She ran her hand through my hair, soothingly, like she used to do when I was sick. “You can’t always rely on me to be your companion, Gwen. I want more than this. I need more than just sitting around watching shows together.”
I had two choices—I could be hurt by her words, or I could accept that she wanted different things from life than I did and realize it had nothing to do with me.
At another time, I might have played the offended card. Right now, our family still felt too fragile. So I said the thing I knew she wanted to hear. “I know. And you’ll have it.” Maybe not with Hudson Pierce, like she wanted it, but she’d find someone.
When I thought about that, it scared me. Partly because I didn’t want to disrupt the status quo. Didn’t want to be without her in my daily life. But also because after the last few days, the idea of a guy in my life didn’t seem quite as unappealing as it once did.
And I had no business thinking those kinds of thoughts. Especially when I’d promised JC I wouldn’t get attached.
It’s just sex, I reminded myself. Sex stirs hormones, hormones think they’re emotions. That’s all. It wasn’t like the real emotions I had for my siblings. That I had for Norma.
I couldn’t shake the feeling, however, that things were changing between us. Couldn’t shake the feeling that at least one of us was slipping away toward something else.
I barely slept on Wednesday, too nervous about seeing JC again. He’d pushed me at our last encounter, and I had a feeling that was only the tip of the iceberg. While I kept thinking that we were only going to be about getting off, he seemed to be serious about the notion that he could help me loosen up. And so far, he’d been right. Orgasms in general were relaxing, but the methods he’d used to administrate my last one had left me relaxed well beyond when the hormonal effect had worn off.
Besides being anxious, I was eager. I had to force myself to not speed through my shower. Thankfully, the acts of regular feminine upkeep delayed me a bit. Still, I arrived at the hotel a whole hour earlier than I was expected, and I debated about hanging out in the bar or going straight up to his room.
I settled on the bar, but after killing thirty minutes and a glass of Merlot to ease my jitters, I changed my mind and headed up.
The apartment was silent when I went in, and dark, so I knew I was alone. I took off my coat and turned to hang it in the closet. There was a note on the door.
Make yourself comfortable. In other words, get undressed.
I laughed out loud, a response that was as much a sign of nerves as it was a reaction based on humor. Get undressed. It was a subtle command and such a naughty way to expect to be greeted. My hand trembled at the hem of my sweater. The idea of being naked in his hotel room, even without him there yet, brought on a new flurry of jitters. I left my clothing on.
Not that I wouldn’t do it. Just…I needed a moment to warm up to it.
Since I still had time before I was supposed to arrive, I took a few minutes to check out the rest of the suite. I’d been in the bathroom on my last visit but not beyond that. After our session on the couch, he’d had to leave to catch another flight to L.A. and the bedroom was left for another occasion.
I went in there now finding nothing remarkable. A king-size bed. Two nightstands. A dresser. An armchair. I peeked in a closet and found it full of clothes—his clothes. An unexpected giddiness came across me, and I had a strange desire to bury my face in them, see if they smelled of him. But that was creepy, so I quickly shut the door.
I wondered briefly if women’s clothing had ever hung there. Wondered, if I searched his drawers, would I find traces of past lovers? How would I feel if I did? Surely it didn’t matter who he’d hooked up with before if I was the one he was hooking up with now.
But thinking about it gave me a different kind of anxiety. It brought on a feeling of possessiveness that I was unaccustomed to. I didn’t like it.
I wasn’t a snoop, anyway. His stuff was his stuff. Whatever secrets his belongings held about him, they were theirs to keep. Just like how we didn’t tell each other our full names. How we didn’t share our ages or our personal history. It was all information and details that, when shared, bound people together. And that wasn’t what either of us were looking for.
So I made my way back to the living room without looking any further.
JC walked in about three seconds after I returned. My pulse kicked up immediately, and my breathing hitched. As if I were Pavlov’s dog. Just his presence made me excited and aroused.
And happy. There was that too. And there were very few times in my life that I let myself feel that. Here, with him, I didn’t even think about giving myself permission. I just did. I just was. Happy.
He already had his coat off, and he hung it in the closet while he eyed me with a narrowed stare. “You’re still dressed.”
“I just got here.” Even in my defensiveness, I grinned.
The look he gave me made me think he knew I was fibbing. It still wasn’t seven, so he had no reason to think I’d be here so early. Had he seen me come up? Had he been in the lobby somewhere, watching for me to arrive and then waiting the amount of time he thought it would take for me to follow the instructions he’d left?
The thought gave me an unexpected jolt. I liked that he might have been as anxious for me to arrive as I was. I didn’t like that I liked it.
If he really doubted me, he didn’t contradict me. “Then I’ll cut you a break and let you remove your clothes yourself.”
I stifled a nervous giggle. “As opposed to?”
“Me ripping them off.”
Another comment that was so naughty and unexpected. Was it strange that I almost preferred that than undressing willingly?
A satisfied smirk played on JC’s face. “Don’t worry, my plan will still be good. Strip.”
I couldn’t argue with the soothing authority in his voice. I bent to unzip a boot when he stopped me. “Not there. Over by the window.”
I didn’t move immediately. I was not an exhibitionist in any way, and parading naked in front of others was never something I’d feel comfortable with. No matter how freeing it might feel.
Except, I trusted JC. Strange, since I didn’t know him enough to trust him. Strange, since I never trusted anyone. But, I realized now, that trust was essential in any arrangement I expected to have with him. To give him my control, I had to trust. There also seemed to be a correlation in trusting and relaxing. Letting down my guard went a long way toward relieving tension I didn’t even know I carried.