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Authors: Sable Hunter

Pretty Face (8 page)

BOOK: Pretty Face
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“How are you handling the duplicity on a day to day basis with him?”

Cody fidgeted in her chair. “Duplicity is a harsh word. We’re becoming friends.”

The doctor observed Cody in silence for a few minutes. She made a steeple with her fingers and paused to study them, as if checking the angle or her nail polish. Finally, she spoke. “I am concerned for you. This ordeal could end very badly. Are you prepared for that possibility?”

“Yes.” Cody nodded. “You, of all people, understand exactly how much my pessimistic side tends to rule my thoughts and actions. I expect the worst, then I’m never disappointed. If something good happens, I’m always surprised. So, I’m going into this with the expectations of failure. I assure you I’m going to do my very best to make it end well. I’m pouring my heart and every ounce of determination I have into this and if it works, I’ll be eternally thankful.” Cody dropped her voice. “And if it doesn’t, I’ll at least know I’ve tried.”

 

*  *  *

 

Hunter had been waiting for Cody. She’d been gone most of the day. He’d eaten alone, surprised at how much he missed her company. There was something strange going on in his head and he needed to get a handle on it. Seeing Sage would work it all out, he was assured of that fact. He wanted her, he needed her—hell, he loved her. But he had developed a fondness for Cody. In some strange weird way, he was meshing the two women in his mind and there was no godly reason for it other than he was with Cody all the time and Sage was only a voice in his ear. They didn’t look alike, Sage was beautiful and Cody was…cute. Sage could turn him inside out with a purr in his ear and Cody made him laugh. Sage had been his reason for getting up in the morning and Cody was someone he’d just met.

“Hunter!” Cody’s arrival didn’t help clarify matters. Just her saying his name made his heart jump. Was he losing it?

“In here.”

When she came into the kitchen, she was all smiles. “It looks so good!” She admired his handiwork, smoothing her hand over the wood, going on her knees to inspect drawers which slid out with ease. “I love it!”

“I’m glad. One thing we haven’t addressed is hardware. I need to know what kind of drawer and door pulls you want.”

“Oh, I have them. Hold on!” Quick as a wink, she ran to the back room and came back with a small ladder. “They’re in the attic, I’ll get them.” Since she’d made the decision to come clean with Hunter, it felt like a million pound weight had been lifted from her soul. Even if it didn’t work out, she would know she’d done her best, been honest and apologized. When she came to the hall, Cody opened the ladder and stood on it, tugging down the rope that controlled the attic stairs.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” Hunter had followed her, but she was fast. Before he could stop Cody, she was standing on the very tiptop of the ladder and was shimmying up in the dark hole above.

“They’re right here. I have fleur-de-lis pulls. I’ve had them forever. They’re adorable.” He tried to grab her legs, but she was wearing a skirt and he was getting an amazing eyeful. And he didn’t think she had a clue.

“Be careful,” he cautioned, his hands in the air like he was aiming to catch a football.

“K.” He heard her huffing and straining, then a triumphant, “Gottem!” And she stepped down…and missed, falling into his arms like an adorable sack of potatoes.

“Umph,” Hunter grunted as he absorbed her weight.

“Sorry,” Cody whispered as she realized what she’d done. But some things are fortuitous, for she found herself cradled against him. Strong arms enfolded her and she felt for all the world as if she’d come home.

Letting her slide down his body, Hunter tried to control how he was feeling. But he couldn’t. She was close. She was warm. She was all things feminine and if he couldn’t have a taste, he would die. Gently, he sat her down. But instead of releasing her, he turned her to face him. The packet of hardware that lay between them had to go. “Let me.” He took them from her and dropped them on the floor.

Cody was frozen, mesmerized, so aware of him that every nerve ending in her body was screaming for more! “Hunter, I need—”

“You need to hush,” he whispered as he framed her face and kissed her.

He kissed her.

He kissed her.

And Cody felt the sun rise and the earth move. She wrapped her arms around his neck and clung to him because this was the one moment in all the world she’d been waiting for and it was happening! His lips were hungry and hot on her mouth, his tongue tasting and teasing. She kissed him back, her whole body straining to get nearer. Nothing had ever been so good and so perfect. “Hunter…” she whimpered as he pulled back a fraction.

When she opened her eyes, she saw it.

Doubt. Surprise. Uncertainty.

All of those emotions were mirrored on his face and she knew it had been an accident, a mistake, something he would regret—and she couldn’t handle it.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered and ran, needing to get away before her body betrayed her any more than it already had.

Cody pulled out of Hunter’s arms and fled. He reached out for her, and she slipped through his fingers. “Cody, wait!” My God, what had he done? Did he have no more control over himself than that?

His chest was heaving, his heart was pounding and he was aroused. Fuck! He pressed his face against the cool paneling on the wall and tried to calm down. At the other end of the house, he heard a door slam and a thump. For a few more seconds, he gasped, more turned on than he had been in a long time.

Another noise, a muffled one and he had to know if she was all right. Moving toward the back of the house, he searched. “Cody?” he asked. There was no answer. And then he heard it. Little noises, gasps, whimpers, words being whispered. His name. “My God.” Was he hearing right? Cody was touching herself. She was masturbating and the name she was calling was his.

“Hunter, oh, Hunter.” Cody leaned against the wall, her fingers pushed down in her panties, the other hand massaging her breast. Her body was vibrating with pure desire. She needed him so much. She ached to be held. Her whole being craved Hunter. With feverish rubs and swirls, she massaged her clit, desperate for release. “Um, um, oh God, please, please, um, Hunter!”

Outside the door, Hunter leaned against the jamb in absolute thrall. He massaged his dick through his pants. This was the sexiest damn thing he’d ever experienced in his life. Listening, he could hear her panting, making sexy little moans. He could just imagine that she was finger-fucking herself, riding her little hand and wishing it was him making her feel good. When he heard a movement, Hunter turned, leaving as he’d come. Being caught outside the door eavesdropping on her would be disastrous.

Needing to cool off, he ducked into the powder room. God, he was hard. Hunter stared at himself in the mirror and wondered who the guy looking back at him was. Here he was, just about to meet the woman he’d yearned for more than air and he was about to mess up by leading on one of the sweetest women he’d ever met. Cody had been nothing but nice to him and he’d given in to his weakness and kissed her. Hunter hung his head and ran some water over his hands, wetting his face, wanting to jack-off so bad he could taste it. But he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. As soon as he was with Sage, all of this would work out.

He lingered a few moments longer, knowing he had to go out and make things right. Cody hadn’t done anything wrong. All of this was on his own head.

Opening the door, he went into the kitchen and waited.

And waited.

After thirty minutes, he realized she wasn’t coming out.

And he was too cowardly to go to her, so he left.

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

 

 

Hunter searched online till he found a place to rent a tuxedo. Fortunately for him, the shop also carried masks and he picked up a fairly plain, black one that would only hide his eyes. On the way back to the motel, he purchased a six pack of beer. He came back to the motel and drank it all. Feeling disconnected, he turned on the TV and watched a marathon of Bones. For the first night in forever, he wasn’t even tempted to turn on the computer.

When he fell asleep, his dreams were mixed up. Sage. Cody. Sage. Cody.

He thrashed under the covers, sweat beading on his body.

All he could hear was Sage whimpering his name.

Cody calling out his name.

Both women caught up in the throes of ecstasy.

The same voice.

One voice.

Cody. Sage. Cody. Sage.

As day broke, he’d quieted. Sleep, like the tide, had swept away the details that had caused him confusion and he rose, ready to face the day. Ready to apologize to Cody and ready to contact Sage and tell her that she was all he ever wanted.

Ding!

Hunter had just stepped out of the shower when he heard it. The welcome sound brought a smile to his lips. Throwing a towel around his waist, he went to his computer. Sure enough, there it was.

Sage
: Good morning, baby. Are you there?

Hunter felt his heart surge in his chest.

Hunter
: Morning, sunshine. I’m here. Are we still on for tonight?

Sage
: Yes. Meet me at the Magnolia Room in the Southern Belle Plaza at seven. Black tie, optional. Mask required.

Hunter
: How will I find you?

Sage
: Don’t worry, I’ll find you.

Hunter
: Is this really happening, are we finally going to be together?

Sage
: Yes, I’ll be in your arms tonight, until the break of dawn if you want me.

Hunter
: Oh, I want you. I want you in every way a man can want a woman. It seems like I’ve waited forever for you.

There was no return answer for about thirty seconds and Hunter thought she’d lost power or something. But it finally came.

Sage
: I am so afraid.

Hunter almost dropped his computer.

Hunter
: Why, baby? You know me better than anyone does.

Sage
: I know I do. That’s not the problem. You don’t know me.

Hunter
: Oh, yes I do. Let me tell you what I know. Ready?

Sage
: I’m listening.

Hunter
: I know you sleep on the left side of the bed and that you hog the covers. I know your favorite color is orange. I know you hate cooked spinach. I know you get up at seven every morning and have to sleep with a fan. I know your second toe is longer than your big toe.

Sage
: You’re making me laugh.

Hunter
: I’m not through. I know how you sound when you cum and I know you love me.

Sage
: I guess you know everything you need t
o
know.

Hunter
: I am counting the seconds till I’m with you.

Sage
: This is big, isn’t it? It’s finally going to happen.

Hunter
: Yes, this is the day I’ve been waiting for.

Sage
: I just hope you don’t regret it.

Hunter
: Never. I want this more than I’ve ever wanted anything. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anything.

Sage
: Tonight, I’ll make love to you if you want me to.

A thrill ran through Hunter.

Hunter
: You’re making me hard.

Sage
: That’s not hard to do, I think you’re always hard.

Hunter
: The next time I have pleasure, I want it to be with you, in you.

Sage
: I want that too.

Hunter
: Till tonight, my love.

Sage
: You’re being very sweet.

Hunter
: Just wait, I’ll show you how sweet I can be.

 

*  *  *

 

When Hunter arrived at Cody’s cottage, she met him, her eyes wide and as full of questions as his own must be.

“I want to apologize to you,” he began.

“No.” She stopped him with a hand on his arm. “No, you have nothing to apologize for. I fell on you. I hope I didn’t hurt you.”

By her seemingly calm demeanor, Hunter could tell she was determined to ignore the situation, to put it behind them, to move on.

“No, I’m good. But I still need to apologize. I’m meeting the woman I’m in love with today. For the first time. She’s finally agreed to see me.” Hunter let the words flow, needing to say them. “We met online, this is my first chance. And I shouldn’t have kissed you, it wasn’t fair to either one of you, and I apologize.”

How was it possible to be flattered and hurt at the same time? She didn’t know, but that was exactly how she felt. “Your girl is a very lucky woman.”

“Sage, her name is Sage.”

Cody nodded, loving the light that came into his eyes when he talked about…her, Sage. “So, what’s on the agenda for today?”

Hunter was glad to talk about work. It seemed…safe. “Today we put down the floor.”

Cody forced a smile. “Today I teach class.” He was so handsome in his denim shirt, with his sleeves rolled up his strong forearms, his jeans tight enough to show off his fine ass. “There’s shrimp creole for your lunch. And you can take the leftovers with you.”

“You won’t be back before I leave?”

She shook her head. “Probably not and I wanted to give you this.” She reached into her pocket and took out a check. “I thought you might need this. It’s payment in full.”

Hunter didn’t know what to say. He took the check because she just kept holding it out. “This wasn’t necessary. I lack a few more days work.”

“I know. I just wanted you to have it, in case something happened.” In case after tonight he never wanted to see Sage/Cody again.

For long moments, Hunter stared into her eyes. Really looked. Something was nagging at him. He didn’t know what. “This is Thursday, I’ll be here tomorrow, of course. Do you want me to work this weekend? If you do, I need to get some materials today.”

“It’s up to you. I’ll be here either way.” Slowly, she backed up, holding his gaze. “Have a good day, Hunter. And a good time tonight.”

And then she was gone.

 

*  *  *

 

Hunter did his best to concentrate, he really did. He was thankful that work like this came automatically to him, he could still do his job even though his mind was on Sage. Just think, tonight he’d be with her, he’d be able to touch her and kiss her. Feel her breath on his neck. Would she like him? He knew she enjoyed him online, but even he had to admit you never really knew someone until you met them face to face.

Thoughts of Cody plagued him also. Sometimes she seemed so sad. He hoped one day she would find someone to love. She had so much to offer. Other than her friends, Marnie and Trinity, he had seen no evidence anyone else ever came to visit. There were no phone calls from men, no evidence she had a social life of any kind. Her solitude bothered him. Hunter enjoyed her company and…hell, he had Sage to think about.

Sage was worthy of concentration. He didn’t know what the customs were for Mardi Gras, but he had a gift for her. A gift he’d brought from Colorado. He’d had it special made, a gold bracelet with two charms, a fleur and a heart. She’d mentioned once that she wanted a charm bracelet, and he hadn’t forgotten. Hunter intended to add to the charms as time went by. As he laid one oak floor board after another, almost mechanically, he let his dreams fly. If they hit it off, like he expected, Hunter intended to stay and find other work. Perhaps even restoring some grand old structure as was his dream. Jobs like that weren’t easy to come by. And he didn’t know what kind of home she had, maybe they could find something together, something resembling Cody’s cottage here on the river. Beyond that, he didn’t know what would happen. Mainly, he just wanted to hold her, make love to her, see if their reality could compare with the wonderful dreams they’d woven together.

Across town…

Cody was in a tizzy. She’d met Marnie and Trinity at the Southern Belle Plaza and rented a room—for two reasons. Sage needed a place to dress and Cody hoped the evening would end with Hunter in her bed.

“You only had one class today?” Marnie asked as she hung the garment bags on the bathroom door.

“Just one, thank goodness. Temperature and the Kinetic Theory.”

Trinity held up her hand. “Don’t tell us more, you make my head hurt.”

“Foot.” Cody laughed. “You’re both as smart as me in your own way.”

Marnie rolled her eyes. “Let me see your nails.”

Cody held her hands out. “I’m not used to this, but I want to look different than Cody from head to toe.”

“Don’t talk about yourself like that, you make me nervous.” Marnie examined the French tips. “Very nice job.”

“Okay, let’s see the gown I’m supposed to wear tonight.”

“Hold your horses,” Trinity muttered as she unzipped the bag. “Close your eyes, this is going to blow your mind.”

Obediently, Cody shut her eyes. It was hard trying to act nonchalantly when she was actually shaking inside. This was the most important day of her life and she was so afraid that she was going to blow it. How was she going to make Hunter fall in love with her? The real her? What she needed was some ‘sage’ advice. She smiled at her own pun. “When we get through here, I’m going to see Nana. I haven’t talked to her since Hunter arrived.”

“Good idea,” Trinity said. “Open. Look.”

At first glance, the dress seemed plain. Long, halter top, gold color. “Will it fit?” she asked, moving toward her friends, who had the most expectant and thrilled looks on their faces. As she drew near, the light caught the fabric and she could see a shimmer. “It’s gold lame,” Cody breathed in wonder.

“Yes, this is a dress from a fairy tale. Try it on!” Marnie said, holding the dream dress aloft while Trinity helped Cody remove her clothes. “We got everything you’ll need. Sexy underwear and glass slippers. You’re going to look amazing.”

“Did you get the contacts and the wig?” Cody didn’t have much choice other than to just turn herself over to them. Marnie and Trinity were both intent on making her look the best she could.

Trinity answered as she applied eye shadow and eye liner, “Yes, the contacts are non-prescription, we don’t want you blind. Instead of a wig, we got real hair extensions. We’ll braid those in now and they’ll be anchored down tight enough to withstand a hurricane.”

“Hunter’s going to want to touch my hair.” She knew him well enough to be certain of that fact. “Maybe once we get in the motel room, I can convince him to make love in the dark.”

Marnie looked at Trinity, then at Cody. “You need to stop worrying,” she said. “The man’s going to be so excited to be with you that he’s not going to notice anything but how beautiful you are.” Cody had to agree that by the time the girls were through with her, she looked nothing like herself. She looked way better. She looked like Sage—almost.

“I hope I can recreate all of this tonight.” Cody pirouetted in front of the mirror. The dress molded her curves and the cut of the bra actually gave her the semblance of a bust line. “Somehow you made my B cup boobs seem like Cs.”

“You are amazing.” Trinity clapped her hands together. “Hunter is going to love you!”

At the mention of his name, she sought the bed, feeling faint. The cumulative weight of dishonesty was bearing down on her, making her weak. “I need a mask.” She pressed her fingers against the scar. The makeup they’d skillfully applied camouflaged a great deal of the imperfection, unless one was close—like Hunter would be.

“This is the best part.” Marnie pulled out another package from her tote bag and held it up. “Black ostrich feathers and Swarovski crystals.”

“Oh, my.” Cody accepted the Venetian mask. “I wish I could hide behind this forever.” She went to the mirror and slipped it on.

“Nonsense, you have such a pretty face.”

Cody stiffened at Trinity’s innocent remark. She hated those words. Pretty Face had been her father’s nickname for her. Even her mother had used the words to soothe her to sleep. Pretty face. Pretty face. What had once been a term of endearment had been later wielded as a weapon. As Joe had beat her, he’d promised she’d never have a pretty face again.

And he was right.

“Now, I do.” She turned to them. Her face was obscured with the delicate, ornate mask. Her long dark hair was hidden beneath gorgeous curly auburn extensions. Her eyes were darkened with blue contacts. And her body was covered from top to bottom in a material exquisite enough for a princess. There was really nothing of Cody to be seen.

BOOK: Pretty Face
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