Authors: Kelly Jamieson
“Mmm. You taste sooo good.”
She licked him all over, up and down, getting him really wet, then she licked her palm and clasped him firmly, stroking while she sucked him.
“Jesus, Ainslie.” His hands tightened in her hair, pulling her head to him in a quicker rhythm. She went with it, bobbing her head up and down, swirling her tongue around him, lips tight.
When her hands lost their slippery wetness, she lifted her head and glanced around. Spying the carafe of olive oil, she reached for it off the counter and poured some into one hand, then rubbed her hands together.
“Shit.” She took hold of him again, hands now sliding and slipping over his hardness. “Oh, man.”
She took him in her mouth again, hands still wrapped around him and sucked and pulled on him. He thrust himself harder into her mouth, and she took him, then he came, with a long ragged moan. She took it all, loving the sharp tanginess of him, the way his hands held her head, how his hips pumped.
She released him with a few long, slow licks, then peered up at him. He watched her with a scorching gaze. He reached down and pulled her to her feet, hauled her up against him and kissed her again. She wound her arms around his neck and kissed him back hungrily.
“That was incredible,” he muttered into her hair, pushing her head against his chest. “You are so fucking hot.”
She hugged him tighter. How on earth was she going to let him go…again?
After they stood holding each other for long moments, hearts pounding together, she gathered up the pieces inside her, pushed away everything else and drew back a bit to smile up at him. “We should make some dinner.”
So they did. They moved around each other in her small kitchen, working well together. They both liked to cook and shared an interest in healthy eating. He approved of her choice of olive oil, although she’d never be able to cook with olive oil again without becoming aroused. She dipped a finger into the vinaigrette he whipped up for the field greens.
They drank wine while they cooked and talked, and it was easy and comfortable, other than the little sizzle she got every time their eyes met, or the shivers he gave her when he stroked a hand over her butt when walking by her, or lifted her hair to kiss her neck as she chopped herbs.
After dinner, they carried their glasses of wine into her living room and sat on the couch. He picked up the remote for the television, then set it down.
“You can watch something if you want.” She eyed him.
“Nah. Let’s just talk.”
She reached out and put her hand to his forehead. “Nope. Not feverish.” He rolled his eyes. “Okay, if you want to talk, you’re going to be the one doing the talking. Tell me about these games you develop.”
“Hmm. Well, I started off working as part of team developing games, which is usually the way you start out. Things have changed so much in the last ten years; it’s been an incredible ride. Back when I finished school, the market was pretty much cornered by Tagasha and Nintendo. Then others started getting into new technology and MMORPGs started to grow.”
“On-line computer games. Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games. You’ve probably heard of Starship? Fantasy Universe?”
She nodded. “Mmm. Heard of them. Haven’t played them.”
He grinned. “You haven’t played any of them, have you?”
“I’m going to get you a MiniMod. It’s a handheld game my company developed. You’d like the new BrainMaster game.”
She grimaced, wondering when he planned to get her this game, but said nothing.
“It’s one of a bunch of new things I worked on,” he continued. “I started getting concerned about all the violence and some of the mindless crap that was coming out. I wanted to explore ways to make games educational.”
“Really?” She was surprised.
“Really,” he answered, a bit mockingly. “I know you may think I’m just a big dorky kid, but, like we were talking about earlier, I did get concerned about some of the information that’s out there about how games affect kids. I realized there’s no simple answer, like you said, but the more I studied things, the more I became convinced there are some links between violent games and kids’ behavior.”
She was stunned silent.
“I developed and produced some games that are starting to be used in schools now. They look like and play like adventure or RPGs…Role Playing Games,” he clarified for her at her look. “So kids feel like they’re just playing a game, but there’s a lot of history and geography built into them. Then MindMaster tests a lot of mathematical and language skills.”
“Wow.” She was truly amazed. “That is so impressive.”
He shrugged. “That’s where Tagasha and I parted company. They didn’t see the market value of stuff like that, but I wanted to create educational software as entertaining and compelling as some of these multiplayer online games or the really good video games. So I put together a great team and it was amazing how things took off.”
Like she’d suspected before, he must have made a ton of money with that car and beach home and who knew what else.
“I really got a lot of satisfaction from the idea that I was doing good for kids instead of harm. Not that I’ll ever totally admit video games are harmful to kids. There are a ton of good skills they learn from playing. Some games have a lot of cognitive benefits. They can be highly demanding, cognitively. Many games require tons patience and focus from the player. Plus, although people think games are instant gratification, games actually delay gratification a lot longer than other forms of entertainment, like movies or even books. Some research suggests video games may even increase players’ attention capacities.”
“I have heard that,” she said thoughtfully.
“What I’m getting into now is games that are even more interactive. I thought maybe there are other ways we could get them off the couch…they control the game with their body movements.”
“I’ve heard of those.”
“Yeah. There are other now, but mine was the first, and we’re working on next generation enhancements.”
“Wow.” Her vocabulary was momentarily limited by her surprise. It was kind of bizarre how his interest in getting kids active overlapped her own concerns about obesity, diet and activity levels for kids. She sat forward. “That could be a great part of my program. We have to get kids more active. Diet and nutrition are only part of it. It’s hard to find things parents can deal with. Some parents are so strapped for time these days, plus they don’t want kids out running around the neighborhood any more because they just feel it’s not safe. But it has to be fun and cool, or the kids just won’t do it.” Her mind was working, possibilities running through her head.
Griff laughed. “There’s smoke coming out your ears.”
She grinned. “I know. I’m just thinking of all the potential.”
He reached out and touched a long strand of her hair, sliding his fingers down it, then twirling it around. “We’d make a good team.”
The moment turned serious and heavy. Their eyes met. She swallowed, then turned her lips in and bit her top lip. “Yeah.” She jumped up, grabbing their empty glasses. “More wine?”
She filled their glasses with hands that trembled.
Don’t even think about any kind of future. Do not make that mistake again. Enjoy the moment, right here and now, but that is it.
She paused before going back into the living room.
Griff’s knowledge and success impressed her. She was happy he’d done so well, pride warming her inside at his accomplishments. But these kinds of emotions were so dangerous. She closed her eyes briefly, then pasted on a smile when she went back in the room.
He was reading a medical journal that had been lying on top of a pile of magazines. “You wrote this article?”
She nodded. “Yup. It’s the first one I’ve ever written. There was a lot of interest in the program.”
He finished skimming over the article she’d contributed about her obesity program, then nodded. “It sounds impressive.”
“Thanks.” She smiled. “Here.” She held out the wine, and his fingers brushed hers as he took the glass from her, sending another ripple of sensation through her.
Then he glanced at his watch. “I should check my phone for messages. I was expecting a call from Vince. You remember him?”
She nodded. “Of course.” Vince and Griff had been inseparable buddies, bonded by their love of gaming and computers, both a little geeky. Vince had been his roommate in college, the one they’d maneuvered around with great difficulty in their attempts to have some time alone, in a bed.
“He’s one of my partners.” Griff pulled his phone out of his pocket, turned it on and pressed some buttons. When he got through to his voice mail, he stood and walked around, listening. “I’m just going to give him a quick call back,” he told her. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay.” It was Saturday night, but she supposed being an entrepreneur meant he worked long and unusual hours. His phone had been silent ever since they’d met up.
“Hey, Vince,” she heard him say from the kitchen. He listened. “I’m up in Santa Adalia… Oh, did she tell you that?” Pause. “She’s pissed? Oh, shit.” More listening. “Yeah, well…it’s…complicated.” Then, “Very complicated. Listen, go ahead and make that offer. Everything sounds good, and I’ll talk to you more on Monday.” He listened a bit more, then ended the call. Through the doorway, she watched him toss the phone down onto the counter and then stride back into the living room, pushing a hand through his hair.
“Everything okay?” she asked lightly, hoping her voice didn’t sound as tight as her throat and her stomach felt.
“Yeah, great. Now, where were we… Oh, yeah. We were talking about teamwork.”
He sat down on the couch beside her and stroked a hand over her shoulder.
“Mmmm.” He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the corner of her mouth. “I like teamwork. Especially this kind of teamwork.” She blinked as she watched him with fascination, disturbingly aroused just by looking at his mouth and his eyes falling closed as he leaned in for a kiss full on the mouth, a soft, lingering kiss that reached deep inside her.
“Wanna take off all your clothes off and kiss you all over,” he whispered, before pressing his lips to hers again. “Can’t stop touching you, Ainslie.”
She sucked in her breath at his words, feeling that familiar flip of excitement low in her tummy and the rush of warmth between her legs.
“Want to suck on your nipples and lick your sweet pussy until you come.” His warm mouth moved over her cheek and the side of her neck. Her eyes fell closed with delight.
“Here we go again,” she murmured.
He chuckled. “Yeah, here we go.”
His hands were everywhere, tugging her clothes off, worshipping her body with his touch. Her mind spun out of control with delirious pleasure made more acute by the fact he had invaded her heart and mind, as well as her body, with his surprising revelations about the work he’d done. She could no longer hate him; in fact, she was halfway to falling in love with him all over again. Not the playful, self-centered but charming youth she’d fallen in love with ten years ago, but the playful, charming, mature and thoughtful man here making love to her with his hands, his mouth, his words.
She moaned with helpless delight as he turned her over onto her stomach, hands moving over her back and buttocks and the backs of her thighs where she was so sensitive that she squirmed beneath his touch. Then his mouth was there, his teeth sinking into the sensitive skin of her thighs, fingers sliding higher, tracing the crease between her cheeks, around and into her slick folds. Sensations sizzled across her flesh.
“Open your legs for me, honey.” He brushed her hair back and licked her where her neck met her shoulder.
Oh, God, it was so sweet and intoxicating. She was floating on an ocean of sensation, swept away, drowning in bliss. She parted her legs, loving the feel of his hand there, his other hand stroking through her hair, sweeping down the curve of her back, cupping her cheeks. Then he kissed her there on the curve of her bottom, licked the crease where her cheek met her thigh, nudged her legs farther apart.
“We don’t have to do this here,” she struggled to speak. “The bedroom…”
“Yeah.” His voice was rough. “The bedroom.”
He turned and lifted her, taking her into his arms again.
“I can walk.” But when she stood, her legs barely supported her, knees weak with an overload of erotic sensation.
He slipped an arm beneath her legs and lifted her easily.
“I love how you can do that.” She slid her arms around his neck and tucked her face into him. She felt so cared for, which was so at odds with how she’d built her independence. But it wasn’t weakness. Sometimes it took strength to surrender. And she knew Griff was not her conqueror, but rather her champion, and she was not a conquest but a willing partner.
When he laid her on the bed, he turned her again onto her stomach so he had the same exquisite view of her gorgeous ass, all smooth, round and firm. He stroked a hand along the curve of her back again, enjoying the ridge of muscle down each side of her spine, deepening at her lower back. He bent and kissed her in the hollows there, turning his head to inhale the scent of her, filling his lungs with the fragrance of her arousal. He kissed each buttock, so round and firm, drawing a finger along the crease beneath each, then tickling her thighs and making her squirm. He smiled.
He turned her again so he could move between her thighs and taste the sweet honeyed taste of her. He ate at her hungrily, her thighs quivering beneath his hands as she whimpered.
He was so hard he was in pain, but he only wanted to give her pleasure, to see that look of ecstasy, surprise and gratitude on her beautiful face. This overwhelming need to give was new to him, astonishing to him, and yet it felt nothing but right. He licked, sucked and devoured her until she came in tight, pulsing jerks, and he pushed two fingers inside her to feel her contract around him, warm and wet.
“I love feeling you come like that. Your hot pussy grabbing at my fingers.”
When she was limp under him, he rested his cheek on her stomach, afraid to show his face and let her see what he was sure was clearly displayed there. He could not leave her again.
This time he was going to do things right.
He drew a breath, fighting for control before he moved his body up over hers. He supported himself above her on arms that trembled. “Do I need to get a condom?”
She smiled lazily. “Why bother?” She lifted a hand to touch his mouth. “I trust you, Griff.”
“Thank you.” God, being inside her naked, skin to skin, was incredible. He hadn’t had sex without a condom since…well, since a few hours earlier in her kitchen, but before that, ever. Even as college students, they’d been smart enough to practice safe sex.
They came together in a way that was so familiar, so right, so perfect, they both cried out. He took her mouth over and over in long, wet, sliding kisses, open-mouthed and tongue-twined, as he pressed into her. She lifted her legs and wrapped them around him, heels digging into his back as she urged him deeper.
Sweat broke out along his brow and his chest as need exploded in his brain.
“God, Ainslie! You blow my fucking mind.”
“Good.” He glimpsed a pleased smile before he kissed it away, mouth closing over hers as he poured himself into her, hot and out of control.
“I love feeling you come like that, too.”
“Oh, man.” His words came out on a long, ragged groan. He was so done. He didn’t think he could move, wasn’t sure if he could remember his name. He panted against her, swallowed hard, twitched inside her. “I’m squashing you.”
“Yeah, but I like it.” Her arms tightened around him, but he shifted his weight to the side. He pulled her against him, tucking her head under his chin and closing his eyes.
Moments later, Ainslie stirred in his arms, trying to extricate herself from his grip and the tangle of sheets.
“Where are you going?” he murmured, not wanting to let her go.
“I…um…just need to clean up.”
Yeah. No condom.
He smiled and stretched in the bed as she left to use the small bathroom. The light came on and the door partially closed. God, he felt incredible, his body sated, luxuriously lazy and contented. When Ainslie slid back into bed beside him, he reached for her and pulled her close again, almost dozing. He sleepily kissed her jaw, rubbing his face against her.
As Griff drifted off to sleep, he contemplated his next moves. Tonight had been intense. The whole day had, actually. Seeing Ainslie talk to her patient, seeing her being so assertive and confident, had been such a turn-on. Ridiculous, really. Then spending the evening cooking, drinking wine and talking, such a mundane, “couple” thing to do, had not been mundane in the least. She’d listened to him, genuinely interested in his work, even though he knew she’d regarded his Digital Arts studies in college as a joke.
A couple of times she’d said how smart he was, and his ego had swelled a little. He’d never lacked for self-confidence, but it had always eaten at him, just a bit, that Ainslie was such a serious student with an important career goal, and his major was “playing.”
It hadn’t been his intention to impress her by coming here, but he was glad she approved of the things he’d done with his career. It was also more than a little freaky that their goals overlapped so much. Or was it?
Years ago, they’d shared long conversations about the things important to them, although at that age some of the things they’d talked about had been pretty lofty. Yet, although their paths had veered somewhat for each of them for different reasons, they were both happy and satisfied with what they’d accomplished, and both had goals they had yet to achieve.
He compared his feelings to his other relationships. Where Ainslie was bright, sharp colors, crisp graphics and complex stories, others were fuzzy, old-school, simple and…boring. She excited him, and not just physically.
He had a decision to make. Or maybe it was already made for him. He’d tell her first thing in the morning.
* * *
Ainslie slept for a while, her body limp and satiated When she drifted back to consciousness, she lay there in the darkness, warmly cradled in Griff’s arms, his strong forearms crossed over her front, her butt snuggled up to his crotch. His slow, even breathing told her he still slept and she didn’t want to disturb him.
She need time to process what had happened. Things had changed. What had started out as an irresistible sexual pull had transformed into something deeper. It scared the shit out of her. She blinked rapidly as tears stung her eyes. No, no, no, not now, she told herself fiercely.
She thought back to earlier, in the kitchen, before he’d done her right there on her counter. She almost wriggled a little at that erotic memory. She’d been thinking about taking responsibility, though.
He’d felt smothered. Although that had hurt her and shocked her, she’d had time to mull that thought over in her head, in her subconscious, and she realized he’d had reason to feel smothered. Every time he’d tried to pull away, she’d forgiven him and let it go. She hadn’t really let it go, of course. The hurt built up over time inside her, increasing her fear and anxiety, which resulted in her hanging on to him way too tightly. She hadn’t wanted him to go out without her, had questioned him every time he did.
Which had probably had the effect of pushing him away.
It was a circle of fear and love, pushing and pulling.
The last ten years she’d been angry, bitter, hating him with every cell of her being. Blaming him. The truth was, she was just as responsible for the wreck of their relationship as he was.
No, she couldn’t let him off the hook that easy. A real man would have had the balls to tell her he was leaving, and he hadn’t done that. But he hadn’t been a man, he’d been a boy. Now, as a man, he’d apologized, told her why, and it all kind of made sense.
So where did they go from here? Could she live her life in peace, having forgiven him and accepted responsibility for her part in their torrid, doomed relationship, even if he left tomorrow?
Tears gathered in the inner corners of her eyes again as she realized, hopelessly, that she would never love someone like this again. They’d only spent just over twenty-four hours together, much too short a time to fall in love, but she’d never really gotten over her first love for him. The last day had added another layer, a deeper dimension, knowing the man he’d become, the man who was not only thoughtful and insightful, but also thought provoking and fascinating.
She blew out a long, slow breath, trying to keep from sobbing aloud. He was leaving tomorrow, and if they never saw each other again, how would she survive?
survive. She’d survived last time and even made a life for herself, a life that gave her a lot of satisfaction and joy. She could do it again. If she’d learned nothing else over the last ten years, she’d learned she was a strong woman who could help others without being sucked into co-dependence, and who could need others without being needy.
She swallowed hard and felt Griff move behind her.
“You awake?” he whispered, his hand moving to her breast.
“Yes.” Her breast swelled instinctively into his palm, her nipples hardening.
“We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?”
She nodded and let him turn her in his arms, and when he kissed her, her cheeks were wet.
* * *
They awakened in the morning to Ainslie’s pager going off. As Griff struggled back to consciousness, Ainslie muttered, “Shit!” and scrambled out of bed. She grabbed the pager and glanced at it. “It’s the hospital.”
He frowned as she reached for the phone on the bedside table. She punched in numbers, pushing her hair back off her face.
“It’s Dr. Patterson. She listened. “When? Who’s there? Okay, I’ll be right there.”
She paused a second after hanging up the phone.
“Ains? Honey, what is it?”
“One of my patients.” She stood and began dragging clothes on. “She was hospitalized last week after an MI. She just arrested. They’re resuscitating her. I need to go.”
“I’ll drive you.” He threw back the duvet.
“That’s okay. You can stay here. I don’t know how long I’ll be.” She turned to him. “Will you… I don’t know how long I’ll be.”
Her unspoken question hung in the air.
“I’ll drive you.” He pulled on his jeans. “I’m parked in the driveway behind you anyway.”
She blinked. “Okay.”
They were out of the house in moments into the early morning, the sun barely above the horizon, the air cool and fresh, the sky a pale blue. He sped to the hospital through quiet streets.
She hurried into the hospital, and he trailed along behind her, wishing he could do something to help her. He followed her down a hallway, around a corner, to where she stopped at a nursing station.
“Hi, Dr. Patterson,” one of the nurses said. “Dr. Johnson said he wants to see you as soon as you get here.”
Ainslie nodded. “He’s in his office? How’s Mrs. Garcia?”
Ainslie started to push through the ICU door, but stopped, appearing to remember Griff. She turned to him. “There’s a cafeteria on the second floor. If you want to grab a coffee, I’ll come find you there as soon as I know what’s going on.”
“Sure. No problem.” He waved a hand as if scooting her in the door, and she flashed a quick, beautiful smile at him.
He wandered down the hall, found a stairway and climbed to the second-floor cafeteria. Despite the early hour, it was half-full of various medical personnel eating breakfast and drinking coffee. He bought a cup, dumped in several packets of sugar and little creamers, then found an empty table.
Jesus, he hated hospitals. Ainslie was so strong to work in this kind of environment. He imagined her during her medical school training. He’d heard the horror stories of thirty-six hour shifts while interning. How the hell could someone so little and soft make it through something like that?
But while Ainslie might be little, he’d definitely learned she wasn’t soft. Well, she was, but only in the places you’d expect. His body twitched at the thought, at the memories of her softness. He shook his head and sipped the coffee, looking around. No, she was strong and tough.
After he’d finished one cup, then another and still no Ainslie, he decided to go back to the ICU. Visitors had to buzz to get in, which he didn’t want to, so he took a seat in the small lounge just outside the unit.
A family sat there, a young woman about his and Ainslie’s age, a man who appeared to be her husband and a baby sleeping in a car seat. The woman’s face was pink and streaked with tears and she sat next to her husband, her head wearily on his shoulder. They glanced at him and gave a brief smile as he entered.
He picked up an ancient magazine and flipped through it mindlessly, not wanting to intrude on the young couple’s obvious sorrow.
“Dr. Patterson is here now.” The woman rubbed her nose with a crumpled tissue. “She’ll tell us what’s going on.”
The man set his hand on his wife’s knee. “It’ll be okay, hon.”
Griff looked up. They must be Ainslie’s patient’s family. He wanted to say something, but didn’t know what. Then Ainslie walked in.
She looked decidedly un-doctor-like in the low-rise jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt she’d grabbed just over an hour ago.
The couple looked up at her eagerly, attentively. She smiled at them, then noticed Griff. Her smile warmed. For him.
“Do you need to talk to them? I’ll wait outside.”
“Thanks.” She stood on tiptoe and brushed her mouth over his. He squeezed her hand and stepped out of the room. The door closed and he couldn’t hear, but he could see through the blinds on the window that Ainslie took a seat facing them, leaning forward when speaking to them. She did most of the talking, making direct eye contact with them as she appeared to explain things. The man and woman nodded, listening attentively, the woman continuing to wipe tears. Then Ainslie took the woman’s hand and rubbed it, gave her a smile and stood.