Read For Business...Or Marriage? Online

Authors: Jules Bennett

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Contemporary

For Business...Or Marriage? (8 page)

BOOK: For Business...Or Marriage?
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he hit the warm water and secured her mask like Cade showed her. After he ducked under the water, she did the same and was positively amazed at the secret world below she’d never known about.

Abby could easily see why Cade enjoyed this. The colors were so vibrant, so alive. She couldn’t take in all the beauty at once. She tugged at Cade’s hand over and over to point out various plants and fish and other sea creatures.

Every now and again Cade would tap her on her shoulder or leg, depending on how they were swimming, so he could show her something, as well.

After what seemed like only minutes, Cade
motioned for her to turn around and head back to the boat.

They surfaced next to the ladder and Cade helped her up first, then hoisted himself up and onto the boat.

“That was amazing,” Abby squealed the second she’d taken the mask off.

Cade smiled as he took off his gear. “I thought you’d enjoy that.”

“I can’t believe I’ve gone my whole life without doing this.” She sat on a small bench, slid the flippers off her feet and reached for the towel in her bag. “I want to go again as soon as I can.”

Cade laughed, drying off with a towel the guide handed to him. Leave it to Cade to expect things like towels to be provided.

“Just say the word,” he told her, drying the droplets off his chest. “I have a yacht docked in the Keys. I can take you out anytime you want to go. The jet can be there in no time.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, his face turned grim and his smile faltered. Abby turned away as she squeezed the water from her hair.

They both knew he’d never be able to take her out on his yacht. Not once he was married to another woman.

The return trip to shore was quiet, as was the ride in the car back to the resort.

Cade thanked the driver and assisted Abby from the car. He shouldered her bag and Abby imagined when they walked through the open-air lobby
that they looked like a traditional, honeymooning couple.

Man, could looks be deceiving.

Side by side they walked down the hall, stopping in front of his room. He lifted the bag from his shoulder, pulled out his keycard and handed the tote to her.

“I’m really glad you let me experience your first snorkel experience with you.”

Abby took her bag, and a sudden feeling of dizziness overcame her. “I’m glad, too.”

Had she eaten breakfast?

“You okay?” he asked. “You’re looking a little pale.”

She held out a hand and grabbed the edge of the door frame. “I’m okay. Just give me a—”

Everything went to black.


Panic flooded through Cade as Abby’s body went limp. Thankfully he had quick reflexes and caught her before she could hit her head or go down on the floor.

Keeping her tight against him, he swiped his card through the lock and opened the door.

He scooped Abby into his arms. Her tote slipped from her shoulder, landing just inside the door, as he carried her through the room and onto the bed. “Abby! Abby!”

He tapped the side of her face, smoothed her damp hair from her forehead and prayed she was okay.

Just as he grabbed the phone by the bed,
she stirred, her lids fluttered and she let out a slight moan.

He sat on the edge of the bed, taking her hand in his. “Abby,” he said, still shaken by her lifeless form. “Can you hear me?”

After several rapid blinks, she turned her attention on him. “What happened?”

Relief like he’d never known seared through him. “You passed out.”

When she struggled to sit up, Cade took her shoulders and eased her back down.

“I’ve never passed out in my life,” she informed him. “I felt funny a minute ago, though.”

“Maybe it was all the sun,” he suggested, thankful to see color creeping back into her cheeks.

She eyed him with a tilt of one brow. “You had the same amount of sun.”

“True. Did you eat before we left?”

Abby thought back. “No, I was busy going over some plans for the wedding.”

Fury bubbled inside him, but now was not the time to unleash it. After all, who was he truly angry with, her for ignoring her body’s basic demands or himself for putting so much strain on her lately?

Once again he reached for the phone and dialed room service, ordering lobster, bread, fresh fruits, cheese, shrimp. A minute later when he hung up, Abby was grinning.


She giggled. “Who are you planning to feed?
I certainly couldn’t eat a fourth of what you ordered.”

God, she was beautiful. Even without a hint of makeup, with hair hanging in rope-like strands that were half-dry, Abby Morrison was hands down more beautiful than any woman he’d ever known, both inside and out. And maybe he did order too much food, but he wanted to please her.

“I just thought you’d enjoy a variety,” he said, hoping his voice didn’t sound hoarse. “So, you really had a good time today?”

Her angelic face lit up, and her green eyes sparkled. “I’ve never seen anything like it. For just a minute there I wished I was Ariel.”


Abby laughed again. “Ariel?
The Little Mermaid?

“Oh. Sorry, I’ve never seen it.”

She shifted to her side, folding one arm behind her head. “It was like a whole new world under there. The colors were so vibrant. I really think I could become addicted to sea life.”

Cade listened to her as she went on about the school of fish they’d seen, and it made him happy to have shared the experience with her. As he sat there, something shifted inside him. This moment seemed so perfect, so…right.

When did Abby go from being his efficient assistant to the heart and soul of his daily life?

Before he could answer his own question, someone knocked at the door.

“Room service.”

“Already?” Abby asked, pushing up on her elbow.

Cade grabbed his wallet, took out tip money and let the waiter in. Once he’d positioned the cart in front of the bed, Cade paid the man and closed the door behind him.

“What would you like first?” Cade took off the silver dome lids and set them on the small table in the corner of the room.

“I’ll just have the fruit plate for now.”

She’d shifted up to her knees and rested her hands in her lap. She looked like an innocent, pure beauty.

And she didn’t deserve to be treated like she was anything less than perfect.

“I’ll bring it to you,” he offered and returned to the bed with a tray of fresh pineapple, strawberries and blueberries.

She smiled. “That looks great.”

He set the plate in front of her and eased to sit next to her, careful not to shift the plate.

Okay, so being this close to Abby while she sank her teeth into juicy fruit then licked her lips and fingers was just pure torture. But he’d gone too far to turn back now.

He couldn’t explain if it was the image of her crumbling at his feet or the vibrant way she talked of their morning excursion that made the coin flip to the other side, but all he knew was that he wanted
Abby. He wanted her in his bed. Now. Tomorrow and the next day.

And even though he hadn’t heard back from the important phone call he’d made last night, he couldn’t wait another minute.

When she picked up a ripe strawberry, he covered her hand with his own. “Let me.”


Abby didn’t know what had happened, but everything shifted. Cade fed her strawberries, wiping her mouth with the pad of his thumb after every bite.

There was something different in his eyes. Something…did she dare hope?

“I’m afraid I’ve gotten your bed wet from my suit,” she told him, trying to figure out just what was going on.

“I don’t give a damn about the bed.” He lifted a small blueberry to her lips. “You scared the hell out of me when you fainted.”

“I’m sorry.”

His eyes moved from her lips to meet her gaze. “Don’t apologize. I’m just glad you’re okay. Are you sure you don’t want me to call the in-house doctor?”

“No, I’m feeling better.” She chewed the fruit. “I just needed to eat and get inside. All the excitement probably just got the best of me. I’m not used to all this.”

He pushed a strand of hair over her shoulder.
“You should be. You should have the best life has to offer.”

Embarrassed, she looked down to the half-eaten fruit plate. “I’ve got a good life, Cade. I don’t need to be pampered or given the best of everything.”

He tipped her chin with his hand. “I disagree.”

“That’s because you’re used to being pampered,” she joked, but he didn’t smile. If anything, his eyes heated even more.

Her nipples puckered against her bikini and she was sure it showed even through her tank.

“I’m a fool,” he muttered, taking his hand from her chin to cup her cheek.

She didn’t know what aspect of his life he was referring to, but she hoped it wasn’t about being with her.

“Denying my attraction to you is impossible,” he told her. “You make it impossible.”

Was she supposed to apologize? God, she’d waited for this moment for so long. No way was she sorry.

He shifted closer, taking the plate and setting it on the nightstand. “Everything about you is real. Your zest for life astounds me and all I can think of is why I haven’t made love to you yet.”

Abby nearly fainted again. “Because you’re engaged.”

Shut up.

“Mona and I can’t work,” Cade contradicted.

Could he actually be in love with her?

Abby rested a hand on Cade’s wrist as he stroked
her cheek. “Are you saying you want to make love to me?”

He leaned in, captured her mouth and Abby had her answer.

They both came up on their knees, hands grasping at clothing. Tearing their mouths apart just long enough to pull each of their shirts over their heads, they plunged back into the depths of the kiss.

Abby couldn’t believe this was actually going to happen. She’d waited so long to be intimate with Cade and now he’d finally come to her.

His tongue tangled with hers as she felt the knot at her neck come undone. And then—thank God—her breasts were free and she was skin to skin with Cade.

The hair on his chest tickled her, only adding to the arousing effect he had. Her hands slid down his sides and to the edge of his shorts. She dipped one hand in and found him more than ready.

Cade tore his lips from her mouth and groaned as he took one taut nipple into his mouth.

They were driving each other mad and Abby couldn’t stand another second. She carefully pushed his shorts to his knees and went to unfasten her own.

Cade lifted his head and grinned. “In a hurry?”

“You have no idea.”

He shifted off the bed, allowing the shorts to fall to the floor with a wet smack to the tile.

As he went to his wallet to retrieve a condom, Abby wrestled her way out of her shorts and damp
bikini bottoms. She lay back on the bed and admired Cade’s naked form.


He glanced over his shoulder, his eyes taking in every inch of her naked, aching body. When they landed back on her face and he smiled, her heart swelled.

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

Foil packet in hand, he padded back to the bed and loomed over her. “Can it wait?”

She reached for him and drew him down. “I love you.”

The muscle in his jaw clenched and he tore open the packet and sheathed himself before capturing her mouth again.

Her body sank into the bed as his weight settled on top of her. She embraced the warmth, the man. His passionate kiss morphed into tiny, slow pecks over her face. Her eyelids, her nose, her cheeks and jawline.

As he came to rest between her legs, Abby tilted her hips, urging Cade closer.

Finally, yes finally, he entered her. Neither spoke a word, but they both froze, adjusting to each others’ bodies.

Cade’s coal-like eyes gazed into hers and Abby knew she’d never, ever love another man like she loved Cade. She could never feel this level of intensity with another, never come close to aching for another like she did with him.

“Make love to me, Cade.”

He began to move, slowly, but when Abby locked her ankles behind his back and tried to take control, he increased the pace.

She didn’t want this moment to end, but her body was climbing to its peak and a split second later she lost all control and fought just to hang on.

Gripping Cade’s slick shoulders, Abby arched her back as the climax slammed into her. Cade took a nipple in his mouth and sucked, intensifying her pleasure.

Before she could catch her breath, Cade was coming apart, as well. His body stiffened as he drove into her hard, fast.

She held on to him, thrilled to know just how wonderful this man who was so in control of his life felt when he came apart and let all his shields down.

Instead of coming down on top of her once his tremors ceased, he eased to the side and slipped out of her. He did, however, keep an arm around her waist.

With light, gentle strokes, he caressed her heated skin with his fingers. Now all she could do was wait and pray to God that he didn’t regret what just happened.

She’d told him she’d loved him and, while she didn’t get a verbal response, Abby knew this man wouldn’t have just taken her to bed if he didn’t love her—as much as he was capable—back.

He may not have recognized the emotion, but love was exactly what he’d shown her.



he loved him.

Cade ran a hand down his face trying to come up with the right words to say after what they’d just shared.

How had his life become so chaotic? How had his feelings done a complete one-eighty?

Abby’s soft, steady breathing combined with her soft, luscious body nestled at his side rendered him speechless. He loved running his hand up and down her smooth, flat abdomen.

There were no words to describe how he felt now. There were no words to comfort her because Cade knew that Abby wouldn’t have offered her body if she didn’t truly love him. She was the happily-ever-after type and he was in a way, too. They just considered
happiness two separate worlds. His revolved around mergers and contracts; hers involved love and cherry cheese Danishes.

Happiness in his world was making sure his company stocks were going up, up, up.

Her happiness was daydreaming of her children flying kites.

Stock, kites. They were both supposed to soar…right?

No, no, no. What the hell was he thinking?

God, this situation had gotten so jumbled he was equating kids and kites to stocks and mergers.


Abby’s tender voice drew him back. “Yeah?”

She turned, resting her head on her hand as she looked down to him. “You’re not regretting this are you?”

The hand he’d used to stroke her midsection now cupped her cheek. “No.”

The simple word was out of his mouth before he could retract it. But then he realized he didn’t want to take it back.

Regrets? No. He wasn’t sorry he’d slept with Abby. How could he be when she was all flush from their love-making? How could he possibly be unhappy with the sparkle he now saw in her sea green eyes looking back at him?

“I know I kind of jumped the gun earlier,” she told him, resting her other hand over his heart. “I know men don’t like the
word thrown around, especially
in bed. But I just wanted you to know where I stood before we went any further.”

He covered her hand with his own as if he could actually give her the organ she covered. “That’s what makes you so amazing. I always know where you stand.”

That didn’t sound lame at all, he thought. But, he couldn’t say the four-letter word back to her.

“This won’t be awkward between us. Will it?”

God, when she bit that lower lip she nearly undid him. Her words may have sounded confident, but her actions were not. She was nervous.

That made two of them.

“Not at all,” he lied, easing out of the bed.

Abby fell back against the oversize white pillow. A wide smile spread across her face and Cade wished she’d always look at him like that.

He had to talk to Mona and her father. Why hadn’t they returned his calls? What would he do if they took away the merger altogether if the marriage was called off?

Dammit, he didn’t want this thing with Abby to be cheapened to romps behind his fiancée’s back or limited to this business trip they were on.

His engagement had to end.

As he stood beside the bed, he couldn’t help but take a mental picture of Abby’s soft, blond waves fanned out on the white sheets. Her flushed cheeks and chest. Her swollen mouth and sparkling green eyes.

Everything about her made him want to say to hell with the company and this marriage.

There had to be a way. He refused to take Abby’s affection and throw it back in her face. He needed to know how to keep the arrangement he had with Mona’s father, but skip the wedding.

Cade knew if there was a way, he’d find it. He had to. “How are you feeling? I mean from earlier,” he clarified with a smile of his own. “No more dizziness?”

“I’m fine. Better than fine.”

Cade had to look away before he found himself falling deeper into those mesmerizing pale green eyes. He focused on the tray the waiter had delivered.

Grabbing a bottle of water and the fruit plate, he walked around the bed and came to stand beside her.

“I think you need to eat some more.”

She sat up, causing the sheet to fall around her waist, exposing her breasts. He couldn’t help it. His eyes fell and took in the full, pink tips.

“Looks like we both need something, but I don’t think it’s food.”

Her eyes had dropped, as well, and, since he stood before her wearing nothing but a grin, there was no hiding the fact he wanted her again.

Why fight feelings?

He set the plate and bottle back on the nightstand. “Stay right there.”

Once again, he moved around the bed and over
into the corner. He turned on the water to the sunken garden tub, tested the temperature.

Once the water was adjusted to his liking, he dumped the small bottle of bubbles into the water and flicked the droplets from his fingertips. When he turned, Abby stood mere inches away.

“Is that for me?” she asked.

Unable to keep from touching her one more second, he wrapped his hands around her waist and drew her close.

“It’s for us.”

He eased down, taking her mouth beneath his. How was he already addicted to her taste, her touch?

Crazy, but there it was. He wanted her again and wasn’t ashamed to show her.

Easing away from her lips, Cade guided her to the water and helped her step down. After he followed her in, he reached and shut off the water.

The iridescent bubbles foamed up around Abby’s creamy pink skin, clinging onto her breasts where his mouth ached to be once again.

She eased against the back of the tub, tilted her head and closed her eyes. “Mmm, this feels nice,” she moaned on a sigh.

Wet strands of her hair danced on the top of the water and bubbles. Cade could do nothing more than watch and appreciate the simplicity and beauty of this amazing woman.

He reached beneath the water and found one delicate foot and began to massage. “You love me.”

It wasn’t a question, but Abby’s eyes snapped open, her body tense.

“Relax,” he said as he continued to rub her foot. “I just had no idea your feelings were that strong.”

Her shoulders settled a bit, but she still didn’t tip her head back in the relaxed position she’d been in. He was almost sorry he’d mentioned anything, but he had to know.

“You want me to be honest?” she asked, biting on her bottom lip, her eyes darting to the bubbles. “Of course.”

The hesitation was brief, but Cade noticed. She was more nervous than she wanted him to believe.

“Hey.” He tugged gently on her foot to get her attention. “Just tell me what you’re thinking. The best way of life is to always be honest.”

Her eyes came up, this time with unshed tears. “My mother used to say that.”

Cade worked his hand up to her calf and kneaded. “Tell me more about her.”

If she loosened up, maybe he could get an insight as to why, or better yet when, Abby fell in love with him.

“She was my best friend,” Abby explained with a sad smile. “I’ve never known anyone like her. She fought to the end of her illness. Her strength was amazing.”

“You’ve mentioned her strength before.” He kept his touch light. “You have to see you have the same quality, as well. Your mother would be proud.”

Abby shrugged. “I don’t know about that. I’m not sure how strong I’ve been since she passed.”

His hands stilled. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Not at all. You should’ve seen my mother. She never let anything get in the way of what she wanted. She lived each day to the best of her abilities and made an impression wherever she went.”

Cade could only smile as he listened. “Like I said before…”

Abby smiled. “Well, if you really believe that I’m describing myself, that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.”

Switching to the other foot, Cade continued massaging, not wanting her to become tense. “Keep talking,” he urged.


“I want to hear your voice. I want to know everything about you.”

She rolled her eyes and laughed. “I’ve worked with you for a year.”

Guilt crawled up and tightened around his chest. “And I still don’t know much about your personal life. Riding the mechanical bull, for example. You don’t seem like that type at all.”

“I’m not. I’ve never done anything like that before.”

Once Cade had worked over her calf, he shifted around to sit closer. “What on earth prompted you to do it, then?”

Her eyes leveled on his. “You.”


With a nod, Abby moved to face him. “You’d just asked me to plan your wedding. I was crushed.”

“You were?” How the hell had he not noticed? “Why?”

“Because I love you.”

The simplicity of her words humbled him—and made him feel like a jerk.

“I’ve had feelings for you for quite some time,” she went on. “You wanted honesty, there it is. Although, I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to hear.”

Was it? He honestly had no idea anymore. All he was sure of was that he wanted Abby. Not just her body, though that was a nice perk. He wanted to get inside her head and know everything she had stored and locked away.

To know that she buried feelings, all this time, deep inside herself, was amazing. How long would she have kept them bottled up? Was she so intent on making sure everyone around her was happy that she would’ve continued to plan his wedding?

“Any thought on your mind, I want to hear,” he assured her. “Are we clear? Don’t worry about if I want to hear it. I’m telling you now, I want to know everything in your life.”

Her eyes widened, followed by a brilliant smile. “Really?”

He nodded, completely satisfied with staying right here, feeling Abby’s skin beneath his and listening to her talk.

“Well, in that case, I have to admit I sort of set
up all these little extras in the hopes you’d see me as something more than your assistant.”

His hand stilled. The fact she did so much for him thrilled him. Her actions certainly spoke volumes of her feelings. Abby bit her lip and looked away.

“I won’t apologize,” she said, still looking off into the room. “I’m not sorry because it gave me the courage to tell you how I feel.”

“Abby.” He waited for her to look back. “I’m not upset and I don’t want you to apologize. You have to know that I’d appreciate the fact you went after what you wanted. I wouldn’t want to be with a weak woman or one who didn’t fight for someone she cared about.”

“You’re really not upset?”

Beneath the water, Cade ran a hand up her thigh, pleased when she eased her legs apart. “Not at all.”

He went on to show her just how much he wanted to give, how much he wanted to take.

No. There was no way he could let this woman go. Not even for a multi-billion-dollar deal.

BOOK: For Business...Or Marriage?
3.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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