“Let’s eat before we leave. I’m sure there’s quite the spread downstairs.”
“Rich people breakfast?” I ask.
She furrows a brow for a few seconds. “Yes. I suppose so.” Rolling away, she swings her legs around and stands up, stretching like a cat.
“Do you eat rich people breakfast every morning?” My curiosity has been piqued.
After a long yawn, she cocks her head to the side, lips slightly twisted. “Shredded Wheat with cut-up banana and almond milk. Is that a rich person’s breakfast?”
I sit up, doing a bit of my own stretching, loving the way her gaze roams along my bare chest, her lips parting ever so slightly. “No. I think that’s a solid middle-class breakfast.”
“Middle. That’s average. Average is good, right?”
“There’s nothing average about you, Henna.” I stand, following her into the bedroom.
“I’m going to shower quickly, and by quickly I mean I need an hour. Do you have an hour?”
“To shower with you?” I try to play it cool, like I’m serious.
I’m a little serious.
The color leaves her face. “Oh, um …” She twists her fingers together, drawing her shoulders inward.
A little kidding.
Henna’s posture relaxes as her cheeks pink up again. “We could.” Her gaze darts around the room before landing on mine for two seconds only to wander around the room again.
“My clothes are at my hotel. I’ll shower there. I need to get going.”
A slow sigh deflates her chest as she tries on a smile that misses the confident mark by a few centimeters. “Okay.”
“But thanks for the offer.” I wink.
More color paints her cheeks, and it looks stunning on her. “I kinda sorta thought we’d have sex last night, but we didn’t, and that’s fine, but now I don’t know what comes next.”
Does that make me the world’s biggest idiot for not taking what she was planning on offering? Or does that make me a gentleman? I’ve already fucked her a hundred different ways in my head, so I’m going to shy away from the gentleman label.
“How about you put my number in your phone and I’ll call you later today? That feels like a good next, don’t you think?”
Henna nods and turns, walking toward the bedroom door. Digging through her purse, she retrieves her phone. When she pulls it out, a string of three condoms comes out with it. “Oh jeez.” Quickly snatching them off the floor, she shoves them back into her purse.
I don’t respond because I’m not sure what the correct response should be.
“I was conceived at Coachella.” She hands me her phone with the contact screen open, ready for my information.
Taking her phone, I give her an expectant look, but she withholds all elaboration.
“And by conceived, you mean physical conception, not merely an idea kind of conception?” I hand her phone back and give her mine.
“In the shadows behind a stage. I know more details than most people should actually know about the moment they were conceived.” She lifts a shoulder in a small shrug. “But Juni is my best friend. She’s the absolute coolest mom ever, and the story of how she met my dad is my favorite story ever.”
I nod as she keeps her chin tipped toward the screen to my phone. “Why is that?” I take my phone back when she holds it out to me.
“Yin Yang. Opposites. Laws of the universe.” She wears a satisfied smile. “My parents were temporary. I was permanent.” Holding out her arms, she inspects her henna tattoos as if seeing them for the first time. “My mom had henna tattoos on her body when she met my dad. Henna grows in intensity over a few days before fading to nothing. It’s magical and beautiful and then it’s gone. My parents say that about their love for each other. It grew quickly into something deep and intense, but over time it faded. Their love—like most everything in life—was temporary.”
Her empty stare shifts to meet my gaze and she nods. “Don’t sweat it. Everything is temporary. But today…” she walks into my chest, and my arms wrap around her as she looks up at me “…we should be at our brightest, our most intense.”
About the author
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.