I can hear the smile in his voice. “Eleanor Roosevelt.”
“You seem pretty smart for a guy who likes to get wrecked for a living.”
“Come closer so I can see you.” His words run together. “There could be a happy ending after all.”
The next sound I hear is Josh snoring. He’s out like a light.
“So it is true! Tell me, are the rumors true?” Ayana, my roommate, grills me before I even get through the front door.
“Do you mind if I put my bags down before we leap into your please give me the R rated version of your day moment?” I laugh.
“Fine,” she concedes. “Hello, Miss Charlie!”
Charlotte lets go of my hand and runs into Ayana’s embrace.
“I made your favorite—fish sticks and French fries,” Ayana coos into Charlie’s ear, making her giggle.
I laugh at them as I wriggle out of my jacket and hang it in the closet. Pulling Charlie back to me, I work her coat off as she dances and spins around. “Go get washed up for dinner, sassypants.” Playfully, I give her little bottom a tap, and she runs off into the bedroom we share.
“Honestly, Sophie, these are the bragging rights you’ve earned and deserve when you put that sparkly new graduation certificate to use,” Ayana sing-songs as she moves back toward the small kitchen table she was situating with plates. “Is Josh North as hot in real life as he is on the magazine covers?”
I roll my eyes. “I’ve never seen any of the magazines he’s been on.”
“Of course you haven’t! I knew you were going to say that.” She’s mockingly disgusted. “That is why I, your smartest friend, went to the library this afternoon and got these!” she squeals as she litters the center of the table with popular, glossy photo magazines.
I look over the covers. The word “hot” doesn’t do Josh North descriptive justice. Scorching? Volcanic? Meteoric?
“Is he really that gorgeous?” She gets into my face, demanding the truth.
“Um …” Shit, I know I’m blushing. “He’s lying face down on a hospital bed; I didn’t get to see his face.”
“Yeah, you just got to see his ass!” she says, calling me out.
“Oh my God—yes I did!” Her enthusiasm extracts the truth. “And I’ve never seen legs so cut.” I snatch up the Sports Illustrated that he adorns the cover of. He’s in a fighter’s stance.
“Did he make a pass at you?” I can tell she’s expecting a juicy answer.
I bark out a laugh. “He passed out.”
Ayana laughs. “Ah, meds.” Ay is a nurse at the hospital on the night shift. “Well, I wonder about Josh’s other jackhammer.”
“AY!” I slap her arm.
“What’s a jackhammer, Auntie Ay?” Charlie’s innocent little voice questions from behind us.
“He’s a patient and athlete Mommy is working with,” I answer as she climbs into my lap.
“Is this him?” She points to a Josh North I’ve never seen before—he stands on the cover of GQ in a crisp, black tux.
“Yes, that’s him, but to me he looks more like …”—I flip the magazine backside up on the table—“that.”
“You’re silly,” Charlie decides of me. She slides from my lap and squiggles into her seat.
Ay puts food on each of our plates. When she sits she says, “When do you work his torso?”
I smile in spite of myself. “Tomorrow.”
“That was not the way I wanted our introductory conversation to end,” Josh explains the next day. He’s alone in his room this time, still face down in the bed, his voice still raspy.
“Don’t worry about it. Heavy pain meds do that for a reason, the more you let your body rest, the sooner it heals.”
“Holy shit! How did my coach just throw his voice into your mouth?” he quips good-naturedly.
“I’m going to fold your top blanket down to work on your arms and back.” I bring the covers over the lower half of his body.
His back, arms and shoulders are as perfect as his legs and ass. His muscles, even relaxed, bulge. I slide my hands over the planes of his back, from ass to neck, very gently, on either side of his spine. He has a black and white yin and yang tattooed between his shoulder blades over his spine. It’s surrounded by twelve oriental symbols or letters.
My hands glide over the art of his muscle and ink, and I feel like I’m making love to him. I pride myself on melding my body with my client’s when I work, but this is entirely different. I feel the difference in my heartbeat, my quickening breath and the sweet familiar ache between my thighs.