After finding Penwarren’s crumpled form, Frank’s ready to crawl into bed and sleep. He’d love to spend more time with Marka, but the last few days have taken their toll. They agree to meet up in the morning for breakfast.
“I’ll meet you in the sitting room at eight?”
“Sounds good. Sleep well.”
He rubbed his hand over his face, scrabbling in his hair. “Not a chance. I’m too keyed up.”
“Take a hot shower.”
“I think I’m more in need of a cold one.”
“You don’t wanna do that. All it does is make you cold and horny. Hot shower and some party music. You’ll be right as rain.”
He looked shocked. “Why, Dr. Ventimiglia, are you telling me to go play with myself?”
Laughing, Marka pushed him toward the door. “Go, Francis. Get some sleep.”
“Si, Dottore,” he said in a silly, high pitched voice. He kissed her one last time. “I’m going to sleep,” he whispered. “So I can dream of you.”
He abruptly opened the door and was gone before she could reply. Marka closed the door, leaning her back against it with a happy sigh.
“Me too,” she said to the empty room.
Frank slept far more soundly than he anticipated. He woke a little late, having forgotten to set his alarm when he went to bed. Fortunately, his room had an eastern exposure and the sun woke him. He got a quick shower, shaved and dressed in record time. Today’s suit was navy pinstripe. Partnered with a terracotta shirt, a striped tie in several shades of blue and a coordinating handkerchief, he felt ready to greet the day.
Marka met him in the sitting room in a pair of fawn colored dress slacks, a matching bolero jacket and a tailored blouse that was the exact shade as his shirt. It had a thin honey colored stripe that exactly matched her eyes.
“You look fantastic,” he said, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips.
“I can’t believe we match so well. It’s like we planned it.”
“I don’t think we could have planned it this well.” Giving her his arm, he escorted her to the cafeteria.
Heads turned, watching them as they entered. Marka couldn’t help noticing that conversation stopped as they walked by.
“Does everyone know?” she asked, somewhat daunted by the prospect.
“They think they do.”
“They probably think we spent the night together.”
“Would that be so terrible?”
“No. But I hate being accused of it when I didn’t even get to enjoy myself.”
Frank laughed loudly, making her blush. “I told you, babe, anytime you’re ready.”
She didn’t have a good response. The invitation was there, all she had to do was accept. There was no doubt in her mind that she wanted him as much as he wanted her. Given her past romantic choices, she was somewhat hesitate to give in to her baser urges.
Frank attempted conversation, but Marka gave terse, one or two word answers to his questions. He sensed that she was angry with him for something, but couldn’t figure out what. The only thing that came to mind was his remark about having sex.
“Sorry if I said the wrong thing. I’m a guy. We think in pretty basic terms and sometimes—I’m not always tactful. . . .”
“No, it’s not that.” She put her fingers to his lips. “I really like you. And I’m really attracted. But my last crash and burn, I ignored caution and jumped in both feet first. He ground my heart to hamburger. I can’t handle a repeat.”
“I’d never do that, Marka. I’m not that kind of guy.”
“I know, but. . . .”
“Sometime, I’ll tell you about what happened to me. Maybe then you’ll understand how I could never treat you like that. Meantime, I need a cup of coffee before my head explodes. But first, if I don’t get one of those incredible kisses, other parts of me are gonna go first and then we won’t have any fun at all.”
Marka laughed, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder. When she finally controlled herself, she kissed him. His lips met hers with a spark. His warm breath caressed her cheek.
“Remind me why I’m telling you no,” she murmured.
“You got me, babe.” He spread his arms, shrugging. “Cause you can have this anytime you want.” He tapped his chest, running his hands down his abs as if presenting himself.
Two older women were coming out of the cafeteria when he said that. They stopped to ogle Frank, who looked resplendent in his suit and tie.
“Honey, if you don’t want him, can I have him?” One of the women asked Marka.
“I saw him first,” the other complained.
Frank put his arms around their shoulders. “There’s enough of me to go around. What’s it gonna be, Marka? You and me? Or me and the ladies?”
“I guess I’ll keep you,” Marka said with a heavy sigh. “Sorry, ladies, but he’s got the best lips in town.”