Squinting against the sun’s vibrant rays peeking annoyingly through the mahogany custom-made blinds, Indina Holmes executed a full body stretch across the silky 1000-thread count sheets. Her previously tense muscles were now loose and languid after the early morning workout she’d just been subjected to in this bed. Thank God for that particular kind of workout. She’d needed it like a man roaming the desert needed water.
It had been dark when she’d arrived nearly an hour ago, but judging by the dawn’s insistent intrusion on her postcoital relaxation, it was past time for her to go.
“I don’t want to,” Indina half groaned, half whined as her eyes focused on the ceiling fan twirling lazily above her.
You can’t stay in this bed all day.
Especially not today, when the culmination of countless meetings, hours of field research, and more time at her design desk than Indina wanted to think about, would finally be put forth before the executive committee responsible for several new federal and state buildings that would be built in the city of New Orleans. Her team’s performance today would determine if they landed a billion-dollar contract.
And just like that, the tension was back. Too bad she didn’t have time to go for another round between the sheets.
Indina sucked in an uneasy breath as she glanced over at the digital clock on the nightstand.
If she didn’t get out of here soon she would be late for work. She cursed herself for not bringing her work clothes with her when she left her house earlier this morning.
With one last stretch across the king-size bed, Indina pushed herself up into a sitting position. She could hear the shower’s powerful jets coming from just beyond the bathroom door, and cursed herself again. Five minutes in that shower would get rid of the lingering tension in her muscles, with or without the water.
Tossing her legs over the edge of the bed, she walked over to the sitting area and picked up her bra and panties from the chair where she normally dropped them whenever she was here, which had been more often than usual in the past month.
Between work and family, her stress levels were at an all-time high. Thank the ever-loving Lord she had a reliable outlet to expend the nervous energy constantly flowing through her bloodstream these days.
Indina slipped her panties on and threaded her arms through the bra’s straps, clasping it in the back. Just as she reached for the cotton shirt-dress she’d thrown on before coming over, her cellphone rang. She walked back over to where she’d left it on the nightstand, and rolled her eyes when she noticed her brother’s name on the screen.
With a sigh, Indina sat on the edge of the bed and swept her thumb across the green button.
“Is there a reason you’re calling me before eight a.m.?” she spoke into the phone.
“Good morning to you too,” her older brother replied.
She ignored the reprimand in his voice.
“What do you need, Harrison? And there had better be a good reason for you calling me at this time of the morning.”
“I need the final head count for the Holmes family reunion cruise. Are you in or are you out? And before you answer that, I want you to think about your newly widowed father and how heartbroken he would be if his only daughter did not participate in this reunion.”
She released a disgusted breath. “I hate you so much.”
“That was very convincing. It’s a good thing I know you don’t mean it.”
“I mean it,” she said.
“Would you just give me the go-ahead to mark you down on the list so I can send the names to the travel agent?” Her brother’s harassed voice made her feel marginally better. But only marginally.
Indina massaged the bridge of her nose. She loved her family, but these days she could only take them in small doses. She visited her dad at least once during the week—even more if she could—and tried to make as many Sunday dinners as possible, but that was only a few hours out of her day, and once her brothers started eating, there was very little talking. Could she survive being stuck on a cruise ship with them for three days without going straight up insane?
And it wasn’t limited to her pesky brothers this time around. The entire Holmes clan would be there. Her late Uncle Wesley’s three sons, Alexander, Elijah and Tobias, along with their wives and their ever-growing brood of children were all going. And if her boys would be there, Indina knew her Aunt Margo would be there too, along with her husband, Gerald Mitchell.
There would be Holmeses galore. That poor cruise ship had no idea what it was in store for.
“Indina!” Harrison’s voice startled her. “Are you coming on the cruise or not? Wait, let me rephrase that. Are you going to break your father’s heart or not?”
“Stop it with the guilt trip.”
“I’m just saying.”
“I’ve never been on a cruise before,” she pointed out. “What if I get sea sick?”
“You can wear one of those patches behind your ear. And if that doesn’t work there’s medicine you can take,” Harrison said. “I’ll tell Eli to bring you some.”
Great. That’s what she got for having a cousin who was a doctor, and who also happened to be married to a doctor.
“You got anymore excuses you need me to shoot down before I head to my office?” her brother asked.
“I really do hate you right now,” Indina said. She rubbed her temple as she came to terms with the fact that there was no way out of this. “Fine, I’ll come on the damn cruise.”
“I’d already marked you down as a yes,” Harrison replied. “I just called to make sure you knew that you were going.”
“Asshole,” she said.
“I love you too. By the way, I put you in the cabin with Lily and Jasmine.”
“Lily and Jasmine?” Indina sat up straight. “You do realize I’m forty-two years old, don’t you? Why would I want to room with a couple of teenagers?”
No, make that a teenager and a pre-teen. Her cousin Alex’s daughter, Jasmine, was only twelve.
“Because everyone else is paired up and the cabin rates are based on double occupancy,” he explained. “If I didn’t put you in the girls’ room you’d have to pay an upcharge because you’re a single.”
A single. As if it was some kind of diseased designation she wore on her chest.
“And just why would you think I would be alone?” Indina asked.
“Why wouldn’t I?” The incredulousness in his voice made her want to slap him through the phone. “When was the last time you brought anyone around?”
Indina ignored that question. It had been nearly two years since she’d been in a bring-him-over-to-meet-the-family kind of relationship. That didn’t mean her brother had to throw it in her face. Just for that, she would pluck his insensitive ass right between the eyebrows next time she saw him.
“I won’t have the cabin for myself,” Indina said. “I’m bringing someone.”
“Who?” Harrison asked.
“None of your business.”
“I need the name for the travel agent.”
“I’ll text you the name later. Now leave me alone. I need to get going.”
The shower stopped the minute she disconnected the call. Moments later, the bathroom door opened and Griffin Sims walked out, wiping his face with a plush cranberry-colored towel.
There was another towel wrapped around his waist, hanging low on his hips. His chiseled dark brown chest glistened with specks of moisture. Indina tracked a water droplet that traveled down his torso to the smattering of curly hair that trailed from his bellybutton to below the towel.
She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and damn near whimpered.
Griffin stopped short when he spotted her.
“You’re still here?”
“I’m sorry,” Indina said, rising from where she’d sat on the edge of his bed. “I got a phone call that I had to take just as I started getting dressed.”
“No need to apologize. It’s just that you’re usually gone by the time I get out of the shower.”
Her eyes roamed over his muscular back and shoulders as he walked over to the dresser. She didn’t know where he found the time to go to the gym, but she appreciated the way he took care of his body.
“Are you still nervous about today?” Griffin asked.
He turned to her, holding the pair of heather gray boxer briefs he’d retrieved from the dresser. He dropped the towel and Indina couldn’t hold back the whimper this time.
She had explored the heavy weight between his legs with her tongue just an hour ago, yet her mouth still watered at the sight of it. She just stood there and marveled at his beauty as he pulled the briefs up his well-toned legs.
“Indina,” Griffin called.
She blinked several times. “Wait. What?”
A knowing grin curled up the side of his mouth. “I asked if you were still nervous about today?”
“A little, but at least I’m no longer tense.”
“Happy I could help with that,” he said. His deep chuckle reverberated along her nerve-endings, straight down to that spot between her legs he’d pleasured this morning.
Over the last eight months, she’d relied on Griffin for that particular kind of pleasurable help on a regular basis. They’d met a little over a year ago, when Indina decided to move away from residential interior design and concentrate on the more lucrative industrial sector. She began freelancing with the structural engineering firm where Griffin worked after one of the owners sought her out.
Griffin was the lead engineer on the very first project she worked on with Sykes-Wilcox. The physical attraction had been there from the moment she walked into a conference room and saw him braced over a set of blueprints, his shirtsleeves rolled up on his strong arms. Indina decided not to act on that attraction until several months later, after she learned through the office grapevine that Griffin was divorced and not necessarily looking for a relationship.
She knew all about that. Not the being divorced part, but being burnt out on relationships?
Hell yes, she knew about that.
But there were only so many Top Ten Self-Pleasuring Tips articles a girl could be expected to read. And she’d read them. All of them. She needed the real deal. The way Indina saw it she and Griffin were in the perfect position to provide each other with some much-needed sexual relief.
She could still remember how her fingers had trembled as she’d typed the text, asking Griffin if he was up for a little casual, no-strings-attached sex. She wasn’t sure how she would have handled working with him if he had turned down her bold invitation to meet her at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter.
He’d arrived at the hotel even before she did, and with that one afternoon, they’d embarked upon a co-workers with benefits arrangement that never failed to leave her body satisfied and her mind free of relationship drama.
Her phone beeped. It was a text from Harrison with the travel agent’s name and phone number, and a reminder to send the name of the person who would be sharing her cabin.
Indina looked over at Griffin. He’d just put on a gingham blue dress shirt, but hadn’t bothered to button it up yet. Her mouth watered again at the expanse of exposed skin.
He looked up from the neckties he’d been contemplating.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
Indina nodded and decided not to ask the question that had been on the tip of her tongue. Hadn’t she just acknowledged that what she and Griffin had going was perfect? Why would she jeopardize it by asking him to come with her on this damn cruise?
She slipped her dress over her head, then picked up her wristlet and keys from where she’d dropped them on the dresser.
In a real relationship this is where they would kiss each other goodbye. But this wasn’t a real relationship. It wasn’t how she and Griffin rolled.
And that was just fine with her.
“I’ll see you in a few hours,” Indina said, gripping the handle on the bedroom door.
“I’ll lock the front door on my way out.”
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Excerpted from Chase Me (The Holmes Brothers Book 4) by Farrah Rochon Copyright © 2016 by Farrah Rochon. Excerpted by permission of Nicobar Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.