Tessa woke to a corner of the mattress and a very deceptively heavy man half on and half off of her. Normally she loved when they slept entangled. In fact, it was her favorite thing in the world.
When she wasn’t hung over.
She squinted against the glaring sun that streamed into their hotel room like a stage spotlight. The night skyline had been conducive to romance; however hangovers and daylight did not mix into anything other than a trip to see the porcelain gods.
She slammed her eyelids shut and reached for a pillow on the floor to block out the world for a little bit longer, but Mother Nature had other, more insistent plans. With a low moan, she inched her way out from under Jon until she rolled to the floor with a thud. Her body hurt in so many places she couldn’t even pinpoint the pain. Alcohol wasn’t so fun after the buzz was gone, that was for sure.
She looked over her shoulder, but he hadn’t moved an inch. Too proud to crawl her way to the bathroom she forced herself to stand and stumbled over the pile of clothes and a very empty box of condoms on the floor. Holding her hand up against the glare she spotted the control panel for the shades and nearly whimpered when the room went from stabbing bright to dim.
She took care of business and couldn’t even care that she looked like the wrong end of a dog. Feeling less than sociable as aspirin was not something she’d thought to pack, she pushed at Jon until he moaned and shifted onto his back. “Can I have some of the bed please?”
“Huh?” Jon peered at her through a slitted eye and rolled away into a pillow on the far side of the bed. He just moaned and grabbed for the blankets curled under them. “Would you give up some sheets?” he said with gravel for a voice.
“If you give me some of the bed,” she groused and snapped half the sheets his way.
“I’m over here, aren’t I?”
She punched a fist into the pillow and growled, “Good, you friggin’ bed hog.”
The bed began to shake and she looked over her shoulder. “Would you cut it out?”
The shake got even more blatant as a belly laugh escaped him. “Never thought I’d see a morning bear replace my Tessa,” he said and slipped his hand over her hip.
She pushed his hand away. “Seriously?” she said amazed that he went from grouch to grope in a matter of seconds.
His stubbled cheek and chin tried to tease they’re way into the crook of her neck. Feeling less than sexy and a little queasier with each dip and sway on the bed she rolled over and sweetly smiled, inching into him. “Baby?” she whispered, flicking her tongue along his jaw.
“Mmm-hmm,” he said and nuzzled her back.
She inched closer, and drew one hand over his furred chest, up over the rock hard pecs that usually gave her far more delicious thoughts and pushed. Unprepared for the movement he tumbled to the floor, still laughing.
She snatched the blankets and spread herself across the bed. “Take a cold shower and stop laughing like a loon,” she said and promptly tucked herself into the opulent bed clothes and pillows. She closed her eyes and was determined to sleep her way through the queasies.
Twenty minutes later Jon just shook his head as he towel dried his hair and stood next to the bed. She was still curled into the sheets and down comforter with only a fluff of red hair peeking out the top. Letting the towel swing free, he tugged on jeans, leaving them unsnapped as he quickly dried his hair and brushed his teeth.
When she still didn’t stir, he went back to the bed and sat next to her. “Hey there grouch, wake up.”
A muffled, “No,” came from the depths of linen.
Amused he tugged until one pissed off green eye met his. “You don’t get to drink like that if you’re going to be pissy in the morning, darlin’.”
The visible eye went from angry to gloomy. “I hate hangovers,” she mumbled.
Charmed enough to lean in, he kissed her forehead. His Tessa wasn’t so good with the morning after party recovery process. He filed that away for future use. “Well, I’m going to say my hangover cure and yours are not going to be even close to the same, so why don’t you try a shower and we’ll head home.”
“Can’t I just stay here until next week? I think I’ll have enough rest in me by then.”
He brushed a thumb under her bruised and make-up smudged eyes. She’d been running herself ragged through Christmas and then the return season at her store. She was entitled to some time off, but she wasn’t the type to complain. That told him more that anything that she was definitely feeling off.
He went back into the bathroom and started running water in the big tub; he sniffed at the bottles to find a light scent and dumped some of the oil and bubble bath in. When the water was the right temperature he went back to the bed to lure her out.
“C’mon baby, a bath will help. I promise.”
“That requires getting out of bed.”
Laughing, he tugged at the sheet she had twisted into her fist. He leaned down and scraped his teeth over her fingers until she let go. “You can take a nice bath and I’ll make some calls. We’ll go home and vegetate the rest of the night with movies and ginger ale.”
“Promise no football? I can’t take the commentary.”
“Boy, I don’t know…no football is pretty painful.”
She transferred her grip from sheet to jeans and yanked him down, nearly unseating his boys. “Have pity on your poor girlfriend. She doesn’t do hangovers well.”
Laughing, he righted himself and quickly snapped up the buttons to protect him from a feisty female then scooped her up.
“Jon! Put me down!”
A wiggling, naked female was one of his favorite things, but not if it meant breaking his back. “Settle down Tessa. Enjoy the pampering when I can give it.” He shifted her until her arms came around his shoulders. “That’s a girl.”
“I’m not a girl,” she mumbled irritably.
He got to the tub and didn’t trust himself not to hurt her, so he set her onto her feet. He brushed a kiss on her forehead and rubbed his thumbs over her shoulders. “Just sit there and soak. I’ll order up some foo-“
He laughed, “I promise, it will help.” He held her hand as she stepped into the frothy bubbles that smelled of ocean breezes and calming sunshine. When she eased back and tucked her neck into the cushioned pad along the back he left her to it.
He flipped his cell open and turned it on, dialing room service with the hotel phone he ordered a light breakfast. Making the first round of calls to his family he wished everyone Happy New Year and stretched out on the bed to talk to his kids.
Within that time the food cart had come and he’d blasted his way through a serving of eggs, toast and sausage. Deciding he’d left her long enough to get pruny he leaned against the door jamb. “Hey slug,” he said in a light voice.
“Hey,” she said quietly.
He kneeled beside the tub and pushed the last of the bubbles that lingered along her shoulders away, dipping his fingers into the still warm water until he found skin. The soft curve of her breast and immediate puckering reaction of her nipple drew him closer into her.
He pressed a soft kiss to her lips, letting his hand slide into the water and smooth over her slick flesh. With an arm wrapped around her back he smiled against her mouth when she responded. Unhurried touches and sweet sighs were exactly what he was looking for. Drawing her out of the water, he wrapped her in a towel, surprised when she pushed for more.
Keeping the mood light, he let her touch him and returned the favor in the same soft lingering ways. Deciding a little morning loving was Tessa’s hangover cure he lengthened each touch until she was boneless in his arms. And when he finally followed her into release she was curled in front of him in a tangle of arms and legs.
Pressing a kiss into her shoulder he held on as shudders faded into smooth breathing and nuzzling touches. Needing the connection and sensing her mood, he kept them joined a little longer. “I love you,” he said into her ear.
Sighing she traced her nails through his forearm hairs as she did when relaxed or pensive. “Is it wrong to want to just stay here and lock the world away?”
Looks like it was pensive, he thought as he slid his thigh between hers, cupping her into the curve of his body. “It’s a nice thought,” he said against her skin.
They lay there like that, close as two people could be without climbing into each other’s skin for a long while before Jon spoke again. “You know, going back doesn’t mean everything’s going to change, babe. It’s just like we’ve been doing for weeks.”
“I know. And I know I’m being stupidly sensitive about this right now. I’m weak from dehydration and alcoholic influence. I’ll be better, I promise.”
“Hey,” he turned her in his arms so they were face to face. “I don’t need better, I just need you.”
Still quiet, they gently parted and got dressed. Both of them were in jeans and t-shirts when they left the hotel, dress bags in hand. The car ride home was quiet, save for his buzzing phone. He routed the driver to her house, deciding her creature comforts were just what they would need to finish out the evening.
And six hours of mindless movies, including Die Hard, the oddly hilarious Princess Bride and his introduction into the Highlander phenomenon he had a happy and sated Tessa, a full belly and a sense of contentment that would help him make it through the week.