The Cove
Page 81

 Catherine Coulter

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He was on his knees between her legs, bending over her, his hands gentle as they lightly touched her left shoulder. She winced. “There. Okay, hold still, let me feel around just a bit more.” She looked like the Italian flag, the bruises raw and bright, slashing downward to her breasts and over her shoulder cap to her upper arm. Some of the colors were smearing into each other, green the predominant one.
He leaned down and kissed her shoulder.
She felt her hands clenching on his arms. “I’m sorry you got hurt.” He kissed her again, on her left breast this time. He laid his cheek against her breast and listened to her heartbeat, so clear and strong, and now it was speeding up. Why not, he thought. He raised his head and smiled at her.
“A woman who’s lived with as much stress as you have must have release. It’s the best medicine.” He kissed her again, and eased off her onto his side. He slid his palm down her body, lightly caressing her belly, then his fingers found her. He caressed her even as he kissed her, knowing that she was scared, nervous, but he didn’t stop. His fingers went deeper, changing rhythm, even as his breath speeded up as he felt her relax, as he felt the excitement of what he was doing to her break through her embarrassment.
He lifted his head and smiled at her dazed face. “It’s all right, sweetheart. You need this. God knows I do, too.”
He began kissing her again, talking into her mouth, sex words that were crude and raw and exciting. When she came, he took her cries in his mouth, held her tightly against him, and wished like mad that he could come inside her. He hurt, he was pressing hard as a board against her thigh.
But he couldn’t.
Dillon knocked lightly on the adjoining door.
“Quinlan, Sally, you guys awake?”
He looked down at the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. She was just staring at him as if she couldn’t believe what had happened.
“You okay?”
She just stared at him, mute.
“Hey, Quinlan, you up? Come on, you guys, we’ve got miles to go.”
“That’s the guy who owns the Porsche,” Quinlan said. “We’ve got to hang on to him.” He kissed the tip of her nose and forced himself to leave her.
“I LIKE YOUR apartment.”
He grinned at the back of her head. “Easy for you to say since it’s got more character than that motel room—”
She turned to face him, no longer dressed in the too-tight jeans, his coat that had hung halfway down her legs, and the blouse that had gaped open over her breasts.
They’d stopped at the Macy’s in Montgomery Plaza on the way back to Washington. Dillon had bowed out, heading for the computer software store in the mall. James and Sally had enjoyed themselves immensely, arguing over everything from the color of her nightgown to the style of her shoes. She left wearing dark-brown corduroy slacks that fit her very nicely, a cream pullover wool sweater over a brown turtleneck, and neat brown leather half boots.
He was carrying his own coat—the one she’d taken—over his arm. He doubted the dry cleaners would be able to get out the grease stains from her motorcycle accident.
“I’ve heard that men living alone usually live in a dump—you know, empty pizza cartons all over everywhere, including the bathroom, dead plants, and horrible furniture they got from their mother’s attic.”
“I like to live well,” he said, and realized it was true. He didn’t like mess or secondhand furniture, and he loved plants and impressionist paintings. He was lucky to have Mrs. Mulgravy live next to him. She saw to everything when he was gone, particularly his precious African violets.
“You do very well with plants.”
“I think the secret is that I play my sax to them. Most of them prefer blues.”
“I don’t think I like the blues,” she said, still looking at him intently.
“Have you ever listened to Dexter Gordon? John Coltrane? Gordon’s album Blue Notes wrings your withers.”
“I’ve heard of Gato Barbieri.”
“He’s great too. I learned a lot from him and Phil Woods. There’s hope yet for you, Sally. You’ll get an earful tonight. You’ve got to give the wailing and the rhythm a chance.”
“That’s your hobby, James?”
He looked just a bit embarrassed. “Yeah, I play the saxophone at the Bonhomie Club on Friday and Saturday nights. Except when I’m not in town, like last night.”
“Are you playing tonight?”
“Yes, but no, not now. You’re here.”