Here’s Chapter Three.
Unedited / First Draft. Be kind 🙂
copyright Pepper Winters
The pool was everything I could’ve hoped for.
A sprawling blue finger of sparkling water, flowing under bridges, around islands of palm trees, leading right onto the beach. The crisp teal of the pool radiated against the dark sapphire of the sea, like a jewel box of priceless gems.
Already my skin pricked with sweat and we’d only just left our room. My white bikini, embroidered with little black seahorses, made my skin look darker than it really was, and my little flower crocheted sundress shot glimpses of flesh through the needlework. Both items I’d bought at the Melbourne markets a few days ago. I wanted to look hot for Brax. I hadn’t been working out this hard at the university gym for nothing.
I was in the best shape of my life, tight and toned, and I had every intention of flashing my man.
Maybe that was why my libido was sky-high. Didn’t people say your sex drive increased when you exercised?
I peered at Brax across the table, eating his breakfast of fresh fruit and cereal. He wasn’t like a typical Aussie builder. He didn’t eat pies or junk food. He took care of himself, and his exercise came in the form of lugging bricks and timber around in the toiling Melbourne sun.
He crunched a mouthful of muesli, watching me with an amused look. “You’re spacing again, Tessie. Anything you want to tell me?”
He was so adorable in his baby-blue t-shirt and baggy white shorts. The poster boy of holiday chic. His hair was damp from his shower and a droplet of milk trembled on his lower lip.
My stomach clenched. I’d been unsuccessful to get him in the mood this morning. Food was the only thing on his brain. But now we’d eaten… so… I had a plan.
“I think I want to give you your present now.” My voice slipped into sultry and Brax swallowed. He reached for my hand across the table, squeezing my fingers.
“I’d like to see your present.”
Emotions scorched me and I grinned. “Great.”
“Can you give it to me by the pool? I’d love to go and digest brekkie. Plus I’m dying to get wet.”
I burst out laughing. Brax saying wet just sounded wrong. It wasn’t in the context I wanted but it didn’t sound hot coming out of his mouth. An image of me giving Brax his present by the pool shot into my head and I blushed.
He frowned, releasing my hand. “What’s so funny?””
Shaking my head, I ruffled my hair and gave him a soft smile. Ah Brax. “Your present isn’t exactly fit for public viewing.”
He ducked his head, looking at me through half-lidded eyes. The blueness of his gaze made me wriggle in my chair.
“You’re determined to drag me back to that hotel room, aren’t you?”
My lips parted. Oh my, was Brax playing with me? Finally! I nodded, not able to say a word.
He gave me an indulgent smile and pulled me from my chair. Other guests at tables close by grinned as Brax hugged me. He whispered in my ear, “Let me swim for an hour. Then I’m all yours.”
My heart raced, kicking against my ribs. “Promise?”
His answer was a peck on my lips.
We left the outdoor restaurant hands linked, carrying our beach bag with our kindles, sunscreen, and water. The best loungers around the pool had already been taken. Couples, and families all lay sweaty and content under the Mexican rays.
“We’ll go on the beach. I think I remember them saying you could hire cabanas for a few hours. Some shade would be good.”
I squeezed his hand. I knew he would prefer to be in the sun, but I couldn’t handle much. My skin was so white it lived up to my last name Snow rather well. Guilt crushed me like the force of a wave. After everything Brax gave me, after how considerate and kind he was… why did I need more? I was a heartless bitch and didn’t deserve him.
As we tip-toed across hot sand and squinted into bright sun, I made a promise: I would back off. I didn’t want Brax to feel uncomfortable around me. And that was what I was doing. After two years, I couldn’t force him to change.
A small layer of sadness settled around my heart. I loved Brax and I needed to remember that the next time I listed with disappointment.
Be nicer, Tess. Give him what he needs.
I jerked him to a stop and quickly kissed his cheek. “Thanks for everything. You’re far too good to me.”
Brax captured my cheek with calloused fingers, staring into my eyes. The sun highlighted reddy-brown strands in his hair. “I’m never letting you go, Tess.” He dropped his hand and captured my silver bracelet. “I hope you know this isn’t just a bracelet to me.” His fingers stroked the underside of my arm, sending tremors through me. “It’s a promise of more. When I can afford what I want to give you, I’ll make you mine.”
I leaned in and hugged him tight. “I’m already yours.” His chest was hot beneath his t-shirt and the smell of his body spray was strong. I smiled. “Let’s go for a swim before you melt.”
He chuckled and led us further down the beach.
Mexico was like a perfect screensaver. Bright blue sea, golden sand, not a hint of clouds or dreariness. I had to put my flip-flops back on as the sand scolded my soles and little plumes of granules kicked up as we made our way to a corral of cabanas. Grass roofed and hexagonal, they had a two daybeds and a small side table between them.
An attendant with walnut skin and black hair covered by a large, floppy hat came forward. “You want to rent one?”
Brax nodded, shuffling the beach bag on his shoulder. “How much?”
“One hundred and thirty pesos for two hours.”
I tried to do the mental calculation in my head, but hadn’t studied the exchange rate when we arrived so late last night.
Brax frowned, working it out before saying, “That’s about ten bucks.” Nodding at the man, he added, “Okay. Two hours.”
The common shade of disappointment tried to take me over again, but I batted it away like a cat with a rodent. I would not be disappointed; I’d resolved not to show Brax my present. I wouldn’t ruin our trip by making him embarrassed.
Brax looked at me, worry glinting in his eyes. “Two hours, hon. Is that alright with you?”
I breathed deep breath and smiled bright. “Two hours is perfect.”
Four hours later we opened the door to our hotel room and collapsed on the bed. I groaned in bliss as the cool breeze of the whirring air conditioner helped calm my sun-cooked skin.
Brax belly-flopped next to me, his stocky legs dangling off the bed.
My skin itched with sticky salt from swimming in the ocean and my nose was tight with sunburn. I didn’t want to be in the sun for the rest of the day. I was done being a barbeque.
Brax groaned and rolled onto his back. “I think we should’ve stuck to two hours only.”
I rolled next to him, putting my head on his chest. “I told you. But you wanted to extend.”
He chuckled and his chest hair tickled my ear. “It was fun though, right? That cabana was kickass.”
I kissed his salty nipple. “It was a great idea. Those cocktails were tasty, too. I don’t think I’ve ever poked myself in the eye before with a mini sword stuck through a glazed cherry.”
Brax shifted onto his side, jostling me off him and onto the mattress. “You okay?” His finger brushed away damp blonde curls and I sighed happily. “Do you need me to kiss it better?”
I stopped breathing as he very tenderly kissed my left eye, then my right. His hot breath bathed my skin in awareness and I squirmed. Somehow, even though I’d promised myself not to react so desperately to Brax, my body ignored all my strict rules.
He ran his nose along mine, breathing shallow. We kept eye contact as he kissed me. It started innocent. Sweet. Caring, like everything about Brax, but slowly he titled his head to kiss me deeper. His hand dropped to my waist, dragging me closer, pushing me harder into the mattress. His tongue licked mine in gentle invitation.
I clenched my hands as my body begged for more. I moaned as he nibbled my bottom lip and reached behind my neck to undo my bikini. My hips raised involuntarily, pressing into his. He paused a fraction, before kissing me hard.
Everything clenched, revved, and grew slick with need.
Do not attack him. Do not attack him.
I forced myself to keep my hands by my sides, to accept what Brax gave me. If I had my way, I’d flip him on his back, straddle him, and wrench his shorts down. I didn’t need foreplay. I needed him in me with a passion that squeezed my lungs and left me breathless.
Brax stopped kissing me, both our breathing ragged. “Can you show me your present now?”
Passion fizzled to fear. I didn’t want to show him anymore. He was happy with vanilla and missionary. I didn’t want to make him think I was a sexual deviant.
I sat up, pushing him off me. “I forgot to bring it. I’m so sorry.”
He sat up, running hands through his hair. “Why did you do that?”
I blinked. “Do what?”
“Lie. You never lie.”
Shame shimmered over my skin and I plucked at the fiesta bedspread. “I’m sorry, Brax. I just—I just don’t want to show you anymore.”
His back straightened and he sucked in a breath. “Why? What’s changed?”
Useless tears bruised my eyes. Why the hell was I tearing up? It wasn’t bad. It was just different. But I no longer wanted different. I wanted to please Brax. I was over being selfish.
He ducked, looking into my watery gaze. “Hey, Tess. What is it? Tell me.” He pulled me into his lap and I
huddled into his chest. What if I told him and he hated me? What if he pulled away and left me alone like my parents did. What if he called me a mistake, just like them?
I didn’t answer, letting him rock me. Trying to unjumble my tangled thoughts.
Brax murmured, “Remember how we met? What you said to me?”
Of course I remembered. He made me bleed. Wasn’t exactly first meeting etiquette. I giggled quietly. “I called you an ass.”
He laughed. “Not that.” He stroked my back, diving into past memories. “I was walking Blizzard on the beach and threw a stick for him. Out of nowhere this girl appeared out of control on a kite board and catapulted out of the surf and right into the face of my husky.”
A phantom injury twinged at the memory. I was a flipping idiot to think I could kite board. It had been a ‘get outside my comfort zone’ attempt. It failed. Rather drastically.
Brax continued, “Your kite took off down the beach and it took me half an hour to unrobble you from my dog with all those strings and harness. When I finally got you free, you were bleeding pretty bad from your shoulder and had a black eye. My poor dog had a sore paw and a broken stick.” He laughed.
The broken stick had been why I had a bleeding shoulder.
“Then I asked if you wanted to go to the hospital, and you asked if you it was that bad. I didn’t want you to freak out, so I lied. I said it was just a scratch, when in reality it was a gaping hole, gushing with blood and bits of bark sticking out of it. I just didn’t know what to say.”
I flinched. It was pretty bad. Earned me eight stitches, but Brax never left my side at the hospital. Even brought me lilies the next day and a dove shaped soft toy while I healed.
“I lied and you said….”
“Never lie. The truth hurts less than fibs and fakers.” I remember that day as if it happened two hours ago. I hurt because it had been my eighteenth birthday and my parents forgot. My older brother earned a promotion at the pharmaceutical company where he worked. My parents took him out to dinner without me, saying it was imperative they supported Jim in his new future and I could fend for myself.
“The truth hurts less than fibs and fakers,” Brax repeated. “That’s always stayed with me as it’s so honest and raw. It told me so much about you and made me fall in love. I related to you so much. So many people lied to me about my parent’s death. Glossing over the darkness, hiding the gnarly truth. They didn’t even let me see their bodies due to the graphicness of how they died.” His arms latched tighter, pressing me hard against him. “Not having the chance to say goodbye will haunt me. And not knowing the truth about why they crashed will eat at my soul.”
His eyes burned into mine. “So, Tess. Don’t lie to me. The truth is the only path for us.”
I nodded. He was right. I should never have brought it up if I didn’t have the guts to follow through.
I wriggled off his lap and went to my suitcase. Unzipping the side pocket where I’d hidden the vibrator, I took the plastic bag with my new lingerie and hid them behind my back. Sucking in a deep breath, I said, “I’ll be right back.”
Brax watched me with confusion but nodded.
I retreated into the bathroom and flicked the lock. Placing the bag in the sink, I stared at my reflection. You can do this. Just be honest. Everything else…we can work through it. This was a good thing. The next step in our relationship. It would make us stronger.
I took my time shedding my bikini and stepping into the lacy purple g-string and making my boob spill over the top of the push-up bra. My skin was kissed with sunlight and a sprinkling of freckles erupted on my nose. Damn freckles.
My fingers trembled as I unrolled the nylons up my leg and snapped the garter belt clips to keep them up. Once I finished, I looked like a beach sprite trying to be sexy and coy. I looked ridiculous.
Confidence was elusive as something sharp stabbed my lower back. I twisted to investigate and found the tag from the store. I hadn’t even removed the tags I was so afraid it would be a waste of money.
With a quick tug, I ripped the price tag off and threw it in the bin. Ruffling my hair, I sucked in my belly and stepped out of the bathroom.
Brax sprawled on the bed. He sat up on his elbows the moment I came into the room. His jaw hung open. Desire exploded in his eyes, sparking something deep inside me even under the fear of rejection.
He scooted higher, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Wow…”
With the flash of heat building inside, I rushed ahead before he could say anything else. I pulled the vibrator out from behind my back. The little rabbit sticking out of the purple glitter phallus made my cheeks flame with self-consciousness.
Brax swallowed, staring at my most personal possession.
“I want us to be more adventurous,” I mumbled, then rushed, “I love you and love our sex life, but I just thought—well, I’d like to see—if, um…”
Brax got off the bed, coming toward me slowly. He ripped his t-shirt off at the same time, leaving me to gape like a guppy.
“You want more?”
More. Such a dangerous word. I shook my head. “Not more. Different.”
Pain flashed in his eyes and was gone.
“Not all the time. Only, sometimes…”
His fingers shook as he reached for my vibrator. “You use this?” He hovered a finger over the sliding power button. I couldn’t swallow, I was so mortified. Why did I think this would be sexy, fun? It was horrifying. Like flaying myself and asking Brax to tie me up and punish me.
Stupid. So stupid.
Brax slid the bar up and the gentle whir filled the room. I looked away as he pressed the power higher.
“Different?” His voice was full of lostness and my heart shattered. I’d made him doubt. Made him think he wasn’t enough. Shit.
I grabbed the vibrator, hating it in that moment. I turned the power off, ripped out the batteries, and threw it all in the bin. “Forget it, Brax. It was a stupid idea. I just want you okay? Please, don’t hate me.”
He shook himself, his hands dropping to his sides. “Tess, you have me. But if I’m not enough—”
I froze then charged into his arms, tugging him to the bed, I lay down and pulled him on top of me. “You’re enough. More than enough.”
His eyes dropped to my breasts and he caressed the soft mound of flesh. “You’re stunning. I love how hot you are in sexy underwear.” He kissed me and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“But you’re sexy all the time. You could be in a sack and I’d still love you.”
See, that just showed me how damn shallow I was. I loved that Brax was well built, solid, dependable, but if he started wearing jogging pants and stinky clothes I wouldn’t be attracted anymore. Was I so superficial?
Brax reached behind me and undid my bra. He uncapped my breasts slowly and dipped his head to suck my nipple. Heat radiated right to my core and I melted.
Brax still loved me. That’s all that mattered. Nothing else. Not kinky sex or spicing up the bedroom. I was a lucky, lucky girl.
I bit Brax’s collarbone and he groaned. His erection pressed into my belly and I eased his shorts down his hips. He arched to help me and we rolled together so he could take off my fifty dollar knickers that I wore for all of ten seconds.
Brax settled between my thighs and I sighed with lust as he pressed inside me. His erection filled me, sending waves of homeliness and safety rather than mind-shattering passion.
We rocked together as he kissed me. Raining me with delicate affection and soft embraces.
My body responded, growing wetter, reaching for a release, but just as I thought I might be able to climax, Brax groaned and thrust harder. He collapsed on top of me, sandwiching me between his mass and the mattress.
I stared at the ceiling battling so many thoughts and not all of them made sense. I did the only thing I could in that moment and wrapped my arms around my lovely boyfriend.