Because he stands mere feet away, doing up the buttons.
Which means his shirt is halfway open.
My eyes take a stroll.
So that’s what his pecs look like. So they do sport a smattering of hair. So they are, in fact, as carved as I’d imagined.
As I’d hoped.
And what of his abs?
My mouth waters as my eyes travel lower, eager to catch a glimpse of the ridges and grooves.
Snap out of it, Scarlett! He’s your business partner.
I blink, squashing the thoughts. Then I jump up and down on them to make sure they’re dead, reduced to dead-bug levels of thought mortality.
I swallow roughly and give Daniel a thumbs-up.
He rolls his eyes. “Your husband merely gets a thumbs-up?”
“I would think my husband should be happy I’m still shopping with him after all these years of marriage.”
“But maybe we’re newlyweds,” he says.
He grins, then echoes, “As if,” letting that hang importantly in the air, knowing that neither one of us would go there.
For very different reasons, but reasons nonetheless.
A little later, with Daniel in his new shirt, we head to the dinner meeting, where we explain to the Historical Society of Avignon how our renovations of the century-old inn we purchased here will benefit the town, and they agree.
When it’s over, we return to our new hotel, and I’m ready for bed. I tell Daniel I’ll see him in the morning.
He brushes a kiss on my cheek. He always brushes kisses on my cheeks. So very European.
Though sometimes my body reacts in ways it shouldn’t.
“Good night, Mrs. Stewart,” he teases.
I laugh, because it’s all I can do. Then I say good night to him, and to the tingles he leaves behind on my skin.
Lavender eye mask? On the nightstand.
High-stakes thriller? Got that.
Phone. Right here with me.
Plus, I’m wearing my newest La Perla nightie, with delicate straps and the most succulent silk, the color of amethyst, that falls lovingly against my skin. In the ornate bathroom at this boutique hotel that’s now part of our portfolio, I reach for my favorite lotion, slather it on my legs, then put it back in my travel bag.
I brush one hand against the other and stand in the doorway of the bathroom regarding the space in front of me, looking for anything that calls to me, that might need to be changed to make this hotel a pinnacle of luxury here in Avignon, a fitting addition to our brand.
What about that mirror over the desk? It’s a little too ornate. It makes me feel like I’m in a Victorian-era home, all stuffy and buttoned-up.
The opposite of our brand.
The opposite of this hotel too.
When guests check into this establishment, they’re on honeymoons. They’re on getaways. They’re here to fuck.
I snap a picture of the mirror as a reminder that it ought to be replaced, then I dictate a note on my phone. “Look into new mirrors. Are these truly the best? Do they suggest sex enough? The people who come here probably want to watch themselves in the mirror.”
I set the phone on the desk, then smooth a hand down the front of my silk negligee.
What would I do if someone brought me here on a getaway?
Told me to watch in the mirror as he fucked me?
A shiver runs through me at that naughty scenario, but it’s fuzzy, hazy around the edges.
I don’t even know who I’m imagining saying that.
Telling me to do that.
But does it really matter? There is no time in my life, nor space in it either for that to happen.
I grab my tablet and slide into bed. I answer a message from my friend Nadia about our upcoming meeting in Paris. A few of her football team’s players are coming to Europe for an exhibition game as part of the league’s efforts to expand American football’s popularity here on the continent.
I reply and confirm which meetings I can attend with her, then sign off with a Go, team, go! GIF. As an American who now lives overseas, I haven’t lost my love of the sport I grew up watching, and I’m eager to see it develop in Europe.
I set down the tablet, take a deep breath, then slide under the covers with my book. I try to read, but there’s so much to do tomorrow, all of it flitting through my head. So much on my to-do list that’s never-ending.
But that’s what a good to-do list is. A good to-do list ought to be never-ending.
Lists are great for the soul. No list has ever let me down. Neither has work. Neither have friends.
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