Suspiciously Obedient

Page 21

All of that she could tolerate at home, in Boston, hanging with Grandma, spending time with Krysta, working to put in her time before she got the promotion. But here? She had dumped everything for this. She had been dumped. She had been suckered. And even so, she couldn’t stop thinking about him, her mind replaying every tortured moment that he had touched her, every second that she had reveled in it. Every touch that had made her alive, every exploring kiss, each hot, fevered grope.

The sense of his breath on the back of her neck in the elevator, how his arms had felt around her ribs, hand brushing against the edge of her breast—it tortured her. The moments in her office and then his, late at night, stripped to nothing, gone bare in a soulless, colorless corporate environment, spiced and vibrant only by the sound of her screams through gritted teeth and of his groans as they took something that wasn’t supposed to be and made it into so much more.

That Matt Jones had turned out to be Michael Bournham boggled her mind and made her heart race, her pulse thready. That knowledge made her smile a secret, sly look that she couldn’t wipe off her face even now. She had been sleeping with one of the most eligible bachelors in Boston and didn’t even know it. What did he look like now? Had he dyed his hair back? Were those blue eyes piercing? And those fake green eyes were now so ludicrously unreal that she understood why he had been almost a caricature of a superhero.

He’d been fired. She heard the news reports that said he’d resigned, but she knew the truth. He’d been fired, and the board of directors had taken control of his company. That had to hurt. He wasn’t exactly the kind to roll over and go submissive. Certainly not in bed. Thinking about him in the most intimate of manners made her heart feel as if it had been pierced.

Sitting at her desk, collecting an overpriced paycheck in a country she had never even had on a top twenty list of places she wanted to visit, with everyone speaking a language she didn’t understand, left Lydia feeling lonely for the first time in her life.

Coffee. She needed coffee. Without a word of explanation she got up and walked outside into the impossibly bright sunshine. The streets were quite empty, the mid-morning hour a time for napping babies and the pre-lunch hush. Sidewalks were hers, for the most part, and she took her time, savoring the quiet. Disconnected from work, she found herself unraveling a plan, like a ribbon being pulled from a large roll. If she could undo her life in Boston so quickly, she could reverse this one even faster…

And then she spotted the most unlikely Viking in Iceland. Jeremy.

He certainly fit in with many of the men here is Reykjavik. They were tall—impossibly so, sometimes—and at six-six he had a handful of men taller than him walking along the cobblestone sidewalks, but he looked about as different as could be. First of all, few people in Iceland wore Chuck Taylors, his shoes standing out from the crowds. Second, he wore a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt. While early August in Iceland was warm, it wasn’t that warm, and she wondered how he could walk along and not shiver.

“Lydia?” he said, his voice curious, more disingenuous than anything. “Is that you?”

She stopped and gave him a withering look. Standing eight feet apart, she wondered what they looked like to outsiders. Two Americans, running into each other on the streets of Reykjavik. That probably wasn’t a common tourist event.

“Jeremy. Funny meeting you here,” she said.

“That’s my line,” he replied.

“That’s bullshit,” she answered. “Michael Bournham sent you, didn’t he?”

Jeremy placed a hand over his heart and widened his eyes. “Whatever would make you think that?” he said, eyelashes dancing. “I’m here because I had a hankering for”—he looked around, puzzled—“whatever it is people have a hankering for here in Iceland.”

“A yarn shop?” she asked drily. “There are about three on every block.” Seriously? This was the best Michael Bournham could do? Get his best friend to come and stalk her? Amateur. At least send an ex-Navy SEAL or a Russian mob dude. What about that chauffeur he used—the guy who looked like an extra from The Sopranos?

“Yes,” he answered, nodding vigorously. “A yarn shop. I was in the mood to learn how to knit and thought I would come to Iceland where the”—he stumbled over his words—“sheep make such wonderful wool for crocheting—”


“Knitting,” he repeated.

If it weren’t so absurd tears would fill her eyes by now. But it was absurd, and Jeremy could pull it off just well enough that she wasn’t pissed so much as bemused and conflicted.

“Before I go and find a yarn shop and a knitting instructor or…whatever you do when you learn how to knit,” he said, his eyes kind and hopeful, hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans, feet almost doing a strange aw, shucks shuffle, almost as if they were eighth-graders and not fully grown adults, “would you mind taking me to the best coffee shop in the city?”

“I don’t know the best coffee shop in the city.”

“Well, then,” he said, threading his arm through hers, linking elbows, “let’s go find it together.”

“This isn’t going to work,” she said flatly. His skin against hers was the first human touch she’d had since she flew out of Logan and hugged her mother. Involuntary reactions ranging from enjoyment to a touch of flushed passion invaded her. She pulled away, blessedly relieved and infuriatingly deprived. What the hell was happening to her?

“What isn’t going to work?” he answered, looking down. His hair was clean but mussed; he obviously hadn’t run a comb through it or done much of anything other than hopped in a shower today. Rumpled. He looked rumpled. She wondered how he could care so little for his appearance and yet still manage to be so appealing.

“Having Michael Bournham send you here—that’s not going to work. I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Michael Bournham. Michael Bournham,” Jeremy said, lowering his voice into a deep, fake baritone, like an announcer before a disaster movie in the previews. “Why do you keep calling him Michael Bournham? That’s so formal. He’s just Mike.”

“No, Jeremy, he’s Matt.”

A distressed look crossed his face. He peered down and stopped, forcing her to jerk to a halt, too. They were in front of the Reykjavik equivalent of a dollar store, cheap passport holders in the window along with plastic cutlery and Hello Kitty purses. “He’s both, you know,” Jeremy said seriously. “None of what happened was planned.”

“Pfft,” she said, her tone dismissive, tongue rolling in her cheek, practically taking inventory of each molar in the back. “You’re telling me that this up-and-coming playboy billionaire—”

“Millionaire!” Jeremy retorted.

“—Near-billionaire CEO, Michael Bournham, just accidentally stumbled into a hidden-camera situation where a viral sex tape made its way all the way to my mother’s smart phone app for cable news? ‘Oops!’” she said. “‘Sorry, Lydia. I didn’t mean to fuck you on camera!’”

“You’re very photogenic,” he answered, craning around to look at her ass. She smacked him in the chest, hard enough to make him stumble backwards and cry out in pain.

Good, she thought. “If you’re trying to be here to make peace or to cleanse his reputation or to get me to go back to being his fuck toy, Jeremy, then just go home.” And with that Lydia stormed off, headed directly toward—in fact—the best coffee shop in Reykjavik.

“Hey! Hey!” he boomed, running after her. Onlookers turned and stared at them, assuming it was some sort of a lovers’ spat and she wanted to cry out something, anything that would make the attention go away.

Just when people began to resume their own business, Jeremy shouted, “I meant to compliment your ass. It looked great on camera. Not many women can pull that off.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Siggi, from the office, emerge from a convenience store with a yogurt in hand. The cocked eyebrow told her he'd heard Jeremy’s words. Fuck. Pointedly ignoring him, she hoped he’d keep going. To her undying relief she soon watched his back recede around a corner, headed toward the office.

Lydia stopped, mid-pace, closed her eyes, and sighed. Some things she couldn’t escape, even half an ocean away. Apparently, neither could Michael Bournham. Resuming her pace, the click-clack click-clack of her heels on the cobblestones filled her mind. Acting as if Jeremy didn't exist, she slipped on sunglasses and pretended not to know him.

Which was damn near impossible when he ran in front of her, blocked her path, and said loudly, “You know, none of this would have happened if Mike had just come to Bangkok with me and we’d had another threesome.”

He’d chosen the very moment that a kindly old knitting store clerk had stepped out into the threshold of her store to people-watch. She looked like Lydia's archetype of a grandmother—portly and large-chested, wearing a long gray skirt, a white turtleneck, and a gorgeous, intricate hand-knit cardigan made of muted, heathered pinks and purples. Gray hair, deep wrinkles, and those ice-blue eyes she found to be fairly common among Icelanders.

“What? You've never heard people argue about threesomes?” Jeremy asked the woman, who now openly gawked.

“I…you're American, aren’t you?” she asked, her English perfect, her accent like an additional layer of judgment.

“What made you guess?” Jeremy strode into the shop, bending at the doorway, the threshold built into a half-basement-level entrance.

“I am Frida. And you are...?” The old woman looked over her unrimmed glasses at them both.

“I'm Jeremy and this is Lydia,” Jeremy replied, as if this were the most commonplace thing in the world.

“Pleased to meet you. Now, please sit,” she said, gesturing to a semi-circle of rocking chairs on the back of the store.

“Wait, you’re serious? You’re going to sit here and take knitting lessons right now?” Still stunned by the sight of Jeremy—of all people—here in Iceland, Lydia curled her lip up in an expression of incredulity. “Shouldn’t we go to a coffee shop and sit and talk about this?”

“Talk about what? Knitting?” Jeremy found a rocking chair and the old woman handed him a set of needles and a ball of yarn.

“You don’t need a coffee shop for that,” the old woman said.

“No.” She looked at Jeremy and narrowed her eyes. “You know…about Matt, er…Michael Bournham. I mean—”

“Oh, the threesome,” Jeremy said.

The woman tittered. “I was born too late. You children have all the fun.”

Jeremy turned, eyes popped out, his face as shocked as she’d ever seen it, the normal calm, suave, mellow affect completely gone in the face of having a woman the age of his grandmother tell him something so daring.

The woman nudged Lydia, handing her a pair of needles and a ball of yarn as well. “Cast on. I want to watch how you do it,” her English clipped, a slight lilt and a tangy guttural sound somehow living within the language simultaneously, the effect a bit mesmerizing.

Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.