Authors: Jennifer Crusie
“Gotcha,” Jane said. “What is it? A dirty movie?”
“If we’re lucky,” Emily said.
The film arrived the next day, but it was after five before Emily had a chance to look at it. Richard had also ruled out buying rubies, so she’d been searching for loose stones to rent, which was almost impossible. At five-thirty she gave up and ran for the elevator. When the doors opened, Richard was the only one inside.
“Did you find any rubies to rent?” He smiled at her, and she ignored him.
I’ve had a lousy day trying to solve the hopeless problem you created for me. There’s not enough charm in the world,
After a few moments, he tried again.
“A dirty movie?” He gestured at the videotape in her hand.
“I don’t know.” She tried to shove it into her pocket. “An old friend sent it to me. I’m going to rent a VCR and find out.”
“I have a VCR. Come home with me. We’ll get a pizza and watch your tape.”
Emily shook her head. “I don’t even know what’s on it.”
“Then we can find out together.” Richard took her arm and walked her to the street, hailed a cab and put her into it. He gave the cabby his address and then climbed in beside her.
“What do you want on your pizza?” Richard asked.
“I have a choice?” Emily said.
* * *
surprising. It was as neat as she’d expected, but instead of the grim glass-and-steel decor she’d visualized for him, it was leather and brass, rich and masculine, but still warm.
“This place is great,” she said, and he smiled at her, pleased.
“I’ll open some wine.” He pulled a bottle from a well-stocked wine rack. “Then we can order the pizza.”
Emily moved to stop him. “Really, don’t go to any trouble. I just need to see a little of the tape, and then I’ll go.”
He eased the cork out of the bottle and poured the wine into two glasses he took from an overhead rack.
“No trouble.” He handed her a glass and lifted his in a toast. “To Sizzle.”
Emily sighed. “To Sizzle,” she echoed, and drank while he watched to see if she liked it. The wine was full-bodied and tart, and she drank again. “This is wonderful,” she said, and he smiled at her, relieved, and refilled her glass as she protested.
“No, really. I won’t be able to see the tape. Where’s your VCR?”
“This way.” He led her through double doors off the living room.
The first thing she saw was his big brass bed, a riot of curling, twisting, gleaming metal. “It’s beautiful,” she said, staring at it. He’d covered it with a thick white down comforter, and she had a brief vision of herself stretched across it while...
“It was my grandmother’s.” His eyes met hers and she had a fleeting thought he might have been thinking the same thing that she had been.
Stop fantasizing, she told herself.
Richard went to a tall cabinet in the corner of the room and opened the doors to reveal a large TV and VCR unit. He slipped in the tape and turned on the TV.
“You’ll have to sit on the bed,” he said, turning back to her. “I don’t have any chairs in here. Unless you’d like a stool from the kitchen?”
“No, the bed’s fine.” Emily perched primly on the edge.
Richard punched the play button, looked at her uncertainly for a moment then left her.
A clapper appeared on the screen with the scene number, and then it was pulled away. A man and a woman stood facing each other, dark and slender, dressed conservatively, talking about a business deal they were working on. Then the woman smiled and said, “This isn’t what this is all about.” She kissed him slowly, and the scene exploded with eroticism as they undressed each other and made love. Emily forgot she was in Richard’s bedroom and sat mesmerized by the tape, drinking slowly from her wineglass and becoming more and more flushed as the couple on the screen became more and more passionate. It was the most erotic love scene she’d ever seen.
The next scene began, a chase scene through what looked like San Francisco, and Emily tore her eyes away from the set. Richard had come back and was watching her, and she suddenly became conscious of how flushed she was and how fast she was breathing. She put down her glass and got up from the bed.
“Well,” she said, then stopped. He, too, had put his glass down and was coming toward her. “Uh, Richard,” she began, and he put his arms around her and pulled her close. “I don’t think so,” she said, and he kissed her, his lips soft but firm on hers, holding her against him while she drowned in his kiss.
When she came up for air, she was reeling. “Wait a minute,” she gasped, and he kissed her again, running his hands across her back, pulling her hard against him. She shoved him away.
“You never listen,” she said.
He stopped and said, “I’m sorry,” and tried to get his breath back, looking at her with a dizziness compounded equally from lust and adoration.
He looks great when he’s dizzy,
I’m dizzy, too. What am I doing?
Then he touched her and said “I’m sorry” again, and she gave up and said, “That’s good enough for me.” She moved against him, running her hands across his chest and up and around his neck, pulling his mouth down to hers, kissing him hard, biting him on the lip. He kissed her back and then pulled his face away from hers and picked her up, dropping her into the middle of the thick white comforter and rolling onto it beside her. He kissed her neck, then the hollow of her throat, and then the warm place between her breasts, while she ran her fingernails over his back through his shirt. His lips left a trail of heat on her skin.
“Sizzle,” she said, and laughed, and he did, too, and kissed her again.
She felt the heat flow into her bone-deep, felt the sizzle everywhere he touched her, and she rolled as close as she could to him to feel his body hard next to hers.
He unbuttoned her blouse, kissing the tops of her breasts above the lacy bra and making her shiver while he slid his hands beneath her back to find her bra clasp.
“It’s in front,” she whispered, but he still ran his fingers along her back. “Richard, the hook is in front.”
“What?” he murmured into her ear, not listening.
She closed her eyes in irritation, but then he moved his tongue into her ear, and the sizzle down her spine made her forget her irritation. She unhooked her bra herself and then unbuttoned his shirt and ran her tongue over the hard muscles of his chest, and when he finally pulled her bra off, she rolled into him, relishing the heat of their bodies against each other.
He pushed her back gently. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time,” he said, and bent over her, touching her nipples lightly with his tongue, first one then the other, finally sinking his mouth over her breast and sucking until she cried and twisted in his arms, the heat and need so great she had to move against him, hard against his mouth and hands, because he felt so impossibly good wherever he touched her. He moved his mouth to her other breast and tormented her until she was almost unconscious with lust for him. Then he slid his hand under her skirt to stroke the smooth silk between her legs.
Any thought Emily might still have cherished of saying no disappeared. She writhed under his hand and reached for him, stroking down across his stomach with her hand until she felt him hard beneath the fabric of his clothing. She pressed against him, and he moaned and kissed her, thrusting his tongue into her mouth.
When he moved his mouth to her throat, she gasped, “Richard, I—”
“Not now,” he said, and moved his hand down her body.
Emily felt herself grow even hotter from anger.
Who the hell did he think he was?
He pushed his hand into her panties and then slid his fingers into her, and she forgot she cared who he was and moaned at the sheer tormenting ecstasy of his hand.
His doorbell rang.
“Make love to me now,” she said to him. She crawled on top of him, pushing herself down on his hand. “I can’t believe how much I want you.”
“Wait.” He moved his hand away. “I’ll get rid of whoever it is. I’ll be back.”
“No,” she said, trying to hold on to him, but he slid out from under her, kissing her breast as he went and leaving her gasping on the bed. After a few minutes, she pulled herself up and saw herself in the mirror at the foot of the bed. Her French twist had loosened, her eyes were half-closed with lust and her mouth was bruised from his. She was naked to the waist, flushed with need for him.
And he was in the living room, talking to someone.
“I don’t believe this,” she muttered. She slipped off the bed, put her bra and blouse back on and tucked her hair back into some kind of order. Then she ejected the tape from the VCR and went into the living room.
He was standing at the door talking to George, whose eyes went wide when he saw her.
“Thanks for letting me use the VCR,” she said, pulling on her coat. “See you tomorrow.” She ducked around them both and walked rapidly toward the elevator. The doors slid open at once, and she got in.
I can’t believe I did that,
I can’t believe I
did that. With Richard Parker. Who is beautiful, but sort of cold. Only he wasn’t cold tonight. Oh, my God,
I really want him.
She leaned back against the wall of the elevator and thought about how wonderful making love with him would have been. Except that he had to answer the damn door. She’d said no, don’t, but he knew best. He didn’t listen. The hell with him.
She caught a cab home and then dreamed of him all night, making love to her to the sound of doorbells.
* * *
that was so special yesterday?” Jane asked archly.
“I had a bad night,” Emily snapped. “Say what you mean.”
“Three dozen roses in a crystal vase on your desk. Here’s the card. It’s sealed so I couldn’t read it. You will, of course, show it to me because it would be too cruel of you not to.”
The card read, “I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you. Richard.”
“Fat chance.” Emily dropped the card into the wastebasket. She handed Jane the videotape. “Watch this tonight and see what you think. For product placement.”
Jane promptly fished the card out of the wastebasket and followed her into the office as she read it.
“Richard, huh? What did he do?”
“It’s what he didn’t do.” The roses were lovely. She handed them to Jane. “Send these back to him.”
“Boy, he must have really screwed up,” Jane said, taking the vase.
Jane buzzed her twenty minutes later. “The Hun is on line three. Be gentle with him.”
“Ha.” Emily punched three. “Yes?”
“Emily, I’m sorry about last night.”
“You should be.”
“Let me make it up to you.”
“Not even with rubies. Any man who would leave me for George—”
“I just wanted to get rid of him so we wouldn’t be interrupted.”
“And when the Girl Scouts came selling cookies, you’d talk to them, too. And Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some guy working his way through college by selling encyclopedias.”
She heard a faint buzz, and he swore. “Hold on a second,” he said. “I’ve got another call.” And the line fell silent.
Emily clutched the receiver in a death grip and then carefully returned it to the cradle.
Jane opened the door. “I saw the light go out. What happened?”
“He put me on hold.”
Jane swallowed. “Oh, boy.”
“The lousy son of a bitch put me on hold.”
Jane went out, closing the door behind her.
Emily stared straight ahead, rigid with anger.
Jane buzzed her again. “Richard on two.”
Emily picked up the phone.
put me on hold again.”
“Jane said that was a mistake,” he said ruefully. “Let me make it up to you.”
“You can’t make it up to me. Not with dinners, not with roses, not with rubies. You are a controlling, cost-effective, power-mad, anal-retentive, deaf son of a bitch!” She ended on what from a lesser woman would have been a shriek and slammed the phone down. Then she buzzed Jane.
“I am not taking any calls from Richard Parker no matter what he has to say. If he wants to communicate with me, tell him to send a memo.”
“Right,” Jane said.
* * *
conference room at five,” Jane said as Emily got ready to leave that night.
“Memo just in from George’s office.” Jane handed it to her.
Emily groaned and crumpled the memo. “I’m tired. I want to go home.”
“Well, you can as soon as you’ve done the executive bit.”
“I wish I was a secretary.”
“No, you don’t.” Jane put her coat on. “You’re a terrible typist. You’d starve. See you tomorrow.”
Emily kicked off her shoes and sat in the gloom of her office.
I’m so tired,
And my panty hose are driving me nuts. I hate panty hose. They’re an invention of the devil. I’m never wearing them again.
She took them off as a gesture of independence and threw them away. There was a run in one leg, anyway.
Instantly she felt better, cooler. She leaned back in her chair and spread her legs apart to cool them, reveling in the relief from the scratchy heat of the hose. It reminded her of other ways of feeling good. It reminded her that she was still so frustrated from the night before she wanted to kill.
It reminded her she still wanted Richard.
No, she didn’t. She was going to forget him and go home.
She looked at the clock. Five-fifteen. Damn.
She slipped her bare feet into her heels and went down the hall to the conference room.
“George?” It was dark in the room, and as the door swung behind her she bumped into him, tall and broad and muscular.