tagRomanceCaught by the Tide Ch. 04

Caught by the Tide Ch. 04



Waiting for a flash, for another confirmatory rumble, I lay perfectly still, holding my breath, my eyes wide open. I'd hated storms since I was a kid. Though my terror had abated over the years, the wisdom of maturity kicking in, I could never quite forget the trauma of being told at five years old that a friend of my father's had been struck by lightning whilst playing golf. He'd died instantly. Ever since, I'd had an irrational fear that lightning could get me anywhere. And even though I could reason I was quite safe here in bed in my hotel room, I knew there was no chance I'd go back to sleep until the storm had passed.

But when I heard the next boom, I realised it wasn't thunder at all.

"What the hell...?" I muttered, sitting bolt upright and staring through the darkness towards the ceiling as though I expected I'd be able to see into the room above. And as the sound of the next crash reverberated through the floor, I scrabbled for the switch that turned on the bedside light, a quick glance at my alarm clock confirming the worst. Two thirty-six. Perfect.

"You bastards," I wailed, collapsing back on my pillows and groaning at the continuing bumps and thuds overhead.

The last thing I could remember was crawling into bed twenty minutes after Luke had left, having half-heartedly dried my hair with the hotel's ineffectual hairdryer. His 'little something' had certainly helped--God, I didn't think I'd ever felt so wiped out after an orgasm. I'd been asleep for maybe three and a half hours--the most sleep I'd had in almost a week--and now, thanks to some mind-bogglingly thoughtless hotel guests, I was awake again. Wide awake.

Needing to use the bathroom, I hauled myself out of bed, still muttering rude words. And as I caught sight of myself in the mirror above the sink, I sighed heavily. Though my face appeared less sallow than it had earlier and the dark circles beneath my eyes had faded, my hair was a mess of unruly curls. Not so much pre-Raphaelite as pre-invention of the hairbrush, I thought grimly, raking my fingers through the worst of the tangles, realising as I did so just how sore my arm was again. The local anaesthetic had definitely worn off.

I downed a couple of painkillers with a mug full of water then stumbled back into the bedroom. There were still curious shuffling noises coming from the room above mine, interspersed with muffled speech and raucous male laughter. Sighing, I reached for the television remote, even though I knew it was highly unlikely there'd be anything worth watching at this hour. There hadn't been for the last six nights.

And tonight proved to be no exception. I flicked through the meagre selection of channels, finding an old war film in black and white, a documentary about North Sea Oil, an ancient sit-com and a Jerry Springer-type show. Apparently the young heavily-tattooed man on screen had had nine children by nine different women. I found it hard to care.

How on earth did long-term insomniacs cope? Praying fervently that I wasn't about to become one, I clicked the television off again and lay down, just in time to hear a flurry of noise above me then the unmistakeable sound of a door banging shut.


I smiled up at the ceiling, absurdly grateful. "Thank you," I breathed. But just as I was reaching for the light switch I heard the sound of running water followed by the familiar clanking of over-used hotel plumbing. Fantastic. Now my decidedly inconsiderate neighbour was taking a shower.

Groaning, I pulled a pillow over my head, inhaling the clean but slightly musty smell of the hotel-laundered pillowcase. So much for the restorative powers of a good night's sleep. If anything, I was going to look even more haggard by daybreak than I had when Luke had left me and for reasons I wasn't quite ready to analyse, I found that thought disconcerting...

Tea. If Mum was with me now, that's what she'd be suggesting. "Everything seems better after a cuppa," she'd say, no matter what the calamity. The first thing she'd done after I'd told her about Daniel cheating on me was put on the kettle--for all the good that did. And with another heavy sigh, I rolled out of bed.

I'd have to call her in the morning, I thought, remembering my drowned mobile phone as I sipped at my tea a few minutes later, watching my reflection in the dressing table mirror. As it was, she was probably concerned I hadn't phoned. I'd made a point of calling her every evening since I'd arrived, filling the conversation with breezy anecdotes about mornings spent sightseeing and lazy afternoons on the beach. Okay, so a lot of what I'd told her wasn't true, but I didn't want her to worry. I figured that she didn't really need to hear I'd spent much of my time walking about like a zombie, my face perpetually blotchy from crying. Though today had been rather better.

I found myself smiling as I thought of Luke, a ripple of awareness zinging through my body as I remembered what we'd done--what he'd done to me. Dear God... I doubted I'd ever be able to stand on a beach again without thinking about him.

But on hearing the distinctive squeal of the fire safety door at the end of the corridor outside my room, I straightened up with a jerk, half the contents of my mug slopping down my front. "For heaven's sake," I muttered, giving the wet patch a futile brush as the warm tea cooled against my chest, growing increasingly irritated as I listened to the approaching footsteps, the floorboards creaking slightly. "Go to bed! It's three in the morning--"

The knock at my door was soft. So soft, in fact, I knew if I'd been deep in slumber, I wouldn't have heard it. Startled, I slithered off the bed, my heart leaping in my chest as I realised there was only one person it could be...

"Hey." Luke shot me an unexpectedly stern look as I opened the door. "Why aren't you asleep?"

Recovering from the shock of seeing him clad in one of the hotel's complimentary white fluffy dressing gowns, I felt my welcoming smile droop to a scowl. "I was!"

"You're such a liar." He nodded his head towards the mug still in my hand. "I hope to God that isn't coffee."

"What? No--it's tea." I bit my lip, irritated at being caught out. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Tea?" He narrowed his eyes, pulling me with him into the room and letting the spring-loaded door close behind us. "Babe, there's caffeine in tea as well, you know. No wonder you're not sleeping. And just for the record, you made it my business when you let me suture your arm. Cute nightshirt, by the way."

"I let you?" I repeated weakly, feeling the colour race to my face as I glanced down at the tea-drenched image of a teddy bear on the front of my oversized T-shirt, wondering even as I did so whether he was wearing anything under his gown.... "As I recall, I didn't have much choice. What are you saying--I'm your patient now? And when, exactly, did I say you could come in?"

Ignoring my questions he seized me by the shoulders and studied my face. "You've had some sleep though, right?" he demanded. "Because you look a damn sight better than you did."

"Gee, thanks," I muttered, doing my best not to flinch beneath his critical appraisal. "If it wasn't for the idiots upstairs I'd still be asleep. I don't know what the hell they were doing. It sounded like--" My breath caught in my throat as he lifted a hand to my cheek, pushing his fingers into my wayward curls and tucking them back behind my ear. "It s-sounded like they were moving beds around or something. And then one of them--" I stopped again as Luke removed the mug from my hand, setting it down on the dressing table behind us. "One of the bas-bastards took a show-er..."

His kiss was as sweet as it was sudden, his mouth moving over mine with just the right amount of pressure, his tongue gently parting then exploring the inside of my lips. And as he deepened the kiss I gave a helpless groan, looping my arms around him and burying my fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck.

"I'm sorry we woke you up," he murmured into my mouth before raising his head just enough to smile at me. "I'm not a bastard though. Just a tosser."

"What?" I muttered, still dazed from the kiss. Then I felt the moisture beneath my fingertips. His hair was damp...

"I guess Tim and I must be in the room right above this one."

I pulled back to fix him with an accusing stare. "It was you? You had a shower?"

He gave me a rueful nod, warmth flooding through my body as those amazing blue eyes settled on my face. "I had to. You see, Tim got pretty wasted. Craig and Matt helped me lug him up the stairs. We got him on to his bed but somehow he rolled off. So Craig, in his infinite wisdom--being pretty wasted himself--decided it'd be a good idea to slide his bed next to the wall, then shift my bed next to his, so there was less chance he'd roll off again."

That explained all the noise... "Oh." God, it was tough to stay cross with him while he was looking at me that way... "Is--is Tim okay?"

Luke nodded again. "He is now," he said with a grimace. "Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful he made it all the way to the bathroom before he threw up."

"Ah." I winced in sympathy.

"And most of it went in the bath. Which was quite considerate of him really."

"Very considerate."

"Though he got me good with the last little bit. All over my favourite shirt."

"Ah," I said again, biting my lip once more, this time to keep myself from laughing.

"It's not funny." But Luke was smiling now. "So after I cleaned up the mess--single-handedly, I might add, since both Matt and Craig buggered off at that point--I thought I'd better have a shower before I came to check on you."

"Right." He'd only come to check on me? Something inside me seemed to die a little. "Well, there's no need to worry. I'm okay. I'm getting used to not sleeping now anyway. I'll be fine. So I guess you'd better get back to Tim."

He rolled his eyes. "Tim is fine, believe me. Right now, he's lying diagonally across both of our beds, snoring his head off. I'm fairly certain there's nothing left in his stomach to spew. I left a couple of bottles of water close by for when he wakes up with a raging thirst, but other than that, there's nothing I can do except let him sleep it off. He'll be asleep until lunchtime." His gaze softened. "Whereas I'm guessing that arm of yours is getting sore again now."

I hesitated, not wanting to appear feeble. "It's not that bad."

"Yeah, right." Clearly not at all fooled, Luke released me to reach into the pocket of his dressing gown. "I was wondering whether I'd need to do something about that."

Remembering the other items he'd procured from the hospital earlier, I took a wary step backwards. "I'm fine," I gulped, watching as he withdrew his hand, half-afraid he was about to produce another syringe. "I took painkillers a few minutes ago."

"Good, they'll make you feel a whole lot better. But I still think you could use something else. Hold out your hand."

I stared at him in alarm. "What?"

He caught my left hand then tipped several small packets into my palm. "Did you know," he began gravely as I blushed again, realising exactly what was enclosed within the multicoloured foil-wrapped squares, "that natural endorphins have a similar chemical structure to morphine?"

"Re-really?" I stammered, staring down at the assorted flavoured condoms, my mouth going dry.

"And that lots and lots of those lovely pain-relieving endorphins are produced during sex, especially during orgasm?"

"Is--is that so?" My body was already responding to his words, moisture pooling between my thighs.

He cupped my cheek in his hand, lifting my head until I had no choice but to meet his gaze. "So I was thinking I should make love to you." He smiled. "For purely medicinal reasons, of course."

Make love?

"Luke--" I stared back at him, my womb contracting almost painfully at the very idea. "Not that that doesn't sound good--really, really good," I squeaked at last, flustered. "But I should probably just get some sleep--like Tim."

His smile broadened to a grin. "Babe, when I'm done, I promise you'll sleep."

Somehow, I didn't doubt that for a second... "You really want more meaningless sex?" I tried to quip, wishing my voice was steadier.

He chuckled, shaking his head. "I think we proved earlier that you and I can't have meaningless sex," he said, gripping my shoulders again and beginning to steer me backwards towards the bed. "Besides, it wouldn't work half so well. You need some slow, gentle loving right now, not wham bam, thank you m'am."

Slow, gentle loving? Oh dear God...

"Luke, wait," I faltered as the back of my knees collided with the mattress. "I--I don't think I can do this. I should have got married last Saturday, for heaven's sake. Don't get me wrong, you're--you're a great guy. But I don't think I'm ready to get involved with anyone new yet. I need some--time to--oh!"

He silenced me by pressing his mouth over mine, driving all thoughts of protest out of my mind as he toppled me backwards on to the bed, trapping me beneath him as he followed me down. "Who said anything about getting involved?" he said, lifting his head at last. "You think I can't make love to you because we're not in a committed relationship? We can have sex but we can't make love?"

I stared up at him in a haze of blissed-out confusion. "No... I mean, yes."

Luke smiled, lifting a hand to stroke back my hair, the gentle caress making me shiver. "Babe, let's face it, after this weekend, I may never see you again. But I don't think it matters. We're two unattached consenting adults, after all. All I know, is that right here, right now, I want you. And I don't just want to fuck you. I want to show you how beautiful you are. I want to kiss you, I want to touch you and I want to make you come." His eyes suddenly seemed to darken. "Over and over again."

Oh boy... I swallowed hard, every drop of saliva deserting my mouth. "That's all, huh?"

"That's all," he agreed solemnly. "So...?" He arched one eyebrow. "Apparently I used to be rather good at this, but it's been a while. Shall we see if I can remember what to do? Shall we find out exactly what makes Becks scream?" I shuddered with anticipation and Luke's grin returned. "I'll take that as a yes, shall I?"

He drew back, lifted me up the bed until my head hit the pillows then straddled my thighs, holding me captive between his knees while his hands began gliding down my sides, skimming my breasts, my waist, my hips.

"I've got much sexier nightdresses at home," I babbled, unaccountably nervous as he reached for the hem of my nightshirt. "I bought lots of lacy satin numbers for my honeymoon but I really didn't think I'd need--"

"Ssh," Luke murmured, already beginning to ease the well-worn cotton fabric upwards. "Lift your arms."

I raised them obediently. "But then I didn't think for a moment that anything--anything like this would happen--"

"Rebecca, in case you hadn't noticed, I really don't have a problem with what you're wearing. Or rather--" he smiled, then peeled my nightshirt right up and over my head in one smooth movement "--what you're not wearing." He took a moment to gently extricate my bandaged arm then paused, his hungry eyes roaming over my body as he tossed my shirt to the floor. "Wow. You truly don't have any idea how beautiful you are, do you?"

The flush that rose to my face seemed to sweep across my whole body, warming me to the core. Warming me everywhere. Naked to his gaze for the second time that night I felt hopelessly aroused. "Wh-what about you? When, exactly, am I going to see you in the buff?" I gulped, finding it rather difficult to breathe.

He grinned, obligingly reaching for the tie of his dressing gown and freeing the knot. Then straightening up, he shrugged the towelling robe back off his shoulders, allowing it to fall in a heap across my feet. "That better?"

It certainly was. For a moment, I stared in speechless awe. I'd already seen him without a top of course, while he'd been playing football on the beach with his mates. But that had been from a distance. And though he'd taken his shirt off earlier when he'd washed my hair, I hadn't had a chance to really look at him.

Dear God, he was seriously ripped. No half measures--that was a full-blown six pack there, the chiselled muscle thrown into sharp definition by the dim hotel bedroom lighting. A broad chest with just a sprinkling of hair, beneath that a washboard-flat stomach then more springy dark hair arrowing down between those muscular thighs. "You work out, huh?" I managed feebly, unable to resist running my fingertips across the planes and contours of his tanned abdomen.

"Oh, hardly ever," he said lightly, watching the progress of my fingers with a smile. "The Foster men are known for their great physiques. Fabulous genes." He paused for effect then winked. "'Course, each and every one of us is a short arse, but I guess you can't have perfection in a single package."

I giggled. I couldn't help it, the sound bubbling up inside me unstoppable--a mixture of amusement, apprehension and downright lust. Luke was actually going to make love to me. I couldn't remember wanting anything quite so much in my life...

"Oh, you should do that more often," he said with a grin, dipping his head until his lips were mere millimetres from mine. "You're adorably sexy when you laugh like that." And then he kissed me.

Heaven had to be something like this, I thought, melting into a puddle of need as his talented mouth claimed mine, his tongue seeking access then mating with my own, dancing a slow, hugely erotic tango.

But then when he began tracing a path of kisses across my neck, slowly nibbling his way through the valley between my breasts, I thought I might just burst into flames instead.

"Please," I whimpered as he added his hands into the mix, touching me everywhere but where I longed to be touched. My shoulders... my waist... my belly. Though my nipples were already hardening to rosy pebbles despite his neglect.

Luke laughed softly. "Patience, babe," he breathed, continuing to tease me with his fingers . "Good things come to those who wait."

"Bastard," I wailed, flailing beneath him now, desperate for him to change course, to pay attention to my aching breasts.

"No, I don't think so," he said with a considering smile, pausing to gaze into my eyes. "I know who both my parents are, thank you very much, and they were most definitely married by the time I was born."


He laughed again, briefly brushing his lips over mine before working steadily downwards once more. "What do you need me to do, Becks?" he murmured between feather-like caresses. "Where do you need me to kiss you?"

"You--you actually want me to tell you?" I gasped disbelievingly. "You don't know?"

I saw his grin even as he bent to kiss the place just above my belly button. "Oh I know, babe. But I still want you to tell me."

"No!" Surely he was joking?

"Tell me and I'll do it."

I stared at him in dismay, my traitorous body beginning to tremble, desperate for release. I'd never been vocal during sex--I'd always been afraid to express precisely what I wanted for fear of appearing demanding. Yet one look at Luke's face told me he wasn't going to relent.

"My breasts," I whispered. "I need you--need you to kiss my breasts."

He nodded, immediately planting several soft kisses on the delicate flesh around my left nipple before moving to the right one. "Like that?"

No... "Ye-es," I hissed, squeezing my eyes closed, reluctant to beg for more.

"Liar." I could hear the laughter in his voice. "Come on, Becks. Tell me what you really want."

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