Forbidden Surrender

Forbidden Surrender

Forbidden Surrender/13

Page 13
Author: Priscilla West

“You mean jetting overseas isn’t one of your pastimes?” I swallowed, trying to pull myself from my heated reverie.

“SandWorks wasn’t exactly handed to me. I spent a lot of time traveling, working paycheck to paycheck, before I thought of the waterproof camera. In fact, that Camry is something of a relic from those days. ”

“I have to admit, it wasn’t what I was expecting when you picked me up. ”

“I did a lot of traveling in that car, even spent some nights in it,” he said. “But when business took off one of the first things I had to learn was how to manage my money. ”

“Isn’t that what you hired us for?” I couldn’t imagine him struggling to learn anything. His business savvy had been obvious since the first day we met.

“Yes, but it wasn’t always easy to know who to trust in the beginning so I had to rely on myself. Something tells me you never had much of a problem with that, though. ”

“What do you mean?” I asked, growing defensive at the implication.

“Financial analyst, Harvard girl—your parents must have done well for themselves to be able to send you there. ”

My home life wasn’t a point of conversation I enjoyed but I didn’t want him thinking I hadn’t worked hard for my success. “My parents put a lot of pressure on me to do well, but they couldn’t afford private school. I left Texas with some savings from summer jobs but I had to work my way through college; I didn’t pay off my student loans until I landed a job at Waterbridge-Howser. ”

“Texas? I knew I could detect an accent. ”

“So could everyone in Boston, I spent a lot of time trying to hide it but I guess I got tired of pretending it wasn’t a part of me. ”

He turned to me, his gaze smoldering. “You’re a walking contradiction. ”

“Excuse me?”

“You say you don’t like to take risks, but it couldn’t have been easy starting a new life on your own. ”

I had never considered myself adventurous, my own parents thought it was irresponsible of me to uproot my life, but Vincent seemed unconvinced.

“You’re not exactly easy to figure out either. Vagabond turned CEO? I didn’t see that coming. ”

He gave me one of his sly grins. “You can’t be prepared for everything, Kristen. ”

A few hours later we landed, the white beaches and swaying palm trees greeting us from the airplane window. We made our way through the small airport to the rental car area. Vincent picked out an Aston Martin convertible, which surprised me probably more than it should have considering I’d just stepped off his private jet. I dealt with wealthy clients on a daily basis and I had some vague idea of the luxuries they could afford, but I’d never actually been wealthy myself—seeing what Vincent’s money could buy had thrown me off a bit.

The drive to the beach served well to distract me from my nagging fears about surfing—the breeze whipping my hair, the taste of the ocean’s salt lingering in the air, and the rolling hills that surrounded us were impossible not to notice. But as we approached a wood slatted surf shop edging the beach, the creeping fear I’d felt earlier came back full force.

“I have to admit, I’m kind of nervous about this,” I confessed as we got out of the car. “Jellyfish, sharks . . . you hear horror stories, you know?”

He took my hand, gripping it reassuringly. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to let anything happen to you. ”

Vincent was right, he had been surfing for years, and I really didn’t have any reason not to trust him—with my safety at least.

“But you can’t surf in that,” he said, gesturing to my skirt and blouse. “We’ll need to get you a swimsuit. ”

After trying on a few swimsuits in the dressing room, I decided on a black halter top bikini with single string bottoms.

My heart nearly sank to my stomach when I caught a glance of the total price of our surfing gear—between new swimsuits and surfboards, Vincent had spent more than Riley and I spent on restaurants in a month.

After I had changed, I met Vincent by the water and was nearly floored by the man who stood waiting for me fitted in nothing but a pair of white boardshorts that clung loosely to his hips. My eyes lingered on his six-pack, the taut ridges of his abdomen leading down to the sharp, downward angle of his pelvic bones. I swallowed as I noticed the nipple rings glinting from his chest and among the various tasteful tattoos around his right arm and chest there was a blackened outline of a diamond on his rib cage. I wondered about its significance; Vincent might have been a risk taker but there always seemed to be a purpose behind everything he did.

I stumbled in the sand, wrestling with the side of me that was salivating over his edgy look and the side of me that was a little intimidated. I’d never been with a man who took so many risks with his body, but I’d also never been with a man who defied all of my expectations. Not to mention a man who was so irresistibly attractive.

His lips slowly curved into a smile as he eyed me up and down. “I like the swimsuit. Ready?”

I had to force my gaze to meet his. “Ready as I’ll ever be. ”

We waded into the ocean, the shallow waves leaving rivulets of water trickling down Vincent’s bare chest. When we were waist deep he dropped our surfboards by his side and turned to me.

“The most important thing to understand is you have to control your board, you don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed by the force of the wave,” he began. “So lay down on your stomach and put your hands here. ”

I did as I was told, sliding my stomach across the board’s waxy surface.

“Now press your hips into it. ” Without warning he gripped the soft curve of my hips and pushed against them, the callouses of his fingers working against my skin. The way he effortlessly maneuvered my body until it was in the correct position made me think I wasn’t the first woman he’d taught how to surf.

I tried to bite my tongue but I was determined not to be just another one of Vincent Sorenson’s conquests. “How many surfing lessons have you given?”

“A few. ”

“Mostly female clientele?” I shot, the words coming out before I even had a chance to consider them.

He pulled his hands from my hips, the heat of his skin lingering where his fingers had been, and I instantly regretted my presumptuousness.

“Are you trying to ask me how many girls I’ve brought here?”

I sat up on the board, straddling it to keep from falling over. His eyes wandered to the water lapping over my clenched thighs. “I just want to know what this is. ”

“This is a date, Kristen. Not a ploy. The only lessons I’ve ever given were just that—lessons. ”

I averted my gaze. “It’s not your conventional first date, that’s all. ”

As my board began to drift, he pulled it closer, his fingers brushing the flesh of my inner thigh. I shivered at the contact and considered maybe it wasn’t anger I was feeling but jealousy. If Vincent’s touch could send me into a fit of desire then I could only imagine what he’d made other women feel, ones who didn’t demand first dates.

“What are you used to?” he asked.

“What most people are used to—dinner, movie. I guess I haven’t gone out with enough CEOs. ”

“Who have you gone out with?”

I shifted away from his touch, growing uneasy at the one question I refused to breach. “No one serious,” I said as I leaned forward on the board so I was laying on my stomach again. “Am I doing this right?” I asked, determined to change the subject.

“Move further down the board and keep pressing your hips into it. ”

I wiggled down the board and awkwardly extended my abdomen but I was too flustered by the thought of my messy dating history to focus on my form. Suddenly Vincent was behind me, his hands settled into the groove of my hips as he pulled my body toward him. I wished desperately I was wearing a t-shirt, a wetsuit, anything to lessen the direct contact between us. I couldn’t distinguish between the water and the dampness that had been growing between my legs since I first caught sight of him on the beach.

“I can’t—” I began to protest, too overwhelmed by a foreign desire to think about surfing technique.

“You can. I’m right here. ” He slid his hand to the small of my back and pressed. My pelvis pushed into the board, the vague contact with my clit sending a heat into my belly. I chided myself for my desperate arousal—I wanted to take things slow, especially with Vincent, a man who was too busy continent hopping to commit.

I pushed myself up again, distraught. “I have no idea why you like this sport so much,” I said, trying to blame my agitation on the lesson. I teetered on the board as I tried to gain my balance and he clutched the top of my thighs to keep me steady.

“Haven’t you ever had an adrenaline rush?” he asked, moving his hands further up my thighs until they were dangerously close to the heated space between my legs. I looked at him, his eyes wild with anticipation, the tendons of his neck taut as he clenched his jaw. “Your body becomes attuned to every sensation, your energy peaks—”

“It’s addicting,” I breathed.

“Don’t you want to feel that way?” he asked as he drew his face closer to mine, our lips brushing briefly. I could taste the salt that had caked to his mouth.

“And if I fall?”

“It won’t hurt. ”

I pulled away from him, afraid if I let him any closer I’d lose my bikini, and paddled toward the shallow waves in the distance.

We practiced surfing well into the afternoon but Vincent proved more of a distraction than a help—the pent up sexual energy I had felt during our lesson still lingered within me. When my arms were too weak to keep paddling, we left the water for the beach. As I set my surfboard in the sand, Vincent reached out and gently grabbed my left hand, pulling it close as if to inspect it.

“How did you injure your pinky?” he asked, sitting down next to me. Being so close to him on the sand made me pine for the cooling effects of the water. “You’ve been holding it out all afternoon. ”