Chapter 22-Nothing to Wear
"To Catch a Mongoose"
After hours of shopping, Lee opened the door of Amanda's hotel room for her as he hands were full.
"Thank you," she said as he held the door open for her, but was surprised when he followed her in. "What are you doing?"
"You'll need this for tonight," he said indicating the dress box that he'd been carrying for her for the better part of the afternoon tucked under his arm as he used his free hand to close the door behind them.
"Oh, right," She said as she watched him cross the room and drop the box on the bed, the tension between them thicker than the London fog, their meeting at the airport, the first time that they'd been face to face in two months since he'd been on this assignment to track down The Mongoose. "Thank you," she said again awkwardly. When Billy had given her the assignment to meet Lee in London to indentify her old high school classmate, she'd been elated at the thought of seeing him again after such a long absence, broken up by only a handful of late night phone calls to tell her that he was safe and alive. After the way her marriage had ended, she'd learned the hard way that absence did not make the heart grow fonder, so she'd been thoroughly surprised by the fact that the longer Lee was gone, the more she longed for him, belying that thought. The way that he'd seemed irritated with her after leaving the airport though, she felt that in his case that was not true.
"Unless, you'd rather wear this," Lee teased as he pulled the sparkly bustier out of the carry-on bag that she'd grabbed by mistake holding it up to his chest suggestively.
"Give me that," She said snatching it from his hand and shoving it back into the bag belonging to Trixie Berlinger.
Lee chuckled, grabbed it out of the bag again, this time hold it up against her chest, one hand on each of her shoulders. "Are you sure? Like I said earlier, could be a whole new you."
Amanda trembled his electric touch sending shocks through her and backed away slightly, once again ripping the offending garment from his hand. "I think I'll stick with the old me, thanks," Amanda said as she stuffed the bustier back in the bag, then crossed the room to dump it in the closet.
Lee sighed at his attempt at humor to lighten the mood fell flat. He ran a hand through his hair as he wondered how things had gotten so tense between them so quickly. He'd been so excited to see her at the airport after a two-month hiatus; the Mongoose case dragging on longer than anyone thought it would as the guy cut a swath across the UK. "So, would that be the old you from when you were still married and wore sexy nightgowns?" he said, a teasing lilt in his voice as he tried again. He knew he'd been a little short with her on the trip from the airport, but he was just so thrown by seeing her again and by the fact that she was so rattled by her luggage mishap that she didn't seem happy to see him in the slightest, the way that he was happy to see her.
"I haven't worn a sexy nightgown in years," Amanda said as she slammed the closet door and turned to face him, wondering just what he was up to. He'd treated her like an intrusion upon fining out that she was the one who knew Connie Barnhill. Now it was if he were trying to seduce her with his words, his warm honeyed voice pouring over her like sweet, thick maple syrup over her homemade pancakes, complementing her deep longing for him the way the syrup did the pancakes.
"No?" Lee said in his low, husky voice, his two-month long yearning for her lying just beneath the surface. He knew that was what had really caused the edge in his voice when they'd been on the bus.
"No, I don't even own one anymore," Amanda said.
"Hmm," Lee said. "Maybe you should. In fact, maybe you should have bought one when we were shopping."
"What would I need one for? I mean, it's not as if I'd have anyone special to wear it for," she fired back unwilling to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much she'd missed him when he'd gone back to treating her like a nuisance over her lost luggage.
"Oh, is that right? So, nobody special in your life," Lee said quietly as he tried to hide the hurt from showing on his face.
"No, no one," she said firmly determined not to let him see how much his absence had left her pining for him, but found she couldn't resist getting in another little dig, "I thought there might be someone a while back, but I learned very quickly that that wasn't going to ever lead anywhere."
"I see," Lee said in a clipped tone clenching his jaw tightly at the idea that she'd been seeing someone while he'd been gone. "So, who is this guy?"
Amanda smiled at the fact that Lee had clearly missed that she'd been talking about him and said, "Oh, no one you'd know. Although, you never know what might happen tonight. You know, I think Connie used to have a little crush on me when we were in school, so you just never know."
"Amanda, you can't be serious," Lee retorted hotly. "We're talking about an international hit man here."
"I don't believe that," Amanda said. "I will never believe that my Connie Barnhill is capable of all those terrible things that you say he's done. I think you're making a mistake."
"Well, if I am, that's my job to worry about. Your job is simply to point him out to me."
"Well, if we're going to that casino tonight, I should really get showered and changed," she said as she reached for the dress box on the bed and shooed him toward the door.
"You sure you wouldn't like some company in that shower? You know after all the shopping we did today, I could use one too," he said with a grin at her trying to get back into her good graces. Just as she was lifting the cover from the box, he slid his arms to her waist from behind, and then whispered in her ear, "And it would save time."
Amanda shrugged him off, saying, "Nothing about that idea would save time." She then turned to him and pushed firmly on his chest and said, "Now, go shower in your own room."
"Fine," Lee said with a sullen pout. "But be ready no later than an hour and a half from now. I'll be back to pick you up."
She nodded as he made his way to the door, turned back to her evening dress, extracting it from the layers of tissue paper, and then walked to the closet to grab a hanger for it. She admired the new addition to her wardrobe for a moment, before stripping out of her clothes that were now sticking uncomfortably to her skin after the lone plane ride, hours of shopping and the warmth that Lee had created in her. She padded barefoot to the bathroom, turned the water on and stepped under the hot spray, reflecting Lee's attempt to invite himself into it with her, flooding her mind with memories of the last time they'd shared a shower as she reached for a washcloth and lathered it up. She vividly recalled how he'd whispered, "Good morning, Mrs. Stetson," before he'd pinned her against the shower wall with his hard body.
Those thoughts filled her with a wetness that had nothing to do with her shower as she found her hand, seemingly of its own accord drifting lower to the juncture between her legs where Lee had set her on fire with his mouth in her back yard when he'd tenderly made love to her. She let out a sigh, one hand on her breast as she touched herself with the other, wishing it were Lee's hands on her. She imagined him whispering to her in that low, sexy voice of his while he caressed her intimately, soon finding herself shaking and calling out his name as her climac hit her. She braced one hand against the cool tile to steady herself until her tremors subsided. She sighed as she thought that it wasn't nearly the same, but maybe at least by having given herself a physical release, she'd be able to resist his attempts to draw her in again.
Lee sighed in frustration as he entered his room, slamming the door behind him. "God, you're an idiot!"he said aloud. He hadn't seen Amanda in two months and what had he done? Instead of acting happy to see her, he'd been snippy with her, acting as if her lost luggage was no big deal and that she didn't have a right to be perturbed by it, treating her as if she were an annoyance to him. In reality, he'd wanted nothing more than to take her into his arms and let her know just how much he missed her.
He sighed again as she crossed to the closet yanking his tuxedo from it and laying it across the bed as he began to strip to get a quick shower before picking her up for their "date" with The Mongoose. He cursed himself as his blatant attempt to seduce his way back into her good graces, even going as far as to invite himself into her shower. "Stupid," he muttered as he stepped under the spray of the hot water, thinking instead that he ought to be taking a cold shower to ease the ache he felt for the woman who'd unknowingly captured his heart. As he ran a washcloth across his skin, he couldn't help but remember all the times he'd had Amanda's hands on him, her mouth on him, teasing him. His mind wandered to the night they'd had "dessert" in his apartment, not once, but twice. He found himself growing hard at the memory of her mouth on him, her lips and tongue bringing out the most primal urge in him as she'd sucked him dry. Before he even knew what was happening, he found himself groaning as he stroked himself with his hand as he relived the memory, imagining that the lather from the soap and the pressure of his hand was Amanda's warm, wet mouth on him. When his release hit him, he collapsed against the shower wall shaking and breathing heavily, "It's not the same," he mumbled. While it took care of the immediate physical need, it didn't touch the raw need he felt to be close to her again.
Later that night, Amanda, her arm around him for support, led Lee back to his room after his near strangling. She'd insisted on looking after him to make sure that he was safe, but still couldn't believe that Conrad was capable of such a violent act. She felt increasing warmth invading her senses with his arm draped across her shoulders as they entered his hotel room. "Come on, let's get you settled," Amanda said in concern as she gently nudged him toward the sofa in the room, kicking the door closed behind them.
"Amanda, I'm fine," he choked out through his still-raw throat as he tried to wriggle out of her grasp, her closeness too much to bear as the dress she wore exposed a good portion of her upper back.
Amanda, unrelenting, countered, "Well, we're just going to make sure," as she kept her grip on him and pushed him to sit on the sofa, then turned on the table lamp beside it. "I wanna' get a good look at your throat." She was glad that he'd already removed his bowtie and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. She tugged at his collar to expose his throat further, running her fingers gently across the bruises that had already started to form there.
"Amanda, stop," Lee protested as he pulled her hands from him, clasping them firmly in his own. "I don't need mothering!" Truth be told, what he really didn't need was her touching him so tenderly. Her long, nimble fingers on his bare skin had sent electric shocks through his whole body that had sent him reeling.
"Okay, fine," Amanda said yanking her hands from his. "I'll...uh...just go back to my own room then." She picked up her fallen purse and made her way to the door, but was stopped by Lee's hand on her arm.
"Wait, Amanda," Lee said feeling sorry that he'd hurt again. He'd seen the brief flicker of pain in her eyes at the harshness of his words.
"Why?" Amanda said turning to face him. "If you don't need me, you don't need me."
"I do..." Lee stopped unable to complete the sentence. Why couldn't she see just how much he did need her? "I...uh...I mean, it's important to me that you care enough to look after me." God, you're stupid, he berated himself. What the hell kind of apology is that?
Amanda seeing the contrition in his eyes combined with...something else that she couldn't quite identify forced herself to look away. "I...uh..." she slipped her arm from his grip, tugged at the draped collar of her evening dress, pulling it away from her skin. "You know, it's kind of stuffy. We...uh...should get some air in here," she said awkwardly as she crossed the room to the balcony doors, opening them. She stepped out onto the balcony in the hopes that the chill of the night air would cool her overheated skin.
Lee was only seconds behind her, stepping out onto the balcony behind her, he placed his hands on her hips, his lips to the exposed skin of her upper back that had been driving him crazy all night.
Amanda took in a deep breath at the touch of Lee's lips to her skin, his hands on her hips. She knew this was a bad idea, but she made no move to stop him, her longing for him so fierce that it threatened to consume her whole, if she didn't get some real relief. Her release in the shower was now a distant memory as the object of her fantasy was now here behind her, touching her, running his lips and tongue along her bare skin.
"You look beautiful tonight," Lee whispered against her as his hands slid downward, only to slide back up her legs under the skirt of her knee-length white dress to reach for the silky panties beneath and push them to the ground. A slight step on Amanda's part and she was free of them. He wasted no time in slipping one hand to the front of her to caress her intimately as he brushed her hair aside with the other and lowered his lips to her neck.
"Lee," she whispered huskily as she gripped the railing in front of her tightly and glanced briefly down into the busy London street below them grateful that they were several floors up. She heard the fait hiss of a zipper mostly masked by the din of the traffic below. "OH," she cried as she felt Lee slamming into her from behind.
At hearing her name on his lips and knowing by her reaction that she was too far gone to stop him, Lee wasted no time in reminding her of who she really wanted, in spite of her earlier protests. He groaned at the feeling of being inside her again, hearing her respond to him, feeling her tight walls around him. He stroked her hard and fast as he pumped into her the same way, needing her desperately, but also feeling a great need to punish her for her behavior today. Her repeated "My Conrad" and the way she'd shamelessly flirted in front of him with the stranger who'd taught her to play blackjack driving his need to possess her. "Oh, God," He cried out as he erupted within her way too soon, shaking against her as he drove into her until he couldn't anymore, pulling out of her and releasing her abruptly, storming back into the room, guilt swamping him. He yanked his jacket off and tossed it violently on the bed.
Amanda let out a whimper of frustration at being left alone on the balcony, unfulfilled. Whiles she'd longed to have him inside her again, this wasn't the way she'd wanted it, but it was just as much her fault as it was his, she'd made no move to stop him or to slow him down at all. She stood there in silence for a moment before she released her tight grip on the railing, picked up her discarded underwear and made her way back into the room. "I...Uh...I should go," she stammered.
"God, I'm sorry, Amanda," Lee said as he once again gripped her arm to stop her from leaving. "I...um...I don't know what came over me."
'It's...it's okay," Amanda said with a half-hearted smile.
"No, no it's not. I..." Lee paused as he tried to figure out what to say. When no words would come, he used his grip on her arm to pull her to him and kiss her soundly, praying that he hadn't done irreparable damage to their relationship. He was delighted when she responded instantly to his kisses, opening to him, her tongue darting out to meet his as he backed her up and sat her on the back of the couch as he slid his hands up her thighs under her dress, parting her legs. He pulled his mouth from her and dropped to his knees in front of her as he hiked up the skirt of her dress, determined that he wasn't going to let her leave until he'd taken care of her needs. He dipped his head between her legs to taste her, exerting pressure to her with his tongue, rewarded for his efforts by her whispering him name.
"Lee," she said softly as she gripped the back of the sofa, digging her fingers into it to balance herself as the feeling of his mouth on her was making her weak. "Oh, Lee," she cried louder as he began to suckle her tender skin, the pleasure building. It had been so long since he'd touched her in this way, she'd almost forgotten just how good it was, how much he could make her feel. "LEE!" she screamed as her much-needed release hit her leaving her shuddering and gasping for breath, but his still didn't stop, continuing to devour her relentlessly, shifting his position slightly to start the pressure building all over again. Just when she felt she couldn't take anymore, he was suddenly standing in front of her again.
"Amanda," Lee growled, just before he captured her lips with his own and pushed into her much more gently than he had the first time, cupping her bottom to support her as he advanced and retreated slowly. He wanted to make this time last as long as possible relishing the feeling of being inside her again, feeling her locking her legs around him to urge him on, hearing her moans of pleasure that he hadn't the first time. Guilty feelings still ran through him that he'd taken her before she was ready for him and had left her wanting. They continued like this for what seemed like forever until he felt her muscles constricting around him and he spilled into her for the second time, cradling her to him as they rode out the wave of their mutual release together crying out each other's names and clinging to one another.
"Thank you," Amanda said once she was able to catch her breath.
Lee slipped out of her, chuckled and said, "Thank you?"
She smacked him playfully for teasing her and said, "You know what I mean. That...um...was much better."
"Amanda, I'm sor-"
"Don't," she said with a finger to his lips to silence him. "I know and you more than made up for it," she said, both knowing that she was talking about more than just the frenzied encounter on the balcony.
"Good," Lee said with a smile, his guilt easing.
Amanda lightly fingered the bruises on his throat and said, "I...uh...I should let you get some rest." She hopped down from the back of the sofa and pulled her panties back on.
"Amanda, you don't have to go. You could...um...stay...with me, I mean."
"I...uh...I should get back to my own room. If I stay here, I have a feeling that neither of us will get much sleep. You need to rest after what happened to you tonight and I...Um...I need to get some sleep too if I'm going to meet Conrad in the morning."
"Yeah, you're right," Lee said finding himself unable to argue with her logic, but feeling disappointed all the same. He planted one more kiss to her lips and said, "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Lee," she said with a warm smile.
Lee sat across from Amanda chuckling animatedly at hearing her say, "You know, I couldn't resist a little payback. The look on your face when I said I wanted to have tea at the palace was priceless."
"Okay, okay, I had it coming, I admit it," Lee said, but still couldn't help smiling that the tension between them had dissipated. "So, your...Um...friend was sure happy when he left."
"Yeah, I think that all this fame has given him just the confidence boost that he needed."
"So...Um...what are you going to do about him?"Lee inquired.
"What do you mean?"Amanda asked curiously.
"Come on, Amanda, I was listening in. I heard him confess that he's in love with you."
"Oh, that," Amanda said, a slight blush creeping into her cheeks. She gazed at Lee across the table for a moment wondering if this outing was intended to be a real date. She wanted to ask, but couldn't' quite find the courage to do so. Whether it was or not, she was just happy to be with him again."I...Um...I...well, I'm here with you, aren't I?"
"Yeah," Lee said as he sipped at his tea. "I guess you are," he added with a smile wondering if she realized that his offer to take her for her "proper British tea" was not only an attempt at another apology, but an effort to take her on a real date for once.