Chapter 9.2 : Not Mrs. Marin (part 2)

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Raul's hand is warm as he leads me to the dining room. If he can hear the furious beat of my heart, he doesn't show it. He's wearing a white shirt under a light grey suit, but no tie.

"I feel a little overdressed," I blurt out.

"You're perfect." He leans close as he says the words and the scent of his cologne makes me catch my breath.

"Thank you for the dress."

"Do you like it?"

"Yes." I smile as I lower my gaze to my front and to my horror, I could see the outline of my nipples on the purple silk. Shit. In my sudden panic, I nearly stumble on the carpet. His steadying hand on the small of my back keeps me from falling but it does nothing to calm my nerves.

"I hope you're hungry," he says as he pulls out a chair for me.

Am I? There's a roiling in my stomach which could be hunger but could also be a hundred other things. "I am," I say as I slide into my seat. "This looks great."

Warm clam chowder has already been poured into my bowl. There are several dishes of appetizers, including grilled octopus, oysters on a bed of ice, and a salad. On the other end of the table are other dishes under silver covers, which I assume are the main course.

I wrinkle my nose thoughtfully when he pours me a glass of chardonnay. "I feel like I should tip you or something," I say.

"I did think of having someone up here to wait on us, but I wanted us to be alone tonight. Do you mind?"

"Oh no, not at all." I take a sip of wine, congratulating myself for having only one glass during my bath. Considering how edgy I am, the last thing I want is to be drunk tonight. Maybe I could get some coffee later.

"I almost forgot." He gets up again and takes something from a table in the corner. But instead of handing me something, he stands behind me.

"What is it?" I turn my head to see him lifting something glittery from a black velvet case.

The diamonds feel cold against my skin when he drapes the necklace around my neck. "I'm not sure what kind of jewelry you liked because I hardly ever see you wear any," he says. "But I hope you like this one."

"It's... beautiful." I touch the diamonds on my collarbone. Goodness, it's heavy. "I didn't get you anything yet."

"Then I have something to look forward to." He brushes a kiss against my temple so light that I wonder if I imagined it.

Between the dress, the diamonds, and the way Raul looks so achingly handsome sitting across the table, I can barely make myself eat my soup. But he is his usual charming self throughout the meal, and it doesn't take me long to relax and enjoy the food. As if reading my mind, he calls for coffee to be served during dessert.

When the server brings in the cart, I've just about forgotten my shyness about my outfit. To the server's credit, she leaves quickly as soon as she's served our coffee.

"Tia Carmen is inviting us to Sunday lunch."

I freeze, the coffee cup halfway to my mouth. "Oh."

"Do you want to go?"

"Uh, yeah, that's fine." I take a sip. "Will we be attending mass with them?"

He shakes his head. "Next time, she'll probably extend the invitation to include mass. But I think she's trying to ease you in."

"That's nice of her." At his expression, I add, "What is it?"

"She says she'll get in touch with you this week. She wants to have a chat. Get to know you a little better."

I nod. I have been preparing myself for this. You marry a man, you marry his family. Thank goodness my parents are in Hawaii.

"I'll have someone come up to clear this," he says after we've finished our coffee.

"Really, Raul, you have to let me do something. I can make a call to housekeeping, it's not a big deal."

"Hush." He walks around the table to pull my chair as I get up. "You made all the wedding arrangements, this is the least I could do."

"It's my job." I turn around to find myself pressed up against him. "Oh!"

He's very still. Instead of moving away, he slides a hand up the small of my back. Heat rushes through me and suddenly I find it difficult to breath.

"It was," he says quietly, as though we're having a perfectly normal conversation and I'm not plastered against his warm chest. "It's no longer your job to take care of me, mi alma."

"Raul..." I whisper, my hand on his chest. I know I should push him away but my body has a mind of its own. Instead, I stare up at him, wondering what it might feel like to kiss him again.

"I don't want to be alone tonight, Kate."

"You don't ..." I take a deep breath. "It doesn't have to be me."

He lowers his head to brush his lips over mine. "I want it to be you, Kate," he murmurs.

I'm lost. There's only the scent of Raul, the feel of his strong arms around me. With a sigh, I surrender to his kiss.


Next update will be on Wednesday, August 10. Please don't forget to vote for this chapter if you're enjoying the story!

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