- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
No, she couldn't have heard right. She stared at Al, who was calmly sipping his own Earl Grey at the other end of her couch. "What did you say?"
His gray eyes narrowed slightly. "I said, I think we should get married." Then he hurriedly put down his cup. "Sorry, I forgot." He fumbled in the pocket of his navy Dockers. "I got you a ring."
A ring. A marriage proposal. Rina could only gape at the man. Was this for real?
He handed her a tiny jeweler's box and, heart pounding and hands shaking, she flipped it open to see a medium-sized diamond solitaire sparkling up at her. Oh my God.
"You like it, don't you?" he asked. "The store said it's one of their most popular designs."
A generic engagement ring.
"Rina? Say something." He ran a hand through his short auburn hair, pulling it away from his forehead and revealing his receding hairline.
Shit. A man-a very nice man who she'd been dating for two months-had just proposed and all she could think about was his male pattern baldness?
This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.
This wasn't the way she'd always imagined it.
Damn. Since she'd been a little girl, she'd dreamed of the day Mr. Right would propose. He'd go down on bended knee, declare his undying love, slip a gorgeous ring on her finger. She'd cry, "Yes!" and fling herself into his arms, knowing they were destined for a happily-ever-after.
Crap, this just wasn't fair!
Al wasn't doing it right. Or, maybe, Al wasn't right. Wasn't her heart supposed to be leaping with delight, rather than hammering wildly as if she was on the verge of a panic attack?
"Rina?" He was starting to look annoyed.
She put the ring box on the coffee table and dragged both hands through her black Medusa locks, tugging her hair away from her face. "This is so sudden. I don't know what to say."
"Jesus." His usually even voice held a note of disgust. "You're supposed to say yes and put on the ring, then we'll kiss and go to bed. And tomorrow we'll talk about the wedding."
The kissing and sex had definitely been in her plans. That had become their Saturday-night pattern. An early dinner at a nice restaurant, a mutually-agreed-upon movie, conversation over a cup of Earl Grey. Then bed, where there'd be one very nice orgasm for each of them.
She'd been looking forward to that orgasm. But now it looked like she'd only get it if she said "yes." And that word just didn't feel like coming out.
In fact, she seemed to have been struck dumb. What she really wanted to do was climb into bed by herself, pull a pillow over her head and moan.
She wrapped her fringed scarf more securely, hugging it across her chest with crossed arms. Then she forced words out, voice soft and gentle. "I didn't expect this." She met his frustrated gaze with her own troubled one. "We were taking things slowly. One date a week, then two, then ..." God, she wasn't even comfortable saying the word sex to this man. "You know, being intimate."
"And all of it's been good, hasn't it?" he demanded.
She nodded slowly. "Yes, it has. But I thought we'd ..." The truth was, she hadn't thought ahead. Things had been drifting along so comfortably. She'd been happy to have a regular guy in her life. Steady sex.
Her arms still hugged her body and now he tugged them away, clasping her hands in his. His touch should have felt warm and loving, but instead it made her feel trapped.
"Look, I'm thirty-two," he said. "You're turning twenty-seven in November. Why waste time? When something's right, it's right."
Yes, but were she and Al right? If they were, wouldn't her heart have leaped for joy when he proposed? Or was that a silly girlish dream? Kids reacted with emotion; adults had to be rational. Her girlfriends were always teasing her that she was such a romantic. They thought it was cute, but she guessed it wasn't very mature. Romantic dreams only came true in movies and novels, not real life.
Except, her friends seemed to have found amazingly wonderful men ...
Was Al an amazingly wonderful man? He was nice, great even, but somehow the adjectives amazing and wonderful had never sprung to her mind.
Did he actually love her? He hadn't said so, not tonight and not in the weeks they'd been dating. She could ask-but then he might ask her back, and she wasn't sure how she'd answer. She was fond of him and that fondness had been growing but-
His grip tightened, cutting off her train of thought. "Rina, focus! It would be silly to wait any longer. We're compatible, we have a good time together, we're not getting any younger. It's not that complicated."
But it was. At least for her. And because it was, she couldn't give him an answer now. Nor could she decide this alone. She needed her best friends' advice.
Now that she'd made a decision, of sorts, she felt a surge of relief and her heartbeat steadied. She tugged her hands free. "Al, I'm flattered and honored. You're a fine man and I care about you. But I need time to think. After all, you've had time." Time to go to a store and select a ring that dozens of other women were wearing.
He sucked in a long breath and let it out slowly, audibly. "You're right. I guess this did come as a surprise. Think it over, and you'll see it's the right thing. Now, shall we go to bed?"
Damn. Much as she'd been looking forward to that orgasm, she couldn't imagine having sex with Al tonight. Gently she said, "I don't think that's a good idea right now."
"Perhaps you're right," he said grudgingly, then got to his feet. "I'll head home then."
She stood too, then picked up the jeweler's box. The diamond sparkled up at her before she closed the box and handed it to Al.
It really was a lovely ring; she could see why it was so popular. And in a way it was kind of sweet how he'd chosen it, figuring he'd have the best chance of pleasing her by picking a favorite design.
It was so typically Al. He was a steady, practical, considerate man. The kind of guy who'd make a perfect husband and father.
Perfect, if only there'd been a dash of romance and a spark of passion between them, she thought as he gave her a quick, dry good-night kiss at her door.
Lips, soft yet insistent, pressed against hers, urging her to open for him.
Rina sighed against them, then his tongue was stroking her lips, sweeping into her mouth. She answered him, hunger flooding her body as their kisses grew more demanding and passionate.
His mouth left hers and she moaned at the loss.
But then she felt his fingers tracing the lines of her face, her neck. Down to mold her breasts, caress them, gently squeeze her nipples.
She moaned again, as each touch sent echoes of sensation coursing to her pussy.
The room was dark; she couldn't see him. Yet she knew who he was.
His fingers drifted down her stomach and now he created magic no other man ever could. The soft curve of her belly was the keyboard, and he the pianist. Playing a melody that was a private, very sensual message between them.
And then his fingers played lower, across her mons and down to her inner thighs. She spread her legs eagerly, craving his touch.
Those quick, deft fingertips darted across her vulva, and she could no longer tell whether he was playing a tune or simply playing her. His mouth was there too, licking, sucking, blowing soft air across her hot, damp flesh. Her aching flesh.
Her body was so full of amazing sensations, all centered around his touch. She was an instrument and he a master musician, playing her to perfection.
She heard a sound, a keening sound, and realized it came from her own throat. Need, hunger, the peaking of desire as it built higher and higher. The sexy melody was reaching a crescendo.
His fingers played faster, driving her wild, driving her to breaking point.
Rina climaxed with an earthy cry of satisfaction.
And woke up.
Damn! Why had she been dreaming of him?
On Monday evening, Rina parked her car and checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. As usual, her hair was a mass of unruly black curls, not comb friendly. Her olive-toned skin looked pale; her summer tan was fading, and a couple of nights of near sleeplessness had taken their toll. She scrubbed her fingers across her cheeks to bring up some color, then hauled herself out of her old silver Honda. An autumn nip to the air made her pull her fringed burgundy pashmina close around her shoulders, over her black top and calf-length skirt.
As she climbed the steps leading to Kalypso Ouzeria, a Greek restaurant above Vancouver's busy Robson Street, her heart quickened with anticipation. For two days, all through the toss-and-turn nights and the clarinet squeals and piano poundings of her students, she'd been puzzling over her dilemma. And the bottom line she'd reached was, I'll wait for Monday. It's Awesome Foursome night.
If anyone in the world could help her figure out what to do, it was her three best friends.
At the top of the stairs, the theme song from Zorba the Greek greeted her. She glanced around the restaurant-past dark wood tables, Greek paintings and hangings, trailing plants-up to the seating area by the windows. And there they were, Suzanne and Ann and Jenny.
She rushed over. As the others looked up, she burst out with her news. "Al proposed!"
"Oh my God!" Suzanne Brennan leaped up to hug her. "The first of us to get engaged."
"Rina, that's amazing." Ann Montgomery sprang up and joined in.
"Let's see the rock," Jenny Yuen said, flinging herself into the group hug.
A waitress appeared, with middle-aged laugh lines and a big smile. "Champagne? Did I overhear there's cause to celebrate?"
Rina took a step back. "No champagne! Definitely not." She glanced around at the three familiar faces and one unfamiliar one. "I haven't accepted. I have to think it over."
"If you have to think-" the waitress started, then broke off. "Oops, sorry. Just wave me over when you're ready to order."
Rina realized that other diners and staff were staring at her and her friends. She flushed. "This is embarrassing. Let's sit down." She sank into a chair and slowly the others did the same, puzzled expressions on their faces.
Ann handed her a glass of red wine. "Are you all right?"
Rina nodded. Except, she wasn't, not really. In her dream, she'd have been thrilled to bits to tell the entire world she was engaged and to have everyone fuss over her. But now, nothing felt right. She took a sip of her wine and gazed around at three concerned faces.
Jenny leaned forward, shampoo-commercial black hair falling sleekly on either side of her face. "Rina, what's wrong? I thought everything was going great with Al."
Rina nodded again, more vigorously, and her dangly earrings tinkled like miniature wind chimes. "It has been. But I wasn't expecting a proposal."
Ann touched her hand. Her hazel eyes were full of concern. "You like him, but he's moving too fast?"
"He says, if something's right, then do it. Why wait?"
"To make sure." Suzanne leaned on her forearms, wavy blond hair falling over her shoulders, green eyes flashing. "Like with me and Jaxon."
Suzanne was a vet student in Vancouver, and her lawyer boyfriend lived in San Francisco. Far enough apart that they only got to see each other every two or three weeks, for a weekend.
"Suzie Q's right." Jenny leaned forward too. "Every relationship is complicated; there are always so many issues. You need to see if you can work stuff out. If your feelings for each other grow." She winked. "If the sex gets better and better or fizzles out." She gestured with one graceful hand-going up, curving over a hump, then zooming down with a "whee-oooooops."
"Issues," Rina said thoughtfully. Suzanne and Jaxon had issues of geography, though thank heavens no one was making a big deal of the fact she was Caucasian and he was African-American.
The race issues were Jenny and Scott's. Her Chinese-Canadian family hated her dating a white firefighter, and his German-Canadian farming family was no keener about a white-collar journalist of Asian descent.
And then there was Ann and Adonis. Until a few weeks ago, Ann had been a workaholic lawyer. Now she and her new guy, a laid-back massage therapist, were trying to find a lifestyle that worked for both of them.
Hmm. Rina'd been envious of the girls, having hot sex with amazing men, but the truth was, they also had serious complications to deal with. "You know, Al and I don't have any issues. We're compatible. We've never argued about anything."
In fact, the only subject they'd disagreed on was whether they were ready to get engaged.
Ann ran a hand through her tawny hair. "Remember when I was stewing about Adonis and David? You told me to close my eyes and figure out what I really felt about each of them. Have you done that about Al?"
"I've been doing nothing else since Saturday night." Well, except for having that crazy dream, which had absolutely nothing to do with Al's proposal.
"Really?" Ann asked, affection in her eyes. "Or have you been thinking and dithering, rather than feeling?"
Jenny, who was drinking at that moment, gave a splutter of laughter that almost spewed wine across the table.
Rina had to smile, both at Ann's comment and Jen's reaction. "Okay, you caught me. I've either been dithering or telling myself not to think about it, to wait until tonight." She glanced around, still worried but also hopeful. "I get so confused when I'm on my own. I knew you'd help me sort it out."
Their waitress drifted by and Jenny said, "Let's order calamari, hummus and pita to get us going."
They all nodded agreement and the waitress topped up their wine glasses.
Then Suzanne said, "Okay, Rina, do it. Close your eyes and concentrate on your feelings. What does your heart say about Al?"
"Breathe deeply," Ann put in. "It can help take you beyond all the surface buzz, down to a deeper level."
Rina hid a smile. Adonis sure was having an impact on Ann. She took a long, slow drink of wine, then put her glass down. She took a breath, tried to make it go deep. Good God, she played the clarinet; if anyone knew about breathing properly, it was her.
Gradually the outside world receded. She was only dimly aware of Greek bouzouki music and the buzz of conversation elsewhere in the restaurant.
What did she feel for Al? A dentist with a successful practice, he worked reasonable hours and kept a good balance in his life. He was such a nice man. Supportive of her career. He'd come to the operatic society's last performance.
No, wait, she was supposed to be feeling, not thinking.
Softly she said, "I always thought, when a man was The One, I'd know. Maybe that was a foolish romantic notion. Al's great, but my heart isn't jumping up and down for joy. When I see him, I feel a nice warm feeling, but ..." She opened her eyes. "You all feel more than that, don't you? With your guys?"
"Sparks," Jenny said, and Suzanne and Ann nodded.
Rina sighed and reached up both hands to pull the thick curls away from her face. "I thought once we'd been lovers for a while, I'd start feeling that kind of chemistry."
"You said the sex was good," Suzanne said gently. "Good isn't good enough," Jenny said.
"Unless it gets better by leaps and bounds each time you're together," Ann added. "But you're not saying that."
"Maybe it's me," Rina said. "I mean, it takes two for there to be sparks. Passion." Like she'd felt in last night's dream.
"Passion," Ann repeated. "Remember what you asked me, about Adonis and David? Whether I could imagine having romantic love, a grand passion, with either?"
Rina bit her lip. "I can't imagine having that with Al. But maybe it's not my destiny."
"Of course it is," Jenny said. "You're not even twenty-seven. Destiny didn't hit Ann until she was an old lady of twenty-eight." She winked at Ann, the oldest of the Foursome. "If Al doesn't feel like The One, then wait, Rina. Your destiny will come along when the time's right."
"My bashert," Rina murmured. "Aunt Rivka says Uncle David is her bashert. It's Yiddish for destiny, and we also use it to mean that special person who's just for us."
"Rina?" Ann said. "You're a romantic, and that's great." She hesitated. "But is it possible you're expecting too much? Maybe no man could ever live up to your romantic vision. What if Al really is your bashert, but you're not letting yourself recognize that?" (Continues...)
Excerpted from She's on Top by SUSAN LYONS Copyright © 2007 by Susan Lyons. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 9, 2008
Vancouver Clarinetist Rina Goldberg wants to get married to her soulmate, but has not found anyone to replace her first lover classical pianist Giancarlo Mancini, whom she has not seen in a decade anyone who believes out of sight out of mind is a fool to Rina When she learns that Giancarlo in town, encouraged by her best friends (see CHAMPAGNE RULES and TOUCH ME), she decides to see if he is as interested in her as she is in him and to determine if the memory is as good as the real thing.------------- Now a music video director, Giancarlo has never forgotten the lovely Rina. When she calls him, he is ecstatic as he wonders if reality will match his fantasies. Both will soon know whether they belong together as each still dreams of what they had but let go due to career choices ten years ago.------------------------- The third Canadian Awesome Foursome tale is a fun entry like its predecessors can stand alone though the first two stories are entertaining. Rina is fabulous as she is encouraged by the magic of love that has touched her pals Suzanne and Anne so she hopes to make music with the one she never forgot. Giancarlo is her equal when it comes to passion, intensity, intelligence, talent, and love. However will they be able make their relationship permanent or wait another decade as each has issues to overcome. Susan Lyons provides an awesome British Columbia second chance at love romance.------------------ Harriet Klausner
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2013
Posted April 28, 2009
This book is excellent. I have never before read anything by Susan Lyons. I do know that i will continue reading books by her. I bought this and read it. It is not for young adults (only 18+) Very steamy love scenes and lots of detail so beware. But it is an excellent read. :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted July 7, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted August 14, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted February 12, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted March 21, 2011
No text was provided for this review.