The clock inside Jerry’s Volvo said two in the morning. Olivia had never jumped, danced, laughed, talked and eaten so much in her life as she had at Tracy’s wedding. Still, she wasn’t tired. On the contrary, her entire system felt too revved up. She was giddy and a little tipsy but not because she’d drunk herself stupid.
In fact, Olivia had only had two flutes of champagne in total. In between making fools of themselves on the dance floor and spending several minutes exchanging information about her life with the people she’d used to go to high school with, trays and trays of drinks passed them by and neither she nor Michael were able to catch up to others, especially Tracy. Olivia was glad her friend had had the good sense to book the flight for the honeymoon for Monday.
What was flowing inside her veins was not the treacherous feel good sensation that came with alcohol before it showed its nasty face the next day. It was something more pure, simple, natural, it was sheer joy.
Michael, was revved up to, but for different reasons. Despite him being able to keep the promise he’d made to Olivia about keeping things casual toward the end of the party, all he’d been able to think of was of being alone with her. His system was begging him let go of this need that was choking him. Images of his hands setting that wavy hair loose, of feeling Olivia losing herself with him just as she’d done when he’d held her close on the dance floor, of his mouth discovering more exotic and hidden places and tastes all over her body were torturing him.
If Michael seemed to be driving faster than usual, Olivia was oblivious to it and to what was going on inside his head. All she could think of was of how happy she was for Tracy and Trevor, and of her body, deliciously aware of the man next to her, driving the car with more concentration than the task required.
When the silver Volvo pulled outside her house, she began to gather her things, including her heels and the bouquet of flowers Tracy had cheatingly thrown her way. She waited until Michael rounded the front of the car and opened the passenger door. Olivia had suggested to her best friend that they should give to all the women who attended the wedding, a pair of slippers for when the burden of dancing in high heels became too much. It had made all the difference in the world.
Quietly, they climbed up the steps. Olivia took out her house key and unlocked the front door. The early Sunday morning air was cold against her sweaty skin, but the shiver she felt had more to do with the sudden silence that had descended upon them.
Say something, you moron!
“Uh….thanks, for going with me.”
“No, problem.” Michael replied in a strained voice. If he didn’t leave now, he would not have the sufficient strength to stay away from her.
“I should get going. Take care, Olivia.”
Some faraway voice advised to say goodnight, and go inside. But like a resilient little child, Olivia refused to pay attention to it and follow its advice.
“You sure you’re okay to drive? I mean, I could make you some coffee for the ride home.”
What am I saying? Just let him go home. You’re not thinking straight.
Even in the dark, Olivia saw Michael’s hesitation.
Be a good boy Hurst and get the hell out.
“I….don’t think that is a good idea. Besides, I am not tired.”
“Oh…right. Well, thanks again, Michael. I’ll….see you around.”
But something took over her movements. Before Michael turned around to head back to his car, Olivia’s hands caught him by the arm and slowly, she leaned over to brush her lips against his. In an instant, his whole body went taut and his hands went into rock hard fists. Michael just stood there, as Olivia urged him to part his lips and take what she was offering.
In order to salvage and keep what little sanity had not been drained yet by her touch, Michael unclenched his fists and delicately removed Olivia’s hold on him.
“Olivia, I really don’t think that is a good idea. There’s just so much more control I still have in myself and I made a promise to you.”
Olivia took a step back, sure that in a second the guilt and that sensible voice would become louder and ask her what the hell she was doing. Yet the only thing that came was the same baffling connection and turmoil she’d felt when they first met and the other two times they kissed. It was like a fire burning in the pit of her stomach and she was naive enough to think his touch would appease the heat.
He felt it, too. The minute they parted, Michael’s eyes really focused on her. Her big brown eyes were clouded with the same need he was fighting to control. There was no wariness in her face, none of the shadows that would surface whenever Olivia allowed herself to feel comfortable around him.
The wind blew around them and Michael panicked as he saw his window of opportunity beginning to close. Jerry was right. He was playing with fire. He shouldn’t have come here in the first place. If he decided to give Olivia what she’d sought just seconds ago, Michael knew it would destroy her when she allowed rationality to come back into her mind.
But what he’d said to her, standing in this very spot resonated inside his own head: I’m not giving up on what I know we could have if we just give it a chance.
Just as Olivia was about to close the door and wallow in humiliation in the darkness of her house, Michael’s face transformed. She gasped not in fear but in astonishment as she could now see the raw and naked passion evident in his face.
“Screw this.” He muttered and took a step forward.
In a blinding second, Olivia’s body was crushed against his, while his foot kicked the front door shut. His control was slipping away, layer by layer, giving place to the urgency to taste her, to have her. The release was so strong, it made the world around him spin out of control.
Her arms automatically circled around his neck more to keep herself steady than anything else. Her body pressed against Michael. Her mouth welcomed his and soon the quiet and stillness of the room was overcome by their ragged breathing as all she could think of was more, I need more.
Michael’s hands began to move in circles around her back, until one of his hands reached up to her tied up hair. Slowly, he began taking out pins. In a moan of pure triumph, he felt the tangle of waves break free from their confinement and just as he’d been wanting to do all night long, his fingers enjoyed the soft texture of her hair. All he wanted to do was bury his face in it, knowing that its scent would only add power to his own arousal.
Olivia welcomed the way his hands explored every inch of her body. She took a step back only to slip his jacket off his shoulders. Amazed they were steady despite the chaos going on inside her, Olivia’s hands began her own careful exploration. She caressed his face, then went down his arms and back up again to finally rest them on his shoulders. Her mouth moved away from his, and began leaving a trail of light kisses along his jaw, and then down his neck. His sharp intake of breath made the butterflies in her stomach take flight.
With his free hand, he grabbed her chin and once again had the pleasure of tasting her lips, and feeling them part so he could go deeper and claim her back. His other hand went down from playing messily with her hair, to where the zipper of her dress began, and very skillfully pulled it down. The dress was peeled from her body like the skin of a very exotic and forbidden fruit. What he found revealed underneath was mouthwatering and soon his hands ached to touch every inch of soft looking skin. It took only a shrug from her to cause the vibrant red wine fabric to fall swiftly, like a whisper, to the floor. He was hypnotized by it.
Stepping over the pool of red silk at her feet, Olivia angled her head as Michael began his own journey down her neck, and then down to her shoulders, until her entire body trembled from sheer pleasure and want. She moaned as a way to release some of that pent up desire.
Michael began pulling her away from the entrance and into the living room. Gently, he laid her down on the couch. Without taking his eyes from her, he removed his tie and threw it to the floor. Olivia laughed nervously as she felt the weight of his body pressing her down into the couch’s soft surface. Without wasting time, Michael’s mouth began tasting every inch of exposed flesh, starting with her shoulders, then stopping just above the swell of her breasts, and then continuing down to where the sight of her belly ring made him groan in delight.
“You’ve no idea how the image of this belly ring has haunted me every since you told me about it.”
It intrigued her that one of her many foolish acts in life could do that to him. Olivia felt more feminine and delicate yet at the same time infinitely powerful.
Not wanting to rush the moment, Michael skimmed his thumbs over the red lacy fabric of her bra, and her body arched up to him while he willed her to look him in the eyes. When her blurry sight focused on him, Michael was humbled by the innocence and vulnerability he saw in them, along with a stronger feeling that drew him to her, not physically but in a deeper sense. As much as he wanted her, it scared the hell out of him, too.
Afraid that she might scream if he went any slower, her fingers began to fumble with the buttons of his shirt. When she was done, she smiled for an instant as Michael all but teared off the fabric himself. Then his own lips curved into a sexy smile and she was again at a disadvantage. No woman in her sane mind could see that smile and not fall under his spell.
Michael took a moment to admire her body. Despite the darkness that engulfed them like a silk wrap, the pale light of the moon that came in through the window in her living room caused her skin to look like fine porcelain. Beautifully shaped in the form of a woman, slim, toned, with long legs, and long arms.
Those long arms brought him back down to her, and it was then that she took her time to marvel at his own body. Her imagination had run wild since meeting him, so she’d pretty much pictured him to be strong, toned, but not bulky like those guys who work out at the gym and look like they are about to explode. Michael’s body was pure male, enough to make a woman feel safe and cared for in his arms.
It was such a wonder to be able to touch him. Selfishly, she reveled at her own power as she could feel the slight tremors that shook him as her fingers caressed his back and then managed to spread on his chest.
“God, you’re beautiful, Olivia. You’ve stolen my heart.”
That sole declaration should’ve been enough to stop this insanity. Instead, it filled her with such joy and it was said with such heartfelt devotion she wanted to cry and make this sole moment last forever. Olivia said his name in a whisper filled with such tenderness it nearly broke him in two.
The tenderness soon vanished, and again was the man who desired her and who wanted to have her in every way possible, physically, emotionally and mentally.
This time, when he took her mouth in his, his urgency matched her own. Her moans, a reflection of his own burning need. God, she wanted him, and she was at a loss to know how this could’ve happened so fast.
One of Michael’s hands moved lower, traveling that delirious route from her belly to the core of her desire. Olivia closed her eyes and began to move beneath him, while her mouth became more feverish and urgent.
Michael couldn’t hold it any longer, he wanted her without any barriers, His eyes yearned to see the fullness of her naked body. His fingers travelled up again and just as he was about to unclasp her bra, the phone began to ring. Like two teenagers necking at her house while her parents were out, both were startled by the loud noise. When Olivia began to get up to answer, Michael moved next to her ear and biting her earlobe, he said. “Leave it.”
Not one to argue, Olivia was about to do just that when the voice that sounded as if he were standing there made her open her eyes wide. Like being tumbled over by a huge wave, all of the emotions that had been set free inside her scattered away, leaving her dizzy and disoriented, while a sudden cold turned her skin into ice.
“Hey, Ollie it’s me. Tried your cell but got voice mail. Called your mom and she said you’d just left the party. I was hoping to catch you. I missed you tonight and it was hard picturing you, looking beautiful and me not being there to tell you so. I know you’ll be beat so call me whenever you feel like it, tomorrow.”
The recording stopped.
Michael cursed inwardly as the regret and guilt were already making her draw away from him. She didn’t push him away or anything, she just lay still, with her eyes closed and hugging her body protectively with her arms.
When his hand reached down to touch her cheek, her eyes snapped open and her body coiled away from him.
“No, just, don’t.”
With a sigh, Michael stood up from the couch and bent down to pick up his shirt and tie. With unsteady hands, he managed to put the shirt back on.
As if she were made of air, Olivia moved quickly from the couch to where her dress lay crumpled on the floor. Suddenly, she felt exposed and helpless. With as much dignity as she could muster, she picked up the dress and covered herself with it.
Michael stood regarding her with a mixture of concern, and something even more dangerous and complicated, jealousy. Even if they’d both temporarily forgotten about Noah, it killed him that he was in the picture at all. Michael wanted Olivia to be his, in heart and body. Already, in some deep corner of his heart he could already feel the fractures this situation was causing.
Michael ached to gather her close and comfort her, even if touching her would be a reminder of what they’d been about to do. Olivia looked so frail, so vulnerable, the guilt was eating at him not because of Noah, but because the last thing he wanted was to hurt her.
When Michael took two steps toward her, Olivia raised one of her palms to stop him.
“Don’t. I think you should leave.”
The strength in his answer startled her and made her realize that she hadn’t just betrayed one man in the process but was very close to hurting the man standing in front of her.
“No. I can’t leave you like this.”
“Why? Because you need to finish what Noah interrupted?” She countered.
This time he ignored her protest and walked over to grab both her arms.
“Don’t do that, Olivia. Don’t put all the blame on me. If I am responsible for something is for how much I can see this situation is hurting you. But don’t you dare accuse of something we both wanted to happen.”
For Olivia, it was the hardest thing to do to stand up straight and not flinch away from that stare. Her need to rush him out of there before she broke down crying made her voice turn bitter as she slashed out at him.
“You knew this would happen when you came earlier today, with your lame excuse about picking me up for a wedding you haven’t yet revealed how you knew about.”
“Somehow, I have the feeling you already know.” Michael answered in between clenched teeth.
“Yes, and it is sad that, once again, you used your niece to get close to me.”
Olivia mentally flinched as she caught the flash of outrage as it flared inside his eyes. It was a low blow, but she had to use whatever ammunitions she had to draw him away. If he stayed any longer, she might just give in to the need, still flowing through her veins, and collapse into his arms and cry out, while his hands engulfed her in a comforting way.
“You don’t believe that for a second. Damn it, Olivia don’t push me away.”
Michael could already see by the lack of emotion in her expression, that there was already a huge barrier between them that he didn’t stand a chance in hell against. At least, not at this moment.
“Just….go, I beg you.”
It was that pleading tone in her words that made him turn around, pick up his jacket and open the door to the early chilly morning air. He shut the door quietly behind him.
The minute he disappeared, Olivia’s shoulders began to shake as the torrent of tears spilled out and began to fall down her cheeks. Suddenly, all the energy she had felt a few moments ago deserted her. She crumpled down at the base of the stairs, curled into a ball, and still hugging the dress tight to her body, she bitterly cried her heart out.