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Authors: Mia Zachary

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9 1/2 Days (14 page)

BOOK: 9 1/2 Days
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H
E ONLY HAD TO SEE
Jordan two more times and then he was off the hook. What had started out as a fantasy had become all too real.
Danny sat across the table from his parents, Robert and Gayle, and wished like hell that either his brother were here or that he could order a beer. Unfortunately, David wouldn’t be back until later tonight, and he had to report for work in a few hours. Danny hated having to put up with these obligatory brunches alone and sober.

Alexis, the restaurant at the Valley Golf Association, was upscale, overpriced and perfectly suited to his parents. Late morning sunlight streamed through the atrium’s two-story windows overlooking the pristine fairway. The elegant decor was enhanced by large vases of fresh flowers; the soft strains of classical music and white-jacketed waiters offered impeccable service.

Not that his parents noticed. They were too busy seeing and being seen. In fact, they hadn’t bothered to notice Danny since he first sat down. That was fine with him. He had a lot to think about.

No red-blooded male would have turned down the chance to have great sex without having to commit. And, even better, it was Jordan who wanted to keep their association strictly physical. This was the perfect arrangement for a guy like him. He’d be crazy not to make the most of ‘any time, any place’… But somehow it wasn’t enough anymore.

Jordan was great in bed. She was even better out of it. She was smart and compassionate and she made him laugh. She was beautiful, sexy and sensual. Her carefully created image hid a mass of insecurities, so much so that she couldn’t see what a terrific person she really was. Deep in his heart he knew that he liked waking up with her more than sleeping with her.

His father cleared his throat and Danny braced himself for The Lecture. “You know, son, it’s still not too late to get that law degree. Hale Robards is Dean of Admissions at Howard University now. I was talking to him about you the other day on the back nine. We both agree it’s high time you stopped playing fireman and got serious about your future…”

Danny just nodded and toyed with the eggs Benedict on his plate. His father especially tended to talk at him rather than to him, so no response was necessary or expected. He’d worn his uniform today just to piss them off. Neither of his parents had a clue about his job or his commitment to it. He choked down a bite of ham covered in hollandaise that had gone cold, then realized his father had stopped speaking and his mother had started The Talk.

“I saw Carol Summers at the symphony last week. Remember you used to date her? The Mozart concertos were lovely. We’re so lucky to have Maestro Temirkanov conducting. Anyway, Carol asked about you. She’s divorced again, you know. You should give her a call…”

Just then, some old friends of the family stopped by the table and Danny was immediately forgotten. Again. He passed the time trying to remember all of the names of all of the au pairs and nannies that had raised him and David over the years.

A little smile tugged at his mouth when he pictured Angela and Jackson’s faces as they laughed over their children’s exploits. During the barbecue, he must have listened to a hundred stories about the kid’s goofs and tricks and triumphs. His parents never let him forget their disappointment while the Gregorys were just as proud of Eric, who worked construction, as they were of Reece, who ran an accounting firm.

When his friends had moved on, Danny’s father cleared his throat again, an annoying attention-getting habit. “I’m giving a speech at the Tomorrow’s Children fund-raiser the firm is sponsoring next weekend. I’ll expect my family to be there.”

His mother tossed her linen napkin on the table. “You dragged me to that last year and I’m not dealing with those children again. Had you bothered to consult me, I would have told you I’m attending the Women’s Law Center luncheon.”

“I shouldn’t have to consult you. All of the other wives will be there.”

Danny pushed his plate away. Same arguments; different year. In the month that had passed since he had last endured their company, he’d forgotten how smoothly two jurists could slice pieces off each other. His mother resented the way Robert tried to make all of the decisions. His father hated the fact that Gayle had never settled for the role of wife.

As they launched into a hushed but bitter conversation, Danny suddenly remembered why he wanted nothing to do with marriage or family. He stood up, physically interrupting his parents’ argument. “Well, it’s been pleasant as always.”

“Watch your tone, Daniel.”

“Sorry, Mom. But you know how much I enjoy listening to you two admire and flatter each other.” He pushed his chair under the table. “I’ll see you next month.”

J
ORDAN WALKED
through her front door at three o’clock and toed off her shoes with a grateful sigh. The sandals had low heels but, after trailing Sheris into almost every shop on The Avenue, her feet ached just the same. She wandered barefoot into the living room and flopped down on the sofa. She was seriously considering a nap when the telephone rang.
“Hello?”

“Are you going to be there for a while?”

She recognized Danny’s voice over the cellular connection and the fatigue instantly dropped away. “Yes, I just got in from shopping with a friend.”

“Good. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

Jordan dashed upstairs to freshen up. She splashed water on her face, combed her hair and reapplied her lipstick, though she figured it would get smeared off again in a couple of minutes. She was debating whether to change her clothes when the doorbell chimed.

Danny stood on the front step, just staring at her. His expression was one of…relief? His eyes roamed over her face as though he hadn’t seen her in a year. Then, in the space of a heartbeat, Jordan found herself backed against the wall of the entryway. One strong arm curled around her waist while the other hand was braced beside her head. The look in his eyes literally made her quiver.

Danny claimed her mouth with a reckless passion. His kiss was raw, primitive, the act of a man declaring his objective. She wrapped her arms over his shoulders, returning the kiss with equal fervor but with different purpose. She took her time, countering his eagerness with a slow exploration, soothing her hands over his short curls.

He made a rough, impatient sound in his throat as he held her closer, molding his pelvis to her thigh. Her fingers sought the tender skin at the base of his neck, gently massaging away the corded tension. He cupped her breast through the thin material of her blouse, pinching her nipple until it beaded. Jordan stroked her palms along his back, sensing the heat and strength of the taut muscles.

Danny broke the kiss abruptly. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead on hers. She reached up and lightly caressed his cheek, trying to tell him without words that she understood. Inhaling sharply, he tilted his head back until their eyes met. The deep brown depths were turbulent with emotion, though his features seemed set in stone.

He reached down to pick up a bag that she hadn’t seen him bring in. The logo on the plastic was for a western apparel shop downtown. When he handed it to her, she suppressed a sigh and peered at the contents. A cream Stetson and a pair of fringed suede panties. Jordan glanced up at him. Was he serious?

Danny offered her a cocky grin. “I thought we’d give fantasy number twenty-seven a try.”

A twinge of disappointment pierced her heart. Was this his way of reestablishing the rules, of keeping their relationship superficial? Last night must have scared him more than she realized. “Are you sure this is what you want, Danny?”

“It’ll have to do. I was looking for a French maid outfit but didn’t see any I liked.”

Fine. She would play Ride Him, Cowgirl if this was the only way he’d let her be with him.

Jordan took the outfit into the powder room to change. It didn’t occur to her until halfway back to the living room that she was bare except for the panties. Danny would see her in the harsh afternoon sunlight. He would see her stretch marks and her cellulite and her vulnerability. And she no longer cared.

He was already undressed, standing in the center of the room wearing his boxer briefs and an attitude. Whatever sassy comment he might have made seemed to die away. A softness came over his features and his mouth curved with warmth. The tension visibly dropped away from his shoulders.

“You’re beautiful, Jordan. Lose the hat.”

She laughed softly and tossed the Stetson onto the coffee table. Then she moved into his open embrace, welcoming his kiss. A wild shudder of pleasure raced through her as their tongues met and mated. Without breaking contact, they stripped off their underwear. Danny guided them over to the sofa, easing her down onto the smooth cotton material.

While he protected them, she trailed her fingers over his tan skin from the column of his long neck over the wide expanse of his shoulders to the rock-solid muscle of his chest. She caressed the well-defined planes of his abs before moving on to his narrow hips and lean, toned thighs. Danny gulped in a draft of air when her fingers wrapped around his penis.

He rolled on top of her, supporting his weight on his elbows. A heavy, aching need settled in her chest, making her tremble with desire. Her eyelids fluttered but she refused to close them. She watched his face, saw the arrogance in his expression as he positioned himself at her entrance. The sudden tensing of his arms and thighs was her only warning before he plunged into her.

Passion built within her like a storm. She arched her back, crying out with each powerful thrust. Danny slipped his palms beneath her, pulling her closer still. She squeezed his waist with her thighs to encourage him as he rocked them toward release. The delicate inner shivers rippled through her and her body wept. A moment later, Danny groaned with the force of his own climax. His heart pounded in rhythm with her own as his ragged breath warmed her face. Then he shifted his weight until he lay beside her, one arm draped across her hips.

Something between them had changed. Her instinctive response to him was too powerful, the emotions too strong, to question. And though Danny didn’t seem willing to face it, she welcomed it head-on.

12
“O
H, LOOK
. There’s David.” Camryn pointed. “I thought you said he couldn’t make it?”
Jordan swiveled her head toward the entrance of the restaurant. As “David” spotted them and walked into Obrycki’s Crab House, she knew it really was David. He wore a blue oxford-cloth shirt and a pair of khakis with a pleat so sharp you could cut your finger on it. What she didn’t know, however, was why he’d shown up.

“Um, I guess his plans changed. I’ll be right back.” She scrambled out of her seat and hurried to David’s side, hoping she looked pleased instead of panicked.

“Hi, Jordan.”

“Hi. Why are you here?”

David arched one brow. “If this is the way you greet your fiancé, I doubt if anybody is buying your engagement.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Glancing back at the table, she pasted on a bright smile and lowered her voice. “I’m just wondering what you’re doing here.”

David replied in a stage whisper. “You gave me a schedule, remember? I’m supposed to be eating crabs and admiring you.”

“That was before Danny took your place. I told everyone he’s working tonight. What are we going to do?”

He shrugged. “If Danny can act like me, there’s no reason I can’t act like him.”

“You can’t act like him.” Jordan frowned. “
You
have to act like him pretending to be you, without giving away that you really are you.”

“No wonder you do so well in court.” David grinned at her. “Can we stop this now? I’m hungry and your family is beginning to stare.”

He leaned down to kiss her. It was sweet and entirely appropriate, and yet she found herself bothered by the tame greeting. She took his hand but felt none of the sparks Danny’s touch provoked. “We’d never have pulled this off for an entire week.”

David squeezed her fingers. “I shouldn’t have come tonight, huh?”

Jordan was instantly contrite. “No, I’m glad you did. I appreciate it. You’re a good friend.”

“All right, then. Tell me who everybody is.”

“Clockwise from the empty seat, my sister Camryn and her boyfriend, Mason. Then my brother Reece, Uncle Matt, my father and mother, my aunt Celeste, and finally my brother Eric and cousin Keisha. ‘You’ met all of them the other day at my parent’s house.”

They took their seats at the brown kraft-paper-covered table and Jordan watched anxiously as David greeted everyone. The difference between the Navarro brothers was so obvious to her, she figured her family could tell them apart as well. Her mother was definitely looking at David oddly.

A tuxedo-clad waiter came over to ask about their drinks and he started to order a glass of wine until Jordan shot an elbow into his side. He picked up on her cue immediately and ordered a bottle of beer instead.

Her father spoke from across the table. “Charles and Emma send their regrets that they couldn’t join us.”

David glanced at her, silently asking who they were talking about. “My grandparents had other plans tonight.”

“That’s okay. I look forward to meeting them on Saturday.” Jordan kicked his ankle. “Meeting them again, I mean. I didn’t get to spend much time with them on Saturday.”

Eric laughed. “Grandpa thinks you spent
too
much time with him. He’s still griping that you didn’t let an old man beat you at canasta.”

Jordan knocked her fork to the floor. Gentleman that he was, David leaned down to pick it up for her, just as she’d hoped. She bent over, too. Grabbing his arm, she whispered in his ear. “Try and avoid talking about the barbecue.”

“What if someone else brings it up?”

“Just be vague.”

David smirked. “That shouldn’t be difficult.”

They sat up at the same time and he placed her fork back on the table.

When her uncle asked how it was going at work, David regaled then with anecdotes about some of his cases while Jordan sat next to him, sweating. Things went well until the waiter returned to take their dinner order. Everyone chose the steamed crabs. Except David, who asked for New England clam chowder, shrimp cocktail and a garden salad.

In the silence that followed, he smiled sheepishly. “Crabs aren’t that filling and I didn’t have much for lunch.”

“All you Navarro men ever think about is food,” Jordan muttered.

Unfortunately, Camryn overheard the comment and leaned around her to look at David. “Oh, there are more like you?”

“I have a twin brother—”

Jordan nailed his ankle again.

On the other side of David, Keisha narrowed her eyes speculatively. “A twin. Really?”

Uh-uh. We’re not going there. Jordan affected a loud cough to distract attention. “We still have to decide what we’re giving Grandpa and Grandma. Any ideas?”

As the family began offering and rejecting suggestions, she knocked her fork on the floor a second time. When David bent down, she muttered, “I told you to be vague. Do not talk about Danny.”

“How was I supposed to know you never mentioned your fiancé had a brother?”

Jordan huffed out a breath. “I was trying to keep the details to a minimum.”

“Well, what other details did you leave out?”

Aunt Celeste poked her head under the table. “Would you two care to join us? We’re down to a pair of gold-plated golf clubs or a day at the Golden Gateway Spa.”

All three of them sat back up. As Jordan replaced her fork, Mason grinned over at her. “You sure are clumsy tonight, girl. You’d better leave that thing on the floor.”

Heat rushed to her cheeks as she joined in the laughter.

David sampled a mouthful of chowder before suggesting, “If they like golf, how about a weekend on the Gold Coast of Florida? My parents go down to The Breakers on Palm Beach twice a year.”

Her mother raised her voice to address him. “I think it’s about time for us to meet your parents, don’t you, David?”

Just then the platters of steamed crabs arrived, saving Jordan from having to drop her fork again. The hot-red crustaceans were unceremoniously dumped into the center of the table. Then the waiter handed out crab mallets and paring knives. She simply stared as David accepted one of the large paper bibs with Baltimore’s Famous emblazoned above a smiling mascot.

No self-respecting Marylander wore a crab bib. Bibs were for tourists.

Reece snickered. “Are you the same guy who walked around with barbecue sauce and grass stains all day Saturday?”

“I’ve got on a nicer shirt this time.”

Once the crabs cooled to a manageable temperature, the serious eating began. While David munched his salad and shrimp, everyone else at the table ripped open the hard top shells with their bare hands. Jordan was in the process of breaking her crab into sections to get the backfin meat when David practically jumped out of his seat.

He knocked his fork to the floor. She was a beat late in getting the message, so he grasped her arm and pulled her down with him. “Your cousin is flirting with me.”

Jordan sighed. “Keisha is like that. Just ignore her.”

“I can’t. She’s fondling my thigh.”

“When we sit up, stab her with your fork.”

The rest of the meal was uneventful, except for David occasionally flinching and squirming in his chair, until her father said, “So, you two, have you set a date for the wedding?”

To keep him from answering, Jordan knocked a crab into his lap. They both bent down to retrieve it and David sighed.

“Danny
should
have been with you tonight. I’m spending more time under this table than at it.”

BOOK: 9 1/2 Days
2.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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