Authors: Cathryn Fox
After a long moment, Cody rolled to his side and gathered her into his arms. It felt so nice to be held by him. When her breathing finally regulated, she traced her finger over his mouth and shot him a questioning glance. “Hmm, what makes me think you had this seduction orchestrated all along?” she teased.
He feigned innocence, softening the angles in his face. “I have no idea why you would think that.”
Abby laughed and snuggled in tighter. As the warmth of the sun beat down on them, scorching their bodies, she let her eyes drift shut and listened to his heartbeat settle into a steady rhythm.
Cody tangled his fingers through her hair. His voice dropped to a whisper. “We’d better get out of the sun before we burn to a crisp.” Taking her by surprise, he whacked her ass.
“Umm, did you mean for that to turn me on, Cody? Because it did.”
He laughed. “You’re insatiable.”
Cody sat up and retrieved their clothes. As they dressed Abby looked out over the aquamarine water, listening to the gentle, soothing sound of the waves lapping against the rocks. “God, it’s just so beautiful here.”
Cody gestured with a nod. “It looks like there is a scuba-diving excursion taking place.” Abby shaded the sun from her eyes. “Where?”
Leaning in close, Cody pointed. “Way out there.”
Surprised, Abby said. “How did you spot that? I can barely see the boat.”
“From years of training, I guess.”
“It sounds like fun. Maybe I’ll try.”
“Just be careful you don’t drown. I won’t be there to rescue you this time.”
She laughed. “You won’t come?”
Cody shook his head. “Malik is always trying to get me to go, but I don’t want to.”
“Don’t you like snorkeling, or scuba diving?”
He shrugged. “I guess I do. Or I used to anyway.”
“So why don’t you go? You have a great eye for spotting things. Hey, you even rescued me when I was drowning.” She winked at him.
He rolled his eyes and brushed his thumb over her mouth. “I don’t go because I think Malik is up to something.”
Abby made a face and shook her head in agreement. “He is a wily old man, isn’t he?”
“Wily? That’s not the first word that comes to my mind.”
Abby tilted her face, drinking in the tropical sun, thinking about how quickly her vacation was flying by. She also considered how much she loved the “O Spa”. It was definitely an oasis of pleasure, she mused. Lots and lots of pleasure. The thought of going back to a snowy Chicago and life as she knew it made her shiver, and not in a good way.
“So what will you do when you leave here, Cody? Will you go back to the military?”
“No,” he answered quickly.
Abby took a moment to think about Cody’s unique skills, and the way Mr. Malik pressed him to partake in the water activities. She then thought about Mr. Malik’s own cryptic words to her. The truth was, if she hadn’t ventured off her beaten path, she never would have discovered Cody.
“So, why do you think Mr. Malik is trying to get you to go on the excursions?” she asked.
“My guess is that he’s trying to guide me. Help me figure out my future.”
“Search and rescue?”
He nodded. “Smart girl.”
“I think you’d be great at that, Cody. You already watch over everyone like you’re a guardian angel.”
“I thought we established that I’m really the devil in disguise.”
She chuckled. “Yes, we did, didn’t we? But I think you’re both.” When her stomach grumbled she suddenly remembered her late lunch with the girls. “Oh, shoot. I have to run,” she said, rubbing her belly.
“I have lunch plans with the girls.”
His eyes darkened when they locked on hers. “Break them.”
God, when he looked at her like that her skin came alive. “I can’t.”
He brushed his lips over hers. His heat wrapped around her, his devilish smile turned her insides to molten lava. “Are you sure you want to go? Don’t you know great things can happen when you break your plans?” he whispered, enticing her salacious libido with his body.
As tempting as that was, she’d promised her friends she’d be there. “I really can’t, Cody.”
He took a long moment to study her. “Do you ever break your plans, Abby?”
After a moment of hesitation, she shook her head and said, “No.”
He gave a resigned sigh. “So what’s on your agenda later, then?”
She cocked her head. “You’re on my agenda later.” That brought a smile to his face.
“When and where?” he asked.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure you’ll have no trouble finding me,” she teased. “You always know where to look.”
ith Abby off
at lunch with her friends, Cody grabbed a quick bite to eat and then walked restlessly around the resort, his thoughts preoccupied with the feelings Abby roused in him. Grinning madly, like an escaped mental patient, he thought about how quickly they went from strangers to lovers and his heart swelled. He eventually made his way into the pool hall looking for a distraction. He found one.
“Hey,” Cody said, pleased to see Ryan bent over the pool table, especially since it was still daylight and Ryan wasn’t known to venture out during the day. “Rack ‘em up.”
“Hey, Cody. What’s up?” Ryan asked.
Cody shrugged. “Just wasting time until I can get off this godforsaken place. “You?”
Ryan mimicked his shrug. “Same here. Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“I’ve seen you,” Cody said. “With Lauren.”
That brought a goofy smile to Ryan’s face. Cody took that moment to pry for information. “So, tell me, do you know anything about her friend Abby?” he prodded.
Christ, just saying her name out loud had his heart racing. She was so damn sweet, open, honest and eager to experiment sexually. Her zest for life, her enthusiasm, and how she saw beauty in everything around her had awakened his senses, and for the first time in a long time, he felt alive. Rejuvenated. Free. The truth was, Abby had eased herself past his wall of defense and right into his heart. From her responses to his intimate touch, to the way she encouraged him to open himself up to her, every instinct in his body told him that she felt the same way. That he wasn’t merely a passing interest to her.
Ryan grabbed the triangle and centered it. “Lauren mentioned that when they leave here, Abby expects to get engaged to her boyfriend. Apparently, Lauren and Danielle are hoping that after some time away from her soon-to-be-fiancé, and after drinking the magic elixir—which you and I both know is bogus—Abby will see that getting engaged to this guy isn’t what she really wants. She’s not known to divert from her plans, but both girls think she’ll see things differently after her time here.”
Cody’s stomach did a nosedive.
She plans on getting engaged.
What the fuck?
That one word kept drumming in his head. Was Ryan serious? Abby had plans to get married? He swallowed as confusion and anger came at the same time.
With his mood blackening, his eyes fixed hard on his friend. “She’s getting engaged?” he asked, his voice full of disbelief.
“I guess. I don’t remember Lauren’s exact words but she wants Abby to have a wild time while she’s here and indulge in an affair with a passionate guy. Something like that anyway.”
Emotional turmoil swept through him. Was this why she encouraged him not to hold back with her? So she could have an affair with a wild, passionate guy?
He frowned in concentration. Was this thing between them nothing more than a vacation fling to her? A wild ride before she got engaged?
Jesus fucking Christ!
He shook his head in total disbelief and muttered curses under his breath as realization slammed into him. Perspiration broke out on his forehead, despite the chill settling in his bones.
Tense silence lingered until Ryan broke the balls. Cody watched Ryan work the table. Ryan was speaking, he knew, but Cody couldn’t seem to follow the conversation.
Son of a bitch. He was a fucking idiot.
He rubbed his temples. Here he thought Abby was sweet, honest, open, and all the while she’d kept her future plans from him. Now he knew why he’d sensed she was holding something back earlier. He might have allowed himself to believe things had changed for her, if he hadn’t already established that she
broke her plans.
Goddammit, he knew better than to let her past his barriers, but did that stop him? Hell, no! His resolve had melted like hot butter at her first sweet touch. He braced his hands on the edge of the pool table and worked to sort through things while trying to ignore the pain twisting his heart. He never should have opened himself up. It only allowed hurt inside. Hadn’t he learned this painful lesson already? He should have just left it at sex. Nothing more.
As he picked up his pool cue, he felt his insides turn to ice and he knew what he had to do. He drew a breath, centering himself. It was time to put her out of his head, and his heart, and forget he ever met her.
* * *
fter a late lunch
with the girls, Abby made her way back to her cabana. As her gaze strayed to the mountaintop, she wondered whether Cody was watching her.
Her heart beat at double time just thinking about him. Now that he’d unlocked her fantasies and turned himself loose on her, how could she ever go back to being content with Artie? Back to being a good girl with a mapped-out future?
She couldn’t, and she damn well knew it.
Before she met Cody she thought she’d had everything her heart desired, just not what her libido desired. Cody had opened her eyes, and her heart, and showed her that she had neither.
She took a moment to think about her advice to Danielle. Over lunch, she’d told her friend to talk to Ethan, to let him know how she felt, to be honest with him, even though Abby hadn’t been completely honest with Cody herself.
Now she knew it was time to take her own advice. She needed to tell Cody how he made her feel, to take their relationship to the next logical stage and tell him everything about her, including her future engagement.
Abby stepped into her cabana and checked her cell phone for messages. Nothing. She knew she had to talk to Artie, but she needed to talk to Cody first. She hovered near her doorway and waved her arms around, hoping Cody was watching from afar. After minutes slipped by, and he’d yet to show, she decided to go looking for him.
She tried his cabana first, and then made her way to the hilltop. She stood on the cliff overlooking her private cove. Disappointment settled in her stomach when she discovered that her guardian angel wasn’t perched on the cliff, overlooking the resort. “Where the heck is he hiding?” she murmured.
Just then Mr. Malik came up behind her. “Abby, I see you’ve ventured off the beaten path. Have you found what you were looking for?”
She smiled and suspected he knew far more than he let on. “I believe I have,” she said, her mind racing to Cody.
“Then the magic elixir is working for you?”
“Yes,” she said, a sudden believer in the magic of the elixir, the magic of this island.
She’d come to understand that she needed to venture off the beaten path before she found her true heart’s desire.
She took a moment to think about Cody and his deepest desires. He’d said he wanted solitude, but like her, she suspected that what he
he wanted and what he
wanted were two different things.
“Do you feel the chill in the air, Abby?”
She shot him a perplexed frown. It had to be at least one hundred degrees outside. Before she could answer, he said, “I find the only thing to take the chill out of the bones is the sauna.” With that he turned and disappeared into the jungle.
She suspected Mr. Malik was giving her some sort of secret message. Deciding to listen, she climbed from the mountain and made her way to the sauna, the same sauna she’d made love in with Cody. She cracked the door, peeked inside and spotted Cody. His arms were braced on the wall. Her mouth salivated and her libido roared to life as she took in his beautiful naked body. God, she wanted him, today, tomorrow, forever.
Giving in to the impulse, she made short work of her clothes and quietly slipped inside. Moving toward him, she made no attempt at discretion. “Cody,” she whispered, pressing her chest to his back. “I waited for you, but you never came, so I thought I’d come find you instead.” She circled her arms around his waist, needing the intimate contact, loving the new closeness between them.
When his body stiffened, she tensed as well. Her heart started pounding in her chest, and her stomach knotted.
Without turning to face her, he bit out, “Abby. You need to leave.”
The coolness in his tone took her by surprise. She ducked under his arm and came around to face him. When she saw the pain and ice in his eyes, she knew something was wrong.
She held his gaze. “What is it, Cody?” she pressed, refusing to let him bury his emotions again, to go to that place where he shut the world out, shut her out.
“I just want solitude, Abby. I already told you that. It’s my deepest desire, remember?”
Anger coiled in her gut. Why was he doing this? Why was he pushing her away and denying the connection they’d made?
“That’s bullshit, and you and I both know it.” She widened her stance and held her ground. “I’m not going anywhere until you talk to me. I’m not giving up on you, or what’s between us.”
For one agonizing minute, he stood there staring at her. Then, his expression wary, he said, “No? Maybe you should be talking to your fiancé about this instead of me? Heck, maybe you should even be fucking him instead of me, too.”
She drew a surprised breath.
Cody scoffed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He stepped back, leaving cold where there was once heat. “Don’t you have plans to make, Abby? And since I know you never break your plans…”
“Cody, wait.” Oh, God, she couldn’t lose him now, not when she’d just found him. “He’s not my fiancé.”
Cody shook his head. “Okay. Your soon-to-be-fiancé, then.” He grabbed his clothes and reached for the door handle.
“Someone recently told me that great things can happen when I break my plans.” Her words stopped him. He turned back to face her, his eyes moving over her face.
“Meaning, my plans have changed,” she rushed out. “Yes, I was planning on getting engaged. I can’t deny that.” When Cody narrowed his eyes and waited for her to go on, she said, “You see, Cody, when I came to this island I had my future all mapped out, but I was on the wrong path. You showed me that.” She took a step toward him and grabbed his hand. “I was also ready to live a life without passion, believing passionate men existed only in my novels, but after what we shared, after you opened up and showed me that wild, passionate men really do exist, I knew I couldn’t go through with it. I veered off the beaten path, and what I found” - she stopped to jab her finger into his chest - “made me realize that I never really had what my heart desires.”
His face softened. “And now?”
“And now I have what my heart desires and what my libido desires, too,” she said, hoping to lighten the mood.
He moistened his lips. “I’m what your heart and libido desire?” he asked, his eyes darkening with need.
He shook his head, still holding back. “Abby, are you serious? Because I couldn’t take it if you weren’t.”
“I have no intentions of getting engaged, Cody.” When she still felt his reserve, she rushed on. “Ever.”
He frowned and seemed to take an extra-long time to contemplate that. Then after a moment he said, “Not ever?”
“Really?” He blew a heavy sigh, and paused before adding, “I’m sorry to hear that.” She shot him a confused look. “What? Why?”
“Because someday if I ask you to marry me, I’d want you to say yes.”
She threw her head back and laughed out loud, her heart soaring with joy. “Oh, I will, on one condition.”
Cody pulled a condom from his swimsuit, and then dropped his clothes onto the floor. He stalked closer to her. His eyes grew dark with lust. His breath grew shallow.
She tapped his heart. “I don’t want you to bury anything in here anymore.”
Cody scooped her up in his arms and laid her out on the cedar bench. He tapped his chest. “I won’t bury anything in here.” He climbed over her, quickly sheathed his cock and positioned it at her entrance. His mouth twitched. “But I sure as hell plan on burying something in here. Daily.” In one quick thrust, he drove into her.
“Oh, God, that feels so wonderful,” she cried out as he sank his cock all the way up inside her.
She raked her fingers through his hair and caught his glance. Everything in her reached out to him, and what they’d found together. “I guess the elixir really did work for me, Cody. All my desires are fulfilled.”
“Mine, too,” he murmured. “I guess it wasn’t really solitude I was looking for, Abby. It was love, life and laughter. And you gave it all back to me.” As he pumped into her, making sweet, passionate love, he brushed her hair back and said, “You were wrong earlier, calling me your guardian angel after I rescued you.” His lips found hers for a slow, simmering kiss, and then he said, “Because, Abby, it was you who rescued me.”