Read Lovers & Liars Online

Authors: Jean C. Joachim

Lovers & Liars (9 page)

Gunther
put one knee on the bed. “You’re sure? I’m not forcing you, seducing you, or
anything. No sexual harassment suit, right?”

“Of
course you’re seducing me.” Wetness pooled between her thighs.

“Not
unwilling?” He climbed up, like a panther approaching an unsuspecting rabbit.

“Don’t
leave me like this.” She squirmed, moving her hips from side to side.

He
loomed over her, his lips inches from hers. “Do you want me?”

“Oh,
God, yes! Yes, please, yes,” she whispered.

His
sexy smile returned. He eased his leg over hers, trapping her beneath him. Raised
up on his knees, he examined her. “All this time, this body was just outside my
door. Damn.”

He
shook his head, making her laugh. Erica put her hands on his arms. She arched
up, demanding more contact. Gunther lowered his mouth to hers and his body to
rest against her.

His
tongue demanded entry. Shifting his weight to his elbows freed up his fingers
to play with the ends of her hair. The heat of his skin on hers drove Erica
wild. She ran her hands over his shoulders and down his to rest on his butt.
His erection wedged between them was rock hard.

“Do
it, do it,” she muttered.

He
chuckled. “You’re not ready.”

“Yes,
I am, I am,” she panted.

“Nope.”
He kissed her jaw then continued to plant small kisses on her neck, working his
way down. “These are…fantastic,” he murmured before placing his mouth over her
peak. Erica arched up off the bed as he sucked hard then licked. Gunther took
his time, memorizing every nook and cranny of her with his fingertips. He closed
his fingers around her breasts, kissing between them, then turning to lavish
attention on each one.

Erica
was panting as he kissed his way down her body. He nudged her legs apart with
one knee, then curled his long, strong fingers around her thigh and opened her.
Resting against his calves, he bent to kiss the inside of her leg then did the
same with the other.

He
looked at her, his gaze fanning her fire as he perused her sex. Before she
could beg him to take her, his fingers caressed her, exploring her moist flesh while
he stared into her eyes. She gasped as his gentle touch found a sensitive spot.

“There?
Good.” He smiled a knowing smile and kept circling his finger.

Erica
closed her eyes and moaned loudly. “
Guuunnnttthhher
.”
All she got was a chuckle in response. Heat spiraled up, growing hotter and
hotter as he stroked. “I can’t hold on,” she breathed.

“Come
for me, doe-eyes,” he whispered.

The
sound of his husky voice put her over the top. Her body exploded, her hips
bucked up off the bed, and she called his name as colored lights flashed behind
her eyes. Her muscles clenched hard then released pleasure all the way to her
toes. Still panting, she opened her eyes.

“You’re
amazing, so…responsive,” he said. He planted a sweet kiss on her lips. “Are you
protected?”

She
shook her head, so he reached down and pulled a condom out of the back pocket
of his jeans. He covered himself quickly and returned to her. She raised her
knees up, but Gunther pulled them open and bent down. The minute his tongue
touched her sensitive flesh, her head fell back.
“Oh my God.
Gunther.”

“You’re
even more beautiful when you’re turned on,” he murmured from between her legs.

“Please,
God, I want you. Gunther. Stop torturing me.”

She
looked into his eyes, which were darkened with passion. “I want you, too, doe-eyes,
want you bad.” He mounted her, rubbing himself gently on her to lubricate a
little, then eased in slowly.

“Been
a long time?” he whispered in her ear, pushing all the way in, filling her
completely.

“How’d
you know?”

“You’re
almost unbearably tight. Geez, God. Amazing,” he uttered, his chest rising and
falling more rapidly with each thrust. Gunther rode her slowly at first, then
faster and harder. With each breath coming quicker, her shallow breathing
almost made her light-headed. She moved her hips in rhythm with his.

Her
hands clutched his shoulders. He pushed up and stared into her eyes.
I love you, Gunther.
Just as the
realization hit her, her body stiffened in another release. She cried out his
name, hearing only a grunt in response. He continued to pound into her until
she heard a loud groan. He uttered her nickname and stopped. With his head
buried in her neck, his body shuddered and sweat broke out on his back.

After
his orgasm, he lay still, resting on her. The sound of his panting was loud.
She caressed his back with her fingertips and kissed his skin. A contentment
she had never felt before settled in her heart.

He
pushed up on his hands, his gaze searching hers.
Do I see a look of love there?
She tried to keep her feelings from
showing, but failed. His sharp stare darted back and forth across her features,
his brow knit in worry.
Does he think I
don’t care? Do I tell him I do?

She
touched him, caressing his stubbly cheek then outlining his lips. His
expression became hooded, and the loving look disappeared. He kissed her then
rose up. Her skin pebbled at the rush of cold air. He headed for the bathroom.
When he returned, Gunther slipped his jeans on commando and sat on the bed.
Erica pulled the coverlet around her, suddenly embarrassed to be naked.

She
reached for his face, but his hand caught her wrist and stopped her.

“That
was phenomenal,” she whispered.

“Great,
great sex.”

“Best
ever for me.”
More than sex for me. Was
it for you?

He
smiled a remote smile. “Good. I’m glad.”

A
drop of disappointment seeped in.
Wasn’t
it more for you, too?

“It’s
late. We have a big day tomorrow.” He yawned and stretched.

Do I stay? Do I go? What do I do?
Fighting awkwardly with the coverlet, she moved to make her escape, dragging it
with her.
He doesn’t want me to stay.
Tears
stung her eyes.
Am I just another Gunther
Quill conquest?
It was late, and exhaustion wiped out her ability to hold
back. As she hopped toward the door, water ran over her cheeks.
Get out of here before he wishes you’d never
come.

“Hey!
Where are you going?” Gunther tugged on her arm.

“I
thought you wanted to be alone,” she said, her head bent.

He
raised her chin, a look of concern on his face. “Waterworks?” She was silent,
not knowing what to say. He ripped the bedspread down and let it fall to the
floor before he folded her into his embrace.

“I
don’t know what to think, Gunther. I don’t sleep with guys randomly.”

“Oh,
doe-eyes. It’s okay. Of course I want you to stay.” He led her back to the bed
and pulled down the comforter.

“Aren’t
you coming?” She chewed her lip at the plaintive sound of her question.

“In
a bit. I’ve got to check a couple of emails first.”

 

* * * *

 

Gunther
retreated to the living room. His habit of burying his emotions in his work
kicked in.
Don’t think about her, the
expression on her face. Is she in love with me? Oh, God.

Shoving
his conflicted thoughts out of his mind, he sat down at the computer. As soon
as the screen appeared, his focus returned. Gunther was all business.

He
opened his messages. “Damn! Someone forgot to get the permits? Fire the
bastard.” He scrolled down one by one to the next four. “Wardrobe ripped, lighting
problems, props go missing. Nothing but problems.” The image of the beautiful
woman in the next room nagged at him. He closed his document, unable to avoid
the biggest of question all—Erica Wheeler.

Gunther
pushed to his feet and went to the window. Running his hand through his hair,
he tried to sort out his feelings. He stared at the lights that lit up the city,
as if they could tell him what to do.
Why
didn’t I have more self-control? I should never have slept with her. Damn. What
do I do now?
He began to pace.
I’m
not falling in love with her. I refuse!

He
searched his mind for reasons to put distance between them, but all he came up
with were memories of the softness of her skin, the way she looked up into his
eyes, and her moans as he made love to her.
That’s
right. Made love. Not screwed. Damn, she was amazing.

He
didn’t want to face her emotions either. One glance at her kisser after he
climaxed, and he knew she was head over heels for him. He recognized that look.
It was the same look Laurel had worn the first time he had made love to her.
And I wasn’t even any good back then.
He
chuckled to himself about the progress of his sexual expertise.
Shit! What am I going to do? She’ll expect
marriage, and I don’t do that. I can’t.

He
hated the pull she had on him, but he couldn’t walk away. Not now, not yet. She
was a real partner in his business. She cared for him and showed it in ways
he’d never seen before.
She’s smart. The
company is going to happen, and I need her.
He began to pace.

I want her. Want her in my company,
want her in my bed.
This new sensation scared him. He’d
never wanted to share his business with anyone. Never cared to take a partner,
until now. When the idea to team up with Max Webster came to him, he had been overjoyed.
It would be brilliant. They’d lock up the best of Broadway for the movies and
the best movies for Broadway.

But
he couldn’t do it alone. Max had a couple of producers working for him as well
as an assistant. Gunther had hired producers freelance when he needed them,
never trusting enough to bring anyone in to work with him. He was afraid they’d
steal his ideas.

But
now he had Erica, and she was dynamite. Smart, hardworking, and totally devoted
to him. He hadn’t intended to trust her, it just happened. Now she was
essential in ways Elsa Marquette never could be. He had been ready to marry
Elsa.
Elsa was business, Erica would be
love. I don’t do love. I can’t. What if something happens to her, like Laurel?
What if she leaves me? I couldn’t handle it. I can’t go through that again.

But
he wasn’t at ease with his decision.
Why
am I even considering marriage? She’s lied to me. Her father is a violent nutcase.
I probably can’t trust her.
For the first time in his life, he couldn’t
figure himself out. And it bugged him. Something was standing in his way,
pushing him toward marriage then hanging back, and he had no idea what it was.

The
thought of her sleeping in the room across the way drove him crazy.
Now she sleeps with me. No questions. Every
night we’re here. But what about when we get home? I’ll deal with that then.
I’m a problem solver. That’s what I do. I make things happen. I’ll figure it
out.

He
stopped pacing and closed down the computer. A lovely young woman was waiting
for him in his bed.
What the hell am I
doing here?
His phone rang. An associate from the West Coast.
Don’t they know what time it is here?
Mumbling
curses, he took the call.

“What’s
the problem, Carl?” Gunther sat back and did what he always did, listened,
analyzed, and came up with a solution. He was the best, and he knew it. And now
he’d hit it big with Max Webster and Erica at his side.
How can I go wrong?

After
hanging up, he tiptoed into the bedroom, undressed, and eased himself down next
to her. Appearing to be only half-awake, Erica cuddled up to him and closed her
arms around his naked body, resting her hand on his chest. He pulled her into
his shoulder and whispered

“Goodnight,
doe-eyes, sleep tight, baby.”

He
kissed her hair. The aroma of pear soap mixed with her scent to create an
intoxicating fragrance. He inhaled deeply then emitted a sigh. His hand cupped
her shoulder and his fingertips caressed her skin. A contented sound came from
her throat, making him smile. He brushed his lips against her forehead.

It
was the eve of the beginning of his great adventure. Having her next to him was
the missing piece of the puzzle.
With
her, I won’t make a mistake.
She muttered something he couldn’t understand
and sank into his warmth. A sense of safety and love surrounded him, bringing
restful sleep.

 
 
 
 

Chapter
Six

 

Erica
ran as fast as her legs could carry her, but her father was gaining on her.
Right behind him was her stepmother, yelling at him, pushing him forward. She
ran past Billy sitting by the side of the road trying to console
Chickie
, who was crying.

Erica
kept running. Her lungs seemed about to burst, and she couldn’t catch her
breath. Suddenly, she sat bolt upright, gasping for air. A hand on her arm
startled her. She twitched and jumped away from the man in the bed with her.
Where am I?

“Let
go. Leave me alone!” she screamed.

A
deep voice answered. “Erica, it’s okay. It’s me.”

“Who
are you? What are you doing here? I’ll hurt you if you get any closer.” She
balled her hands into fists. The room was pitch black.

“Doe-eyes,
it’s me, Gunther. You were dreaming.”

She
took a deep breath and let her eyes adjust to the dark. The shape of the man
next to her became clearer. “Gunther?”

“I’m
here, baby. You were dreaming.”

She
trembled for a moment. “Dreaming?”

“Yeah,
something pretty bad. You were crying and yelling something.” He reached over
and swiped his thumb on her cheek. She touched the other side , surprised to
find wetness there.

“Are
you okay?” He slid over next to her, gently pulling her to him. She hid her face
in his shoulder. As the vivid dream returned to her, she cried against his
warm, smooth skin. Gunther stroked her hair. “Don’t cry, honey. No tears.”

“I’m
sorry. I know you don’t like it, but I can’t help it.”

“Bad
dream, huh?”

“The
worst. My dad. Ugh.”

He
eased her back down on the bed, caressing her neck. She lifted her hand to
touch his face tenderly. She pulled him down for a kiss. He moved his hand down
to her breast.

“Do
you feel like…” he began, but she cut him off, placing her finger on his lips.
Then, she curled her fingers over his hand on her chest and squeezed. He got
the message. “Baby…I want you,” he whispered.

The
only other sound was the rustling of sheets as the lovers repositioned
themselves to make love. Erica stared into the darkness, concentrating on the
sensations Gunther’s lips and hands were creating inside her.
I have no “off” switch. The man touches me,
and I’m ready to rock and roll.
Desire rose in her like a phoenix from the
ashes, consuming her body. She licked his
pecs
,
nipped at his skin, and grasped his erection, sliding her hand up and down.

“Whoa!
Wait a minute.” Then he moaned, dropping his forehead to hers. “God, doe-eyes,
what you do to me.”

She
felt him tremble, and it made her smile.
Guess
I do have some power over you.

Pressing
against him, she parted her legs. He slid his hand up into her wet warmth.
“Erica! You’re ready, babe.” He covered himself with a condom from the
nightstand, rolled onto his back, and gripped her hips with his strong hands,
lifting her. She straddled him as he lowered her slowly. They both moaned
together as he was buried deep inside her.

“Oh,
my God. Gunther.”

“Doe-eyes,”
he murmured.

The
conversation stopped as they moved together, totally in sync, first slowly,
then faster. Gunther massaged her breasts, circling her peaks. Erica threw her
head back and opened her mouth wide to utter his name. He chuckled, but never
broke rhythm. When she could control it no more, a powerful orgasm ripped
through her body, stiffening the muscles before they relaxed, passing pure
pleasure through her veins.

Gunther
pulled her to his chest and rolled them both over. He mounted her and thrust
into her hard and fast. A grunt and a groan signaled his release. He gripped
her tight and stopped. Her name slipped from his lips.

When
he pushed up to hit the john, she rolled over and read the time in big, bright
red numbers.
Three o’clock!
Falling
back on the bed, she giggled.

Gunther
returned. “Hey, it’s three. We’ve got to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be
busy.”

“Just
lunch with Max and Cara.”

“Nope.”
He drew her into his arms. “First, a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman’s and
Henri
Bendel’s
. Then a carriage ride. That joint is
in the park, right?”

“Yep.”

“Good.
By then we’ll be ready to sit down.”

“I
ordered breakfast from room service on that little card. I hope it’s okay.”

“Perfect.
Now sleep.”

Contentment
and a sense of safety mixed with release relaxed Erica, who dozed off, wrapped
in the arms of her lover.

 

* * * *

 

Accustomed
to waking at six, Erica awoke at eight and cursed herself for sleeping in.
The time change.
She adjusted her watch,
slipped her robe on, and left Gunther sleeping. She went to the window and gawked
at the amazing display of fall colors in Central Park. Before she could take it
all in, there was a knock on the door.

Gunther
was still in bed, so she let the man in. Following Erica’s instructions, he
wheeled the cart in right next to the window. She gently woke Gunther, who
signed, told her to take a twenty for a tip, and fell back to sleep.

The
young man’s eyes almost popped out of his head as he pocketed the money and
thanked her profusely. “Please tell your husband thank you, too.”

She
quickly turned away so he couldn’t see the color in her cheeks.
Is this what it would be like to be Mrs.
Gunther Quill? It’s just a fairy tale. Don’t overthink it. Have fun.
She
took her own advice and poured a cup of coffee, peeking under all the metal
domes keeping the food warm.
If he
doesn’t get up, the meal will be cold.

Erica
opened the door and walked quietly into the room.

“Breakfast’s
here,” she whispered, but he didn’t move. “Gunther?” Still, he didn’t move.
Wearing an impish grin, she took a running start and leapt onto the bed,
landing right on top of him. The big
oompf
he uttered told her he was awake.

“Jumping
on me, eh?” His eyes gleamed with mischief as he grabbed her, tickling her and
rolling them around until they fell off, laughing hysterically. He pounced on
her like a graceful panther, pinning her hands to the floor while he ravaged
her mouth.

“Yum.
You taste like coffee. I need coffee. A gallon of coffee.” He let her up,
grabbed his robe, and offered her his hand.

She
poured for him while he perused each plate of food.

“Bacon
and eggs, my favorite. Have you been talking to my mother?”

“Everyone
likes bacon and eggs.”

They
sat quietly, eating and enjoying the view. Gunther tried to point out landmarks
to her.

“How
do you know so much about New York City?” She munched on rye toast.

Gunther
stopped and took a swallow of coffee. A brief cloud passed over his features. “I
lived here once.”

She
arched an eyebrow at him. “Oh? By yourself?”

“I
don’t want to talk about it.” He lifted his cup.

The
mood shifted, Gunther turned surly, and Erica wondered what had happened. She
walked to the window. “It’s beautiful here this time of year.”

“Perfect
timing.”

Erica
drained her cup. She went behind Gunther’s chair and put her hands on his
shoulders. First, she dug her thumbs into his strong, tight muscles, then the
rest of her fingers as she massaged the tension out.

“Oh,
God. That feels good.” He closed his eyes. “That should have been on your resume.
Definitely going to make it a requirement of the next girl.”

“Next
girl? Am I getting fired? And I’m not a ‘girl,’ by the way. In case you haven’t
noticed, I’m a woman.” She dropped her hands and moved toward the cart,
shooting daggers at him. Gunther grabbed her by the waist, pulling her across
his thighs. She struggled.

“Hell,
no, you’re not a girl. You are one
helluva
woman.” He
kissed her. “You’re not fired. Just making a little joke. Lighten up, doe-eyes.”

She
steadied herself with her hands on his shoulders and made a pouty face at him.

Gunther
peeled the lapel of her robe back, exposing one breast. “I like a good view
with my breakfast.”

“But
you have the park…”

“This
is better,” he said, staring at her chest. He lowered his mouth to place a
tender kiss on her flesh. Erica pushed off from his lap.

“No,
no, no…no time for hanky
panky
. We have a schedule,
remember? Finish up.”

He
chuckled, “Slave driver,” and finished his eggs, leaving one final piece of
bacon to chew on.

Erica
poured out the rest of the coffee from the chrome pot and sat back. “This is
heaven. I could live like this forever.”

“Hmm.
Better find a rich husband.”

Erica’s
eyes widened. His words slapped her as surely as if they had been a hand. “Maybe
I’ll make it myself,” she said, making a face at him.

“If
any woman could make this kind of money, it’s you.”

She
softened.
He does believe in me. Wait
until he finds out I’m an actress. Will he encourage me? Or will he hate me?

When
they finished breakfast, Erica headed for the shower. As she finished soaping
up her body, the door opened. She turned. Gunther stood, naked, in all his
glory. Her stare roamed his body like a thirsty woman finding water in the
desert.

“Room
for two?” he asked, stepping closer.

“If
you get in here, we’ll never get to lunch on time.”

Gunther
raised his hands and backed away. “I bow to your schedule, Nurse
Ratched
.”

Erica
chuckled and pulled the curtain back. She finished up quickly, wrapping herself
in the plush bathrobe.

Gunther
knocked then entered. He switched on the water. “Will you scrub my back?” He
shot her a lusty look, but she pushed him away.

“Schedule,
remember?”
Damn that schedule.

He
laughed and turned on the water. Erica went into her room to dry her hair and
dress. She pulled on a black cotton sweater and black jeans. Ankle boots and a
chunky silver bracelet finished off the outfit.
Everyone wears black in New York.

Gunther
was sitting in the living room, also dressed in black. His silk shirt was open
at the neck. Black jeans hugged his slim hips, and his black leather jacket was
folded over his arm. Crisp autumn air and bright sunshine greeted them when
they hit the street. The tony stores were within a few blocks. Erica slipped
her hand into his and matched his stride.

A
personal shopper, provided by the store, took them through Henri
Bendel’s
, a chic, small store with elegant clothes and beyond-her-budget
prices. The lady helped Erica pick out a smashing long gown for the premiere
and after party. She and Gunther agreed the red dress was the best. Erica
almost passed out when she saw the price tag.
Five thousand dollars!

Gunther
added a fistful of silk blouses and half a dozen pairs of pants for her, plus
some men’s shirts. He dropped his
American
Express
card next to the register. The tailor in the store assured him the
hemming of the dress and pants would be finished by four o’clock and delivered
to their hotel. One glance at her watch told Erica there wasn’t time to hit
Bergdorf’s.

Gunther
took her hand, leading her to a horse-drawn carriage on Central Park South. He
helped her up and threw the fleece blanket over her legs. The horse walked
slowly along the road that wound through the park. Erica remarked on the places
they passed, the dairy, the carousel, and the changing leaves with majestic,
historic apartment houses looming high above in the background.

“It’s
beautiful,” she sighed, falling back against the cushioned seat.

“You’re
like a kid in a candy store,” he chuckled.

“Is
that bad?”

“No,
doe-eyes, it’s good.” He kissed her.

The
carriage pulled up in front of Café Limoges. The driver helped them down. Gunther
paid the man, and they went inside. He smiled as he looked around and nodded. “Classy.”

“Would
anything less do?” She cocked an eyebrow at him.

The
maître d’ showed them to a corner table. Max Webster and Cara Brewster were
already there. Max stood up while Gunther made the introductions. Erica’s
confidence flew out the window when she looked at the gorgeous, successful
actress and the well-known producer.
What
the hell am I doing in the company of these powerful people?

She
drew out a small notebook and pen. Mimosas were ordered all around, except for
Erica. “I need to be sober to take notes.”

Other books

The Wild Things by Eggers, Dave
Whatever After #4: Dream On by Mlynowski, Sarah
Speak Ill of the Living by Mark Arsenault
The Heart's Ashes by A. M. Hudson
Werewolf Weekend by B. A. Frade, Stacia Deutsch
Full Moon in Florence by MARTIN, KC
Ian Mackenzie Jeffers The Grey by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers