wrong. Everything was perfect. The power of her little fantasy had just made her go completely wet, and her face was hot as a sunburn. But everything was fine, really.
She yanked her hands off him as if he’d given her an electric shock. “Nothing at all,” she managed. “I’d like you to turn onto your side, so I can stretch you out a bit.”
He breathed deeply as she leaned into his hip, pushing his shoulder in the opposite direction to give his back and side a gentle, deep stretch. She was close enough to smell his skin, and found herself getting lost in his scent. Beneath the fragrance of the massage lotion, he smelled lightly spicy, with a dark, rich undertone.
She hovered there for a moment, forgetting herself—and then abruptly pulled back. Now she was reduced to sniffing her clients? If she’d thought so earlier, now she was certain: There was something very, very wrong with her.
And she was clearly extremely compatible with Adam Masters on a DNA level.
“What kind of technique do you use?” he asked as she finished his other side and then helped him reposition onto his back. “I mean, your massage technique?”
“Oh, a little bit of everything.” She tried to look anywhere but at his chest as she applied gentle pressure to the valleys above his collarbone, pressing her fingertips in a line out to his shoulders. “Right now I’m using a Shiatsu technique to open your meridians. It helps get your energy flowing properly, which makes you more receptive to the healing effects of the massage.”
His eyes were closed, and a smile played on his lips as he submitted to her ministrations. “Seriously, this is the best massage I’ve ever had,” he murmured. Suddenly, his blue eyes opened. “You smell amazing. What are you wearing?” He reached up and caught her wrist in his hand, drawing it close to inhale deeply of her skin.
Her eyes widened for a split second. He was touching her—which was strictly against the Keiko spa rules, no matter how good it might feel. Where he held her wrist, there was heat and electricity, and awareness. And his lips were way too close to her skin.
Gently, she pulled away from him.
He went still for an instant, then winced. “I can’t believe I just did that.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “What an ass. Whatever you’re wearing must have gone straight to my head. I’m really sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Charmed again in spite of herself, she smiled down at him. “It’s a blend of essential oils that includes rose and vetiver. I make it myself, actually. And there’s nothing to forgive. Shall we continue?”
The next half-hour was pleasurable torture for Lisa. Her hormones were in overdrive, clamoring for satisfaction, so part of her was glad when it was finally time for the session to end.
“Adam?” she murmured.
He didn’t answer. His eyelids didn’t even flicker.
With only a twinge of guilt, Lisa stole a moment just to look at him. She’d had him turn over once more, near the end of the massage, so she could perform a cranial sacral maneuver on his neck. Now his eyes were closed, his face peaceful. His chest rose and fell evenly, slowly.
He’d fallen asleep.
She pressed a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle. She was like a goddamned grade-school girl. Suddenly, she had a wild urge to poke him, tickle his nose, maybe stick his hand in a bowl of water so he would pee in his sleep.
Somehow, she managed to restrain herself.
“Adam,” she said again, a bit louder this time. She reached out and rubbed his wrist gently. “Adam, time’s up.”
He took in a deep breath, smiled in his sleep, and then opened his blue eyes and focused on her face.
Her breath left her in a rush. The thought invaded her mind, swiftly and inexorably: How sweet it would be to wake up next to a man like that every morning. A man who smiled before he even became conscious of where he was, or who was next to him.
“The session is finished,” she told him. “But please take a few minutes to lie here. I’ll leave the lights dim. Clare will help you out in the reception area whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you.” He blinked, and his smile deepened. “Wow. I think you may have magic in your hands.”
Magic in her hands.
It was a silly thing to say, but a low thrill originated somewhere deep inside her anyway, and spread through her limbs to the tips of her fingers.
When this man looked at her, she realized, she felt as if he were really looking into her—deeply into her, down into the depths of her soul. His blue-eyed stare made her almost uncomfortable in its directness.
He was like a politician: He knew just how to make someone feel seen and heard. She had to remember it wasn’t real, and it wasn’t personal. Most likely, it was just the product of her hormones and her loneliness, convincing her there was a connection between them that wasn’t really there.
She gave him a purposely bland smile. “Well, I’ll just leave you alone, now. Take your time in getting up.” She stepped out into the hall.
Back in the reception area, she handed Clare the client sheet clipboard and then plopped into one of the chairs opposite the reception desk. She let out a long breath. “Thank God that’s over.”
“Masters?” Clare said, inspecting the sheet. “That’s what he put down as his name? Huh. So he really does live in Dallas. I’d heard that, but I didn’t know if it was true. He’s a Texan.” She raised her eyebrows at Lisa. “Another point for our great state.”
“I guess.” Lisa leaned forward and put her face in her palms, then wished she hadn’t. Her skin was still warm from touching him. Would she ever be able to smell the scent of that stupid massage lotion again without thinking of him?
“That was an absolute train wreck,” she admitted. “I couldn’t get into the zone. I kept dropping the lotion. I almost knocked the freaking table over! I actually apologized to him at one point for giving such a bad massage.”
Clare made a sympathetic noise and then pointed at Lisa’s midsection. “Looks like you got some lotion on your new shirt.”
“Dang it.” Sure enough, there was a gooey glob at the hem, spreading in a noticeable dark patch. It must have flung itself there when the bottle slipped out of her hands and hit the floor. “Can I have a tissue?”
Clare pulled one from her dispenser and handed it over. “It barely shows. I love that color on you.”
“Thanks.” Lisa dabbed ineffectually at the spot.
“It’ll wash out,” Clare assured her. “So, you look seriously flushed. Was it a hard session?”
She snorted. “You could say that.”
Clare’s eyes went wide. She plunked forward in her chair. “No.” She lowered her voice to a stage whisper. “He did not pitch a tent. Did he?”
Lisa felt her cheeks blaze at her friend’s crude reference to a sometimes unavoidable, always embarrassing situation during a massage. “No, that’s not what I meant at all, you pervert.” The very thought of it made her snort again in laughter.
“Oh, good. You had me worried.” Clare exhaled and sat back. “I don’t want him to be Mister Happy during a massage. He’s way too good-looking to be so—”
“Indiscreet?” Lisa suggested between giggles.
Clare shrugged. “I was thinking more along the lines of juvenile. If a man calls an erection ‘accidental’ past age thirteen, there’s something seriously wrong—”
She stopped speaking abruptly. Lisa blinked, and then, all in an instant, became aware of Adam Masters standing in the doorway, shoes in hand and an amused expression on his face.
Exactly how much of their conversation had he heard?
All three were silent for a beat, until Adam spoke. “It does happen sometimes, you know.”
Though she hadn’t been the one to speak so candidly on the subject, Lisa felt her cheeks flame for about the tenth time in the past hour. “Um—”
“You mean, legitimately accidental erections really do happen to grown men?” Clare asked boldly.
Lisa’s heart froze momentarily in her chest. She could not believe Clare had gone there.
Although, it was Clare. Of course she had.
“I’m just saying,” he said, gesturing with his dark leather shoes. “Sometimes they are a genuine surprise.” He grinned. “Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we have total, ultimate control over our bodies every second. Accidents can still happen.”
“Right. Like if Gisele Bündchen were to drop her grocery list next to you and then bend over to pick it up, your body would just naturally respond. It’s sort of a foregone conclusion, with a basis in biological chemistry.” Clare nodded and tapped a manicured fingertip to her temple. “Interesting. I’ll just file that away.”
Adam laughed, his deep voice filling the room. “Well, maybe someone more like, I don’t know, Jennifer Garner.”
So he went for pretty, girl-next-door types rather than young, thin, exotic models. Lisa did her best not to smile. There was something extremely cute about that.
Not that she cared one bit what kind of woman Adam Masters was attracted to.
Adam grinned. “So this is the kind of thing women talk about when they’re alone together. I’ve always wondered. Are you writing a book about men’s hormonal surges, or something?”
“Thinking about it,” Clare tossed back. “Working here definitely gives me plenty of material.”
“I’ll bet.” Approaching her desk, he reached into the back pocket of his slacks for his billfold.
“You can pay now, if you like,” Clare said, “or just have the session charged to your room.”
“Could you bill my room? I’m in six-fifty-three. Last name Masters.”
“Masters, six-fifty-three.” Clare tapped at her computer and then gave him a dazzling smile as she reached for one of Lisa’s business cards from the little holder on the counter. “It’s taken care of. Here, take a card. Call us whenever you need anything. Anything at all.”
“Um, great. Thanks.” He took the card with a funny little laugh, and slipped it into his pocket.
When he turned to Lisa, she felt her stomach give a quick little thrill.
“Well,” he said, and smiled at her in a way that made that little thrill turn into something even warmer inside her. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could nap for the rest of the day.”
“Um...” she stammered. What, was he about to ask her up to six-fifty-three to crash out with him for an hour or two?
Immediately, she felt silly. Obviously, the man was just making polite conversation. “A nice, long nap sounds perfect. I wish I could join you.”
The second the words were out of her mouth, she wished fervently that she could suck them right back in, or, failing that, give herself a few sharp kicks to the shins. Could she possibly be any more awkward? No. No, she could not.
By some miracle, Adam gave an easy laugh, as if she hadn’t just said the most inappropriate thing possible. “Well, I know I have to work, and I’m sure you do too, so a nap is probably out for both of us.” He cleared his throat, and his voice took on an endearingly vulnerable note. “But I don’t suppose you’d happen to have a few minutes to grab some coffee, or maybe a quick lunch? I was thinking of going to this little Thai hole in the wall I saw a few blocks from here.”
“Oh, that place is nasty,” Clare piped up. “I swear they use dog meat in their pad Thai. Or maybe it’s grackles,” she mused, referring to the black birds with harsh, grating calls that plagued Austin’s downtown area.
Adam laughed and grimaced. “Yikes. That doesn’t sound too good, although I’m usually pretty adventurous about food.” He looked at Lisa. “Is there someplace around here that you like?”
Lisa opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. After her nap comment, that was probably a good thing.
And it didn’t matter anyway, since Clare had apparently appointed herself Social Director for what was—shockingly, unbelievably—shaping up to be some kind of date with Adam Masters. “Sushi,” Clare said now, decisively. “There’s a great place on Congress. They’ve got thirteen different kinds of sake.”
Adam raised his eyebrows at Lisa. “How does that sound? A protein and wasabe buzz, maybe a little iced sake on the side?” He glanced at his watch, and frowned. “Although, I do have an appointment in a couple hours, and I guess it’s a little on the early side for day drinking. But sushi would be really fun... If you’re up for it?”
His voice lifted just slightly on the last word, a nervous rise, and Lisa felt her heart go all gooey. Skipping out on the rest of her workday to eat some sushi with Adam Masters? It didn’t sound fun. It sounded like heaven.
And it sounded impossible. She was at work, he was a client, and that was where their relationship would end. And besides, he was far too good-looking to take seriously, even for a simple lunch date.
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I can’t. But thank you for the invitation.” She felt Clare shooting her the evil eye, and did her best to ignore it.