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Authors: rachelle Vaughn

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BOOK: Razors Ice 04 - Hot Ice
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They’d never even slept together.
That was the real shocker. Phillip had insisted he wanted to wait until after they were married. What thirty-something-year-old man who wasn’t even a virgin in the first place waited until marriage to have sex?

Their relationship was
about as romantic as a business arrangement. Then again, Violet wasn’t even asking for romance. Some passion might be nice. Yeah, passion. Some can’t-wait-to-kiss, gotta-have-you-right-now sort of passion. She almost laughed out loud at the thought of Phillip being passionate. She couldn’t even get him to kiss her on the lips or hold her hand for goodness sake. Passion. What a joke.

Violet tucked the ring back in its box and climbed
back into bed.

The
phone rang and it was a nice distraction from the gloomy thoughts swirling around in her head.

When she answered, Jeremy’s voice crackled in her ear.
“Did I wake you?” her brother asked worriedly.

“No, I was awake
,” she told him. Awake and pondering every decision she’d ever made in her life.


I have no idea what time it is there,” he admitted. “I’m calling from the tour bus and I don’t even know what time zone we’re in.”

Ah, the life of a
rock star.

It might be nice to hitch a ride on a tour bus and get away from it all, but it wasn’t something
Violet would want to do permanently.

She
laughed and burrowed deeper under the covers. “It doesn’t matter. It’s just nice to hear your voice.”

“I miss you guys so much,
Eyelet.”


I miss you, too.” She bit back a wave of emotion. “How are the shows going?”

“Awesome. It’s the most amazing thing
,” he said, his voice full of wonder. “I can’t even describe it. We’re playing on the same stages as The Stones and U2 and everyone knows the words to our songs. Everyone sings along at every show. It’s crazy.”

Violet
smiled. Her brother’s band’s colossal success had been so quick and so massive that it had taken everyone by surprise. They’d all wanted Crush 21 to do well, but no one could have expected such overwhelming success to follow. It would take a long time, if ever, for it to sink in.

“Just don’t let it go to your head,” she joked.
Jeremy was the most humble of the James’ and she knew he appreciated every moment he had onstage.

He laughed. “Never gonna happen.”

“So, how’s life on the road?”


Grueling. I’m homesick,” he admitted. “Waking up in a different town every night is weird.”

It was a strange existence, but w
hen Violet thought about it, she supposed she wouldn’t mind going on the road for a while and distancing herself from her mother’s incessant nagging.

“You remember April?”
Jeremy asked.

“Yeah.”

“We started e-mailing each other.”

“Good. Then maybe you can get married and give Mom what she wants and take
some of the pressure off me. You know she has you and Cass living happily ever after together?”

“Cass?” he sputtered. “Not gonna happen
.”

“I know. I told her that
, but she’s already designing the wedding dress and picking out flowers.”

“Jeez, Violet.
Is it that bad?”

“You have no idea.”

“Well, don’t let her pressure you into something you don’t want, okay? She can’t help it. The woman was born to have grandchildren.”

“Thanks, Jer.”

Violet chatted with her brother for a while and then she finally drifted off to sleep to the sound of hockey highlights on TV.

* * *

The next morning, Violet got ready for work and sorted through the pile of mail on the kitchen counter. Bill, credit card bill, electric bill, credit card bill…

She
ripped open the envelope on top and scanned the statement with a frown.

The Palace H
otel in San Francisco, brunch at the Garden Court Restaurant…

She hadn’t made any of these charges. She looked up at the
address and Phillip’s name was typed at the top. Crap. She’d opened Phillip’s mail by accident.

She tossed the statement on the counter and then snatched it up again.

Wait.
San Francisco
? The conference he’d gone to last month had been in Sacramento. Or at least he’d
told
her it had been anyway.

No, s
he vividly remembered that it was Sacramento because she thought about how it would be fun to go with him and walk through historic downtown and visit the museums and shops.

Like she cared about where his boring conferences were. Why lie about the city? What had he been doing in San Francisco?
And who?

She tapped the corner of the envelope on the counter and let a variety of scenarios run rampant through her mind.

Well, well, well. It looked like Phillip was enjoying some dishonest extracurricular activities of his own.

Violet tossed the statement on the table and left for work
with the beginning of a headache nudging the back of her skull.

 

Chapter Six

Knead Me

 

At Healing Touch, Patricia greeted Violet with a cheery “Good morning!”


Mornin’,” Violet mumbled in return and stripped off her windbreaker.

If Phillip was cheating on her
then Violet didn’t want to know about it. She’d keep the wool firmly pulled down over her eyes and go along like everything was the same. Too bad she didn’t want the same old same old anymore. After meeting Jace, she was reminded of all the things in life she was missing out on. She’d been perfectly fine with her life before that damn hockey player came along and stirred things up. Or had she? And why should she settle for
fine
? Phillip was obviously living it up in San Francisco, eating expensive dinners and staying in fancy hotel suites. Fine. Good for him.

Except
Violet didn’t want
things
. Good old fashioned experiences were what she wanted. Looking into a man’s eyes and knowing he was looking at her the exact same way she was looking at him. Lying in bed and talking until the sun came up because you were too absorbed in each other and lost track of time. Laughing so hard your sides and cheeks hurt. Sheesh. She hadn’t experienced
any
of those things with Phillip. Not in the time they’d been engaged or in all the years she’d known him before that.

Patricia’s voice startled her and Violet whipped around.
“How are you and Phillip?” her partner asked. “You never talk about him.”

It was true. What was there to say about him? He spent a mystery weekend in San
Francisco without me last month? He treats me like a doormat and I let him because of a promise I made to him? He thinks he’s fooling everyone, but soon everyone else will catch on?

“Don’t have time to chat,” Violet answered abruptly. “I’ve go
t Molinari comin’ in and I don’t want to keep him waiting.”

* * *

By the time she finished her appointments, Violet barely had time to run home and shower before she had to be at Jace’s for his housecall.

Violet knew she had to keep a grip on herself or else she’d end up gripped around Jace and his hard body. Every time she thought about how close she came to kissing him, a shiver trembled through her body.

Oh, for heaven’s sake, she’d practically thrown herself at him the other day. She’d come
this
close to kissing him. What guarantee did she have that it wouldn’t happen again?

There was none.

Guarantees aside, she did have a handful of reasons not to pursue anything with Jace. The biggest one was currently tucked inside a box in her underwear drawer.

Another reason was personal and close to her heart.
This wasn’t the example her parents had set for her. If they could remain faithful to each other for three decades then Violet could remain faithful through her engagement even if it did seem like an eternity.

By the time she turned onto her street, all logical thought escaped her and Violet was debating whether or not to wear her
lacy bra and panties underneath her uniform. She didn’t necessarily plan on showing Jace her underwear, but if he just happened to catch a glimpse of it, he wouldn’t be disappointed.

Sexy underwear?
No
, the logical side of her brain protested.
Yes
, the fun side answered.

Why not?
Kisses often led to other things, didn’t they?
No, no, no
, she argued. There weren’t going to be any kisses or lacy underthings or anything at all.

When Violet pulled into her driveway, the last thing she expected to see was Phillip’s car parked on the
street in front of their house. Her subconscious argument was forgotten and Violet found her fiancé in the bedroom folding clothes into a suitcase.

Violet leaned against the
doorjamb and turned the keys around on her keychain. “How are you?” she asked, unsure of what else to say.

“I’m well. And you?”

“Fine,” she said flatly. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I’m just packing. I’ll be at the Urologist Conference in Sacramento all next week.”

“Oh. Are you sure it’s in Sacramento and not San Francisco?” she snapped.

His brow furrowed
and somehow his nose became pointier. “Of course I’m sure. When I get back, I’ll be staying at the apartment in town for a while.”

“Is everything okay?”
She’d come back to the subject of how he liked to swap cities on her in a minute.

“Of course.
I just need to be closer to the office. Mother invited us to a dinner party on Saturday in two weeks. Will you be able to attend?”


Maybe.” It wasn’t Violet’s ideal way to spend a Saturday, but lately it was the only way to spend any time with Phillip. And time was what she needed more than ever. Ever since Jace came into the picture, Violet didn’t know which direction was up. Maybe if she could just have one productive conversation with Phillip she’d regain the perspective she needed.

“Let me know if you are unavailable. I need to RSVP to mother.”

Really, Phillip?
Violet wanted to say.
You really have to RSVP to your own mother? Give me a freakin’ break.

“And you haven’t forgotten about the
hospital fundraiser, have you?”

Violet sighed.
He sounded like a father addressing a child. “No.” As Phillip’s fiancé, attending the annual event was one of her duties.

“There are some things we need to talk about before you go.” She glanced at the clock. She’d be cutting it close to Jace’s appointment, but this was important.
“Specifically about the mail on the counter.”

Phillip
closed the suitcase and carried it towards the door. “We’ll talk when I get back.”

She moved to block his path but
he pushed passed her. “I don’t want to wait, Phillip. We really need to talk
now
.”

“I have to go.”

She grabbed the credit card statement from the counter and waved it at him. “You told me you went to Sacramento, but this says San Francisco.”

“Sacramento and San Francisco, they’re easily confused.” He grabbed the statement from her and strode to
ward the front door.

Before she could argue, Phillip walked out and
let the door slam behind him.

Violet stared at the door, her mouth gaping open. Once again, Phillip had steamrolled her and then fled the scene without even letting her get a word in edgewise.

What was it that she’d come home for again? Oh, right. Now she remembered.

Sexy
underwear.

* * *

The drive to Jace’s cabin was easier the second time. The street signs were more legible except for the light snow falling, threatening to cover them up again. It must have snowed more in the last couple of days because banks of dirty snow were piled high alongside the road. However beautiful the scenery was, Violet didn’t see it because she was busy with her inner dialogue.

The entire ride
to August Lake she argued with herself the pros and cons of having an affair. If she was meant to be with Phillip then it would be one last weekend of passion before she locked herself into a loveless marriage. Why couldn’t she indulge in one little fling?

When she
finally reached the cabin and parked her car, Violet had firmly decided that no matter what kind of issues she had with Phillip, being unfaithful wasn’t the answer.

When
Jace greeted her at the door, he made no mention of what happened, or more importantly what had
almost
happened the other day and then excused himself to take a shower.

He had been working out again and a light sheen of sweat covered his magnificent body. For a brief moment, Violet wished she could be so dedicated to something, but her jam-packed schedule never allowed for time at the gym.

One flash of his smile and the sinful shiver was back to plague Violet’s body. Thoughts of Phillip and his shady soiree in San Fran rolled away like the fog in the bay and Violet hauled her table inside.

A fire
burned in the stone fireplace and it crackled with glowing warmth. Outside, snowflakes fluttered down from the sky, turning the ground white. It was like a scene from a movie, or better yet the perfect mountain getaway for two. A retreat where two lovers could go to escape the bustling life of the city…

While Jace was in the shower, Violet squared her shoulders
in determination and set up her table. The massage table she used to make a living. As a
professional
massage therapist. It was her
job
and her
business
. And she was professional. And Jace was a client.
Client
.

Right?

Right
.

When she heard the shower shut off, Violet’s professionalism circled right down the drain and she gripped her fingers around the edge of the table.
Once more she had willingly gone inside the lion’s den and all she was armed with was fragranced oil, a thirty-pound massage table and wavering self-control.

After a few
slow deep breaths, Violet was ready to be the professional that she was. No more messing around. Jace was a client. She was engaged to Phillip—no matter what he had going on the side. End of story.

“How’s the shoulder?” she asked when
Jace sauntered into the living room wearing only a towel.

God, he was a sight for sore eyes. Like a glistening pool of water in the middle of a scorching hot desert. Or a warm, dry shelter in the middle of a raging storm.

“It’s feeling all right,” he replied and sat down on the table. “After a massage, I’ll ice it and it should be good.”

“Have you been doing your stretching homework?”

“Yes ma’am,” he drawled. “I’m a good student.”

“Good.” She tried to ignore her knees’
weakening reaction to his lip curling into a smirk. Somehow he invaded her personal space without even trying. What was it that she’d been telling herself again? Oh, right. Jace was a
client
.

“With that tightness in your shoulder, it’s important to stretch the pectoralis and subscapularis muscles.
” There. Bore him with medical jargon and physiology mumbo jumbo. That’ll kill the romantic mood. “Stretching will help strengthen the infraspinatus, rhomboids and teres minor muscles,” she continued, trying to sound as professional as possible. That was the ticket. Keep boring him to the point where all naughty thoughts just dried up and scattered away in the wind.

The smirk
quickly disappeared and Jace looked intently at her lips. An involuntary action had her running her tongue over them and his eyes followed the movement.

A primal sound rumbled in his throat.
“When you talk like that…,” he trailed off, letting her imagination finish the sentence.

“You like that?
” she asked softly. “You like it when I talk about infraspinatus and rhomboids?”


Yeah,” he answered. “Talk technical to me, baby.”

She smiled and smoothed a hand over his shoulder. His skin was cool and slick and
instantly warmed under her touch. “Your shot speed and pass precision greatly depend on the strength of your scapula. One of the most commonly overused muscles is the deltoid which is made up of three sets of fibers. Anterior, middle and posterior.”

“You had me at posterior.”

She was standing between his legs again and his hands ran up and down the curve of her waist and hips.

“There’s the
iliac fossa on the interior side of the hip bone. And the piriformis in the gluteal region. Of course, let’s not forget the gluteus maximus, the largest of the three gluteal muscles.”

When she said “gluteus maximus” he cupped her buttocks and gently squeezed.

Just when she thought she’d pulled herself back from the precipice, he was pushing her to the edge again. Her self-control diminished with each touch. The names of the muscles around the pelvis—psoas major and minor—fluttered through Violet’s brain, but she couldn’t bring herself to say them out loud. That would definitely be crossing the line.

Instinct told her to run full speed back toward Red Valley, but she knew
Jace would keep snapping her back to the sleepy little lake town like a rubber band was looped around her waist.

His hands glided back up to her hips and t
he massage was forgotten. Violet tried to remember to breathe. It was hard to remember to inhale and exhale when Jace was looking at her like that. For some reason, she couldn’t think of any more muscles groups. She couldn’t think of any words at all.

Jace
leaned forward and kissed her neck. It was such a delicate kiss that if she didn’t feel his breath on her skin, she might have thought she’d imagined it. She’d been imagining a lot of things lately. The way his hands would feel, roving over her naked skin. The way his tongue would feel, tangled with hers…

BOOK: Razors Ice 04 - Hot Ice
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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