Tears of Tess Page 2

Our relationship was going to rip and roar with love and flame. I would make sure of it.

Yes, tonight things would be different.

I needed different.

Chapter 2

*Blue Jay*

Somewhere, hundreds of kilometres above earth, I woke to dry, recirculated air, and the sickening smell of over nuked dinners.

Brax brushed his lips on my forehead. “Dinner is being served, honey.”

I scooted upright in the prison of a chair, wincing at my flat butt. Holy hell, it took a long time to travel across the world.

An air-hostess wheeled a trolley slowly down the aisle, smiling fakely and handing out tinfoil wrapped trays.

“What do you want?” Brax asked, slapping a hand over his wide yawn.

I knew how he felt. All I wanted was a hot shower, a soft bed, and Brax to spoon me.

I shrugged. “I dunno. What were the options again?”

The air-hostess arrived at our row, beaming. “Chicken casserole or beef stir-fry?”

Both sounded woefully unappealing, but I said, “Chicken, please.”

Brax ordered the beef, and silence reigned while we ate. Whenever I thought about arriving at the hotel, a mini montage took over. The movie played in my mind: kissing him, then pouncing with need. Brax would push up my skirt and claim me in front of wide-eyed guests. My libido has left the realm of normalcy.

Flutters wouldn’t stop in the darkest part of my belly. The knowledge that I’d finally confess what I needed sexually, terrified and thrilled me.

Brax smiled, chewing a piece of broccoli. “What are you thinking about? You’re wearing that stunned tuna look of yours.”

Oh, nothing, sweetie. Just fantasizing about you pinning my wrists and taking me hard. He’d probably throw himself out the plane. I was the one twisting our relationship. I was the one who changed.

Change, to Brax, was not a good thing.

I dropped my gaze, shoving a piece of dried chicken around. “I was thinking how much I love you, and how I can’t wait to be in bed. Alone.”

His face softened, looking so handsome in the dim interior lights. The glow highlighted his smooth jaw, blue eyes, and floppy brown hair. His strong arms and stocky frame screamed builder. Hell, I loved how he stood so big and strong. He could dominate me so easily… but never did. He treated me like glass. Special cut-crystal—placed me on a pedestal where I had to shine and remain dust free and perfect.

He pressed his forehead against mine. “I love you, too. I’m so happy we’re spending this time together.” He pushed his meal away, or as much as he could on the tiny tray-table, and awkwardly reached into a pocket. “I have a present for you. To remind you of this amazing holiday.”

I couldn’t breathe. My tongue turned into a brick and saliva morphed into mortar.

He dropped a black velvet box into my lap then rubbed the back of his neck. “I know we’ve been together for two years, and I love you with all my heart, Tess. But each year I spend with you, I grow more and more nervous I’m going to lose you.”

Suddenly, the cabin stifled with old demons from our pasts, haunting us. I leaned over, kissing his lips gently, just the way he liked. My heart hurt for him. Would he ever get over losing his parents? The doctors said his night-terrors would stop eventually, but it’d been six years since his folks died, and he still couldn’t fall asleep without pills.

I whispered, “You will never lose me, Brax. Never. I swear it.” I kissed him again and his lips opened under mine. His tongue flicked out and licked my lower lip, sending heat shooting like little stars.

I moaned and pressed harder, opening wider, forcing more intensity.

He pulled back, smirking shyly. His eyes darted around the cabin as if we’d be reprimanded by the flight attendants.

I murmured, “Can I open it now?”

His face flashed with confusion. “What?”

Feminine satisfaction swelled, I’d distracted him enough with a kiss that he’d forgotten. “The gift. Can I open it now, or wait till we get to the hotel?” Boldness sizzled and I whispered, “Because I have a present for you, too, but you have to wait till we arrive.” My voice, layered with husky welcome, caused his nostrils to flare.

“Y—you can open it now.”

I grinned, grabbing the box, happier than I’d been for a while. Brax was responding. Captive audience, I supposed.

I cracked open the box; my heart flurried. “Brax, it’s… gorgeous.”

“You like it?” His voice heightened to boyish delight as he plucked the bracelet from its cage of velvet.

“I don’t like it. I love it.” I placed the box on my lap, holding out a wrist. I couldn’t tear my eyes off the dainty silver jewellery. It symbolized us: gentle love hearts entwined with silver strands, the occasional glint of diamonds at the centre of each heart.

Brax’s fingertips grazed the underside of my wrist, securing the clasp. I shivered, sucking in a shaky breath.

“Tess … I—”

Tension blossomed between us, like a fast unfurling flower, and I ached. Ached for him. Ached for connection. Ached for his body inside mine. Something hot seared in our gaze, and Brax clenched his jaw.

He dropped his eyes, breaking the spell.

Pretending nothing happened, I rested my head on his shoulder, inspecting my new bracelet. “I’ll never take it off.”

He sighed, snuggling closer, kissing the top of my head. “I don’t want you to. It’s yours forever. Just like me.”

I inhaled sharply, breathing in his soft apple scent from our shared body wash. Would he ever stop making me hurt and heal at the same time?

“Forever,” I whispered and closed my eyes.

* * * * *

The next time I awoke, tyres bounced on the runway, and in a foggy haze, we disembarked. The airport was manic, even at one in the morning, and we let the sea of passengers guide us through immigration and processing.

By the time we headed outside to the awaiting taxis, my scratchy eyes felt like a cat had mistaken them for cat-nip, and my mind was cotton wool.

I let Brax lead the way, following obediently while he searched for our driver to the hotel.

“Stay here. I’m going to ask at the info desk. The hotel should’ve arranged a shuttle for us.”

He parked the suitcases by the curb, and I took his laptop satchel, blocking it with my feet. I plonked on top of one of the cases. “No problem. I’ll guard the bags.”

He caressed my cheek. “I’ll be right back.”

I smiled, capturing his hand as he pulled away. “I’ll miss you till then.”

With a grin, he turned and headed the way we’d come. I admired his fine butt in his baggy jeans. Just once, I’d love to see him in a nice suit, or at least some fitted trousers. No matter how many compliments I rained on him, Brax acted forever self-conscious. Silly man. He didn’t see the way other women looked at him, but I did. My claws unsheathed every time.

Ten minutes passed, while I sat in the little oasis our bags created, and my nerves steadily grew. Mexico was loud, boisterous, and the air hung heavy and wet with humidity. We were used to the heat in Australia, but that was dry heat. The moisture saturated my clothes, turning my curly hair limp.

“Excuse me, señorita.”

I twisted on the case, looking behind me. A good-looking Mexican man took off a baseball cap, bowing slightly. His black eyes assessed, making me squirm on the inside.

“Yes?” I asked, standing upright, looking for Brax out the corner of my eye. Where the hell was he?

“I wondered if you were here on your own? Do you need a lift somewhere? I have a taxi. I can take you wherever you need to go.”

A wide smile showed stained teeth and skin crinkled around his eyes in a friendly way. My instincts didn’t flare into panic mode; I relaxed a little. “No, thanks. I’m here with my boyfri—”

“Tess?” Brax appeared like an apparition, glaring at the man. “Can I help you?”

The man backed up, putting his baseball cap on. “Not at all, señor. Just wanting to make sure such a pretty girl stays safe. This city is not good for women left alone.”

Brax puffed his chest, dragging me toward him. My eyes widened as his arm clenched around my shoulders. “She’s safe. Thanks for your concern.” He turned to me, dismissing the man entirely. “I’ve found the shuttle, you ready to go?”

I nodded, looking to where the man had been, but he’d disappeared—swallowed by the heaving crowd. I bit my lip; just how safe was this country? I’d heard the horror stories, as well as the great regales. Either way, I wouldn’t be letting Brax out of my sight again. I wasn’t stupid enough to think nothing could harm me.

Dragging our suitcases, we made it to the shuttle bus, and spent the next forty-five minutes bouncing and swerving on Mexican roads. The traffic was psychotic—an accident begging to happen—and my heart remained in my throat most of the way. Traffic lights meant nothing, and scooters were given right of way. Pedestrians and cyclists threaded like a massive, living organism at two in the morning. If it was this crazy now, what the hell was it like during normal hours?

It seemed life never slept here. Every bar we passed, pumping with Salsa dancers and spicy tunes, dispelled my sleepiness. I wanted to dance, to rub against Brax, to drink yummy cocktails, and enjoy ourselves.

I immediately loved Mexico.

I’d gone my whole life thinking I was timid, brow-beaten, and unwanted by my family, only to find I was a lust-filled dancer, with so many dark desires. This trip would allow me to inspect who I truly was, to be honest, and find the real me. To stop being Tess, the girl who hadn’t stood up for anything in her life—the girl who morphed into what others wanted—and evolve. I’ll find the true Tess. My stomach twisted. What if the real me wasn’t worthy of Brax?

We pulled up to a sweeping resort with huge carvings of sombreros and tropical fruit. A fountain jetted water so high, it almost touched the three story ceiling.

A bellhop took our luggage and Brax checked us in. I wandered in bliss and wonderment. The resort was a living jungle: palm trees, ferns, and exoticness in every corner.

I thrummed with anticipation. I didn’t care we’d been awake for twenty-four hours. I wanted to explore and walk along the beach I heard in the distance. The soft slap of waves on sand enticed skinny-dipping and making love under the moonlight.

Arms banded around my waist, pulling me backward. I gasped, landing against hard muscle and wrinkled clothing. Brax kissed my collarbone; I shuddered. “Ready for bed, hun?”

Oh, yes, I was definitely ready for bed. More than ready.

I nodded breathlessly.

Brax swivelled me in his arms, taking my luggage at the same time. A bellhop stood behind, smiling indulgently. “Please, go ahead. I’ll bring your bags.”

We entered the lift, and the bellhop squeezed in, too. The mirrored interior reflected in every direction. My hair was a tangled bird’s nest, my sheer blouse crumbled and ready for a wash, and my grey-blue eyes sparkled with lust and love.

I hoped Brax saw what twinkled in my soul. How much I cared for him.

His blue eyes were warm and content as we disembarked the lift, making our way to our room. The corridor was a wide balcony, open-air with huge potted ferns and little cosy seats arranged for privacy.

“This one, if you please, sir,” the bellhop said, pointing to a door as we walked.

Brax grinned and inserted the key card. Once he placed the card in the little holder by the door, soft light illuminated. I moved forward in a trance.

The room was perfect Mexican décor of carved wood and bright paintings, the bedspread was a fiesta of colours and textures. Hand woven rugs in purples, reds, and yellows littered the hardwood floor.

I squealed in childhood amazement and dashed to the balcony. The gloom of darkness whispered magically as I listened to the waves hissing on the shore.

Heaven. I’m in heaven.

Brax tipped the bellhop and closed the door. I twisted to face him, breathing accelerated. We were finally alone after a crazy long journey.

My new bracelet tinkled, overflowing my heart with joy. I stepped toward him. Brax held out his arms, looking tired but happy.

Fitting me into his embrace perfectly, he rested his chin on my head. “Sorry I couldn’t afford five stars, Tessie.”

My eyes widened. We were in the middle of a dream and he worried he couldn’t give me more. Couldn’t he see this was perfect?

I didn’t respond. Instead, I captured his face in my hands. He froze, staring deep into my eyes. I sent messages of hunger and hot swirling need. I wanted to crawl inside his soul and light a fire to match the flames licking me.

I kissed him.

Brax tilted his head, allowing my tongue to slink between his lips, but he didn’t gather me closer. Come on. Please, need me, too.

I kissed harder, pressing against him with an urgency growing out of control. I was too hot. I needed him too much, for far too long. I should’ve spoken sooner—told him how badly I needed to be possessed. For months, I felt cast adrift, like he was no longer my anchor. I needed him to remind me I belonged to him, just like he belonged to me.

Brax chuckled beneath my kisses, twisting his lips. “What’s got into you, Tess? You can’t keep your hands off me.”

My stomach twisted; I blushed. “Is it so bad I want you? Need you? We’re in a new country. Can we celebrate our first night?” My eyes flew to the bed and back to his gaze. “We could have a shower together, then I can show you my present.”

My present consisted of dressing in fishnet tights, garter belt, and the ridiculously expensive push-up bra I bought. I’d planned it all. I’d strut my stuff, and Brax would gawk, making me feel like a goddess. I’d massage him with strawberry body oil, until he couldn’t stand it any longer and secured my wrists with my knickers. He’d take me from behind, our bodies slip sliding intoxicatingly, arousing me beyond belief. I’d even been to the beauticians and had some rather painful waxing in my nether regions especially for the occasion.

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