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Her Secret Thrill(10)

By:Donna Kauffman



“Well, I’m fresh out of tolerance tonight,” she said aloud, and headed directly for the only wine she was still in the mood for. A nice, light sauvignon. Preferably chilled.

She’d barely taken the first sip, when her phone rang. She merely took another sip, deciding to let the machine take it. On her schedule was a long bath, followed by some Chinese takeout and at least three more hours of work. Whoever was on the line could wait their turn.

“Holcomb, this is Harwood. If you’re there, please pick up.”

Natalie groaned, and as she headed for the phone said several things no upper-crust, born-and-bred New Englander would ever say. Yes, the joys of being the family black sheep were small, but she took them where she could.

Harwood was her supervisor’s boss, one of the newer partners in the firm. Newer and therefore frantic to do whatever he could to impress his new fellow partners, which was often at his subordinate’s expense. But as a fellow ladder climber, she bowed and did as she was asked, all in the hope that one day she, too, could terrorize minions.

She snatched up the phone. Harwood talked right over her hello and kept on talking, until he finished and abruptly hung up ten minutes later.

“So nice talking to you, too, sir, Grand Pooh-Bah, sir,” she said, making a face as she hung up. As the dial tone rang in her ear, right then and there she vowed never to abuse her minions. “If I ever have any.” Which, of course, she would. She was a Holcomb. “And Holcombs always have minions. It’s in section two, paragraph four of our genetic code.”

But there was a silver lining to Harwood’s latest edict. She swallowed the rest of her wine and picked up the phone again. With the time change, Liza would likely still be in her West Coast office.

“Guess what?” she asked in lieu of hello.

“You’re coming?” Liza squealed. “Oh, this is great! But I thought you had depositions and briefs and research.” The latter part had been said in her nasal, uptight lawyer voice, which somehow always made Nat laugh.

“Rescheduled. The Grand Poo-Bah has spoken. I take the red-eye tomorrow night and have meetings all day Thursday and Friday. I’ll probably look like something the cat dragged in by Friday night, but if you still want me to come, I’ll be there.” Natalie ignored the fact that she’d still have all her own work to do, in addition to what had just been added to her schedule. But if they were going to drown her in legal briefs, then damn if she wasn’t going to have at least an hour or two doing what she wanted.

Jake.

No. She resolutely would not go there. So what if he’d be in town at the same time. She’d already decided it had to be a one-time affair. She’d be too busy, anyway.

“I guess staying with me is out of the question.”

“Too far,” Natalie agreed. Harwood specialized in entertainment law. “I’ll be out near Century City.” She smiled. “Besides, having me there would sort of cramp your style. Isn’t Conrad still staying with you?”

Liza laughed. “First of all, since when has having someone else around ever cramped anything of mine?”

Natalie knew that better than anyone. She could still hear the shrieks of ecstasy coming from Liza’s bedroom at The Maxi.

She still hadn’t told Liza about Jake. She’d wanted to, intended to, but somehow she’d ended up just telling her she’d gone out for coffee after the party. And since she’d never see him again, there was no point in telling Liza now. She’d only hound Natalie about seeing him again.

“As for Conrad, yeah, he’s still around.”

“Almost two weeks. A record for you, Liza,” she teased. “Better watch out, you’re rushing headlong into what others might actually describe as a relationship.”

Liza wasn’t offended. In fact, she laughed. “Never fear, honey. You know I get bored easily. And with all these luscious men out here? Why waste them on the young and naive, when I’m available?”

Natalie laughed along with her, but privately she felt the same twinge of worry she always did when her friend talked like that. Of course, since her morning with Jake, she had no right to talk. In fact, she’d privately wondered if maybe she shouldn’t be more like her best friend, more cavalier about life and love and having a good time. After all, how many times had Liza tried to pound it into her that they were only young once? And Liza intended to stay that way as long as possible. Of course, the secret to her fountain of youth was usually about six-two and built like a billboard model. In fact, he usually was a model.

“I keep telling you to come out here and ply your legal-eagle trade. I could teach you how to have a good time.”

Natalie had heard this too many times to count. But she liked the energy of New York. And, like it or not, being here made it easier to make the obligatory trips home when absolutely necessary. Which was far more often than she liked.

“Well, with the way you go through men, there’s hardly any left for me, anyway,” she joked.

“Oh, sweetie, they come in daily. By the busloads. Trust me. Hey! You want me to set you up for Friday?”

“No!” Natalie cleared her throat. “I mean, I’ll be happy if I don’t look like a whipped puppy. The pressure of a blind date would kill me. Okay?”

There was a telling pause.

“Promise me, Liza. If I even think you’ll pull a fast one—”

Liza laughed gaily. “Oh, but, sweetie, the fast ones are the most fun!”

Natalie wondered what her friend would say if she told her just how fast she’d been at Liza’s last party. “Thanks, but no thanks. Swear?”

“Swear. But all work and no play—”

“Makes Natalie a successful, if lonely, attorney. Now go play with Conrad, and I’ll see you Friday.”

She hung up smiling, glad she’d called. She was in a much better mood. She only whimpered a little when she looked at the cardboard box full of files she had to go through tonight. “All work and no play.” She sighed. “That’s me.”

You could play with Jake. All day Saturday. Or whatever part of it he’s free, her subconscious taunted her. In a little more then seventy-two hours you could be sweaty, naked and having multiple orgasms.

She resolutely ignored her body’s lurching response to that idea and punched her speed dial for the nearby Chinese takeout. “I’ll show them I know how to live.” Tonight she’d order Peking duck instead of her usual moo-shu pork. With extra plum sauce. So there.

Coming, again and again, while he pounds into you like a—

And just for good measure, while she was out, maybe she’d better pick up some extra batteries for her vibrator.





6




NATALIE STARED at the one outfit she’d brought for Liza’s party and found herself wishing she’d opted for something less…clingy. She’d worn “clingy” the last time she’d gone to one of Liza’s shindigs, and look where that had landed her.

She snatched the silky, ruby-red dress off the hanger and slid it over her head. It felt like sin sliding over her skin. She told herself it was the extreme fatigue that made her skin feel the way it did, overly sensitized to every little touch or caress. Well, anyone would be edgy after two days of brain-frying debate, she told herself. She allowed herself a private little victory smile as she stepped into her heels. Even Harwood would be impressed with the results she’d gotten today.

“Now it’s time to party!” She ducked into the bathroom and checked her makeup one last time. Not her best, but at least two degrees better than the whipped-puppy look she’d been sporting earlier, so she was happy enough.

She managed to not think about Jake all the way to the lobby—only a five-minute trip total, but it was a start. Then she passed the concierge desk and paused. Again. As she had every time she’d passed it during her stay. And once again she wondered if she should leave a message at Jake’s hotel. She’d resisted every other time. But now she was less than twenty-four hours from leaving the city. The city he was in. Who knew when their paths might cross again? Although, if by some miracle Liza kept seeing Conrad, it could happen, and when Natalie least expected it.

Maybe it was best if they met under her terms. With such a short time before her departure, it was unlikely he’d have time for anything more than coffee. And the more she thought about it, that might be the perfect end point for her little escapade with him.

If she saw him this one last time, she would be able to put this whole thing in its proper perspective and stop fantasizing about the guy every other minute. After all, the last time she had seen him he’d been sprawled in bed wearing nothing more than a sexy grin. Maybe she just needed to see him out in public, clothes on. Sexy grin optional.

So what if the one and only time she’d seen him they’d ended up having wild passionate sex…wild passionate sex he’d asked her to have again. Certainly she could manage one innocent little cup of closure coffee without succumbing to her baser urges again. Baser urges she hadn’t even known she’d had until—

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” She marched up to the concierge and snatched a piece of paper, scribbling her note before she lost her nerve.

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