Thursday, February 15

Chapter Thirty-two

Jordan watched with mixed emotions as the band took their final bow following a marathon performance that ran just over three hours. It had been a spectacular show and she had worked diligently through it, sitting in the wings with her laptop and documenting every detail she could. Following the show, the band and several members of the crew were boarding a private jet to take them back to the U.S. People were anxious to get home, to see their families and sleep in their own beds.

Earlier in the day, Jordan had overheard Jon on the phone with his son. “I miss you too, bud, but I’ll see you tomorrow. Are you being good for Mommy?” He laughed. “Just checking. Give her a big hug and kiss for me, okay? I love you.”

She had stood on the other side of the door, feeling guilty for eavesdropping, even though it was unintentional. She wished she knew more about his kids, but it was a topic both of them had avoided; she knew that the more she knew about them, the harder it would be to live with herself. But the envy that burned in her stomach was hard to ignore—envy not only of his wife but of Jon himself. It was an odd feeling, to be so envious of someone she loved so much, and of an aspect of his life she could never be part of.

The duplicity of it all was astounding to her. Because whether she was lying with him in bed or simply watching him smile at her from across the room, the happiness she felt was indescribable. She was dangerously close to being unable to imagine a life without him. Yet she feared that once they arrived home, reality would once again rear its ugly head…in spite of his promise to her.

Spirits were high and the atmosphere jovial once they were airborne. Still, Jordan was struggling to put on a happy face; she hated that she had to share him with the others, hated that she didn’t know how soon they could be alone again. And she hated herself for being so selfish. She realized that the combination of exhaustion and emotion was probably making her overly sensitive. She also realized that maybe crawling into her own bed when she got home might provide some perspective.

Eventually the frivolity died down, the endorphin rush finally wearing off and the human side of everyone emerging. Jon motioned for Jordan to join him in the back of the plane, away from the rest of the passengers, many of whom were already asleep.

“How you doin?” he asked, as they settled into their seats.

She smiled softly. “Okay. How about you?”

He gave a slight nod. “I’m good. A little worried about you.”

“What do you mean?” She tried to shrug off his concern.

“Jordan,” he began. “I know this can’t be easy on you.” She still looked tired and stressed, in spite of their relaxing mini-vacation, and her attempts at hiding it were not working.

“Baby, listen.” He took her hand in his. “I know you’re scared. But I need you to know something. I don’t regret anything that’s happened between us, and I want you in my life.”

Her heart swelled at his words, but she felt tears stinging the back of her eyes. She remained silent as he continued.

“I’m not going to lie to you. I can’t give you all of me. And it would be unfair to just expect you to accept that. I have an idea, but if it’s not enough for you, I’ll understand.” As he said it, he found his pulse quickening. He was stunned at how nervous he found himself.

He had gone over it in his mind a dozen times since thinking of it. How he’d propose it to her, whether or not he was even justified in asking. And he wondered just how selfish he was being; He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He was asking her to share him but at the same time, knew he didn’t want to share her.

He told her then, doing everything he could to make the possibility sound as enticing and wonderful as possible. An apartment in New York City, with a home office. A commute via train to the corporate offices in Philadelphia as necessary, with ample vacation time and a more-than-generous salary. Broadway, shopping, dining… a chance to step out of her safe zone and live a life she’d only dreamt of.

Jordan sat in stunned silence. The offer was, professionally, more than she could have ever imagined. But personally…

It wasn’t that she wanted him to leave his family. In fact, that was the last thing she wanted. She didn't want to be the reason behind someone else's heartbreak. It would be one thing if she knew he was unhappy in his marriage, or if his wife were some sort of hateful shrew that he was bound to out of obligation alone. But that wasn’t the case, and she knew it.

Yet she couldn’t deny her feelings. In her mind, she heard Bella’s voice.
I would do whatever I must to be with the man I loved.

Jon’s voice was soft as he squeezed her hand. “Look, I don’t expect an answer right now. Take it with you and think about it. I know I’m asking you to uproot your life for me, and as attractive as I hope the offer is, I know you need to make whatever decision is best for you.”

She smiled softly, nodding, and he brought a hand up, cupping her face in his palm as he brushed away a tear with his thumb. “I’m going to do whatever I can, however, to make this an offer you can’t refuse.” He grinned then, winking at her, and she laughed.
He grew serious again. "You deserve to be happy, Jordan. And I want to be the person to make that happen."

He was pleased when she dozed off, and he watched her while she slept. And in spite of his own fatigue, he found the lyrics of a song running through his mind.

I know that life has made you leery
You weren’t dealt a fair hand
Parts of you have died and yet
You’re a pillar when you stand

But I can see beyond your walls of granite
To the softness held inside
In spite of the strength you show the world
It’s your heart you try to hide

Better to not count on anyone
Then to be let down again
Easier to play by your own set of rules
Believe me baby, I understand

But if you’ll let me be your hero
It could be better than you’ve ever known
And if you let me be your hero
You’ll never be alone

He moved across the aisle so he could stretch out. As he drifted off, the song continued to develop in his mind. The next thing he knew, the voice of the pilot was announcing that they were in preparation for landing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The ringing of the phone woke her and Jordan looked at the clock on her bed stand before answering. She’d taken a red-eye from New York and arrived home at around 6:30. She’d showered and fallen in bed, asleep almost before her head hit the pillow. The clock now read 3:45. She groaned and reached for the phone.

“You were sleeping, weren’t you?” Tina said on the other end of the line. “I’m sorry!”

Jordan tried to shake the haze of sleep from her brain. “No, that’s okay. I need to wake up anyway or I’ll be up all night.”

“I thought I’d grab some takeout and bring your kids home. I’m dying to hear all the details. Your cryptic e-mails were no fun at all.”

Jordan couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry, I was busy. What day is it?”

Tina chuckled. “Sunday, honey. And the sun is shining and there is a world outside your door. But I’m guessing you’d rather stay in.”

Jordan nodded. “You guessed that right. You’ll be lucky if I drag my ass out of this bed for you.”

“Look, these cats are coming home. If we have to keep them one more day I think I may end up getting divorced,” she teased. “So what do you want for dinner?”

Jordan laughed. “You aren’t going to believe what sounds good.”

Later they sat together, eating burgers and fries. Jordan sighed happily. “This tastes so good!”

Tina smiled, shaking her head. “This has to be the easiest you’ve been to please in a long time. Well, eat up. From the looks of things you can use it.” She couldn’t help but notice that Jordan had lost a little weight. “So, are you glad to be home?”

Jordan nodded. “I am.”

Something in her voice told Tina there was more to the sentence. “But????”

“But nothing. It’s nice to be back, to sleep in my own bed…”
But one without Jon in it.

Tina watched her for a moment. Something was different about her. She seemed happy and sad at the same time, and almost guarded. “You’re not sorry you went, are you?”

Jordan shook her head. “No, absolutely not.” She smiled softly then. “It was amazing, all of it. I’ll have to show you pictures.”

Tina was dying to ask about Jon but she could tell now wasn’t the time. A lot was going on behind those dark green eyes but she decided to let it go for now. “So did you bring me a present at least?”

Jordan laughed, nodding. “Of course. For you, for Kev, for Morgan and Liz, for my boss, for my assistant…” She took a bite of her burger, wiping ketchup and mustard from the corners of her mouth. When she finished chewing, she smiled at Tina. “Enough about me. What’s been going on around here?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Just over a week later, Jordan was loading groceries into her trunk, still trying to settle back into her life. She had returned to work but oddly enough was not as happy to be there as she had expected. She loved her job, but now…

Jon’s offer had been weighing heavily on her mind. She had spoken to him several times since arriving home and he hadn’t brought it up, but she knew it was on his mind as much as it was hers. Still, he had sounded rested and relaxed, and she realized that her genuine happiness for him was stronger than any envy she had.

She slid behind the wheel and turned the key, opening the sunroof to let the warmth of the spring day soak in on her. She hit the scan button on her radio to escape the annoying voice on the commercial she was hearing, and she smiled to herself when the next thing she heard was Gladys Knight and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” It had been one of her mother’s favorites and they used to dance together in the living room—her mother, Morgan and herself, even getting the “whoo whoo’s” down as good as any Pip ever had.

She looked out towards the mountains in the distance as she listened.

I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine.

Suddenly she knew with all her heart what she wanted. And she couldn’t wait to tell him. She looked at her watch, realizing she’d better hurry if she were going to keep her doctor’s appointment.

She waited for Dr. Cole in the examination room, watching the clock on the wall and thumbing through an eight-month old issue of Redbook. Finally there was a knock at the door and Dr. Cole entered the room, an apologetic smile on her lips.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” She looked through the chart in her hand. “Periods still as sporadic as ever, I see.”

Jordan nodded. “Honestly I’m more surprised when I get one than when I don’t. I did have two in a row a few months ago. Ruined a brand new pair of lacy underwear,” she said, laughing.

Dr. Cole nodded. “Are you sure they were periods?”

Jordan looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Well, as opposed to any abnormal bleeding or spotting. Were they full-length periods?”

Jordan thought about it. “Well, I don't know. A couple days at the most I guess. Is that bad?”

“Not necessarily. It’s just with your history I want to make sure there isn’t more going on in there. How is everything else? Any pain? Fatigue?”

Jordan shook her head. “No real pain. Occasional discomfort but nothing that feels too different than normal.”

“And fatigue?” She motioned for Jordan to lie back.

Jordan sighed, putting her feet in the stirrups and wincing as she felt the smooth steel of the speculum. “Well, yes. But I’ve also been keeping pretty busy; I just returned from a six week work trip to Europe and I didn’t exactly sleep as well as I should have. I assume that will go away as soon as I get caught up.” She laughed lightly.

She stared at the ceiling, reading how to properly give herself a breast exam, until Dr. Cole withdrew the speculum and stood, inserting two fingers into her vagina and pressing on her abdomen. Jordan gave a small cry.

“That hurts?”

Jordan nodded. “Just a bit. Guess I’m a little tender.” She gave an embarrassed laugh. “I have been rather…active the past few months. Maybe I’m just a little bruised?”

Dr. Cole laughed. “Well unless you’re dating John Holmes, that shouldn’t be an issue. You’re overdue for your ultrasound anyway, so why don’t we just do that now instead of sending you over to radiology?”

They moved to another examination room and Jordan took her place on the table. She couldn’t count how many of these things she’d had done over the years. It always made her heart race a little, ever fearful that they might once again look inside and see something that didn’t belong there.

“Relax, Jordan,” Dr. Cole said, sensing her apprehension. “Let’s just take a look.” She moved the instrument over Jordan’s abdomen, and her face became unreadable as she looked at the monitor screen. Then a subtle but unmistakable look of concern appeared in her eyes.

Jordan felt her heart jump. “What is it?”

Dr. Cole remained silent, pressing more firmly as she tried to bring up a better view. She reached to tap a few keys on the keyboard, marking whatever it was she was looking at.

“You see something, don’t you?” Jordan struggled to keep her voice calm.

The doctor wiped the head of the probe and returned it to its cradle. “Get dressed and we’ll talk.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“She’s still in shock,” Tina was telling Morgan over the phone. “She is in the tub right now.” She had received the call from Morgan a few hours earlier, telling her that the doctor’s office had called her, that Jordan had fainted and was in no shape to drive. Unfortunately Morgan was in Miami at a conference. Tina had dropped what she was doing and gone to retrieve her shaken friend.

Morgan was silent on the other end of the phone as Tina told her what Jordan had learned at the doctor’s office. “Jesus. I just can't believe it. She and I have been so out of touch lately…tell her I love her and will see her tomorrow night.”

Tina assured Morgan she’d relay the message and hung up. She put the kettle on, thinking a cup of chamomile might sound good to Jordan. She herself felt like she needed a shot of vodka.

When Jordan emerged, her eyes were swollen and her voice shaky. “I think I really screwed up this time,” she said, quietly.

Tina shook her head. “You don’t know that. Dr. Cole said there are more tests to run. Everything is going to be fine. You have to believe that.”

“But if I’d known…” Jordan’s voice trailed off, and Tina interrupted her.

“You didn’t know. But you’ll take care of yourself now, and do whatever you need to do.” Tina held out the cup of tea. “Morgan called. She said to tell you she loves you and she’ll be home tomorrow.”

Jordan nodded, taking the mug but not drinking from it. Her cell phone rang but she made no move to retrieve it. Tina reached for Jordan’s purse, pulling the phone from inside. She looked at the screen. “It’s Jon.”

Jordan shook her head. She couldn’t talk to him right now. He’d know something was wrong; he’d hear it in her voice. Moments later, her land line rang. “Don’t,” she said to Tina.

The answering machine picked up and then she could hear the smile in his voice. “Hey babe, I just tried your cell and hoped I’d catch you here. I had a few minutes and wanted to hear your voice. Anyway… I got the file you sent; it looks great. I like the way you’re putting it together. I knew I made the right choice when I hired you.” He laughed then. “For more reasons than one. I’ll try to call later; if not I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” He paused. “I hope you’re having a good night. I love you.”

Tina looked at Jordan, shocked, and watched as a tear slid down her friend’s cheek.

Jordan insisted on going to work the next day. She wanted the distraction, wanted a reason not to think about the decision she had to make. Yet she could think of nothing else and finally told Beth she wasn’t feeling well and apologized before heading home.

When Tina found her, she was sitting in her rocking chair, holding Brando tightly.

“Jordan, honey,” Tina began, reaching to stroke Jordan’s hair from her face.

“I’m being punished,” Jordan said. “That’s it.”

Tina shook her head. “You’re wrong. God doesn’t work that way. You’re one of the best people I know and you’ve lived through enough bullshit in your life that frankly I think he owes you one, if anything.” Jordan laughed a little then, and Tina took her hand.

“Are you going to tell Jon?”

Jordan shook her head. “Why? There’s nothing he can do to change it.”

Tina ached for her friend. “That’s not what I meant. But don’t you think he’d want to know?”

Jordan smiled sadly. “It doesn’t matter. It’s best that he doesn’t.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because if he knew, I don’t think he could keep it—keep us—a secret.” Jordan’s voice was shaky but determined.

“So? I get the impression this has gone beyond the clandestine affair.”

Jordan sighed. “We’ve made it this far without anyone finding out. It needs to stay that way.”

Tina was incredulous. “You’re doing this to protect him?”

“Not just him, Tina. His wife…his kids…they are innocent in this.” She ran her hand along Brando’s back. “If we’re found out, they’ll all suffer.”
Jon especially.

Tina fought to keep from raising her voice. “So you’re just going to go through this alone?”

Jordan brought her eyes to Tina’s. “No. I’ve got you, I’ve got Morgan and Liz. I won’t be alone. But Jon can’t know.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “He just can’t.”

As if on cue, Jordan’s phone rang. She saw it was Jon and took a breath before answering.

To next section...

Wednesday, February 7

Chapter Thirty-one

The bedroom in Richie’s suite was on the other side of the wall from the bedroom in Jon’s suite. As Jon and Jordan lie tangled together, they laughed quietly as the sound of Bella’s moans could be heard for the third time since they’d retired.

Jon chuckled. “Go Richie,” he said, and Jordan pinched him lightly on the side.

“Shhh,” she said, giggling.

“What, you want to listen?” Jon teased, squeezing her. “First you’re making out with her and now you want to listen to her while she has sex?”

“I didn’t make out with her,” Jordan answered, blushing.

“In my mind you did,” he answered. “Hell, in my mind you did a lot more than that.”

She laughed. “So that’s what you were picturing while we were…”

“That is exactly what I was picturing,” he answered, letting his hand wander down her back to rest on the cheek of her ass. “And that’s precisely the reaction you were hoping for, young lady, so don’t play innocent with me. You were just as turned on as I was.”

Jordan looked at him, smiling. “Well, it did make me feel pretty sexy.”

He laughed. “Baby, that was probably one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. If I’d had more willpower I’d have let it go on longer. What can I say…I’m a weak man. See what you’ve done to me?”

He brought his mouth to hers and they heard Bella’s voice seeping through the wall.

Oh, si…si…si…

They laughed softly as they kissed. “Damn,” Jon said. “She’d better come soon or I’m gonna need another round.”

Jordan let her fingers rake through his hair. “And that would be bad why?” She let her mouth trail down his chest to lick lightly at his nipple.

He smiled, shifting her until she was straddling him. “Well, I am on vacation…”

In the morning they sat in the sunshine on the terrace, enjoying mimosas and frittatas. Jordan was gazing out over the water, a soft smile on her lips. Jon reached to lace his fingers with hers. “Hey, babe, what are you thinking about?”

She sighed contentedly. “I’m just…happy. Lucky. Grateful.”

“Wow,” he answered. “Well, I’m glad. Any reason you’re feeling particularly happy-lucky-grateful today?”

She shook her head. “It’s this,” she said, gesturing to the view. “It’s us. It’s this fantastic ride I’ve been on the past few months. It’s the amazing opportunity you gave me to spread my wings.” She let her eyes settle on his. “I’ve always kind of lived in my safe zone. Same home town, same job, same friends… You brought something out in me I’d kind of forgotten about, I guess. And some things I didn’t know existed.”

He smiled. “I’m guessing you mean more than just kissing another woman.”

She blushed a little. “Well, that too…” She took a drink of her mimosa. “Part of me has always thought it would be so much fun to get a job in San Francisco or New York City, and just do the city thing for a while. But I love the mountains, too, and have never been able to pull myself away. In a perfect world I’d have both—an apartment in Manhattan or Marin County and a home near the mountains in Colorado. Then I remember I work in nonprofit and can barely afford my condo.” She laughed.

He grinned. “You want me to buy you an apartment in Manhattan? You can quit your job and be my concubine.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s what I want.”

“I’m kidding,” he said, squeezing her hand. It wasn’t like he hadn’t already thought of that, actually, but he knew Jordan could never just be a “kept” woman.

“I know,” she answered, looking out again at the water. “I don’t know why I’m even talking about it. I guess it’s just that in a few days I’ll be home again, and I’m not certain I’m the same person I was when I left.” In fact she was quite sure she wasn’t.

She turned back to him then, and he held her dark eyes with his. “Neither am I.”

The door on the terrace next to theirs opened and Richie stepped out, squinting in the sunshine. Jon laughed.

“Good morning, buddy. How’s it hanging, stud?”

Richie grinned. “Hanging is about all it’s doing right now.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Jon answered. “So where’s Aphrodite?” he teased, and Jordan slapped his arm.

“Stop that,” she said, laughing.

Richie tipped a head towards the room. “In the bathroom.” He ran a hand through his hair and grinned again. “Hey Jords… I owe you one.”

Jordan smiled at him. “No you don’t. That look of satisfaction on your face is more than enough.” She winked at Jon and he laughed, nodding.

“Satisfaction is good. Now maybe you’ll quit being such an grouchy asshole,” he said, good-naturedly.

Richie shook his head. “Yeah, well what’s your excuse?” He winked at Jordan.

“Bite me,” Jon answered, and the three of them burst out laughing just as Bella emerged on the terrace.

“Buon giorno,” she said, smiling as she wrapped her arms around Richie’s waist. Even in her morning-after disheveled state she looked beautiful. “I am starving.”

Jordan couldn’t help but smile. “Work up an appetite, did you?”

Jon looked at her, incredulously. “Oh, and you smacked me for giving Richie shit?”

Bella laughed, shaking her head. “It is okay. One should be hungry after a night of passion.” She tipped her head at them and smiled slyly. “I see you are having a big breakfast.”

Jon smirked. “Touché. Mimosa?” he offered.

Later, they moved to the beach to once again enjoy the sun, sand and surf. The men were at the volleyball net while Jordan and Bella lounged nearby. Bella had nonchalantly removed her bikini top before settling back on her towel, and Jordan laughed and shook her head as the band members stood, smiling and looking at her expectantly. “Sorry, guys, not gonna happen.” Truth be told, she probably would have done it if Dave and Tico weren’t there, but she decided she’d crossed enough lines as it was.

Dave laughed, “Well you can’t blame us for hoping.” He looked at Bella then, before turning to Richie and tossing him the ball. “Did I mention I hate you?”

As they watched the game, Jordan smiled at Bella. “So… did you have fun last night?”

Bella giggled. “Very much so. Richie is a very good lover. And you were right about…” She laughed again. “It is very nice.”

Jordan joined her new friend in laughter. “So does it seem weird to you? That you’ve slept with…” She wasn’t sure how to ask the question.
Are you as freaked out as I was about sleeping with a rock star?

Bella regarded her for a moment. “Oh,” she said. “He is very famous, yes?”

Jordan nodded. “Well, yes.”

Bella shrugged. “There are lots of celebrities that come here, but when they are here they come not to be a celebrity, so I don’t think about it. Sometimes I know who they are, sometimes not.” She laughed then. “This is the first time I sleep with one though.”

“So who are other famous people that come here?” Jordan felt silly caring, but she was curious.

Bella shook her head. “I cannot say. That is very important to my father, that he keep the trust of the guests and not reveal who stays here. I have seen him fire housekeepers and desk people for betraying that trust. One time I saw him furious because a security man did not catch a paparazzi.”

Jordan smiled. “Good for him.” She realized, too, that such discretion was exactly the reason they were at this resort. She admired Bella for maintaining that decorum.

“It isn’t just for famous people, of course—the secrecy.” Bella smiled softly then. “Many men bring their lovers here. My father even.”

She said it so matter-of-factly that it surprised Jordan. “Your father?”

Bella nodded. “Yes. He does not know that I know she comes here, of course. We pretend.” She laughed. “I saw them together for the first time many years ago. He did not realize it. She is artist; very beautiful. I know where she lives, even. Her name is Maria.”

Jordan looked for signs of resentment but saw none. “Does it bother you?”

Bella shook her head. “No. She makes him very happy, in a different way than my mother. She is very independent with lots of…spirit, I think, who never wanted to be married. They love each other very much, I am sure.”

Jordan looked at the men for a moment before looking back at Bella. “What about your mother? Does it make you sad for her?”

“No,” Bella answered. “My mother and father also love each other, but it is not the same. There are many different kinds of love, si?” She laid her head back and closed her eyes.

“So your father and this woman, they’ve been together a long time?” Jordan couldn’t help but explore the topic further.

Bella nodded. “Oh, yes, many years. I was just a young girl when I saw them together the first time.”

Jordan reached for the bottle of water she had nearby and took a drink. Her eyes scanned the length of her friend—so beautiful and sensual and honest. “Could you do it?” she asked.

“Do what?” Bella answered, sighing blissfully in the sunshine.

“Be that woman, rather than someone’s wife?”

Bella opened her eyes then. “I was a wife once. It is not everything.” She looked at Jordan, her eyes soft. “I think I would do whatever I must to be with the man I loved. If I loved him the way Maria loves my father… yes, I would do it.”

Jordan looked over at Jon, just as he dove for the ball. He was laughing as he stood and Jordan felt her heart race. He was sweaty and tan…and happy. She wondered how far she would go to keep him that way. To keep them both that way.

He saw her watching him and tossed the ball to Tico. “I gotta take a break.” He walked over to the women, and smiled at the sight before him. For a moment his mind drifted back to the night before and he felt a stirring in his groin. “Anyone need a hand with the suntan lotion or anything?” he asked, his smile broad.

Jordan returned his smile, shaking her head. “No thanks, we’ve got each other for that.”

He groaned lightly. “You just love pushing my buttons, don’t you?”

She pretended to think. “You know, I do. It brings me great joy.”

He chuckled, shaking his head. “You know what would bring me great joy?” He scooped her up in his arms then, and she shrieked in surprise. He held her tight, ignoring her struggles as he walked to the water. When he was almost waist deep, he stopped.

“Call me Master,” he said, laughing. She clamped her mouth shut, shaking her head and fighting back laughter.

He tipped his head at her. “Are you sure?” She nodded, biting the inside of her cheek.

“Alright then.” He released her and she screamed as she hit the water. She sputtered and splashed and finally she stood, wiping her hair out her eyes. He was nodding. “Yep, that did bring me great joy.”

She laughed, shaking her head. “I’m glad.” She saw the others watching them. “You know what else would be fun?” She reached to play with the front of his swim trunks, knowing that from where she stood, no one could see exactly what she was doing. The trunks rested loose and low on his hips and she ran a finger lightly along the inside of the waistband.

He smirked. “Don’t start something out here you can’t finish, babe.”

She brought her other hand to his chest. “You have a point,” she said. She wrapped a leg around his calf, stroking sexily with her foot before sliding it up to the back of his knee. Then she pushed hard at his chest, pulling his leg out from under him. As he fell back, she pulled with all her might at his trunks, managing to slide them off his legs before he realized what was happening. Then she dove in the water and swam away, taking the trunks with her.

He stood, laughing and calling after her. “Damn it Jordan, come back here!” He stayed deep enough in the water that no one could see anything, but when she emerged closer to shore and walked out of the water carrying his trunks, the jig was up. The others noticed and cheered, and she bowed proudly.

He shook his head, laughing. He had to admit she’d gotten him good, and he looked forward to making her pay for it later. In the meantime, he covered his genitals with his hands and emerged from the water. He yanked the trunks from Jordan and pulled them on, not caring that for a brief moment his family jewels were on display.

“You realize that you will pay for this, right?” He spoke low enough that no one else could hear. “In fact, I think you will definitely be calling me Master before I’m done.”

“Yeah,” Jordan answered, smiling. “I don’t think so.”

“You’re brave because we have an audience. You wait until we’re behind closed doors.”

She smiled lasciviously. “I look forward to it.”

He sighed, raking his hand through his hair. She had him so wrapped around her finger he couldn’t see straight. “I’d love to continue this discussion, but I’ve got this damned conference call to take care of.” What he really wanted to do was wrap an arm around her waist and bury his face in her neck.

She shook her head. Even on vacation he was working. “Well hurry it up. Don’t make me come up there and get you.”

He grinned. “You wanna give me a blow job while I’m on the phone?”

“I could do that,” she laughed. “Or, I could bring Bella up to the room and she and I could get naked and roll around together on the bed in front of you.”

He groaned again. “You are evil on SO many levels. Besides,” he said nodding towards their companions. “Looks like Bella has other plans.” Jordan followed his gaze and smiled as she saw Richie and Bella walking hand in hand into the hotel.

She sighed. “Sure, they get to go have an afternoon romp and I get the offer of giving you a blow job while you’re on the phone. I think I’m just going to stay out here and work on my tan.”

He laughed. “Can’t say as I blame you.” He resisted the urge to kiss her. “Okay, I’ll be back out in a while.”

Jordan smiled to herself as she watched him walk away, stopping for a moment to let Tico and Dave know where he was going. She returned to her lounge chair, waving them over. “Looks like it’s just us,” she said, smiling.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jon listened while his board of directors discussed a strategic plan for their fledgling foundation. They had determined that a separate philanthropic arm was necessary, but Jon couldn’t help but wonder just how much more thin he could spread himself. He believed fully in their mission and was committed to it, but it was becoming abundantly clear that he needed more help. The discussion was lively, however, and he was once again impressed with the quality of people they’d found to sit on the board.

…what if we considered hiring someone who could serve as a liaison of sorts, between the corporation, the foundation, between Habitat…

…some sort of advancement officer who understands the philanthropic world but who would work closely with Jon, especially, to articulate the mission and communicate it to the community…

…it would have to be a largely independent role, though, given the fact that we all have other jobs and commitments…

Jon found himself smiling and felt a slight sense of euphoria run through his veins. He’d found it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The heat of the sun and the sound of the surf once again lulled Jordan to sleep, and she gladly gave in to the temptation. Given the opportunity, she felt like she could sleep for days. Work hard, play hard, she thought to herself as she drifted off.

“Hurry up,” Tina was saying. “You’re late and people are waiting!” Jordan realized she was in a wedding dress. Then the doors in front of her opened and she saw a chapel full of people she didn’t recognize. Suddenly her mother was at her side. “I told you he’d come around,” she was saying. She looked and saw Rob standing at the end of the aisle, next to a preacher. Then she was next to him and he was telling her they were married, even though no vows were exchanged. She let him fold her into his arms as he brought his lips to hers, and her heart raced as he kissed her. His mouth trailed down her throat and to the valley between her breasts, and she tangled her hand in his hair. When he brought his eyes back to hers, she saw it wasn’t Rob, but Jon. “Tell me you don’t love me,” he was saying. She looked around and saw that the guests were gone, and she looked from Jon to her mother. “Mom,” she said simply, and her mother smiled. “You know he’ll make you happy. That’s all that matters.” She felt Jon’s hand on her arm. “Hey beautiful,” he was saying.

“Hey beautiful,” Jon said, stroking his hand lightly along her arm. “Are you going to sleep all afternoon?” Jordan’s eyes fluttered open and she saw him bending over her, smiling.

She gave a languid stretch. “How was your meeting?”

He grinned. “Great, actually.” He stretched out on the chair sitting beside her. “And now I’m going to enjoy doing absolutely nothing for a while.”

She smiled warmly. “Good.” She looked around and was pleased to see Dave chatting up a cute blonde at the bar. Tico was also at the bar, visiting with another hotel guest. Richie and Bella were still no where to be seen. She found herself feeling a bit envious, but realized that she and Jon could not both disappear without it being too painfully obvious. She knew they’d been pushing their luck enough as it was.

“You know what I wish,” she said, just loud enough for him to hear.

“What do you wish, baby?” He folded his arms behind his head, his eyes closed.

“That we were alone on this beach so I could peel those shorts off and make love to you right here in the sunshine.” She smiled wistfully.

He chuckled. “You and me both. But you’d have to be on top. Last time I fucked outside in the sunshine I got a sunburn on my ass.” As he said it, he tried unsuccessfully to keep a straight face, then dodged the slap she directed his way.

“Gee,” she laughed, shaking her head. “You’re so romantic.”

“Did I ruin your little fantasy?” he teased.

She pretended to pout. “Yes. I’m talking about making love in the sunshine and you’re talking about fucking and getting a sunburn on your ass.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I’m not buying your delicate sensibilities act, babe. You forget that it’s my ear you were talking dirty into last night.”

She blushed. “So you’re saying I have no secrets from you?”

“Not a one,” he teased. “I can read you like a book.”

She smiled softly, letting her eyes wander the length of him. He was right, and she knew it. He’d tapped in to her heart, soul and mind in just a few short months. Hell…he had done that before they even left Chicago. She had just never really wanted to admit it.

She found her mind drifting back to the dream she was having earlier, and felt her stomach tighten. Her mother, Rob and Jon all in the same dream? If only she could read herself as well as Jon could read her.

She shrugged it off; it was just a dream. It couldn’t be that strange to have a dream starring the people you’ve loved most in your life. She brought her eyes back to his face. He had sunglasses on and she couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or not, but she felt herself smiling anyway.

She saw a small smile form on his lips. “I love you too, baby,” he said, and she felt her heart jump.

That night, she lie panting beneath him, dying for him to end the sweet torture he’d been administering for more than an hour. He’d teased her without mercy before finally bringing her to the brink of orgasm with first his fingers and then his mouth, only to pull away and leave her almost sobbing with desire. Now he was holding her wrists above her head with one hand, while the other teased along her body, his hardness throbbing against her hip.

He bent forward, biting softly at her bottom lip. “Say it.” He was amazed at his own restraint—she was hot and sexy and writhing beneath him, and he’d been fantasizing all day of what he’d do with her when they were finally alone. But the part of him that wanted her to give in was stronger than the desire he felt throbbing between his legs. He needed to know she wanted him—needed him—as badly as he did her. Because if he was going to take this plunge, he needed to know that she….

That it was what she wanted, too.

“Damn it, Jon,” she cried, squirming beneath him and trying to maneuver herself so his cock was touching her wetness. He lifted his hips away from her and closed a hand around her breast, bringing his lips close to her ear.

“Say it, Jordan.” He let his hand trail down between her legs again, stroking just lightly enough that she gasped out loud. His breath was hot in her ear. “You want release baby? I’ll give it to you. Sweet release. Just say the words and I’ll give you what you need.”

She was dizzy with longing, her body trembling. “Damn you,” she muttered, as she felt him lower his mouth to her breast and bite lightly at her nipple, while a finger danced lightly between her legs, just enough to torment her further. To add insult to injury, she heard the telltale sounds of Bella’s orgasm on the other side of the wall.

He pressed his hips against her thigh, letting her feel the pulsations of his erection. “I'm ready for you, Jordan. Just say it. I need to hear it.”

She groaned quietly. “Why? Why do you need me to call you Master?” Her resolve was about to dissolve, and she wasn’t sure why she was resisting him so.

She felt him laugh against her skin. When he brought his eyes to hers, they were dark with desire. “That’s not what I want, Jordan. Tell me you love me. I need to know.”

Her lips parted in surprise. He resisted the urge to kiss her again, not wanting to give her that out this time. She was silent but then slowly she nodded. “Yes,” she said, softly, simply.

It was one word, but it was enough for him, and he continued looking into her eyes as he pressed inside her then, his own breath ragged as he felt her envelop him. He released her wrists and she clung to him as her climax spread through her like wildfire, her moans surely drifting through the wall for Bella and Richie to hear.

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