Man Candy: A Real Love Novel, page 6
“No compensation necessary.”
There are a few inches between our mouths, and for my kiss to successfully land on his lips, either I’ll have to hoist a leg onto the counter between us—which, let’s face it, seems desperate—or he’ll have to lift his fine ass off that seat and meet me halfway.
He does the latter. Pushing off his chair, he briefly touches my lips with his and then moves away. I watch him disappear in the direction of the bedroom and want to follow him so badly, I have to give my raging lady hormones a talking-to.
He returns a second later carrying a paddle and a feather duster. . . . Oh, wait. That’s a laptop. Well, a girl can dream.
Dax sets the sleek silver laptop on the counter where I’m leaning and slides it in my direction. “Are you Mac friendly?”
“Yes. I took graphic design classes before I went to dance school.”
His grin spreads slowly, and the southerly parts of me tingle.
“Of course you did.” He steals another kiss and pats my ass before moving to the living room and retaking his seat on the couch.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He doesn’t answer, so I open the laptop. I’m met with a password box. “It’s locked. Did you want to—”
“Eight-zero-eight-four-seven,” he says.
I type in the number and like that, I’m in. I watch the back of his head for a moment, wrestling with the idea that he rattled off his password to a virtual stranger.
He trusts me with his five-digit code.
I mean, it’s not access to a vault containing millions of dollars, but a password is significant, right? I only recently met Dax, and he’s handed me the keys to his virtual city. Meanwhile my brother doesn’t trust me to execute even the simplest of tasks.
Like my job.
I’m not the fastest keyboardist, but I peck out the recipe, trying to guesstimate the amounts of the ingredients. As I type, my mind reels back through each knife slice, ingredient, and spice I pulled out of the cabinet. I had access to a full kitchen at the main office, so I brought fresh cilantro, lime and avocado, and seasonings like cumin and smoked salt.
I sneaked a few extras onto the order last week when I was craving some really great Mexican food. There’s only so much barbecue a girl can eat before she wants lighter fare.
At one point I stop what I’m doing and measure a teaspoon of cumin. Then a half teaspoon. I never measure, just sort of throw it in. After rifling through the drawers, I determine that there is no quarter teaspoon, and the tablespoon measure is missing too. I’m forced to guesstimate, but I’m pretty sure I have it.
I carry the laptop into the living room, rest it on the coffee table, and sit next to Dax on the sofa.
“Do you have a grill at McGreevy’s?” I scroll through the recipe to the numbered instructions. “Ideally you would have a grill and get those great char marks on the chicken. You could even use blackening season for a Cajun flair if you wanted to. . . . Oh! Cajun seasoning . . .”
When I notice his smile, my words taper off. He’s so good-looking that it hurts a little to look directly at him.
“What?” I ask.
“In between dancing, graphic design, and rental cabin management, did you also take cooking classes?”
I shake my head.
“Interesting.” He goes back to fiddling with the items in his tackle box.
“Did you ever take a fishing-lure-making class?” I shoot back.
He lets out a soft laugh. “If my dad’s instruction counts. He taught me.”
My heart squeezes. Dax’s face softens whenever he mentions his dad. He misses him.
“That counts,” I reply quietly.
Dax watches me, his eyes bluer in the lamplight. The room is dim, thanks to the constant cloud cover and never-ending rain.
“I’ll test the recipe again if you don’t mind eating more quesadillas. How’s that sound?”
He answers by leaning forward and capturing my lips in a warm, slow, drugging kiss. As my eyes sink shut, I’m hyperaware of him—of the tickle of his fingertips along my cheekbone before he sifts them into my hair. Of the firm heat of his tongue as it slides along mine. I lean forward to claim more of his incredible mouth.
When he breaks away, I whisper, “This feels a lot like wooing.”
“I thought this was you coming to me.” His voice sounds as dazed as mine.
“Agree to disagree?” I ask with a grin.
He delivers another electric kiss, his hands going to the hem of my shirt and tugging it upward. I hoist my arms over my head to help him, because seriously, am I going to resist a chance at more sex with Dax?
No, I am not.
His kisses sear my neck as he sweeps my bra from my arms. I lean into him as his palms cup my breasts. I reach for the waist of his jeans, fingers fumbling for the stud.
Our breathing grows erratic, our kisses more frantic.
“Condom?” I suggest.
“Tackle box,” he answers.
I pull my chin back to focus on his face. His lids are lowered, his smile more of a smirk.
“I’m not that good, Princess.” He slides a hand into the back of my jeans and grips my ass, giving it a hard squeeze. “Take these off and don’t be slow about it. Then climb onto my lap. I’ll do the rest of the work.”
“I like the ‘sir,’” he says as I stand from the couch and strip off my jeans. He works his own jeans down his legs. “Keep the ‘sir’ part.”
“Poor Dax.” I offer a pout as I roll my thong to my ankles. His eyes lock onto my naked body, so I jut one hip to give him a better view. “Don’t you get any respect at home?”
Something feral leaks into his expression and instead of teasing me back, he tugs me by the hips and kisses my belly button before lifting my leg by the ankle. “How high up can you lift this leg?”
In answer, I balance on my left foot, hold the inside of my right foot and lift it until it’s vertical, my toes pointing at the ceiling. Dax inventories the impressive pose before gripping my bottom, tugging me forward, and burying his face between my thighs.
With a gasp, I drop my leg over his shoulder, my hands on his head. His hair’s too short to grip there, so I brace myself on his shoulders. He’s relentless in his endeavor, laving me gently but thoroughly while I fight to keep my other leg under me. I have incredible balance, but I’m not sure my superb stability can stand the test of a Dax-delivered orgasm.
His fingers dance along the seam of my ass and squeeze the flesh there possessively as he sucks my clit.
That’s what ultimately sends me over. I rock my hips toward his face, my fingers clutching his hair, his bare shoulder, wherever I can gain purchase. As my left knee weakens and my body buzzes, I’m suddenly in the air—in Dax’s arms.
He rests my back on the sofa, rolls on a condom, and lowers his big body over mine. I part my thighs to make room for him. Without warning, he slips home.
Filled and surrounded by Dax Vaughn again, a scary thought occurs.
I could get used to this.
Rain pounds the windows outside with no end in sight, shrouding the cabin and us inside. Becca and I started out hot and heavy, her on her back and me with one knee on the sofa, the other foot on the ground, driving into her again and again.
As the rain eases, I slow to keep time, the drumbeat on the windows the rhythm to which I match each long stroke. Rather than digging her nails into my shoulders some more, she gently sweeps them along my traps instead, her eyes drilling into mine.
Hazel normally, but favoring leaf green in the meager light.
Golden skin glowing, fair eyebrows pinched in pleasure, Becca’s mouth drops open as I slide in slow and sure and deliver another orgasm she can’t resist. One that truncates her breath and elicits tight, high mewls from her throat.
Sounds I earned.
I finish her o
I exhale. Place a kiss on her forehead and then one on her temple. She smiles when I dot her jawline with more kisses.
“I don’t know about you, Princess.” I pause to slide out of her warmth. “But I like this eating-interspersed-with-bouts-of-sweaty-satisfying-sex-with-you thing.”
“Is that so?” she asks through a completely sated giggle.
I like that giggle.
“That’s so.” I stamp her mouth with a hard kiss and then deal with the condom in the half bath next to the kitchen.
Angling across the gigantic living room, I shake my head. “This place is ridiculous. It’s more like a mansion on a mountain than a cabin. Not exactly roughing it.”
“I like it.” She’s laid out on her side, purposefully messy blond head propped up on one arm. She’s posing all those long limbs but I don’t mind. Anytime she wants to flaunt that beautiful body, I’m game.
Speaking of . . .
“Have an idea.”
“Wasn’t couch sex your idea?” she asks, the smart-ass.
“Okay, it’s less an idea and more of a game.” My gaze dances around pert, rose-colored nipples. “It’s called Becca Doesn’t Wear Clothes When She’s in My Cabin.”
“Hmm. Turnabout is fair play. You can’t wear clothes either.”
“Fine by me.” I shrug.
“Will you flex for me?”
“Will I . . . flex for you?” She’s kidding, I assume, but her eager nod says differently.
I fist my hands and pull my arms in, popping my biceps for her. Her smile widens, then she makes a twirling motion with her hand.
“Let’s see the back.”
“Dax.” She hoists one eyebrow high to let me know she’s serious.
With a sigh, I turn, but I drop my arms.
“Flex,” she demands.
I flex and earn another peal of laughter.
“Not your ass!”
I turn and lower to my knees, resting my arms on the sofa cushions. I sample first one nipple, then the other. By the time her hands go lazily to my hair and start ruffling it this way and that, I wonder if we’ll ever need to get dressed again.
“Mind if I grab a shower?” she asks, her voice quiet.
“It’s your vacation too, Princess.”
She sits up and palms my cheek, watching me carefully before delivering a peck to the center of my mouth. Then she’s trotting to her room.
I watch her ass wiggle away, smiling in her wake when she flexes those sweet cheeks before sending me a wink over her shoulder.
“He’s so . . . honest.” I lower my voice and speak into my cellphone as quietly as I can, but the fact that I’m in the bathroom, door shut, attached to my bedroom, also door shut, should be enough of a barrier to keep from being overheard.
I’m not hiding, exactly. And I didn’t lie to Dax—I took a quick shower. Now I’m sitting on the edge of the tub, towel around me and hair damp, phone pressed to my ear.
“You’re not used to a guy being honest with you?” Porsha’s laugh is the best on the planet. Velvety and deep, and filled with good humor. When I lived in New York, she was my roommate. During those four short months, we became crazy close. I never believed in love at first sight until I met Porsha. She swept me off my feet as my best-friend-forever with scary ease.
“I don’t mean ‘honest’ as in ‘not a liar’; I mean ‘honest’ as in he blurts out what he’s thinking.”
“Ohh, like what?” she asks, her interest piqued.
“Like . . . he’s glad I’m here.”
She hums in thought. I filled her in on everything that’s occurred since Friday night, arming her with details. Not too many details. I am a lady.
“He speaks his mind. He sounds like you,” she says. “How’s the sex?”
I blow out a breath. “Amazing. Pretty sure I’m still glowing from that last orgasm.”
I stand and swipe the steam from the mirror to verify. Yep. Glowing.
“Lucky girl. Who other than Becca Stone winds up rained in at a cabin on a mountain with a guy who looks like Channing Tatum?”
“I didn’t say he looked like Channing Tatum. I said he looked like a Magic Mike dancer. Dax is more rough-hewn than Channing. And probably taller.”
“Well, he sounds dreamy.”
Only Porsha can use the word “dreamy” and not sound ridiculous.
“How’s Tae?” Her Korean hotter-than-hell husband, just so you know.
“He’s great!” she chirps, but follows it with a strained “Busy.”
“And the studio?” I ask about her recently acquired teaching gig with only the barest hint of envy.
“I’m in heaven.” She tells me her schedule and about the mentor she’s picked up. Some famous dancer by the name of Belle Houghton whom I’ve never heard of. While Porsh talks, her voice aerated, my envy evaporates.
I’m not jealous that my friend has succeeded in a pursuit I walked away from. I’m not even jealous of her good fortune. My jealously has nothing to do with her at all. If this pang of longing can be called jealousy, it can be blamed on the fact that Porsh found her calling. I haven’t found mine despite years of looking under every random rock.
Porsha is on a path that’s pointing straight ahead. Her face is held high and she marches forward with confidence. Right into the sunset.
I’ve always been more of a veer-left, take-a-sharp-right, plummet-into-a-cave-mouth-hidden-by-a-leaf-pile kind of girl. I thrive on not knowing. On change. On surprises. For the first time in my life, I’m noticing there is a gap between what I love to do and what I’m actually doing.
Have I settled?
“I wrote a recipe today,” I blurt. “Remember those chicken quesadillas I used to make?”
“I miss those.” She lets out a sound that’s almost orgasmic—and trust me, I know of what I speak.
“I made them for Dax and he asked if he could buy the recipe from me. He owns a couple of bars and is working on revamping the menus.”
“How cool!” Her support causes a ribbon of pride to thread my ribs.
“Yeah, it is kind of cool. I’m going to test it again, to make sure my measurements are right on the spices.”
“Sounds like you have a fun little side project along with the other fun side project you guys are working on.” Her voice takes on a feisty lilt. “Seriously, Bec, you have all the luck.” An uncharacteristic note of sadness leaks into her words.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Porsh?”
“I am, it’s just . . . the city is expensive.”
She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I was as sick of the cramped quarters as I was of the outrageous rent within a few months of living in Manhattan.
“But you love it, right? The city?”
“Oh, totally! I wish living here didn’t come at the expense of seeing my husband. That’s all. Tae works nearly eighty hours a week, and I picked up an extra class teaching ballet to second graders.” She sighs, adding optimistically, “It’s only temporary. Once things get rolling and he gets a raise and my studio gains popularity, we’ll be off and running!”
Is it me, or did the chirp in Porsha’s voice sound a tad forced? I bite down on the side of my cheek and think of all the times I’ve ever answered that I’m doing “great” when I was less than satisfied with where I was or what I was doing.
Who are we trying to impress with our false bravado? At the very least we should be able to share with our close friends that we’re unhappy . . . that is, if we’re aware that we are.
Am I unhappy?
“Yes! Here. Sorry, hon. My mind wandered.”
“Back to that hunk of man sharing your cabin?”
That part, I pray, isn’t a lie. If anyone deserves happiness and a long, blessed life together, it’s Porsh and Tae.
I thank Porsha for taking the time to chat, and then she’s off to her studio and I’m pulling on pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. It’s bedtime. Ish.
Anyway, I promised Dax I’d test the quesadilla recipe again.
A zing of excitement jets through me at the idea of cooking for him. Cooking for anyone who enjoys it. I remember Porsha begging for my pancakes every Sunday morning when we lived together. She didn’t have to beg—I made them for her because she loved them.
Funny, I never thought of myself as having a singular passion—only a plethora of interests. But each of those interests came and went. Fading before flickering out.
Could cooking be different?
I exit my bedroom and find Dax, beer bottle in hand, pajama bottoms hanging on his lean hips, T-shirt stretching over his thick chest. Relationships are another category where I’ve never had lasting interest.
Could Dax be different?
Not that we’re breaking any records. We’ve spent all of two days together.
Keep your pants on, Bec.
I mean that figuratively speaking.
“I see you had the same idea that I did.” I gesture to my bedtime attire.
“I was gonna stay naked, but that takes the fun out of getting naked.”
“Getting naked is pretty fun.” I walk to him, hands linked behind my back. My tee is white and I’m going braless. Dax blatantly checks out my chest. Totally my intention. Tempting him is way, way too fun.
I swipe his beer take a swig. When I hand it back, he does the same, then palms my lower back. I rise to my toes and we kiss. Bubbly, beer-flavored kisses from Dax are my new favorite kind of kisses.
“You’re yummy,” I mutter when he sets me back on my heels.
“So are you, Princess.” His lips are slightly hitched, his eyes warm.
“Hungry?” I ask.
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