‘Did I forget to mention I’m an insomniac?’ he murmured.
She arched into his caress as he ran his hand down the length of her spine.
Somehow she found the energy to rise to her knees. Somehow she was filled with a freedom and a playfulness she hadn’t ever felt.
‘What a shame for you…’
She pushed him so he rolled onto his back and straddled him, leaning forward so she could whisper against his mouth.
‘And a bonus for me…’
JACK HADN’T BEEN kidding about the insomnia. Just after four in the morning he lay listening to her soft, regular breathing—as he had been for the last hour or so. They hadn’t bothered to close the curtains and he could see millions of stars above the darkness that was the treetops.
Stephanie was curled against him, her back against his stomach. He rested his hand over her hip, happy to hold her close as she slept.
The selfish part of him wanted to wake her—the part that had pushed to keep her with him for the night. The urge to lose himself in her again bit deep. The pleasure he’d got from touching her, from pleasing her, had been so much more than he’d expected—and he’d expected a lot.
He’d got the oblivion he’d wanted. All thought had evaporated in the steam, together with the doubts, the demons, the endless wondering… the fear.
He loathed the vulnerability that sneaked up on him. It was why he kept busy—working, travelling, pushing a punishing pace so he’d fall into bed at the end of the day too tired to start thinking.
But in the quiet those thoughts came to torment him. And this week had been worse than ever. As he stood on the precipice of finally knowing—of finally meeting—the man he thought was his birth father he needed to escape to survive.
She was the only way he could get through this last most painful waiting.
But, much as he needed her this second, he couldn’t wake her. She’d been tired before they’d got here and, given how hard and far and fast he’d pushed her, he knew she needed rest. That last time he’d taken her they’d both fallen asleep within seconds of coming.
But he’d woken less than an hour later.
He tried to stay still, regulating his breathing to hers, enjoying the feel of her in his arms. Her softness warmed him. Her silken hair tickled his skin. He lost himself in sensual memory.
He hadn’t been sure if she’d be brave enough to truly let go or if she’d be stifled by her need to look ‘just so’. But she’d floored him. She had been so willing, ready—as if she’d been fantasising about fooling around with him for the whole day. Behind that polished façade was a woman with needs, and she’d succumbed to the heat between them with enthusiastic abandonment and sweetness… and with that bit of edge he’d sensed in their first meeting. And with humour.
Yeah, if he’d thought he was going to get a Steffi Leigh ‘tick-the-list’ screw he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was as if she’d cast aside every care and just fallen into the sensations. He’d been helpless to do anything but follow her.
His erection ached. His skin felt stretched over all his body. But he forced himself to stay quiet—contrarily uncomfortable, yet satisfied—and waited for the birds to sing in the dawn. One form of torture replaced by another. Holding her, yet not doing what he ached to.
In the end he couldn’t cope with her closeness any more. While it was still dark he stole out of the bed and pulled on his boxers, leaving her to sleep. He ordered breakfast and worked on his report, then quietly paced around the veranda and hoped she’d wake some time soon.
It was another two hours before she emerged. He looked up from his notepad and watched her walk towards him. How much he wanted her actually hurt.
She looked totally different from the perfectly coiffed, selfie-ready socialite he’d met at the hotel yesterday. Same dress, sure, but now it was rumpled—less ‘refined’ looking. And she had more freckles on her nose, thanks to the lack of make-up. Her hair was loose and framed her face in a slightly wild cloud of strawberry blonde—glints of red caught the morning light and lit a fire within him.
And the sparkles in her eyes were all new. He took pleasure in knowing he’d been the one to put them there, together with that small, satisfied curve of her mouth.
But there was colour high in her cheeks. Surely she couldn’t still be embarrassed?
He tossed his pad onto the table and stood to meet her. Stephanie Johnson was nothing like the Steffi Leigh persona she presented. She was much more expressive. Much more responsive, more serious, more giving.