Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters @PepperWinters

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*Starling*

Where are you taking me, Brax?” I giggled as my boyfriend of two years beamed his slightly crooked smile and plucked my suitcase from my hands.

We crossed the threshold of the airport and nerves of excitement fluttered in my stomach.

A week ago, Brax surprised me with a romantic dinner and an envelope. I grabbed him and squeezed him half to death when I pulled free two airplane tickets with the destinations blacked out by a marker.

My perfect, sweet boyfriend, Brax Cliffingstone was taking me somewhere exotic. And that meant connection, sex, fun. Things I sorely needed.

Brax had never been able to keep a secret. Hell, he was a shockingly bad liar—I caught his fibs every time when sky-blue eyes darted up and to the left, and his cute ears blushed. 

But, somehow, he kept quiet on the whole mysterious holiday. Like any normal twenty-year-old woman, I searched our apartment ruthlessly. Raiding his underwear drawer, the PlayStation compartment, and all the other secret hidey-holes where he might’ve kept the real plane reservations. But, for all my snooping, I came up empty. 

So, as I stood in the Melbourne airport, with a crazy happy boyfriend and nerves rioting in my heart, I could only grin like an idiot.

“Not telling. The check-in clerk can be the one to ruin my surprise.” He chuckled. “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t tell you until we arrived at the resort.” He dropped the suitcase and dragged me toward him with a smirk. “In fact, if I could, I’d blindfold you until we got there, so it would all be a complete surprise.”

My core clenched as thoughts flared with hot images—sexy, sinful visions of Brax blindfolding me, taking me roughly, completely at his mercy. Oh, God, don’t go there again, Tess. You were going to block thoughts like that, remember?

Ignoring myself, I gasped as Brax’s fingers grazed my flesh. I shuddered, and my sequined top became insubstantial.

“You could do that, you know?” I whispered, dropping my eyelids to half-mast. “You could tie me up….”

Instead of pouncing and kissing me like crazy for offering him the chance to dominate, Brax swallowed and looked as if I told him to slap me with a dead fish.

“Tess, what the hell? That’s the third time you’ve quipped about bondage.”

Rejection crushed, and I dropped my gaze. The tingles between my legs popped like dirty bubbles, and I let Brax shove me back into the box where I belonged. The box labelled: perfect, innocent girlfriend who’d do anything for him, as long as it was in the dark and on my back.

I wanted a new label. One that said: girlfriend who will do anything to be tied, spanked, and fucked all over rather than adored.

Brax looked so disappointed and I hated myself. I need to stop this.

I reminded myself for the three-hundredth time, that the sweet, wonderful relationship I had with this man was far more important than a bit of sexy play in the bedroom.

I mumbled, “It’s been too long. Almost a month and a half.” I remembered the exact date when the lacklustre sex, in good ole missionary, took place. Brax worked overtime, my uni course demanded a lot of brainpower, and somehow life became more important than a roll beneath the sheets.

He froze, looking around us at the hordes of people. “Great time to bring that up.” He guided me to the side, glaring at a couple that came too close. “Can we talk about this later?” He ducked his head and kissed my cheek. “I love you, hun. Once we aren’t so busy, then we can have more alone time.”

“And this holiday? Will you take me like the girlfriend you adore?”

Brax beamed, enveloping me in a hug. “Every night. You wait.”

I smiled, letting anticipation and happiness dispel my angst. Brax and I wanted different things in the bedroom department, and I hoped, prayed, got on my knees and begged, that I didn’t ruin what we had because of it. 

My blood simmered for things entirely not sweet. Things I didn’t have the courage to say. Downright sinful things that amped my blood to lava and made me wet—it wasn’t chaste kisses.

And standing in his arms, in a public place, with that sexy smirk on his mouth, and hands on my waist, I trembled with a cocktail of need. This trip would be exactly what we needed.

He brushed his lips against mine, no tongue, and I had to squeeze my legs together to stop the vibrations threatening to overtake me. Is there something wrong with me? Surely, I shouldn’t be this way. Maybe there was a cure—something to take the edge off my desires.

Brax pulled back, smiling. “You’re gorgeous.”

My eyes dropped to his shapely mouth, breathing faster. What would Brax do if I pushed him up against the wall and groped him in public? My mind turned the fantasy into him pushing me hard against the wall, his thigh going between my legs, hands pawing, bruising me because he couldn’t get close enough.

I swallowed, battling those far too tempting thoughts. “You’re not so bad yourself,” I joked, plucking his baby-blue t-shirt that matched his eyes so well.

I loved this man, but missed him at the same time. How was that possible?

Life wedged between us: the university course stole five days a week, not to mention homework, and Brax’s boss landed a new building contract in the heart of the city.

Each month trickled into the next, and lovemaking became second fiddle to Call of Duty on PlayStation, and architectural sketching for the extra credit I’d signed up for.

But all of that would change. Our life together would improve, because I was going to seduce my man. I’d packed a few naughty surprises to show Brax what turned me on. I needed to do this. To save my sanity. To save my relationship.

Brax’s fingers squeezed my waist and he stepped away, ducking down to grab the suitcases again.

If I wanted to seduce him, wasn’t it best just to go for it? Planning and dreaming seemed wrong when he stood right in front of me.

I dropped my shoulder bag and grabbed the lapels of his beige canvas jacket, yanking him into me. “Let’s join the mile-high club,” I whispered, before crushing his mouth with mine. His eyes flashed as I leaned forward, pressing my entire body against his. Feel me. Need me.

He tasted of orange juice and his lips were warm, so warm. My tongue tried to gain welcome, but Brax’s hands landed on my shoulders, holding me at bay.

Someone clapped, saying, “You attack him, girl!”

Brax stepped back, looking over my shoulder at the bystander. He dropped his eyes to mine, temper flashing. “Nice spectacle, Tess. Are we done? Can we go check in?”

Disappointment sat like a heavy boulder in my belly. He sensed my mood—like he always did—and gathered me into a hug again. “I’m sorry. You know how much I hate PDA’s. Get me behind closed doors, and I’m all yours.” He smiled, and I nodded.

“You’re right. Sorry. I’m just so excited to go on holiday with you.” I dropped my eyes, letting wild, blonde curls curtain my face. Please, don’t let him see the rejection in my eyes. Brax used to say my eyes reminded him of dove’s feathers as the white bird flew across the sky. He could be very poetic, my Brax. But I didn’t want poetry anymore. I wanted… I didn’t know what I wanted.

He chuckled. “You’re right about being excited.” He waggled his eyebrow, and together we headed to check-in. The girl who’d told me to attack him winked and gave me a thumbs up.

I smiled, hiding the residual pain that my attack didn’t inspire the same reaction.

We joined the queue, and I glanced around. People milled like fish in a pond, darting and weaving around groups of waiting passengers. The vibe of an airport never failed to excite me. Not that I travelled a lot. Before the university course, I travelled to Sydney to study the architecture there, and sketch. I loved to sketch buildings.  At ten-years of age, my parents took my brother and me to Bali for a week. Not that it was fun going on holiday with a thirty-year old brother, and parents who despised me.

Old hurt surfaced, thinking of them. When I moved in with Brax eighteen months ago, I drifted apart from my parents. After all, they were almost seventy-years old, and focused on other ‘important things’, rather than a daughter who’d come twenty years too late. A dreadful mistake, as they loved to remind me. 

They’d been so horrified at the pregnancy, they promptly sued the doctor for botching my father’s vasectomy.

An old enemy: rejection, ruled my life. I supposed the desperation to connect with Brax was a way of confirming that someone wanted me. I didn’t just want intimacy, I needed it. I needed to feel his hands on me, his body in mine. It was a craving that never left me in peace.

I blinked, putting the impossible together. I needed Brax to be rough because I needed to be claimed.

Oh, my God, am I that screwed up?

I followed Brax, in a daze, to the counter and let him put the suitcase on the scales.

“Morning. Tickets and passports, please,” the girl in her smart uniform said.

Fumbling with luggage tags, Brax asked, “Honey, can you give her our tickets? They’re in my back pocket.”

I reached around and pulled out a travel wallet from his baggy jeans pocket. Although twenty-three years old, Brax still dressed like a grungy teenager. I squeezed his butt.

His eyes flashed to mine, frowning.

I forced a bright smile, handing our documentation to the clerk. I didn’t even check where we were headed, too focused on ignoring the twinges of sadness at not being allowed to grope my boyfriend. Maybe I’m too sexual? My fears were right. I was hardwired all wrong.

“Thank you.” The girl’s eyes dropped, showing heavily shadowed lids. Her brown hair, scraped back into a tight bun, looked plastic with so much hair spray. She bit her lip and pulled out a ream of tickets before checking our passports. “Do you want your bags checked all the way through to Cancun?”

Cancun? My heart soared. Wow. Brax outdid himself. I never would’ve thought he’d travel so far from home. I turned and kissed his cheek. “Thank you so much, Brax.”

His face softened as he captured my hand. “You’re welcome. There’s no better way to celebrate our future, than going to a country that values friendship and family.” He leaned closer. “I read that on Sundays, the streets come alive with strangers dancing. Everyone becomes connected by music.”

I couldn’t tear myself from his crisp blue eyes. That was why I loved him, despite not being completely satisfied. Brax suffered the same insecurities. He didn’t have anyone but me. His parents died in a car accident when he turned seventeen; he was an only child.

Brax owned the apartment we lived in, thanks to the life insurance pay out, and his dad’s husky, Blizzard, came with the bargain.

Blizzard and I didn’t see eye to eye, but Brax loved the dog like a tatty teddy-bear. I tolerated the beast, and kept my handbags far from chewing height.

“You’re the best.” I captured his chin, planting a kiss, not caring he was uncomfortable. Hell, the couple beside us were practically dry humping; a peck on the mouth was PG stuff.

The girl sighed across the counter. “Is this your honeymoon? Cancun is amazing. My boyfriend and I went there a few years ago. So hot and fun. And the music is so sexy, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other.”

Images filled my mind of twirling around Brax in a new sexy bikini. Maybe a change of scenery would amplify our lust.

I said, “No, not our honeymoon. Just a celebration.”

Brax grinned, his eyes sparkling.

An idea ran wild. Was this trip special? Was Brax going to propose? I waited for the heart-flipping joy at becoming Mrs. Cliffingstone, but a swell of comfort filled me instead. I would say yes. 

Brax wanted me. Brax was safe. I loved him in my own way—the way that mattered, the long-lasting kind.

Silence descended while the girl tap-tapped her keyboard and printed off our boarding passes. After tagging our bags, she handed everything back. “Your bags are checked all the way to Mexico, but you’ll have a stop in Los Angeles for four hours.” She circled the gate number and time. “Please make your way through immigration, and proceed to the departure lounge. You board at eleven-thirty.”

Brax took the documentation and shouldered his laptop bag. Linking hands with me, he said, “Thank you.”

We headed toward the Passengers Only lounge. We had little over an hour before boarding. I could think of a lot of things we could do in an hour, but I doubted Brax would be into them.

But we were on our way to Mexico. A different country and a different bed awaited us. I could be patient.

I made up my mind, as Brax browsed the tax-free PlayStation games, that tonight would mark a new beginning for us. Goodbye contentment, hello lust. 

Our relationship was going to rip and roar with love and flame. I would make sure of it.

Yes, tonight things would be different.

I needed different.

Tears of Tess

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Genre – Dark New Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-18

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