Watching him come, and knowing that he watched her as well, was almost as majestically erotic as the event itself. Neither one could look away; and within that brief time capsule there was a revealing, a drawing back of the curtain. She knew then and there that, much against her will or even her expectation, she’d reached that point of no return.
Her boss slid into the limousine, settling into the plush seat opposite. Carly glanced surreptitiously at her watch, and saw that they were well on schedule. She looked up at Jude, her eyes searching his face as with a light “good morning”, he reached for the nearby dailies.
“Rough night?” She murmured, a smile curving her lips. He was as impeccably groomed as ever, his hair sleek with every gold lock in place. His dark suit fit with fashionable snugness, and he’d unbuttoned it, revealing the startling white shirt and dark tie. And yet, even with him looking as sharp as a pin, Carly’s skilful eye could detect that he wasn’t totally his usually collected self. “Because you look sort of peaked,” she added with humour-tinged concern.
“No, actually I’m good,” he assured her with a flash of his white, perfect dentition.
“Not really you aren’t, she insisted, her tone teasing. “I recognise that flummoxed, mind-blown look on your face because I see it in my husband’s eyes every once in a while.”
“Really? Jude mocked in playful surprise. “You mean after five years of marriage, you two are still at it?
“Like horny rabbits, she said smugly, adding with a wry twist, “Though I must say that with the punishing schedule you’re putting me on lately, our sex life has had to suffer somewhat.”
Jude tipped his head at her over the top of the newspaper he was thumbing through.
“Now, now Mrs Carly Johnson, are you trying to wrangle a raise out of me – or worse, a vacation? I must warn you I’m averse to psychological arm twisting.”
“I can bet,” she muttered, but was smiling. She saw him fling the paper to the side, his profile turning to the tinted window on his right. There was a strange, unconscious smile playing on his lips, and she could bet his mind was far away at that moment. She was guessing it had to do with a certain buxom beauty he must have left in his hotel room.
“That good, was it?” she asked with an airy tone.
He turned to her sharply, blinking in surprise. He saw the knowing look in her eye, and then laughed shortly. “Woman, do not expect me to disclose to you every toe-crunching detail. To be honest, the fact that we’re actually still on this topic is making me uncomfortable. It’s almost like discussing my sex life with my mother.”
Carly barely huffed. “Well, I am not your mother. If you must know I do feel sort of responsible for you, especially concerning your...fascination with the delectable Ms Quinn. I just want to know if it’s still want you want. And if it was worth it.”
His eyes held hers for a steady moment. “If you’re talking about me giving up a lucrative company for one week of sex, then yes, Carly, it was worth it. It is.”
“You know I’m not referring to the company, Jude,” she sighed, shaking her head at him. “Though, right now its shares are worth countless millions in dollars – but no, that’s far from what I mean. I’m just thinking of you, Jude. You’ve never really acted this way before; the whole propositioning her, and then asking her here with you...it’s reckless behaviour and I’m worried someone’s going to get hurt.”
He scowled darkly. “It’s not like I force myself on her, Carly, because I don’t have to. And I respect her wishes at all times. I’m not leaving Miranda Quinn with any chance to regret her decision of yielding to me.”
“I know that,” she said with calmness even as his scowl lingered. “But I wasn’t talking about Miranda, Jude. I was actually talking about you.”
His expression softened, and he actually had a small smile for her. “Well, in that case, you can stop worrying, mother hen. I know exactly what I’m getting into.”
Famous last words, Carly couldn’t help thinking, and did not press the issue, especially when he changed the subject, turning their conversation to the forthcoming meeting.
So...what exactly does a paramour get to do, while her “patron” is away for the day, wheeling and dealing? Miranda couldn’t help pondering on this near-humorous state of affairs. She’d awoken earlier with a languid, satiated stretch to find that Jude was gone. All she had left to remind her of his presence was the faint, lingering hint of his gorgeous cologne, and she inhaled deeply. If her body ached in certain places, it was in a very good way. She thought of how the night had ended, and quelled a tiny shudder at the still intense memory.
She’d showered, and rang up for room service. She felt she had a large appetite, and ordered a big breakfast. Lord knows she had a lot of energy replenishment to do. Meal finished, she lingered over one last cup of coffee, which she carried to the window as she gazed out at the beautiful view of the city.
Miranda tried not to think of what she was doing – what she had done. Making love with Jude, and starting an unexpected journey of self-discovery...she was seeing insights to her personality she’d never known existed. And she wondered what more she would discover about herself before the time was up.
Her moody thoughts were broken by the sound of the phone ringing. For a moment her heart lifted at the thought that it could be Jude. Did he miss her? Was he already longing for her once again, so soon after their somewhat rumbustious coupling of the night before? But no; when she answered the call, it was to find that it was her brother.
“Jeffery?” she worded in surprise. “How...how did you get this number?”
“I’m not as inept an individual as you seem to take me for,” he growled. “It took some doing, but I managed to find out which hotel Jude Stone happened to be staying. I take it you’re there with him?”
“Not right now, but yes, I’m in London with him,” she said, biting on her lip. “Jeffery, you got my note...”
“Yes, about that,” he growled, sounding like his teeth were clenched. “I don’t know what the heck has come over you, but I never condoned such behaviour. I’m not even sure what the note meant, and I don’t think I want to know exactly what you’ve got into with this Jude Stone, but I’m ordering you to come home. Right now.”
“I’m not a child, Jeff,” she told him with an exasperated sigh. “And trust me; I know what I’m doing. It may not make sense to you or anyone else right now, but it does to me. I...I just want everything to be okay.”
“And it can be,” he said pressingly. “It’ll take some time, but we’ll get back on our feet, Miranda. And it’ll be absent you having to ...to barter yourself with that degenerate billionaire. That’s what he’s asking of you, isn’t it?”
“I thought you said you didn’t want to know?” she asked wearily. “Look Jeff, thanks for being worried about me, but I’m fine. I’m doing this because I want to. I’ll be back in a week, okay? And then we can talk properly. Good bye.” She quickly hung up, and was thankful when he didn’t call back. She wondered now if it had been wise to have told Jeffery anything about it – at least, not until it was all done with. Was he going to tell her father? Gosh, she hoped not. Now, in the clear light of day, she was beginning to see the utter freakiness in what she’d chosen to do.
But like she’d told her brother, she was grown. She’d made the decision. And it was a decision she was beginning to regret less and less even as she started to become concerned about her own motives...
She was surprised to receive a call from Carly soon after. “Jude is locked down in the meeting,” Carly informed her, “But he did want me to check in on you, make sure you were okay. He was wondering if there’s anything you wanted to do for the day? Go sightseeing, shopping? He’s already sent the limousine back to the hotel for you. We’ll be finished a bit late and will return in a London cab or something. In event that you may wish to purchase anything, my boss has made available his black card.”
“His what?” Miranda asked quizzically.
“It’s placed in an envelope in the top drawer of the bedroom dresser, he informed me,” was Carly’s mild reply, and Miranda made her way there from the living room area of the suite, Sure enough, there was an envelope, and she looked inside.
“It’s a credit card,” Carly supplied.
“I know that.” Miranda hadn’t meant to snap into the phone at the PA, but she really was feeling waspish at that moment. “So, what am I supposed to do with it? Go on a spending spree? I think your boss has got me mixed up as something else. I...”
“Miranda, there’s no need to take offence, I assure you. He simply wishes to make your stay as comfortable as possible. He doesn’t wish you to be bored while he’s busy at work. And besides, this trip was his idea; you shouldn’t be made to spend your own money in case there’s anything you might need. You’re his guest, okay? He’s simply seeing to your welfare.”