Authors: rachelle Vaughn
Feeling guilty, Violet squirmed in her seat.
“Look, Phillip, we have some things to talk about. Maybe tonight after dinn—”
Phillip’s phone rang again. “Dr. Krandall,” he answered without giving Violet a second glance. He began moving around the room again and then stopped in front of the window and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“…and the hematuria test? Positive? Yes, I’ll be there right away.” He ended the call and spoke to Violet without looking at her. “That was the hospital. I have to go. I’m needed for an emergency intravenous pyelogram.”
“What about dinner?” Violet asked. Not that she was disappointed. She always found dinner with Phillip’s parents to be as awkward and uncomfortable as a Pap smear. They were snooty people and so
blatantly uppity that she never knew what to say to them. She had the feeling they didn’t think she was nearly good enough for their precious Phillip. And they were probably right.
“I’ll call Mother and bow out,” he said, his voice tight.
“But I don’t want to go by myself,” she whined. The few hours she had to herself in the evenings were precious.
Phillip sighed and came toward her. “Don’t sulk. I’ll inform
Mother of the situation and that neither one of us will be able to attend dinner.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.”
When he bent down, she thought he was leaning in for a kiss, but he was only reaching for his keys on the end table. “Goodbye,” he said.
“Good night,” she said, but Phillip was al
ready out the door.
* * *
Violet lay in bed troubled by the day’s events. Jace had awakened feelings in her that she hadn’t felt in years. She thought she’d been content with working too much and being engaged to a man who didn’t give affection and had the warmth of an Antarctic glacier. But she wasn’t. Too much was missing from her life.
loved the flexible schedule she used to have. She had controlled her hours and could schedule three day weekends whenever she wanted. Before she and Patricia began building up their client list, Violet had taken extended weekends all the time.
That was one of the biggest differences between Violet and Phillip. Violet liked to be in control of her
time and set her own schedule. As opposed to Phillip who was chained to his BlackBerry twenty-four-seven. Always on-call, always working. Violet loved to be spontaneous and take a drive to the coast on a whim. Or spend half the day in bed eating Oreos and watching re-runs on TV. Phillip, on the other hand, rarely took time off for a vacation and when he did, it was to one of his boring conferences and the itinerary was planned right down to the minute. The more Violet thought about it, the less she could find in common with her fiancé. Sure opposites attracted, but Phillip was from a completely different universe.
Now her own schedule was filling up and her life was starting to look a lot more like Phillip’s.
Violet shuddered at the thought of working every minute and having nothing to show for it.
There had to be moments of relaxation and fun and flirting built into each day. If not, then what was the point of it all?
Time was starting to slip away from her. What little time she had when Patricia cut her loose at the end of the day was spent trying to tiptoe around Phillip and his ever-changing moods.
what was missing from her life. Before, she was sure it was financial stability, but that was soon resolved when her client list grew substantially. Now the one thing her life was missing was…someone like Jace.
Her body ached and writhed with need. Need she
had been content to ignore until Jace had snatched away her self-control. His eyes had practically undressed her at every opportunity. She hadn’t been embarrassed or ashamed, she’d only wanted
. Her legs drifted apart under the sheets and she rested her palm on her abdomen.
. She wouldn’t give in. She wouldn’t touch herself when all she wanted was to be touched by a man. She wouldn’t settle for the disappointing substitute of her fingers drumming over her aching clit.
he’d been suppressing her sensuality for so long. Trying to focus on what really mattered. Her career. Her obligations to her family. But didn’t sex matter too? Sometimes the world even seemed to revolve around it.
She thought about Jace’s beautifully honed body with sculpted muscles.
The way he’d looked at her like she was the only woman on earth. The way his voice rumbled deep in his chest when he laughed.
Giving in to her body’s needs,
Violet sighed and slid her hand between her thighs.
Two days later, in
a rare blissful moment between appointments, Violet lounged in a chair in the Healing Touch office while Patricia poured over the books. The office was small, but immaculate. Not even a paper clip was out of place. Patricia was always organized, but Violet could tell something was wrong by the perturbed look on her partner’s face.
“What’s up, Pats? You’ve straightened that same piece of paper five times already.”
Patricia sighed and looked up from the desk. She fiddled with the cap on her pen and finally spoke after a long sigh. “Carter saw Dennie’s truck circling his school this morning.”
Violet sat up straight, her eyes wide. “What happened? Did something happen?”
Patricia sighed again. “No, nothing happened. By the time a patrol car showed up, Dennie was long gone.”
Yeah. He was pretty proud of himself for spotting the truck. He knows that Dennie is a just bad man who the police want to talk to.”
Violet reached over and patted Patricia’s hand. “It’ll be okay, Pats. Carter did the right thing by telling his teacher.
He’s a good boy.”
Patricia’s eyes glittered with a mother’s love.
“Yes, he is. It’s too bad his dad and I couldn’t work things out.” She glanced at her watch and jumped up. “Shoot, I’ve got to go. I have an appointment.”
Patricia shoved her purse strap over her shoulder and
waved a piece of paper in front of Violet’s face. “Making out-call massage sessions was one of the best decisions we ever made.”
“Why don’t you call them what they really are?
“Because it sounds more professional this way.”
Violet frowned. “Wait, I thought you usually gave
the housecalls, er
“I do, but when it comes to celebrities, I have to make exceptions. You have an appointment coming in anyway.”
“Celebrity?” Since when did they have any celebrity clients?
“Hockey players are
considered celebrities in this town.”
It was true. LA had movie stars and television personalities and Red Valley had the Razors.
“Which one?” Violet asked. Her stomach did a flip-flop at the thought of massaging Jace again. Despite taking matters into her own, ahem,
the other night, the craving still remained.
Well, it looks like I get to see your hot, hunky hockey player again.”
Violet’s jaw dropped.
“Seriously?” Her voice raised an octave. “You’re going to his
“Yup,” Patricia answered smugly. “Hence the word
. Turns out, Jace McQuaid has a cabin out on August Lake.”
Oh, Violet remembered
that from her ride to the gas station with him, all right. She sighed wistfully. The word “cabin” conjured up images of evening romps on a bearskin rug in front of a blazing fire. Cuddling naked under a patchwork quilt on a knotty pine framed bed, feeding each other roasted marshmallows and licking the sticky sweetness off each other’s fingers…
got up, planted her hands on her hips and blocked Patricia’s path to the door. “Trade appointments with me.”
Patricia made a face and clutched the paper
with Jace’s information protectively to her chest. “Uh-uh,” she shook her head. “No way.”
Violet chewed on her lip, contemplating a bargaining chip. “What if I take Mr. Molinari for the next…
Mr. Molinari was a regular client they always complained about massaging because of his ultra-hairy back and shoulders. He was a bit of a chatterbox, too, and had a habit of talking your ear off by the time the session was over. Violet
cringed at the thought of all of that back hair getting matted up in the oil.
Patricia cocked her head to the side. “Wow, Vi, you must be losing your mind. Do you know what kin
d of trade you’re offering?”
,” Violet answered confidently. “Now, please, please,
let me go in your place.”
Patricia’s brows knit together. “You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”
Patricia raised a brow.
“What makes you want to see him again so badly?”
Violet shrugged, keeping her poker face firmly in place.
“Only the fact that I can use deep tissue massage techniques without worrying he’ll shatter into a million frail pieces.”
! Thanks to some quick thinking, she actually sounded convincing. Patricia would never let Violet go in her place if she knew the
“Well, all right,” Patric
ia relented after what seemed like an eternity.
With a smug smile, Violet snatched the piece of paper out of her hand.
Hump Day had never looked so promising.
* * *
Violet gripped the steering wheel and breathed deeply. She knew she was going to have to reel in her lascivious thoughts. Pronto. This visit was strictly business, no matter what kind of attraction she
she felt toward Jace McQuaid earlier that week.
. She couldn’t afford to forget that.
minutes north on the interstate later, with Patricia’s scribbled directions in hand, Violet navigated her way through the sleepy, historic town of August Lake. She had a full tank of gas and absolutely no handle on her raging libido. The full tank was good. The libido was very, very bad.
Patricia and Violet didn’t normally travel too far out of the city limits for house calls
or “out-call massage sessions,” but exceptions were made for professional hockey players who could potentially bring in big business and who potentially made the knees weak of one said massage therapist.
Violet wished she’d been there to take
Jace’s call when he’d switched the locations of the appointment. He probably had a great phone voice, too.
Unfortunately, Patricia had insisted that
Violet put the office phone number on her business cards instead of her cell so that Patricia could remain in charge of all appointments. Control freak.
Once past the lone auto shop, bank, supermarket and a few mom and pop stores, the road curved and started winding its way to
ward the lake. Manzanita bushes with their twisted branches grabbed at her car and Violet took the turns with extra care. When it finally came into view, August Lake’s blue water was surrounded by a red clay shore and every kind of oak, pine, and fir tree indigenous to California.
Violet had good memories of this place.
Growing up, she and her family had vacationed at the lake all the time. Her parents would rent a houseboat for a week in the summer and they’d all swim, fish and barbeque to their hearts’ content. She and her brothers would do cannonballs into the water from the boat and they’d return home with fabulous tans and sun-streaked hair. Those were the days. Before they grew up and became drudges to their jobs and respective lives. Everything had been simpler then. Now that Violet was working more than ever, she hadn’t been out to the lake in years. She hadn’t been anywhere that wasn’t a housecall and that was downright depressing.
In fear of missing her turn,
Violet switched her focus back to the road. Snow clung to tree branches where the sunlight didn’t reach and eventually the road curved, causing her to lose sight of the lake.
She looked at the directions and
deciphered the next left turn as Old Mountain Trail. So long Boulevards, Streets and even Roads. Nope, this was the part of the county for Trails and Lanes.
Violet chuckled to herself. Here she was miles from civilization in search of hockey’s most gorgeous hunk on a hunch. Had she imagined the sparks that circulated between them?
Had she dreamt the lust he stirred inside her?
After countless miles of twisty mountain road, Violet was almost ready to turn back and call it a day. But she really wanted to see Jace again. Duh, or else she wouldn’t have been willing to be stuck with Mr. Molinari and his hairy back
side for weeks on end. What had she been thinking to make that kind of a trade with Pats? Well, honestly, she’d been thinking of
shoulders and that smooth muscular back and…
Jace’s house had to be somewhere around here. If she had to turn over every pine cone and boulder, Violet would find it. Him or Sasquatch, whichever came first. For the sake of her sanity, she hoped Jace’s house was close.
drove past Highland Ridge Circle, then Lake Forest Road and swerved when she almost hit a squirrel…or maybe it was a chipmunk. What was the difference between the two anyway? Either way, the little creature was small and furry and scampered off into the forest.
“Sorry Alvin!” she
After another mile, Violet gripped the steering wheel tighter and cursed her partner. How was it that everything about Patricia was prim, proper and positively perfect, except for her penmanship
? Pats really should have been a doctor. She already had the handwriting perfected.
Violet scanned the directions again. Patricia’s gobbledygook writing told her to turn right on Aqual Rays Way. Or was it Allgeet Koys Way?
The lush greenery and heavy pine trees had declared war on the street signs, covering them with their thick branches so Violet couldn’t read the signs anyway. She searched for street signs and thought about how that GPS navigational device she was saving for sure would have come in handy right about now.
looked down at the paper again. Was that a
“Does it make a difference
?” she mumbled. The only word she could make out was “way” and that was a stretch. It could have easily been “luau” or “wog,” but Violet was putting her money on “way.”
“All right, August Lake. Show me the “way”!”
Soon, Violet began having serious doubts about her location. She took out her cell phone only to realize she had no reception on the back roads of the Northern California woods. Great. Her tongue-lashing to Patricia would have to wait.
She hadn’t seen a single person since the town of August Lake and even if she did find someone to ask directions
—a yokel old man in a rocking chair on his porch perhaps—what would she say?
“Hi, I’m looking for Airquote Way?
“Could you tell me how to get to Armpit Rags Way?”
“Oh, sure,” he
’d reply. “Just take a left on Hootenanny Boulevard, just before the corner of Picklepuss and Smarmy Streets.”
The wind started to pick up and a handful of white flakes flew into her windshield.
“Is that snow?
” she asked no one in particular. “Oh, no. We’re not in Red Valley anymore, Alvin.”
Up ahead, a street sign came into view
and she leaned forward to get a closer look. Was that a
…wa…way…there it is!” she announced to the trees. August Keys Way. “That
to be it. If not, I’m sure the Search and Rescue team will find me in a day or two.”
She took the turn and w
hen she came around the bend, she saw the lake first—her first up-close glimpse of it anyway—and then she saw the cabin. It sat about a hundred feet from the water, nestled into the tall Ponderosa pines like it was a part of the landscape. August Lake had over 300 miles of shoreline and Jace McQuaid had managed to get his hands on a magnificent piece of it.
So this was the August Keys.
A breathtaking view of Mt. August, lush sprawling landscape and sand beach. This wasn’t Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s cabin. This place was custom to the max.
When Patricia had told her Jace had a house on August Lake, she’d meant
August Lake. The cabin was just steps from the water and August Lake was practically his front yard. There was a boat dock and the most beautiful view Violet had ever seen.
looked for Jace’s SUV but didn’t see it anywhere. It was probably parked inside the three car garage. Yet she didn’t need to see his car or look at the address numbers next to the door to know it was Jace’s cabin. It looked like somewhere he would live. It sort of reminded Violet of him. Big, solid and strong with stone columns in front and composite decking.
It was so peaceful here.
The perfect place to relax and heal from injury.
The perfect place to begin an illicit affair
, she thought wickedly. Was there such a thing as an affair that