9. Secrets

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Valerie and Lorne acted half their age, kissing and groping in the limousine as they began the trip back to Lausanne. After the desperate frenzy had abated, they relaxed into more adult postures. "Wanted to do that all evening."

"As did I," Valerie said as she tucked her right breast back into her dress then laid her head into the crook of his neck.

Lorne rearranged himself and pulled up his zipper, then he cupped the back of her head, gently stroking. "I had forgotten these feelings. Buried my memories of them is more likely the case."

"Did you and Gwen explore beneath clothes?"

Lorne laughed. "Not from my lack of trying, but she wouldn't allow it."

"And on top of clothes?"

"Yes, that she allowed. And it drove me crazy trying to imagine what was beneath my hands. That's when I turned to the girlie magazines."

"Hmmm. I can see that." She snuggled her face into his neck. "Did you hit it off from the start?"

"You mean jack it off?"

Valerie let out a loud laugh. "No, I mean did you and Gwen become a couple as soon as you met?"

He gave her a sheepish grin as he chuckled. "I spent well beyond the allotted time mentoring her, and she appeared to enjoy the extra attention. It took me a long time to muster the courage to ask her out."

"How long?"

"Eight months. The last day of classes in May. I couldn't bear the thought of not seeing her until the fall term."

"So, you saw each other through the summer break?"

"Very little. I spent most of it in California."

"Doing what?"

"Upgrading encryption coding and online sales software, plus looking for new markets."

"So you were already in business?"

"Started when I was in sixth form. My uncle incorporated a company for me as a Christmas present." He laughed. "Benton Enterprises."

"So, you were making money as a school kid?"

"Uncle Tom is an accountant, and he advised me to take shares in lieu of money to not jeopardise my scholarship eligibility."

"Wise." 

"Brilliant, actually. Confinity merged with X.com, then became PayPal which was bought out by eBay. Amazon grew exponentially. Immature companies were buying start-ups and being absorbed by the bigger players. My license fees, royalties and shares continued to grow." 

"So, how often did you see Gwen that summer?"

"Three times before I left. We wrote every week, then we picked up again in September."

Valerie chuckled. "Were you into your groping by then?"

"She slapped me the first time my hand slipped down to her bum. Hugs, closed-mouth kisses and holding hands were the extent of our contact for a long time, except intellectually and spiritually."

"Until when?"

"Valentines Day 2005 when I asked her to marry me."

Valerie snuggled closer. "A long, slow courtship."

"We were both too busy."

"What was she doing?"

"By then, she was in her final year of paediatric medicine."

"Yeah, that would be intense."

Lorne lifted Valerie's head from his shoulder and gazed into her eyes. "Enough about her for now." He ran his tongue across her lips, then around their inside as she opened her mouth. She trembled, then they merged in a deep, exploring kiss.

A long minute later, when their mouths parted, Lorne licked her lips again before he asked, "And what about you?

"What about me?"

"I've spilt my story of being a naïve, nerdy virgin, but I know little about your story." He laughed. "How did you go from being the bastard daughter of a stripper to a corporate giant?"

Valerie chuckled. "Blunt, aren't we?" She tilted her head and smiled. "I've not yet made the Forbes List."

"That's short-sighted of them."

She sighed. "Mum had a beautiful face and a perfectly-proportioned body. Unfortunately, she got hooked on drugs in her teens, and she was never able to stay clean long enough to pull herself out of the gutter."

"Sad to see wasted lives." He stroked her hair.

"I inherited her beauty, plus some. Whoever my father was, he had great genes to add to the pool. Mum's mind had become muddled, and she couldn't see other possibilities, so she coached me to be a model." Valerie laughed. "She warned me, though, to always keep my knickers on, telling me my beauty would pay well enough without having to compromise. Always reminded me embarrassing photos live forever."

"So that's why you didn't do the Playboy spread."

"I just didn't feel comfortable with it." She paused and looked up into Lorne's face. "Hmmm! Maybe it was her constant warning against it."

"And how did you get from modelling to millions?"

"Not wanting to end up like my mother. I buried myself in my studies, and in sixth form, I won a bursary to pursue business administration at Imperial College."

"Impressive." Lorne stroked her hair. "There's brilliance hiding under these red locks. Imperial is always near the top of the World University Rankings."

Valerie grinned. "Hey, not just another gorgeous redhead."

"So, from there to the top of the corporate ladder?"

"I built the ladder. Slowly. I took a room in Earls Court while I studied, and between classes, I did fashion shows and photo shoots at Harrods, Selfridges and others. Some fashion mags, as well."

"You'd have to do a lot of those to get anywhere, wouldn't you? How much does a show or a shoot pay?"

"Enough for me to begin building a savings account. Much more after I negotiated an exclusive with Harrods." Oh, God! I didn't want to get into this. She turned and stroked his cheeks, humming quietly before she pulled his head down for a kiss. He took it deeper, and their hands again went exploring.

The sound of the car door opening and the chauffeur's announcement, "Nous sommes arrivés," broke their spell.

After a quick rearrangement of clothing, Lorne assisted Valerie out of the car and guided her into the hotel and up to their suite, where they left a trail of discarded clothes across the rooms to the bed. Then after she had directed his linguistics to her shuddering satisfaction, he looked up with a broad smile. "I like this."

"Oh, God!" She held the sides of his head as her body continued to twitch. "So do I." She lifted her hips.

After another, they conjoined in an intimate cuddle, gently shifting and caressing under the duvet. She hummed a long sigh. "Now, isn't this a better way to spend Valentine's Day?"

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