“No, not at all. “
“Good, and I wasn’t brewing poison apples in a cauldron to get rid of you.”
“No, you were just standing behind the registration desk like a thirst trap.”
“Oh really?” she said, grinning hugely at the compliment.
“And I thought you were inconvenient.”
“Was I interrupting something?” I said, leaning into the heavy flirting, the flush on her cheeks and the ripe plummy lips I wanted to capture.
“My life. You interrupted my life,” she said lightly, but her voice was lower, like she was sharing a secret. “I was ready to hate you and try to run you out of town. Then you walked in looking so hot, that close-cropped dark hair and the wicked smile.”
“So my smile is wicked?” I said, giving her a half smile I hoped would make her clothes practically fall off.
“Very,” she said, a little breathless.
The breathlessness was a victory. I wanted to roar with triumph and claim my prize right then and there. I wanted to take her chin in my hand and kiss her till she was begging for air. She would beg. I would make her want me so much. My mouth watered for her. I wanted to cup her mound, finger her through her clothes and feel her hot and wet, creaming herself for me. Then I’d give it to her, fast and slick and sweaty right up against the wall of my room. I’d pound her so hard the walls would shake, and she’d plead for more. I could feel it between us in the itch of my palms, the way she already starred in every fantasy I had, the filthier the better.
“You know, I have a policy about mixing business with pleasure,” I said.
“Did you learn it by watching reruns of Dallas from the 80’s?” she said.
“No, I don’t chase secretaries around the desk. I don’t even call mine a secretary.”
“How modern of you,” she said. “So what’s the policy?”
“It’s more of a rule. I think mixing business and pleasure is a threat to integrity. It can cloud the judgment.”
“So which one am I? Business or pleasure?” she asked.
“You’re both. I’d be a fool to pretend that my business here in town didn’t have a direct impact on you and your daycare center. So I’m not overlooking that. I’m saying I want to know you better, spend time with you. Break my own rules.”
We talked and laughed. I enjoyed her quirky sense of humor, her full and joyful laugh. I reached over once and touched her hair. The same way I had at the dinner when we danced, the coil of ruddy silk twisted around my finger, gripped and let loose to curl free against the curve of her cheek. I heard the game commentary end on the big screen TV’s and glanced at the clock. It was eleven. We both had work, so it was time to break up the party. I was reluctant to say anything. In fact, just as I was getting ready to tell her I’d had a nice time, but we should go, I reached for her hand instead.
I could get addicted to the soft fingers in my palm, the way her skin tasted of vanilla cream when I kissed the spot between her thumb and forefinger. I had kissed her hand quite naturally, not even realizing it. She glanced around as if to see if anyone was looking while color stole up her neck to set her cheeks blazing.
“Would you like to come up to my room?”
“I’ve seen your room. I put the sheets on that bed, remember?” she quipped.
“And this would give you a chance to try them out, make sure they’re comfortable enough for your guests,” I said pointedly. She bit her lip and shook her head.
“I think I’d better not,” she said.
“All right. It was still a nice evening. If you’ll let me, I’ll drive you home.”
“I’d like that,” she said as we walked back to the B&B where my rental was still parked.
I captured her hand as I drove. Her sweet vanilla scent seemed to fill the air around me, drowning out the generic air freshener the rental company had sprayed inside. She filled the space, her laugh and the sight and fragrance of her. I wanted her beyond reason. She had said no. I understood that, and for tonight, it was a no. That didn’t mean there wasn’t any tomorrow or another chance.
“I hope I didn’t insult you when I asked you to spend the night with me.”
“Just not that kind of girl?” I said archly.
“Yeah, that’s me. The good girl,” she joked. I could still tell she was uncomfortable, so I dropped the subject.
“Where do I turn?” I said after a minute.
“You’re gonna want to take a left at that corner and it’s the little white one with the deep porch.”