Ace found humor in Ellen’s serious nature and entered his suite with a smile. The shades had been pulled, he noted, with aromatic candles placed strategically around the room. An array of oils were positioned on a nearby table. New age music wafted from an iPod. Five minutes and Ellen had turned the master suite into a spa room.
He removed the robe, tossed it on the bed and climbed aboard a table, which, surprisingly, was as light, sturdy and comfortable as Ellen had claimed. As he settled himself between the sheets, a sound resembling a knock reached his ears. He paused and heard a muted conversation. Probably the housekeeper. Ace settled himself beneath the sheet, placed his head into the headrest and anticipated with pleasure a much-needed massage.
A moment later, there was a knock on his door. “Come in.”
“Yes, Ellen. I’m ready. Come on in.”
“Just relax. Close your eyes.”
Ace’s brow furled. The voice sounded deeper, forced, her accent more pronounced. He dismissed the suspicion as quickly as it came. In his twenty-nine years he’d learned to question everything. But he was on vacation at a reputable, first-class resort and spa in a town he’d not heard of until clicking the link. If there was any place he could relax and feel safe it was here, in Temecula, California, in a bungalow named after a wine.
Two seconds after Ellen moved toward him, the frown returned. There was a smell—citrusy, spicy—that had not been there moments before. While most men wouldn’t have noticed, Ace had always been a lover of fragrance, especially when inhaled from the skin of a fine woman. Had Ellen whipped out the perfume before reentering his boudoir? Was there a little freak behind the formal facade? He almost laughed out loud. Still, his senses, especially those of smell and sound, were heightened in the darkened room. The music shifted from a haunting, piano-driven melody to a sensuous-sounding serenade led by a sultry sax. He heard hands being rubbed briskly together to warm up the oil. Felt the slightest of hesitations before two soft palms pressed against his upper back. Small hands. Smaller than he’d imagined Ellen’s would be. Softer, too. The oil was warm and soothing. Expert fingers began to knead the healing oil into his skin, across his back and shoulders. He closed his eyes, told himself he’d earned the right to relax.
Her fingers were slender but surprisingly strong. She massaged and nudged and kneaded his tight muscles into submission and glided her palms softly, slowly, almost lovingly, across his body. A swirl of air kissed his skin as the sheet was pulled lower, exposing the dimples just above his hard butt. Palms came together briskly. Ace could feel the heat of them hovering just above his buns.
Come on, Ellen. Don’t get shy now!
She didn’t. Not at all. Instead she pulled the sheet down farther, exposed his cheeks and slapped his bare ass.
“What the—” A shocked Ace turned and sat up in a single motion. “London?”
London was smiling, but his expression made her laugh out loud.
“Where’s Ellen? How…” The sheet slid to the floor. Ace cupped his hands over, well, as much of himself as he could.
London tried to stop laughing. “Don’t worry about that, big boy. Nothing I haven’t seen before. Besides, there’s no modesty in modeling. You know that.”
He rolled off the table, reached for the sheet and hurriedly wrapped it around him, totally flustered. “What are you doing here?”
“Until a second or two ago, I thought I was giving you a darn good massage.”
“This isn’t funny, London. How’d you get in my room?”
London was as calm as Ace was rattled. She sat on the four-poster king-size bed and leaned back on her elbows. “You’re not happy to see me?”
Though she appeared to him as a vision of pure loveliness, he looked at her like she’d grown a horn in the middle of her forehead. “It’s not about being happy or not. My being here is supposed to be confidential. How’d you know I was here?”
“I have my ways. It’s not like I’m a stranger, Ace. I’m a friend, who you’re treating quite rudely at the moment.”
“Forgive my lack of manners, London, but I thought a hotel employee just smacked my ass and then found out, no, the therapist has been knocked off by a friend of mine who broke into my room!”