Chapter Two of Tears of Tess
Copyright Pepper Winters
First Draft / Unedited.
Somewhere, hundreds of kilometres above earth, I woke up to dry recirculated air and the sickening smell of over nuked dinners.
Brax brushed his lips on my forehead. “Dinner is being served, honey.”
I shuffled upright in my prison of a chair and winced at how flat my butt was. Holy hell it took a long time to travel across the world. The stop in Los Angeles had been the worst, though. Such a long and boring wait.
An air-hostess wheeled her trolley slowly down the aisle, smiling fakely and handing out tinfoil wrapped trays.
“What do you want?” Brax blinked, slapping a hand over his wide yawn.
I knew how he felt. I was bone-weary. All I wanted was a hot shower, a soft bed, and Brax to cuddle into me. I shrugged. “I dunno. What were the options again?” I couldn’t remember what the choices were; it was so many hours ago.
The air-hostess arrived at our row, beaming. “Chicken casserole or beef stir-fry?”
Both of those sounded woefully unappealing but I said, “Chicken, please.”
Brax ordered the beef and silence reined while we ate. The little screens in front of us had a selection of movies, but I wasn’t in the mood to watch TV. I wanted to talk to Brax, get excited about our trip away together. Whenever I thought about arriving at the hotel all I wanted to do was kiss him like crazy.
I couldn’t stop the flutters in the darkest part of my belly. The knowledge that I’d finally talk to him about what I needed sexually terrified and thrilled me.
Brax smiled, chewing a piece of broccoli. “What you thinking about? You have a space cadet look.”
I dropped my eyes, shoving a piece of dried chicken around. Should I tell him? Would he want me as much as I wanted him or would it freak him out if I talked so blatantly about a subject he was rather shy on? I sucked in a breath. “I was thinking how much I love you and how much I can’t wait to be with you in bed.”
His face softened, looking so handsome in the dim interior lights. His smooth jaw, his blue eyes and floppy brown hair. His strong arms and stocky build screamed builder. Hell, I loved that he was so big and strong. He could dominate me so easily… but never did. He treated me like glass. Special cut-crystal. Put me on a pedestal where I had to shine and remain dust free and perfect.
He ducked his head to press his forehead against mine. “I love you too, Tess. I’m so happy we’re spending this time alone. Even though I miss Blizzard already.”
I grinned, nuzzling against his neck. “Damn dog has probably howled the neighbourhood down by now.”
He laughed; the sound reverberated under my touch, making me tingle. “Probably. I hope Joe knows how to take care of a husky.”
I did too. They weren’t exactly lap dogs. More wolf than dog to be fair.
Brax pushed his meal away as much as he could on the tiny tray table and awkwardly reached into his pocket. “I have a present for you. To remind you of this amazing holiday.”
I couldn’t breathe. My tongue turned into a brick, my saliva morphed to mortar. His hand dropped a long black velvet box onto my tray table. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I know we’ve been together for two years, and I love you with all my heart, Tess. But each year that I spend with you I grow more and more nervous that I’m going to lose you.”
Suddenly the cabin stifled with old ghosts and demons from both our pasts. I leaned over and kissed his lips gently, just the way he liked. My heart hurt for him. Would he ever get over losing his parents? The doctors said his night-terrors would stop eventually, but it’d been six years since his folks died and still he couldn’t fall asleep without pills.
I whispered, “You will never lose me, B. Never. I swear it.” I kissed him again and this time his lips opened under mine. His tongue flickered and licked my lower lip sending heat shooting like little stars right to my core.
I moaned and pressed harder, opening wider, forcing more intensity.
He pulled back and smirked shyly, his eyes darting around the cabin as if we’d get told off by the pilots.
Sighing I murmured, “Can I open it now?”
His face flashed with confusion. “What?”
Feminine satisfaction filled me that I’d distracted him enough with my kiss he’d forgotten the black box in front of me. “The gift. Can I open it now or wait till we get to the hotel?” Boldness sizzled in my blood and I leaned forward. “Because I have a present for you too, but I have to wait till we arrive.” My voice layered with husky welcome and his nostrils flared.
“Y—you can open it now.”
I grinned and grabbed the box. Happier, lighter than I’d been for a while. Brax was responding to me. A captive audience I supposed. I didn’t have to compete with TV, PlayStation, work, or the damn dog. It was just me. Me and my libido.
I cracked open the box and my heart flurried. “Brax, it’s… gorgeous.”
“You like it?” His voice heighted to boyish delight and he plucked the bracelet from its cage of velvet.
“I don’t like it. I love it.” I placed the box on my lap and held my wrist out. I couldn’t tear my eyes off the dainty silver jewellery. It was the epitome of us. Gentle love hearts entwined with silver strands, the occasional glint of diamonds at the centre of each heart.
Brax’s fingertips grazed the underside of my wrist as he secured the clasp. I shivered, sucking in a shaky breath. My mouth parted watching his fingers as they hovered over my skin.
Tension blossomed between us like a fast unfurling flower and I ached. Ached for him. Ached for connection. Ached for his body inside mine. Something hot seared us and Brax clenched his jaw.
Then he dropped his eyes and the spell was broken.
Pretending that nothing happened, I rested my head on his shoulder and inspected my new bracelet. “I’ll never take it off.”
He sighed, snuggling closer and kissed the top of my head. “Don’t. I don’t want you to. It’s yours forever. Just like me.”
I inhaled sharply, breathing in his soft apple scent from our shared body wash. Would he ever stop making me hurt and heal at the same time?
“Forever,” I whispered and closed my eyes.
Next time I awoke, tyres bounced on runway and in a foggy haze of tiredness we disembarked. The airport was manic, even at one a.m. in the morning and we let the sea of passengers guide us through immigration and processing.
By the time we headed outside to the awaiting taxi’s my eyes were scratchy like a cat had mistaken them for cat-nip and my mind was cotton wool.
I let Brax lead the way—after all, this trip was his creation, and followed obediently while he found our driver to the hotel.
“Stay here. I’m going to ask at the info desk. The hotel should’ve arranged for a shuttle.”
He parked the suitcases by the curb and I took his laptop sachet blocking it with my feet. I plonked on top of one of the cases. “No problem. I’ll guard the bags.”
He caressed my cheek. “I’ll be right back.”
I smiled up and captured his hand as he pulled away. “I’ll miss you till then.” He turned and headed back the way we came and I admired his fine butt in his baggy jeans. Just once I’d love to see him in a nice suit. Or at least some trousers that fit him. No matter how many compliments I rained on him, Brax was forever self-conscious. Silly man. He didn’t see the way other woman looked at him, but I did. My claws unsheathed every time.
Ten minutes passed while I sat in the little oasis of people that our bags created. Nerves steadily grew every minute that passed. Mexico was loud, boisterous and the air was heavy and wet with humidity. We were used to the heat in Australia, but that was dry heat. This, it saturated my clothes and turned my sleek hair limp like a drowned feather.
“Excuse me, Senorito.”
I twisted on the case and looked behind me. A good looking Mexican man took off a baseball cap and bowed slightly. His black eyes assessed me, making me squirm on the inside.
“Yes?” I asked, standing upright, looking for Brax out the corner of my eye. Where the hell was he?
“I wondered if you were here on your own? Do you need a lift somewhere? I have a taxi. I can take you wherever you need to go.”
His smile was bright, showing stained teeth, his skin crinkled around his eyes in a friendly way. My instincts didn’t flare into panic and I relaxed a little. “I’m here with my boyfri—”
“Tess?” Brax appeared like an apparition from the hustle and bustle, glaring at the man. “Can I help you?”
The man backed up and put his baseball cap back on. “Not at all, senor. Just wanting to make sure such a pretty girl stays safe. This city is not good for women alone.”
Brax puffed up his chest and dragged me toward him. My eyes widened as his arm clenched around my shoulders, strong, protective, dominating.
He held me like I dreamed of. He held me with passion.
I think I swooned a little.
“She’s save. Thanks for your concern.” He turned to me, dismissing the man entirely. “I’ve found the shuttle, you ready to go?”
I nodded and looked to where the man had been, but he’d disappeared. Oh well.
Dragging our suitcases, we made it to the shuttle bus and spent the next forty-five minutes bouncing and swerving on Mexican roads. My heart remained in my throat most of the way. Traffic lights meant nothing, and scooters were given right of way as they gave cars no choice. Pedestrians and cyclists all heaved in a massive living organism on the roads and it was two a.m. in the morning.
Life never slept here. Every bar front we passed, pumping with Salsa and spicy tunes, dispelled my sleepiness. I wanted to get out and dance. To rub against Brax, to drink yummy cocktails and enjoy ourselves.
I loved Mexico.
We finally pulled up outside a sweeping resort with huge carvings of sombreros and tropical fruit with a fountain that almost touched the three story high ceiling.
A bellhop took our luggage and I let Brax do his thing and check us in. I wandered with bliss in my heart and wonderment in my eyes. The resort was a living jungle. Palm trees, ferns, and exoticness in every corner. Marble and quartz, bare wood, and trickling fountains.
My body thrummed with anticipation. I didn’t care we’d been awake for a full twenty-four hours. I wanted to explore. I wanted to walk along the beach that I could hear not far away. I wanted to go skinny dipping and make love to Brax under the moonlight.
Arms banded around my waist, pulling me backward. I gasped as I landed against hard muscle and wrinkled clothing. Brax kissed my collarbone and I shuddered. “Ready for bed, hon?”
Oh yes I was ready for bed. More than ready.
I nodded breathlessly.
Brax swivelled me in his arms and took my hand luggage from my shoulder. A bell hop stood behind us, smiling indulgently. “Please go ahead, I’ll bring your luggage.”
“What room are we?” I asked Brax as he looked at a little booklet with our key card enclosed. “Room 1498. The receptionist said we have to go up two levels and turn left.”
We entered the lift, the bell hop squeezing in with us. The mirrored interior shot images of us from every direction. My hair was a tangled bird’s nest, my sheer blouse crumbled and ready for a wash, but my grey-blue eyes sparkled with lust and love.
I hoped Brax saw what twinkled in my soul. What I wanted to do with him.
His own blue eyes were warm and content as we disembarked the lift and made our way to our room. The corridor was a wide balcony, open-air with huge potted ferns and little cosy seats arranged for privacy.
“This one if you please, sir.” The bell hop said, directing us to a door we walked by.
Brax grinned and inserted the key card; once he placed the card in the little holder by the door, soft light spilled around us and I moved forward in a trance.
The room was perfect Mexican décor. Carved wood, bright paintings. The bedspread was a fiesta of colours and textures. There was even a hand woven rug in purples, reds, and yellows.
I squealed in childhood amazement and dashed out onto the balcony. In front, in the gloom of darkness, the sound of waves slapping against sound hushed over my skin.
Heaven. I was in heaven.
Brax tipped the bell hop and closed the door. I twisted to face him, breathing accelerating. We were alone, after a crazy long journey.
My new bracelet tinkled on my wrist, making my heart overflow with joy. I stepped toward him and he held out his arms. I fitted into his embrace perfectly and he rested his chin on my head. “Sorry I couldn’t afford five stars, hon.”
My eyes widened. We were in the middle of a dream and he was worried that he couldn’t give me five stars. Oh poor man, always striving for more than he could have. Never satisfied, always terrified he wouldn’t get what he needed.
I didn’t respond. Instead, I reached up and captured his face in my hot hands. I stared into his eyes, hungry, hot. Then kissed him.
He tilted his head allowing me to slink my tongue between his lips, but he didn’t gather me closer.
I kissed him harder, pressing against his body with urgency growing out of control. I was too hot. I needed him too much. Too long.
He smiled beneath my kisses, twisting his lips. “What’s got into you, Tess? You can’t keep your hands off me.”
I blushed. “Is it so bad I want you? Need you? We’re in a new country. Can we celebrate our first night?” My eyes flew to the bed then back to his gaze. “We could have a shower together, then I can show you my present.”
My present of fish net tights and garter belt. The ridiculously expensive push-up bra I bought and the strawberry massage oil. I trembled at the thought of Brax sliding over me smelling fruity sweet. Of making his eyes darken, his body turn feral because he needed me so much.
He pecked my lips and groaned. “I’m knackered, Tessie. Can we rain check till the morning?”
Disappointment fogged my lungs but I let himself untangle from my arms and nodded. “I understand.”
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