Conquer Your Love(Surrender Your Love 02)

By: J.C. Reed

Chapter 8





I HAD NEVER been one to deal with emotions easily. My heart was racing, my mind was spinning, and my body was floating in a vacuum as Jett drove me back to the spa. After our conversation and the few unexpected turns it took, I didn’t know what to believe or think and, most importantly, I didn’t know what to say to him when letting my guard down wasn’t an option.

“Thanks for lunch.” My hand hovered on the door handle but something kept me from pulling it open.

“My pleasure,” Jett said softly. His gaze was focused on me, like always, but there was something in his eyes that made me instantly aware of the confined space we were in. He dominated everything: my thoughts, my space, even the air I breathed. My breath hitched. He was too close for comfort and I couldn’t get away fast enough.

“I’m sorry, I have to leave.” Without so much as a glance back I sprinted out of the car, heading for the safety of the spa’s salon.

As I pushed the heavy glass doors open, I could feel his stare burning a hole in my back. Only once I was inside the reception area did I dare stop and take a deep breath, searching for him across the street, but the car had already sped off. I didn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed. Either way, I had to conceal it because Sylvie had the keen eye of a hawk. The second she got suspicious, she’d commence her interrogation.

Luckily for me, Sylvie’s treatment wasn’t finished for another ten minutes. I left a message with the receptionist in case I wouldn’t be back on time and took off down the busy main street, through the gathered crowds of midday shoppers and tourists. Even though my eyes could see them, my brain continued to be occupied. Jett’s statements about the club bothered me. I was ready to take his warnings seriously and investigate his claims. My thoughts circled back to Jett and the fact that the spark was still there.

What did you expect, Stewart?

I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity. The kind of attraction we shared wasn’t likely to go away on its own within a few days. Deep down I had known this all along, and yet I still agreed to have lunch with him.

If you really wanted to move on, you could have done so with someone else—find a rebound, just like Sylvie. But you didn’t. You reserved a place in your heart for Jett, and you don’t want to fill it with someone else. You want him and you need to see if you can take things slowly. You’re ready to chase away the demons of your past and make room for a future with him.

I stopped at a tiny corner café that sold gelato cones and freshly made smoothies, and bought two plastic cups of watermelon frappe before returning to the spa. Sylvie was typing furiously on her phone when I reached her and handed her a cup. Her face was glowing and she seemed relaxed. I breathed out, relieved.

“Ready?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” She pointed at her watermelon frappe and took a sip as we walked out onto the street. “You were right. It was amazing. Such a shame you couldn’t come.”

“Yeah.” I shot her a smile.

“How did it go?”

“Good. The shops kept me busy,” I said. “Wanna grab lunch?”

Her entire expression changed within an instant. “I thought you were supposed to do something for the old man.”

Shoot, I completely forgot about my lie.

“I didn’t find what I came for,” I said, grimacing. “I’ll get it tomorrow. But wait until you see the shops around here. They’re shop-till-you-drop-worthy.”

Shit, I sounded so guilty I might as well stamp the words ‘I’m hiding something’ across my forehead.

“There’s a pizza restaurant not far from here.” Leaving the invitation open, I took a sip of my frappe and directed my vision at the next window display, pretending to admire a pair of what looked like brown riding boots with fringes. From her reflection I could tell she was still watching me with an annoyed frown. I hoped she couldn’t smell fear because my hands had begun to sweat and certainly not from the heat.

“Great. I’m starving,” she said.

Within five minutes, we were seated at a piazza table, sipping water as we contemplated the Italian menu.

“Are you trying to memorize your order?” Sylvie asked me.

“As a matter of fact, I am. Wanna help me?” I smiled and waved the waiter over to get our orders. He jotted it down and then I was alone with her again. My smile froze in place as my mind tried hard to come up with something to talk about, when all I wanted to do was lock myself in my room and obsess about my lunch with Jett.

Sylvie eyed me with a frown. “You’re a little quiet. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. No. I’m having this headache. Must be the heat.” I wasn’t lying. My head was pounding hard and I didn’t know whether it was because of the sun, the tension, or a little bit of everything.

Sylvie opened her bag and fished out a small bottle of aspirin, pushing it across the table. “Take two. We can’t afford you getting sick.”

Literally. I had no job and no health insurance.

“Thanks.” I swallowed two pills and rinsed the bitter aftertaste with a few gulps of water. While Sylvie left to use the restroom, the waiter brought our pizzas. I mouthed a heavily accented ‘grazie’ when the screen of my phone buzzed to life. I checked the caller. The number was private. Almost expecting Jett, I pressed the earpiece to my ear.

“Hello?”

An instant later, the line went dead. I frowned.

“Hey.” Sylvie slumped into her chair and grabbed a slice of pizza. “Who was it?”

“What?”

She took a big bite and pointed at the phone.

I waved my hand. “Wrong number.”

“You get phone calls abroad?”

“Apparently.”

I bit into a slice of pizza and began to chew, my appetite slowly returning as Sylvie resumed her chat about her impressions of Italy and god knows what. Thankfully, she was a bit of an entertainer and never needed much input from me to lead a conversation. As I struggled to listen, my headache improved but didn’t go away, and Sylvie eventually suggested we drive back to the estate.



***



The afternoon sun stood high, raising the temperature by a few more degrees. By the time we made it back it was 5 p.m. and still hot as a desert.

I lay down on my bed as Sylvie changed into her bikini, eager to deepen her tan. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?” She was standing in the middle of my room, slapping half a bottle of sunscreen on her already tanned body.

I shook my head, wincing at the jolts of pain blurring my vision. “No, you go and have fun. I’ll just sleep this off.”

A worried frown appeared on her face. “Want me to get you anything?”

“I’m fine.” I managed a fake smile and shooed her out the door.

“It must be the heat. If you need anything, just call.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” I whispered, leaning back against the cool satin sheets. Sylvie was right. I most certainly wasn’t accustomed to the Italian weather. In the silence and the serenity of this place, my dizziness slowly cleared until I felt confident enough to stand.

I pulled the brocade curtains aside. The sun was setting in countless shades of orange and copper streaking the evening sky. From the distance, I could make out Sylvie’s naked legs on an outdoor lounger facing the lake, her face obscured by a huge straw hat. Shrugging out of my skirt and into a pair of jeans, I figured I could either join her or do what I’d been waiting to do ever since Jett told me about the club. If it was the truth, there had to be some evidence somewhere.

This was my opportunity. I walked down the stairs, passed the kitchen and the living room, reached the door to the backyard, and stepped out into the fragrant evening air. My heart began to hammer against my ribcage, which was silly. The property was built on a hill, surrounded by thousands of acres of land. Even if I stumbled upon the one place mentioned in Jett’s reports, it was most unlikely I’d discover what others had already found when they combed the estate in Alessandro’s absence—and lost again. But the chapel, where Jett’s private detective had once located Maria Lucazzone’s diary, was my only lead.

Lost in my thoughts I scanned the area. According to Jett’s report, Alessandro had hundreds of miles of vineyards, forests and fields, not including the beautiful backyard. Standing here on the foot of the stairs, I couldn’t stop being impressed. The garden—although a little neglected—was still stunning, with tiny gravel stones building a strong contrast to the myriad of blooming flowers, and with palm and needle trees shielding the estate from prying eyes. This side of the house was surrounded by woods and mountains as far as I could see. I figured if someone wanted to hide a chapel, the tall trees would make it impossible to spy. It was the perfect place if you sought privacy.

I crossed the backyard and climbed down the steep stairs snaking toward the woods. I didn’t have to look very far. Behind the huge palm trees and a dried up stone well, I could make out a gray building barely the size of a garden shed. If it wasn’t for its old fashioned stone walls and a hardly noticeable cross on the roof, I would have shrugged it off as such. Maybe whoever built it meant to create a chapel that was inconspicuous. Or maybe, after Maria died, no one ever cared to get rid of the overgrown vegetation obstructing the narrow trail leading to it. Either way I didn’t mind fighting my way through the bushes.

I was almost there when I heard a female voice calling out my name. My head snapped in the direction of the house.

“Brooke. Where are you? Help me.”

Judging from the urgency and choice of words, it sounded like an emergency. The chapel would have to wait. Without a glance back, I dashed for the house, my brain coming up with a million bad things that might have happened.



***



“Fuck, Brooke. It hurts so much. I can’t stand it.” Sylvie was hysterical, shouting from the kitchen bench. As usual she was being melodramatic—and loving it. At least she wasn’t crying.

“For heaven’s sake. Stop being a pussy,” I ordered as I focused on removing a splinter from her left foot with a pair of tweezers. “It’s not like I’m sawing off your foot.”

The piece of wooden splinter was so tiny I had to use a needle to push it around. We had tried softening the skin with water and soap and then with alcohol, but it was in too deep. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I managed to grip the end of the splitter and, pushing against it with the needle, I raised it enough to pull it out with the tweezers.

“Thanks.” Sylvie rubbed her sore foot, her other leg dangling from the bench. “I was walking barefoot in the grass when I stepped on a branch. Where have you been? I had to hop around the house on one foot and managed to hurt my ankle in the process.”

I handed the tweezers back to her, mentally searching for an excuse. Of course I could tell Sylvie about the chapel and Jett’s claims because she was my best friend, the only one I really trusted. But what was the point in scaring her based on nothing but assumptions? Besides, I wasn’t ready to tell her about my lunch with Jett. Not when I didn’t yet know what to do about him.

“I was thinking of going for a walk. Did you know Alessandro has his own pool? Maybe you should use it rather than the lake.”

“Yeah.” She tested her foot tenderly, wincing, then hobbled across the kitchen and back. “It feels so much better.”

I heaved a long sigh. “That’s great.”

Opening the fridge, I pulled out two cans of soda and handed her one. She didn’t open it.

“When are you going to see him again?” Sylvie asked.

“Who?” I blinked in confusion. Jett had been on my mind for hours, and for a moment I thought she meant him—until it dawned on me Sylvie had to be talking about Alessandro. “I don’t know. He’s really sick and every day’s a struggle. Clarkson expects us to stay a week, during which I hope we’ll get to talk again.”

Sylvie’s eyes narrowed on me. “And then what?”

Good question. “To be honest, I have no idea.” I still couldn’t get over the fact that this huge property would soon belong to me. The least I could do was stick around for a little bit longer, even though the initial excitement had dissipated at the outlook of living in a bizarre club’s former meeting point, if not domicile.

“I do.” Sylvie inched closer and squeezed my hands, her blue eyes searching mine. “Ever since we arrived here you’ve been on edge. You’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but I’ve never seen you so absentminded and weird.” In spite of her frown, her voice became softer, soothing even. “I want you to come back with me. Let Clarkson deal with the estate, rent it out if you want, but this isn’t you. It’s not your kind of life. Why make yourself miserable just because you feel you owe someone something?”

I stared at her. “That’s not the case at all. I’m—”

She grimaced and nodded. “You’re a people pleaser, Brooke.”

How could I tell her that, yes, I had accepted Alessandro’s invitation because it was his wish to meet with me. But right now I was ready to stay because a mystery kept me here. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the estate and the people who once lived here. And if Jett was right, then I wouldn’t be safe anywhere—not here, and not back home. They would come after me. The prospect felt surreal, yet scared the crap out of me.

“I’ll come back with you once I’m ready,” I said.

Sylvie shrugged and opened her soda can. “I need to check out my Facebook page, see how my friends are doing. I’ve been neglecting them.”

“Sure.” I wanted to point out that most of her neglected friends weren’t people she had ever met, but I kept my thoughts to myself.

Luckily for us, Alessandro had internet access in the library, where Sylvie could use his computer. It was an old thing that took five minutes to boot with an extremely slow connection, but Sylvie had the patience of a saint when it came to maintaining her virtual social life. Closing the door behind me, I gave her the privacy she needed and retreated to my room with Alessandro’s envelope. A few minutes into flicking through family photos my phone rang, and my heart started to race as Jett’s name appeared on the display.

“Found anything?” Jett said the moment I picked up.

“Well, hello to you, too.” I scowled and tucked my legs beneath me on the bed, suddenly aware of how deliciously coarse the sheet felt beneath my skin. “I didn’t have a chance yet. How did you know I’d be looking?”

“I know you.” There was a small pause and some shuffling. In the background I could hear people talking. And then the noise was gone, as though he had left for somewhere quiet. I didn’t like the idea of him frequenting a bar without me. Women would throw themselves at him and that set my skin on fire and my pulse racing. I cringed as my mood plummeted to a new low.

Boy, was I getting angry and he hadn’t even done anything. “Why are you—”

He cut me off. “Any plans for tomorrow? I’ll pick you up at ten.” His voice sounded so sexy, smooth like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, and yet so rough, grating my nerve endings.

“For what?”

A part of me—probably the one covered by my panties—hoped to see him again, while the part that accommodated my brain wanted to yell at him to stop being an arrogant ass and to hang up.

“You owe me a date, Brooke.”

“I’m not going on a date with you.”

“Why not?”

I detected a hint of amusement in his tone and took a deep breath. “Because it’s not going to happen. I need hard evidence first.”

“I get it, you’re angry and it’s over and you have no intention of rekindling things.”

Gee, he didn’t get it. “I’m not angry because you withheld the truth. You did what you were supposed to do for your company.” I took a sharp breath as I considered my words. “I’m angry because I don’t know if I can trust you.”

“Brooke, what happened is done. I’m not after the estate. I’m also not forcing you to do something you don’t want to do. I’m not going to rip off your underwear and fuck you on the spot even though…I gotta admit, that’s exactly what I’ve had in mind, numerous times ever since you walked out on me.”

I choked on my breath as heat pooled between my legs and sent a delicious tingle through my sensitive clit. Instinctively, my hand wandered south, two fingers pressing against the sensitive bud to stop the growing ache. His bluntness both shocked and aroused me. Deep down I had been waiting—counting on him to do just that.

I bit my lip hard and held my breath so he wouldn’t hear my labored breathing through the line.

“We still have a contract,” Jett said slowly. His voice was hoarse, betraying his arousal at the thought. “You never quit on me and you know why.”

“We ended it,” I whispered.

“No, baby. Not in writing we didn’t.”

We were back to square one. Sex again, pure, good sex. I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could deal with it. I wasn’t making that mistake twice. Thinking of the way he touched me, the way he looked at me, I knew I couldn’t handle the feelings he aroused in me.

“That’s not a good idea, Jett.”

Fuck, even his name sounded like sin.

“Are you alone?” His voice was sexy. It caressed my body, pushed through my pretense and touched that hidden spot that could send both pleasure and pain through me.

I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me. “Yes,” I whispered.

“What are you wearing?” His tone was demanding, leaving me no choice but to answer.

Oh, god.

I wasn’t so na?ve as not to know where this was heading.

“A top and jeans.” I tried to keep my tone casual.

“Take them off together with your underwear.”

“Why?” My breathing came in raspy heaps. Stupid question, I know.

“Take off your clothes, Brooke,” Jett ordered.

There was something about his tone that made me instantly listen to his command. Maybe it was the fact that he was not here and he was just another sexy voice on the other end of the line.

“Now,” he demanded.

Cradling the phone between my shoulder and chin, I locked the door. I shrugged out of my jeans and panties, and pulled my top over my head, then unclasped my bra. The balmy air felt surprisingly cool against my feverish skin, making me all too aware of my nakedness. In the empty room, I felt exposed yet sexy. And then there was the fact that I felt horny and was up for some fun. I could hear his breathing down the line and it reminded me of all the times we had been together in bed, enjoying each other’s bodies.

“Done?” Jett asked hoarsely.

“Yeah.”

“Now, I want you to lay on your bed and close your eyes. I want you to imagine that I’m there with you. Watching you.” His voice was slow and deep. Leaning against he pillows, I closed my eyes and focused until I could see him before me, dressed in jeans and a snug shirt.

“I’m taking my clothes off until I’m naked,” he whispered, pausing after the word naked. I pictured his body in all his glory, all hard muscles and smooth skin.

“My hands glide over your body, caressing your nipples. I can feel the softness of your skin, the weight of your breasts in my hands, and smell the fragrance of your hair.”

I laughed, my nervousness getting the better of me.

“Focus, Brooke,” he demanded sharply.

“Sorry.”

“I want you to imagine that I’m standing naked in front of you and as I see you naked, I can tell you, baby, you’re turning me on like no other. I’m hard and I’m letting you touch me.”

I knew I should have stopped this, hang up—anything to keep my emotional distance. But my brain remained surprisingly pliant. His voice kept me intrigued. Everything was so surreal. He wasn’t here, and yet he was—like a fragment of my imagination, willing to do what I wanted.

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath as I let his voice guide me, visualizing him and his hardness, and the way he’d touch himself. His face was a mask of want, his gaze intense with the need to please me. I pictured his eyes and their stunning green color, and his strong fingers as he moved over my breasts. I clenched my legs together to intensify the tension that was slowly building between them at the image of his majestic erection slick with want. My heart was racing in my chest, beating frantically against my ribs as I let his expert voice guide me.

“Can you see me?” Jett asked.

“Yes.” Surprisingly I could.

“I’m brushing my lips across the back of your neck until you can feel my breath on your skin. I start kissing your shoulder and spine while my hands move around your waist so I can part your legs.”

My skin tingled from his gruff, assertive tone.

“Your back’s pressed against me, and my hand’s stroking your slit. You’re turning me so on, I’m bending you over until you’re on all fours. I’m licking you and taste your arousal for me. Can you feel it?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” A raspy pause, then, “I want you to touch yourself like I’d touch you. Do it well, baby. I want you to describe the way your fingers feel inside you.”

Following his command, I spread my legs and slipped my fingers between them, stroking gently, then with a little more fervor before thrusting two fingers in after he instructed me to take all the time I needed.

“Tell me what you feel, Brooke.”

“I’m wet,” I whispered.

“How wet?”

“Very, very…wet.”

“And your fingers?”

“Two inside.”

“Keep moving, Brooke.” His breath came heavy, sending my fantasy into override. “You make me so hard it hurts. Keep going.”

I plunged my fingers in and out of me to the picture of him in my mind and the sound of his voice caressing my senses.

“Imagine my erection between your pussy. How does that feel?”

“I like it.” And I did, because my memories with him…made me wetter.

He laughed hoarsely. “I’m moving inside you slowly, imagining you wet and tight, and it feels so good for me. How does it feel for you, Brooke?”

“Good,” I breathed. My thumb circled my clit, setting it on fire, my fingers between my legs, eager to follow Jett’s next command.

“I’m sliding into you and as slow as I can I start to fuck you. Just inches at a time, until you begin to moan my name.” He whispered so low I had a hard time focusing through the hazy curtain of sexual frustration urging me to seek fulfillment. His own arousal was apparent from his labored breathing and the picture of him touching himself shattered my last ounce of insecurity. Biting my lip hard, I rubbed my fingers through my wet folds, struggling to find my pleasure in his absence.

His voice became faint in my head as he told me how deep he plunged into me and how good it felt to be inside me. I couldn’t listen anymore. I dipped my fingers in and out of me, imagining it was his body pinning me down, his erection slicing through my skin. I whimpered and pressed my temple against the cold satin pillow as my body began to shake and twist like a flame against the hard caress of my hand.

“I’m coming,” I whispered a moment before the world blackened out and I lost myself in the sweet contractions of my climax.

When it was over, the phone was still pressed to my ear and the other end of the line was so quiet I wasn’t sure he hadn’t hung up.

“Jett?” I asked, sitting up and wrapping my sheets around my naked body. I was hesitant and suddenly ashamed. Had he heard it all? Was he shocked, maybe disgusted, by the way I had let myself get into character?

He cleared his throat but the coarseness of desire was still there, making my heart twitch in my chest.

“I’m really jealous of your fingers, baby,” he whispered. I smiled. “And I think I have a problem.”

“What problem?” I grinned, knowing that he was about to say one of his sexy things.

“I think I can’t get enough of you,” he whispered. “Do you have any idea how much I wish you were here? How much I wish I could have seen you come?”

I smiled thankful he couldn’t see the blush burning my cheeks. Seriously, I could do this all night, listen to his deep voice whisper sweet nothings—or in this case naughty nothings—into my ear.

A thud echoed in the background, followed by a male voice saying something, and Jett’s ‘fuck you’ reply.

He wasn’t alone. Maybe even in a public place. The heat scorching my face intensified from both mortification and excitement.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow at twelve same place like last time.” His tone was composed. Business-like. And then it dropped to a whisper. “And Brooke, I’m hurting all over for you, baby. You owe me the real deal and I’m going to take it. Running from me isn’t going to help you because I’ve never been a quitter.” The line went dead.

He had hung up on me.

Even though I had just climaxed, my body was still earning for him. I could never have imagined anything like this would turn me on—or him. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with dirty talk. Call me cliché, but I always thought seedy phone conversations were reserved for lonely guys on a lonely night far away from the convenience of an internet connection. I shrugged back into my clothes and typed up a text message.



Don’t get your hopes up. I’m never sleeping with you again.



My fingers hovered over the send button, but ended up pressing delete instead. Why warn him when I could let him simmer all night and then dash his hopes. After the stunt he just pulled on me, the jerk deserved a little pain.

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