“Good.” He smiled and leaned down to kiss her, but she pulled away. Now that he had brought it up . . .
“I don’t want this to be . . . but when you said you weren’t sleeping with anyone else, did you mean . . . I know you meant the ‘not at the moment’ thing as a joke, but—”
He kissed her cheek and pulled her against him.
“What I mean by that is that you’re the only person I’ve slept with since I met you in that elevator, and that as long as we’re doing this thing, that will remain the case. Okay?”
“As long as we’re doing this thing” rang in her ears. She knew it meant there was a time limit on their relationship, such as it was. But she didn’t want to push this conversation too far; she didn’t want to fight with him and spoil it all again, so she buried those misgivings.
She rested her head on his shoulder.
He lifted his hand to her cheek and rested it there for a moment before turning her toward him for a long, slow kiss.
“Now, let’s make good use of our last hour of this hotel room, shall we?”
When Alexa got in Drew’s car at LAX the following Saturday morning, he kissed her for so long that airport security banged on his window to move him along. Oops.
“How was the event last night?” he said when he finally drove away from the curb. The mayor had had a big charity event the night before, so Alexa couldn’t fly down until Saturday morning. Drew was on call that night, so he couldn’t fly up.
“It went well, I think. I haven’t had a chance to check to see what the press said about it. I crashed when I got home, and the Wi-Fi was broken on the plane.” She settled against the seat and grinned at him. “Is one of those coffee cups for me?”
He lifted the coffee he’d gotten her out of the cup holder and handed it to her.
“The drive from the coffee shop to the airport should have cooled it down enough for your delicate tongue.”
She lifted the coffee halfway up, paused, and opened her mouth. He laughed.
“I love that you’re going to make that joke, but I just meant you’re always complaining about coffee being too hot.”
She smirked and put her purse on the floor in front of her before she took a sip. Then she looked up at him.
He fought back a smile. He knew what was coming.
“What’s in this bag right here?” she asked, pointing to the waxy paper bag at her feet. They both knew what was inside.
He didn’t fight his smile anymore.
“Why don’t you open it up and see?”
“Doughnuts! And they’re still warm? How did you manage that? You’re my hero.” She’d bitten into one almost before she finished that sentence. He looked over to see pure bliss on her face and grinned. The only other time her face looked like that was right after sex. Maybe he needed to work to keep that look on her face more often.
Thank God for that conference. He was so glad this woman was back in his life.
On the way back to his apartment, they drove by the Santa Monica Pier.
“I haven’t been there since I was a kid,” she said. “It was always so fun.”
An SUV pulled out of a parking spot ahead of him, and he made a snap decision.
“No time like the present.” He reversed into the spot and grabbed her hand. “Let’s go.”
When they got back to his apartment, they were both giddy, sunburned, and exhausted. They’d ridden the rides, played arcade games, eaten too much, and laughed even more. They’d even goaded each other into temporary tattoos—she’d gotten a flower on her cheek; he’d gotten an anchor on his bicep. Before they’d come back to his apartment, she’d made him run down into the water with her and shrieked when he splashed her.
They dropped down onto his couch as soon as they walked in the door. She leaned her head against his shoulder, and he pulled her tighter against him. She curled her legs up on the couch so that her body was tucked against his. He wanted to drag her into the bedroom for a long afternoon sex session, or even just have her here on the couch again. But right now they were so comfortable. He’d wait just a few minutes.
He woke up when the afternoon sun came through his kitchen windows and hit him in the eye. They’d somehow moved in their sleep to lying almost flat on the couch, but her head was still tucked in the nook of his shoulder, and his arm was still tight around her. He could stay like this for another few hours.
His stomach rumbled.
Oh, right. Except for that. The hot dogs and cotton candy from the pier couldn’t hold him forever.
She squeezed her eyes together and stirred, turning into his chest, away from the light. She kissed his chest as she snuggled against him, and the warmth from her casual caress spread through his body.
“Mmmngry,” she said into his collarbone.
“Hmmm?” He stroked her hair away from her face. Remnants of the flower were still on her cheek. He rubbed at it with his thumb.
She lifted her head a few centimeters.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this flower. I’m sure I look ridiculous.”
He smiled down at her, her cheek pink and creased from being against his chest.
“You look beautiful.”
She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him, her hands in his hair.
“I’m hungry,” she said against his lips. “You?”
He chuckled and ran his hands over her hair to her back, and then again. A woman after his own heart.
“Starving. What’s your feeling on burgers and fries? We should probably eat here instead of going out, since I’m on call tonight . . .”
She kissed his collarbone again.
“I have very positive feelings about burgers and fries. Eating here is perfect, since I accidentally glued myself to this couch.”
He kissed her ear to make her giggle and rolled out from underneath her and stood up.
“Good thing you have me. I’ll go pick them up and bring them back here while you try desperately to unglue yourself.”
So they ate their burgers on the couch while they watched terrible movies on Netflix and kept their fingers crossed that he wouldn’t have to go into the hospital.
It was probably a real risk to pull her into the bedroom . . . but he was on call until six in the morning. Was he supposed to not have sex with her tonight?
Afterward, damp and panting, he reached blindly for his phone to make sure he hadn’t missed a call. Just then it rang.
He kissed her hard and jumped out of bed after he got off the phone.
“I’ve got to go. Keep the bed warm for me, okay?”
She turned and looked up at him with that smile that always made his heart turn over.
“I’ll be here when you get back,” she said.
“I’m counting on it.”
It took Alexa a while to fall asleep after he left. It wasn’t like she wasn’t used to sleeping alone. But she missed him next to her.
She wouldn’t admit this to anyone other than herself, and then only late at night, but ever since that first weekend with him, every night when she lay in bed she imagined him there with her. Even those nights right after their stupid fight. She would think of his strong arms around her, hear his slow, steady breathing, feel his chest rise and fall, and his warm body against hers, and it all lulled her to sleep. It felt silly to do it there in his bed alone, but she did it anyway.
She woke up in the middle of the night to feel him pull her against him. When his arms were around her, she felt like nothing else mattered. Like nothing bad could ever touch her.
“Everything okay?” she whispered.
He kissed her forehead.
“It is now. Go back to sleep.”
After a lazy day on the beach the next day, they went out for Mexican food Sunday night. She took a sip of her margarita, and her lips puckered at the salty/sweet tang of the drink. She took a bite of a salsa-laden chip and smiled. Chips and salsa were tied up there with cheese and crackers for the perfect snack food. Maybe not as perfect for being stuck in an elevator, but . . . He interrupted her tequila-influenced musings.
“I’m not on call next weekend, so I can come up.” He paused. “If that works for you.”