Authors: Emily Jane Trent
Natalie snuggled against Tanner under the satin sheet, and basked in the glow of the special morning. He felt so warm against her, and the utter decadence of sleeping in late was delicious. She smiled at his expert loving of her until well into the early morning hours, and her skin tingled.
For once, they didn’t have to get up earl
y, which they always did during the week. But today Tanner would be with her all day. He’d assured her that his new company structure allowed him to step away as he’d planned, and she was glad. Any time she could have him to herself was precious.
She was on her side with her left arm over his muscled chest. She squeezed and purred, putting a sexy smile on his face. He ran his hand over her shiny hair, pushing several strands off
her cheek. Very slowly, he let his fingers slide over her shoulder and down her ribs, dipping to caress her waist and back up, ever so softly over her hip. The light sensual outlining of her body with his hot fingers sent sensual warmth through her, and she pressed closer to him.
Snuggling with Tanner was as good as everything else he did, and Natalie
felt lucky – so lucky to have him, and even more, to know he loved her. His thoughts must have drifted back to the intense experience so recently shared.
n’t too rough on you last night, was I?” He asked sweetly.
ed her cheek against his chest and cupped his jaw with her palm. “My love,” she said. “You were amazing. I trust you and the pleasure you give me is… I can’t put it into words.”
and the deep melody of his happiness set the mood for the morning. They didn’t have to get up and could waste away the hours together, in bed. “I have something in mind for you,” he whispered in such a deep masculine voice that Natalie felt a thrill run up her spine.
“Anything,” she said.
With a finger under her chin, he angled her head up to look into her deep brown eyes.
“Yes,” she smiled sweetly.
“You’ll have to trust me,” he said.
“I do,” she said without hesitation, and realized how much that was true.
“You’ll have to let me have control…..completely,” he whispered deep in his throat.
Natalie smiled demurely and said with a confident air, “Sometimes …..not being in control… is the best feeling in the world.”
Tanner’s features hardened and his blue eyes turned darker. He hesitated a second, looking at her with his stern countenance that melted her in his arms.
He kissed her, oh so wonderfully hard, and ran his hot tongue around her tender, wanting mouth; his hands finding sensitive parts of her body that she had yet to discover.
morning held a place in Natalie’s memory as a special time. Tanner was utterly domineering and she submitted to his will. It was truly the best feeling in the world. They’d crossed some invisible line without knowing they had approached it. She knew it was significant, even if she couldn’t express in words what had changed.
Later in the week, a meeting was arranged to view several
commercial properties. Recently, Tanner had been looking for one to purchase, and wanted Natalie’s input on the top choices. The first two were okay, but Tanner didn’t think the floor plans would suit his needs, and she agreed. The third one, an office condo on Broadway sounded like an ideal work environment.
Exiting the elevator, they walked the few steps to the condo and entered the large space.
Natalie was quickly impressed with the newly installed wood floors and large windows. Her heels tapped on the wooden floor as she walked around, and the agent followed her, a little too closely. Although, the space seemed right for their needs, she couldn’t wait to get outside and away from the cloying cologne he wore.
Bennett Smith was not Tanner’s regular agen
t, but this property was for sale and in an effort to secure it before it was gone, they agreed to meet the selling agent. He was medium height with light brown hair, and wore an unremarkable beige business suit. His face was lined and tanned, seemingly a result of frequent trips to a tanning salon combined with middle age. His smile was unnatural, stretching the dry, bronzed skin with a false friendliness.
There was no harm in having him show the property, except that he was smitten with Natalie from the moment he saw her.
And that worried her, knowing how little it took to trigger Tanner sometimes. She tried to play it cool, but Bennett, as he asked to be called, didn’t make it easy.
His greeting of, “It’s my pleasure to show such a lovely lady around,” might have gotten by had his eyes not roamed over her body, making her feel undressed. He guided them around the premises, pointing out details, and continued to give Natalie lascivious looks. She couldn’t believe his audacity, but tried to
pay no attention to him.
And worse, he wasn’t observant enough to
observe Tanner, and know that he was treading on thin ice. Tanner was across the room, judging whether the office would fit his needs. Fundraising for his foundation had seen a stellar year, and he’d decided to expand operations. Instead of allocating an office in the Clark Luxury Brand building, he opted to buy a separate building to allow for expansion.
The program now included sponsorship programs for the orphans, funds for emergency needs, and a new financial
plan ensuring that donations went directly to the homes where they were needed, as soon as collected and processed at the Foundation. Tanner wanted the money to go the orphans, not for administration, and had set up the system that way.
Looking around, Tanner
decided the condo was what he’d been looking for, but was decidedly unwilling to deal with Bennett Smith. The offensive man walked beside Natalie like a magnet, and Tanner had glared at him at every opportunity. Yet, he seemed oblivious.
Despite his ill manners, Tanner couldn’t believe the man had the nerve to deal with him with such disregard. Who did he think was
going to pay for this expensive, centrally-located property? His unprofessional demeanor might have been overlooked, but his slimy nature toward women, and Natalie in particular, was making Tanner’s blood boil.
Natalie looked out the windows
and the agent recited descriptions of the location, while she struggled for air, so close to his suffocating fragrance. He made the mistake of touching her shoulder. She flinched away and glanced back at Tanner, striding toward them.
She had done her best to
give no encouragement to the agent’s advances, and to pretend nothing was happening, but it was difficult to do in a confined space. And the man, either dense or just unobservant, refused to take the hint.
r hand off of her,” Tanner barked.
Bennett Smith pulled his hand back as if bitten.
“I just…,” he stammered.
“Yes, I know what you are about. And you’ve made a grave error
. Your rude behavior is unacceptable, and if I weren’t a gentleman, I’d take you outside and beat some sense into you.
As it is, we will be purchasing this condo. It will suit our needs. However, you will see no commission as a result. Trust me on that. In fact, you’ll be lucky to still have your job after your superiors hear my complaint. I’m not without influence, and I object to your behavior.”
Leaving the agent standing by the window, red-faced and at a loss as to how to repair the damage he’d caused, Tanner took Natalie by the arm and left. He was walking so fast to the limo, Natalie could barely keep up. She breathed in the fresh air, so glad to be away from the rancid perfume of one Bennett Smith.
Sliding into the back seat, Tanner pulled Natalie into hi
s arms, still rigid with anger.
he was,” Natalie said, and it occurred to her that he was mad at the agent, and hadn’t accused her of flirting. That was something new. The idea of flirting with that abhorrent man was ridiculous. Her skin crawled just to think of it.
“Yes, he was that,” Tanner agreed. “He’ll be out on the street if I have anything to say about it.”
Natalie thought that was a bit extreme, but dared not counter him while he was in such a state. She leaned her head on his shoulder, just glad to be away from unwelcome attention, and relieved by his rescue. This wasn’t jealousy. No, it was rightful indignation over the violation of the one you love.
It wasn’t until Tanner had sipped his first glass of
silky red wine that she saw the muscle in his jaw relax. Blanca, a high-end, tasting-menu-only eatery was a new place they decided to try. It had been described as extraordinary, and the menu was seafood-centric, Natalie’s preference. He’d always remembered that, from the first lunch they’d had together, and looked for restaurants that knew how to cook seafood properly.
Natalie turned the wine bottle to face her, always intere
sted in learning more about the wines Tanner chose.
“Hmmm, a 2005 Vieux Chateau
Certan,” she said. “I like this one. It smells like flowers and crushed berries, and tastes velvety.”
“Yes, very full-bodied. I thought you’d like it,” he smiled. He reached across an
d entwined his fingers in hers.
Natalie saw the dark look in his eyes, and knew he was disturbed by the incident at the condo. The vision of another man’s hand on her
, however briefly, was hard to forget. He possessed her without question, and sought to confirm his hold with his squeeze of her fingers.
Under the table, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and ran her toes along his ankle.
“There’s no one but you,” she said so quietly it was like mouthing the words. Tanner’s eyes conveyed his satisfaction of knowing she belonged to no other.
“That will never change,” he said,
reaching across the table and running one finger over her collar bone, sending new sensations through her belly. Just that easy slide of his finger conveyed so much, his love, his possession, and his desire.
The warm months were upon them, and Tanner requested that Sara serve breakfast on the patio. It was a clear, sunny day and the food tasted better than usual. Maybe it was the season, or maybe it was last night’s activities, but they ate ravenously.
Natalie laughed, looking over at Tanner with a mouthful of pancakes, “We must be starved. What did you do to me last night?”
Tanner’s eyes sparkled. H
e washed down his food with coffee, and leaned back in the chair. Noting how lovely she looked in her sleeveless floral dress, he wanted to take her right back to bed. But Natalie had something on her mind, he could tell. She had a look in her eye that he’d begun to recognize.
“What?” He asked.
“I want to ask you something,” she said. “We never talk about it, but your jealousy….”
“Now, that’s not fair. Yesterday, that guy deserved it. I never accused you of anything. You were trapped there with h
im. I stepped in to protect you… that’s all.”
“Yes, true. And I’m glad you did. I don’t mean yesterday.”
“I mean other times….when you think I’m flirting. Or, you think I’m trying to attract the attention of another man. I mean…you think I am.
But, I’m not. I don’t, I mean.
But you think it anyway.”
Tanner frowned. He could see where this was leading, and wasn’t sure he wanted to continue. He just looked at her, thinking it wiser not to jump in too soon.
“I thought we could talk about it,” she continued. “I don’t give you any reason to be jealous. I’ve never purposely let my eyes stray to another. I would think after all this time you’d be confident in my feelings for you. But you’re not. Why is that?”
Her pointed question left Tanner no choice but to answer. At first, he wasn’t sure what the answer was, and didn’t want to say the wrong thing.
you do give me reason to be jealous,” he said.
Natalie’s mouth fell open.
“You’re gorgeous, and you’ve learned to dress to
show off your beauty. Every red-blooded male reacts when he sees you. How could I not be jealous?”
Natalie tried, but failed to see his logic. “Just because they look doesn’t mean I’m interested does it?”
Tanner went silent. He looked out at the sky. He was in trouble here, and felt like he was sinking fast. He froze up. This discussion was uncomfortable, and he attempted to come up with a way to end it without upsetting Natalie. It was futile. He looked at her, sitting there waiting for his response, and knew he was in too far already.
“But you could be,” he stated weakly.
Puzzled, Natalie tried to get clarification. “I could be a lot of things. But I’m not. What makes you think I’ll be interested in any other man besides you?”
“That’s it right there,” Tanner said, having struck on a point he wanted to make. “Have you ever had any other man
, except me?”
Now it was Natalie’s turn to be caught uncomfortably. She flushed, and looked down
at her lap.
“See,” Tanner went on, more confident now. “
It’s a sensitive issue. But since you brought it up….have you had sex with any other man, but me?”
“No,” Natalie admitted, not seeing how that had anything to do with Tanner’s jealousy. “You know I was a virgin when I met you. Everything I know about sex I learned from you.”
“Exactly,” Tanner went on. “And don’t you think you’d want to?”
“So, now you’re encouraging me to be with another man?”
“No, not at all. I’m merely pointing out that you haven’t.”
“But what has that got
to do with you being jealous?
“How long do you think it will be before you get curious about
what it would be like to have sex with someone else? How do you know how our sex life sizes up? You have nothing to compare it to.”
“I don’t need to compare it. You don’t understand anything,” Natalie said, exasperated.
“Not today, but it could happen.”
“That’s what you’re afraid of
? That I’ll get curious about how it would be with another man, and somehow this irrepressible urge will come over me, and I’ll go off with someone else?”
“Well, you’re over
simplifying. But, yes. Over time, won’t you feel deprived that you never had a chance to have those other experiences? Maybe you’ll feel cheated….and I fear that day.”
At last, Nata
lie understood. For a moment she was quiet, thinking of what she could possibly say next. She looked at Tanner, hopelessly gorgeous in his blue polo shirt, the sleeves tight around his lean biceps, and his thick, sexy hair slightly tousled. Her heart raced. God, she loved him so much, couldn’t he see that?
“You may have educated me in sexual techniques. I admit I was inexperienced an
d naïve. But, if you think I fell into bed with you because of the over-the-top sex, then you don’t know me. You don’t know me at all.
From the first time you looked at
me, way back so many years ago in the concert hall, you had my heart. Those blue eyes….
Don’t you kno
w anything? I love you, Tanner….only you. It’s always been that way, and always will be.
There’s no chance my defenses will weaken, and I’ll fall into bed with another man. No chance at all. And you wonder why? I don’t love any other man. I love you. Can you get that thr
ough your thick, beautiful head? Only you. No one else.
You have no reason to be jealous. You just have to realize it. There’s no way to convince you of the strength of my love, if you don’t already know it. You just have to open your heart, and you’ll know beyond any doubt that I’m yours.”
It was hard to tell for sure, but Natalie thought she saw Tanner blush. His eyes, as blue as the sky, conveyed his feelings for her as surely as if he’d said it. He grabbed her into his arms and hugged her tightly, not speaking at first.
“I’ll try,” he said
, finally, stroking her hair and running his fingers down her spine. “I really will. I don’t doubt your love. It’s me that is learning about love, not you.”
Natalie’s eyes welled
with tears, and not from anger this time. She felt closer to Tanner than she ever had. There was hope. She was sure of it.