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Nervously I bathe, sitting on a wooden stool, in a ritualistic cleansing to prepare me for the dip into the hot spring. I take my time, but not too much time because I know that Stephen will be waiting for me in the bath. I'm nervous. He hasn't even attempted to seduce me yet, and aside from the magical kissing in the helicopter and holding hands while we visited the shrines, we haven't touched. Now he will see me naked for the first time, and I will see him. I can't deny that I've thought about bedding him. There are moments it's all I can think about ... but the moment just hasn't been right.
I honestly think that being in the different culture is messing with my head. Normally, I wouldn't think twice, I'd charge out, jump into the hot tub, and let the party begin ... but that seems a little too collegiate and not particularly the impression I want to give this man. But then, what impression do I want to give him?
I'm not available for anything more than what we will have here. I'm married to my career, as is he. Tomorrow I begin the trip back to Miami, and he will be going to Sydney. Sighing, I dry off and pull the soft cotton yukata, the provided traditional robe, over my naked form.
Best to make the most of tonight, I suppose.
With a deep breath I push open the glass doors that lead outside and step into the small wooden sandals provided for walking in the gardens and to the outdoor hot spring bath. I can see the glow of blue lights surrounding the bath and as I get closer, the heavy fog of steam rolling off the water.
"Step in slowly," I hear Stephen warn. "The water is really hot."
I can't see him through the white mist.
Above me thesky is black, the stars shining brighter than I can ever remember seeing, and the mood of the bathing area is so Asian, so serene. I can't imagine a more romantic moment. Why do I suddenly feel like running?
Everything is changing.
I look toward the spot where his voice came from. "It's beautiful here. Thank you for bringing me."
"You're stalling." He chuckles.
I duck my head and smile sheepishly, reaching slowly for the tie to my yukata. "I love this robe."
"Stalling." He says it in a sing-song voice.
I part the fabric, revealing a swath of pale skin that runs from my neck to my ankles, allowing him quite the view because I keep my pubic hair waxed away. I hear a swift intake of breath from the fog. I make a show of looking at the fabric and run the fabric between my fingertips. "This print, white on navy, I never get tired of its simplicity."
I let the robe fall off my shoulders, sliding it slowly, revealing myself to him, and it is surreal because I still cannot see him. I allow the fabric to fall completely, pooling at my ankles. "Do you think I've broken every social etiquette rule now?"
His voice is tight when he answers, "At least several."
"Maybe we can break a few together," I suggest, hoping I sound sultry.
"Mmmm, that sounds nice."
"Do I please you?"
"Yes." His voice is a thick hiss filled with desire.
I take a slow step into the pool and pull my foot back out again. "Shit! That's hot!" So much for setting the tone for romance, I am not having sex in that pool!
His face appears at the edge of the pool near my feet. His hair is wet and drips over his face and deeply defined, muscled shoulders, and droplets of water cling to his long, thick eyelashes--a latter-day Poseidon. He grins broadly. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't take me a few tries to make the plunge myself."
"And your skin wasn't scalded?"
He lifts his hand from the water, revealing a long and muscled forearm. "Skin still attached."
I bite my lip, wanting to run my fingers over his bare skin. I want to find out what other muscles he's been hiding beneath his expensive suits. "How did you do it?"
"Here." He pats the smooth stone surrounding the pool. "Sit and dangle your legs for a moment. After a bit, it won't seem so bad."
I take his advice and he is right and soon I am neck deep in the water beside him. We sit on a built-in ledge. He is quiet and has been since I entered the water. I wonder if he is thinking about what I am thinking about. Well, hopefully he isn't thinking about his rock hard abs. But maybe he's hoping that I will make the first move and straddle his lap.
I decide to do just that and surprise us both by making a sudden move to do so. Awkward splashing ensues, but my original intent is accomplished and I find his thighs tightly pressed between mine with my knees pressed into the ledge on either side of his legs. "Too forward?" I ask.
His lips close over mine and I take it to mean "just forward enough."