Conflict of Interest

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CHAPTER 37

Their hands swung back and forth before he gave a little tug to turn her toward him.

“Thank you for a great weekend. I hope you have a great Monday.” Luke picked up her spare hand as he spoke.

“No, thank you for an amazing weekend. And I am going to have a great day.” She proudly tilted her head and looked up to her office. Luke gave her a hard kiss and surrounded her with a hug.

Grace’s eyes followed Luke until he disappeared into the next block. The tapping sound on The Bistro window startled her into a jittery jump. Aimeé’s smiling face and incessant waving from the other side had her seeing that Aimeé was talking incoherently, forgetting that only the people inside of the building could hear her.

Yeah-yeah, I’m coming, her hand motioned as she breathed through the last heart palpitation and moved toward the door.

“You two could be your own romance movie.” Aimeé’s hand waved that away. “I’m talking full-on, love-making, Indie film. Only the truly love-starved artistic types would see it, and the rest of the world wouldn’t have an idea what they missed.”

Aimeé’s flour-dusted hand led Grace to the front register where she placed a vanilla latte on Thomas and Jane’s company tab and moved down the bar. Aimeé, an efficient one-woman assembly line, built the latte in brilliant, robotic fashion.

Grace mirrored Aimeé as she sashayed down the bar while working. Rather than set Grace’s latte on the counter, Aimeé carried it to their corner table, leaving Grace no choice but to follow.

Aimeé set the latte on one side of the table and sat directly across as she motioned to the chair in a way that said sit now, and whatever you do, you better not be silent. To reinforce her expectations, Aimeé directed, “Speak.”

“I am great, too, yes, thank you for asking.” Grace joked out the first couple of words hoping to get a smile out of Aimeé, who was all business. Aimeé obliged but didn’t take the joke and wasn’t going down easy.

“I know you’re doing great. I can see it in your face. That is a post-sexed face.” Aimeé’s finger made circles around Grace’s face for display.

“I want details. All of them. Then I’m going to brag about them to our beloved friends since I’ll have heard them first.”

Grace sipped her coffee and eyed her beautiful, questioning friend over the rim. She tried to conceal her feelings, but her smile turned to a beam at the dizzy, unimaginable, fantastic week she’d had since meeting Luke. Aimeé scolded her with a single look. “This is why,” Aimeé said with a hand displayed toward Grace’s face, “I need you to talk.”

“Okay, I can start by saying we didn’t partake in any love-making up north. But,” Grade added before Aimeé could disapprove, “this isn’t my first coffee today. We were up early, two rounds,” she paused for effect, “of the best, most incredible,” mouthing the keyword, “sex of my life. Probably his, too.” She gave herself a little pat on the back.

Aimeé threw her hands up in the excitement and wasn’t nearly as worried about the crowd of businessmen and women listening in on what was heading toward inappropriate conversation.

“I need more. Tell me more. When did it start? Did he stay with you? You with him?” Aimeé reached across the table and stole a sip of latte and shrugged. “What, it’s not like you need it.”

There wasn’t any point in trying to argue with a smooth-talking French woman. Grace reached across the table to grab her latte back, drank, and began.

“We got back to the city around five o’clock last night. I’ll tell you about the weekend later, but saying it was the perfect mixture of nostalgia and enjoyment doesn’t nearly do it justice. So,” Grace leaned in and cupped both hands around her warm drink, “we are at the curb in front of the light post, and he leaned over and gave me this huge, stop-your-breathing kiss. I mean we had to come up for air.” Her hands moved to her head and impersonated a bomb exploding. “It was mind-blowing. More mind-blowing than kitchen night and pizza night. Combined.” Aimeé fanned her face, gesturing with her other hand for Grace to continue.

“On cue, and obviously better able to focus than me, Luke said, ‘I’m not ready to be away from you this weekend.’ And obviously,” Grace pointed to herself like there was no other option than for them to stay together, “I was feeling the same exact thing.”

The pitch in her voice was getting higher. The speed of her words quickened from the excitement of reliving the moment.

“Of course, I didn’t want to be all Top Gun – ‘take me to bed or lose me forever,’ but I might have been a little Top Gun because I said, ‘take me to bed or lose me forever,’ and – don’t give me that look, I know you know what Top Gun is.”

Aimeé lowered her eyebrows to an acceptable height, though still perfectly arched.

“Yes, I know.” She waved her hand in admission, “Just a bit of sex-envy. It will pass.”

“I love that I’m getting sex-envy from you of all people. Then, the next thing I know we are in a parking spot paying the meter and practically running up my stairs trying to wrestle clothes off each other.”

Grace leaned her cup toward Aimeé. “That’s where I’ll stop for today. The rest of the show is not appropriate for children.”

“You’re kidding me.” Aimeé’s accent was thick with disappointment. Her body slumping as if she’d been served the greatest let down of all time.

“What?”

“This save it for later crap doesn’t work for me.”

“I’ll-”

“Sex!”

A string of fluent French flew through the air reaching customers on the far end of the Bistro. Curious and amused patrons sent their interest to the table and to Aimeé who laid a slap on the table.

Grace stared, watching the musical rant fly from Aimeé’s red-painted lips and waited for the fire to burn out.

“It is too early in the morning for anything other than the good stuff.” Aimeé calmed and continued in her second language, “So, lay it on me. And remember, I need something good to give the girls.”

Amused at the feistiness that usually only displayed itself on special occasions, Grace conceded.

“Okay, Okay. The sex.” She took a deep breath in and exhaled in preparation. “Holy. Shit.”

Her dark eyes growing huge, Aimeé was tracking. “Oh my God, it was a holy shit.”

“A holy shit. His hands knew where to be at all times. They were light but rough to the touch. His kisses, oh my, his kisses were everywhere. Everywhere. He might have actually been driving me to the point of craziness. I thought I was going to explode.”

Aimeé shook her head in bewilderment.

“I nearly screamed Luke’s name, but before I could, he was inside me, and the feeling was, oh my God, it was heavenly. But it felt like a sin. The buildup. I can’t, there are no words. Then it was hammered in. Not fast, just heavy. Excruciatingly heavy. And so slow at first, but it was ravishing. He was ravishing. More, so much more than the times before.”

Something happened. Grace had lost Aimeé’s full attention. Then she followed her friend’s voice and methodical head-turn.

“Speaking of ravishing.”

Grace looked over to see Luke’s smiling face standing next to her, and the quiver of morning rushed back.

“Ravishing, huh?” Luke asked, amused and feeling a bit overconfident after hearing Grace’s description. Though, he couldn’t deny feeling the same way about Grace – she was ravishing.

“Hi. How much of that did you hear?” she inquired.

Luke bent down to place a kiss on her cheek, “Enough to know we’ll probably have to try it out again later on. Just to make sure it fits the description.”

Grace felt her face warm with red.

“Aimeé, I hope it was entertaining enough.” He winked, and moved back to Grace, “I wanted one more look at you before the day started and figured I’d still find you here.”

“I’m glad you did.” Her heart soared.

Luke gave her one more peck on the lips and left her eyes closed and satisfied.

“A holy shit for sure,” Aimeé agreed and began her retreat to head back to work. As she made her way around the table, she bent to give Grace her own kiss on the cheek and moved across the room with a final comment. “Grace, I’ve never been happier to see somebody glow the way you are doing at this very moment.”

Grace had never loved her life more than she did right then. The thought carried her through the last sip of her latte.

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