Rolan Anthony Paxton's dawn fantasy had him in a state of rapture.
One hand cradling his neck, the other thrown across a king-size pillow, he slid his thighs apart over the cool satin sheets to give the expert mouth cocooning his randy prick better access. A light twirl over the crown, and that delectable tongue worked its way down the length of him.
Stifling an automatic wince, he lifted one eyelid and looked at the blonde servicing him. Cindy-something, a Pamela Anderson look-alike on the verge of stardom, great tits and a god-awful high-pitched, nails-on-the-blackboard voice. He should have picked the other one.
The yacht's engines hummed to life and the boat vibrated and rocked. An open porthole let Mediterranean brine into the room, along with an unexpected morning chill. Monte Carlo's perpetual traffic buzzed in the background.
At least she hadn't stopped using those wonderful hands, but that happy thought evaporated with the dig of a nail.
"Ouch," he snapped. "Watch those talons."
"Oops, sorry," she said, and cupped a hand over her mouth to suppress a nervous giggle.
A barrage of firm knocks hit the cabin door and he cut to the sound, mood souring and lips curling. Figured; it took him longer and longer these days, and the slightest mishap turned him off. Age, it had to be, since he was twenty-nine and tired of the same old, same old.
Money, fame, success, and nothing counted anymore.
He knew he should be grateful. How many athletes made it to the Super Bowl, not once, not twice, but three times? Startled out of his brooding by a repeat of rapping on the burnished mahogany door, he shot a glance at the blonde and ordered, "Cover up." In a louder tone, he called, "Come in."
Without looking up, he snagged the cover sheet and began drawing it over his calves. He stopped when an audibly gasped, "Oh, no" penetrated the silence.
His head snapped up and a stunned paralysis claimed his limbs.
He'd never forgotten those eyes, the color of liquid caramel, that wild hair, every shade of a fiery sunset, and a bottom lip so plump, so inviting that one night he hadn't been able to resist nibbling on it for hours.
Sarita Khan, the nose-in-a-book classmate he'd been forced to serve four Saturdays of detention with during his last year in high school. The girl whose virginity he'd taken on prom night after breaking up with the captain of the cheerleading team. Those sweet elfin features had haunted his dreams intermittently over the last ten years. Adrenalin surged in his veins and his heartbeat accelerated. Sarita, his Sarita.
That bronze-dusted complexion paled beneath his scrutiny and she swayed, the breakfast tray balanced on her forearms listing back and forth. She swallowed, slapped a palm onto the table cemented to the left, and squeezed her eyes shut.
"Are you okay?" he asked, and hopped out of the bed, oblivious to his nudity, stalking forward. "Here, let me take that."
For a few seconds she gripped the tray tighter, but didn't lift her lids. Then her hold slackened.
He tugged the tray away and set it on the table. Eyes Krazy Glued to her delicate, heart-shaped face, raking a quick assessment of the changes over the last ten years, he forgot Cindy, the boat, the injuries plaguing his career, everything save Sarita and sweet memories. The urge to trace the soft curve of her cheek, cup her face, and suck that lower lip, defeated only by a nervous giggle in the background. Rolan stifled an internal groan and his hands fisted.
Sarita's jaw clenched and the pulse at her throat beat like a cartoon character's heart, thump, thump, in time to the rise and fall of her chest.
"Thank you," she said.
And the memory of that low throaty voice during their lovemaking cascaded like a waterfall, showering gooseflesh on the back of his neck. Enthralled, stun gunned, he didn't react when she twirled, stalked to the door, exited, and slammed it so hard it reverberated.
Cindy-something, the woman in his bed, began a torrent of idle, Valley girl chitchat. It never penetrated his mind, and became an irritating background buzz. Rolan slumped into the chair and stared unseeing at the laden breakfast tray.
Those four Saturdays they'd spent together in the detention room had started off as the worst punishment for a teenager in the throes of athletic vigor. King of the senior year, dating the cheerleader captain and giving it to her almost every day, his arrogance knew no bounds. At that time in his life, he believed himself invincible. And he was, on the football field.
Little Sarita Khan, from the wrong side of the tracks, the product of a mixed marriage, her father from Bombay, her mother an Irish woman with a riot of flaming tresses and the temperament to go with it. Mrs. Khan cleaned houses for the country club members and he often caught a glimpse of her at his friends' residences. The father, the famous town drunk, had disappeared sometime between middle and high school, or so he'd heard.
Her father was Hindu, and in the stodgy close-knit town of Orangeville, it didn't pay to be anything but Bible Belt Christian. Until that four-week detention, he'd been vaguely aware of the town's disapproval when Sarita's father attempted to celebrate some exotic Hindu festival. All of them were shunned after that and she'd faded into the background at school.
"Rolan, sweetie. You're not eating. The food's gonna get cold," whined Cindy-something, breaking into his reminisces.
He stifled another groan as he took in the clothes strewn across the burgundy Persian rug, the rumpled bed sheets, Cindy's naked double-D breasts, the platinum nipple rings, and the diamonds dangling from her navel.
What had Sarita seen?
Closing his eyes, he tried to picture the scene she'd interrupted: Cindy on her haunches, one palm on his groin, his erect prick. He choked back a moan. What a disastrous way to reunite with the girl who'd haunted his dreams for ten years.
Ten years ago, he'd taken her virginity.
And on each twenty-seventh of May for every year since then, he'd awoken aroused with her face burned on his pupils. He'd learned after the first couple of years not to bother with substitutes, not when their faces were replaced by hers at the height of his climax.
He downed a glass of orange juice, all the while wondering how Sarita had ended up on Sir Geoffrey Stanford's yacht in Monte Carlo. Previous lassitude dissipated and a burst of energy commandeered his appetite.
Over the years, he'd often wondered if he'd been able to see her again as he had planned, no, had been determined to, what would have happened? Sarita was the kind of girl you took home to Mom, the marrying kind. They'd been too young to make things work back then and marriage certainly hadn't been on his mind. The bright lights of the NFL and Super Bowl stardom had been his sole goal. But he had been addicted to her laugh, the way she felt in his arms, the molasses taste of her mouth.
A church bell rang eight times and his gaze fell upon the calendar, May twenty-fifth. This had to be the hand of fate. Suddenly starved, he wolfed down scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, and toast, and then finished the whole pitcher of OJ.
"Rolan sweetie, what're we doing today?" Cindy-something asked.
"I have team meetings all day. I'll get someone to drive you back to the hotel in the Lamborghini," he said, the last part a deliberate bribe. "Spend the day at the spa and have them charge it to my account."
Her initial pouty expression morphed with the mention of the luxury car, and the offer of the exclusive spa sealed the deal.
Rolan eyed her and tried to hide his distaste at the calculating gleam in her somewhat vacant eyes. He must have been pissed to the gills last night. A vague recollection of the Casino at the Hotel de Paris flashed through his mind, a private room, champagne, a bowl of cocaine, not that he indulged. No white death for him.
He finished dressing before she even began. She kept up a stream of mild vacuous chatter, but donned the requisite spandex glove of an evening gown, scarlet no less. Once she'd jiggled on three-inch stilettos, he cupped her elbow and hurried her up the stairs, out the doors, and down the gangplank.
"Will I see you tonight?" she asked, and those talons dug vicious "U"s into his forearms.
Disengaging her hands, he answered, "It's all business for the next few days. Stay on at the hotel for the weekend, put in on my tab. You'll probably run into some of the other players. Tell the concierge I requested your room be on their floor."
"Why Rolan, you're such a sweetheart," she said, one hand stroking his forearm.
The possessive gesture raised his hackles and he had to repress a shudder.
Again, Cindy-something's practiced pout turned into a calculated smile at the mention of a free weekend and access to the rest of the team.
"You're the sweetheart for being so understanding."
As soon as her heels hit Monte Carlo's immaculate sidewalk, he spun about and headed down the hallway trying to remember the kitchen's location. It took him half an hour to find the frigging room. Gleaming stainless steel encased every surface, every appliance. Compact, but designed for efficiency, the three major centers, sink, stove, and refrigerator formed a neat triangle.
Besides the appliances, the kitchen was empty.
A tray loaded with miniature smoked salmon rosettes dotted with sour cream and the requisite black caviar graced one counter, while the other held a cutting board and a bunch of fresh parsley. Two barstools cozied up to a narrow table to the left and Rolan took a seat on one, prepared to wait.
As he settled in, the galley door slammed open.
One young male, maybe ten-ish, skidded inside. His long legs braked as he spotted Rolan. Grubby smoke-streaked cheeks flushed a deep rose, and emerald eyes the exact color of Rolan's darted around the empty space.
"Where's Mom? Who're you?"
Something snaked up Rolan's spine inch by inch, becoming more menacing as it climbed. An unfamiliar déjà vu sensation settled at his temples, throbbing, pulsing. The boy was him at ten. Feature for feature, except for his reconstructed nose, the consequence of one too many barroom fights. The tightness is his chest grew and his lungs stopped functioning.
"Hey, mister, you okay? You're not one of those squeamish kind of guys are you? 'Cause you look like you're going to faint. Don' cha know only sissies faint?"
Nonchalant, too composed and devil-may-care for such a tender age, the boy sauntered to the fridge, sliced it open, and stuck his head into the appliance's depths. His muffled voice carried on a one-sided conversation. "You want an OJ?"
He stuck his dirty face around the fridge door. "Well?"
Mustering some elements of composure, Rolan replied, "Sure. What's your name?"
"Anthony Rolan Khan. Call me Tony. Mom hates it, but I kinda like it. It's better than Anthony."
Had to be.