Authors: Nora Stone
Yearning For Her Curves
Copyright © 2015 Nora Stone
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher
It was a moment in the afterglow. I loved these moments, laying there listening to each other breathe or talking about something happy and inconsequential. The last few months of my life had been rather hectic and very stressful, so I’d started cherishing moments like these. I brought our hands up to my face, fingers intertwined, and noted the differences in our skin. Patrick’s well-tanned vanilla shaded fingers alternating with my warm, caramel mocha shaded fingers. I loved that contrast that we had, almost like it was a representation of who we were and the differences that drew us together.
I glanced over at Patrick, his dark, wavy hair laying gently against his skin and trailing onto the pillow behind him and ran my fingers gently through it. I’d always loved his hair. His and mine were about the same shade of so-dark-brown-it-looks-black, but where his was silky and fell effortlessly into that gently tousled style that he normally wore, mine required either chemicals or large amounts of heat to get it to behave.
Even with all of that wonderful Italian and Irish handsome going on, it was his eyes that struck people. They weren’t simply blue. They were a light, almost icy blue, and so expressive when he was speaking that you simply couldn’t look away. He’d had interviewers become so locked into his gaze that they fell silent in the middle of live television appearances. That always made him laugh. I always joked that I may be fabulous, but since my eyes were simply a rather common milk chocolate brown, I had to flaunt what I had with more finesse than he normally had to bother with. And thanks to my parents, I had a healthy “finesse” to flaunt.
I watched him silently. Patrick wasn’t really there anymore. His face was blank, staring up at the ceiling, and he seemed to be completely involved in whatever he was thinking about. In fact, his mind had been halfway somewhere else all night. I wasn’t offended; Patrick always gave me all of his attention. To me, it just said that there was something very important going on. He probably needed to talk about it. And I was about to break one of my cardinal rules.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, putting my hand softly against his chest. I saw him blink as he returned to his immediate surroundings and smiled at me.
“What?” He asked. I grinned.
“I said, what’s wrong? You’ve been somewhere else all night.”
Patrick sighed deeply. “Do you really want to know?”
I shrugged and sat up so that I could rest my cheek on his chest.
“Sure. Maybe a fresh outlook is what you need to keep it from driving you insane.”
“Alright. Coach Lawrence has been making a lot of changes to the team since he took over.” He said, starting his explanation.
“Isn’t that why you guys hired him? To take the team in a new and exciting direction after what happened?” I thought back to a few months ago, when I’d stood beside my two best friends as the former Coach of the Dallas Bullets confessed during a live news conference to shooting and killing a man. Isobel still wasn’t fully over the fact that her boyfriend had betrayed her, or that he was dead now.
“Well, yeah, I guess. But he’s been replacing a lot of the guys and I’m not sure I want to just stick around waiting for him to replace me,” he said. I frowned slightly; he was really concerned.
“Patrick, what makes you think he’s going to do that?” I asked softly. Patrick sighed again.
“He’s dismantling the team. I hate it. It’s like he’s breaking up a family, and I’m not sure that I want to stick around and watch the show.”
“You’re not thinking about quitting the team, are you?” I sat up a bit. Patrick glanced down at me.
“A little,” he murmured.
“Hell no,” I said, as if that was the end all be all on the subject. Patrick smirked.
“I’m sorry, when did I ask for your permission?” he asked, a teasing smile on his face.
“You’re one of the best players on that team, plus would you really want to be on a team that didn’t have Joey on it? No, you wouldn’t. You’d miss him too much, and you’d miss Dallas too much. So no, you can’t leave the Bullets,” I said. Patrick grinned and flipped me onto my back as he hovered over me.
“And you? I’d miss you too much if I left Dallas too, is that what you mean?” he asked, the tease all over his face. I stuck my tongue out at him.
“You know you would,” I said. Patrick laughed.
“You’re starting to sound like a girlfriend now.” He said. And like that, everything came to a crashing halt. An uncomfortable halt, actually.
Patrick and I had an odd relationship. We spent time together, went out to dinner, stayed in and cooked together and had a great time. We slept together as often as we could, though with his schedule of practices and being out of town with the Bullets, it wasn’t as often as either of us liked. But we were not together. Neither of us had any interest in settling down into a nice, comfortable relationship, so neither of us labeled it. We were friends that liked to spend time together, and occasionally roll around naked for a few hours. Patrick’s choice of words just then had struck a chord with me though, and apparently him as well. He got a nervous look in his eyes as I glanced away and tried not to fidget.
“You know I was joking, right?” he said softly. I turned and made myself shove the awkward behind the smile.
“Of course.” But the jovial, happy nature that we’d had up to that point had cooled a bit. Patrick lay his head on my chest. I tried not to give off a feeling of dissatisfaction. It wasn’t what had just happened, it was that I wanted us to always be happy and comfortable around each other. Not like this. Instead, I slipped my hands down the sides of Patrick’s body. He twitched and sat straight up as I grinned. He was super ticklish, and there was no way he could stay uncomfortable through that.
“What was that for?” He scooted away from me. I giggled.
“Because I want to.” I sat up and crawled toward him.
“Oh no you don’t, you stay over there,” he said, though he was smiling again.
“Nope,” I said. Patrick smirked.
“Fine.” Then he leapt across the bed at me, which was around the time that I was brought screaming and kicking into the remembrance that I’m ticklish too, and that he knew that. Laughter and tickling turned into kissing and touching. And heat.
Charlotte sat to my left and Isobel to my right. Izzy’s bright red, bouncy ringlets shook as she laughed. The sun from our decision to eat lunch outside on the patio had turned her normally pale and freckled skin to a deep pink shade. She was always like that, and it made me laugh every time. She didn’t really tan, she went from zero to sunburned in nothing flat. Charlotte, my other best friend, was a beautiful blond non-bouncy and non-bimbo. A new mother, she and her superstar husband Joey Parker of the Dallas Bullets had a two month old son named Norman Alton Parker. He was named after Joey’s father and it caused all sorts of confusion when they were both in the same room, so everyone had taken to calling the little one Alton. Al for short, of course.
Charlotte had maneuvered herself into a mover and shaker of Dallas. Not because she wanted to be in the spotlight, mind you. Simply because she was a genuinely good person, and those were in short order in this day and age. She was stunning, though she wouldn’t agree with you if you told her that. She had that sun kissed skin that most people are looking to get when they go tanning, but usually just end up looking like a tomato. It was just natural for her, and since she was often outside on her way to this interview or that event, she kept that beautiful tan almost year round. The fact that Al had turned into a nature lover before he’d learned to scoot on his belly meant that she spent a lot of time in the back yard with him. She had long blonde hair that hung halfway down her back in gentle waves, and blue gray eyes like storm clouds. She had a temper like a storm too, which was worth noting since it snuck up on you like rain storms in Texas did. You’d be minding your business, and suddenly she’d come along and kick your ass. I loved her.
Her husband was Joey Parker, star quarterback for the Dallas Bullets and love of the NFL industry in general, no matter what team you rooted for. He was 32, so getting up there in age to still be active in the NFL, but he loved what he did and was still damn good at it. Charlotte did everything that she could to make sure that he could still do it for as long as he wanted. His light blue eyes and expertly tousled brown hair had made him the heartthrob of every woman that had ever laid eyes on him, but Charlotte was the only woman he cared about. They’d actually met because she was assigned a feature on the ‘Sexiest Guys in Sports’. It had been a whirlwind from there, culminating with their engagement and Char discovering that she was pregnant.
A few months into Charlotte’s pregnancy, Isobel met Ryan Haught, a handsome freelance writer with good footing in the media writing world and good looks to boot. He contacted her through an online dating profile and immediately swept her off of her feet. It was rather scary how quickly he was able to integrate himself into our lives, in retrospect, being in attendance at Char and Joey’s engagement party and wedding as well. But, we simply took it as he made our friend happy so we were happy for her. What we didn’t know was that he had contacted her through that site because he knew that she was Charlotte’s friend. He would milk Izzy for information about Char and Joey’s personal life over pillow talk and file it away for later.
Later turned out to be just after Joey and Charlotte returned from their honeymoon. The story hit, and all hell broke loose and exposed the two of them to the world. Personal and private details blared across the tabloids for the whole world to see, and there was nothing that they could do about it other than try and stem the media storm. Charlotte refused to talk to Isobel, Isobel didn’t want to admit that perhaps spilling her friend’s personal life to a man that she’d known all of three weeks was a bad idea… It was an ugly situation all around.
Add to that, once we’d gotten everyone to forgive everyone else and had gone over to Ryan’s with the intention of confronting him, since on top of everything else, he’d also been avoiding Isobel, we found him dead via gunshot wound. The authorities were called and the crime reported, but it was Joey that was arrested under suspicion of murder.
So there Char was, pregnant, newly married and without her husband. Everyone rallied around her for support, the way that you always hope that your friends will when all hell breaks loose. And it only got worse from there. Charlotte called a press conference to ask for any witnesses from that night at Ryan’s apartment to come forward. We figured, we were trapped by the media anyway, why not use them to our advantage, right? Except, Coach stepped up on stage unexpectedly.
Coach was loved by the entire team. He’d given Charlotte his stamp of approval even before Joey asked her out, and had been there for both of them through thick and thin. So for him to step up to the podium during a live press conference and tell the world that he’d been the one who’d shot Ryan, it had been a complete and total shock to everyone there. He’d immediately been taken into custody. Joey had been released that night and the team began trying to heal. Joey had stepped up, scheduling practices to give the guys something else to think about other than what was swirling around them. And then the team hired Kevin Lawrence, the current coach for the Bullets.
He’d made some controversial moves since he’d taken over, but they were all solid decisions for the team. But, when your team is more like a family, there are bound to be growing pains and that’s what was going on with the team right then.
“Wait, where’s my nephew?” I asked, looking around for Charlotte’s usual mom entourage of diaper bag, purse and baby via carrier but seeing none of it.
“Al is having super mature manly growl fun with Daddy today,” she said with a grin. Isobel and I shared a look.
“Super mature manly growl fun?” I repeated. Char smirked.
“I didn’t come up with the title, believe me.”
“How’d you manage that?” Izzy asked.
“With the way Coach has had them practicing, Al is usually sound asleep by the time he gets home. He’s started doing that weird scoot thing that babies do when they’re learning to crawl, and Joey hates that he’s missing all of this. So, when I said I was meeting you all for lunch, he said he’d keep him for the afternoon.”
“And you let him?” I asked, feigning shock. Char nodded and shrugged.
“I just told him to make sure that the strippers clean up before they leave,” she said, inciting a round of laughter.
“I heard the new coach has them working twice as hard,” Isobel said. Charlotte and I nodded.
“How are you and Patrick handling the extra practices?” Charlotte said, fixing me with a rather scandalous look. I rolled my eyes.
“I keep telling you guys, Patrick and I are not an item. Those extra practices don’t affect us because I’m not waiting up for him at night or something. He comes when he can, and our time together is great.” My mind flashed back to the night before and I felt my face involuntarily flush. Being naturally pigmented has its benefits; Izzy couldn’t have hidden a blush without ducking her head. I wasn’t lying, I didn’t sit up and wait for him. But I did miss him sometimes, though he had no idea and there was no way I was ever going to tell him.
“You realize that we can see you sitting over there, looking embarrassed about something, right?” Izzy asked. My head snapped up as I brought my mind back to the table.
“I’m not embarrassed.” I flashed a smile. I was great at faking it; retail will give you that skill.
“Sure,” Char said softly. Her eyes said she knew otherwise, but that she wasn’t going to pick at it. I was thankful for that.
“Hey, I’m not the one with the house, hubby and kid,” I said. Charlotte laughed.
“I have a fantastic house, a star athlete hubby and the cutest kiddo in the world. I am ecstatic about my life. Speaking of which, Joey and I are going out tonight so I need to get going,” Char said, reaching in her purse to get her wallet.
“Ooo, nice. But, who’s watching Alton?” Izzy asked.
“Iris and Nathaniel are flying in tonight and have informed Joey and me that we have to get the hell out,” she said with a laugh. She turned and motioned for the waiter to come and retrieve the check with her credit card tucked securely in the folder. Izzy and I started grabbing money, but she waved us off.
“They’re putting you out?” I asked.
“Yep. They said it’s our date night, whether we like it or not.”
Izzy shook her head. “That sounds like Iris.”
“I love Joey’s mother,” I replied. The waiter returned and Charlotte whipped her signature across the bottom of the receipt. I thought she signed things like a star; she always had. Like her signature knew that she was going to be famous before she did.
“Honestly, so do I. I need a break, and I miss my husband,” Charlotte said with a tired smile.
“Hey, do you need some help with Al? I’m off for the next few days, I can come out there and the three of us can do fun stuff together,” I said, putting my hand over hers to keep her from swooping out of there, like she often had a tendency to do. She stopped and smiled.
“That would be awesome.” She sighed. I nodded.
“I’ll be there around 11 tomorrow?” I asked.
“We’ll be waiting, Auntie Jacinta,” Char said with a grin. She turned, hugged Izzy, leaned over and hugged me and was gone. Like a gust of wind.
“She is always on the go,” Isobel said. I laughed.
“She’s always been like that, but it’s worse since Al was born.”
“Right. I’m glad you’re going out there tomorrow. She’s hiding it well, but I can tell that she’s starting to wind down,” Isobel said.
“I think the guys are off Saturday too. Maybe I’ll see if Joey minds watching Al so we can take her out for the evening.” I tried to remember what Patrick told me the rest of the month’s schedule was going to be for him. Which brought my mind back to last night again. Oh for Pete’s sake.
“That sounds fun!” Izzy squealed.
“Hey, can I talk to you about something?” I said. Isobel calmed and leaned forward.
“First, are we keeping it from Charlotte? Because I kind of don’t want to do that,” she said. I stopped.
“What? Oh, no. I didn’t intentionally wait for her to leave, it just happened to turn out this way,” I said. Isobel visibly released a bit of tension.
“Oh okay, then sure,” she said, attentively waiting for me to begin.
I recounted last night, leaving out some of the “Patrick’s business” bits from the subject. I explained about the girlfriend comment and how it had made both of us instantly uncomfortable, and that I had no idea what to make of that. Or the fact that I’d been thinking about it all day long. Isobel laughed softly and I frowned.
“Don’t laugh!” I hissed. Izzy leaned forward and grabbed my hand.
“I’m sorry, but it’s so cute,” she said. I frowned harder.
“What do you mean?”
“I think the two of you might actually have feelings for each other. I bet he just blurted that out without thinking about it, and immediately thought ‘oh my goodness, she does, and I don’t hate it’ and that’s when it got all weird.”
I stared at her. “We do not have feelings for each other.”
“Denial doesn’t make it untrue. You asked for my thoughts on the situation and I gave them to you. Take it or leave it.” She sat back and folded her arms across her chest.
I sighed deeply. “Whatever.” I didn’t really mean it.
“Come on, Jacinta. Be honest with yourself, or at least be honest with me. Can you really say that you don’t feel anything, that you aren’t happy when he calls and excited when he comes to see you because it’s you that he’s seeing? Nothing at all?” she asked. I did get happy when I saw his name on the caller ID. And I usually trotted to the door to answer it when I knew that it was him. But that didn’t mean anything. I shook my head.
“Nothing,” I lied. Isobel gave me a disapproving look and stood, picking up her purse.
“I have to go. But you’re lying. To yourself, to Char & I, and most of all to Patrick.” She leaned in and gave me a tight hug.