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I slid naked between the nubby flannel sheets, amazed anyone would bother to heat a table in the middle of summer. I appreciated the air conditioning, although I didn't appreciate the new age music piped through the ceiling. Or the cloying fragrance of lavender that permeated the entire spa. The soapy smell made the inside of my nose tickle and I sneezed loudly into the empty room.
I'd been in here so many times I could see the room with my eyes closed. The entire place was done up in somber gold and unthreatening sage green. Swaths of amber silk hung from slender rods and pooled in designer heaps on the floor. And like the glass of water they'd given me, with its fancy slice of cucumber floating on the top, the spa had no flavor yet I was supposed to be impressed. Quinn would have loved the place. He'd have enjoyed the hushed footsteps of the massage therapists and estheticians as they wafted down the carpeted hallways, careful not to disturb their next paying customer.
I waited for Linda and stifled another sneeze. 2:00 p.m. every Friday. Two o'clock. P.M. Standard. Weekly. No exceptions. How difficult could it be for a therapist to arrive on time?
My watch read 2:04.
Linda should already be here working on my shoulders and neck. For the last eight months she'd tried to ease the strain of my job and all the other disasters this year had wrought. Nikki's death. Quinn taking off for the Keys and making me buy out his half of the house.
I flipped onto my stomach, shifted around to find a comfortable spot, adjusted myself and then shut my eyes. My forehead rested on a scrap of cotton toweling. It, too, reeked of lavender. Why did everything in the goddamn room have to stink of flowers? I breathed through my mouth. I always meant to complain about the smell, but by the time Linda finished working the kinks out of my back, lavender didn't seem so important. It shouldn't seem important now.
But it was 2:07 and still no sign of Linda.
And who chose the music? Birds warbled along with Celtic fiddles, bagpipes and penny whistles. A little Dave Matthews would have been appreciated.
Tired, tense, and whining to myself, even I didn't much care for me right now. I rolled my shoulders again. Maybe that relaxation technique Linda always blathered about would help me. I began a slow tensing and releasing of each muscle group in my body in an effort to find my inner tranquility. Tranquility wasn't likely, but her technique would help pass the time.
I started with my toes. Squeeze. Release. Breathe. Try not to choke on lavender. Squeeze, release, breathe I worked up my legs. Squeeze. Release. Breathe. I tightened my thighs and clenched my ass hard.
The door to the massage room opened with a soft click. I relaxed, letting my ass deflate under Linda's scrutiny. No matter. I wasn't here to impress her. I was here to pay her for services rendered.
"Mr. Weston?" A soft masculine voice caught me by surprise and I jerked from the cushion to take a look. Just inside the room, a very attractive young man stood. His dark hair floated around his head in curls that fell to his shoulders. His light eyesa pale, crystalline blue in this lightwere framed by thick, soot-black lashes. He waited politely for me to respond. I tore my gaze from his and took a gander at the rest of him.