Lexa sat on the couch, laptop across her knees, while she scrutinized the half-dozen marketing images on the monitor. The television droned in the background and lit the room with a faint blue glow. A quick glance at the forty-two-inch screen showed her an infomercial for some newfangled hair-removal product.
A soft thump drew the woman’s head to the right to peer down the hallway. Barry, her husband, must have fallen asleep in bed with the remote in his hand, again. She waited to determine if the noise had woken him up. Four minutes ticked by on the big wooden clock above their dining table and no sign of Barry. Thank God. Explaining why she was still up was an argument she didn’t feel like having again.
Taking a deep breath, Lexa turned back to her computer. She closed her eyes for a moment, rubbing the fatigue from them and nearly jumped out of her skin when her BlackBerry buzzed and dual pings announced the arrival of instant messages on her laptop and cell phone.
“What the hell?” she muttered to the empty room.
The chat box on her laptop screen read: Why are you still up?
She read the name displayed in the upper left corner of the window and blinked with disbelief. Thomas Daniels. A small avatar beside his message revealed Tom’s familiar smile, patrician nose, and green eyes. His dark blond hair was unkempt and his shoulders were bare in the photo. Must be his personal chat account, she thought. And how did he find hers?
Why was the hunky account manager messaging her at…? What time was it anyway? Lexa glanced at the clock again and jerked in surprise. Two-thirty-one in the morning. Shit.
Her cursor flashed in the reply box, daring her to answer him. She sighed and typed: Tweaking the images. Colors aren’t right. Why aren’t you sleeping? At least one of us should be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the presentation.
I couldn’t sleep. The first line read. She nodded in understanding and then felt silly; he couldn’t see her nonverbal response. They were due to present the firm’s biggest client with a new ad proposal at ten that morning. Another line of text popped up on the screen and shocked her to the core. It read: Can’t get you off my mind. I keep thinking of how you were bent over the worktable yesterday when I walked into your office. You have the most amazing ass I’ve ever laid eyes on, Lexa.
What? She typed and hit enter. Tom knew she was married, everyone in the office did. None of them were aware of the state of her marriage; it wasn’t any of their business.
She and Barry hadn’t been happy together for quite some time. They had tried to make it work for the first eighteen months. Then Lexa realized the true nature of the lazy, lying, and un-ambitious man she’d married. They’d moved into separate bedrooms and agreed to put a good face on things for the time being. That had been seven and a half years ago.
Look at the message on your phone, he replied. See how bad I want you.
Lexa picked up her BlackBerry, flipped to her text messaging inbox and opened the message. Her eyes widened in disbelief at the picture he’d sent her. Heavily muscled pectorals, a lickable six-pack and – holy hell, mother nature had blessed him below the waist.
Quickly deleting the image, she put the device down and stared at the chat box for a long moment. Her pulse thudded hard and fast. No way. That wasn’t him in the photo. He’d found it online and was just playing with her. No matter how she tried to explain the reasoning behind it, the image stuck in her mind.
Lexa? It prompted. The cursor blinked, silently demanding she respond.
You know I’m married, right? She hit enter and closed her eyes. Was this really happening? The man she fantasized about every night wanted her. She’d achieved some of the best orgasms of her life picturing Tom while she masturbated.
The soft ping came back almost instantly. Technically, yes. You haven’t been husband and wife for a very long time, Lexa. The two of you don’t even share a bedroom.
She leaned against the cushions, stunned and a bit creeped out. How do you know? Have you been spying on me?
No. The word stared at her, short and sweet.
The breeze through her living room windows carried in the sound of a door opening and closing outside. One of the neighbors must be letting a pet out, she thought.
Come outside, Lexa. Leave the laptop on the couch and go out the patio doors.
Lexa cocked her head at the odd request. Putting down her cell phone, she set the laptop aside and padded quietly across the carpet to the set of doors leading to her backyard. She slid the screen door open, flinching as the motion detectors lit up the patio when she stepped out onto the wooden planks.
Barely discernible beyond the bright light in which she stood, Lexa noticed a figure on a far deck across the expanse of lawn separating the two houses. The general proportions of the shadow matched those belonging to a male. Tall with broad shoulders, her neighbor waved casually. She returned the gesture and scanned the yard. Why had Tom sent her outside?
“Lexa,” the man across the way spoke. “It’s me.”
“Tom?” she gasped. “How long have you lived there?”
His soft laugh floated across to her. A shiver skated down her spine and goose bumps bloomed on her skin courtesy of the deep, melodious sound. She blamed the reaction on the cool summer breeze but, deep down, she knew Tom was the cause.
“I moved in two years ago,” he replied. “You’d know that if you spent time out here.”
A blush heated her cheeks at his teasing. “I prefer the front yard. There’s more shade.”
“I know,” he admitted. Tom stepped back from the railing, opened the gate and started down the stairs. He glanced at the hedges and turned his gaze back to her. “More privacy back here though. The neighbors can’t spy through those.”
Lexa stared as he moved closer and the motion detector lights revealed more of him with each step closer. She couldn’t help but gaze at his chest, the six-pack of abs and the deep v curving into the waistband of his dark boxers. Every part of him bulged with muscles and proved the image he’d sent wasn’t one Tom found on the internet. The pic had been one of him and her mind instantly recalled the other detail, the one barely concealed by his shorts.
“Tom?” she squeaked when he reached the bottom of her steps. He smiled and held out a hand for her.
“Come on,” he urged her. “Barry’s room is at the front of the house. He’ll never know you left.”
She glanced over her shoulder at the patio doors and Tom thought for a moment Lexa might say no to his request. Her small, even white teeth worried at the full sweep of her lower lip when she looked back at him. He smiled encouragingly and waited to see what she would do.
It had come as a surprise when he’d started working at Page and Butler, Inc. found out the luscious junior account manager was his backyard neighbor. The biggest shock was when Tom had discovered her husband barbecuing one Sunday afternoon. They’d gotten to talking and, after a few beers, Barry had been all too happy to spill the beans about the state of his marriage over medium-rare steaks and potato salad.
Tom glanced up at Lexa. Her long, straight hair hung down her back in a gorgeous curtain of chestnut brown. A light blue camisole covered high, perky breasts and a trim, flat stomach. His cock twitched against the soft silk of his boxers; she wasn’t wearing a bra and the pebbled tips of her nipples pressed against the thin cotton of her top. He could almost make out the dark circles of her areolas through the fabric.
“I can’t,” she finally replied. “We can’t. We’ve got a huge presentation in less than eight hours, Tom.”
He laughed softly and climbed the first step up to her. “It’s perfect and we’ll do fine. Come with me,” he said. “Let me kiss you? If you don’t want to come with me after that, I’ll leave you alone.”
Suddenly, the light turned off and plunged them into darkness. Tom climbed another step to kick it back on and then decided if he was going that far, he might as well go all the way.
Standing on the deck, the gate separating them, he smiled down at Lexa. Her wide eyes, filled with uncertainty in their chocolate brown depths, stared up at him. He lifted a hand to cup her left check. She pressed into the caress and he took it as her agreement to the terms he’d set out.
Lifting his other hand to her right cheek, Tom bent and gently pressed his lips to hers. The kiss started out hesitantly, his mouth testing hers, tongue sliding over the seam. She opened for him on the second pass and he swept inside with a groan of satisfaction.
Soft and hesitant, her fingers brushed his skin, tracing the contours of his ribs. He continued kissing her, waiting for her next move. She didn’t disappoint. Lexa gently dug her nails into his lower back, urging him closer.
Exultant, Tom groaned and, wrapping his arms around her small frame, crushed Lexa to him. The soft rounds of her breasts pressed firmly into his chest, her upper body moulded perfectly to his above the separation of the patio’s short gate. God, had anything ever felt so damn good?
Lexa pulled back, her lips swollen and glistening. She glanced down at the barrier between them and frowned.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Why’d you stop?”
She lifted her gaze to meet his, the moon reflected in the deep pools of her eyes.
“The gate,” she replied with a rueful smile. “It’s pressing into my hips.”
“Oh,” he said simply. “So. Am I leaving alone then?”
He couldn’t read her expression. They stood inches apart and yet he felt like they stood on opposite ends of a chasm while she debated the future of their relationship. He wanted desperately to be a fly on the wall inside her mind. Would the one kiss they’d shared be it and they would continue on as work associates? Or, would she take a leap and trust him to treat her right.
Finally, she took a deep breath as if she were about to speak. He froze, anticipating the worst.
“Yes,” she began. Tom closed his eyes, deflated by the rejection. “But, after the presentation? I’m all yours.”
Opening his eyes, he grinned at her. His heart beat a mile a minute as elation coursed through him. He leaned in, kissing her hard and fast.
“Really?” he asked. She nodded, a small smile playing at the corners of her mouth. He laughed, “You realize, this is totally gonna screw with my concentration, right? I won’t be able to think of anything else but you.”
Lexa looked up at him and bit her lip. She traced a slim finger down his chest and winked at him.
“Good,” she smirked. “Make sure you think of me without panties on, because I won’t be wearing any.”
His erection jerked behind the waist band of his shorts and Tom recalled the image he’d texted her. He grinned, reaching out to flip a strap off her shoulder.
“That’s fine, as long as you’re thinking of the pic I sent you earlier.”
“Trust me,” she chuckled. “I will be; haven’t stopped since I first saw it. I have to admit, though. The real thing is much, much better.”
Tom reached out to flick the other strap from her shoulders but she caught him by the wrist and shook her head.
“Damn,” he laughed.
She lifted his arm, turning his palm up and pressed her lips to the center of his hand. “Later. For now, I think we should both get some sleep.
He nodded, hiding his disappointment when she released his arm and stepped back. Lexa was right, they’d been working on the presentation for weeks and it needed to be stellar. If they didn’t knock the socks of their client, the chances of winning the account went down the drain along with all of their hard work.
“Okay. After work then? Dinner at my place to celebrate.”
Lexa gave him a smile and Tom watched her walk back into the house. He stood in the moonlit darkness for a moment more before slowly making his way home. There was no way in hell he’d sleep with images of her swimming through his lust addled brain. He doubted she’d be getting much sleep either.
It was going to be a long day, but so worth it. His only hope was that she didn’t rethink things and back out. Tom had been lusting after her since going to work for Page and Butler four months ago. Now that he’d gotten up the nerve to approach her, there was no way he was backing down. She would be his, no matter what.
Shutting the patio door behind him, Tom made his way down the hall and flopped down on his bed to wait for his alarm clock to go off. It was going to be the longest day of his life.
Second Chances will continue on October 1st, 2011.
Copyright © 2011 Danielle Gavan
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.