Page 35 of What Lies Beneath

“I think it has more to do with the fact that I turned my cell phone off.”

“Not just silent? Actually off?” Cynthia nearly choked on her last bite of pretzel.


“Yes, off.” He was surprised she hadn’t noticed, since it was constantly making noise, but with the honking cabs and tourist crowds, she might not have heard it, even with it on.

“What’s that all about?” she asked, looking up to admire the sea of neon lights that surrounded them.

“You said I work too much. So I’m trying…something. It doesn’t stop me from looking at the blank screen periodically out of habit, but it’s a first step.”

Cynthia broke into a wide smile. “Before long, I’ll have you taking vacations and enjoying life outside the office.” She turned to face him and reached up to wrap her arms around his neck. “I appreciate the effort. I know how important the Observer is to you.”

He shrugged. “It is, but people are important, too. I’m trying to relax. Trying to enjoy my time with you.” Will looked down at her, her eyes reflecting the neon. His hands had been resting on her hips, but now they snaked around her waist to pull her tight.

Cynthia eased up onto her toes and closed the distance between them for a kiss. The moment their lips met, the sounds of the city faded away. There was only the feel of his hard chest pressed against her soft one, the sweet taste of her mouth and the warmth of her skin.

Will felt exposed standing on the sidewalk. He slowly eased Cynthia backward into an alcove in the façade between stores and pressed her back into the wall.

Now they had the freedom to let their hands roam. Her palms flattened against his chest, feeling and exploring. Her fingernails scratched at his skin through the cotton of his shirt, eliciting a growl from deep in his throat.

Will leaned against her until her soft body molded to every hard inch of him. She gasped when he pressed his arousal into her belly and he closed his eyes to block out everything but the sensation of it. His tongue glided across hers, his hand daring to slide up her side under her jacket to stealthily cup her breast through the thin cotton of her T-shirt.

“Excuse me.”

His eyes flew open as he took a step away from Cynthia. They both turned and found one of the city’s mounted police officers standing nearby. He looked down at them and shook his head as though he were expecting teenagers, not full-grown adults that could afford to do this at home.

“Times Square is a family place these days,” he said. “Why don’t you find a room somewhere?”

“Yes, Officer,” Will said as he attempted to mask the grin on his face.

The policeman tipped his hat and signaled to the horse to continue its path down the sidewalk.

Will turned to her, pressing her back against the wall, but not daring to kiss her again. If he started, he doubted he’d be able to stop a second time. “We’d better go home before you tempt me to do something to get us both arrested.” He spied a cab dropping someone off on the curb and waved it down.

Cynthia smiled and silently arched her back to grind against him one last time.

Will gritted his teeth together to keep a grip on his rapidly eroding control. “Get in the taxi, you minx.”

Eight

T he past few days, while passing in a blur, had been an exercise in restraint that Will could’ve done without. With the party looming close, Cynthia had become like an art exhibit in the Met. All he could do was admire her from a distance. He’d had a taste of her and he wanted more. With every day that passed by, the need within him built. Abstinence made the heart grow fonder, he mused.

They’d made a ritual of eating breakfast together in the morning before he left for work and she disappeared into her workroom. When he got home, he’d lure her away from the sewing machine for dinner. Once the dishes were cleared, she was back in her office working on her dress, despite his halfhearted attempts to lure her away. He was certain that if he’d been determined he could’ve succeeded, but he understood her drive. This dress was important to her like his paper was important to him. She wanted to do her best, and he didn’t want to distract her.

That didn’t mean he didn’t lie in bed each night listening to the sewing machine whirr and ache to hold her. Fortunately, his celibate streak was coming to an end. Tonight was the party, and Cynthia’s masterpiece would be revealed.

He slipped the last onyx stud through the buttonhole, adjusted his tie and shrugged on his black tuxedo jacket. Will glanced at his reflection in the mirror one last time, but things were as good as they were going to get.

Cynthia, however, had been in her bathroom for over an hour. He’d heard the water run, the blow-dryer and then a long silence where she was doing God knows what. He was glad he didn’t have to worry about makeup and fussy hairstyles. He’d stopped in for a haircut earlier in the week and shaved after his shower, and that was about it.

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