“Having fun?” Jon asked dryly. The spark of jealousy surprised him at first. When he’d caught the whirl around the outskirts of the dance floor he hadn’t even given it a thought. Elton surrounded himself with the dramatic and the ostentatious at times, but the flash of copper had caught his attention.
He’d handled it alright for a few moments. He’d even been amused by the startled bafflement on her face when the young buck said something that had obviously flustered her. She truly didn’t know her appeal. Even here among the rich and the so called entitled, she shined in a way that few women did. And those that did shine, had practiced, she simply did with that inner something he could never define.
And right now, sharing her wasn’t an option.
The boy looked up at him with a gracious smile. “Ah, figures it would be a man like you that would be the one to have swept the goddess away.” He lifted her back up and set her next to Jon, sweeping her hand up to kiss her knuckles. “It was a pleasure, even if it was only a moment in time.” He vanished without a backward glance.
Frowning he watched the guy walk away. He recognized him from some magazine covers, but couldn’t place him. He turned his head as Tessa slid her hand into his, flattening her palm along his before lacing their fingers. “He was a bit over the top, wasn’t he?” he asked trying not to sound snarky.
“Darlin’ it was like lines straight out of an eighties bodice ripper. Thanks for saving me.”
His eyebrow quirked at the term, but he got the gist. “Somehow I don’t think you were looking for help.”
“Well, he was gorgeous,” she said and tugged his hand lower so he’d lean into her.
Fighting not to smile he kept his tone even, “Uh huh.”
She wrapped her free arm around his neck. “I prefer something blonder, with a little more brains.”
He slid his hand along her waist and around her hips to haul her up close. “Is that right?”
She went on her tiptoes and gripped his shoulder. “He was all talk, you’re all action,” she said into his ear with a puff of warm breath. The sweet smell of her drink wafted over to him.
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” he said and brushed her lips with his. He lingered, tasting the zip of cranberry that still lingered on her tongue as he stroked her one more time. When he pulled back he was satisfied to see her green eyes were dreamy and bright. Mr. Suave couldn’t have that part of her that was for sure. “C’mon let’s make the rounds. The quicker I say hello to everyone, the quicker I can get you back to the hotel to show you that I’m all about action.”
He brought her back to Tiki and Ashton to introduce her. And Tessa, used to the ribbing, was gracious when they all ganged up on her about the dance.
“So, should we expect you to waltz her across the room, Jon?” Demi said with a flourish of hair as she was caught in a quick dip by her husband.
The group laughed as Tiki’s wife pouted up at her husband. “Why don’t you do that for me?”
“Football broke my back, baby.”
Tessa hid her face into the collar of Jon’s jacket. “Enough, I want to forget all about Gio.”
“Gio!” Demi said with the booming voice of a stage actress. “Oh, Gio.”
Groaning Tessa shushed the entire group. The laughter turned even more rambunctious as the waiters started threading through the crowd with shooters in various colors of the Caribbean. But they weren’t the cheapie shooters of a frat party, but the real shot glass style ones.
Jon snagged a handful off a tray and passed them around. “To Elton! He puts on one helluva party!”
They all lifted their shots and his cherry colored one burned the entire way down.
“Did I hear my name?”
Jon turned to see one of his oldest friends there in all his regalia. The sedate glasses he wore on the red carpet were exchanged for rhinestone encrusted 2007 across his face. The pink tie was stuffed in his pocket and he was flushed with good cheer. “I want to toast to me again!” He turned to the waiter. “Over here, darling. I need a round of,” he twirled his fingers above the multicolored glasses. “Oh hell, I’m taking it all, you can go get another tray.” He took the tray and held it into the center.
When everyone had a drink again Jon prayed that the hangover would be a mild one as another alcohol mixed in his belly.
Elton threw an arm around his shoulder and then to Tessa, pulling them in. “So how are my new lovebirds? Are you enjoying my party, luv?” he questioned Tessa.
She nodded and blinked against the kick of the drink and the personality that was Elton. “I’m having a great time,” she said with eyes a little out of focus. “I’m glad you were my virgin experience.”
Elton’s smile was wide and a little crazy. “Of course you are!”
When Tessa blushed scarlet, Elton dragged her in for a hug. He looked over his shoulder at Jon. “I like her. You keep her or I’m sending her to my nephew.”
With a little of the dramatics to satisfy his diva friend he extricated her from his arms. “You are not sending her anywhere but home with me.” Making sure he had a proprietary arm over her shoulders he smooshed his lips into her cheek in a big sloppy kiss.
“Exactly what I want to hear!” Elton waved and toddled off to the next group, his exuberance getting a little louder with each shot.
Keeping his arm around her, he mingled a little and glanced at his watch. He didn’t want to rob her of a New Year’s like this, but he couldn’t deny the fact that he was itchy to get her alone. Not that she wasn’t holding her own at the party. She was engaging and open and with a little alcohol in her, she was actually even funnier than normal. Her mouth was rapid fire with equal parts wit and comebacks, leaving him alternately entertained and turned on with each word that came out of her mouth, but he was sick of sharing her.
And as the hour grew closer to midnight the party started to wind up, until the dance floor was crammed with people as Elton hopped onto the glowing platform. A piano in a wild crimson lacquer shine was open as he started pounding on the keys to get everyone’s attention.
Elton held his hands up, his jacket gone and his white shirt unbuttoned a few more than he ever wore in public. Waitstaff flew through the crowd passing out champagne flutes. “I just wanted to thank you all for coming tonight! You made my 2006 and I can’t wait to start it all over again in,” he lifted his watch up and made a big show of trying to read his large faced watch, “two minutes for a new 2007!”
He leaned over the keys and started the opening bars for a song Jon didn’t know. There was a build until the entire crowd started screaming the final count down from twenty and a large screen TV was lowered and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve blared through the room.
The spinning and flashing lights of the Times Square ball were on display as the room darkened enough to make it the center of attention. Jon snagged a couple of flutes and curled his arm around Tessa. The rightness of her and the moment was unlike anything he’d experienced in a long time. Impatient to taste her, he dipped his head and caught her mouth as the crowd screamed, “3-2-1, Happy New Year!”
She tasted of familiarity and newness all in one delicious champagne tinged kiss. She melted into him, her fingers sliding into his suit jacket, tugging at the tails of his shirt to get to his skin. He groaned as her soft fingers slid up his back and gripped him under the confining jacket.
Auld Lang Syne broke out as a room full of drunk people started off well meaning but ultimately butchered their way through the song. He didn’t hear much of the song though. He was too steeped in her. “I need you,” he murmured against her mouth.
She looked up at him, her shimmery eyes full of heat and a good dose of holiday cheer. Her fingers grasped at the fine woven silk of his shirt. “Are we done with this party now?” she asked and brought the tip of her finger to his mouth.
He nipped at the tip of her middle finger. “There’s another one?”
She nodded, her wide, nude mouth well kissed and teasing. “It’s in this pretty building with lit stars and a one way elevator to our floor.”
“I’m more than ready for that party.” His fingers slid down and clasped hers. The lights were back up now and Elton was pounding on the keys to a few of his more party type songs. Jon caught his eye and waved as he growled through, “The Bitch Is Back,” with emphatic responses from the crowd.
Jon made tracks through the crowd, keeping her close as he waved to a few, ignored a few others and gave Demi an irreverent wink as he ducked out the side door. They were in the heart of the hotel and he gripped her hand as he dragged her down the hallway to the elevators.
He flipped open his cell and punched the speed dial for their driver. “Northeast side,” he said and flipped it shut again. Dragging her into the elevator he was happy to see the car empty. A little déjà vu hit him as he crowded her into a corner. Another hotel not so long ago had born witness to them, but unfortunately he wasn’t quite drunk enough to give the security staff a show in this one.
The camera in the upper corner was far too obvious and he didn’t feel like having his likeness spread across the Entertainment News. He turned and leaned against the rail, his body thrumming to touch her, to tug up the glittery dress and see if there were hose underneath or just stockings.
Tessa, just a little more daring than he was with far less tolerance than he had for alcohol, walked her fingertips up the buttons of his shirt. Groaning he closed a fist around her questing fingers. “Baby,” he said softly.
She looked up at him, the smoky smudge of her copper shadow framed her deep green eyes and he swallowed against the need to see just how far she would go. “What’s the matter, Jonny? I remember a different elevator that got a whole lot more action than this one.” She pouted and tugged at her trapped fingers. “Those buttons need to go.”
“That elevator didn’t have a camera,” he said on a groan as she hooked her knee around his and pressed into his thigh. His fingers gripped her hips and tugged her closer for a second. “I’m so-“
Her other hand slid between their bodies and he gripped her closer to trap her hand just as it squeezed over his shaft. “Hard,” she whispered in answer to him. With a little difficulty she managed to rub up and down once.
“Jesus,” he whispered roughly. Maybe a little tipsy Tessa was too much for him to handle after all. Part of him wanted to damn the consequences and the other part of him…the protective part knew it would be a mistake. “Wait for the car,” he groaned. “Please.”
She stood on her tiptoes and snagged his bottom lip with her teeth, none too gently. “Good thing there’s tinted windows for what I have in mind.” She said and backed up and stood next to him calmly, folding her hands primly.
Jon dropped his hands over his bulging dick and prayed that they made it to the correct floor before he begged her for details. Wincing only slightly, he shifted to a more comfortable position and prayed he walked like a semi-normal person. Dragging her behind him with only the car and her mouth in mind he narrowly missed the reporter waiting for him around the corner. “Shit,” he whispered and backtracked around the hallway.
Flattening her into a shallow doorway, he realized his mistake almost immediately. Her clever hands went right for his buckle and he hissed as she took him into her hands. “I thought we were going to the car,” she teased. “I can start here if you want.”
“Jesus, Tessa.” He bit back a moan as she flicked her thumb over the head of his cock and let it glide under the sensitive ridge.
“I’ve had sweet drinks all night. I need some salt.” She reached in and cupped his balls squeezing ever so lightly.
A litany of curses and prayers filled his head as he thought of that mouth wrapped around him. Not now, you fuck, get her in the car. “Remind me to never get you drunk unless we’re home.”
Her laugh was low and nearly evil as she traced the line of his jaw as she stroked him. Leaning back from the torturous and way too deft fingers he saw the coast was clear. He quickly stuffed himself into his pants and forced the zipper over his erection and snagged her far too quick fingers and pulled her with him. “You are dangerous.”
She leaned into him, her smile was pure she-devil. “Did I mention that get very horny when I’m drunk?”
“That’s a good tip to know, but you left that one out.”
She laughed and backed him out the door, her fingers gripping his suit jacket. When the cold air snapped around them she frowned. “Shit, I forgot my jacket.”
Fighting a groan from the cute face she pulled and the need to get her alone he spotted the Lincoln and clasped her hand. “I’ll buy you another one.”
“But I liked that one,” she pouted. Her mood instantly lifted when she saw where they were headed. “Oh, the car,” she smiled up at him. She grabbed his tie and opened the door, dragging him inside. “You’re a dead man.”
Tessa drew a deep breath as the crowd started to move again as a new song keyed up tempo. Her heartbeat was as fierce as his eyes were shiny with excitement. The lust between them was overwhelming at times. She could feel him against her, the intimate dancing and the atmosphere had left them both a little breathless and Jon a little on the…uncomfortable side.
She led him from the dance floor and found the small bar hidden in an alcove. The music was too loud to talk down there, but she wasn’t sure could string words together anway. As always, their bodies communicated far more effectively than any words could.
Jon leaned around her and signaled the bartender for a few more drinks and she found herself with another Cosmo in her hand. Turning, she felt his cheek brush against hers with the devil in his eyes. She sipped at her drink, shuddering slightly at the obvious kick of alcohol that was masked with perfect mixing.
He sipped at his drink this time, his eyes were slightly out of focus as if the dancing had given the four shots enough time to percolate. “I think you might be just a little tipsy,” she said as she let her nose bump along the shell of his ear so he could hear her, enjoying the softness of his hair and his unique scent.
He pulled back and gulped back his drink with a barely restrained heat in his center flame blue eyes. Pushing the glass down the ebony face of the bar, he leaned into her, more playful that she’d seen him in a few days. “And if I am?” he asked against her mouth as he braced a hand on each side of her. “Will you take advantage of me?” His even white teeth nipped at her lower lip. “Please?”
“If she won’t, I will.” She heard a voice to their left say.
Jon was still in her space…way into her dance space when he turned his gaze to the voice. She could still feel the heat of his skin along her cheek and the sizzle that had started on the dance floor. And for a split second, she was willing to do bodily harm to the person that had interrupted them. She wanted to drag him off into a corner and find out just how much they could do to each other in a public space. Or just how much he would allow, anyway.
“What the heck are you doing here?” When he recognized the woman he stood up straight with a broad grin. He went from seducer to charmer as his posture changed and he enveloped the woman in a warm hug. She swallowed her growl of frustration when she got a good look at the woman. She wasn’t swinging at GI Jane.
“Tessa, I’d like you to meet Demi,” he turned back to her, pulling her forward, leaving his hand at the small of her back. “Damn, I haven’t seen you in ages.” His smile was wide and where sin had been, there was now open pleasure. She was obviously a true friend and not a
“Well, Elton throws a party and me and Ash come a callin’.” She said in a voice that was smoke and sex.
Jon looked around the room, “Where’s the new hubby?”
Demi Moore held her hand out to her. “Nice to meet you, don’t mind my husband, he’s talking sports with Tiki. He’s so excited he can barely control himself.”
Tessa couldn’t stop staring at the woman. She was flawless in a subtle flash of jet colored strappy brocade that hugged her body to perfection. Her arms were toned and spoke of her love affair with the Raw diet she’d heard so much about in the magazines and news. There wasn’t a spare bit of flesh on her body that wasn’t feminine grace. Hair, nearly the same shade as her dress, fell down her back in a cascade of silk with a sheen that spoke of money and pampering.
She waved at the bartender, “Vodka tonic, lots of lime,” she said in her famous husky tones. She smiled at Tessa. “I didn’t realize Jon had finally started dating. How’d you two meet?”
Her demeanor seemed very relaxed and friendly and when she slid her arm through hers, Tessa barely stuttered. “You’d never believe me.”
Demi’s dark eyes twinkled. She turned to Jon. “Yeah, you need to go away now. Go find Ash and keep him out of trouble.”
Jon rolled his eyes and pressed an almost chaste kiss at the corner of Tessa mouth. “Don’t believe anything she has to say about me,” he said and melted into the crowd. Tessa watched as he found a black man very similar to his own height and thumped him on the back in that man code of welcome.
Demi followed her gaze. “Welcome to
Tessa laughed nervously, “I don’t know how to start.”
“Start at the beginning, the sex.”
Tessa’s mouth dropped open. “I-“
“C’mon darlin’ that mouth…you so didn’t last long. If I wasn’t happily married I would have snatched him up, even if he is prettier than me.”
She sighed, “No, I didn’t last long. I run a bookstore in Red Bank and we met there when he brought his kids in for a reading.” She quickly explained the Storytime Sundays. “I was dressed like a pirate for God’s sake.”
“Talk about memorable.” She laughed and sipped at her drink again. “And…”
Tessa blushed, “We’ll just say that he plundered my treasure pretty quickly.”
Her head tipped back as her rich laugh spilled free. “He’s always been Mr. Smooth.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” she said with a wry smile. “He had to be pretty smooth to get me on my back as quickly as he did.” Her throaty laugh left Tessa blushing. She’d obviously had way too much of that Cosmo. “I-“
“Oh honey, don’t go shy on me now. It’s good to see that kind of response because by tomorrow there will be wild speculation in the most epic of proportions. Stay with that sense of humor and you’ll survive it, maybe even enjoy it.” She sat back in her chair and clinked her ice around in her glass as she gave her a slow smile. “Try not to cringe at the pictures you’ll see everywhere.”
Tessa tried not to slide down in her chair. Sweet hell, just the thought of the pictures was enough to send her under the table. Had she really buffed and polished enough to withstand the paparazzi?
She glanced around the room at the beautiful people with their real jewels dripping from necks and ears, and their Prada, Versace, and Valentino labels and suddenly felt overwhelmed.
But then she looked through the beautiful, scrolled ironwork to the man standing below. He was talking with his hands and an animated face that could only mean football. When the excitement echoed in Tiki Barber’s face, she knew Giants had to be the topic of conversation. Ashton, Demi’s husband, was gesturing just as wildly about what could only be a pass that won a Superbowl.
Demi’s gaze followed hers, “Makes a girl want to blow the party before midnight, doesn’t he?”
Jon looked up as if he could feel them both watching and the smile was blinding. Tessa’s nerves washed away. It wasn’t the smile of a man humoring his date; it was that kind of smile that said, ‘you make me happy.’ It didn’t much matter who was wearing what when you had a man like that waiting for you.
Demi stood up, “C’mon, let’s go rescue them from themselves.”
Tessa followed her down the stairs and was pulled into a flourishing waltz as soon as she stepped off the last stair. She gripped the shoulders of an extremely tall man with long, ebony hair and the chiseled cheekbones of a Greek God. “Where have you been all my life, Cara?”
Tessa blinked up at what could only be a runway model and heard herself say, “
“Ah, someone so exquisite could not come from
“So, will you come away with me? I simply must make love you.”
Tessa’s head snapped back to him and her green eyes widened, “Excuse me?”
“You were made for sex, Cara.”
Tessa looked up at the man and decided he was serious. “Does that line work, Romeo?”
“My name is Gio, but I will surely be your Romeo, Cara.”
He couldn’t possibly be that thick, but then again some women would fall for that. She might have a few weeks ago just to see all of that naked. Of course a month ago she wouldn’t have been in his stratosphere, let alone his vicinity. "I don't think so."
“You wound me!” He twirled her again and dipped her. “Surely I can change your mind.” Dark eyes glittered with humor and challenge.
“I’m flattered I think, but I’m taken.”
“Very taken,” came a familiar male voice.
Loosen my lips
Faith and desire
And the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love
The loudest thing in my head
And I ache to remember
All the violent, sweet, perfect words that you said
If I could walk on water
If I could tell you what’s next
Make you believe
Make you forget
I taste the sparks on your tongue
I see angels and devils and god when you come on
Come on and get higher
Because everything works love
Because everything works in your arms