I could just call him out on it. I’d come close multiple times. Made enough offhand remarks to understand that he wasn’t interested in discussing it. In our relationship, this was the only hitch. The only thing that gave me pause. Was it worth chasing down?
I walked to the bathroom and looked into the mirror. Ran my fingers over my lips, the surface still tender from the rough passion that Brett exhibited. I was a pretty girl; I knew that. A little heavy, but Momma called it ‘curvy,’ so it worked. Brett had never made me feel anything but gorgeous. Never gave me any reason to doubt his loyalty or attraction. Yet there were these nights. History had taught me that he wouldn’t return for hours, his location unknown. I wondered if he had taken out a hotel car, or if he stayed on location. Given the apparent violence in Jamaica, I guessed he was still at the resort, especially since his clients were staying here. I opened the closet door and ran my hands across the hangers. All dresses I’d worn for him before. My glamorous outfit selection was pretty thin, my budget not big enough to expand it. Brett had tried to take me shopping, but I’d held him off. Maybe later. For now, these four dresses did the job. I tapped a finger along the fabric.
I should go back to bed. Stare at the ceiling and let my mind explore all sorts of possibilities. Blink some. Maybe reward myself with some bottled water if I got through an hour without pulling any hair out.
Instead I tugged at the closest hanger, withdrawing the red mini-dress. I stared at it for a moment, then hung it on the towel rod and pulled off my T-shirt.
God, I was too old for this shit. I waved a hand before my face in an attempt to break through the smoke, a futile move, the smog parting only to re-attack. I coughed, stepping farther inside, and looked around. Tops of heads, that was all that I saw, crammed into this club like sardines. Behind me, a body brushed by, a male hand taking a liberal journey of my ass. I tried to spin, tried to glare, but the press of bodies fought against me, moving me deeper into the throng. Twentysomethings everywhere, all showing tan skin and carrying drinks, one bump sloshing half a beer across my wrist. I shook my hand and tried to look for an out. Didn’t they have fire codes in this country? Heaven forbid an emergency occurred. I felt a bit of claustrophobia at the thought, and took a few shallow breaths, counting to five and forcing myself forward. I can’t go back. Maybe I can go through.
It didn’t make sense. Why, in the name of boat sales everywhere, would he meet with clients here? But I’d just walked through the other areas of the hotel, everything closed with the exception of this club. He had to be here, in this place where no conversation could be had, a place where sexuality and alcohol seemed to be the only game in town.
Forget finding Brett. I couldn’t take another minute of this; it wasn’t worth it. I just wanted to be back in the quiet of our room, with a working remote and fresh air. I could do secret reconnaissance at another resort, at another time. Preferably in a place where the locals didn’t stare me down like my breasts were made of gold, equal parts hatred and interest in their eyes. I stopped being polite and started to push through the crowd, aiming for the closest wall, not hearing my name until it was screamed at close range.
I tried to look, but could only crane my neck so far, my attempt ending when a strong hand wrapped around my wrist and yanked me right, through a dancing couple, and into the hard chest of Brett. His other arm wrapped around my back, holding me in place, tight to his body, the crowd closing in. I looked up into his face, his eyes glaring down at me as if I had done something wrong. He lowered his head to my ear, his words barely discernible. “What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for you!” I shouted the words, the music’s beat stealing them away. He pulled back enough to see my eyes, then lowered his mouth back to my ear.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“Why?” This time I matched his glare. Fine. This was where this would happen.
“It’s dangerous. Go back to the room.”
I laughed. It may have been a mistake. His eyes flashed in a way I’d never seen. A new level of anger. A shriek of surprise came out when he picked me up, underneath my knees and arms, curling me against his chest and shouldering us through the crowd, my kicking heels bumping strangers, my left hand hooking around his neck to protect my head while I pounded on his chest with my other hand. “Let me down!” I yelled in his ear, his face unresponsive, dark stubbornness on it as he plowed through the crowd.
Our combined bulk broke through the bodies and backed through a door set into the wall, the music muffled in the dark hall where we ended up. I was finally free, my legs released without warning, right before he pinned me against the wall, his other hand braced next to my head. He waited for the door to swing shut, the hall quieting to a level where shouting was not necessary.
“Now,” he spoke slowly and tightly, “tell me what the fuck you planned to accomplish by coming here tonight.”
I bristled, trying to straighten off the wall, his hand pressing against my chest and easily keeping me in place. “I didn’t think I needed a reason to come see my boyfriend.”
“You think this is a game?” he thundered. “Girls disappear from this resort all the time. Just now, I carried you through that crowd, you were screaming bloody murder, and not one person gave it a second look. What if it hadn’t been me? What if it had been someone else? Someone who carried you into this hall and raped you? Killed you?” His gaze moved down, my face flushing at the realization that my dress, due to his carry, had ridden up to almost my waist.
“Jesus Christ, Riley,” he groaned, his voice softening, his hand leaving the wall to run up my thigh. “I can see your fucking panties.” He slipped his hand underneath the dress, caressing the skin of my hip before moving to the front, my hand grabbing his wrist before it moved lower. If he touched me, I was done. I knew it; it’d happened too many times before. He’d learned every button I had and just how to push them. If he wanted to, he could fuck me right here in this hall, and I wouldn’t be able to say a word to stop it. Despite being mad at him. Despite not wanting to want it.
“Stop.” I pressed on his wrist, resisted its movement.
His head came up, his eyes meeting mine. “Tell me you don’t want it.”
“I don’t want it.”
He stepped closer, sliding his fingers under the top of my panties, my fight against the movement futile, my strength no match for his, his eyes tight on mine as his fingers slid over the thin patch of hair and pressed inside of me. I closed my eyes, sank a little against the wall, my legs spreading slightly on their own accord.