‘No. Day two is my favourite day.’ I lean in so I can run my cheek up his. ‘And I want you to wear your grey suit and black shirt.’
‘Tie or no tie?’
‘Tie. Your grey one, knotted loosely.’ I kiss my way to his lips and slip my tongue past them gently.
He returns my kiss, tenderly, sweetly, lovingly. ‘If you get to decide what I wear, then it’s only fair that I get to decide what you wear.’
‘You do anyway.’
‘No I don’t because you won’t let me.’ His hands find the back of my head and pull me closer.
‘What do you want me to wear?’ I practically moan the words against his lips.
‘Your black dress.’
‘The one that comes to my knee and has three quarter length sleeves?’
‘That’s the one. I love any dress you wear, but I really love that one.’ He bites down on my lip and pulls away, dragging my lip through his teeth as he does. ‘No,’ he whispers.
I’m going to be slighted again. I can tell by the resoluteness on his devastating face. He’s probably right to refuse me, but it won’t stop the budding desire that’s attacking my insatiable being. I’m always greedy for him, but lately I’ve been relentless. ‘You said you can’t say no to me.’ I catch a naughty rub of my groin into his. I have no shame.
‘I can when you’re barely keeping your eyes open, lady. The answer is no, end of.’ His big hands clench my hips warningly, and I jerk a little before I’m turned around so he can run the soaking sponge across my back. ‘Pregnancy is playing havoc with your hormones.’
‘Only if you continue to refuse me. You’re giving me a complex, and I’m not even fat yet.’
‘Ava,’ he snaps. ‘Pregnancy is also making you deluded. Stop it.’
I sigh to myself and drop my head between my bent knees, pulling my hair over my shoulder to give him access to my entire back. His rhythmic caresses with the sponge make my eyes heavy again, and I give in to my fatigue, letting Jesse have his way. The second he refuses me when I’m not mentally and physically exhausted, all hell will break loose.
‘Thank you for taking me to Paradise.’ I murmur quietly.
He kisses my shoulder and rests his mouth at my ear. ‘Baby, you take me to Paradise every day.’
* * *
I’m not a happy bunny. He’s woken, gone for a run, showered and dressed, all without me, but he left my ginger biscuit and folic acid by the bed with some water. I’m standing in front of the floor length mirror in my lace, drying my hair, when I see him in the reflection, strolling into the bedroom. I’ll give him just a little credit. He’s not shaved and he has on his grey suit, black shirt and the tie I requested, but it doesn’t improve my mood, even if he does look edible.
‘Morning,’ he chirps, all happy and awake.
I flip him a scowl and chuck my hairdryer on the floor before stalking into the wardrobe to find something to wear. I know what I should be pulling down from the hanger, but in a fit of pure childishness, I pick something else, pulling it on and zipping it up quickly. I exit the wardrobe and slip my feet into my black suede heels, and then head straight for the bathroom. I’m aware of his large frame to the side of me, following my every move. I snatch a quick look as I pass and see his hands resting lightly in his trouser pockets and an amused expression on his face. I don’t humour him with my time or silver tongue, instead finding my way to the bathroom mirror and making fast work of my make-up.
He walks in and comes to stand behind me, his fresh water loveliness smacking me right in the nose. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ he asks, still displaying amusement on his face.
I pause, mid-mascara application, and pull back from the mirror. ‘I’m putting my make-up on.’ I answer, knowing this is not what he means.
‘Let me rephrase that. What do you think you’re wearing?’
His eyebrows hit his hairline. ‘Let’s not start the day on a bad note, lady.’ He holds my black pencil dress up. ‘Put the dress on.’
I take a deep breath of calm, and turn to take the dress before exiting the bathroom without a word. I’ll put the dress on, but only because I’m worked up enough. Not only have I been snatched from Paradise, but, as predicted, I’ve also been tossed off Central Jesse Cloud Nine. London does our relationship absolutely no favours. No, let me rephrase that. Jesse in London does our relationship no favours.
I go out of my way to make the biggest deal of demonstrating the inconvenience he’s causing, not that he’s bothered. He stands patiently and observes as I remove my unauthorised dress and replace it with the one he’s sanctioned. Reaching behind my back, I grasp the zipper and pull it up my back, but I only get halfway before I lose my grip of the little piece of metal. I quickly locate it again, but the same thing happens.
I close my eyes, hating having to ask the smug arse for assistance. ‘Will you zip me up, please?’
‘Of course,’ he chirps, and the next second he’s pressed against my back, his mouth at my ear. ‘With great pleasure.’ he murmurs, instigating a ferocious wave of treacherous tingles to ride through me. My hair is grasped and draped down my front before he takes the zip and tugs. ‘Oh dear.’
‘What? Is it broken?’ I could laugh. Not because my dress is damaged, I love this dress, but because I know he won’t send me to work with material gaping open at my back.
‘Urm…’ he tries again. ‘No, baby. I think you may have grown out of it.’
I gasp, completely horrified, and turn to see my back in the mirror. There’s a good inch on bare flesh revealed and the material is not stretchy. I sag on the inside and out. And so it begins. All of the pregnancy side effects will be accelerated because I have two peanuts, not one. I refuse to cry, although I could, quite easily. I need to embrace this. I need to match Jesse in the enthusiasm stakes. It’s all right for him, he’s still going to be a God at the end of all this, whereas my body will probably be ravaged. I turn to face him, finding an apprehensive face around a chewed lip. He thinks I’m going to disintegrate. ‘Can I put my other dress on now?’ I ask quietly.
He visibly relaxes and even fetches my other dress for me, helping me out of the now redundant one and into the newly authorised one. ‘Beautiful,’ he says. ‘I need to scram. Cathy’s downstairs and she’s made you breakfast. Please eat it.’
He can’t hide his surprise at my easy submission. ‘Thank you.’
‘You don’t have to thank me for eating.’ I mutter, grabbing my bag. I make my way out of the bedroom.
‘I feel like I should thank you for everything you do without arguing with me about it.’ He follows me down the stairs.
‘If you were still fucking sense into me, then I would argue.’ I land at the bottom.
‘Are you pissed because I didn’t service you this morning?’ he asks, amusement rife in his tone.
‘Thought so.’ He grabs my hand and swings me around so my body crashes against his hard chest. Then he eats me alive. I’m taken with purpose and conviction, and I don’t stop him. It’ll never make up for the sex we didn’t have this morning, but it might quench my thirst until later. ‘Have a nice day, baby.’ I’m spun back around and my arse is slapped, before I’m guided to the kitchen archway. ‘Make sure my wife eats her breakfast, Cathy.’
‘I will, boy.’ She waves a whisk over her head, but doesn’t turn around.
‘I’ll see you later. And don’t forget to speak with Patrick.’ He strides out without waiting for confirmation that I will, indeed, talk to Patrick. I know my time is up on that matter.
‘Ava, you look so well!’ Cathy sings at me from across the kitchen. ‘All glowing and fresh!’
‘Thanks, Cathy.’ I smile at her kindness but wonder if she’s just trying to make me feel better. ‘Can I take my bagel with me? I’m running a little late.’
‘Of course.’ She starts wrapping it in cling film. ‘Did you have a nice time?’
My smile broadens as I approach her to collect my breakfast. ‘We had a lovely time.’ I say, because we did, despite the last horrific evening.
‘I’m so glad. You both needed a break. Tell me, are the biscuits working?’
‘I knew they would. And twins!’ She shoves my bagel in my bag and clasps my cheeks. ‘Do you realise how lucky you are?’
‘Yes,’ I answer, actually meaning it. ‘I should get going.’
‘Yes, yes, you go, dear. I’ll get started on the washing.’
I leave Cathy sorting whites and darks, and board the elevator after punching in the new code. I’m quickly delivered into the foyer of Lusso, where I find Casey sorting out the post. ‘Morning, Casey.’ I greet as I bounce past.
‘Mrs Ward! You’re back.’ He joins me as I head for the brightness of outside. ‘Did you have a nice time?’
‘Casey, you don’t need to call me Mrs Ward. Ava will do. We had a great time, thank you.’ I slip my shades on and retrieve my keys from my bag. ‘How are you enjoying the new job?’
‘More now you’re back.’
I skid to a halt. ‘Pardon?’
He blushes terribly and starts fiddling with the envelopes in his grasp. ‘That came out wrong. Sorry. It’s just, well, did you know that you’re the only woman in the whole building?’
‘Yes. All these rich businessmen don’t say a word. They just grunt at me or make demands down the phone. You’re the only one who takes the time to speak. I appreciate it, that’s all.’
‘Oh, okay.’ I smile at his awkwardness. ‘You mean rich business men like my husband?’
He blushes further. ‘Okay, now I’m just digging myself a hole.’ He laughs uncomfortably. ‘It’s just nice to see a cheerful face around here again.’
‘Thank you,’ I smile, and he returns it, his steel blue eyes twinkling. ‘I’d better be going.’
‘Sure. I’ll catch you later.’ He backs away before turning and strolling off casually, back to his desk. I need to get my backside in gear. It’s my first day back, and I’m going to be late. I need to be in Patrick’s good books today.
I don’t even falter in my steps when I emerge from Lusso and see John waiting for me. He doesn’t shrug apologetically like he usually would, either. I had fully expected this. ‘How are you, John?’ It’s good to see him again. I’ve missed the big friendly guy.
‘S’all good, girl.’ he rumbles, following my path around to the passenger side. I jump in and secure myself with the seatbelt, watching as John takes his seat beside me on a frown. ‘You’re not going to kick up a stink today?’ he asks, his voice plagued with laughter.
‘I think I’d be signing my own death warrant if I did.’ I answer dryly.
John laughs, shifting his big body in the seat before starting his Ranger Rover up. ‘I’m glad. I was under strict instructions to manhandle you with optimum care if you resisted.’ He looks across at me through his black wraparounds. ‘I didn’t want to resort to that, girl.’
I grin at him. ‘So are you my assigned bodyguard now, then?’ I know if there was anyone else Jesse would trust me to, it would be John. I’m kidding, of course, but John can’t appreciate taxying me to work every day.
‘If it keeps that mother fucker happy, I’ll do whatever he wants.’ John swigs out of the car park. ‘Are you and the babies okay?’ He keeps his eyes on the road.