Then I feel his palm wrap around my ankle, and I squeal as I’m yanked under the water, just catching a lungful of air before I disappear, my eyes naturally clenching shut. His lips meet mine, his arms surrounding me, and he rolls us around under the water, our skin slipping all over each other, our tongues dancing wildly.
This is nice, but I’m rubbish at holding my breath, and he must be gasping for air, having been down here a lot longer than me. I pinch him to indicate my depleting breath, and my lungs scream a thank you when we surface, my legs clenching around his waist and my arms around his shoulders. I try to grab a hold of my bearings and attempt to open my eyes, and when I do, I’m greeted by a dirty great big grin. I know he can’t touch the bottom himself, so he must me treading water frantically with my dead weight clinging to him. You would never know it, though. That’s even if he is. He looks like he’s just floating effortlessly in front of me.
I push his wet hair from his face and match his grin. ‘You closed the pool, didn’t you?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He shifts me around to his back and starts swimming to the side. ‘It’s never busy at this time of day.’
‘I don’t believe you.’ I rest my chin on his shoulder. ‘You couldn’t stand the thought of me in a bikini and others seeing it. Admit I’m right.’ I’ve got my Lord worked out.
He reaches the edge of the pool and pulls me from his back, pushing me up against the side. ‘I love the thought of you in a bikini.’
‘But for your eyes only?’
‘I’ve told you before, Ava. I don’t share you with anyone or anything, not even their eyes,’ He slides his hands down my sides and onto my thighs. ‘Just for my touch,’ he whispers. It makes me immediately clench my thighs as he leans in and kisses me gently before scanning my face. ‘Just for my eyes.’ His finger slips into the side of my bikini bottoms, and I hold my breath as he strokes me softly. ‘Just for my pleasure, baby. I know you understand me, don’t you?’
‘I do,’ I shift in front of him and drape my arms over his shoulders.
‘Good. Kiss me.’
I dive right in and show my appreciation with a long, hot, passionate kiss that draws a low moan from each of us. His hands shift to my waist, his big hands circling me completely as he holds me tight, and we kiss for the longest time—there in the middle of the pool, just me and him, drowning in each other, consuming each other, loving each other.
Everything that happens between us is a result of the potent, sometimes poisonous, love we share. It pushes us to behave erratically and unreasonably—both of us. In reality, we are probably level pegging in the crazy department, or maybe I have overtaken him. I certainly feel crazy. What I’m planning definitely qualifies me as crazy. And if he finds out what his crazy wife is planning, then I’ve no doubt I will see him tip over the edge of craziness.
‘I love you.’
The low whisper makes me smile as I roll over and blindly grab at him. ‘Hmmm.’ I hum, pulling his body down to mine.
‘Ava, it’s seven thirty.’
‘I know.’ I mumble into his neck. ‘Sleepy sex.’ I demand, my hand drifting down his thigh until I find what I’m looking for. I grasp him loosely.
‘Baby, I’d love to, but when you wake up properly, you’re going to fly into panic and leave me halfway finished.’ He grabs my hand and pulls it up to his face, kissing my fingers sweetly. ‘It’s Monday morning. It’s seven thirty. I don’t want the blame for making you late.’
My eyes open, seeing his wet face suspended over mine. He’s had a shower, which means he has been for a run, which means it’s late. I bolt upright, and he quickly moves to avoid being head-butted. ‘What time is it?’
He smiles fondly. ‘It’s seven thirty.’
‘Jesse!’ I jump up and run into the bathroom. ‘Why didn’t you wake me when you went for a run?’ I flick the shower on and turn to the sink, loading my toothbrush with toothpaste.
‘I didn’t want to disturb you.’ He leans on the doorframe and watches me frantically scrubbing my teeth. He’s grinning, no doubt at my little fluster.
‘Never… bother… fore.’ I spit around my mouthful of paste.
His grin widens. ‘Pardon?’
I shake my head on an eye roll and return to the mirror, finishing up and rinsing out. ‘I said it never bothered you before. Why didn’t you drag me out of bed and punish me with fourteen miles?’ I’m suspicious, and you can tell.
He shrugs and joins me by the mirror, grabbing his own toothbrush. ‘I will if you want me to.’
‘No, just wondering.’ I won’t push it. I step in the shower and make a quick job of washing my hair and shaving before stepping out and practically running into the walk-in-wardrobe. I stand and stare at the rails and rails of clothes, mostly all with tags still attached. It feels like hard work trying to choose, there’s way too much, so I yank down my red shift dress. That’ll do.
By the time I’ve rough dried my hair, haphazardly slapped on my make-up, and landed downstairs, Jesse is suited up in navy with a crisp white shirt and collecting his car keys.
‘I’ll take you,’
‘Where’s Cathy?’ I eye him up. All of him. That’s my husband. Do I really need to go work?
He frowns a little. ‘I don’t know. It’s not like her to be late.’ Grabbing my hand, he starts leading me from the penthouse. ‘You got everything?’
We make our way down to the foyer of Lusso and as we approach the concierge desk, I see Cathy leaning up, chatting with Clive. I grin and look up to Jesse, but he ignores me, even though he knows damn well I’m looking at him and probably what I’m thinking, too. ‘That would explain.’ I say on a little laugh.
‘They’re just talking.’ Jesse grumbles, leading on.
‘They look very friendly.’ I watch Cathy fidget and giggle as Clive entertains her with words and hand gestures. He looks just as enthralled as Jesse’s housekeeper.
She spots us. ‘Oh! I was just on my way up!’
‘No problem,’ Jesse doesn’t sound impressed, and he doesn’t stop. I, however, would love to hang around and see the developments. My grin widens as I pass, and Cathy and Clive both blush profusely. ‘I’m out of peanut butter.’ Jesse calls back crossly.
‘There’s a whole box of it in the cupboard, my boy. Do you think I’d let that run dry?’ Cathy sounds irritated by Jesse’s critical comment. It makes me laugh, especially when Jesse starts grumbling under his breath.
‘Don’t be so moody. They’re only talking.’ I rebuke him as we emerge into the sunshine and Jesse slips his wayfarer’s on.
‘It’s not right,’ He shudders and releases my hand.
I start rummaging through my bag for my own shades. ‘Ooh, she might be inviting him up when we’re not there. I did notice the sheets it the spare room were a little… ruffled.’
‘Ava!’ he yells as he points a screwed up face of displeasure to the heavens. ‘Don’t!’
I laugh. ‘Stop being ageist.’
‘I’m not,’ His disgusted face disappears immediately. He’s grinning now.
‘What are you smirking at?’ I ask.
He removes his shades and closes the distance between us, stooping down so our noses touch. ‘I bought you a present.’
‘You have?’ I rest my lips on his. ‘What?’
I pull back and watch his delighted eyes as he nods over my shoulder. I slowly pivot and stand for a few moments, scanning the car park for whatever I should be looking for, but nothing is jumping out at me. His arm appears over my shoulder and a set of car keys are dangling in front of my face, and it’s then I spot a dirty great big, bright white, sparkly wheeled Range Rover Sport. Or tank—whichever.
I can’t even think of any words. How did I miss it? It’s blinding me now. I squint as the keys are jangled in front of me, like he doesn’t realise that I’ve clocked my present and he’s trying to hint further. No need. I can see it. And I hate it!
‘Over there,’ he prompts, jangling the keys again.
‘You mean that spaceship?’ I ask dryly. I’m not driving that thing, no matter how many countdowns or sense fucks I get as a consequence.
‘You don’t like it?’ He sounds hurt. Oh shit, what do I say?
‘I like my Mini.’
‘It’s not safe.’ Now he sounds affronted, as I knew he would. He makes his way around me and looks down at my shocked face. ‘This is safer.’
I can’t help the incredulous look my face is naturally morphing into. ‘Jesse, that’s a man’s car—a John car. It’s fucking huge!’
‘Ava! Watch your fucking mouth!’ He scowls at me. ‘I got it in white. That’s a lady’s colour. Come on, I’ll show you.’ He takes my reluctant shoulders and leads me over to the giant snowball. The closer I get, the more I hate it. It’s far too showy. I love my Mini. ‘Look,’ He opens the door… and I gasp.
It gets worse.
White… everywhere. White leather steering wheel; white leather gearstick; white leather seats. Even the carpets are white.
I look up at him, my deluded husband, and shake my head, but I can’t be ungrateful. He looks so pleased with himself. I thought this man had taste. ‘I don’t know what to say.’ I really don’t. ‘You could’ve just bought me a watch or a necklace or something.’ I wish he’d have bought me a watch or necklace or something.
‘Jump in.’ He ushers me towards the thing.
I gasp. Oh no! Stitched in the headrest of the front seat is Mrs Ward.
Now that’s going too far. ‘I am not driving this!’ I blurt, before my brain filters the insulting declaration.
‘You fucking are!’
Well, that just got rid of any guilt I had, and now my heels are firmly digging in. ‘I am not! Jesse, it’s way too big for me!’
‘It’s safe.’ He picks me up and places me on the driver’s seat. I feel small. ‘Look,’ Reaching in, he presses a button and a compartment pops open, revealing a computer screen. ‘Everything you’ll need. I’ve loaded all of your favourite music.’ He grins, pressing a button and Massive Attack seeps through all of the millions of speakers. ‘You can think of me.’
‘I think of you every time you call and I hear that track.’ I jump out. ‘I want your car. You can have this.’ I signal to the gleaming heap of metal.
‘Me?’ A worried looks passes over his face. ‘But it’s a bit…’ He runs his eyes over my present. ‘… girly.’
‘It is, and I know your game, Ward.’ I look inside and my mind conjures up images of baby seats and child booster seats. And a pram in the boot. Oh no! I point my finger at his chest. ‘The only reason you want me to drive this thing is because it’s enormous and there’s less chance of injury if I crash. Prettying it up isn’t going to convince me.’ I turn and storm off towards my lovely little mini, in which there is no chance of squeezing a pram in the boot.
I’m stunned when I make it into my car without any Jesse style intervention. I look in the rear view mirror as I settle in my seat and see him leaning against his own car with his arms folded over his chest. I ignore the heavy glower on his stunning face and start my Mini, quickly reversing out of the space and heading for the gates. ‘Impossible man,’ I mutter to myself, reaching up to smash the button on the little black device that will open the gates.