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Authors: Coleen Kwan

Short Soup (15 page)

BOOK: Short Soup
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Opening the door, he ushered her inside. As soon as he’d shut the door, he closed in on her, settling his hands on her hips. “Let’s get one thing straight here. I’m not afraid of talking about marriage.”

Her breathing wavered, the proximity of his body joining with the force of his words. “You’ve never shown any interest in settling down.” She brushed her hands over his shoulders, trying to keep the conversation light. “That’s fine by me.”

“Is it? Or are you just saying that to make me feel okay? Because if you are, don’t. I’m serious about you, Toni. I want us to get married, have children …”

Her fingernails dug into his shoulders. “Children?”

“Yeah, at least a couple, maybe more.” He rotated his palms slowly over her back, his movements mesmerising. “Not right now, of course, but sometime not too far off.”

“Wow, my head’s spinning.”

“You don’t have to say anything. Just keep it in mind.” His strokes became more urgent. The heat of his hands kindled her lust as he bent his head and sought her mouth with his. All the day’s tension shattered. Finally they were alone and in harmony. She flung her arms around his neck and returned his kiss, her tongue slipping between his lips, tasting him, taking the initiative. He grunted with satisfaction, with lust, his hands moving greedily down to her bottom. He hitched her up, and she wrapped her legs around his hips, her skirt riding up her thighs. Holding her, he marched them both into his bedroom, where he toppled her onto the sheets.

Buttons popped off as he ripped the chef’s jacket from his chest. His singlet followed next, and then his trousers and boxers. The sight of his erection caused her throat to dry. The searing promise in his eyes made her nipples harden. She thought he was going to tear her clothes off, but instead he was unexpectedly gentle as he helped her out of her dress, his nimble fingers quickly dealing with her bra and panties. As soon as she was naked, his lovemaking grew more demanding, and to her surprise the extra edge of roughness stoked her lust. It wasn’t the same as last night, when they’d made love for the first time. Tonight they more in tune with each other, more eager to explore the boundaries, and the fact she was leaving tomorrow brought out the animal in both of them.

His hands roamed over her, followed closely by his mouth, igniting a hot trail all over her skin. He liked to be in charge, she found, liked to dominate her and lick and fondle her until she was half-crazy. As she moaned and writhed, his eyes burned brighter, and he stretched out the teasing even more. With his lips and tongue possessing her breast and his fingers stroking her tight slit, she was held captive, surrendering everything to him. Finally he entered her, the bloom of tender ecstasy on his face belying his forceful urgency. His power drove them to the edge before her hot wetness enveloped them as they climaxed together.

Afterwards, they clung to each other, skin slick with sweat, their limbs entwined. She rested her head against his chest and listened to the quick thump of his heart. This is where she belonged. This is where she wanted to remain. But in the morning she would have to pack her bags and head south, away from all this, away from Dion.

The back of her eyes stung. She pressed herself closer into him, and he half-rolled onto her, pinning her beneath him.
Why don’t I stay a few more days, postpone my interview, how can it hurt
, she wanted to say. But when she gazed into his dark molasses eyes, she knew he was struggling too, and she had to be strong for his sake. She didn’t want to be clingy and hesitant, she wanted to be self-assured and self-sufficient. She wanted to be his equal.

She cupped his face between her hands and draped a leg over his butt, pulling him in close. “You sure know how to say au revoir.”

“I gotta give you a reason to come back.”

She stroked the sides of his face, brushing her fingertips over his lips. “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll be back.”

The tip of his tongue flicked across her fingers and a trail of heat streaked straight to her centre. Shifting her body, she rolled him onto his back and pressed her hips against his. “It’s my turn now,” she whispered and leaned over to run her tongue over his damp chest. “I’ve got to give you a reason not to forget me.”

He sighed and let his arms fall to his sides, a grin stretching across his face. “Okay.
I’m going to enjoy.”

The sun beat down on Martin Place. Pigeons and pedestrians scurried about the plaza. Above Toni’s head, office buildings soared towards the clear blue sky. Sydney sizzled in the early summer heat. Three hours north in Piper Bay it would be perfect weather for a day on the water wearing only a bikini. Here, she was dressed in a navy sleeveless dress with matching jacket and pointy toed high heels. The stickiness clinging to her nape wasn’t just due to the humid weather, but more because of the job interview she had in fifteen minutes.

The job had great career prospects. The company was solid, the management progressive, the potential rewards unlimited. According to the agent, her CV perfectly matched all the requirements of the position, and she had glowing references to back up her qualifications. It seemed a shoo-in that she’d pass the interview and be offered the job.

But her mouth was bone dry and her stomach wouldn’t stop lurching. It was the morning of her wedding all over again. She should heed the warning signals this time and bail out while she still could. She didn’t need this high-profile job or a prestigious career, not when the thought of being apart from Dion made her so ill.

As if he’d read her mind, her mobile phone buzzed, and she knew even before glancing at the screen that it was him.

“Hey, chuckle berry,” he answered laconically. “Ready for the interview?”

“No,” she gulped. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“You always said that before exams, and you always got straight As. You’ll be fine.”

“It’s different this time. I was always desperate to get those As, but this time I’m not.”

There was a pause, and then Dion said, “You’re not going to sabotage your own interview, are you?”

She shut her eyes and imagined Dion standing in front of her, radiating confidence in her. “Where are you now?” she asked.

“I’m in the office at the restaurant, going over a few receipts.”

“The weather’s beautiful today. I thought you’d be out on your kayak.”

He laughed. “Later, maybe. I have a business to run. And you have an interview to do.”

“Yeah,” she sighed, picturing herself in Dion’s office. She could help him with his receipts, and then they could go kayaking together and find a deserted beach where they could get naked under the hot sun. She could almost feel the slide of his body over hers, taste the tang of his salty skin … She shivered and ran her hands over her arms. The dream was so tantalising, so real. But she couldn’t let Dion down, or herself. She had to prove she was worthy of him. “Hey,” she said. “Did you hear about the cannibal accountant? She charges an arm and a leg.”

Dion chuckled. “That’s better, but maybe you shouldn’t mention that in the interview.”

“Wish me luck.”

“You don’t need luck. You’ve got it in the bag.”

“My agent has another interview lined up for me tomorrow.”

“Great. They’ll both be falling over themselves to hire you.”

“I’ll be inspecting an apartment too.” She hesitated, then added, “The – the location is ideal and the rent’s reasonable.”

He drew in a breath. “Great,” he repeated, but this time there was a crack in his voice.

“But I’ll definitely be back in Piper Bay Friday afternoon. Should be there by six.”

“I’ll have some short soup waiting for you.” His voice was tender, longing.

“It’s not short soup I’m hungry for.”

His warm laugh tickled her ear. “I’ve got something for that too.”

“See you soon.” She clicked off the phone and slid it back into her jacket. Lifting her head, she gazed up at the skyscraper above her, then walked inside, shoulders squared, ready to take on the world.

Eighteen months later.

Dion opened the fridge in Toni’s apartment and blinked in surprise. “Hey, what’s with all the fruit and veg in here? And all these tubs of yoghurt? You on a health kick or something?”

She gave him a smile. “Uh, something like that.”

“There’s barely any space for all the food I’ve brought you.” His arms were filled with plastic containers of dumplings, spare ribs, and noodles. Each time he came down to Sydney he restocked her fridge with all her favourite meals. He didn’t have to. There were plenty of great restaurants within walking distance of her place. But she loved his food, and he loved cooking for her.

“Stick some of it in the freezer for later,” Toni said. As he opened the freezer, she came up behind him, wrapped her arms around his waist, and leaned against him. “I’ve missed you, honey,” she murmured, nuzzling her lips against his neck.

Hot need surged in him. He slammed the freezer shut, spun her round, and pressed her up against the appliance door. “Yeah, it’s been too long,” he replied, his voice husky with longing pent up for two whole weeks since he’d last been with her. But instead of swooping her into his arms and carrying her off to the bedroom, he studied her, his hands travelling over her arms and finally settling on her shoulders. “We need to talk.”

“Oh.” She stroked his chest, still smiling seductively. “This sounds serious.”

“Your fridge is too small.”

“My … what?”

“Your bedroom is too small, your TV is definitely too small, in fact, this whole place is too small.”

She pinched his arm warningly. “What’s going on here?”

He grinned. He was enjoying this. “We need a bigger place now that I’m moving permanently to Sydney.” Her eyes went wide, her gorgeous lips forming an O of astonishment. “I’m going into partnership with an investor. He’s buying a half share of the Happy Palace, and we’re opening a second restaurant here in Sydney. We’ll finally be together, sweetheart. Won’t that be great?”

She didn’t squeal or fling her arms around him like he’d expected. She just stood and stared at him, a strange expression in her eyes. “So … you’re leaving Piper Bay?”

“Yeah.” His heart tightened. What was going on here? Why wasn’t she as ecstatic as he? Finally, six months after they’d tied the knot, they’d be a real married couple, with one address, one home, one bed. No more endless trips, no more lonely nights, no more missing her like crazy. Isn’t that what Toni longed for too?

“And – and our parents? They’re happy about the Happy Palace?”

“Very happy. They’re planning a round-the-world cruise with the windfall. Gary will be head chef.” He shrugged, unease slithering through his gut like a python. “Talk to me, Toni. Tell me what’s bothering you. I thought you’d be happy.”

“I am. It’s just that I … well, I’ve been searching the internet looking at houses for sale in Piper Bay.”

It was his turn to gape. “You want to move back to Piper Bay?” His head spun. “But what about your job? You love it. You just got a promotion.”

“Oh, that, yeah.” She waved her hand nonchalantly, dismissing all her hard work of the past eighteen months. Her smile widened as she gripped the front of his shirt and tilted her head up at him. “I don’t care about that at any more because I’ve just gotten the best promotion ever.”

Her eyes were dazzling, in fact her whole face glowed with excitement, but he had no idea what she was on about. “Huh?”

“I don’t know about a bigger TV, but we definitely need a bigger fridge for all the extra food I’ll be eating.” She smoothed her palms over his chest, teasing and bubbling. “And we’ll need another bedroom, too. Not right away, but in a few months …”

Dion gawped at her as the clues slowly piled up. The fruit and veg, the yoghurt, the house in Piper Bay … the bottle of folic acid on the kitchen counter … the bloom on her cheeks … it could only mean one thing.

“Toni.” He gripped her shoulders tighter, his throat closing up. “Are you pregnant?”

She nodded, her smile breaking out like pure sunshine. “Yeah,” she said softly.

He gulped. “How long?”

“About eight weeks now.”

The air whooshed out of his lungs, and he felt himself filling up with an indescribable mix of emotions – exultation, pride, anxiety, all rolled into one great big ball which swept everything else aside. Nothing in the world mattered any more except his beautiful, gorgeous wife and the new life she carried.

He curled her into the circle of his arms and showered incoherent kisses all over her face and hair, holding her as if she were made of glass. “Oh honey, oh sweetheart.” He couldn’t get out anything more lucid than that. “That’s – that’s so … terrific. I’m so–” he let out a breath, ruing his lack of vocabulary, “–so happy I could burst.”

“Really?” She stroked his cheeks, gazing at him intently. “I know it’s unexpected, so I understand if you feel panicked or trapped–”

“No, never. Maybe panicked in a good way, but never trapped. But what about you?” Anxiously he kneaded her shoulders. “Are you ready for this?”

“I’m ready. Oh, I’m so ready.” Folding her arms around him, she pressed herself up against his chest. “As long as you’re there, Dion, I’m ready for anything.”

The delicious feel of her body rubbing against him ignited all his cylinders again, but he kissed her with reverential awe instead of just plain blazing lust. He was ready too, he realised, more than ready to be a husband, a father, a provider, a friend, a stalwart. Whatever Toni and his child needed of him, he was there for them.

“Now comes the difficult question,” he finally murmured against her lips, his hands sliding over her stomach. “Who’s gonna tell our mothers, because I don’t think I could stand all the squealing and fussing.” No way would those two set off on a round-the-world cruise now, not when there was a pregnant daughter to flap over and later, a first grandchild to spoil.

She laughed breathily into his mouth. “We’ll worry about that later. For now, let’s just celebrate in private.”

He picked her up in his arms and carried her out of the kitchen.

About the Author

Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school, English was her favourite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing both contemporary romance and steampunk romance.

BOOK: Short Soup
4.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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