“You’ll have my body heat to keep you warm.” He dragged the pile of blankets and bulky duvet over them. “Now sleep.”
Sleep? “You’re going to stay with me the whole night?”
“Jaxx, sleep.” He knew what she was thinking: that this wasn’t something he did, that there were other rooms. He didn’t want to properly acknowledge that he actually wanted to lie with her and simply hold her while they slept, or that he liked the idea of her being there when he woke up. He’d never seen the attraction in that before. He didn’t want to explore why he did now.
With morning time came the discovery of the magic of morning sex, something Connor intended to make the most of during the remainder of the trip. If he was right and Warren was itching to comment on Connor having slept in the same bed as a woman the entire night, he held himself back. Wise man. After breakfast they all bundled up warm and there was no restraining the smile that spread on his face at the sight of Jaxx – even though she looked as though she was about to go strolling on the moon she was absolutely adorable and, amazingly, her movements were still as sensual as always.
“You’re dying to laugh, aren’t you,” observed Jaxxon.
“What I’m dying to do is rip all that stuff off you,” he said as he grabbed her waist and yanked her against him. “I don’t like knowing that there’s that much between your skin and mine, and I really don’t like that I’ll have such a big job getting to your body.”
“The hard work will do you good.”
“It’s going to be a lengthy job. Maybe I should start it now.”
“Jaxxon!” Anna yelled out from her bedroom. “Your phone’s ringing!”
Jaxxon dashed from the living room to her own bedroom and dug deep into her bag. “Morning Oliver,” she greeted as she answered.
“You know,” began Ollie, “I really shouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had a food fight in the middle of a posh restaurant, but I actually am.”
“I take it the papers got wind of it.” That was going to make the maître d' very happy.
“I’m looking at a very interesting photograph of you with a face like thunder drowning McKenzie in red wine.”
Jaxxon suspected that Connor wasn’t going to see the funny side of that photo having been seen worldwide. “He ruined my sweater.”
“You told me it was just you and Anna going away by yourselves.”
“That’s because it was the truth. Connor and Warren paid us an unexpected visit.”
“There’s also a photo of him carting you over his shoulder out of the ladies’ restrooms where, according to the tabloids, you both had been arguing.”
“At least they thought that it was arguing we were doing,” she mistakenly said aloud.
Moving quickly onwards… “We did apologise to the maître d' but he was ecstatic about the idea of his restaurant getting publicity. I take it the tabloids see us as nothing more than wild animals now.”
“Actually, it’s gone as a positive for you.”
She noticed that Ollie didn’t sound very pleased. He obviously still didn’t approve of her and Connor. “How?”
“Do you have any idea how many couples sitting in restaurants suddenly, for one reason or another, have an overwhelming urge to throw food across the table? They don’t do it because they fear making a scene, something I wouldn’t expect you to understand. They love that you and McKenzie shoved society’s etiquette aside like that, and of course they like to see that you’re a normal couple – as they’re still under the impression it’s an actual relationship – who argues just the same as everyone else. Are the boys still there?”
“Staying ’til Monday.”
Ollie groaned. “I don’t like that he showed up like that, I don’t like this caveman crap that he pulls. I don’t like that you haven’t made him go home.”
Jaxxon mocked, “I can’t help it, daddy, I love him, please don’t make me give him up, I -”
“Alright, fine, I’ll see you Monday.”
When she joined Connor, Warren and Anna outside the challet it was to find them studying her Ski Map.
Connor gestured to the all the markings she had made with a red pen. “Are all those X’s the slopes you’ve been on?”
“No, it’s where I hid the bodies.”
Shooting her a playful snarl, he fisted his gloved hand in the snow and launched a clump of it at Jaxx. That sparked off a grand scale snow fight between the four of them – boys against the girls. When twenty minutes went by and neither side showed any signs of weakening they agreed to a tie and headed off to rent him and Warren some skiing equipment.
Jaxxon might have been a bit put out to discover that Connor was just as good a skier as he had claimed to be – confident, smooth, skilled – if it wasn’t for the fact that he seemed to have forgotten she was such a quick learner and had therefore been shocked to see her competence level on the slopes. But when she bettered his timing that wasn’t a good moment for Connor. It was a great moment for Jaxxon.
What had been even greater was seeing Anna’s delight at Warren being genuinely proud of her skiing abilities. Even sweeter, although he was an expert skier he had insisted on staying with Anna the entire day on the intermediate slopes, wanting that time with her. Warren then instantly went up in Jaxxon’s estimations. And suddenly, at the sight of Anna’s happiness and the playful scowl on Connor’s gorgeous face, Jaxxon was glad that he and Warren had come.
They decided to try a different restaurant that evening and then afterwards they went to one of the bars. It was one that Jaxxon and Anna hadn’t tried yet and, to Anna’s delight, was open ’til the early hours of the morning. Jaxxon was surprised by how stylish the interior was. Despite the massive use of colour nothing clashed and the décor was perfect for the atmosphere. Sporadically situated around the bar were clusters of leather sofas framing artistic, white, snowball-shaped tables that had a flat surface.
It was while Jaxx and Anna were in the restrooms and Connor was at the bar with Warren that he heard a friendly male voice behind him drawl his name. Connor turned to see, just as he had known he would, a fellow F1 driver. “Kev.” They slapped each other’s back in greeting as they usually did.
After Kev and Warren exchanged a greeting, Kev asked, “So how’ve you been, Con?”
“Great, yeah. I’m over here for my birthday, I’m having a private bash upstairs in the VIP room. You and Warren should come up.”
Before Connor could respond three women and two men surrounded Kev and he quickly began making introductions. “Connor, you know my girl Lorraine and my sister Kim. Next to Kim is her bloke, Roy, and a mate of mine, Peter. And you must recognise this one.” He gestured to an incredibly sexy blonde whose single had just reached number one in the charts.
Connor had seen her a few times before now. A singer. She shot him a seductive smile that was filled with sexual promises. She seemed about to say something to him – in fact, she might have done: his focus had immediately shifted to the husky laugh and the ‘isn’t that just bollocks?’ that travelled through the door of the restrooms ahead of Jaxx. Again he was torn between smugness and irritation when heads turned to look at her. She was looking as sinfully gorgeous as always, dressed in a black, satin dress. But once her eyes met his he was thinking of nothing but her. As usual his need for her hit him like a sledgehammer, stealing his breath. All he wanted to do was roll up that dress, snap her thong and then drive deep inside her. It always left him with the same feeling: like coming home. Suddenly he was very homesick.
As she and Anna headed toward Connor and Warren, Jaxxon sensed the sudden tension in Anna. Following her gaze she saw a woman who was eyeing up Connor and standing a little too close to him. For once, Jaxxon didn’t struggle with the identity of the celebrity. It wasn’t a face you could forget. Lotti Rivers: a platinum selling solo artist known worldwide and was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful people Jaxxon had ever seen. To her surprise, Connor snaked an arm around Jaxxon’s waist as soon as she neared him, making her senses suddenly hyper and that lust she was feeling intensified ten-fold.
“I hadn’t believed it,” said Kev. “Kim told me it was in the papers that you were all loved up but I said no way.”
Jaxxon wasn’t surprised when Connor tensed at the word ‘love’. Most males would, especially if the relationship wasn’t serious. She bit his earlobe and squeezed his arse – he was then officially distracted.
“You up for it, Connor?” asked Kev, gesturing to the indoor balcony of the VIP room. “Come on, you can’t refuse the birthday boy.”
“Jaxx, Anna, this is Kev, a mate of mine. He’s having a party upstairs.”
“You should come, it’ll be a good laugh,” said Lotti. To Connor.
Jaxxon saw that he was intending to say no because of Lotti. As much as the last thing she wanted was to be around this floozy, she wasn’t going to let it show. Not to her, not to Connor. It would reveal too much about what she felt. “Are the drinks free?” she asked Kev.
“It would be a crime to turn down free ale.” The VIP room was similar to the floor below but the furniture was better quality and practically everything sparkled. A mix of blue, silver and white balloons decorated the place – dozens of them were resting on a net that was hanging above the dancefloor, obviously intended to shower the dancers at some point in the night. There was an extravagant buffet – not yet open, Jaxxon noticed with disappointment.
She wasn’t sure who was more surprised when Connor laced his fingers through hers, him or her. But he didn’t release her hand as they strolled to a table and she didn’t retrieve it. Not even when they had parked themselves next to each other on a leather sofa. Strangely, the contact felt…nice. Of course his usual possessiveness was there in his manner but it wasn’t beating at her, suffocating her, tiring her. It made her feel safe and protected.
For a short while Kev, Lorraine and Kim spent some time talking to them. Jaxxon found them to be pretty down-to-earth people. Kev actually made her think of Roland, only he was without that geeky intelligence that she found Roland adorable for having. While the boys talked ‘cars’, Lorraine and Kim asked Jaxxon and Anna about modelling and Ollie. Then Lorraine begged Jaxxon to tell her if the rumours that once circulated about her and Bruno had any truth in them. Instantly Connor, who had obviously been keeping one ear on the conversation, tugged her to him and said he wanted her to himself now. Rather than be offended, Lorraine and Kim had said ‘awww’. Jaxxon didn’t see what was sweet about that.
It occurred to Connor that he had been experiencing a lot of first times on this trip. Here was another: he actually felt uncomfortable by the presence on an ex-acquaintance. He didn’t remember much about her other than her name being Elena. Or maybe it was Elaine. Suddenly he actually felt ashamed of the life he’d led. A life that he would at some point go back to, but he wouldn’t go back to it the same person. No, because Jaxx would take a chunk of him with her when she left his life, she just wouldn’t know it.
Jaxxon picked up as easily on his discomfort as she did on the snarl coming from the voluptuous red-head at the bar who looked ready to gouge someone’s eyes out. “I can’t work out whether that snarl is directed at me or you. I take it that you were going through a period of having low standards when you shagged that one.”
“I forgot how cute you are when you’re jealous.”
Her eyes snapped up to his. Amusement was plastered over his face. “Jealous?”
“You’ve got that same look you used to get when we were younger whenever the girl who lived next-door used to shout ‘hi’ to me. You even called her a slag for it once.”
She ignored Warren and Anna’s giggles. “I just didn’t like her, that’s all.”
“I only used to smile at her to wind you up so I could see that look on your face that you’re wearing right now.”
“I’m not jealous, I just don’t like being snarled at which I’d say makes me pretty normal.”
“Forgive me for not feeling sympathetic but I have to put up with you getting ogled all the time. Not that I blame the oglers, especially while you’re in that dress that is, in fact, a creation of the Devil. Come here.” He leaned in but she shuffled to the other end of the sofa.
“No. It’s about time you learned to exercise some self-control, McKenzie. Besides” – she pointed at the bottle of lager that he had in his hand – “I don’t want to take advantage.”
He leaned in again. “Have the advantage, take it, I don’t want it.”
“Hands off you randy sod,” she giggled. “I need a pee, I’ll be back in a minute. Hopefully you’ll have some self-control by then.”
Anna got up to follow her but then paused as she reached Connor. Seeing that Jaxxon was out of hearing range, she said to him, “Don’t give her anymore emotional bruises.”
His brow creased. “Excuse me?”
Yeah, it was fair to say her words had come out of nowhere, but as she’d watched the playful exchanges between Connor and Jaxxon she’d saw something: Jaxxon loved this bloke, she just didn’t realise it yet. “I don’t want her hurt.”