Her halloween treat, p.16
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       Her Halloween Treat, p.16

         Part #1 of Men at Work series by Tiffany Reisz
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  hand.

  “I know exactly where we’re going.”

  “Then why did you take the right fork when the left fork leads to the lake?”

  “Because we’re not going to the lake just yet. I want to show you something.”

  Joey raised her eyebrow.

  “Not that,” he said. “You’ve already seen it.”

  “I know, but I never get tired of the view.”

  Chris laughed as he dragged her by the hand down the path. Sunlight trickled through the high canopy of towering Douglas firs and red cedar trees. Ferns and bear grass lined the edge of the trail like a soft green fence. The last week of rain had left the trails muddy and the air scented with pine and cedar and everything clean and alive. Impossible to walk this path with this woman and not give in to the voice of hope inside him that said even if Joey wouldn’t stay in Oregon for him, maybe she would stay for this day, this land, this mountain, this lake.

  “This cabin,” Chris said when they reached the end of the path. “Like it?”

  “Wow.” Joey let go of his hand and stepped into the clearing. “Oh, my God...”

  “Good reaction.”

  “It’s Thoreau’s cabin.”

  “Not quite, but close. I found pictures of it when I restored it and went off those.”

  Joey turned to face him, her dark eyes wide, her mouth slightly open. Took all his strength not to kiss the life out of her.

  “You did this?”

  “It was on its last legs,” Chris said. “It was either tear it down completely or rebuild it from the studs up. Seemed like a good contender for a stone facade.”

  “You did this?” she asked again. “All you?”

  “Not all me. I hired a few subcontractors. But the redesign was all me.”

  “It’s incredible. I used to dream about living in a cottage like this.”

  “I know. You had pictures of those Carmel-by-the-Sea fairy-tale cottages on your Wonder Wall.”

  “You remember my Wonder Wall?”

  “I remember hating Oasis and rolling my eyes that you called your collage in your room your ‘Wonder Wall.’”

  “I was fourteen. I didn’t even know who Oasis was. I just liked the song. And what were you doing peeking at my dream collage, anyway?”

  “I wanted to see if I was on it.”

  “Were you?”

  “No. Harry Potter was.”

  “I’d still spread for Daniel Radcliffe.”

  “Do you want to see inside this cabin or do you want to make me puke?” he asked.

  “I want to see inside.”

  He took her by the hand again and led her up the cobblestone path to the front door. He’d found some photos online of stone cabins and cottages and had painted the windowsills bright red with a red front door.

  “We went to Carmel when I was a kid,” she said. “Best vacation. I loved all those little houses.”

  “You sent me a postcard.”

  “I did?”

  “You don’t remember?”

  “I sent tons of postcards,” she said.

  “I feel so special.”

  She looked at him and smiled. “You are special.”

  “Write it on a postcard. Maybe then I’ll believe that.”

  Joey wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him long and hard on the mouth. Tongue was involved. Very involved.

  “Now do you feel special?” she asked.

  “The special-est. Now stop kissing me so I can find the keys.”

  She stepped back and he dug around in his pockets, producing a key ring of many, many keys.

  “How many houses do you have?”

  “I have keys to all the Lost Lake properties,” he said, flipping to the key with the red tag. “I’m Dillon’s personal handyman.”

  “Thought that was Oscar.”

  “I’m going to tell them both you said that.”

  He stuck the key in the lock, opened the door, and like the gentleman he usually wasn’t, he let Joey in first. He flipped on the light switch and shut the door behind them.

  “It’s not finished,” he said. “We had to focus on the exterior and the roof before the weather turned.”

  Joey stood in the center of house and spun in one complete circle.

  “It’s so beautiful I can’t even believe it’s real. I thought you worked a miracle with Mom and Dad’s old cabin. This is...”

  “This is what it looked like.” Chris pulled out his phone and scrolled until he found his pictures.

  “Holy...”

  “More like hole-y. Mouse holes everywhere. Holes in the floor. Holes in the roof. It’s a slate roof now.”

  “I have no idea what that is but it looks awesome. The whole place looks like my dream come true.”

  Chris only nodded, proud of his handiwork. The work spoke for itself. He’d put in cedar paneling, diamond rectangle windows by either side of the fireplace, and replaced the old crumbling stone fireplace with red brick to match the windowsills and door. All lighting came from wall sconces he’d picked up at thrift stores and vintage shops and he’d bought the rug on the floor from a local weaver who called herself a “fiber artist,” whatever that was. She made damn good rugs.

  “I’m glad you like it,” Chris said. It was all he could think to say. Joey made him feel all kinds of something—proud and speechless and embarrassed and in love all at once. The less he said, the better. Otherwise, he might let it slip that he was in love with her already.

  “I love it. I just... I absolutely love it.”

  “I’m glad. I wanted you to see it. Maybe you can stay in this cabin next time you’re in town.”

  “That’s the second time in thirty minutes you mentioned me coming back to town.”

  “Just saying...you should visit more often.”

  “Or move back?”

  “I didn’t say that.”

  “Chris, I can’t stay. We talked about this.”

  “I didn’t ask you to stay. I’m just showing you how nice it is here so maybe you’ll visit more often. That’s all.”

  “I’ll visit more often or I’ll stay?”

  “No comment. But...do you want to see the other eight houses we own? The other eight cabins I turned into cabins like this?” He grinned at her wickedly.

  “That’s so not fair.”

  “When you visit again you can stay in any of our cabins that aren’t booked.”

  “If the other cabins are half as beautiful as this one, you won’t have any trouble at all keeping them booked,” Joey said.

  “That’s probably true. They are pretty damn good cabins.”

  “I’m sure they are.”

  “Although they do need a good decorator.”

  “Now you’re just being evil.”

  Chris laughed. “I knew that would get you. I remember you were always making me and Dillon move furniture for you.”

  “Never give a fourteen-year-old girl a book on feng shui.”

  “You see anything missing from this cabin?”

  “Furniture. Dishes. A manual typewriter.”

  “A manual typewriter?”

  “Yes.” She pointed at an empty wall. “This cabin...it looks like Thoreau’s on Walden Pond. I’d market this cabin as an artist’s retreat. You couldn’t comfortably sleep more than two people in here, anyway, right?”

  “Two hundred square feet. Pretty tight fit.”

  “But one artist or one writer...perfect. I’d market direct to artist colonies and MFA programs. People who paint en plein air and people who dreamed of writing a book and never got around to starting one. You put a big wooden desk over here. Manual typewriter here. Some inspirational artwork on the walls. A bookcase here with dictionaries and stuff like that.”

  “People can get dictionaries online.”

  “No.” She shook her head. “Not online. This cabin shouldn’t have internet access. None.”

  “None?”

  “None. No distractions. No intern
et. No Wi-Fi. No television. Only one phone, the kind with cords and dial tones. And maybe a radio but an old radio. Art deco style. Can you get any cell service out here?”

  Chris pulled out his phone again and checked the bars.

  “None.”

  “See? Perfect writer retreat. I can see it now.”

  “So...fewer amenities? This is your advice?”

  “People go on vacation to get away from it all. Now because of the internet and cell phones, all that ‘all’ they’re trying to get away from comes with them. Go after the people who really want to get away. The people who just want nothing more than to be on a mountain in the woods by a lake, surrounded by all the beauty—”

  “You’re talking about me, right? I know. You don’t have to say it.”

  “Surrounded by natural beauty—which you are...yes, it’s helped. It’s helped more than I can say. You can’t run away from your problems but you can leave them for a while. I think that’s what this place should be. This little Lost Lake Village cabin here? Make it a real sanctuary. Going a few days without the internet and CNN never killed anyone, but it probably could save someone’s sanity. Or marriage. Or inspire someone to finally write that first page of their novel.”

  “Even my dad says he wants to write a book someday about his tour in the army. And sometimes I leave my phone in the truck overnight just to be left alone. I can see it working.”

  “Everybody thinks they want to write a book. Or paint. Or write nature poetry. Or just get away from the world for a while. Away from Twitter and Facebook and all the noise. A tiny cabin in the woods with no internet access, no TV... People would pay a premium for that. There are already hotels popping up that cater to those people. Why not a cabin at Lost Lake? Get lost to find yourself.”

  “Get lost to find yourself. There’s our slogan. That’s fucking genius, Jo.”

  “Thank you.” She playfully brushed her hair off her forehead. “This is why they pay me those big marketing bucks.”

  “And you wonder why Dillon wants to hire you.”

  “I know why he wants to hire me—because he’s a genius. But I’ve already got a job. I can help while I’m here, though. So...today and tomorrow?”

  “Great. I can give you the company credit card to go buy all the stuff we need. The desk, the typewriter, dictionaries, anything you think would work.” Maybe if Joey got to play at doing the job for one day she’d realize it was what she should be doing. Maybe. Hopefully. Worth a shot, right?

  “You’d let me buy whatever I want for this cabin?”

  “I remember your Wonder Wall. You have a good eye,” Chris said. And a good everything else.

  “I know something good when I see it,” she said, walking over to him.

  “Do you?”

  “Obviously I do.” She put her hands on his shoulders and kissed the side of his neck. Chris closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

  Chris ran his hands down her back. She felt warm through her sweater, warm and right. She belonged here. Not here in Oregon. Not here in Lost Lake. Not here in this cabin. But here, in his hands. Her body. His hands. That’s where Joey belonged.

  “I should withhold sex until you agree to come back and visit me. Like, ASAP.”

  “That would probably work right about now,” she said. “I might agree to anything if you told me you wouldn’t sleep with me again until I agreed to it.”

  “I wish I were that tough.”

  “You’re not?”

  “Nope...” He pulled her to him and turned her in one swift motion. “I’m weak. So weak.”

  He took her by the wrists and lifted her arms, pressing her wrists into the wall. Joey playfully struggled against him and gave up quickly.

  “If this is your version of weak...”

  “What about it?” he asked.

  “Then I love it when you’re weak.”

  Chris kissed her hard enough to make her whimper. He wasn’t the sort of man who believed in luck. Hard work? Yes. Good timing? Sure. But pure dumb luck? Not until now. Once upon a time he picked a desk at random in a classroom on the first day of school and the desk next to him was claimed by a guy named Dillon wearing a Pearl Jam shirt and it felt like destiny. And now, years later, here he was, kissing the most beautiful woman the world, about to have sex with the most beautiful woman in the world, madly in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. And she’d leave him in three days. So not only did Chris believe in luck, he believed in bad luck.

  But for now all he’d think about was the good luck that brought Joey and him here—what they had in the moment, not what they’d lose in three days. And maybe, just maybe, if he made this good enough for her, she would stay. Wishful thinking? Yeah, but what other choice did he have?

  Chris slid his hands under her sweater and unclasped her bra in the back. He knew his hands were cold—the cabin itself was chilly—and it gave him a perverse sort of pleasure to put his cold fingers onto her bare breasts. She gasped, shivered and laughed.

  “Asshole...” she said.

  “Just warming up my hands. Do you mind?” He took her breasts in his hands and lightly kneaded them. He brushed his thumbs over her nipples and they hardened. This was a woman who loved being touched and he was a man who loved touching her. Obviously they belonged together.

  He lifted her shirt and bent his head to lick her right nipple. Her hands twined in his hair and she held him against her breast as he sucked her and sucked her. Both of his hands held and squeezed both of her breasts. He couldn’t get enough of them, enough of her. While he distracted her by grazing her nipple with this teeth, he unbuttoned her jeans and pushed down the zipper.

  “Don’t you dare put your cold fingers on my—”

  That was as far as she got before he slipped his hand into her panties and touched her clitoris.

  The sound she made could be replicated only by a bird or a dog whistle. He had no idea humans could make sounds in a register that high. Impressive. Amazing the windows didn’t shatter.

  “You’re a monster.” She sighed.

  “I know.”

  “The worst.”

  “The absolute worst,” he agreed. He rubbed her the way he knew she liked, softly in a circle. She moved with his hand and he felt her clitoris swelling. Gently he eased a finger back and inside her, touching her wetness. He loved that wetness, loved that he could do that to her, for her. When she was wet like this, he could slide his fingers deep into her. And she wasn’t just wet, she was hot inside. He caressed the front wall of her vagina and felt her inner muscles clenching at his fingers. He pulled his finger out of her and rubbed the wetness onto her clitoris. Joey cried out, close to coming. She clung to his shoulders, her nails digging in hard enough he could feel them through the thick flannel fabric of his shirt. His erection was already trying to get his attention. He ignored it for now.

  “Pure...evil...” She panted the words as he stroked her with one hand while the other eased her jeans down her hips, down her thighs. Finally, he just gave up and pushed them to the floor. Joey kicked off her shoes and sent her pants flying halfway across the
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