Love Her or Lose Her

Page 9

“You wouldn’t,” Bethany said, and gasped. “I had that shipped from Bali. They captured the essence of a sarong drying in the tropical breeze.”

“You know that’s bull, right?”

A noncommittal sound from her friend.

“Okay.” Bethany pulled out a stool and settled into it, indicating Rosie should do the same. “I dated this divorced guy once. Way back in the day—like two threesomes ago.” She winked to let Rosie know she was kidding. “He told me after several margaritas that when he was on the outs with his wife, they went to . . .” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Extreme couples counseling. Like, I’m talking extreme. I think he even called it last-ditch.”

Rosie waited for Bethany to say she was joking. She didn’t. “Are you serious? Dominic talking to a stranger about his feelings? He gets uncomfortable when people cry on television.”

“Okay.” Bethany shrugged. “Say he says no. At least you tried. You gave him an option.”

Unbelievably, the idea went from cockamamie to brilliant in the space of a breath. “But what if he says yes—” Rosie cut herself off with a wave of her hand. “Never mind. There is a zero percent chance Dominic Vega goes to counseling.”

Funny, those words didn’t comfort her whatsoever. When she asked Dominic to try counseling and he said no . . . that would truly be it. Their marriage would be over. There must have been a tiny part of her that was still holding out for an improbable reconciliation, because she was almost scared to set herself up for that one final disappointment.

Rosie tried to swallow but her mouth was dry as dust. “I’ll think about it.”

That night, Rosie barely slept, which was saying something, since—like everything else in Bethany’s house—the bed was decadent. High-thread-count sheets, cushy pillows, a mattress that swallowed her like a cloud. The kind of luxury one would expect from Port Jefferson’s premier house stager. None of it lulled Rosie to sleep, however, and by the time the sun came up, she was gritty-eyed, restless, and ready to jump out of her skin.

She threw on some yoga pants and tiptoed down the stairs, intending to go work out some frustration at the gym. Her muscles were strung tight as a bow and no amount of stretching seemed to help. No use in pretending she wasn’t horny. Her soon-to-be ex-husband had shown up with his leader-of-the-pack swagger and eyes that could strip her without removing a single stitch of clothing—and now her body hated her for declining the pleasure he could provide.

On her way out the door, a flash of red brought Rosie to a screeching halt. She tugged Bethany’s white coat to the side, only to find her red one hanging by the door. How had it gotten there? Just yesterday, she’d been mentally kicking herself for not taking it along the night she’d walked out on Dominic. They were heading into October, and in a town surrounded by water, the temperatures were starting to chill fast. She’d considered buying a cheap one, rather than return to the house and risk a run-in with her husband . . . but apparently that wouldn’t be necessary. Maybe Bethany had gone and picked it up?

That seemed unlikely. Did Dominic . . . ?

No way.

Rosie shook her head as she donned the coat over her workout clothes, locked the door, and strode across the porch, her footfalls extra loud in the morning silence. She breathed in the crisp morning air deeply on her way to the car, spinning the keys around her finger. When Rosie unlocked the driver’s-side door and slid in, she frowned, shifting her butt around.

It was forty-something degrees outside. No way the seat should have been so warm. As if someone had been sitting in it before her. Between her red coat appearing on the hook and this, she was starting to feel like the protagonist in a psychological thriller.

Physics had never been her strong suit in high school, especially because Dominic had sat behind her all semester, whispering in her ear when the teacher’s back was turned, but maybe the beginnings of sunlight coming through the windshield had heated the seat? Seemed unlikely, but the alternative was that someone had been inside her car.

With a frisson of panic slipping into her bloodstream, Rosie leaned back to make sure there wasn’t a seat-warming murderer camped out in the backseat. Finding it empty, she faced forward again with an eye roll and started the car. Rosie reached down and pinched the skin of her forearm, relieved to feel a jolt of pain. The lack of sleep was obviously taking a toll.

There were very few cars on the road as Rosie drove to the gym and parked in the rear lot. Itching to blow off some steam, she flashed her membership card at the sleepy teenager manning the front desk and headed straight for the cardio section. Normally, she would store everything in a locker, but since the gym was empty, she left her coat in a neat pile in front of the treadmill, popped in her headphones, and started running.

She had to make a decision today. Was she going to give Dominic a second chance or not? And if the answer was yes, did she have the strength or will to make an effort?

As if thinking about her husband had conjured him, a movement in her peripheral vision turned her head—and there he was, just on the other side of a floor-to-ceiling partition that separated cardio from weights. She almost tripped over her own feet, her hand slapping down on the treadmill’s emergency stop button, before stepping off the treadmill on shaky legs.

Dominic hadn’t seen her yet, but the sweat staining the back of his T-shirt told Rosie he’d been there for a while. He finished a set of biceps curls, then fell onto a bench press without taking a breather, his hips straining off the black leather every time he heaved the bar up. There was so much weight on either end, the bar appeared to curve ever so slightly. And when she heard the low rumble of his grunt, right before he released the bar back onto the rack, it sounded so familiar, her nipples tightened into points inside her sports bra. Yes, sir, she knew that grunt exceptionally well. She usually heard it in the dark, amid the creaking of bedsprings and her own screams.

Those were the thoughts in Rosie’s head when Dominic sat up and they locked eyes across the gym. His surprise melted into outright hunger almost immediately. It was so potent and visceral, it almost knocked her back a step.

Damp warmth spread along the seam of her yoga pants and she could hear her own breath rasping against her eardrums. So, no—running a mile hadn’t done anything to alleviate the sexual frustration. And now her body’s tormentor was mere yards away, looking much like he did after one of their Tuesday-night marathons. Sweating, muscles prominent, intensely focused on her.

Why couldn’t there be one single other person in the gym? A buff buffer, perhaps? Damn that new CrossFit that had opened in the neighboring town and left this place empty in the mornings when it used to be reasonably busy. Being near her husband when she was this needy wasn’t at the top of any good-decision lists.

When one corner of Dominic’s mouth lifted in a smirk, Rosie realized she was returning his intense focus and then some. As she watched, he caught the hem of his drenched T-shirt in one hand and stripped it off over his head, revealing a glistening wall of packed, ink-draped muscle. Never taking his gaze off her, Dominic scrubbed a palm over the mountain range of his abdomen, letting his hand drift down, just beneath the waistband of his sweatpants, dragging them down a single inch—and a hoarse sound left Rosie’s mouth.

Based on Dominic’s reaction, it might as well have been a gunshot. He was off the bench while the noise still hung in the air, closing the distance between them. Whatever thread of self-preservation was still alive in Rosie’s body woke up, but in her weak-kneed state, she could only manage to back up a pace. At her retreat, Dominic halted in his tracks, but the scent of his musk and shaving cream continued to travel forward, teasing her senses.

“See something you like, honey girl?” He touched his tongue to the corner of his mouth. “Tell me to fuck off and I’ll go. For now.” Green eyes raked her body. “I can see that I’m catching you in a weak moment.”

Rosie’s mouth went dry. Say something.

Seconds ticked by. She gave him a pleading look, no idea what she was pleading for. Him to leave her in peace or . . . something else entirely. Something she needed.

“Okay, then,” he breathed, reaching her in one step. His huge hands found her hips and squeezed hard before spinning Rosie toward the wall. Before she could guess her husband’s intention, he’d tucked his lap right up against her backside, letting her feel his erection through the thin material of their workout clothes. His mouth pressed to her ear, breathing, breathing—and when she couldn’t help but circle her butt on his hardness, he groaned, loud and long. “There’s no one in the bathroom, Rosie. Let me get you straightened out.”

“I don’t need straightening out,” she lied, trying not to be obvious about easing her thighs apart, giving him more room to mold their lower bodies together.

“Lies.” His mouth opened beneath her earlobe, his tongue snaking out to taste her skin. And, oh God yes, he took the space she offered, thrusting Rosie up onto her toes, working a desperate sound from her throat. They stayed that way for several seconds, Dominic grinding up into Rosie, Rosie pushing down with her hips, the friction electric, both of them laboring to breathe. Dominic’s hand slipped under the elastic of her sports bra and massaged her naked breast with a skilled hand. “Those nipples perked right up for your husband, didn’t they? Always begging to get sucked.”

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