Before You Say Goodbye
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by Christine London
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: From the moment Aussie Internet entrepreneur Benn Morrison opened the California mystery writer's solicitous message he knew she would change his life. Classy, sexy and erudite, she defined desirable womanhood. Now, six months on, they are flying halfway round the globe to 'meet' on neutral ground: London. Can their affair of words survive the delivery of the package upon which his future depends? Ripped apart before they have the chance to find out, they are left to solve what just may be a mystery costing them their lives.
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: October 2008
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [157 KB]
Reading time: 85-119 min.
Spice and resinous tang, he breathed her in, cascading kisses across her face. Hands cradling her head, he couldn't stop consuming the reality of her. Overwhelming relief flooded his chest, threatening to smother him in its intensity.
Her cheeks were wet. He drew back from her, engaging her eyes. Jesus ... those eyes. Red-rimmed with emotion, smudged with melted mascara, they were beautiful.
"Aubrey, don't cry. I'm okay."
"God, I thought I'd never see you again," she breathed in short, laboured gasps.
He hooked his arm around her shoulder and brought her to his chest. "They've let me go. It was all a huge cock up." He felt her wedge clenched fists between them.
"Who's they?' her voice quavered, potent with imagined horrors. He captured her upper arms in a firm grasp, her fists now pressing into his sternum.
"I don't know. Americans."
"Americans?" Her forehead furrowed in anxiety.
"They thought I was some bloke named Steele."
Fists relaxing, her hands dropped to her sides. "What did they want?"
"The contents of my carry-on bag ... oh, and my mobile." He patted the side pocket of his coat in well-rehearsed gesture of cursory search.
The starch melted from her posture. "So we buy you a new toothbrush and some underwear."
"I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that." The brick was back in his stomach. A line of concern appeared between her brows, mirroring his. "They sort of made away with--" He paused, unable to say it.
"What?" she questioned, her agate eyes burning with intensity.
"With a rather important package."
"We're not on Mars, Benn. We can get it replaced".
He cursed his open book face. Biting his bottom lip, he tried to change what was already written in his eyes. "I can't."
She curled her fingers around his forearm. "Why not? What could be that rare?"
He drew in a deep breath and sighed. "Gems. My father's."
Her mouth opened in surprise mixed with commiseration. "Oh ... Benn."
"Well there's no point crying over spilt milk, is there?"
"You've got to be kidding me. We're not gonna take this lying down."
He stared at the yellow-orange striations that swirled through her irises. Her eyes looked as though they would self-combust. "I refuse to expose you to any danger."
Her hand tightened around his forearm. "I appreciate the sentiment, I do ... but I can take care of myself."
"These guys may have bungled who I am, but they meant business." He jutted his head forward, eyes lasering sincerity into hers. "I'll not have you in harm's way." Fear welled up in him. He hadn't been with her more than five minutes and already he knew he'd lie in front of a bus for her. "No."
She dropped her hand from his arm and turned away. The sight of her back felt glacial.
"Come on, Aubrey. I'm just being reasonable. Neither of us is equipped to handle--" He cut himself off and blew out a puff of frustration. "So I suppose this qualifies as our first fight?" Sensing the tension radiating from her, he instinctively kept his hands to himself. Tentatively, he moved around to face her. Before he entered her peripheral vision, she whirled, sending him recoiling in astonishment.
"I'm a fucking mystery author. I've written at least a hundred such scenarios. I've done research with dozens of criminal justice professionals and gotten my characters out of more circuitous plot twists than a snake on steroids." Her face was flushed with anger, her body puffed up in animal charade.
Benn tried to contain it, but an explosive chortle escaped his lips. Aubrey's eyes widened even further.
"Don't take this wrong, woman, but you crack me up."
She struck his shoulder, packing quite a wallop. He reached for the spot with a reactive hand. "Owe!"
"Come on ... give me a break. I barely touched you."
Rubbing the offended muscle he retorted, "If that's your soft touch, remind me not to get on your bad side."
"I never should have had that cab follow you. If I'd 'ov known you were gonna resume the chase after they'd let you go Scot free--"
"Don't be insulting ... I'm a colonial, not a bleedin' Celt."
A brief questioning look flashed across her face before she made the connection. "Ha ha. Very funny. I'm glad you're taking this so lightly."
"I'm not. It's just that you have to keep your sense of humor through life or you'll die of some cardiovascular malady." He studied her. "Aubrey? Come on ... stick with me here."
Reprimand and mirth warred on her face, finally melting into a reluctant smile. "Okay."
She reengaged his eyes. "We know they thought you were someone else. That they are American and that they were carting you across London."
"To City Airport would be my guess."
"How do you know that?"
"I heard the planes taking off right overhead when we stopped."
"Yes. They took me into some sort of warehouse. I could smell the coffee."
"Yeah, must have been used to store beans. It permeated the air."
"What did it look like?"
"Don't know. My head was covered throughout. Right until they booted me into an alley just across the way."
"Yes ... of course." She turned from him, gazing at the pavement in thought.
Hooking her elbow, he steered her toward Bankside. "Look, love, I'm as fond of tourist locales as the next bloke, but can we get out of the weather?" * * * *
Dodging under a green awning, they made it through the heavy oak door of a bakery just as the heavens opened. Cinnamon and sugar assaulted the senses as the waft of warm air hit her. A bell tinkled as Benn pushed through just ahead. While he was looking around the cozy establishment, she studied him. Beads of moisture clung to his classic-cut charcoal coat. His hair--a riot of damp curls--danced over his collarbone, skimming broad shoulders. Now that they were out of harm's way, she could concentrate on him. She'd not thought to really look at him until now. They were safe inside this throwback to the forties, with heaps of rolls, sweets and breads stacked beneath the glass of a display case. She ignored it all to focus on him.
"Could we have two sticky buns and a pot of tea?' The depth of his voice penetrated her cloud of concern. It blanketed her in the fabulous reality of the man at her side. God, he was gorgeous. His online photos did not do him justice. She'd been attracted to him from his very first communiqué. His MySpace icon was alluring, showing his dark-haired good looks, the light blue of his eyes and the strength of his jaw line. The other photos in his pics file were all snapshots; self-generated, and at odd angles. What would a real photographer be able to do with the man?
She felt the muscles of her face slacken, lips parting to draw in air that suddenly seemed more urgent. He turned from the clerk behind the counter, ice blue eyes engaging hers.
"Would you rather have a scone?"
His words might as well have been Swahili. She flipped her focus switch to "on" for receptive language, quickly retrieving at least the last few words.
"Scone? Uhh ... no. Whatever you're having." Under the loose wrap of her scarf, her neck seemed ablaze, sending radiant heat to her face. She tugged at the long end that looped over her shoulder until it dangled freely. His hand wrapped around her wrist and he leaned in to kiss her. The gentle touch of his lips at the corner of her mouth sent adrenaline-laced lust through her, like the shockwave of a nuclear blast. She felt his grip tighten, his other hand pressing against the small of her back. The churning of blood in her ears competed with the pounding in her chest. Invading her nostrils, damp wool mixed with the earthy spice of his cologne. The heady scent of him assailed her senses as it vied with the cinnamon and coffee for her attention. It was one of those moments suspended in time, lingering like a haunting refrain. If only she could press the sustain pedal in her mind and stay in it forever. What mixture of ingredients, what combination of ephemeral qualities opened the floodgates of emotion, confirming what the logical brain had suspected? As fire consumes its fuel, the reality of the man in physical form now consumed her.
Yes. She loved him. * * * *
His chest tightened, as in the dramatic descent of sudden illness. Could the mere inhalation of her breath, mingled with warm rolls, sugar, vanilla and fresh rain, send his heart into de-fib? He thought the EMT's would have to be called.
Her mouth was velvet magic, like the steam of a sudden summer shower radiating heat off the pavement. It was as though an infusion of warm honey rushed through his chest, threatening to drown him in sweet surrender.
His gut tightened and his cock sprang to life, pressing hard against his trousers. She was the heroine his body had craved; the intellectual match his mind had battled all those months on the Internet. Her challenging snippets of thought, poignantly open questions, deeply thought out kernels of wisdom--all exploded in this moment of first contact.
The reality of the past two hours ripped away, like a roof caught in the hurricane's power. He wanted her. Every corpuscle in his body exploded in desire. He wanted her as a man wants a woman, with an ache so intense he thought his heart would stop.
He wanted her mind, too, every delicious, precisely chosen word that had flickered onto his computer screen. Lord--she was challenge and certainty, mystery and promise, all wrapped up into one incredibly sexy package.
"Cash or credit, sir?" The sting of a shrill cockney voice sliced through the layers of his lust like lightning in a bottle, scrambling the dangerous concoction of desire and need into an unpleasant cacophony.
With urgent fingers, he rummaged deep in his breast pocket for the lone ten pound note he kept there as petty cash. He slammed it down on the counter "Take away, please." His command divulged his urgency and the bemused shop assistant smiled.
"Done, sir." The clerk called him back to the present.
Swiping the handles of the bag in hand, he shot a cursory glance. "Thanks."
Lacing his other arm through Aubrey's, he towed her to the door and out into the rain.
"Holiday Inn ... Express." He flashed her a questioning grin.
"What about The Claremont?"
"Do you fancy waiting?"
Her knowing smile gave him his answer. She wanted him, too. * * * *
They dashed up the street and across the intersection to the hotel's three-sided facade. Benn hurried under the blue awning and into the lobby. Before Aubrey could shake the water from her coat, he'd booked a room. Laying the red wool over her arm, she brushed her skirt, smoothing it. His hand at her elbow, he moved her toward the lift.
"We're in Three-oh-four," he said, voice deep and thick.
Outside the suite, Benn leaned against the door as he inserted the plastic key. They nearly fell, spinning into the wall of the short hallway. With one smooth action, he dropped the take-away bag and scooped her coat from her arm. Hand hooking about her waist, he drew her to him, letting the coat drop to the floor. His mouth crashed down on hers with the ferocity and need of a starving man. They were both panting, fumbling through buttons, zippers, pulling at fabric; moving along the wall as they peeled the layers of clothing without ever disconnecting that inflammable kiss.
His hot hands were on her. Her flesh singed with his need and power. One last glance ... his eyes into hers ... asking final permission, making sure this was what she wanted.
She looked at him, mouth swollen with the force of his kisses and nodded.
She claimed his mouth this time. Grasping the back of his head, fingers entwined in the curls of his hair, she pulled him toward her. His mouth was life itself, his body rigid as it met hers. She wanted to be part of him. So intense was her desire, it was difficult to tell where she ended and he began.
He held her in an embrace of steel, lowering her to the bed while lying on top of her in one smooth motion. The weight of him lifted all concern from her heart. He felt like pure care, pure lust, pure heaven.
As the last shred of present reality fell away, a new desire replaced it. She wanted to show him what he meant to her, how he'd filled her lonely days with humor and care, how he'd brought her isolated writer's existence to life. But, Lord ... she needed him inside her, part of her. Physical want and mental desire swirled about as a vortex of flame.
"Jesus, woman." His voice rasped. Propped up on one elbow, he leaned over the edge of the bed and nabbed his trousers from the floor. A moment later, he'd withdrawn the familiar foil packet of a condom from the pocket.
"I'm glad you're such a Boy Scout," she panted, managing a brief grin.
In moments, he'd sheathed himself and rolled back to her side, showering soft bites and kisses along her neck, across her shoulder, down her arm.
His hands seemed to be everywhere, worshipping her body in firm caress, smoothing along the planes of her thighs, the curve of her buttocks, pinching the rock hard tips of her nipples; bringing her to the very edge of sanity.
She wanted the magic to last forever. Reaching for his face, she placed her hands at his ears, looked into him as though reading his heart and grasped him firmly to communicate her desire to slow and be in charge.
"Okay," he gasped. "But you know you're killing me."
"Haven't heard any complaints," she said and smiled with a wicked curl of the lips. Tenderly she kissed from his forehead down onto his eyelids, now closed in anticipation and ecstasy. She bit his lips as they parted, claiming air in deep gulps. As his breathing slowed, she took his wrists and pinned them to the mattress like a slave master. Swinging her leg over his hips, she mounted him, gazing with fierce desire into his face as he opened his eyes. A sheen ... a mistiness came across the beautiful dilated deep blue. He was in total submission to her, in a kind of trance, immersed in the moment.
Leaning forward, she centered herself and took him in, sliding down the granite shaft of his erection onto his hips, his head reaching the door of her womb. She was gloved around him. They both closed their eyes, her head dropping back in the sheer pleasure of the penetration, the moment of union.
She moved over him in slow, seductive rhythm. He gritted his teeth, drawing air in through them in exquisite painful pleasure. She felt him begin to move in conjunction with her. Releasing his wrists, she rested her hands at his shoulders, riding him like a slow-motion bull rider. He dropped his hands palm down to the bed, tension increasing in his shoulders; he pushed into her, she onto him. Rising to his elbows, he began to buck. Every thrust pressed against her g-spot, dragged across her clit in the most exquisite combination of coiling bliss. Riding the wave of her climax, she moaned until her throat felt raw. Leaning back on flattened palms, neck arching, she called his name as her contractions fisted around him and brought him to his own release.
"Aubrey!" he called, body drawn tight in climax. He shuddered, collapsing back onto the bed. She fell on top of him, still joined, their chests heaving. They drew arms around each other, melting into exhausted embrace.
Holding him for the longest time, Aubrey reveled in the scent of sex, mixed with maleness and his cologne. Could there be any more lethal combination? She thought her chest would explode with the pool of warmth blooming there. God, she was in love; this experience confirmed it. How different from mere sex ... it was as though they were one person, one heart, one mind. Even in the midst of the amazing sensations, she'd felt it. This oneness.
Snuggling into the crook of his arm, she looked up into his sated expression. His eyes were a mirror, reflecting her feeling back to her. Lord help them ... this was going to be an amazing night.