Suspiciously Obedient

Page 26

To her surprise, she let him, not moving a muscle.

Her body could almost feel his eyes on the swell of her bicep, the outer edge of her breast going down to the soft curve of her waist and then the wider, ample hips. By the time he got to her feet and her toenails, which were painted a lovely China red, she tingled, completely caught off guard by his simple, searching look.

Those were the eyes of a man who wanted her. Pure and clear. There was no ambiguity. No disguise. No fake green eyes.

No fake human being.

Faltering, his smile shook a bit as they reached each other, then looked down at the milky waters, mesmerized. Steam rose up in pockets from the water’s surface, jagged black rock around uneven edges of the hot springs.

“It’s too hot!” she exclaimed, dipping one toe in.

“Yes, you are.” He coughed as she arched one eyebrow. “I mean, it is.” Contradicting himself, he waded right in, diving under the water like a seal, popping up ten feet away to Lydia’s right.

Following slowly, her feet sank into the muddy floor, the gray dirt mushing between her toes. It wasn’t really mud, yet not sand. Wholly new, the feeling disturbed her as she made her way, inch by inch, toward Jeremy, who was now crouched down in three feet of water, his head hovering, wet hair slicked back and face excited, like a child’s.

His exuberance was contagious, and Lydia imitated him, sinking into the water until only her head and shoulders were above the surface. Warmth radiated through her, relaxing all her muscles. Reaching down, she scooped up a handful of the strange mud from the water’s bottom and held it out to him.

“What is this?”

“Mineral mud, I think,” he answered, shrugging. Scooping his own handful from under the water, he studied it. “I think the brochure inside said it’s silica mud.” Jeremy looked around, then rubbed both hands together.

“What are you doing?”

“Spa treatment.” He began applying the mud to his face, like a woman getting a mud mask, leading Lydia to giggle. Two older women nearby were doing the same, Jeremy studying them intently, mimicking their movements. When he was done, he looked ridiculous, with whitish-gray mud on his skin, eyelids, lips—like a four-year-old’s version of playing “spa.”

“Here. Let’s do you,” he said, reaching out with one muddy hand for her face. Do me, she thought, laughing nervously to get rid of the thought. Wrestling away from him, their arms clenched in battle, she enjoyed the contact, wet skin and fingers sliding against each other, his face a mask of playful determination, covered in white goo. How could he be so open, so uninhibited? Jeremy had no filter. No self-consciousness or concern about how he appeared; he was just there to make merriment and to enjoy himself. His hand brushed against her breast and she wondered if he was like that in bed, the idea making the sudden heat that filled her burn far hotter than the water.

On the losing side of fitness compared to his size and physique, she found herself hopelessly outclassed by his sheer strength, succumbing to a palmful of mud on her cheeks and nose.

“Hey! On the face, not up the nose!” she sputtered, snorting inelegantly.

He looked stricken, the shocked expression comical when combined with the mud mask.

“You look like Mr. Bill.”

Flattening his hands, he placed one palm on each cheek in mockery of the Saturday Night Live joke. “Oh, noooooooo…”

She took that as her cue to dip underwater, the hushed sound of the hot bath covering her ears, making her stop thinking about how his hands felt on her bare skin, how strong his forearms were, how she’d brushed against his taut thigh while he pinned her in place to wipe the mineral mud on her. Down here, she could think, even as her lungs burned for air.

Breaking the surface, she stood, the water at her waist, the cold air a balm. When she opened her eyes, he was staring openly at her breasts, a half-smile on his now-clean face.

“I've been watching—”

“I noticed,” she interrupted.

“—other women,” he continued. Oh. Oops. “And they massage the mud all over their bodies.” He stepped closer, his body looming over hers, hips inches from each other. The steam filled her lungs and rose in a cloud around them, the lagoon large enough that no one was near. Jeremy began wading further out, walking backwards and facing her, with Lydia entranced, following him, her eyes drawn to the rippled muscles of his chest, the same cut abs that Mike possessed, stretched out in a swimmer’s body on the longer, lithe Jeremy. Both bent under water to grab fistfuls of white mineral mud, and she reached out to rub his back, seeking an excuse to make contact. He straightened up, shoulders broad and outstretched like a cobra’s back, her hand taking its time to massage the mineral mixture in.

How strange life was. A few weeks ago she was living a life she’d carved out for herself, barely having met “Matt Jones” and worried about her romance marketing presentation. Here she was, now, in Iceland, slathering silica residue all over the best friend of the man who’d won her heart and betrayed her. As her hands moved down, closer to Jeremy’s waistband, she took some liberties, caressing the skin at his hip a bit too sensually, reaching forward just one extra inch to…

The hitch in his breathing told her what she sought.

He felt it, too.

What could they do with these emotions, though? Mike had sent Jeremy to watch over her, right? What the hell did that mean? Teasing this out just a bit more, she leaned forward into his shoulder, her lips at his neck, and whispered, “Is this relaxing enough?” as she massaged the mud into his hip, reaching forward just enough to—

A ninja-like grip on her wrist was her answer. “Don’t start something you’re not prepared to finish.” His tone was beseeching, not the smoky threat she'd expected. If he turned around right now, if she faced him, if one more millimeter of skin touched his, she would kiss him and start something she would absolutely want to finish, back in her room, on her bed, on the floor—hell, in an alley. The image of Jeremy's nude body over hers, his hands on her ass, his mouth on her where she needed it most, invaded her brain as his grip softened, his face turning back toward hers, cheeks against one another. When he swallowed, she felt it, the movement sending a ripple through her.

“And,” he added, his voice ragged with emotion as he turned around, facing her, making it impossible not to kiss him, “it’s your turn.” Hands clamped over her shoulders as he spun her around gently. The heat and wet of mud stroked against her shoulder blades as Jeremy patiently began touching her in small circles, branching out into larger paint swipes, his palm a brush and her back his canvas. No mere massage, his hands told her what his body could not—yet. As he stepped closer, his hips touched her ass, giving Lydia a very certain sense of how he felt about her, firm and rigid flesh colliding with her pliant curves. A gentleman, he stepped back, letting only his fingers smooth and push into her back and neck now, covering her in a pale, creamy coating meant to rejuvenate and restore.

Oh, how it did.

Yet it wasn’t the mud that accomplished one iota of that…

His presence behind her blocked out the sun, his warmth radiating so much more than any rays could produce, and as her pulse raced, her knees locked and throbbing, her body thrumming with desire, she realized that if he didn't stop touching she would never let him stop touching her. This had to end. Now.

Plunging underwater with a sudden, vicious drop, she ended the torture of his socially acceptable touch, a series of brushes that led to not so socially acceptable scenes in her mind. Coming up for air, she found him standing in place, hands planted on his hips, a seductive smile on those lips.

“Had enough?”

Oh, Jeremy, she thought. Hell, no.

“Sure. Let’s go exploring,” she replied, a little too chipper. Was it cheating when you slept with your ex-lover’s best friend? The guy who had been sent to spy on her? Or to…whatever on her?

Whatever had so many interpretations.

Of course it wasn’t cheating! She had no fidelity to Michael Bournham. In fact, she should sleep with Jeremy simply to exact revenge on Mike, right? Wouldn’t that even the score?

No! It wouldn’t even come close to evening anything. How much did it take to make up for not telling her their lovemaking was being videotaped and would be shown worldwide?

She’d need to sleep with a hundred of his best friends to make even the smallest dent in that sort of betrayal!

What the hell was she thinking? Jeremy shot her a confused look as she paused, her mind reeling, a kind of madness taking over as her body wanted Jeremy and her mind cracked at the edges, trying desperately to hold the center together.

“You okay? You look like you might be overheating,” Jeremy asked, his hand on her elbow. Even that tiny contact sent her body back into full-on adrenaline bursts, all leading to a throbbing clit, her heightened awareness making her swoon.

Understatement of the century. “I could use some water,” she admitted. “Maybe it is too hot in here.” A quick wade to shore and she looked over her body, realizing how pink she was. Then again, so were all of the bodies coming out of the hot water.

Jeremy handed her a bottle of water from a stash he had set up next to their towels. Gulping down half a bottle in seconds, she amazed herself.

“I was thirstier than I realized.” An inner shakiness caught her off kilter, making her sit down and stretch out in the sun, Deep breaths helped to center her. Better. Much better. Until Jeremy lay beside her, his full body long and on display for her eyes to covet. The suit was very American—no Speedo like most of the other men. Completely casual, he rested on his side and faced her.

“Better?” he asked, his face etched with concern. If he knew that what wobbled her wasn’t the heat, but was instead his body, his hands, his interest and her own, teeming and ready to explode, would that make a difference?

“Better,” she muttered, not trusting her own voice.

“Then let’s just take a breather and relax,” he said, rolling flat on his back. Her eyes raked over his body as he closed his own, giving her carte blanche to just watch him. The wet hair made him look younger, more her age, and the light stubble on his face gave him a backpacker's appearance. With a jaw line that was slack, unlike Mike's perpetually-tense neck, Jeremy looked like someone who spent a lot of time lounging – and who had mastered it.

More than anything, though, he could just be. Company was what she needed now, even more than a friend with benefits or a bedmate. Company.

If his hard-on were any bigger it would be tracked by NORAD.

Willing it to go down, he drank his water slowly, as if controlling his throat would loosen everything else. Nice try—it didn’t work, but he could deceive himself into thinking it might have an effect.

Lydia looked unhinged and dazed, the water clearly addling her. Getting her up here was a relief. For as magical as the Blue Lagoon was, he could see that it needed to be experienced in small doses. His eyes wandered over her legs, lush and strong, the thighs cut off by her emerald-green one-piece suit, the cut showing off curved hips and a full rack. The green brought out flecks of a deeper amber in her eyes, which were now open and staring straight at him.

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