Posted by Genie Gabriel
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A flurry of snowflakes blew against the floor to ceiling windows, making Lauren glad she had purchased warmer clothing for the weather in the Idaho mountains. Yet the thought of traveling to sunny Los Angeles in two days brought a chill no amount of warm clothing could dispel.
Was she crazy to think she could do this?
Zach opened the door to the main house and stood aside to let Lauren enter first. Lauren steeled herself and stepped across the threshold.
Accustomed to neutral colors, her senses had not adjusted to the vibrant mix of reds and animal print fabrics that filled the lower floor of Zach’s house. Flanking the fireplace, a sofa of crushed red velvet faced two zebra-striped armchairs. Nearby, a pair of leopard-print chairs in the shape of a lady’s high-heeled shoe sat toe to toe under the arch of an alcove, as if sharing a whispered conversation.
In all the years Lauren had known Zach, she avoided coming to his house if at all possible. It gave her one small piece of control to keep her heart from completely shattering when he left her again.
“Care for a nightcap?” Zach’s host personality emerged once again as they entered the living room.
Amid the vivid decor, Zach did indeed look pale, with dark smudges beginning to appear under his eyes.
“Let’s just go to bed,” Lauren said firmly.
“You haven’t slept with me for a very long time.”
Lauren’s gaze sharpened on Zach, expecting to see the quirk of a smile at the corner of Zach’s mouth. Instead, the hopeful look in his eyes generated an ache deep in her belly.
“Not tonight, Zach. You’re too tired.”
“At least let me show you the Chamber of Love.”
Of course she should say no. However, Zach had let her off the hook last night with some lame excuse. If she agreed to at least look she could make sure Zach didn’t sneak back to the rehearsal hall. Then she could sleep. So Lauren followed Zach to the much-touted master bedroom suite that had been featured on the cover of several supermarket tabloids.
A short trip down another hallway brought them to a black lacquered door framed with ornate moldings of hearts and cupids. Zach paused and gestured for Lauren to enter. “Here we are.”
Lauren took a deep breath and stepped into the room. Black and red satin shimmered from every wall and piece of furniture. On the lamps, on the bureau, around the mirror and looped over glossy brass drapery rods at the windows. Even the pleated black shades were embossed with bold red hearts, which seemed to have fallen onto the carpet in a random pattern.
Zach strode toward the heart-shaped bed dominating the center of the room. Tiers of saucy black lace accented a red satin coverlet that invited lovers to cling together on its shiny surface.
Zach stood in the middle of the room, grinning. “Isn’t it just–”
“Awful,” Lauren whispered, fervently looking for a chair where she could sit down and stop the tilt of her stomach. “Just awful.”
“Amazing!” Zach said, seeming not to hear Lauren’s comment. “Have you ever seen anything like this?”
Lauren’s head bobbled from side to side. “No. I can honestly say I have not.” She rubbed her temples with her fingertips as she muttered to herself. “Thank heaven for sparing me that trauma.”
Zach’s voice right beside Lauren startled her. “Come on, let me show you what she can do.”
Zach took Lauren’s hand and led her to the bed, nudging her to sit. Struggling to stay upright atop the slippery red fabric, Lauren lost her balance when the bed moved. With a startled shriek, she tipped into Zach’s lap.
Zach grinned. “I knew you couldn’t resist me.”
Lauren didn’t have time to question the funny lurch in her stomach as the bed started undulating. First one curved side of the giant heart, then the other, moved to the rhythm of the music that floated from speakers in the headboard. Back and forth, back and forth, like the sensuous roll of a stripper’s hips.
“Please turn it off.” Lauren grabbed for the satin coverlet, squeezing Zach’s leg instead.
“Mmm.” Zach flexed his leg beneath her hand and, to Lauren’s gratitude, stopped the undulating bed. “Here, lay back and relax.”
Without waiting for an answer, Zach tipped Lauren horizontal on the bed.
“No–” A shimmy started against Lauren’s backside, wriggling up her spine and down to her toes. Now the bed was vibrating!
“Feel the heat?” Zach leaned over Lauren, his ski-slope nose with a slightly off-center bump close enough to touch the tip of her own nose.
Fighting both memories and her uneven breathing, Lauren struggled to a sitting position. “Turn it off. Turn it all off.”
Like a hurt little boy, Zach’s face fell as he touched the control pad in his hand. Lauren refused to give in to the tug of guilt.
“You need to rest.” She took the control away from Zach and set it on the bureau, hopefully far enough away from Zach’s playful fingers that she would be out of the room before anything else started moving.
“But you haven’t seen the mirror on the ceiling.”
“Maybe some other time.”
“It’s a very special mirror.” A smile teased the corners of Zach’s mouth. “It makes certain body parts look bigger.”
“I don’t want to see your mirror.” Lauren’s words came out in a rush as she slid off the bed, nearly landing in a heap on the fluffy white rug–one of the few things in the room that wasn’t black or red.
Without looking at Zach, Lauren scrambled for the door, before she drowned in her own desires.
(Copyright Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel)
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