I moved into the garage, punching the button to open my garage door. I was already dragging the can underneath the door when it was only halfway up. I was relieved to see that the garbage truck was a few houses away. I had made it in time.
I didn’t notice the strange man blatantly photographing me until I was at the curb, lining up my garbage can.
I saw him, and just froze while he took shot after shot of me.
I wasn’t galvanized into action until he looked up from the large camera, leering at me. “Thank you, Ms.
Karlsson. Looking hot this morning.”
He was a paunchy man, in his late forties, I guessed. Just the look on his face made my stomach churn. I was turning to rush back into the house when all hell broke loose.
A large man in a suit grabbed the greasy photographer, handling him roughly at the same time that the garage door into the kitchen burst open, a frantic, boxer clad James sprinting out. I heard clicks behind me, the photographer somehow managing to get a few shots of James, even while being restrained by a man much larger than himself. It was almost impressive.
I watched James’s face as he took in the mess, watched it change from frantic to livid in a heartbeat. He looked like he wanted to murder the man as he strode to me, glaring at the paparazzi the entire time. He stepped in front of me, blocking me from view.
“Get inside,” he said through gritted teeth.
I had seen his face. I couldn’t imagine, from his look, that he didn’t plan to do the man violence.
“Come inside with me, please,” I pleaded with him, my voice pitched low.
“Go, Bianca. Now.”
I hugged his back, not wanting him to get into trouble for some scumbag photographer.
“You look like you’re going to attack him, James. I don’t want you to go to jail.” Even as I spoke, I heard a few more clicks from that damn camera. The man was fearless.
“I would rather fucking go to jail than let him leave with those pictures of you. Now go inside.”
“Your man over there can handle it,” I said, my cheek against his back. “And who will protect me, if you’re in jail? Would it be worth it, if something happened to me while you were gone?” I felt horrible saying it, and I knew it wasn’t even a sound argument, but I was desperate to get him to walk away, and I thought it would at least get his attention. Some scandalous pictures of me were not my biggest concern.
He shuddered, and I felt a rush of relief. He turned into me, still using his body to block me from view, and ushered me back into the garage.
“Get those fucking pictures off of his camera, Stimpson, or it’s your fucking job!” James barked over his shoulder, not slowing.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” James burst out the second he’d shut the door from the garage into my kitchen. “Do you like giving the world a fucking show?”
I stiffened at his words, raised nearly to a rage-filled shout. I didn’t respond, raising my chin and walking woodenly through my house and into my bathroom.
If he was going to take his anger out on me in a way I couldn’t handle, I supposed it was better that I find out sooner rather than later. I tried to stay calm, but my whole body was shaking as I waited to see what he’d do next.
I tossed off my scanty clothes before stepping into the shower, turning it on, the cold spray hitting me for several seconds before it began to warm.
I just stood under the spray, unmoving, for several minutes. It was a long time before James joined me.
I felt him more than saw him, since my eyes were closed.
He hugged me very carefully from behind. My first instinct was to pull away, but I let him hold me. I could feel him trembling, and the thought of hurting him, when he was as vulnerable as I, was abhorrent to me.
“I’m so sorry, love. Of course you were just taking out your trash, like a normal person. I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on you. I’m sorry I raised my voice. I would never put my hands on you in anger. Whatever demons I may have, I don’t have that in me. But I saw that scared look on your face when I raised my voice. I hate myself for putting it there.”
I didn’t say anything, but I didn’t push him away, either.
He washed me, his touch gentle. “Will you come to the hotel with me today? You can do a spa day while I get a few things done.” As he spoke, he lathered my hair.
I sighed, feeling weak from the morning’s drama.
Why not do a spa day? I asked myself, seriously considering the idea. I never got to do things like that.
I didn’t have to work until evening, and James would spend ridiculous amounts of money on me, spa day or not. It was really a drop in the bucket at this point.
“You can invite anyone you want. They’ll give you the royal treatment, as well as any of your friends.
Just invite Stephan, and tell him to get the word out. You could have a flight attendant reunion at the spa, if you want. My resort has one of the best in town.”
I caved at the plea in his voice. He was like a child, grasping for a way to make amends.
“Okay,” I finally said. I sounded like a brat to my own ears. “Thank you, James. That’s considerate.
Wet lips kissed my cheek almost sloppily. It was so unlike him that I let out a little giggle.
“Thank you. Nothing makes me happier than taking care of you, in any way that I can.” His voice was a raw whisper against my skin.
I turned and hugged him, his vulnerability almost palpable to me at that moment.
“You make me so happy, Bianca. I was just angry with myself, that I’d failed to protect you, yet again.”
“Oh, James. What am I going to do with you? A few stupid pictures aren’t going to hurt me.”
“When I heard the garage door opening, my heart stopped. Just the thought of you being outside by yourself, when your father is still on the loose, makes me panicky.”
“I obviously wasn’t alone, with that bodyguard out there. Seems to me like you had your bases covered.”
He stiffened up at that. “What took him so fucking long to react? That’s what I want to know.”
I kissed the center of his chest, right in that little indent between his well muscled pectorals. I loved that spot.
I filled my palm with shampoo, reaching up high to lather his honey-colored hair. I smiled at him as the motion dragged my chest against his. He bent down to give me better access, leaning his forehead onto my shoulder. I washed him as he had washed me. It was the first time he’d allowed me to tend to him as tenderly as he so often did to me. “Do you mind me touching you like this? Is that why you avoid letting me do this to you, usually?”
He shook his head, his eyes closed. His voice was a rasp in my ear. “Not you. I love any touch from you. It feels caring, and I want that. I want so much for you to care for me.”
My heart hurt a little at his words. I wanted to reassure him, but the words were a lump in my throat.
He just hugged me tightly, not pressing me for the words. If he had wanted a woman who could express her feelings easily, I supposed he wouldn’t have chosen me.
“Move in with me.” His words were quiet but heartfelt.
I sighed. He was an undeniable force. A few short days, and it was nearly impossible to tell him no.
“How about this? We’ll spend more time together. If we’re in the same city, we’ll have sleepovers, just like we’ve done the last few days.”
He just about squeezed the breath out of me. “Thank you,” he rasped, and began to kiss me. His hands were everywhere, his mouth hot, as he backed me against the shower wall. When he felt my hot center and found it wet, he lifted me against him, impaling me brutally.
“Tell me if you’re sore,” he said roughly.
He leaned my back against the tiled wall and began to thrust.
I was sore, deliciously sore, but I wouldn’t have told him so for anything. Then he might have stopped the heavenly orgasm that built as he pounded into me. I watched his lovely face, as he had taught me, as he moved, my hands grasping his shoulders. His face was wet, his golden skin so perfect. I thought he looked like an angel, with his wet hair trailing into his face.
“You’re so beautiful,” I told him quietly, but he still heard me over the spray.
He clearly enjoyed my admiration, his body shuddering in preparation for his climax. I felt him shuddering down to my toes, and it tipped me over the edge.
I cupped his cheek as we came together. It was so intimate that it should have made me cold, or uncomfortable, or even repulsed, but it didn’t. More and more, I was craving this intimacy, not running from it.
After we’d showered and dressed, I found my phone, intending to text Stephan about the spa day.
James held up a hand. “Let me talk to him.”
I wrinkled my nose. He tapped it.
“Why do you need to tell him?” I asked, suspicious.
“Why not?” he asked.
I dropped it, seeing by his innocent expression that I would have better luck asking Stephan what James was texting him.
“I’m going to cook some eggs for breakfast, unless you object,” I told him, pulling on an old sundress. I figured I’d get dressed for real after we ate. I didn’t even bother with underwear.
He gave me a heated kiss. He tasted unbelievably good. He always did. I sucked at his hot mouth, and he groaned, pulling away. He smiled and slapped my ass.
I beat a hasty retreat. At this rate, we would fuck each other until we starved to death.
I was walking to the kitchen, phone still clutched in my hand, when it began to ring. I glanced at the face. I recognized the number, since I’d missed several calls from the same 702 number over the past month.
Impulsively I answered. I didn’t like mysteries, and I wanted to know who kept calling me so persistently.
“Hello,” I said into the phone.
There was no response on the other end, just silence with the faintest hint of soft music in the background. Three heartbeats later the phone disconnected from the other end.
My brow was furrowed as I set my phone on the counter and began to cook breakfast. The calls were strange, but hardly something to let myself be bothered about. I resolved not to let myself dwell on them.
I made a huge portion of eggs and whatever else I could find that went with them. Peppers, onions, ham, smoked turkey, with some extra sharp cheddar to top it off. It was a better breakfast then I’d thought I could come up with, so I was rather pleased with the effort.
James ate a ridiculous amount of it. His plate had to be filled with at least five eggs worth, but he cleared it in short order. He ate it as though he’d never had such fine food in his life, when the reality was, it was just what I could scrounge up, since I was often out of town. Still, I appreciated his enthusiasm.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to find new additions to my closet, both for me and for James. It was stuffed full, whereas before it had been rather sparse. I sent him an arch look as I noticed the change. He didn’t even seem to notice, looking through my new clothes. He pulled a pair of tiny white cargo shorts off of a hanger, handing them to me. They were shorter than anything I owned. He picked out a little gold tank top with geometric designs printed across it in black and white. He handed it to me without a word.