FIFTY-THREE

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It was December 5th, Mark's 35th birthday. Louis had told her on the QT. Only problem was, what did you get a man like that? He never mentioned that he wanted anything. Except of course . . .

Which she gave him every chance she got.

Bingo! Virginia felt her body heat up with the idea.

She had booked the day off, so she packed up her things and headed out shopping. Janine was going to stay with Mrs. Johnson for the evening.

Virginia pulled into his driveway in the early afternoon, an unusual time of day for her to be there, especially in the middle of the week. Steve was on duty at the gate. She looked around as she slowed to a stop but saw no sign of Bruce, grateful that she didn't have to deal with his bad attitude.

"Boss isn't here. Was he expecting you?" Steve asked.

"No, I wanted to surprise him for his birthday."

"Awesome." He nodded with a broad smile in his surfer-dude kind of way.

"Where's your brother?"

His eyes narrowed and the friendliness slid from his face. "Out."

There was no ignoring the none-of-your-damn-business vibe. So much for making conversation, Virginia thought. "Could you not tell Mark I'm here when he comes home?"

The grin and nod returned. "Chyeah, I can keep a secret."

No doubt, she thought as she headed up the driveway. She eased onto the grass and pulled around to the back of the house in an attempt to hide her car.

She found Lily in the kitchen, working on a birthday cake. "It's beautiful," Virginia gushed as she watched her forming flowers with the yellow icing being squeezed from a bag.

"He deserves the best," Lily said, her chest puffed out with pride. "That is why he has you."

"Oh . . . I . . . thank you." Virginia was surprised by the woman's words. Mark's housekeeper had always been polite and friendly to her, but they had never had any deep personal conversations.

Lily stopped what she was doing, grabbed Virginia's hand, and captured her gaze. "You must listen to an old woman. You two are like peanut butter and jelly. Very different places you come from, both strong and independent, but together"—she put a hand over her heart—"what a combination!"

Virginia laughed and gave her a hug. "I never thought of it like that."

"You must," she bowed her head and returned to her decorating.

After asking Lily to keep her secret, Virginia left the woman to her work.

In Mark's bedroom, she pulled the glossy box from her overnight bag. She didn't buy lingerie very often, preferring sports bras and comfortable briefs for work, but she understood the fascination with it. Laying it on the bed, she unfolded the tissue paper surrounding the black lace babydoll set she had purchased that morning and held it up in the air. It was delicate and feminine with sequins adorning the formed cups and a ribbon-trimmed hem and bow that added a few sexy details to the sheer material. A matching thong completed the set.

She helped herself to a shower and spent some time in the bathroom fussing with her hair and makeup until she didn't know what else she could possibly do. Then she donned the present she had bought him. It had an innocent, almost girlish, quality to it. However, there was nothing innocent about the plunge front, push-up cups of the bralette. More cleavage than she ever thought possible reflected back at her from the mirror. She was turned on just thinking about what his reaction might be.

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