She opened her mouth and just as rapidly closed it, not sure if words or something a little less socially appropriate was still intent on coming out.

‘Ashleigh…’ He cleared his throat, his eyes dark and steady on hers. ‘Will you marry me?’

Jake stepped backwards as she lunged for the toilet bowl again and flinched as she gave another almighty heave.

She was right after all, he thought wryly as he rinsed out the hand towel yet again.

Maybe he did need a little polish on his proposal.

Ashleigh crawled into the shower a few minutes later, way beyond the point of caring that Jake was standing watching her shivering naked under the warm spray. She closed her eyes and let the water run over her, trying to concentrate on staying upright instead of sinking to the floor and disappearing down the drain, which her body seemed to think was a viable option.

‘You don’t look so good,’ Jake said.

She opened one bloodshot eye. ‘Thanks…just what a naked woman wants to hear.’

He smiled and reached for a big fluffy white bath sheet, holding it to one side as his other arm brushed past her breast to turn off the shower rose.

Ashleigh stepped into the soft towel he held out and didn’t even try and take over the drying of her body herself. Instead she stood like a helpless child as he gently dried her, the softness of the towel and his soothing, caress-like touch making her throat threaten to close over with emotion.

‘Do you want me to dry your hair for you?’ he asked once he’d wrapped her sarong-wise in a fresh dry towel. ‘There’s a hairdryer on the wall next to the shaving outlet. I’ve never done a blow job before but who knows? Like someone else I know, I might prove to have a natural flair.’


She rolled her eyes at him and then wished she hadn’t. ‘I think I might just lie down for a while…my head hurts.’

He pulled back the bed covers and she climbed in, closing her eyes as soon as her head found the feather-light pillow.

Jake stood watching her for endless moments, wondering if he should have called a doctor or something. But then he remembered what a hopeless head for alcohol she’d had in the past. One drink and she was practically under the table.

His conscience gave him a sharp little prod of recollection which he wanted to push away but couldn’t. She had held him off for two dates but on the third he had been so determined to have her that he hadn’t thought much beyond getting her clothes off any way he could…

He gave a rough-edged sigh and, before he could stop himself, gently brushed the back of his hand across the velvet softness of her cheek, the feel of her skin under his workroughened knuckles reminding him of the smooth cream of silk. She mumbled something he couldn’t quite catch and, curling up into an even smaller ball, nestled her cheek further into the pillow.

He reached for the bedside chair and sat in it heavily, his head dropping to his hands, his fingers splaying over his forehead.

It was going to be a long night.

Ashleigh woke sometime during the night, her head feeling surprisingly clear but her stomach instantly clamouring for food.

‘Did you say something?’ Jake’s voice came out of the darkness from the other side of the huge bed.

‘No…that was my stomach,’ she said, her insides giving another noisy rumble.

She felt the slight tilt of the mattress as he reached for the bedside lamp, her pupils shrinking a little when the soft light washed over her.

‘What did it say?’ he asked, his mouth curving into a small smile.

Don’t look below his neck, she warned herself.

‘It said it wants some food,’ she said, fiddling with the edge of the sheet that only just covered her breasts.

‘What sort of food?’ Jake got up from the bed and stretched. ‘Soup and toast or what about something greasy for a hangover cure?’

‘I don’t have a hangover,’ she said a little tightly.

She sensed rather than saw his smile as he reached for the phone.

‘Jake Marriott here, suite fourteen hundred,’ he said. ‘Can we have some bacon and eggs with a double side of fries?’

Ashleigh threw him a filthy look and he added, ‘No, no champagne with that order. We haven’t started on the other bottle yet.’ He hung up the phone and gave another big stretch, his biceps bulging as he raised his arms above his head, his stomach muscles rippling like rods of steel under a tightly stretched satin sheet.

‘Do you have to do that?’ she said irritably.

‘Do what?’ He rolled his shoulders and dropped his arms, his look totally guileless.

She pursed her mouth and edged the sheet a little higher. ‘You could at least put something on.’

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