‘You made me lose control, Ava.’ he huffs down at me. ‘Damn it, woman you fucking send me crazy.’
My arms fall above my head into the wet sand, immediately noting another receding puddle of water, not that my body feels it. I’m scorching hot. ‘You won’t hurt them.’ I insist on a gasp.
He shakes his head, like he’s also all disorientated, before he slides from within me and falls to his forearms, taking my nipple between his lips. I barely register the heat of his mouth locked round me.
‘That feels nice.’ I sigh, finally closing my eyes for a reasonable length of time while he feasts on my breasts. ‘Just keep doing that.’
‘You taste so good,’ he mumbles, latching onto the area where I know my mark to be and sucking deeply.
I happily leave him to his own devices while I concentrate on stabilising my breathing and racing heartbeat, but I’m still burning up. ‘Take me into the water.’ I pant. ‘I need to cool off.’
He shakes his head and releases my breast to look up at me. ‘No can do, lady.’ He goes back to my chest with no more of an explanation.
‘Why?’ I press.
Each of my nipples are kissed before he brings his face up close to mine. His eyes are sparkling pools of mischievousness. ‘It might freeze the babies.’
I don’t laugh, but I do grin. ‘It will not!’
My hair is pushed from my face and his hands creep up my arms until his fingers lace through mine above my head. ‘How do you know for sure?’
I lift my head, just to get my lips on him, the crazy, lovable arse. ‘Even if that were true, which it isn’t, right now my current body temperature is off the charts, so I’m probably roasting your babies as we speak.’
He gasps in an obviously dramatic display of horror and jumps up, pulling me to my feet. ‘Fucking hell, lady. We need to cool you off.’ He throws me up onto his shoulder and slaps my arse.
‘Ouch!’ I laugh, delighting in his playfulness. ‘Go slow so I can get used to it.’
‘Oh no.’ He wades in quickly, leaving me fearing the worst. ‘We don’t have time to fuck about. We’re at risk of having a pair of well-done babies.’ He grabs my hips, instigating a yelp and a wriggle, but he has a firm grip of me. I’m held above him with my hips resting on his big palms, my hands on his shoulders, and I’m looking down at a crafty face that’s trying to be serious. I’m grinning so much, my cheeks are aching. ‘Hello up there, beautiful girl.’
‘Hi,’ I’m bracing myself. I know what’s coming, or I hope I know what’s coming.
He loses his battle and blisters my skin with his smile, bending his arms and lowering me to plant a hard kiss on my lips. ‘Goodbye my beautiful girl.’ His powerful arms straighten fast, and I’m launched into the black air on a squeal, my legs and arms flailing everywhere in deranged delight. I hit the water, still screaming, but quickly get stifled by the water as I go under. The dull muffle of frantic activity in the water surrounding me is definitely not just my doing, so I kick my legs urgently and work my way to the surface, emerging on a gasp and quickly doing a three sixty turn to look for him. He’s nowhere to be seen and apart from my fitful inhalations, it’s deathly silent. I freeze as best I can, limiting my legs to a calm paddling beneath me. Damn it, where is he? Silent swells of water ripple away from me, and I can’t work out if it’s me causing the stir in the water, or something in the depths below—something tall, lean and beautiful, something that can hold its breath for a bloody long time. I don’t know why, but I hold my breath, too, silently deliberating on my next move. Do I remain still and silent, or do I make a dash for the shore?
Dash, remain, dash, remain.
I release the stored air from my lungs. ‘Shit, shit, shit.’ I’m totally torn, my heart racing as I battle my indecisiveness, but then I hear a splash behind me and with no instruction at all, my legs kick into action. I swim like my life depends on it, like Jaws himself is in pursuit of me. I’m squealing like a girl, too. ‘Oh fuck!’ I yelp, piercing the night time air with my filthy mouth, as my ankle is grasped and I’m pulled under. I’m a rolling mass of wild arms and legs, probably kicking and punching him, but I can’t control it. It serves him right, anyway. My fright has turned into a little anger now, and I’m batting at the hands that are grasping at me. My eyes keep getting attacked with salt every time I attempt to open them, and my lungs are going to explode. And now his head in between my thighs.
I break the surface and immediately release the air in my lungs on a furious shout. ‘Jesse!’ I’m on his shoulders being carted out of the sea, his arms locked over my shins on his chest.
‘What’s up, baby?’ He’s not even panting.
‘You!’ My hands smack his head a few times before I swoop down and grab his chin, yanking his head up. ‘Let me see you.’ I spit aggressively.
He laughs. ‘Hello.’
‘You’re a menace.’
He seems to find his feet with no effort, rising from the water like some kind of otherworldly creature. ‘You love me.’ he tells me confidently.
I lean down, but I can’t reach him. ‘I want to kiss you.’ I whine.
‘I know you do.’ In a stealthy set of coordinated moves, I’m whipped from his shoulders and laying across his arms in a nanosecond. ‘And now you can.’
This grin feels like a permanent fixture on my face, and his sparkling eyes are deeply set and showing no sign of fading. We’re so happy. Laidback Jesse is full-on and drowning me in lust and roguishness. Central Jesse Cloud Nine doesn’t get any better than this.
I could get so very used to this. I could lay every morning and stretch happily, feel the breeze all over my nakedness and wander out onto the veranda to admire my God from a distance, running the curve of the bay. I could prepare him breakfast, despite the fact that I absolutely hate cooking, and I could sit naked at the table while he demolishes it with constant hums of approval around his fork before plunging his finger into a jar of peanut butter, which I’m sure he packed because it’s Sun-Pat. I could open my mouth when instructed so he can feed me, and I could reach over and just stroke his bare, sun kissed chest because I feel like it. I could puddle on the chair when he winks and yanks me over onto his lap to ravish me, and then continue with his breakfast with one hand while he holds me with the other, offering forkfuls of salmon to me. I could slip into my bikini within the privacy of Paradise, receiving no look of horror or demand to put something more substantial on, and go for a swim in the giant freshness of the villa’s pool. I could be pulled out by my hand and dried off, then wrapped up and taken to the shower, where I’m soaped down and served in every shower time way possible. Every shower time way possible… and a little more. I could get very, very used to this.
It’s our last day in Paradise, and I’m feeling a little forlorn. It’s our last day of indulging solely in each other, with none of the distractions or issues that are all currently waiting for us in London. I’m sitting on the bed with tissue wedged between my toes and a bottle of bright pink nail polish in my hand. It’s gone noon. We’ve spent all morning doing all of our normal, and I’m now prepping and preening for an afternoon down at the port and a twilight dinner. I don’t want to go home. I want to stay in Paradise forever, just me and Jesse.
‘I thought we agreed no more nail painting and hunting down scarce whiskey?’
I look up, seeing Jesse performing the mundane task of rubbing his dirty blonde mass of wet hair with a towel, but it’s not so mundane when Jesse is doing it. Nothing this man does is dull or ordinary. I lean back on my pillow and savour the delightful view. He’s naked. I’m dribbling. ‘I need to paint my toenails.’ I shake the bottle and unscrew the lid. ‘It won’t take long, and I don’t need to do my hands.’ I wave my already dried pink fingernails at him.
He saunters over and crawls up the bed until he’s sitting on his knees by my feet. ‘Let me.’ The towel gets laid across his thighs and he takes my foot
in his strong hands.
‘You want to paint my toes?’ I ask, a little amused at my manly husband taking on such a girly task. He flicks me an indifferent look, clearly not bothered to be tending to his wife to this extent.
The nail polish is taken from my hand and my foot positioned on the towel so that he may carry out his self-appointed duty. ‘I may as well get some practice in.’ he informs me, straight-faced and all matter-of-fact. ‘You won’t be able to reach them soon.’
My foot lashes out on reflex, jabbing him straight in his stomach, not that it has the desired effect. He grins down at his lap and re-positions my foot. ‘I don’t want to go home.’ I say quietly.
‘Me either, baby.’ He doesn’t seem shocked to hear it, like he has read my mind, or clearly has been thinking the exact same thing. He gives my big toenail a stroke down the centre with the brush, then one on each side.
‘When can we come back?’ I ask, watching as his concentration frown emerges. It makes me smile, momentarily forgetting my dispiriting thoughts.
‘We can come back whenever you like. Just say the word, and I’ll put you on that plane.’ He wipes across the flesh at the base of my nail and sits back to observe his handiwork. It’s not bad at all, considering his big hands and the tiny brush. He looks up at me. ‘Have you had a nice time?’ he asks on a smile, knowing all too well that I have.
‘Paradise.’ I muse, resting my head back. ‘Continue.’ I nod at my foot in his lap.
His eyes narrow playfully. ‘Yes, my lady.’
‘Good boy,’ I sigh dreamily, relaxing into the pillow. ‘What happens when we get home?’
He continues with the painting of my nails, not giving my question the acknowledgment it deserves. Something needs to be done, preferably by the police, not Steve. While Jesse evacuating me from the country was a welcome escape, I also know it was to maintain his sanity. He can’t hide me in Paradise forever, although I know he doesn’t think that his ambitious intention is irrational at all, and if he keeps up this mood and relaxed persona, neither will I.
‘What happens is that you’ll go to work and finally fulfil your promise to enlighten Patrick of Mikael.’ He tosses an expectant look, which I ignore.
‘Do you think Mikael stole your car?’
‘I have no fucking clue, Ava.’ He places my foot down and picks up the other. ‘I’m dealing with it, so don’t worry your pretty little head.’
‘How are you dealing with it?’ I can’t help the question. I really want to know because something tells me that like most of Jesse’s ways, it won’t be conventional.
As I knew I would, I get landed with a warning look, and I’m mindful that by pushing this, I may very well get tossed off Central Jesse Cloud Nine before we arrive back in London.
I soak up his reproachful look for a few moments, not backing down or wiping the expectant look from my face, and yet I know I won’t be given a satisfying reply. I’ve already quietly accepted that, and I’ve also already mentally agreed not to pursue it. ‘End of.’ he says simply, and I know it really is.
So I relax and let him finish the intricate task of painting my toenails as I silently appreciate both his attentiveness and the fact that he’s scrunched over, leaning down close to carry out his task, yet there is not a roll of fat on that stomach, whatsoever.
‘You’re done.’ he declares, screwing the lid back on. ‘I’m even amazing at this.’ There is no humour in his tone.
I pull my feet up and lean over to take a look, half expecting to see a set of pink coloured feet, but no. Jesse is, indeed, amazing at painting toenails as well as everything else, except cooking. ‘Not bad,’ I flip casually, feigning the wiping of some stray polish that isn’t even there.