“And that disappointed you?” he asked levelly, trying not to sound jealous at the thought of his wife ogling some other guy. Of course, he had no idea if he succeeded or not, but he hoped that he managed to sound as neutral as he was pretending to be.
“No, it was more of a scientific experiment.” Her eyes were on his lower lip, and he wondered what the hell she found so fascinating about it.
“Going to a strip club was a scientific experiment?” He knew that he sounded like a complete idiot, but he wasn’t sure he was following this weird conversation correctly. He kept feeling like he was missing something.
“You have such a gorgeous mouth.” She totally threw him with that one. “Much better than Massive Marvin’s.”
“Are you going to compare me to this Massive Marvin guy all night?” he asked resentfully, feeling ridiculous even saying the stupid name.
“No . . . not fair, he’d lose.” She went up on her toes and completely slammed him by kissing him. Her arms crept around his neck, and her body was flush against his. He could feel every single curve of her body through their clothes. His arms went around her waist and his hands cupped her firm butt and lifted her until he could feel her feminine heat against his aching hardness. God, it felt amazing having her in his arms again. It would be so easy to strip her naked, push her up against the wall, and . . .
Whoa there, buddy! He lifted his head and his hands, raising them up with his palms out in a gesture of surrender, and wondered, with the slightest hint of hysteria, why he was always the one calling a halt to things. One day he was going to give her what she so desperately wanted and to hell with the consequences. But, he conceded wryly as he looked down into her frustrated face, that day was not today. She was weaving on the spot and if not for the fact that she still had her arms tightly wrapped around his neck, she would probably have fallen.
“Babe, you can’t keep torturing me like this,” he could feel the hoarseness in his throat and wondered if he’d managed to get the words out loudly enough for her to hear. “Come on, let’s get you to bed.” Her expression brightened at the word “bed,” and Bryce rolled his eyes, dragging her arms away from his neck and assisting her up to her room. After another frustrating battle in her bedroom, where she seemed to have grown at least six extra arms and put them to good use, he thankfully managed to get her into bed.
He stared grimly down at his passed-out wife, his body hard, aching, and heavy with suppressed lust. He couldn’t live like this anymore; it was enough to test a saint, and he was no bloody saint. He shook his head in disgust before heading for his usual cold shower.
When Bronwyn joined them in the sunny kitchen for breakfast the following morning, she was wearing a gigantic pair of sunglasses and moving gingerly, with the caution of someone nursing a hell of a headache. She was dressed in a faded shirt and an ugly pair of sweat pants that had seen better days. Her hair was a complete mess. She tried to swallow down her nausea when Bryce gestured toward a pile of pancakes with a raised eyebrow.
“Coffee,” she grunted as she sat down carefully in the chair immediately to Bryce’s right. His lips twitched as he poured some of the hot, dark brew into a mug and placed it on the table in front of her. Kayla was staring at her mother curiously.
“Mummy sick?” she asked worriedly, and Bronwyn shook her head before wincing as the movement set off the annoying little drummer gremlins that seemed to have taken up residence in her brain.
“I’m okay, sweetie.” Her voice was hoarse and she cleared her throat self-consciously before smiling reassuringly at her little girl. Satisfied with her answer, Kayla went back to playing with her food and singing her off-key little ditty.
Bronwyn flinched at the noise before daring to glance up at Bryce, who was still watching her quietly. She remembered embarrassing bits and pieces of what had happened after she had returned home the night before and didn’t quite know what to say to him this morning.
“You know, Bron,” he said, breaking the awkward silence between them, and she looked up a little too quickly at the sound of his voice. She bit back a groan and looked at him fully, bracing herself for his censure.
“Yes?” she prompted when he remained silent a little too long.
“I’m all for it if you want to use me for . . .” He glanced over at Kayla before lowering his voice. “S-e-x, as long as we come to some sort mutual of agreement over it. No more of this coming-on-to-me-in-a-moment-of-weakness crap. At least that way we both know exactly where we stand, and I won’t feel like an utter bastard when I act on these mixed signals that you’re sending.”
“I’m so . . .”
He made a rude sound, cutting off her apology.
“Don’t. Just don’t apologize. I don’t think I can handle it right now.”
“Bryce, I think that I should move out. Not far from here, close enough for you to have access to Kayla. You’ll still have her when I’m at school of course, and she could have a sleepover here at least once a week. I’ve been thinking about it . . .”
“. . . and it’s a workable solution,” she continued, ignoring his sarcastic little interruption. “One that would suit our lifestyles.”
“And how can you afford a place of your own on the salary you’re earning?” He looked shell-shocked by her words, but Bronwyn refused to allow her resolve to weaken. Theresa’s vehement words the night before had made her think that maybe she did deserve something more than this warped arrangement that he had suggested.