Strangelove - Part 3
Garrett waited alongside his lifted black pickup outside the movie theater. The multiplex was a stone’s throw from the restaurant they’d reunited at weeks before. Today was their fourth hangout in as many weeks. She’d driven to him every time, still unwilling to meet anywhere near her home. She was being careful. He understood why. She still hadn’t said a word to her boyfriend about their meetings and knew his work sent him on meandering paths and to unforeseen destinations all over town. If he spotted her car or saw them together, he’d get the wrong idea instantly.
He had no interest in stealing her away, in seducing her or causing tension in their relationship. He only wished to give her what she wanted, to unleash the vixen within her and turn her loose. And she was doing wonderfully at step one so far. He was impressed by her dedication and follow-through on their appointments every week.
The week before their restaurant rendezvous, when his cell’s voicemail app displayed her phone number, he’d been shocked. Her tiny voice on the message asked for his help in understanding the urges she’d been feeling, the need to surrender control sometimes. A lightning strike to the head would’ve been easier to see coming.
The Jessica he’d known up to that point had been a prude, a modest little mouse in sensible heels, working in a bright, clean office surrounded by urbanites. He imagined she still pertly bunned her hair on workdays, sat with her ankles touching under her desk and blushed viciously when a passing male peer paid her a compliment.
She reddened like a tomato whenever he’d come by the college office, whenever he’d commented on her pretty smile, flowery dresses or simple jewelry. And when her cheeks flared, the jade green of her eyes stood out even more against the wavy brown locks he’d wanted to viciously tug free of their tether.
He smirked at the thought, tucking his palms into his black cargo’s pockets. She’d been too cute to torture, too sweet to manipulate. He didn’t dare approach. And now she was engaged in his sadistic game of her own volition. What a crazy turn of events.
Her practical sedan pulled up beside his truck, powering down as he circled to her door. He opened it without qualm, holding out his palm. “Hey there.”
She took his hand after tucking her keys into her purse’s side pocket. “Hey, thanks for waiting for me again.”
“I’m getting pretty good at it nowadays,” Garrett replied, guiding her slender frame from the car and ensuring her purse was safely on her arm before closing the door behind her.
She looped her arm casually under his as she’d done on their last appointment. His brow lifted at her forwardness, but he kept his comments to himself. Her comfort with him was clearly growing by leaps and bounds. To a normal onlooker, they looked like a mismatched couple on a casual date. Inside, he knew differently. And she was playing the game brilliantly, taking his advice and gaining trust in him by the day.
The prior week, when he’d offered his arm to help her cross a street, she’d been hesitant to take it, afraid of what the public would think or of rumors potentially making it across the county to her inner circle. But he’d assured her that he only had her safety and comfort in mind, that no one should turn down courtesy shown to them, and she’d accepted his chivalry without further argument. Now, as she instinctively clung to his broad forearm with both palms, waiting for him to lead them to the entrance, he couldn’t help but feel she was on a quick path to step two.
This was a conquest for him, a challenge he’d been musing over incessantly. He found his thoughts wandering to her between assignments at the garage, on his way home, in the shower and wherever else he had a free moment. He couldn’t wait to unleash the wickedness in this demure lady.
He peeked over at her to take in the sight of her perfectly lined lips, lengthy lashes and emerald eyes. The thin burgundy peacoat, with bare knees and knee boots underneath, was the most risqué outfit he’d ever seen on her.
When the final car passed over the crosswalk, he laid his hand over hers. “Come on, it’s freezing and there’s no way that coat’s warm enough for this weather.”
“Shut up, I just bought it. I couldn’t wait to show it off.”
He snickered. “I get it, and you look beautiful in it, but let’s get inside before you end up sick.”
He imagined her newly blushed cheeks warmed her face up at least.
After showing her inside, Garrett brushed stray flurries from his leather jacket before turning to her. “You sure you just wanna sit and watch a movie? We can do something a little more exciting. It’s your day off.”
“I had a terrible week. I didn’t want to cancel but I’m not in the mood for anything too exciting. And sorry for not emailing you back. Yesterday was a damn disaster. Tax season and we’re overwhelmed. If I’d replied, it would’ve been a bitch fest.”
“Don’t apologize. Like I said last week, you don’t owe me anything. Stop guilting yourself.”
Garrett watched as her expression softened. “Yeah, I know. I’m just super apologetic when I feel like I dropped the ball on something so simple.”
“No balls dropped, and try to relax today, okay? You have nothing to worry about, no pressures. And if you want to watch an animated movie and pig out on popcorn, I’m not going to argue with that.”
Jessica smiled, retaking his forearm and letting him guide her to computerize ticket station. He lifted his phone from his back pocket, scanned the code on the screen and waited for the printer. She’d given up on fighting with him about going dutch. The last time she tried, he glared menacingly until she fell silent.
He’d trimmed the goatee back a bit and shaved the scruff alongside it off completely, leaving a few red nicks where the coarse hair had been. Without thinking, she reached up and touched her thumb to one of the spots. “Sorry for saying, but it looks like you need a new razor.”
Without warning, he clutched her wrist and swooped in close to her ear. His voice was a tiger’s growl. “Apologize again. I dare you.”
Her body froze, muscles clenched as the heat of his breath stirred up her dormant wisps of desire. His grip was firm, his fingers rough, and that incendiary glare raised goosebumps over every inch of her porcelain skin.
Garrett felt her pulse race under his fingers and when he pulled back, the brazen lust in her jade eyes confirmed his suspicion. She’d already progressed much farther than he’d expected.
He had her full attention and her body was at his command already.
A few weeks before, he’d assumed she’d either delay step two for months or give up on it entirely. Instead, she was clearly on board as her lips parted and her teeth clutched the bottom one with an unbroken stare. Her breaths were slow, careful, as she stood her ground.
"Come on, or we’ll miss the previews,” he murmured sweetly, loosening his grip on her wrist and placing a kiss on her knuckles.
She followed along, unable to quell the fluttering in her chest.