“Simple things,” I say, fighting to keep my voice steady. “Oxygen. Food. Water.” I meet his eyes. “My needs are simple.”
He takes my nipple between two fingers and pinches me, tight enough to have me biting my lower lip. “Is that so?”
“I’ll have to keep that in mind,” he says as he lowers his mouth and draws the same nipple in deep, then teases it gently with his teeth, making me moan.
I tilt my head back, relishing the heat that is now coursing through me, making me squirm. Making me ache. Making me wet.
I sigh with pleasure and slide my fingers into his soft, thick hair, then tug his head up so that I’m looking into his passion-filled eyes. “So what do you want to do this morning?” I tease. “It’s a gorgeous day, after all.”
“I’ve seen gorgeous days before.”
“Sun. Sand. Surf.”
“Fascinating,” he says, then licks my cleavage.
“It’s our last day on the island, you know.”
He kisses down my abdomen, then dips his tongue into my belly button. “Considering I own the place, that doesn’t concern me much.”
“Our friends are here.”
“I’m sure we’ll see them in LA,” he says before kissing me lightly at the juncture of my thigh and pelvis.
I struggle not to gasp with pleasure, and instead release what I hope sounds like an exasperated sigh. “I’m all out of ideas, Mr. Stark. What do you suggest?”
The tip of his tongue skims lightly over my clit, and when I look down my body to see his head between my legs, I think it’s one of the most erotic sights I’ve ever beheld. But it’s the heat in his eyes when he tilts his head back to look at me that makes me even more wet. That, and the words he speaks with such pure heat and intensity.
“I want to stay in,” he says. “I want to spend the morning inside making love to my wife. Then I was thinking I might take her out on one of the boats later and make love on the ocean, the sea rocking us. The sun making small beads of sweat rise between her breasts. I’ll lick them off, and then—”
I don’t hear what he has planned next, though, because my phone starts to blare.
I try to ignore it, but then I remember that I keep the Do Not Disturb feature set for only family on Sunday mornings. I know Damien’s not calling. Jamie wouldn’t disturb me on the morning when Damien just got back and she has Ryan in her bed. Ollie’s deep in prep for some huge trial and working round the clock. And Syl and Jackson are together.
I glance at Damien, who obviously has been thinking along the same lines. “Do you think she’s in labor?”
Since the possibility gnaws at me, I roll sideways to grab my phone, then actually gasp when I see the readout.
I’d actually forgotten she was in the “family” group on my phone. I haven’t spoken to her since I sent her back to Texas right before my wedding, and she certainly has no reason to call now.
Or, at least, I can’t imagine a reason.
“Do you want me to answer it?” Damien’s voice is soft, but his expression is hard; there’s no love lost between Damien and my mother.
I shake my head. Honestly, I’d love for him to take the call and tell my mother that she’s tormented me enough for one lifetime. But this is something I have to do myself. And since I really don’t want the pressure of calling her back, I jam my finger on the button to answer before the call rolls to voicemail.
“Mother?” I have the phone on speaker and I put it on the bed as Damien moves to sit beside me, never letting go of my hand.
“Nichole, sweetie. It’s good to hear your voice.”
I bite the inside of my cheek so that I don’t snap at her. She’s known since I was four that I hate being called Nichole. And yet even with this sugary, conciliatory tone in her voice, she still doesn’t have the brains or the class or the decency to respect my wishes. Honestly, it drives me nuts.
My frustration must be evident, because Damien squeezes my hand in solidarity. He may also be encouraging me to respond, but I ignore the cue. This is the woman who used to lock me in a dark room so that I got my beauty sleep. Who monitored my caloric and carb intake with military precision. Who single-handedly almost ruined my wedding. And who certainly is responsible for a good percentage of the demons that haunt my life.
As far as I’m concerned, her call intruded into my paradise. So she can damn well do the talking.
“Nichole? Sweetheart, are you there? Damn these cellphones, they’re far too unreliable. Can you hear me?”
I draw in a breath. “I hear you. What do you want?”
“Oh.” She clears her throat, and I pull my knees up to my chest, and wrap my arms around them. I’m still holding tight to Damien’s hand, and he’s forced to scoot closer, which is fine by me because now I lean against him and let him release my hand so that he can wrap his arms around me.
“Well, I was just thinking about you today,” she continues. Her voice is overly chipper, and I’m absolutely certain she has an agenda. She always does. Honestly, I should introduce her to Damien’s father; they’d certainly make quite the pair. Then again, that would probably be like introducing Bonnie to Clyde. Better to keep them far, far away from each other.
The silence between us is uncomfortable again, and so I say, “Okay?”
“Well, I just wanted to call and check on you. That’s all.”
I glance at Damien, who looks as surprised as I feel. “Um, well, everything’s fine here, Mother. Was there—I mean, did you want to check on me for any particular reason?”