It was much later, after they had eaten that Sophie remembered Jess had promised not to spank her. "Your word is no good," she informed him.
"What the hell does that mean?" he growled, immediately offended.
"You spanked me."
"You said you wouldn't spank me until tomorrow. You broke your word."
He looked at her, his gaze piercing as he contemplated her words. "I apologize," he said totally unapologetic. "No spanking tomorrow."
"No matter what?"
"No matter what."
He spent the night, waking just early enough to go home and shower and change clothes before going to work. He would have gone in late except he had an early appointment, an important one. He didn't want to miss it. Kissing Sophie goodbye, he admonished the sleeping woman to behave and he'd see her later in the day.
She waited until she heard the front door close and then sat up to plan her day and test his loyalty to her...
By noon, several baskets of flowers had been delivered to Jess' office. Each basket contained a card.
The daffodils were from Henrietta. "Loved the time we spent together. Let's do it again soon. XXXOOO, Henri."
The mums were from Micaela. "You are such a sweetie. Love the bracelet. Can't wait to see you. Soon? Love ya, big guy, Mikey."
The impatiens were from Georgina. "Flowers? Out of season? Wow! I thought I was worth it, too. (Giggles) Come on over and I'll show you how flexible I can be... with chocolate and strawberries. Hurry! I'm waiting! Georgie-girl."
The chrysanthemums and lavender were from Frances. "I baked something special just for you. Let's eat it together, sweetie pie, naked and in my bed, Frankie."
He groaned when he read each note and groaned again when he realized his secretary must have read them, too. Her grin was so wide, a 747 could have slipped between her lips and landed safely.
"Not a word about these," he admonished her. "If Sophie even gets a hint of these, she'll dump me like yesterday's garbage."
His secretary just laughed, but put a finger to her mouth indicating that his secret was safe with her.
And it was... until Sophie showed up five minutes later.
"Is he free for a minute?" she asked Jess' secretary and smiled when she saw the flower baskets. "These are lovely," she exclaimed. "Someone here has a secret admirer. Who is it?" she asked, her look of wide-eyed innocence so sincere.
"I... uh... I haven't had a chance to look yet," Jess' secretary mumbled.
"The delivery man didn't say who the flowers were for?" Sophie asked with an inquisitive brow. "How'd he know he had the right place? I'll look at the cards."
"Oh no!" the secretary gasped, reaching for one of the baskets. "I'm sure whoever received these would like to keep it a... um..."
"A what?" Sophie demanded and pulled the cards off the baskets still within her reach. "Jess? These are for Jess?"
"Ms. Arnow, I'm sure..." the distraught secretary murmured. "I'm sure there's some mix up here."
"I'm sure there is," Sophie replied as she examined all the cards, her smile slightly brittle and one that didn't go all the way up to her eyes.
"Sophie!" Jess exclaimed as he opened his office door.
"Jess," Sophie answered and stood very still waiting for his explanation.
"Oh dear," the secretary said. "I do believe I'm late for a lunch date. Be back soon," she mumbled as she made a hasty exit.
"I can explain," Jess began.
"I'm waiting," Sophie said.
Jess thought her voice was a little too soft, her demeanor a little too calm and he began to wonder how she happened to show up at his office shortly after several baskets of flowers were delivered... from women he hadn't seen in months.
"You've been seeing other women while you're sleeping with me?" Sophie was indignant, her hands at her hips as she glared at him.
"I swear!" Jess exclaimed, immediately on the defensive. "I haven't seen any other women since I met you. I swear on all that's holy!"
"Uh huh," the skeptical woman replied and turned to leave.
"For what, Jess Lawrence? For your next conquest to show up? Or should I get in line with all your other conquests? What do you do? Notch your penis every time you score?"
"You know that's not true," Jess murmured as he reached for her. "You're the only woman for me."
"Great line, Romeo. But I know about your reputation with the ladies. Goodbye," she huffed, "and good luck and thanks for all the loving."
"What do I have to do to convince you that you're the only woman for me?" he demanded as he jumped in front of the door, barring her way.
She arched a brow.
"Sophie, I'm hurting here."
"And what will I be when you get tired of me?" she asked.
"Is that what this is about? You think I'll dump you for some other woman?"
"You have a track record for dumping," her amethyst eyes glared at him. "There are hoards of women lying along your love boat railing. I don't intend to be one of them."
"So you're leaving me before I leave you? Is that it?"
"That's it," Sophie agreed and moved to walk around him.
"I'm not giving you up," he growled. "At least not without a fight."
"You better not stand in my way, Jess Lawrence," Sophie threatened as she aimed her knee toward his unprotected groin.
"You better have more than your knee in that arsenal of yours," he informed her as he avoided her knee, grabbed her by the waist and upended her on the spot.
"Put me down!" she yelled as his hand came down hard.
Over and over, his hand stung her backside. Over and over she cursed him and threatened revenge.
Finally, when she gave up, he righted her and held her close to his chest. "I love you more than I've loved anyone or anything else in my life. Come live with me, sweetheart," he murmured as his lips anointed her eyelids, the salt of her tears in his mouth.
"I'll do everything to make your life miserable," she hiccuped, her hand reaching back to rub her stinging derriere.
"I know," he chuckled and then kissed her. "And life with you will never be dull."
"You better not plan on spanking me like this if I move in with you," she told him, leaning back in his arms so she could gauge his reaction.
"You better behave."