Sure Thing(10)


by Jana Aston

“This has nothing to do with George, but I can’t sleep with you again, Jennings,” I say in a rush while he stares at me, his head tilted to the side and his hand running along his jaw. His expression is impassive, his eyes contemplative. Oh, fuck. Maybe I got this wrong? Maybe he has no interest in a repeat performance with me? I feel like an idiot and my cheeks heat up in embarrassment. “Assuming you wanted to, that is. Assuming you wanted to do it again.” I pause. Do it again? I sound like a teenager and I have to make a concentrated effort not to slap my forehead with the palm of my hand. Total idiot. “Did you want to though?” Why am I still talking? “Never mind, the answer is no.”

Wait, he said he didn’t share, which meant he thought we would sleep together again. Right? Or did he just mean it in like a general way? Like, ‘Hey, I’m not into being your side piece?’ Do people still say that? Side piece? Or does he think I’m a cheater? Like, ‘You should have told me you were already sleeping with some guy named George before you let me make you come harder than you ever have in your life?’ Or maybe he meant it in a ‘I don’t do group sex’ kind of way. Like, ‘Hey, I’m not going to tag-team you with George.’

“I can’t,” I repeat with a small shake of my head. “Nope,” I add awkwardly, popping my lips around the word. I need to shut the hell up. I stop talking and grab the banana resting on the table in front of me and peel it to keep myself busy, glancing anywhere but at him as I do so. Ah, there’s his grandmother, sitting a few tables over with the Canadian trio. They appear to be old friends already, chatting away and laughing over something or other. I shove the banana into my mouth and wonder if Jennings is going to respond to my little outburst or just keep staring at me. I dart a glance back in his direction. He drops his eyes from mine, runs them slowly down the banana between my lips and then back up to meet my eyes again. And then I choke.

I drop the banana and cough into my hand.

Now he smiles, the dirty bastard.

“Why?”

“I have to have a reason?” I snap in return because now I’m annoyed.

“Fair point,” he agrees with a nod. “No, you don’t.”

“That’s right, I don’t.” It comes out a little smug but I’m sort of relieved that I wasn’t wrong about his interest. “I met you two days ago. I don’t have to give you a reason why I’m not interested in sleeping with you again.”

“Two days ago when you propositioned me in the hotel bar.”

Err, I should probably take the smug level down a notch.

“Two days ago when you told me”—he pauses here while I wonder what idiot thing came out of my mouth that he’s about to repeat—”that you were a sure thing.”

Right. That. I blow out a breath and stare at him while I think. I must be doing a shit job of hiding the fact that I’m thinking of something to say because he has a really amused smirk on his face.

“Maybe I have a kink where I only have sex with strangers.”

“We both know that’s not true,” he says easily and motions with his fingers for me to continue with my next objection.

“Maybe I didn’t enjoy it that much,” I offer.

“Try again, love.”

Yeah, he’s right, we both know I enjoyed it. I wonder how flushed I am right now at the mere memory.

“It’s just that it’s against company policy,” I say. I have no idea if that’s true or not but it’s got to be true, right? Sleeping with customers cannot possibly be allowed.

“Is it?” he questions, his brows up, seemingly genuinely interested in this.

“Yeah.” I nod and try to look confident. I add a little shrug when he doesn’t immediately respond.

“Well, isn’t Sutton Travel lucky to have such a dedicated employee,” he muses after a moment.

“Yeah,” I say again, but this time it comes out a little doubtful. Daisy’s a terrible employee! She sent me on this trip in her place and I have no idea what I’m doing! And she doesn’t even care if I get fired or not. Or she gets fired, whichever.

“I’d hate for you to cock up your job,” he says and I wonder if ‘cock up’ is a British phrase or if he’s talking dirty to me.

“Yeah,” I say for the third time and this time I’m sad. Freaking twin problems. And lies. They’re so complicated.

“Of course, we knew each other before I was a customer, didn’t we? A pre-existing relationship, if you will. That can’t possibly count.” Wait. He really does want me again? This gorgeous, sexually talented man wants me again.

“Well,” I start. “I don’t—”

“That’s sorted then,” he says and pushes his chair back. “I’ll see you on the bus, Miss Hayden.”

CHAPTER TEN

Jennings

I still think she’s lying about something, but as long as she’s not fucking the driver I suppose it doesn’t matter. Except I hate being lied to. Bloody hate it, which is hypocritical as hell since I’m lying to her as well.

I wasn’t at first. I didn’t say a single untrue thing when I met her. But I’m lying to her now, aren’t I? By omission, I suppose, but still a lie. A smallish one. Nearly insignificant. To me anyway. To her it might be another matter entirely.

She’s different, this girl. I smile thinking of her fumbling through her list of excuses to avoid seeing me again. Please. She came three times. Loudly. So if she’s not seeing the driver then what is it? It can’t be some moral quandary about sex, can it? We’ve already done the deed so what would another few tumbles matter? She was quite keen when she thought I was a stranger—and that hasn’t changed, not really. She can’t be such a rule-follower she’s worried about some supposed Sutton Travel company policy—if it even exists.

I wonder what she does when she’s not guiding tours. Where she lives, if she’s got a flatmate or perhaps a cat.

How far she could take me down her throat.

Just everyday thoughts, really.

“Jennings, darling, thank you for taking me on this trip.” Nan interrupts my musings as we exit the hotel and walk the short distance to the coach parked just out front. “I know how busy you are but I do so look forward to my annual trip,” she says with a pat to my arm. “Besides, it’s all quite informative, isn’t it?”

“Very informative, Nan,” I agree.

I’m only here to appease Nan. When the trip ends I’ll deliver her to my aunt Poppy in Connecticut for the remainder of the summer. Then I’ll be on the first flight to London.

“Very good, and I’ve always wanted to take this tour. Time well spent for both of us then.”

I nod my head in agreement as we board the bus. Her new Canadian friends immediately wave us over to some empty seats near them as the coach doors close and Daisy walks down the aisle taking a head count, her lips moving as she counts to herself, her eyes rolling as they pass mine. Not too worried about policy then, is she? I’d think eye-rolling customers must be prohibited, but Lord knows with the Americans. She returns to the front of the coach, signaling to George we’re good to go, and then turns on the microphone system with an enthusiastic, “Good morning,” to the group.

“So, um, welcome again to Sutton Travel Highlights of History tour. Glad you all made it on time this morning, thank you for that.” She smiles brightly but her hand is gripping the microphone so hard her knuckles are white. As if she’s responsible for passing the baton during an Olympic relay sprint instead of delivering a few dull tidbits to a group of tourists. She clears her throat before continuing, reminding us what’s on the agenda before picking up a small notepad and glancing it over. Does she really need notes in order to do this?

She nods to herself then tucks the notebook away before asking the group to pull the tiny radio-controlled boxes from the seat pockets in front of each seat. After handing each guest a set of cheap disposable earbuds, she runs the group through testing the headset. The boxes operate on a simple on/off switch and volume dial so that lesson goes quickly. We’ll use them as we walk and the local guide narrates via the headsets.

Once that’s all sorted Daisy’s shoulders relax as she turns on a promotional video on the overhead monitors and drops into the empty row of seats directly above and behind the driver. I’m five rows behind her so I can’t hear her sigh, but I imagine she does. Is she nervous about this tour or about me? Neither makes much sense. Both intrigue me.

“Jennings, would you mind if I sat in the empty seat next to Vilma?” Nan breaks into my thoughts and gestures to her new friends. “It’ll be easier for us to chat.”

“Not at all. I think I’ll go up and join the guide. I’ve got a few questions for her.”

“Oh, great idea, you do that!” Nan readily agrees, patting my knee just as she did when I was a boy. “I’m so thrilled you’ve taken such an interest in the tour.”

So am I. But I don’t think it’s in the way she’s thinking.