Authors: Carmen Falcone
She paced in a small circle, then her gaze found his. “You are… right.”
Right? She was agreeing with him? “That’s better than dirty talk to my ears.”
She pointed at Bill. He sat inside his BMW, talking on his cell and gesticulating with his hands. Whatever business he handled would keep him occupied for the next few minutes. “I say we check the stockroom again.”
His body responded before he did. The stiffness in his pants matched the hardness in his stomach. Every step toward the stockroom was like the last mile after running a lengthy marathon. She stretched out her hand. He took her fingers in his and pulled her against him.
When they reached the room filled with empty pantries and shelves, they flung themselves at each other in such synchronized movement; it was impossible to discern which one started it. On the tip of her toes, she nipped his chin, and he pulled up her dress to find out she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
“That is very naughty of you,” he whispered into her hair, and caught a whiff of her seductive cologne.
“Are you complaining?” She ran her tongue along his lips, and his body roared in anticipation.
A coarse chuckle escaped her mouth, and he took advantage of her parted lips to slide his tongue inside her, and the contact once more sent little ripples down his spine. He slammed her against the wall, and she wrapped her legs around him, fondling his chest with her hands. His cock grew bigger, and a rush of blood pounded through his veins. Nibbling his neck, she slid her hand down his shirt, her warm fingers scratching his pebbled skin. He groaned, grabbed her wrists and pinned them over her head.
The primeval act made him blink, and he wondered if she was ready for this. He didn’t want her to lecture him with one of those awkward conversations. He raised his gaze to hers, and her gorgeous blue eyes glimmered. “Yes,” she murmured.
He held her wrists above her head with one hand, and with the other he delved into her sex. The second he touched her familiar, moist warmth, a current so strong went through him, his knees buckled a little. Wanting to make it good for her, he closed his eyes and clung to whatever control he had. He continued stroking her folds and cupping her sex. She squirmed against him, her wrists fighting his hold. He held her in place, and intensified the thrust of his fingers.
She moaned. “I need you, Sebastian. Please. Please.” She choked out the words, and he assessed her. Her eyes glowed, deep gulps of breath left her fleshy parted lips. Sweat slicked her face and arms.
He loosened the hold on her wrists until they fell to her sides, and she helped him fumble out of his zipper. Her words still rang in his ears.
I need you. Please. Please.
Determined, he drove inside her, deeper than he had anticipated but fuck, at this point dictating a rhythm to a force they were both weak against wasn’t an option. She didn’t seem to mind, as she linked her arms around his neck and let little grows fill the air. She brought her hand to his cock, and invited him deeper, wrapping her fingers around him. “Grace. I don’t think I can hold out much longer.”
“That’s the idea,” she breathed, and cupped his balls.
He withdrew and impaled her once. Twice. Three times. Then, on the fourth, a tremor swept over him, and when he slammed into her, all the way to the hilt, his seed poured into her. She didn’t take long, her body convulsing against him as she whimpered his name.
“It could always be like this. You and I,” he blurted before stringing the words in his brain. “You could visit me in L.A.”
He drew back, to examine her reaction. She stiffened against him, and brought her feet to the floor before he had the opportunity to do so. Sucking in a deep breath, she disengaged from him without sparing a single glance his way, and pulled her dress down. With a sigh, she smoothed her hands over it, and he noticed they trembled a bit.
“We should get going, Sebastian. The realtor is waiting for us.”
He tightened his jaw, and composed himself – on the outside, at least, then zipped up his pants. They walked in silence to the front. Bill still had his phone glued to his ear, although this time, he gesticulated a lot less. When he spotted them, he scrambled out of the car and opened the door to his Beemer.
“Have we reached a conclusion?” He flashed them a smile.
Sebastian cleared his throat. “Grace?”
“We’ll take it,” she said, and ducked inside the sedan.
During the drive back to her house, the realtor talked about the real estate market, the neighborhood, and contracts. His high-pitched voice slipped into the background, and Sebastian wished they had taken his car to see all the properties and not followed Bill’s suggestion to all go in one car. Maybe then, he would have been able to drill her and figure out what was really going on with her. Why did she react that way? And why did she pull away from him after sex?
When Bill waved good-bye and she opened the door to her house, Sebastian followed her inside.
She disappeared into her office, and he circled around her coffee table. When she came back, she offered him a manila envelope. He noticed it tremble, her hands were shaking. “I signed the divorce papers. There you go.”
The divorce papers were like a brick in his hands, and his stomach curled. He clenched his fist and glanced down, having to make an effort not to rip it apart.
Why would he shred them? Divorce was what he wanted. His gaze rose to hers, and tears shimmered in the corners of her blue eyes. His throat thickened, and his heart beat in staccato.
He wasn’t ready for the end. Sure, he knew it was coming – but somehow, the idea he would call the shots made it more bearable. Wouldn’t it hurt less? To end it? Today. Or maybe… at the end of a different day. Or month. “Do you really think this is it, Grace?”
She blinked back the tears and wiped a stubborn one that rolled down her cheek with the back of her hand. “That’s exactly what those papers mean,” she said in a low but steady voice.
“Are you upset because I suggested you visit me in L.A.?” The question after they had hot sex in a stockroom had surprised even himself. The more he thought about it, the more it all came together. Why couldn’t she visit him, and he visit her? Wasn’t that why he had a jet available? For the convenience?
“No.” She winced. “There’s something else.” She reached in her pocket, and produced the engagement ring he had given her. His mother’s ring. “I meant to give this back.”
He lifted the ring to eye level, somehow fascinated it was the one. The diamond princess cut, with the shining metal. How could that be? “You told me you sold it.”
“I did, I didn’t want to be mean or anything. I just needed the money to leave you. Listen, I was in a bad place after we lost our baby. Fleeing was my survival strategy.”
“This was my mother’s ring, you know?”
She lifted her hand to her mouth. “I’m sorry. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was mad at my mother for a long time. Didn’t want to think about her,” he said, and the words came out strained. He shoved the jewel in his pocket and ran his fingers through his hair. Was it fair to still be mad at his mother? “Listen, I didn’t know you had this planned.” He waved the divorce papers, and tossed them on the sofa. “We weren’t supposed to finish this way,” he said before thinking.
She threw back her shoulders. “How else could we finish, Sebastian?”
“I proposed the deal,” he hissed. “I chose when it ends.” He realized his statement was a contradiction to his original proposal, but shit, what else could he do? Once he filed those papers and left her house, there would be nothing linking them together. Not even the insane attraction.
He sucked in his breath, his body stiff like a violin string. She glared at him, her eyes glossy and determined. A strangled sound escaped her lips. “Of course this is about you calling the shots. Well, tell me, how and when will it end?” Sarcasm dripped from her voice.
“Not today. I changed my mind.” He shrugged, and stepped toward her. “Grace, I’m not being deployed to Iraq or moving to a remote town in Africa. I’m a flight away.”
She reared back, and narrowed her eyes at him. “I should just visit you whenever you’re horny? Was that why you gave me that office space? So I can go from ex-wife to mistress?”
“Listen,” he urged her, although he himself was not sure what to say. “That’s not why. Grace, have you ever considered moving to the west coast? There are great nursing homes in California. And your business can take off there too.”
“You’re mapping out my life, my grandma’s well-being, to suit your needs? You think the sex is that good I will just pack up and leave?” She raised her voice. “I’m not leaving, Sebastian.”
“Grace, do you have any idea what it’s like to open new firms while maintaining my standard? I will be swamped with work. I won’t be able to just come see you.”
“You don’t have to. We’re done.” She flashed him a glance of disdain. “I’m sorry, but you don’t get the last word this time.”
He rubbed his brows and took a good look at her. With puffed chest and lifted chin, the vulnerability of a couple minutes earlier was gone from her expression. Grace King acted as if she was ready to conquer the world on her own, and his assistance was no longer needed.
He was no longer needed. Leaning over the sofa, he picked up the divorce papers and held them. Their sexual relationship was an asset he could no longer invest in. An icy liquid spread through him, congesting his veins and stealing the air from his lungs. “Fine. Good-bye, Gracelynn.”
“Sounds great. Ten o’clock. See you then.” Grace injected some misleading energy in her voice, placed her phone on the receiver and leaned back in her chair. She hadn’t slept a wink after Sebastian stormed out of her house a week ago. A chilly sensation had spilled over her when he mentioned she could move to L.A right after sex.
He expected her to just adjust to his life and dreams? He was the one already established, with a multi-million dollar checking account, well respected by his peers and clients.
Bullshit. When they had made love in the stockroom and she begged him to fill her, she had almost slipped an I love You. Thank goodness she ended up saying she needed him and saved herself the embarrassment. Her disappointment in his offer made her realize she would never completely get over him. Then reality slapped her right in the face -- he enjoyed her sexually, and wanted to continue their relationship even if it meant she would see him in L.A.
Handing him the divorce papers had been harder than walking away from him two years ago. The moment she gave him the envelope, frustration and sadness mixed inside her like a state-of–the-art blender. Quietly, but oh so powerfully.
Grace reached for the desk phone, and slid her fingers over the keypad. A lump knotted her throat. Why would she call him? What did she have to say? Until now, she had never taken that Lionel Richie song seriously. She never enjoyed the notes or the rhythm. I just called to say I love you seemed all kinds of cheesy. And anyway, calling to say she loved him wouldn’t change a thing. Would it? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Images of his gorgeous face smiling at her, his dark-skinned body glistening with sweat, his strong arms holding her tight, flooded her mind. She had saved her business and all, but she had lost him. This time, forever. She shuddered as hot tears brimmed her lids.
“Grace?” Luna called her.
Grace opened her eyes with a start, and wiped the tears with the back of her hands. “What’s up?”
“The phone keeps ringing. I guess your, er, husband made some calls because everyone wants to book us.” Luna squealed and started a happy dance. “This is so cool. I’ve put in my notice at my evil day job, so don’t you dare screw this up.”
“Ex husband.” The word punched her. She shifted in her chair. “You mean he referred my business?”
“Yep. Four requests this morning alone. It’s who you know, right?” Luna winked at her.
Why would he recommend her when there wasn’t anything in it for him? What could he get out of it? She swiveled in the chair, and her belly fluttered.
The same reason why he slept over without having sex, you idiot. He cares for you.
Luna leaned forward, her brows furrowing with concern. “Do you miss him?”
“Yeah. Sex was wonderful, you know, but what I missed most was talking to him about things I don’t usually talk about,” Grace said, and her shoulders sagged with relief.
“Why don’t you just call him up and tell him that?”
“It’s not that simple. I’m scared if I do, I’ll be compelled to move to L.A. And I fought so hard to make a home here. Florida was the first state I lived in for any amount of time. It’s where Nana lived most of her life.”
“Do you love him?”
She cleared her throat. “With all my heart. But I pushed him away and I doubt he’s still interested.” The understatement of the year. She served him the divorce papers and discouraged any hope of them sleeping together ever again. She had seen the expression on his face before he left her. A spark of pain mixed with his defiant expression had crossed his handsome face. Sebastian Zwane wasn’t a man you could say no to… twice. “What if that ship has sailed?”