Hello, for many of us in the east, the weather is anything but spring like this week as we sit under a snowfall warning, but on Paradise Island, things are heating up nicely.
This weekly blog post is made possible by the lovely and talented Jean Joachim and a handful of wonderful authors who share their works in progress with you. Each week, we us a word prompt to generate our posts. Once a month, it’s a picture and the word limit drops to 300. This morning, I continue with Wedding Bell Blues. Our word of the day is LEMON.
Paul led MJ back into the main building, fighting to keep his jumbled emotions hidden. When Cindy had returned alone, he’d known exactly who MJ had met, and then when he’d seen the bastard manhandling her … well, it had been a red flag to the bull in him. Had he been anywhere but here, he would’ve made good on his offer to beat the shit out of the son of a bitch.
But as troubling as Mark’s presence was, it was the kiss and the need for more of them that had him completely off kilter. He’d spent hours last night just watching her sleep, staying as far from her as he could, terrified by the strength of his need for her. Somehow what had started as a desire to help a friend, had exploded into a physical and emotional need for the woman at his side.
From the moment his lips had touched hers after the wedding, his emotions had been a jumbled mess. He’d kissed plenty of women in his day, but never once had a kiss affected him the way touching MJ’s lips did. At first, he’d thought it some sort of aberration brought on by the emotional shock of realizing that not only was the wedding happening, but it was the real deal—complete with Mama there to bless it. But then, he’d kissed her again, and the need to continue doing so had grown. MJ was his wife, and suddenly, knowing full well he didn’t deserve any of it, he wanted the whole enchilada.
What on earth had possessed him to show Mark all of his cards like that? If the plan was to trap him into admitting what he’d done, then Paul had blown that right out of the water. He’d not only accused Mark of identity theft, he’d implied they would be ready to accept restitution if he repaid her. What had happened to his yearning to humiliate the bastard? It had vanished in his desire to protect his wife. His wife. Never had two words held so much meaning and yet been so confusing.
MJ stopped before they entered the dining room. Biting her lower lip in a gesture that made her seem needier than ever, she put her hand on his upper arm.
“Why did you tell Mark you knew he’d stolen this vacation from me? I thought we’d planned to keep that to ourselves and trap him into admitting it.”
Paul looked into her beautiful eyes, and realized the truth. He didn’t care how MJ had come into his life again. He wanted to keep her there, and not because he was helping her get even with his old nemesis, but because of all the emotions he’d hidden years ago, the ones that had told him they were meant to be together. He’d loved her from the minute he’d seen her, but that didn’t mean she felt the same way. After all, he’d gone out of his way to tell her he was unlovable, incapable of loving anyone ever, unwilling to be a father in case he was too like his own. Why would she even want to take a chance on a broken man like him?
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
She nodded. “Well, you certainly surprised him. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work and keep him away from me, and if it stops him from badmouthing me, I’ll be satisfied.”
Paul shrugged. “Maybe. It certainly won’t have made matters worse, and if he intends to evade the issue, he’ll keep his distance.”
Pulling open the door to the main room, Paul escorted MJ to their table, keeping his eyes peeled for Mark. He spotted him half a dozen tables away from theirs. The man’s face was still red and he was arguing with the brunette at his side. No one at his table looked impressed. Once a jerk, always a jerk.
They’d just sat down when Antoine Leroux stepped up to the microphone.
“Bonjours, mesdames et messieurs. It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to join me on this hunt for Jean Lacorneille’s treasure. On your tables, the lemon-colored sheet of paper is the legal document you must sign to participate. While you may find the treasure, you cannot keep any of it.”
A chorus of grumbles greeted that announcement, and Bill Smith’s “What the hell do you mean by that?” was among the loudest.
“Hear me out,” Leroux interrupted. “There is a finder’s fee available, 10 percent of the value of whatever you find, but the treasure itself, if we find it, belongs to the residents of Paradise Island, the descendants of Lacorneille and his crew.”
Paul looked over at Mark whose face was as thunderous as Bill’s.
“Take a few minutes to read the document before you sign it,” Leroux continued. “Once you do, select one person at your table to be your leader. He will choose a portion of the treasure map for you and tomorrow morning, you will begin your search. May the best team win.”
“So this is all a big waste of time,” Bill grumbled.
Paul smiled at him. “Do you think so? You’re on a honeymoon island. This is just another planned activity for our entertainment. Your wife and her pleasure should be all that matters.”
He glanced at MJ, hoping she couldn’t see how much those words meant to him.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s post. Don’t forget to check out all the other on Tuesday Tales.