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Hot buttered rum standal.., p.17
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       Hot Buttered Rum: Standalone Romance (Silk Stocking Inn Book 4), p.17

           Tess Oliver

  I sobbed several times and then swallowed hard to pull myself together. I continued on the path to the back of the house. “Grayson,” I yelled loudly, but there was no response.

  I rounded the far corner of the house but came up against a line of shrubs that were impossible to pass.

  I spun around and screamed as I smacked into a large figure standing behind me. My first instinct was to pound the man with my fists. He caught my hands up fast.

  “Jessi, Jess, it’s me.”

  The biting cold and the sheer terror of being completely alone and helpless had gotten to me. I fell into Grayson’s arms and cried. He swept me up and carried me to the house. Every part of me was shaking uncontrollably. We reached the porch and he lowered my feet to the floor.

  I’d finally gained some composure, something I’d taught myself to do quickly. Looking fragile was never helpful in the corporate world.

  As wet as I was, Grayson looked as if he’d just dragged himself out of a muddy lake. Dirt and plant debris was plastered all over his skin and shirt.

  The storm seemed to be losing energy, and the rain had fizzled to a heavy spitting mist. The wind still produced enough force to send an icy chill through me. I tried to control the tremble in my chin to speak. But it was no use.

  Grayson reached for the door and I slipped inside. He stepped in behind me. We were both leaving a sizable puddle on the entryway rug.

  “Why the heck did you go out in that terrible weather, Jessi? You could have gotten hurt.”

  I looked down at my bloody legs. “Seems that way.”

  He saw my knees for the first time. “Ah hell, Jessi, let’s get you cleaned up.”

  “I’m fine. They’re just scrapes.”

  “It was silly of you to go out there dressed like this.”

  Light, warmth and his scolding tone revived me some. “I was out looking for you. Where the hell were you? Where’s the yellow rain slicker? No wonder I couldn’t find you out there. You were checking on a tarp, but you were gone long enough to rebuild the whole damn roof.”

  “Coco’s garden was flooding. I decided to dig a trench around it to lead the water away from her plants.”

  “You should have told me. I thought something had happened to you, and I was all alone—” My voice sounded shaky, and I hated that I couldn’t sound more in control.

  “You were worried about me, Jessi?” he asked with a grin. He reached for my arm, but I pulled it from his reach. I was still too shaken by it all to play nice. I was done acting the helpless female.

  “Don’t flatter yourself, Grayson.” With that, I spun around and left wet footprints behind as I climbed the stairs to my room.

  Chapter 16

  A warm bath had helped me settle and even though I was feeling a little silly about my stomp off, I was still not in the mood to apologize. Grayson had obviously seen how upset I was, but his cocky behavior in the midst of it all had angered me.

  I ran my hands through the bubbles. Of course, the fact that he had first terrified me and then angered me only assured me that I’d developed feelings for him, feelings that went past the amazing sex. I never wasted emotional energy on someone unless they were important to me. I sat up and lifted myself out of the warm cloak of water. The bathroom was steamy with the soapy mist. My limbs had finally thawed, the storm had petered out and I was feeling better. The only thing that was weighing heavy on my mind and my heart was the reality that tomorrow was Sunday, and I would be leaving the Silk Stocking Inn. It seemed that Grayson and I would have to have some kind of conversation about us, about this thing we’d started. At the same time, I felt a cold dread in knowing full well that this had probably just been a weekend of sex for him. I was sure he’d probably just kiss me good-bye without a word of seeing me again. That terrible thought brought back some of the chill warmed by the bath.

  I would have to see how our good-bye went and not jump to any conclusions yet. If it seemed he had no further interest in me, then I would accept it and leave here with my chin up. I never groveled, especially when it came to relationships. I would just pick myself up, drive away and try to catalog this weekend as a fun splurge. Right. Who was I kidding? I was obviously a naive novice at this kind of inhibition free weekend.

  I patted myself dry and pulled on the nightie and satiny robe. I walked out to the bedroom, feeling gloomy and wanting to kick myself. It was that damn fog, and those delicious red velvet cupcakes and this beautiful inn and mysterious but wonderful hostess. And, of course, I couldn’t forget the incredibly irresistible man. Then, as if my thoughts had spoken to him through the door, he knocked.

  “Yes?” I said trying to use a brusque tone, but with little luck.

  The door cracked open. His hand came through with a plate on his palm. A slice of apple pie sat on top and instantly, filled my room with the scent of cinnamon. I couldn’t hold back a smile.

  “In case the pie isn’t enough—” His second hand followed with a can of whipping cream. “I’m especially partial to the kind of whipped cream that comes shooting out of a can. It could be used on any kind of dessert.” He poked his head around the door. “Still too bold?” he asked.

  I walked over and took the plate from his hand. “Maybe, but the pie was a very smart tactical move. I’m still on the fence about the whipped cream. But I might be open to negotiation if it’s used just right.”

  Grayson stepped into the room. He’d pulled on dry jeans and a t-shirt. His wet hair was combed back off his face. Sometimes it was hard to believe how perfectly handsome he was.

  I straightened my shoulders, lifted my chin and snatched the can of cream from his hand. I gave the pie an ample squirt. I stopped, leaned my head back and let a swirl of the sweet cream fall into my mouth. He watched with full attention as I dragged my tongue across my bottom lip to lick it off. I handed him back the can. Ten seconds in the man’s presence and I was already back to wild flirt mode.

  I strolled over to the dresser, making sure to swing my hips just enough, and leaned against it to eat my pie.

  “Jessi, I’m sorry I didn’t let you know that I was out digging the trench. It was rude of me to leave you alone so long.”

  I swallowed a bite of pie. It was, as expected, delicious. “That’s all right. I may have overreacted. Thunderstorms don’t exactly bring out the best in me.”

  He walked closer. “Must be some way I can make it up to you.”

  I dropped my fork on the plate as he took hold of my wrist. He lifted the can and sprayed a small dollop of cream on the back of my hand and then took his time licking it off. Naturally, my entire body responded in predictable fashion. My nipples pressed against the smooth fabric of the nightie, a physical reaction that didn’t escape his notice.

  He took the plate from my hand and placed it on the dresser behind me. He stood right in front of me, ripples of heat flowing between us as he pushed the robe off my shoulders. It slipped to the floor in a satiny heap.

  Grasyon nodded his dark head at the can in his hand. “I think I’m ready for that dessert.” He pulled the top of my nightie down to expose my breast. He pressed the plastic nozzle on the whipped cream can. A squirt of air came with it, and instead of a nice curly dollop, sticky white specks of whipped cream covered my face, chest and hair.

  “Oh shit.” Grayson started wiping the spots up with his fingers. “I always pictured that working better.”

  I peered up at him. “So, you are telling me you’re a whipped cream virgin?”

  We laughed as he took hold of my hand and led me to the bathroom. “Come, sweet darlin’. I’d lick it all off of you”—he looked back at me—“which was my original plan, but I’m pretty sure the whole thing would be a helluva a lot less sexy than I imagined.”

  We walked into the bathroom. The mirror was still coated with the condensa
tion caused by my warm bath. The tub hadn’t drained completely. “Damn, there goes my idea of both of us climbing in the bath together.” He turned me so that my back faced the vanity.

  His strong hands circled my waist, and he lifted me up to sit on the counter. Then he grabbed the washcloth I’d hung over the towel rack. He wet it with warm water and took his time dotting the specks of sticky cream off my skin. His tender ministrations made me smile, and again, I felt that uncertain tug at my heart, a sure sign that my feelings for him were growing. I had no idea what tomorrow would bring, but for tonight I was going to enjoy my time with Grayson.

  His lids seemed to grow heavier as he focused on cleaning my shoulders and neck. “I guess I could lick a little. After all, I’ve got one hell of a sweet tooth, and there just isn’t anything sweeter than you, Jessi.”

  The feel of his tongue running along the top of my shoulder made me giggle. “You just sprayed me, freshly washed, I might add, with whipped cream or whatever it is they fill that aerosol can with. You’re going to have to do a lot better than corny, cliché lines about me being sweet, mister.”

  He straightened and lifted his dark brow at me. “Cliché? I’ll have you know that is the first time I’ve ever used that line on any woman.”

  “Thank god.”

  He tossed the washcloth in the sink. “Are you making fun of me, darlin’? I don’t know if I like your attitude.” He reached around and pulled my ass so that I moved closer to the edge of the vanity. “Maybe you just need a different, less corny approach.”

  His hands trailed up my inner thighs, and he quickly discovered I wasn’t wearing panties. His deep voice dropped to a lower, gritty tone. “Damn, you’re naked down here.” He took no time dragging his thick fingers through the hot moisture pooling in my pussy. He lifted his hungry gaze to my face. “See, baby, you are sweet, sweet as fucking whipped cream.”

  I leaned back and braced my hands against the marble tile of the vanity. He jammed the nightie up to the top of my legs and spread my thighs wide. He pulled my ass right to the edge. With mild frustration, he fished a condom from his back pocket. He looked at it with a scowl. “One of these days soon, darlin’ I’m going to fuck you without this damn shield.” In a furious few seconds, he had his pants down around his legs and the condom rolled on.

  Grasyon took gently hold of my face and kissed me long and hard. His hands slid down my body. He wrapped his hands around my bottom and held me securely as he drove himself into me.

  I leaned my head back. My arms wobbled beneath me as I braced myself to meet his thrusts. I curled my legs around him to hold him close against me as he dug his cock into me deeper with each movement of his hips.

  My eyes were closed. I startled for a fleeting second as he pushed his hand between our bodies and found the tight nub of my clit. My involuntary mewls echoed off the tile walls as he brought me easily to climax.

  “Hell, Jessi, when you come it makes me want to stay planted deep inside of you forever.”

  I could barely keep my hands beneath my body as he rocked hard against me. Then his grasp on me tightened and a deep growl followed as his body hardened between my legs and he came.

  I sat forward and threw my arms around his neck. “You are forgiven for scaring the heck out of me and for being cocky about it and for spraying me with whipped cream.” I kissed him. “Stay the night with me, Grayson.”

  “Thought you’d never ask.”

  Chapter 17

  It was that whispery quiet time in the middle of the night that fell once everything, even the night critters, had slipped back into their dens and perches to rest. There was no chalky dawn sun seeping around the corners of the window curtains, but the darkness was slowly dissolving.

  It was the third time that Grayson had wrapped his arms around me to pull me, content and warm with him in my bed, from a deep, luxurious sleep to make love to me again. I should have been tired and annoyed, but I was far from it. Each time, I wanted it just as badly as him.

  His hand swept along my naked body, and he stopped to caress my breasts. I rolled onto my back and stretched my arms up above my head, making sure to push my nipples harder against his mouth as he leaned down over me. He nibbled them in a way that made me shiver with delight.

  He reached up and pressed my hands against the ornate iron head board. I gripped my fingers around the metal.

  “Don’t move,” he growled low in my ear.

  He scooted down and positioned himself between my legs. His hands slid beneath my ass, and he lifted my pussy up to his mouth. I was tender and raw, but as his mouth gently kissed me, I purred contentedly.

  “Monday mornings would sure be a lot easier if I woke up to this,” I sighed. I said it in a moment of delirium, with his mouth pressed against me and his tongue sending pulses of pleasure through me, but it suddenly made me feel sad. How amazing would it be to have a man like Grayson to wake up to every morning.

  I reached down and tangled my fingers in his hair, pulling on it lightly to urge him to come forward. “I want you inside of me, Grayson. Now. Please.”

  Reluctantly, he lifted his mouth from my pussy. He rolled on a condom and lowered himself down over me. He took hold of both my hands and held them down on the pillow next to my head, holding me firmly, completely in his control. I groaned in pleasure at the idea of being completely his in bed.

  He pushed my legs wider and settled between my thighs. Then slowly, he pushed inside of me. I tried to move my arms to touch him, to hold onto him as he moved inside of me, but he held my hands down. His physical power was always made more evident when his broad shoulders and thick arms were flexed and tight as he leaned down over me. The sheer thought of his strength made heat surge through me.

  With perfect inconsistency, as he held me secure in his hands and thrust himself inside of me, he leaned down to kiss me tenderly on the mouth. It was a moment of intimacy I would never forget. It was everything I wanted, and all in one extraordinary package. Too good to be true was my last thought as my body shuddered in climax beneath him. He came just seconds later, our bodies growing more and more in tune with each other.

  Moments later, I was curled comfortably against his chest with his strong arms wrapped around me. As I drifted off, I quietly wished that I would never wake from this dream.

  Chapter 18

  It was obvious from the flood of light in the room, even with mostly closed drapes, that I’d slept well into the morning. I stretched and was reminded of the long, sensual night by the ache between my thighs. I rolled over, hoping to find Grayson still sleeping next to me. But the bed was empty. He was, more than likely, outside inspecting and repairing the storm damage.

  I took my time getting out of bed, feeling extraordinarily lazy and still a little groggy from being woken every few hours. I would definitely not be starting my work week feeling refreshed by the weekend. Ugh, work. And a new position with even more responsibility. It was going to be hard to leave behind my indulgent weekend. That thought brought me to the other big worry. Was this the last I would see of Grayson? Would he ask for my number and arrange to see me again, or would he be relieved that his weekend fling was returning to the city?

  I put my feet on the floor. The first thing I saw was my suit, the one I’d arrived in, clean and pressed, hanging from a hook on the door. Coco, the world’s best hostess, had taken the time to have my suit cleaned. She was so incredible. I would insist on paying her for the weekend. She’d provided me not only with a charming room but with food and even a wardrobe.

  The aroma of coffee permeated the room signaling that she had returned from her sister’s house. I would get dressed and hurry down to see her and find a way to repay her. I stood up out of bed and saw a plate with a plump blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee. A swirl of steam curled up from the cup. It was still hot. Yet another mystery.

nbsp; I walked to the dresser. There was a handwritten note under the cup. It was from Coco.

  “Dearest Jessica,

  I hope you enjoyed your stay at the Silk Stocking Inn. My sister wasn’t feeling too well, so I’m staying with her for several days. Turn left at the massive oak tree on the corner, and you’ll find your way back to the city. It’s been a pleasure having you as my guest.”

  Yours truly,


  I stared at the note. It was short and concise, and it left me feeling sad. I wouldn’t see Coco again. Just like that, she’d left without even saying good-bye.

  I showered and got dressed in my own clothes and my terribly impractical high heels. The house seemed especially quiet, and I hadn’t once heard the sound of a hammer or table saw.

  I grabbed my purse and walked out into the hallway. I knocked on Grayson’s bedroom door. It hadn’t been latched and it opened. I looked inside. The room was clean and in perfect order. There was no sign of Grayson, or his belongings, for that matter. The scene was the same inside the bathroom across the hall. It looked untouched as if no one had used it in days. My stomach knotted up with the bitter prospect that he’d gone without a good-bye.

  I walked down the stairs. Aside from the usual creaks and moans of the old house, it was eerily silent. My heart was thudding in my chest and an icy sense of utter disappointment fell over me. I stepped outside the back door. It was treacherous navigating the muddy yard in my horrid heels, but I made my way around to the side of the house where Grayson had been working. The sight I came upon felt like a slap in the face. The ladder was gone. The tools were gone. The man was gone. And without one word. I’d been played like a fool.

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