Read 9 1/2 Days Online

Authors: Mia Zachary

Tags: #Category

9 1/2 Days (7 page)

T
HE NEXT MORNING
, when she heard soft jazz music begin playing, Jordan groped for the alarm clock. She smacked her hand against a rock-solid biceps instead. Opening her eyes in surprise, she turned her head. David slept beside her. He’d stayed the night this time.
He rolled onto his side, dragging the black cotton bedsheet with him. Puzzled, she stared at the shiny, raised patch of skin that marred his right shoulder. She hadn’t realized he had such terrible scarring. But, then again, she’d only been naked with him once before and she’d never seen him in the light.

David fumbled for the night table and shut off the alarm before rolling onto his back. Normally she hopped right out of bed at six in the morning, eager to start her day with a three-mile run. But this morning she chose to enjoy the unfamiliar pleasure of waking up next to someone. She laid her head on his chest, closed her eyes and snuggled against his side.

Her fantasy had been more successful than she could have dreamed. Maybe pretending to be strangers and allowing their imaginations to take over had been all they needed to open up and explore their sexual relationship. Last night had been so unlike the previous time they’d made love, it was almost like being with a different person.

They’d reached for each other in the darkness, making love again, at times fast and desperate, in other moments slow and tender. She’d lost count of how many times he’d brought her to orgasm. Jordan stretched her arms over her head, basking in the warm glow of satisfaction. Some part of her, long imprisoned, had been set free and she had David to thank for opening the door.

Jordan mentally paged through the
Fifty Fast Fantasies
book, trying to decide which scenario to try out the next time. Maybe Special Deliveryman or Buried Treasure Hunt. She smiled, already making a list of props and outfits for the first one. David would look great in a brown parcel-service uniform.

He sighed in his sleep and tightened his hold around her waist. A glance at the clock had her sighing, as well. It was getting late and she was going to have to share the bathroom. Hmm. Maybe they could save time by sharing the shower. She rubbed her hand back and forth over his chest.

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

David grunted then nuzzled his chin on her forehead as he muttered, “It’s my day off.”

Jordan laughed softly and propped herself up on her elbow. “Well, I guess I could call in sick, but I thought you had to take depositions this morning.”

He startled and his eyes flew open. Then she felt the tension steal into his body as he turned his head to look at her. Confusion tightened his features. Jordan made a comical face, teasing him.

“Did you forget all about the Gregg case?”

She could feel his heart thudding beneath her hand. His expression became somber then he sighed heavily and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, a shadow had entered his gaze. His voice was quiet, remorseful.

“I’m not David. I’m Danny.”

6
H
ER HEART SKIPPED
several beats, trying to regain its rhythm. Icy fingers crept along her skin and suddenly she felt violently ill.
Danny. Not David. Danny.
Jordan twisted away from him, throwing away the sheet as she scrambled off the bed.
Omigod. Omigod.

He sat up and called her name, but she was already running down the hallway to the bathroom. She slammed the door and bolted the lock, resting her back against the wood and gasping for breath. She eased over to the porcelain claw-foot tub on jellied legs, settling her naked bottom on the edge.

Omigod. Omigod. Omigod.

She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes and rocked back and forth. Tears clogged her throat and her pulse hammered erratically. This had to be the most humiliating thing that had ever happened to her, if you didn’t count the disastrous prom date her cousin Keisha had set up back in high school.

A soft knock sounded. “Jordan. Let me in.”

“No.”

“Then will you come out?”

“No.”

She heard his grunt of frustration through the door. “You can’t stay in there forever.”

“Yes, I can.”

She dropped her hands, pounding her fists against her thighs. No, she couldn’t. Grabbing her bathrobe from the hook on the wall, she slipped it on before unlocking the door. David/Danny had been leaning on the door frame, but stepped back to let her pass. She glanced down long enough to see that he’d pulled on his boxer briefs. But his magnificent chest was still bare. His bare chest reminded her of last night.

“Can we please talk about this?”

“No!” She yelled over her shoulder as she stomped down the hall.

“Jordan.”

Danny grasped her elbow, forcing her to stop. She drew in a ragged breath to keep her stomach where it belonged. This was unbelievable and he didn’t seem to grasp the enormity of the situation. She looked at him, at the face that was identical to the one she thought she’d see this morning.

“You don’t understand. I had
sex
with a
total
stranger.”

His brows drew together. “Wasn’t that the idea of the fantasy?”

“Yes, but you’re the wrong stranger!”

H
ER WORDS HAD
all of the power of a slap in the face. Danny dropped her arm and watched her go into the bedroom.
What the hell was happening? It felt as if a lead weight was crushing his chest and that wasn’t like him at all. He set the rules of his relationships, making sure things stayed nice and easy. He never got emotionally involved. And he wasn’t involved now. It was just an ego thing. Jordan had no idea who he really was when she’d met him outside his brother’s condo.

She hadn’t wanted
him.

He knew his anger and a disappointment was unreasonable but, damn it, he’d felt something for her last night. Her vulnerability and fear had touched a place inside him that he hadn’t known existed. Instead of enjoying the sex for its own sake, he’d found himself wanting to protect and reassure her. The intensity of his feelings scared the hell out of him and the sooner he got over it the better.

He followed Jordan down the hallway.

“I can’t believe this! At least I thought I was kidnapping my ex-boyfriend.”

She was standing in front of her dresser trying to put on a bra without taking off her robe. One terrycloth arm flopped against her side as she wiggled into the straps. He caught a glimpse of the swell of her breast through the gap at the neckline when she turned to him.

“What’s your excuse, Danny? Do you normally go home with women you don’t know? Never mind. Don’t answer that.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and adapted a reasonable tone. “But I did know you. Since I recognized you at the St. Charles Hotel, I thought you’d realized—”

“Omigod.” Jordan started to hyperventilate and the color drained from her complexion. She strode across the room away from him then her legs seemed to melt beneath her. Concerned, he went to her as she sank onto the little divan by the window. “That was you. It was you in the elevator. Omigod. I didn’t think anyone would ever know about that.”

Danny crouched down beside her and took her hand. Then he felt something under his knee. When he shifted, he saw a book lying on the thick beige carpet. He didn’t bother trying to read the small print. The title,
Fifty Fast Fantasies,
said it all. He wondered if any of them involved elevators.

He returned his attention to Jordan. The harsh sunlight streaming through the window made her look even paler. Without letting on what he was doing, he checked her pulse with his thumb. “I’m confused. You told me you couldn’t stop thinking about last weekend, about the way we left things unfinished.”

“But that wasn’t what I meant.” She wouldn’t meet his eye, staring instead at his bare chest. Then she pulled her hand from his grasp and massaged her temples. “Omigod. I can’t believe this is happening.”

He sat back on his heels, careful not to touch her, but letting his voice slide into an intimate tone. “I haven’t been able to forget it, either. Before last night, I would have said it was the most incredible thing that ever happened to me. After I recognized you, I was upset at first—”

“Upset?” Jordan jumped to her feet and swept past him. “I feel like I cheated on my boyfriend. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I cheated with his brother!”

Danny stood up and went over to grab his T-shirt off the floor by the foot of the bed. He noticed for the first time that the black bedsheets didn’t really go with the rose-colored scheme of the rest of the room. “David told me you two split up. So there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Yes, we did. But I thought we could get back together temporarily. Why do you think I went to all this trouble to seduce him?”

Danny paused in the act of pulling on his shirt, then continued to slip it over his head. He watched her fling open the closet door, then rifle through the contents. All of her clothes were arranged by color, dark to light, then long to short. A woman that organized must hate to make mistakes.

He scrubbed a hand over his face and wondered what to say. She considered and rejected several outfits, finally choosing a white V-necked blouse and dove-gray business suit. He took a couple of steps toward her then stopped, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “This is really awkward…”

She scowled at him over her shoulder while she knelt down to pick out shoes. “No kidding.”

“Last night you said you knew about David. You said, quote, ‘I know all about your brother,’ unquote.”

“That’s because I thought he was talking about you again, but it was you talking about you. I mean, about him. Argh!”

What had David been saying to Jordan about him? Why? Never mind. It could wait.

“I’m sorry, Jordan. I thought you knew.”

She stood up and slowly turned toward him. “Knew what? Why do you sound so strange?”

This was a hell of a mess. He felt terrible about betraying his brother’s confidence, but at the same time he resented being the bearer of embarrassing news. “Jordan, David is gay.”

The clothes draped over her arm slipped onto the floor as she stared at him. Though her mouth fell open, no words escaped. Her face was absolutely expressionless, but her eyes had taken on a sheen of wetness. Suddenly, she stooped down to pick up her suit and blouse, her movements jerky.

“I’m really late for work. I can’t talk about this now.” Her voice sounded thin as she shoved the gray suit back into the closet. “I’ve got to get to the office so I can leave early and go to the airport. I have to pick up my family.” She pulled out a bright blue pants suit instead and tossed it on the bed. “Then I have to figure out how to explain to them that my whole engagement was a fraud.”

Danny’s eyes darted to her hands, to the emerald ring on her right hand…and the diamond solitaire on her left. He cursed viciously under his breath, really damned unhappy with his brother right now. He looked at Jordan’s face again and felt something twist inside his chest. He reached for her, but she shifted away. Her light brown eyes were rimmed with tears and her expression was bleak.

“Get dressed, Danny, and please go.”

He shoved his fists into the pockets of his sweatpants to keep from reaching for her again. “I can’t.”

“Excuse me?”

He frowned, no happier about the situation than she was. “You kidnapped me, remember? My car is still at David’s.”

T
HE SILENCE
in Jordan’s car as she drove to David’s condo was like an unwelcome third passenger. Annoying and awkward. But it was preferable to dealing with the situation before she’d had time to think about everything.
Danny cleared his throat. “Jordan, we should talk.”

“I don’t want to talk.”

“Avoiding me doesn’t solve anything.”

She continued to stare straight ahead, frowning as she drove. Couldn’t he just leave her alone? She felt humiliated enough without rehashing every detail.

Danny kept talking. “I know you’re upset about what happened, but I think we can—”

She checked her rearview mirror for traffic, then stomped on the brake. Danny jerked forward before the safety belt slapped him back against the seat.

“I
do not
want to talk about this, Danny. You’re more than welcome to walk the rest of the way.”

He held up both palms in acquiescence so she put the car in gear and started off again. He crossed his arms over his chest and glowered out the window for the next few blocks, but apparently the silence got to him.

“You’re being unreasonable, Jordan. You made an honest mistake. No one’s going to hold that against you, least of all me.”

She jerked the steering wheel toward the curb and hit the brakes again. Ignoring the blare of horns behind her, she twisted in her seat toward him and pointed. “Out.”

“Oh, come on. Let’s be adult about this, okay? We had sex. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, I thought it was pretty damned good.”

“Out!”

Danny returned her glare for a moment then scowled. “Fine. You don’t want to talk, we won’t talk.”

“Thank you.”

Having finally gotten the message, he stayed quiet for the rest of the ten-minute ride. He made one last effort before he closed the door to the Honda.

“Can I call you later?”

“What for?”

Danny just looked at her for a moment, then nodded his head and got out of the car. She pressed the automatic door locks and sped off. When she glanced into the rearview mirror, Jordan saw him standing on the sidewalk, watching her leave.

She managed to get to the law firm only a half hour late. She pushed through the glass double doors to Chase, Behr’s lobby, her heels clicking on the polished slate tiles. The receptionist greeted her with a thorough once-over and a raised eyebrow.

“Whatever it is, it must be bad.”

She stopped, taken aback by the amused tone of voice, and looked at Charlie. “What makes you say that?”

“Honey, look at you. I’ve never seen you in a ponytail before.”

Jordan smoothed a hand over her hair. “I was running late.”

“Okay, that explains the lack of eyeliner or lipstick, but your suit jacket is buttoned wrong and you’re wearing two different shoes.”

Jordan dropped her focus and, in the harsh glare of the fluorescent lighting, saw that one pump was indeed black and the other was navy. Damn. It was a good thing she didn’t have a court appearance.

“I was sort of distracted this morning.”

Charlie nodded sagely. “I’ll say.”

Jordan fixed the buttons on her turquoise jacket as she continued through the lobby past the conference rooms. After dumping her briefcase by her desk and changing into the extra pair of black shoes she kept in the file cabinet, she headed straight for David’s office on the other side of the building.

He looked up as she barreled into the room. “Hey, good morning—”

“No, it really isn’t. Why didn’t you tell me, David?” She closed the door to give them some privacy. “Why didn’t you tell me that you’re gay?”

He put down his pen and set the papers he was working on aside. “So you did know.”

“Not until this morning.”

His brows drew together. “How did you find out?”

“Never mind that right now.” Jordan sank into one of the guest chairs across from him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

David rubbed a hand over his face. “I needed time to sort out how I feel about everything. Us, the partnership, my future. I swear, though, I never meant to lead you on or hurt you.”

“But I am hurt. You lied to me.”

“I was lying to myself, about how I feel and who I am. I care about you more than any woman I’ve ever known. You’re a good friend and a wonderful person and I thought I could make it work.”

There was no doubting the sincerity in his voice, the remorse in his eyes. Jordan sighed and offered him a little smile. “I guess this explains a lot. We’ve been together for almost a year and all this time I blamed myself for the lack of intimacy.”

David stood up and came around the desk. “I’m so sorry, Jordan. It never occurred to me that you would think it was anything but
my
fault.” He reached for her hand. “After that one night we were together, I realized I couldn’t keep denying my homosexuality, that it wouldn’t be fair to keep dating you. Can you forgive me?”

“Of course, I do.” Jordan stood up to return his hug. “In the back of my mind, I must have suspected, because as much as I care about you, I knew something was missing.”

David let her go and sat down in the other guest chair. “So, what happened this morning?”

She gave an exaggerated sigh while rolling her eyes. “I’ve got to start listening to that little voice in my head. Then the whole seduction idea could have been avoided.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not going to believe what I’ve done, David. It all started when I came up with this grand scheme to seduce you into doing me a favor.”

He stared at her with a bemused expression. “What was the favor?”

“My family thinks we’re getting married. When I picked out this ring, I let them think it was for an engagement instead of a birthday present.”

“We had the same idea in mind. I figured if the partners thought we were engaged…”

“Exactly. We both had an image we wanted to maintain. Well, the problem is, my family’s arriving today for the week leading up to my grandparents’ anniversary party. And they all expect to meet my fiancé.”

“That’s not a problem. I can leave the office early a few nights this coming week. But I already have a trip scheduled for the weekend. Can you tell them I’m out of town on business until Monday night?”

“Oh, David. Thank you! It will just be for a couple of dinners and the anniversary party. Then a week or so later, I’ll tell them we broke up.”

“Okay, give me a copy of the schedule and I’ll do what I can.” He smiled at her. “See, you didn’t have to seduce me after all. And I think we both would have felt pretty awkward if you had.”

“Actually, what I feel is humiliated. Because I did go through with my plan. Only… I, um, kidnapped your brother by mistake.”

“What?” David choked out a sputtering half-chuckle.

Jordan twisted her mouth in annoyance. “Go ahead and laugh. I’m glad one of us can.”

David settled back in his chair. “This ought to be good.”

Haltingly and with some embarrassment, she explained to him about the night before. She left out the more intimate details, though, and said nothing about the elevator or about how she felt about the whole situation. She hadn’t sorted that out yet.

David grinned at her. “So you and my brother really hit it off? Didn’t I tell you you should get together with him?”

“Get together, yes, for coffee or maybe dinner. Not an all-night session of—” Jordan broke off abruptly.

“The sex was really hot, huh?” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“You can’t embarrass me any more than I already am, so don’t bother trying.” She crossed her arms and glared at him.

Just then the telephone rang. He excused himself and reached across his desk to answer it. “David Navarro… Hey, Dan. Perfect timing.”

Her eyes widened, then she vigorously shook her head.

“Yeah, I talked to Jordan. I told her the truth and she forgave me. What’s that? Hang on.” He held his palm over the receiver. “Do you want to talk to him?”

She jumped to her feet, mouthing the word
no
and waving both hands in front of her as she backed toward the exit. David had a funny little smile on his face as he watched her retreat. He spoke into the phone again as she yanked the door open.

“Sorry, bro. My secretary was just reminding me about a meeting this afternoon.”

She fled back to her own office before she overheard anything more.

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