Authors: Charlotte Howard
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
Sleeping with Ty had been more than any fantasy could have prepared her for. However, she could see the front room curtain twitching.
“I’ll call you,” she said, pressing her lips to his, lingering a little longer than a kiss should allow. “I need a shower and clean underwear.” It was supposed to be an explanation, but came out sounding like an excuse. “Someone seems to have stolen mine,” she added with a small smile. Ty’s hand crept higher, brushing against her. Leah shifted away from his touch. “I’ll call you,” she said again. “Anyway, you need to take me to fetch my car,” she reminded him before getting out of the car and walking up the path to her sister’s home.
“Walk of shame, was it?” Maggie said, rubbing her hand over her belly as if her tone may upset the unborn child.
“I prefer the stride of pride.” Leah stepped around her sister and headed up the stairs. “Anyway, I told you, I stayed at Yvonne’s.”
After a quick shower, and hiding Ty’s shirt in the laundry basket, Leah changed into a pair of jeans and a black vest top before heading to the kitchen in search of coffee and bacon.
Neil had already left for work, which meant she didn’t have to listen to him giving her the third degree about being out all night and not letting them know. Maggie, however, was home. She sat at the table, nursing a mug of raspberry leaf tea, with a raised eyebrow and an amused smile.
“So who was he?” she asked as Leah grabbed the packet of bacon out of the fridge, dropping it on the kitchen sideboard while she searched for a frying pan. Despite the massive breakfast Ty had fed her, she was famished. “I know you weren’t at Yvonne’s. She rang to speak to you and say she was sorry for being such a crap friend.”
“Just someone from work.” Leah dripped oil into the pan and switched on the hob, waiting for it to sizzle before adding three rashers. “Want some?”
“No thanks.” Maggie held her hand up and shook her head. “It’s like the closer I get to giving birth, the worse my morning sickness is getting. I’m pretty sure the books say it’s only supposed to last the first trimester. Bet they were written by a man…” The rest of her moan trailed into oblivion as Leah flipped the bacon and let the smell of grease and the sound of popping fat fill her senses.
With a sandwich made, and a lukewarm coffee in hand, Leah went into the living room, slumping into the sofa and reaching for the remote. She sank into the dark gray cushions and let out a satisfied groan as comfort took over. Picking up half the sandwich, she took a bite, savoring the delicious taste of meat swirling around her mouth. Ty was right about one thing—she could never be vegetarian.
The TV screen broke into a flash of color as the news played out in front of her. She didn’t pay any attention to the background noise. Instead she picked up her mobile and contemplated sending him a text. It had only been an hour or two since she’d last seen him, but her insides were tugging with a longing she hadn’t felt in a while.
Her thoughts stayed with Ty after she’d finished her brunch and the news had changed into a cookery show. Maggie was doing what she called ‘nesting’, which to Leah meant she was being OCD about the housework.
Ty intrigued her. As much as she moaned at her students about using clichés, there was something magnetic about her attraction to him. He had pulled her in the moment she’d met him. It hadn’t been love at first sight or anything as slushy as that, but it was most definitely lust.
“So?” Maggie asked, sitting next to her with a mug of hot water. A slice of lemon floated on the top, threatening to disperse its seeds as well as its juice. “Who is he? I want details.”
Leah rolled her eyes and stood to take her plate and mug into the kitchen.
“Is he a teacher?” Maggie called after her.
“No,” Leah replied, walking back into the lounge. “He’s a…” She thought for a moment about how to describe his job. He’d insisted he was only a caretaker at the school, but she thought that he could be so much more than that. “He does odds and sods around the school,” she said, trying to dismiss her sister’s prying ways.
“You know…” Leah shrugged. “Fixes things. Does all the high bits that nobody else can reach.”
“So he’s a caretaker,” Maggie surmised with a disapproving raised eyebrow.
“I guess. Don’t look at me like that! He’s not just a caretaker, and why does it matter what he does anyway? He has a job. It shouldn’t matter what that job is.”
“No, no, I agree.” Maggie nodded and pursed her lips. “I’m just surprised, that’s all. You always tend to attract more…affluent men.”
“If you’re talking about prick-features, I think we both know how that ended and it was probably a warning sign. Money equals disaster. Ty is…” She exhaled a nasal breath. “Different.”
Maggie smirked. “As long as you’re happy and staying safe.”
“I am, and I appreciate the worry. Ty is nice. And fit. It’s not like I’m looking for a husband.”
“The bookworm and the caretaker.” Maggie chuckled. “Sounds like the title of a good novel. Are you seeing him again?”
“I said I’d call him today. I think he wants me to go over tonight but I’m not sure if I should play hard to get. Either way, I’ve left my car in the middle of Bristol. Thought I’d get a taxi to pick it up and maybe do some shopping.”
“Leah, teenagers play hard to get. You’re nearly thirty. I know you don’t want to get married or have children yet, but perhaps it’s time to start having more adult relationships. If he’s as nice as you say he is and he wants to take you out again, let him.” She paused for a second. “Have you heard anything recently?”
“You mean from Kyle? No, thank God. Maybe Neil’s threat of a restraining order actually worked.”
“Good. But if he does contact you, then Neil will pull some strings at work.”
“I know. And I do appreciate it.”
Maggie smiled. “I’m glad that you’re moving on, though. I know how hard it’s been.” She struggled to push herself up. “I have to pack a maternity bag and write a checklist. Just let me know if you’re coming home tonight so I don’t have to worry.”
“Okay,” Leah said as her sister left the room. She picked up her mobile again. The unsent text stared up at her. Pressing her thumb down on the screen, she listened to the
and waited for the delivery
before hiding the phone in the back pocket of her jeans.
There was a pang of guilt as she told him she was going to be busy, and Maggie’s words nagged in her ears. Grabbing her bag, she shook away any worries and told her sister she was going shopping.
* * * *
The Mall was quiet for a Saturday. Leah’s heels clicked across the tiled floor as she made her way to the food court in search of a flavored coffee with lots of foam. Windows and walls were hung with signs promoting seasonal sales. A variety of colors screamed for attention, begging shoppers to peruse the end-of-line products. Leah felt the pull as she walked past a mannequin dressed in a slinky off-the-shoulder dress.
She stopped to gaze at the cobalt-blue garment. She imagined wearing it, could almost feel the soft fabric over her curves.
What the hell,
she thought to herself, walking into the shop and finding the dress on the hangers. She chose a size ten and draped it over her arm, running her fingers over the other dresses and skirts that hung close to it. Soon a red pencil skirt, sheer cream blouse, floral tea dress and animal print maxi had been added to the collection.
A young girl stood at the fitting room entrance, holding out a plastic hanger with the number five printed in white down the center. Leah smiled at the girl, and thought she recognized her. She looked young enough to be at school, but had added a layer of makeup to try to hide her youth.
The fitting room was cramped, giving Leah only enough room to change and turn around. She hung the outfits on the rack provided and dropped her bag to the floor, before stripping out of her jeans and top. She chose the cobalt dress first. Pulling it over her curves, she rearranged her bust and tugged the straps of her bra down, showing off the naked flesh of her shoulders.
Turning to face the full-length mirror, Leah admired her reflection. Toes pressed into the wooden floor, she pretended she was wearing a pair of heels and made a mental note to check out the shoes before she left.
Dressed in her own clothes, she scooped her prizes and took them to the counter. She handed over a credit card to the woman behind the till.
“Do you have a store card?” asked the woman. She was older than the fitting room girl, but not by much.
“No,” Leah said, avoiding eye contact so that she didn’t get asked to sign up for one. Grabbing the bags with her outfits, she left and headed for the nearest shoe shop.
It was almost three o’clock before her stomach started to grumble. She made her way to the food court, carrying several bags with more outfits, shoes and makeup than she needed. But spending the money had certainly removed the guilt she’d felt for lying to Ty.
She nursed a flavored coffee with an absurd amount of foam, watching teenagers start their summer holidays with a shopping trip free of parents. Leah picked up the cinnamon swirl that accompanied her drink, knocking a paper napkin to the floor. She bent down to pick it up. When his fingers brushed over hers, her stomach lurched forward.
“You don’t look busy.” Ty smiled, sliding into the seat opposite.
He handed the napkin to her and watched as she squirmed under his gaze. He was amused by her discomfort, and a smirk began to twitch at the corner of his lips. He eyed the bags by her legs. “Do you make a habit of overspending when you’re trying to avoid someone?” he asked.
“I wasn’t avoiding anyone,” she said, lifting the cup. He watched as she sipped the coffee, licking at the milky foam as it trailed her bottom lip.
“You lied to me.”
“No, I didn’t.” She put the cup back on its saucer and leaned into her chair. “Anyway, you’re stalking me.”
“No, I’m not.” He smiled. “I decided that if I was going to spend the day alone, I’d do it looking for a present for a friend. Imagine my surprise when I saw you, who is supposed to be busy, staring into space surrounded by a maxed-out credit card.” It was a fib more than an outright lie. He had been shopping for a present, but he wasn’t going to give it to her right then and there. It was too soon, and he wasn’t even sure if she would be a willing recipient yet. Time would tell, but at least he was prepared.
“How do you know I maxed it out?”
“You’re a teacher. You don’t get paid enough to warrant spending that much on clothes and shoes.”
“You’re a school caretaker, but own expensive suits, have invested money into a nightclub and own two houses.”
“Touché. Although technically one is a flat, not a house.”
“So we’re either both liars and absurdly rich, or have a spending problem.”
“I’m guessing yours is the latter,” he said with narrowed eyes.
“You don’t know me that well, so don’t presume too much.” She sipped the coffee again.
“What are you doing for the next six weeks?” he asked, relaxing.
“You know what I’m doing. House-hunting and enjoying a teenage-free life.”
“Why don’t we spend it getting to know each other a bit better? Outside of school, I mean.” He reached across the table and took her hand in his. “Then, when I catch you walking around with designer labels, or you see your name on the guest list of the latest club, we’ll know the truth.”
Leah smiled. “By getting to know each other better you mean—”
“I want to fuck you.” His tone was lower, harder and hotter. Something about her brought out his own self-assurance. “I want to go and find a corner, pull down those jeans and fuck you.” He felt her hands tremble under his palm, betraying her confident appearance. Her eyes widened, and as she parted her lips to inhale, his dick started to wake.
She cleared her throat and pulled away from his touch. “You have such a way with words.” As she stood and picked up her bags, he thought he’d blown it completely and was about to curse to himself, when she hesitated, glanced over her shoulder and smiled.
Ty pushed away from the table and walked quickly to catch up to her. He grabbed hold of her arm, turning her into him, and pressed his lips against hers. She tasted of spice and warmth. He placed an arm around her waist, placing his palm on her lower spine, pulling her into him.
“Are you still busy?” he asked as his hand slipped lower. He didn’t care that they stood in the middle of a shopping center. He’d meant what he said. Right then, right there, he would have dragged her to some shadowed corner and screwed her against the wall.
“No,” she whispered.
“Good.” His fingers found hers, looping around them and taking the bags from her grip. There was still little space between them as she handed over her spending spree. “There’s something I want you to see.”
Leah took a step back and looked him up and down. “Really?” she said, obviously trying to hide her amusement. “I think you’ll find I’ve already seen that.”
Ty shook his head and let out a small laugh. “Just follow me.”
For some reason, Leah felt compelled to do as he asked, and found herself handing over her bags and following in his footsteps. She silently scolded herself for being such a pushover, especially after all the promises she had made when she had moved in with Maggie and Neil. They went to her car and put her shopping in the boot before he told her to wait for him. It wasn’t long before he pulled up in his own car and insisted that she follow him again.
He led her down the streets of Bristol until they reached a listed building overlooking the waterfront and harbor. It was a ten-minute drive, and it was the longest ten minutes she had ever experienced.
He had more or less commanded that she follow him. As soon as he had said those words, as brutal as they had sounded, she had felt herself succumb to him. Her core began to quake at the thought of him doing exactly what he had said he was going to do, and had almost been surprised when he hadn’t made good on them.