Treat me, p.13
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       Treat Me, p.13

         Part #8 of One Night with Sole Regret series by Olivia Cunning
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  “You know,” Jacob said quietly to Amanda. “I don’t give a shit if Tina knows we’re together. She’s going to have to come to terms with it eventually.”

  “I know,” Amanda said, deciding eventually would be best a few years into the future. “I think we should break the idea to her very gradually. It’s enough that she knows I saw you today.”

  “At random,” Jacob said flatly.

  “Exactly.”

  “Okay, Mommy. I love you!” Julie shoved her phone into Amanda’s hand and skipped ahead to peer at another capuchin monkey through the wires.

  “What have you done?” Tina said accusingly.

  Amanda’s stomach dropped. “Um, we just— I thought— He invited—”

  “Now she wants a goddamned monkey,” Tina interrupted Amanda’s disjointed stammering. “A monkey. You’d better get that idea out of her head before you send her home. Jacob will go out and buy her one. You know how stupid he is. I had to put her fucking birthday present in a lockbox at the bank.”

  Amanda’s spine straightened, and her jaw hardened. “He’s not . . .” She glanced around to make sure he wouldn’t overhear. He had lifted Julie into his arms so she could see into an exhibit and wasn’t paying Amanda any mind. “. . . stupid,” she whispered harshly into her phone.

  Tina snorted. “He has a brick for a brain, that one. He’s lucky he’s attractive.”

  Jacob had so much more going for him than his looks. Even more than the vocal talent that had made him successful and rich. Yes, even more than his exceptional skills in the bedroom. As far as Amanda was concerned, Jacob’s best trait was his big ol’ heart, and Tina was the stupid one for discarding it.

  “I’ve got to go,” Amanda said. She didn’t think she’d be able to stay civil with Tina for another second. She didn’t care if Tina was her sister.

  “Rain check?”

  “Yeah, fine,” she said, although at that moment she doubted she’d ever want to go to lunch with her again. “Bye.”

  She hung up immediately, so she didn’t know if Tina had anything else to say. And frankly she didn’t care. How dare she turn Julie’s joy into an excuse to belittle Jacob?

  “Look, Aunt Mander,” Julie said, pointing to the cage. “This monkey looks like Jojo, but he has blond hair like me.”

  Amanda took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her face. “He does look like you.”

  “Wanna know how I know he’s a boy?” Julie asked slyly.

  The monkey was naked and letting everything hang out, so it was obvious that he was a male. “Uh . . .” Amanda bit her lip and glanced at Jacob, who was laughing silently, his lips pursed, face reddening by the second.

  “’Cause he has big eyebrows,” Julie said. The monkey did have wild, bushy eyebrows going on. “Girls have to pluck theirs.”

  “Oh,” Amanda said, deciding it was best to leave the boy-versus-girl anatomy discussion for a later time and a more private location.

  “And he has a penis,” Julie added knowledgably.

  Jacob snorted and then burst out laughing. Julie leaned back in his arms and gaped at him.

  “Is a penis funny?” she asked.

  “Nope,” Jacob said, blinking back tears and touching the back of his hand to each eye in turn. “I was just laughing at these crazy monkeys.”

  Those crazy monkeys were currently sitting quite docilely in their enclosures.

  “You’re a boy,” Julie said. “So you have a penis. But me and Aunt Mander are girls, so we don’t have one.”

  “You are correct,” Jacob said, “but we don’t talk about private parts while we’re out in public.”

  “Penis is a secret?” Julie asked, glancing around for eavesdroppers.

  “Not a secret,” Jacob said, obviously struggling to find the right explanation.

  “It’s a bad word?”

  “No, we just don’t talk about certain things in public,” Jacob said. “If you want to talk about private parts, you can ask me or Aunt Mander about them when there aren’t any strangers around. They might get offended.”

  “What’s offended mean?”

  Jacob paused for a moment as he thought up a child-friendly definition. Amanda didn’t interfere. She didn’t want to come to his rescue.

  “It means—sort of—that they don’t like what you’re saying, so they don’t want to hear it.”

  “But penis is just a fact of life,” Julie said.

  Amanda pressed her lips together so she wouldn’t laugh. Jacob was holding it together quite well now.

  “You’re right,” Jacob said with a shrug. “I just didn’t want you to get into trouble for talking about something that many people think is inappropriate.”

  Julie squished his face between her palms. “I don’t want to get into trouble. I hate time out. I’ll just talk about penis to you later.”

  “Good.” Jacob’s smile was a bit false—he probably didn’t want to talk about penis to his four-year-old daughter ever—but he gave her a tight squeeze and set her on her feet.

  “Are you ready for lunch?” Amanda asked. “Your dad made all sorts of good things to eat and packed them in your bag.”

  Jacob rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, actually Tammy knew I had Julie this weekend, so she stocked the fridge with sandwiches and stuff. I just tossed them in the bag.”

  “You did good,” Amanda said and patted his arm. Her pat turned into a light touch and then a caress. And then she was leaning in closer, longing for him to wrap her in his arms and kiss her.

  “I want to see more animals,” Julie said.

  Amanda took a step back from Jacob so she didn’t try to jump his bones in front of his impressionable daughter.

  “You’ve already seen them all,” Amanda said. “This place isn’t very big.”

  “So we can go to that other zoo now? The one with the lephalants.”

  Amanda glanced at Jacob, who shrugged and nodded. “It’s only about an hour and a half drive. We’ll eat lunch on the way.”

  They made a pit stop at the bathroom. Amanda froze when Jacob leaned in to brush a kiss across her cheek. “Take good care of my girl,” he said.

  If Julie had noticed his affectionate peck, she didn’t mention it.

  After they used the toilet—Julie insisted she didn’t need help because she was a big girl—Amanda made sure she washed her hands.

  “Get all the monkey stink off,” Amanda said. Julie sniffed her wet hands, made a face, and washed them again with double the soap.

  Jacob was waiting for them outside the bathroom when they came out. He placed a hand on the small of Amanda’s back as they walked down the ramp, with Julie skipping ahead. All the sudden touchy-feely he had going on worried Amanda. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it—she wished they could show their growing affection for each other openly. But she didn’t want anyone to get hurt. She didn’t much care how Tina would feel anymore, but she did care if Jacob and Julie suffered.

  They had to exit through the gift shop, so their trip to San Antonio was further delayed. Jacob picked up a new set of sunglasses; a small capuchin monkey now had possession of his old pair. And Julie thought she needed an entire collection of stuffed animals.

  “You can pick one,” Jacob said.

  “But I need them all,” Julie insisted.

  “Only one.” He wrapped one of her curls around his finger. “Choose wisely.”

  She examined each display as if making a life-altering decision. Amanda wandered over to the far corner to look at posters. She liked hanging them in her classroom. She didn’t get to spend much time teaching about mammals in her biology class, but they were her favorite part of her subject. Well, other than the dark reactions of photosynthesis and chemiosmosis. Fascinating stuff. But most students looked like they wanted to cry when she discussed anything biochemical. Even the students who struggled with biology liked to look at posters of animals, however.

  “What did Tina want?” Jacob asked her.

 
Amanda slid the poster of a wolf back into its slot—she already had that one—and pulled out one of a red fox.

  “She just asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her.” Amanda didn’t look at him when she said it, afraid this was about to turn into a confrontation. She didn’t want the day to turn sour.

  “And you told her you couldn’t go?”

  “Right.”

  “Because you were with me?”

  Amanda slid the fox poster back in place and pulled out one of a brown bear. “Tina heard Julie’s voice in the background, and I figured she would tell her mom about being allowed in Jojo’s exhibit, so I was sure Tina would find out that we’d seen each other.”

  “Randomly?”

  “Don’t you think that’s best?”

  “What I think’s best?”

  She nodded, lifting her gaze to meet his.

  “I think it’s best not to hide.” He moved to stand directly behind her, the heat of his body burning through her clothes, stirring her awareness, her desire. “So if I want to touch you.” His palms slid down her bare arms and her breath quickened, eyelids fluttered shut. “Or kiss you.” He brushed the lightest of kisses against the sensitive spot where her shoulder met the back of her neck. She shuddered and swallowed a groan of delight. “I can do so without hesitation.”

  “But Julie—”

  “I don’t think Julie would have a problem with us being together,” he said. His hand slid under the hem of her top, and his fingers traced the waistband of her shorts, making her squirm and brush her ass against him.

  His soft growl of torment against her ear made her pussy ache from its emptiness.

  “It’s not that,” she said.

  He turned her to face him, pressing her into the wall with the length of his body.

  “Then what?” he murmured. “I know you’re into me.”

  She was very into him. She took a deep breath just so she could delight in the feel of his hard chest against her taut nipples.

  “If Julie catches on to what’s going on between us, she’ll tell her mother.”

  “So what?” Jacob said, his blue-eyed gaze hard with anger or frustration, she wasn’t sure which.

  “Tina will use her leverage to keep Julie away from you.”

  “I’d like to see her try,” he said.

  “Would you?” Amanda asked. “Would you really? What if she succeeds? Then what?”

  “Daddy,” Julie said from across the rectangular room. “What are you doing to Aunt Mander?”

  “I’ve got something in my eye, sweetheart,” Amanda said.

  “Again? Aunt Mander you need to wear safety glasses. The lawn-mowing guy says he wears them to keep stuff out of his eyes.”

  Jacob pushed off the wall, leaving Amanda feeling hopelessly exposed. He ripped the tag off the sunglasses he intended to buy and perched the eyewear on his face to hide the turmoil in his expression. Speaking of safety glasses . . .

  Julie eventually decided on a stuffed monkey—which she promptly named Jojo—and they piled back into the car. Even though it was Amanda’s car, Jacob insisted on driving. She didn’t mind. If he drove, it would be much easier for her to stare worshipfully at his masculine beauty.

  And with him driving, she could cool down a bit. She was still overwarm from his little show of posturing in the gift shop. Why had it turned her on when he’d cornered her like that?

  Maybe because he made her feel desirable.

  Once the interior of the car had cooled enough, Julie was fastened into her booster seat and given her lunch. She was soon sharing her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and carrot sticks with her new toy. “Eat your lunch, Jojo.”

  Amanda dropped her bag into the trunk and riffled through it for more sandwiches for her and Jacob. Seemed she’d be having ham and cheese on wheat. An apple tumbled out of the bag and rolled to the far reaches of the trunk. She reached for the wayward fruit, pulling it from the corner. It dropped from her hand when Jacob stepped up behind her and pressed the ridge in his shorts against the aching heat between her thighs.

  “Do you have any idea what seeing you bent over the back of this car does to me?” he said in her ear.

  Probably the same thing the low rumble of his voice did to her.

  “I could hazard a guess,” she said with a grin.

  “I want to peel those shorts down your thighs and fuck the sassiness out of you.”

  “That would take a whole lot of fucking, Silverton.”

  “I’m up for it.”

  She wriggled her hips, rubbing his hardening cock against her. “I can feel that you are.”

  His arms wrapped around her waist, and he crossed them in front of her so he could grasp her breasts. He pinched her nipples, sending a jolt of pure lust through the center of her body. Dear lord, what was this man trying to do to her?

  “Have you forgotten where you are?” she asked, grabbing his hands and glancing around the currently vacant parking lot.

  “Trust me,” he said. “If I’d forgotten where we are, my cock would already be buried inside you.”

  “Daddy!” Julie’s muffled voice called from inside the car. “Jojo is thirsty.”

  Jacob huffed a half laugh into Amanda’s ear and pulled away. “Your four-year-old-daughter’s voice,” he said with a resigned sigh. “So much more effective than any cold shower.”

  Turning to face him, Amanda chuckled and handed him a lukewarm juice box from Julie’s bag. “We don’t have time for a public quickie against the trunk of my car anyway.”

  “You’d better prepare yourself for tonight,” he said, and though his expressive blue eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, she could feel the heat of his gaze as he examined her body. “I have a whole lot of sexual frustration to work through. Once Julie goes to sleep, you’re mine.”

  “Oh?” she teased. “Are you sure about that?”

  He leaned in and stole a quick kiss that had her swaying with dizziness. Must be this heat, she thought as she gripped the trunk behind her so that she didn’t sink to her knees at his feet.

  “I’m sure,” he said. Wearing a crooked grin, he circled the car to give Julie her juice box.

  Amanda collected their lunches in a spare plastic sack, shut the trunk, and climbed into the passenger seat. Jacob waited for her to fasten her seat belt before leaving Austin Zoo behind. While he drove, she handed him food, glad that he was too busy concentrating on driving and lunch to touch her. Okay, that was a lie. No matter how unsettling she found his physical attention, she would never be glad he wasn’t touching her.

  “Julie’s already asleep,” Jacob said, his gaze on the rearview mirror.

  Amanda turned in her seat and smiled at the peacefully sleeping angel in the back seat who held her stuffed monkey wrapped in a tight embrace, her own neck bent at an uncomfortable angle. Amanda unfastened her seat belt and grabbed the neck pillow off the floorboard. She carefully used it to straighten Julie’s neck before flopping back into her seat and buckling up.

  “She looks much more comfortable,” Jacob said, reaching for her hand and giving it a squeeze. “Thanks.”

  “She’ll be fully rested and raring to go when we get to San Antonio.” Which was far preferable to dealing with a tired, cranky child who’d missed her nap.

  “I’m glad you came with us today,” Jacob said. “You make her walk on sunshine.”

  Amanda flushed. “Thanks.”

  “And me too.”

  “You both make me happy as well,” Amanda admitted around the knot in her throat.

  This conversation was rapidly turning serious. And she wasn’t sure she was ready to have this talk just yet. She shifted in her seat and said, “Did you feel left out while we were in Jojo’s enclosure?”

  “Not at all. Are you changing the subject?”

 
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