Read Faith in You Online

Authors: Charity Pineiro

Faith in You (8 page)

Chapter 12

It had been three weeks since the last time she had really spent any time with Paul. He and Connie had been involved in a case and had been forced to work surveillance on the graveyard shift. Unfortunately, with her hours at Victor’s office, Paul and she had only been able to sneak a quick dinner one night and an equally brief lunch on another day. Neither had allowed for any privacy nor intimacy, nor had the nightly calls he made when he was free.

So for tonight, their first time alone in a while, they had agreed on a quiet night at his house. When she opened the door and he escorted her into the breakfast nook, she was unsure of his interpretation of “a quiet night at home.” The lights were dimmed, candles were lit at various spots in the room -- on the sideboard and on the small dining table. Paul had drawn the curtains to the outside and shut them inside the little world he had created.

The table was set for a casual dinner, with two upholstered chairs caddie corner to one another along the head and side of the table. Next to one setting was a plate with Cuban sandwiches and another with a mix of appetizers -- cheese, pigs-in-blankets, and miniature egg rolls. A bottle of wine and glasses completed the spread for their “dinner”.

What struck her as odd was that scattered in front of the two place settings was a set of dominoes. “I don’t get it?” She turned and faced him as he stood beside her, his hands in his pockets, a grin on his face.

“Well, darlin’. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought in the past three weeks.” He pulled out the chair at the head of the table and held it out for her to sit.

She reluctantly accepted, but asked “Really?”

He sat in the chair diagonal to hers, picked up the bottle of wine, and poured her a glass. “It seemed to me that what we have is not just a joining of our respective minds and bodies,” he began with a quick wink. “But also a joining of our two cultures.”

Carmen nodded, watching as he poured his own glass of wine. “That seems to be an astute observation.”

“Why
gracias
,” he replied and with an exaggerated flourish, offered her the pick of some of the appetizers. “You’ve taught me about Cuban cuisine and dominoes, and I thought I’d contribute by offering a little American variation on both.”

She perused the plate, grabbed an egg roll and popped it into her mouth. “They say variety is the spice of life and I can see your little contribution to the food portion was raiding the frozen food aisle. But what’s your adaptation on the dominoes?” she asked, picking up a chunk of cheese and waving it at the game pieces on the table.

“Strip dominoes,” he said without hesitation.

Carmen choked on the cheese she had just eaten, reached for her wine, and took a sip to dislodge the food. “Strip?” came out as a croak when she could talk.

He smiled, reached out, and shuffled the dominoes in the way she had taught him nearly three weeks ago. “Do you have a problem with melding our two cultures like that?” He raised his eyebrows in challenge, baiting her.

She glanced at his hands as they seemed to expertly move the pieces and started divvying up the batch for them to start a game. “Why do I get the feeling I’m being hustled?”

Paul grinned then, looking a little like Bradley Cooper in
The Hangover
. “Afraid?”

He pushed her buttons and knew it. It was a challenge she couldn’t refuse nor did she expect to lose. She had been playing since she was a small child and was an exceptionally good dominoes player. She rarely lost.

“You’re on,” she replied and reached for the pieces he had set out for her first hand. “One piece of clothing for each game someone wins.”

He nodded, grabbed his own pieces, and turned them over to look at, keeping them hidden from her glance. Then he reached out, selected one domino, and set in the middle of the table to start the game.

Carmen noted the domino and started organizing her pieces in the order of possible moves. She laid one domino down and waited for Paul to make the next move.

He thought about it for a few seconds, placed his piece on the table, and offered her more food.

Starving, and not just for food, she grabbed a few different things, placed them on her plate, and returned to reviewing her pieces in light of the one Paul had chosen. Selecting her next piece, she laid it down, and ate a few of the appetizers.

They continued on with the play and snacks, grabbing pieces from the discard pile of dominoes when neither could move. Carmen was down to her last piece, smiling as she prepared to win when Paul surprised her with a move that closed off her move, forcing her to “eat” from the pile of reserve dominoes. It took her five tries before she could match the domino on the table, and that put her way behind Paul. He now had only two pieces left in order to win.

Paul glanced at her dominoes, uncertain of what to do next. He continued to think about it as he sipped his wine. Thought about it as he grabbed the last appetizer. Despite that, he still didn’t have a clue what to do. Finally, he did a mental eeny-miney-mo between the pieces and tossed the domino on the table.

She groaned, dropped her head into her hands, and reached for another piece from the discard pile. “You’ve been practicing.”

“Well, three weeks on the graveyard shift does give you a lot of time,” he admitted, unwilling to let her know the last move had purely been motivated by luck.

She looked up. “I’m going to kill Connie when I get my hands on her.” She tossed down another piece and Paul smiled, placed his last and winning domino.

“Sorry. One piece of clothing,” he said smugly and crossed his arms in front of himself to watch.

Carmen smiled at him and undid the wrist band on her watch. “One piece, my choice,” she replied, tossing the watch aside.

He shook his head. “Not good enough. We said one piece of
clothing
. A watch is an accessory.”

“Slime,” she stated. “Only a lawyer would get so technical.”

“Yep, that’s me. Top of my class. So, which piece is it going to be?” He leaned forward and rubbed his hands together, but Carmen would not give in so easily.

She edged her feet out from under the table and slipped off her sneakers. “Shoes are clothing. Sorry, Charlie. Maybe next time.”

Paul groaned and dropped his head in his hands as Carmen flipped all the pieces back over, shuffled them around, and dealt out each of their hands. They began to play again, and Carmen gave it her all. By the end of the game, she had won and Paul had taken off his shoes.

They continued playing, trading games off and on for the next half an hour until they were both without shoes and socks, and needed to resort to actual pieces of clothing.

Carmen lost the next round and Paul grinned at her. “So will it be the shirt or the shorts?”

“Don’t be so juvenile,” she egged, reaching under her shirt. Within seconds, she tossed out her bra onto the dining table.

Paul swallowed hard at the tiny, lacy pink scrap of underwear and berated her. “How do girls manage to do that so easily?”

Carmen grinned at him and set up the next game. “The same way that you ‘boys’ manage to unhook them one-handed.”

Heat traveled up to his face, both from the lingerie only inches away and her tease. A fellow roommate at boarding school had taught him how before his first really big date with a girl known for her let’s say, less than sterling character. He had gotten her bra undone, but not much more when she socked him one for being fresh.

“Next game’s mine,” he threatened.

Carmen looked at her hand and smiled at him confidently. “In your dreams.”

And it was. In his daydream as they were playing, she was down to nothing and the thought made him rock hard, added to the distraction that had in part been responsible for his losing the last game. He took a deep breath, intent on fortifying himself so he could win this next hand. He lost quickly. She had closed off both sides from play by using all the available domino combinations. He had been left holding a lot of pieces so his higher point total made him the loser.

He watched as she leaned back, laced her fingers together, and laid them across her stomach. “I’d like to see you get your undies on the table without taking anything off.”

Despite her words of bravado, a flush worked across her cheeks, and there was a slight hitch in her breath. He smiled, pleased he wasn’t the only one affected by their little game. There was no doubt in his mind how to rattle her further.

He stood, reached for the snap of his shorts, and popped it open. Slowly he dragged the zipper down and let the fabric part. “I have no undies on,” he said, dragged the shorts off, and tossed them onto the table.

Carmen’s breath stopped somewhere in the middle of her chest. Three weeks apart had done nothing to take the edge off her hunger for him. Now here he was, totally aroused, his sex just a foot or so away from her and ready. It nested in a tangle of darker blond curls, and stood upright in all its glory.
From this day on, she would never think vanilla was boring again
, she thought. She took a deep gulp, turned away from the sight, and with shaky hands, shuffled the dominos.

When she dealt the next game, he had seated himself and had that smug smile back on his face. He had clearly wanted to distract her and he had succeeded, she admitted to herself. But she knew how to play fire with fire. Leaning back in her chair to view her pieces, she stretched out her legs and touched his bare calves. She raised her feet, brought them to rest on the edge of his chair and between his legs. The soles of her feet just barely brushed his erection, and yet the heat of it warmed her, started warmth within her, backfiring. She was even more distracted now.

“Ah, Carmen,” he said with nearly a groan.



, is something wrong? It doesn’t bother you does it?” she asked, although she was being as affected by it as he.

Paul bit his lip, refusing to give her the advantage. “No,
mi amor
. Of course not.” He looked at his pieces, but saw only a blur of dots as she moved her foot and brushed against him once more.

She laid down her first piece and he narrowed his eyes, forced himself to concentrate on the game. It must have worked for half an hour later he won.

Carmen stood without hesitation, undid and dropped her shorts, exposing her long, coltish legs and another tiny scrap of pink lace that matched the bra sitting on the table top. “Sorry, you’ll have to win more for that.”

He did, motivated by his desire. She lost her underwear, but he lost his shirt next and now sat on his elegant, silk-upholstered chair, buck naked.

“It looks like I’ve won,” she preened and sat up in her chair with a satisfied smile.

“Well, by my count, I’m actually ahead in the number of games. You had more clothing on,” Paul reminded and watched her deflate before his eyes.

“I hate it when you’re right. If I win the next game, though, will you admit defeat?”

“Of course,” he replied, but he had no intention of losing.

He played tough and recklessly, and Carmen was hard pressed to beat him. Some of his moves made no sense at times, wrecking any plans she made for her pieces. In the long run, he tossed down a series of dominoes that left her in a lurch, gobbling up pieces from the reserve pile. A few moves later, he tossed down his last piece and gloated. “Well. This is it, I guess.”

Carmen slipped off her shirt, pulled back her shoulders with as much dignity as she could muster. “We are now tied in games. One more, winner takes all, but with some new rules.”

Paul hesitated, then nodded. “And what are these rules?”

Ones she had just thought of and intended to drive him crazy with. “You know how to play ‘Go Fish’, don’t you?”

Paul nodded and she continued. “Let’s say this is a variation on the theme. If you can’t go and you need, let’s say a two-six combo, you can ask me. If I have it, I can decide what I’ll demand in exchange.”

Paul grinned and nodded again, his head bobbing up and down like one of those dolls in the back of people’s cars. “I like this idea. So, if you need a two-six and I have it, I could ask for, let’s say a nice, long wet kiss.”

“Yep, one just like this.” Carmen shifted her chair just an inch closer, leaned over, and rested her hand on his bare thigh. His muscles bunched beneath the palm of her hand and she smiled. Bending close, she made sure that her breast just grazed the hard wall of his chest before delivering the long, wet, hot kind of kiss she had hoped he had in mind. When she pulled away, Paul’s gaze was hooded, his eyes darkened with desire. His head bobbed up and down again. “Okay. One game. Winner takes all.”

She flipped all the pieces, shuffled them, and passed out their hands. Then she set down the beginning domino and motioned for him to start the game.

Paul gave it a moment of thought, then placed his domino on the table. She answered and the game began in earnest. It was clear in about fifteen minutes of play, they were both serious about winning. So serious that each made a mistake that forced them to share equally almost every domino in the reserve pile.

Carmen looked up. Now was when her little variation of the game would come into play. Now was when it would get really interesting. She looked at her pile and motioned to the hand he held. “It’s your turn.”

“I need the nine-two.”

Leaning back in her chair, she answered without looking at her hand, “I have it. But to get it, you’ll have to deal with certain parts of me,” she said, glancing subtly at her upright breasts. “That are feeling … neglected.”

Paul was on his knees in an instant, his hands on her waist to bring her forward to his mouth so he could suckle and tease her breasts. If Carmen had intended to torture him, she was doing a good job. But she wasn’t unaffected and it pleased him to hear the low mewling sound that left her throat. When her hands cradled his head to her, he bit her gently, and pulled away lest he give her too much of the upper hand.

He rose and sat back down in his chair. “I believe you owe me a piece.”

At that moment, Carmen wanted more than anything to say screw the game and have him make love to her. Still, some stubborn part of her wanted to take this to its ultimate end. She handed him the piece he had earned and after he had placed it on the table, spared only a quick glance at the table. “I want the six-nine.”

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