Compromising Kessen

  “I would love to know what caused the beautiful blush now gracing your cheeks,” he said, out of breath.

  “I, uh…”

  “Always such eloquent speech, America.”

  “So we’re back to the nicknames?” she asked.

  “Only when you butcher my language.” He took a sip of water and lay down.

  Her gaze traveled across his broad chest down to his abdominals.

  “If you want me to take off my shirt, you can just ask, Kessen.”

  “Please,” she mocked and turned away.

  “Are you asking, or are you mocking?” His lips tickled her ear in an annoyingly flirty way.


  “No way!” He pushed off the rock and laughed. “There it is! Apparently, our friends are good for something!”

  She turned to see what he was looking at and gasped. A beautiful waterfall was hiding behind a few trees near some rock caves that looked suspiciously man-made. She laughed and didn’t even mind when Christian pulled her to his side for an embrace.

  “It’s stunning!” she murmured.

  “Care for a swim?” He looked down at her questioningly.

  “Sure!” The word was out before she could think twice.

  And then Christian’s shirt came off.

  All bets went out the window.

  If he noticed the blush creeping up her cheeks, and her eyes which were now bugging out, he was too much of a gentleman to say anything.

  He went running toward the waterfall, leaving Kessen no choice but to chase after him, something in hindsight she should have put more thought into, especially considering the fact that once she reached the waterfall she couldn’t find him.

  “Christian?” she called, getting closer and closer to the edge. “Christian?”

  “Gotcha!” He grabbed her from behind sending her into near hysterics. She pushed him away, but could only pry her one arm free. She began pinching him.

  “Doesn’t hurt, doesn’t hurt!” he protested through clenched teeth. “Mind over matter!”

  Stubborn man.

  “How about a compromise?” he asked.

  “What kind of compromise?”

  “You take off your clothes for a swim, and I won’t push you in.”

  “I am not skinny-dipping with you!” She started punching his chest with her free hand.

  “Settle down!” he snapped, pulling her hand away from his chest. “I didn’t say get naked, did I?”

  The man had a point.

  “You did wear a swimsuit underneath, just in case. Correct?”

  She blushed wildly. In all her rage, she had forgotten she had in fact worn a swimsuit that morning just in case there was a waterfall. Granted, it was a bikini, but a swimsuit nonetheless.

  “So?” he released her arms.

  “Turn around,” she ordered.

  He let out a snort. “You’re kidding, right? The world has seen what you look like in a swimsuit. I don’t see why this is any different?”

  She crossed her arms.

  “Fine.” He turned around and stripped down to his euro shorts.

  Kessen tried not to stare, but the man was wearing tiny shorts—tiny shorts which would have otherwise made her laugh out loud, because they were so ugly and feminine-looking. But they didn’t look that way on Christian. Not at all. Christian looked like a better version of James Bond.

  It made her want to fight crime with him, which was an altogether weird thought. Kessen tried to calm herself as she stripped down to her bikini. It was white with gold clasps on the bottoms and top. It was almost Grecian in appearance; of course, there was much more material on a Grecian dress, or at least she assumed so.

  “You can look now,” she said, putting her hair up into a ponytail.

  The only good thing about the situation was, she knew she had a nice body. Granted Christian also had a nice body, but it would be good to be able to torture him for a change, rather than the other way around.

  She wasn’t sure what she expected, but it was a lot more than what she got, which was a brief shoulder shrug and then his back turned toward her.

  He actually turned away; he didn’t even look.

  It made her want to try harder, despite the fact she knew it was an unwise course of action. She followed Christian carefully into the water, then paused; it was colder than she thought it would be. What she wouldn’t do for a hot spring!

  On the last step, when Christian turned around to look at her, she tripped. It was supposed to be on purpose but ended up being by total accident, which made it look better than she had intended. Christian, always the hero, grabbed her before she went headfirst into the water. Her chest was now pressed against his. The plan wasn’t working how she had hoped. Instead of him being affected, she felt it was only her.

  Her breathing had become so ragged, she was afraid she would pass out. Thankfully, Christian had enough good sense to let her go; otherwise, she would have mauled him right there in the middle of the water.

  Didn’t he want her? What was wrong with him? He was more interested in her when she was fully clothed! Was it all a game? Did he want nothing to do with her? Was she not what he expected? Never in her life had she felt more insecure. She wrapped her arms around her middle and sat near the rock furthest from Christian.


  She was insane. It was the only possible explanation for her behavior. Had she no clue the effect she had on him? He was quite honestly ready to take her right there underneath the waterfall, which he knew was probably not the most moral thing to do; nevertheless, he was a man, and sometimes men thought things they should not think.

  Apparently, his brain was making a habit of thinking things it should not, especially in regards to Kessen. His earlier comment about seeing other women was said only out of anger and pure fear of the feelings she stirred within him.

  He hoped to get a rise out of her; instead, she didn’t even put up a fight. She merely stripped down to her bikini and told him she was ready. He only needed a quick glance in her direction to confirm the pictures he had seen of her before hadn’t been retouched. In fact, she looked better in person, if it was even possible.

  Her skin was a perfect tan against her white suit, and he could have sworn he saw sunlight pierce the clouds in the sky, highlighting only her, as if God was saying, “Take her; she’s all yours!”

  How he wished it were true. The only reason he was able to even touch her after she fell strategically into his arms, was because he kept imagining all the horrible things that would happen to him if someone caught him ravishing the poor girl.

  Her grandmother would probably cut off anything which wasn’t vital for his survival, and her father would probably fire him.

  His father, however, would give him a cigar and a stiff drink and say, “Good job, son. I always knew you could do it.” But then again, his father’s moral compass didn’t exactly point due north.

  Cursing himself for not being able to control his more carnal nature, he pushed the thoughts of her swimsuit out of his head and simultaneously moved as far away from Kessen as he could.

  “This isn’t going to work,” he growled.

  “I’m sorry?” she asked weakly.

  “This, us—swimming. It isn’t going to work.”

  Her gaze darted around the small area. “Because there isn’t any space?”

  “No,” he groaned, splashing the cold water onto his face. “Because my body is on fire. It’s on fire, Kessen.”

  Obviously not getting his hidden meaning, she scooted from her rock to sit next to him, as if she could somehow help him. She really was clueless.

  “What do you mean?”

  He sighed and turned to face her. She was a foot away from him; there was still time for him to react, still time for him to push her away. All he needed to do was come up with a lame excuse about finding Nick and Duncan, but when he opened his mouth to speak nothing came out.

  She licked her pink lips and tilt
ed her head as if asking him a question.

  “I—” He started talking, but again the words wouldn’t come.

  “Use your words,” she urged jokingly.

  She licked her lips again and leaned closer.

  “Forget it,” he muttered as he grabbed her and hungrily possessed her with a kiss. It obviously caught her off guard, and she didn’t respond for at least ten seconds.

  Then, the fire he had been talking about spread to her, and they were both lost in its flames. He pulled her into his lap and took complete control of the situation.

  They were alone; Nick and Duncan weren’t coming. Nobody was there to interrupt them, and he could do whatever he wanted.

  His hands moved to the back of her swimsuit. It was suddenly clear he was faced with a dilemma.

  He could break the trust of everyone he held dear by allowing his hands to do what they had been wanting to do since meeting Kessen, or he could keep her purity intact and wait five days, five whole days, to have his way with her.

  Wars were fought over such decisions.

  Her soft moan against his lips decided for him, and his hands roamed to her backside, pulling her close. Then, through a hazy cloud of lust, he heard someone yelling his name.

  It was, he thought, purely a figure of his imagination.

  That is, until a hand slapped him on the back of the head.

  “Hands off!” Nick yelled.

  Duncan was next to him with a camera, laughing. “I’m shocked. I had you working much faster than that, Christian. You are off your game, aren’t you, old boy?”

  Kessen, who had been clueless as to their approach, looked up and blushed, then hid her head in Christian’s chest. He had half a mind to drown both Duncan and Nick for interrupting them.

  “How did you get up here so fast?” Christian asked. “Wait, how did you get up here? We didn’t have enough supplies.”

  Duncan suddenly took great interest in the sky, the dull, overcast sky.

  “Duncan,” Christian ground out through clenched teeth.

  Nick laughed and slapped Duncan on the back.

  “Duncan!” Christian yelled louder this time.

  His friend held his ground. “In my defense, I thought it would be good for the two of you to bond without us watching. Both of you are so stubborn, we had to trick you to even go off on your own, considering you’re so terrified of one another.”

  Christian’s hands froze on Kessen’s shoulders.

  “Terrified?” she said curiously.

  “Oh yes, I’ve actually never seen Christian like this. Normally, he’s very smooth. I mean, he could seduce a happily married woman into signing over her will and house to him if he wanted to. But you’ve knocked him off his game; his confidence is wavering.”

  Christian groaned.

  “In fact, I was almost worried he didn’t know how to seduce a woman anymore. I did teach him everything he knows.”

  “Really?” Kessen asked, suddenly intrigued. “What did you teach him, Duncan?”

  Duncan, all smiles, answered, “You know that trick where he kisses down your neck and moves his hands just so—oh wait, here, I have it on camera.”

  Christian swore.

  “Let me rewind it.”

  Nick was laughing in the background, obviously pleased with this sudden turn of events.

  “Got it. Okay, so look where his hands are.” Duncan pointed to the recording. “Now as he slips them down the side of your arm, he uses that time to distract you by biting your bottom lip. Do you see that? Now as he bites you, and you respond—because what woman wouldn’t?—he wraps his other hand behind you and begins … well, you know…”

  Kessen turned her head to the side. “No, I don’t, Duncan. Why don’t you tell me.”

  Duncan smiled triumphantly, then whispered into her ear, “He tries to take off whatever you’re wearing, of course.”

  Christian had heard enough. It happened faster than he would have expected, what with the reaction time of Kessen and Duncan put together. His fist went sailing into the air, punching Duncan square in the jaw. Unfortunately, Kessen also went flying out of his lap and into the water. She was now fully drenched and most likely freezing.

  “What was that for?” Duncan shouted.

  Nick shook his head. “What do you think? You’ve totally ruined his only move.”

  “That is not my only move!” Christian yelled.

  “So you admit it’s a move then?” Nick stated.

  Christian paled, Kessen yelled, and Duncan was still yelping.

  “I think I’ve had enough of nature for today.” Christian pulled Kessen up from her watery fall. “How about we go back home and play that trivia game you guys were talking about?”

  Nick and Duncan smiled triumphantly at one another. “It was a fantastic plan, Duncan,” Nick said.

  “I thought so too! It worked out quite well. It was kind of us to let them kiss for a while.”

  Nick’s smile froze on his face. “She’s like a sister to me. There will be no more prolonged kissing. Did you see the look in his eyes, Duncan? He had half a mind to ravish her right underneath the waterfall!”

  “He does lack a certain class,” Duncan agreed.

  Christian exhaled roughly, running his hands through his damp hair “I’m still here, and so is Kessen.”

  Kessen had her arms crossed over her chest; she looked like a drowned rat and kept mumbling inappropriate things towards all three of them under her breath.

  Duncan put the camera away and motioned for Nick. “Do you think we should tell them about the other trail?”

  Nick shrugged. “Not telling them does have its appeal.”

  As they were lost in thought, Kessen emerged from the water shivering and approached Nick with a death glare.

  “If you don’t show me the quickest way out of this Godforsaken place, I’m going to kill you.”

  “I think she means it,” Christian said, joining her.

  Duncan put his arm on Nick and whispered, “Remember, she’s hardly had any coffee. Tread carefully, my friend. Carefully.”

  Nick put his hands on Kessen’s shoulders. “If this is about the bee—”

  “It’s not about the bee,” she snapped.

  “Then it’s about us tricking you into scaling the rock wall? Or maybe for betting on the fact that Christian wouldn’t remember his great-grandfather had this little rock haven built. Such an avid outdoorsmen he was.” Duncan sighed.

  Kessen’s teeth were chattering. “It’s for interrupting every single time we—”

  Nick stood his ground. “Every single time you what, Kessen? I’m curious.”

  “Ahhhh! Just show us how to get down!”

  “After you,” Nick said, holding his hands out in front of him. Kessen, head held high—bless her heart—nearly tripped, she was so eager to make her way down the mountain.

  Christian followed, all the while trying to contemplate ways he could steal the camera in Duncan’s hand without breaking anything of importance on his friend’s body.

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Kessen was shaken, and it wasn’t because she had spent the last two hours climbing a death rock. No, it was because every time she was in Christian’s infuriating presence, she felt like her body was a live wire.

  They had no restraint.

  Not that either of them was doing a particularly good job of trying to restrain themselves. It was unnerving to know how much power he had over her and vice versa. Granted, it would be nice to have such passion in a marriage, but what happened when passion was no longer enough? What happened when Kessen was stuck in a marriage where she feared she would be the only one in love?

  She mocked women in books who complained about unrequited love, but now that it was staring her in the face, it was the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced. How did one recover from the fact that for the rest of their lives they would be in a one-ended relationship where the other party cared nothing for your heart, on
ly for your body?

  In Christian’s defense, he hadn’t actually said as much. But then again, it was impossible and painfully embarrassing to ask someone if they loved you after only knowing them a few days. She let her thoughts frustrate her as she walked along the path.

  What took her two hours to climb, took her ten minutes to walk, making her more and more convinced that Nick and Duncan needed to be shot.

  By the time she reached the house, she had pulled ahead of the rest of the group. She ran upstairs to shower and get changed. It was too much to ask of her to even put on nice clothes, especially since the ball would be the following night, so she put on her pink sweats and went into the dining room.

  Christian was already sitting at the table with hot coffee waiting for her. He had it in front of him though; she could tell by the smell it was strong.

  She wanted it, possibly more than she had wanted Christian earlier, which was saying something. She had never felt more passionate in her life than when he was holding her in the small pool.

  “Ah, so you’ve seen the peace offering.” His eyes crinkled into a smile. He was beautiful and obviously tired, since he was wearing a warm-up outfit. Lucky for him, he still looked like a Greek god.

  “Where are Nick and Duncan?” she asked suspiciously, looking around the room. “I’m half expecting them to pop out of the corner with that stupid video camera.”

  Christian chuckled. “Oh, I sent them on an errand.”

  “An errand?” she asked raising an eyebrow.

  “Yes, it will be quite a while before they return. It’s possible it will take all night.”

  She sat down, leaning in towards his face. “What did you do?”

  The corners of his mouth broke out into a large grin. “Oh, I just told them you forgot your dress back in town, and they needed to fetch it along with matching shoes, a purse, and a new swimsuit.”

  “Oh, that’s all then?”

  “I bet even your metro-sexual friend will struggle with that tall of an order.”

  “Ah yes, Nick does have issues with shopping, though it pains him to admit it considering he adores fashion. He can’t help that he’s colorblind.” She shrugged thoughtfully.

  “Or that he and Duncan both forgot their wallets.” Christian held up two leather wallets and shrugged. “They’ll have to go to the bank, and it closes in exactly one hour. They will just barely miss it. Naturally, they’ll need to spend the night.”

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