Read A 21st Century Courtesan Online

Authors: Eden Bradley

A 21st Century Courtesan (14 page)

Will I sleep with him? Oh, yes, after that night on the phone.

When was the last time I even questioned such a thing?

I slip into a simple navy cotton knit slip dress edged in satin, a pair of red strappy heeled sandals: casual but sexy. And the entire time I'm looking at the clock every ten minutes, my heart hammering. I can't stop the hot pulsing between my thighs.

I have a plan. I am going to pretend, just for today, that I am a normal person. That this is a normal date. That I can have this.

I feel like a total bitch because this is utterly unfair to him. Dishonest. But I need this in a way I have never needed anything before in my life. I'll live with the guilt. I always have, anyway.

When I was a kid and my mother cried for hours, I knew it was because my father was gone, off with some other woman. I knew this from the time I was four or five. But still, I always felt responsible for it. For her loneliness, her despair. And when they argued, voices shouting from the next room, I was frightened by it, but overcome by guilt, too. When you're a kid, the universe revolves around you. You have no true sense of cause and effect. And so I took it all on. Really fucked me up; I know that. But there it is.

I do not want to think about this now.

Stop thinking, Valentine. Stop analyzing. You're seeing a real shrink soon enough; she can analyze you.

No, all I want is to enjoy this exquisite anticipation as I
slide my favorite raspberry gloss over my lips. I stand back, look at myself in the mirror. I look good. Great. I'm fucking glowing. And all because of him.

Joshua.

When the doorbell rings I nearly jump out of my skin, but in a good way. I don't know how to explain that.

I open the door, and there he is, smiling. Dazzling. He looks better to me each time I see him.

“Joshua, hi.”

“Hi.”

He's wearing dark slacks, a short-sleeved button-down shirt layered over a T-shirt. Very hip. Very European. And I see for the first time that he's tattooed on his left biceps, just below the hem of his sleeve. It's MC Escher: that famous image of the hand drawing the hand. Before I can stop myself I reach out and touch it. His skin is hot.

“It's beautiful.”

“I'm glad you like it.”

“What does it mean? Tattoos should mean something, right?”

“It's about how we create ourselves. Our lives. We make choices and those choices determine what happens to us.”

I nod. I don't know what to say. His words have hit a little too close to home.

I recover a moment later, shaking my head to clear it. “I'm sorry; I'm leaving you standing on the doorstep. Come in.”

I take his hand and bring him into my house. That in itself is some sort of epiphany. I never, ever, bring a man to my house. But his hand is so warm, I hardly have time to think about it, hardly have the breath to think at all. His skin is pure heat on mine, just that hand-in-hand contact. And suddenly
he is bending down and kissing me, like every single fantasy come true.

Just a small brush of lips against lips, but I am on fire. Burning.

He pulls away.

“Jesus, Valentine.”

He brushes a lock of hair from my face, and now the warmth from his hand seems to permeate my chest. I don't understand what I'm feeling. Lust, yes, but something else. Something more. Totally unfamiliar. I am on shaky ground. I don't know how to deal with what's happening.

I must have been standing there, mute, senseless, for several moments. He tugs on my hand and leads me farther into the living room.

“I was perfectly serious about what I said to you on the phone the other night.”

I nod. He pulls me closer. His thumb is running over the back of my hand, and that quiet touch is pure sex to me. That and his hazel eyes staring into mine. They are dark with desire.

“I could hardly stand you being away after I talked with you,” he tells me. “There's something about you … I'm not sure yet what it is. I want to find out. I intend to find out.”

“Yes,” I say, my voice a breathy whisper.

There is no point in pretense. I've already answered my earlier, ridiculous question. I will sleep with him. I will do whatever he wants, frankly.

He leans in again and moves so slowly, I have time to wonder when his lips will touch mine, to feel that anticipation coursing through my body like a wave of heat. Closer, closer. And finally his mouth meets mine, and his lips are so damn
soft and sweet, it goes through me like some kind of gentle shock.

Immediately, I am lost.

This is exactly what I was afraid of.

This is exactly what I've dreamed of.

Chapter Seven

I
DON'T REMEMBER
Aman feeling as good to me as Joshua does. Maybe it's the kissing—making out like a couple of teenagers. Like I haven't done since high school. His mouth is warm, sweet. God, I've forgotten how good it feels to kiss a man. Really kiss him. I am shivering all over.

His mouth is all heat and need, his tongue gliding like silk on mine. When his hands go into my hair and grip, a small gasp escapes me, slipping in between his lips like a plea for more.

Yes, more …

He kisses me harder, and I am dizzy with pleasure.

I press up against him. I can feel every hard plane of his body through our clothes. Too many damn clothes. But lovely to have to wait to feel him all over, to know his skin. Excruciating.

He has the hard-packed body of an athlete. And I know athletes. Pro basketball players, football players, soccer players from Spain.

No, don't think about them now. Only him.

Joshua.

He pulls me in closer, just roughly enough to let me know I am his at this moment. I am, anyway. My body knows. I am shaking. Needing him.

His hands slide down, briefly cupping my face, so gentle it nearly makes me want to cry. But I don't have time to question it. His hands glide over my bare shoulders. Just him touching my naked skin, so innocently, and my sex fills, swells. I arch harder into him, and his thigh moves in between mine, pressing onto my mound. I am panting into his mouth, breathing him in. My heart is racing.

Have I ever wanted anything this much?

He pulls his mouth away. “Bedroom, Valentine.”

A command, not a question. Not that I have any notion of refusing.

I take his hand and lead him down the hallway, into my little sanctuary. The few moments it's taken to get there feel far too long.

He takes me in his arms, and once more I have that strange awareness of how alien this all is to me, being with a man simply because I want him. This sense of truly needing
him
, not just the sex itself. Yet I am as turned on as I've ever been in my life. I look up at him. His hair is a bit mussed, his eyes dark and glossy. I reach up, trace the small scar on his lip with one fingertip. He groans softly and takes it into his mouth, sucking. Pleasure ripples through me like water, undulating, liquid, making me go loose all over. And his eyes are still on me, glowing gold and silver and green. I don't know if it's fear or excitement that has my heart hammering in my chest, as thunderous as a freight train. I can't figure it out. I don't want to.

He lets my finger slide from his mouth, takes my hand in his and opens it up, kissing my palm. Something in my chest is softening, swelling, even as my sex swells with desire. There is need in his steady gaze, a stark intensity. And it is like being shocked over and over. I can hardly stand to look into his eyes. I can't look away.

He slips one of the straps of my dress down, letting it fall off my shoulder, leans in and lays a soft kiss there. I am shivering again, my head falling back. He kisses my throat with his silken lips, small ripples of pleasure moving over my skin. I am overcome by his touch, and he has barely touched me yet. How will I stand it when we are naked? When he is inside my body?

“Valentine,” he says, his voice quiet, full of smoke.

“Yes …” 1 want you.

“Yes. Please …”

He fills his hands with my breasts, my nipples peaking against his palms, hard and hurting with need.

More…

He tears the straps of my dress down, and my breasts are bared.

“Touch me, Joshua. Don't make me wait.”

His hands on my naked skin are hot, lovely. His palms glide over my flesh, and my whole body bows into him. I can't help myself. I can barely think.

When he takes my hardened nipples in his fingers, tugs gently, pleasure washes over me in small, sharp ripples. When he pinches them, hard, demanding, I am nearly coming already. Scary, how much I want him, how my body responds, betraying all sense of self-control.

“Joshua … please …”

“Tell me, Valentine. Tell me what you need.”

“I need you to touch me. I need your mouth on me. I need to feel you.”

“Oh, I plan to touch you. To taste you.”

He slips my dress over my head, leaving me bare, other than my navy lace panties and my high sandals. He stands back, pulling his shirt off, then his undershirt. His chest is solid, muscled, his nipples dark and dusky against his light golden skin. As hard as my own. I want to touch them, to take them into my mouth. I bite my lip, waiting, my gaze going to the narrow line of hair from his navel to the low-slung waistband of his slacks. Abs like steel. He is too beautiful. My hands go to his broad shoulders. His skin is smooth beneath my palms. And beneath that beautiful skin his muscles bunch, then loosen. My mouth waters, my thighs tensing.

“Joshua …”

“You are so God damned beautiful, Valentine. I knew you would be.” He shakes his head. “But not like this. Jesus.”

He reaches out, runs one fingertip down the front of my body, between my breasts, over my belly, stopping just above the lacy edge of my underwear. And I am trembling with need at the way he touches me, looks at me, as though I am something special. Precious.

Standing back, he watches me, his eyes going from my breasts, to my mouth, to my eyes, and back again, roving every inch of me. He is
really
looking. I don't know if any man has ever looked at me in quite this way before. It's making me hot all over. I need to touch him more than ever. But I don't want him to stop what he's doing: looking at me, worshiping me with his eyes, somehow. Making my body surge with desire, making my chest tight with a need I don't quite recognize.

His voice is low, almost a whisper. “Valentine …” he says,
before wrapping his hands around my waist and pushing me roughly onto the bed.

The embroidery of the duvet cover is a little coarse against my bare skin. I am keenly aware of everything: the earthy scent of my imported wood furniture, the faint heat of the sunlight coming in through the half-closed shutters, Joshua's intense, unwavering gaze on mine. He reaches out, grasps my hair, pulling hard. And it is this way he has of being tender and rough with me at the same time that has me melting.

He slides his slacks down, leaving him in a pair of black boxer-briefs that outline the strong muscles of his thighs, the ridge of his erection. I can hardly wait to wrap my hands around that rigid shaft, to take him in my mouth. To bring him pleasure.

Yes…

He leans over me, and the heat from his body is incredible. Pulling him in, I finally feel the length of his hard frame against mine.

“Ah, Joshua, you feel too good.”

He is smiling down at me, looking nearly as dazed as I feel, his full mouth soft and loose with desire. I want him to kiss me again. I want him to do everything. Anything. But I am lambent with my own need for him, my body buzzing, half paralyzed.

I have never felt so helpless with a man. I have never felt this dazzling yearning. I have never felt this sense of absolute connection.

I don't let myself think about that.

He leans in, kisses my throat, my shoulder once more, then lower still, until his soft lips are on my breast. And when he takes one nipple into his hot, wet mouth, I cry out, the pleasure so sharp it nearly hurts.

“Ah, Joshua!”

Arching into him, he pulls my flesh in deeper, sucking, sucking. And it is as though his mouth is everywhere at once: lighting up my skin, in that musky, wanting place between my thighs. I hold his head to my breast, my fingers digging into his thick, soft hair. Taking a long breath, I inhale his scent, that deep, woodsy citrus he wears, and beneath it, his own musk, his own heated skin.

He lifts his head, murmurs, “You like that.”

“Yes.”

He smiles, bends once more, lapping at my nipples with his moist tongue, first one, then the other, over and over until I am squirming, my sex swollen with an exquisite, hurting need.

He stops, looks up at me. “What do you need, Valentine?”

I am gasping, making it difficult to speak. “I need … I feel like I could almost come just from this. I need to come. I want you to touch me, to make me come, Joshua. Please.”

“I will. But not yet.”

Again he leans in and, using his hands to push my breasts together, begins his assault on my nipples once more. Now his mouth is rough on me, sucking hard, biting my hardened flesh. And he uses his fingers, tugging, pinching. And it feels so damn good, I can barely take it. I'm really squirming now, my hips arching, my sex needing to be filled, my clit throbbing. And I am soaking wet, tears of desire spilling onto the bed beneath me.

Just when I think I can no longer stand it without losing my mind, he pauses, lifts his head, brushes a kiss across my lips. Then taking my wrists, he pulls my arms over my head, pinning them hard with his strong hands. He is watching me again, his gaze deep, dark on mine, searching.

I feel … I don't know what, exactly. Lust, yes. An overwhelming craving for him: his body. For
him.
I don't know how to explain it. But I know he reads it in my eyes, that I am at that moment totally transparent to him. And the idea makes my heart beat even faster, my pulse racing with desire and emotion I can't understand. The tinge of fear running just beneath that current makes it all more intense. But I don't want to think about it now. No, all I want to do is feel.

“Valentine, I am going to take you now. With my hands. With my mouth. And then I'm going to push inside you …”

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