Found in You: Page 3
Maybe it didn't have as much meaning as I attributed to it.
Curiosity overtook me even though my body was already vibrating under his ardor. "Why do you call me that, anyway?"
He answered without looking up from my bosom. "Because you are."
"You started calling me precious before you could ever possibly know."
"Not true." He propped his elbow up on the bed and leaned his head on his hand. "I knew the minute I first saw you."
For a brief second I thought he meant at the bar-the first night I had seen him. Then I remembered he'd seen me nearly two weeks before that when I was still working on my MBA and he'd been in the audience during my graduate symposium. I hadn't found out about that until later, and he'd barely told me anything about it.
I propped my torso up on my elbows and eagerly waited for him to continue.
"You were on that stage at Stern," he said, his hand stroking along the dip and curve of my waist to my hip. "When you started your presentation, you were nervous. It took you a few minutes to fall into the rhythm of your speech. But when you hit your stride, you were magnificent. Yet you had no idea. It was completely obvious that it never crossed your mind that the room was full of people who would have hired you had you spoken to any of them. Thank god, you didn't. Because I watched them watch you and I knew. I knew that they saw you were smart. They saw you had business savvy. But none of them recognized the rare jewel that stood before them. Precious."
Tears stung at the corners of my eyes. No one had ever seen me like that, no had ever even looked. Not my parents before they died or my brother, Brian, or any of the men I'd ever dated or obsessed over. No one.
"I love you, Hudson." It was out before I could think not to say it, before I could worry about him freaking like he had the first time I'd voiced my feelings for him. I wouldn't have been able to keep the words inside if I'd wanted to-they were always at the surface now, at risk of tumbling off my tongue at any given moment.
If we were going to make a relationship work, we'd both have to get comfortable with it.
My eyes never left his while he processed my declaration.
Then, in a flash, he covered his body with mine. Bracing one hand under my neck, he circled my nose with his. "You can tell me that as many times as you like," he said, repeating my earlier words.
"I plan on it." But it came out mumbled, lost inside his mouth as his lips overtook mine, and we expressed our emotions with our tongues and hands and bodies and a slew of other ways that didn't require talking.
Awareness of movement in the room woke me the next morning. I opened my eyes and saw Hudson adjusting his tie in front of the dresser mirror, his back to me. He had yet to put on his jacket so I had a full view of his tight behind. God, that man could wear a suit. He could wear nothing as easily. I wasn't choosy.
He met my eyes in the mirror and a slight smile graced his lips. "Good morning."
"Morning. I'm enjoying the view."
"So am I."
I blushed and pulled the sheet up over my na**d body. The room seemed awfully light for as early as it had to be. "What time is it?" I glanced around for a clock and found none.
"Almost eleven." He finished with his tie-a silver patterned one that brought out his eyes-and opened a drawer, retrieving a pair of dress socks.
Eleven? Hudson was usually at work before eight. "Why are you still here? Shouldn't you have made half a million dollars by now?"
"Half a billion," he said, straight-faced, as he sat on the bed next to me. "But they don't need me for that. I canceled my morning."
"When did you do that?" I was mesmerized with watching him put on his socks. It shouldn't be so sexy to watch a man get dressed, yet my belly tightened and my girl parts started humming.
"Last night. Before you got here."
"Smart thinking." His invitation to spend the night in his penthouse had come at the beginning of my shift at The Sky Launch. I'd obsessed about it the entire evening, but being at work, there was nothing I could do to prepare for it. I didn't even have a change of clothing or a toothbrush. It hadn't occurred to me that Hudson would have used the time to get ready for my arrival. But of course he did. He was a very organized man, a planner with a fine attention to detail.
And since two rounds of lovemaking had transpired, we hadn't gone to sleep until nearly six in the morning. Canceling his morning was good planning indeed.
I yawned and stretched my arms over my head, the sheet falling below my br**sts as I did.
Socks on, Hudson stood and peered down at me, his eyes clouding as he perused my na**d body. "Fuck, Alayna, you're making me want to cancel my afternoon, too. And I can't cancel my afternoon."
I grinned. "Sorry." But I wasn't. Hudson could make me wet from across a crowded room. It was nice to think I had some of the same power over him. "Um, I need to get up. Is that going to be too...distracting?"
He narrowed his eyes at me then turned and disappeared into a closet returning with a cream robe. "Here."
I took the robe from him, not bothering to put it on until I was standing.
"You're a wicked, wicked woman," he said as he watched me pull the garment around myself.
"And you love it."
Without acknowledging my statement, he nodded toward a closed door. "The bathroom's there. There should be brand new toothbrushes in one of the drawers. Look around until you find what you need."
"Thank you." I crossed to him and gave him a peck on the cheek before making my way to the bathroom to pee.
It hadn't been a cuddly afterglow morning like we'd spent together at Mabel Shores, his family's summerhouse in the Hamptons. But this was Hudson-aloof and compartmentalized. He was focused on getting to work, and, to his credit, he'd been pretty hospitable considering.
I found the toothbrush easily; as he'd said, there was a drawer full of them. While I brushed, I wondered about that. What was with the surplus? Did he simply want to always be prepared, in case he needed a new one? Maybe he believed toothbrushes should be disposable. He certainly could afford that attitude.
Or did he have them for overnight guests? Female overnight guests, to be precise.
I might have decided I was being paranoid, except it wasn't only the toothbrushes. Now that I looked around, there was floral scented deodorant by one of the sinks with a bottle of women's face cream and another bottle of moisturizer next to it.
And the robe-the woman's robe that I was wearing at that very moment -where had that come from?
A chill ran down my spine. I tightened the sash around myself, despite my growing concern that I was wearing clothing that belonged to someone else. To another woman. Another woman in Hudson's life.
Okay, okay. No need to panic. Maybe there had been other women before me at the penthouse. That was fine. Not wonderful, but fine. I just wished he hadn't lied about it. And why had he lied about it?
I opened the moisturizer and brought the bottle to my nose. It smelled fresh and familiar-was that the scent Celia wore?
Now I was being ridiculous. Paranoid, even. Knowing that didn't change the sick, angry emotion rooting through my gut. It was a feeling I'd once been very intimate with. The driving force of most of the unhealthy behaviors I'd acted upon in the past. Behaviors I did not want to relive.
I had to get calm, handle the situation constructively. I forced myself to count to ten. In between each number I repeated the mantra I'd learned in counseling: when in doubt, talk it out. One, when in doubt, talk it out. Two, when in doubt, talk it out.
Yeah, easier said than done.
By the time I reached four, the mantra had turned into when in f**king doubt and still I was very much doubting.
But that was my tendency, my go-to in all of my relationships. I jumped to conclusions-conclusions that very often were way off-base and unfounded. Late nights at work meant another girlfriend. Mysterious phone calls meant cheating. With my previous boyfriends, I never asked. I assumed. I accused.
Not this time. This time I would be different. Even though the evidence suggested that Hudson had lied to me, I couldn't accept that as fact. I would have to ask him about it.
I scrubbed my face clean with the facial cream, hoping that stalling before I talked to Hudson would relieve the simmer of fury. After patting my face dry with a hand towel, I convinced myself that I was together enough to address him and started out of the bathroom, grabbing the cream and moisturizer to take with me as evidence.
So, maybe collecting evidence was more of an attack than a discussion tactic. As long as I didn't end up throwing them, I considered it an improvement on my past.
Hudson wasn't in the bedroom when I came out, so I made my way out through the apartment until I found him in the kitchen.
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