They watched for several minutes. Jumper was such a vibrant, happy child that it was difficult for her to believe he was ill. But he was better. At least, for now.
“Hey, Jumper, time’s up. Give Winder to Mr. Bob.”
The employee holding the reins helped the boy off. Jumper dashed over to the fence then climbed to the top of it and sat on the top railing. Hank and Grant positioned themselves on either side of the young boy, ready to grab him should he fall.
“Am I going to see the dragons now?”
Dragons? Cinda glanced from Hank to Grant but stayed quiet.
“Soon enough, little man. Soon enough.”
Jumper’s bright brown eyes locked onto Cinda. “I’m going to see real, live dragons.”
“Really?” She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she hoped the guys weren’t lying to the boy. “Do you mean the dinosaurs at the exhibit?” A traveling exhibit of dinosaur bones and recreations had come to Atlantic Station in Atlanta. She couldn’t think of anything else they could mean.
“Not dumb dinosaurs. Dragons. With real fire.” Jumper roared, his hands wide open and his fingers flexed, simulating fire coming out of his mouth.
Hank pretended to be frightened and dodged the flames. Grant laughed, but Cinda wasn’t laughing along with him. Why were they building up the boy’s hopes?
“Jumper, if it’s all right with Mr. Hank and Mr. Grant, can you come help me put Winder back in his stall?”
Cinda wouldn’t have believed the boy could get more exited, but he almost fell off the fence trying to twist toward Mr. Bob.
“Can I go, Mr. Hank?”
Hank lifted him off the fence. “Sure. But be careful and listen to Mr. Bob.”
“Okay!” Jumper squeezed in between the boards then dashed over to the gate where the worker waited with Winder.
“He’s a good kid. If we can get him to stop jumping, we’ll have performed a minor miracle.”
As soon as Jumper wasn’t looking any longer, she whirled toward Grant. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Hank hooked her by the arm and pulled her away from the corral. “Better watch your language, babe. There are children within earshot.”
She lowered her voice but not her anger. “How can you make such a ridiculous promise? Dragons? Really? What are you planning on doing? Showing him some kind of mechanical dragon and telling him it’s real. I don’t think that’s going to work. He’s a smart kid. How can you lie to him?”
Hank crossed his arms as Grant pulled his hat lower. “We’re not lying.”
“Of course you are. You can’t show him a real dragon.”
“Hank’s telling you the truth, darlin’. We keep our promises.”
She’d thought they were such great guys, but great guys didn’t tell lies. Had they told lies to the other children? Or lies to other people? Like how they thought she was pretty? Or had she overheard the real truth last night? She couldn’t get them straight, their actions not matching their words. Yet all that didn’t matter any longer. Only Jumper and his eventual disappointment did.
“Why would you ever promise he could see dragons?”
“It’s his wish. Sure, he’s in remission, but we still do our best to fulfill a child’s dreams.”
“But telling him he’ll get to see a dragon? Are you nuts?”
“Cinda, calm down. Now.”
The color of Grant’s eyes seemed to change, adding bits of red. She would’ve asked about it, but she was too intent on getting answers about their so-called dragons.
“I will when you tell me how you’re going to show Jumper a real, live, fire-breathing dragon. Because if you can do that, I’d sure as hell—” She paused and glanced around, making sure none of the kids had heard her. “I’d really like to see a dragon. Are you going to show me, too?”
“If you want, sure.”
“Grant,” warned Hank.
Grant backed off, but she didn’t want to let it go. “Okay. When and how are you going to fulfill this little boy’s fantasy? Tell me and I’ll be there.”
“What’s going on? There are too many people around.”
She kept her attention on Grant, even as Walken rejoined them. “Hank and Grant are going to show me a real, live dragon.”
Walken stopped. Yet instead of laughing, he stared hard at the other two men. “Jumper?”
“Yeah.” Hank eased back. “I’m done talking about this. Walken’s right. Too many people might hear us.”
Grant turned on his heel, along with Hank. “Stick around, Cinda. You wouldn’t want to break your promise to Penny.”
She fumed as she watched Hank and Grant storm off. “And what about you, Walken? Can you produce a dragon, too?”
He smiled, but there wasn’t warmth in the gesture. “I may or may not know anything about dragons, but I do know one thing.”
“I know when to walk away.” And he did, eating up the ground between himself and his friends.
“I’m not leaving until this is settled.” As soon as she’d finished shouting, she noticed how many of the others were watching. Embarrassed and not a little ashamed, she lowered her gaze and took off for the house.
Real dragons, my ass.
For the first time since receiving the awful news, Cinda felt alive. Better than she’d ever felt. And as turned on as a woman could get. The thickening of the air, along with her need swelling up inside her chest, caused her to drag in each breath. These weren’t ordinary men. In fact, they were as far from ordinary as men could get.
Extra ordinary. That’s it. They’re beyond great. They’re super great.
“It means she wants time to think. Not that she needs the time, but that she wants it. She wants to be sure. Am I right, babe?”
She blew out a breath. “Exactly. Give me a few days.”
“So you’re putting us on a probationary period? Isn’t the employer supposed to put the employee on a trial basis?”
“Who the hell cares, Walken, as long as she’s staying?” Hank kissed the curve of her neck.
Steam billowed around her, and although a part of her mind wondered where it had come from, she didn’t have the faculties to care. What was happening? Suddenly, she’d gone from accepting a new job to something more.
They skimmed their hands along her body, strangely making her feel both turned on and relaxed. She moaned and closed her eyes as Hank kissed the curve of her neck on one side while Grant kissed the other side. As though they’d struck a match to kindling, she was alight with a craving so strong she couldn’t have fought it even if she’d wanted to.
“I don’t think—”
“Hush, babe. Just enjoy. I’ve waited a year to have you.” Hank’s fingers trailed down the front of her shirt.
“Hank told us about you, but I didn’t really believe him.” Walken pulled off her shoes. “Now I do.”
“Please. This is going so fast.” Fast and yet not fast enough.
“We want you, Cinda. Now.”
She gave into them as they deftly removed their clothing and hers. Each piece of material fell away from her, floating in the air as though suspended in the fog then gently drifting to the floor. Her body sizzled as though electric currents flowed over her skin with every touch and every kiss.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” she murmured. Yet all she really cared was that they wouldn’t stop. A layer of steam formed around them, like a warm cocoon that would keep them together forever.
“We’re what’s happening. Let us make every minute of the rest of your life pleasurable.” Walken’s voice sounded far away, yet somehow inside her head.
She lay back on the desk. “What are you going to do?”
“Hush, darlin’. Let us make you feel good.”
For the first time since getting her diagnosis, she let herself fully relax. Worn out from yesterday and from a night of fitful sleep, she was weary. If they wanted to please her without getting anything in return, then she was ready and willing to accept it.
She sighed then suddenly realized that she was naked. They’d removed every stitch of her clothing.
Realization that they could see every dimple, every ounce of flab, struck her, and for a moment of absolute clarity, she burst free of the magical spell they’d put her in. She tried to sit up. “No. I—”
Could she believe Walken? Or was he only saying what he had to say so he and his friends could have their way with her? After years of being self-conscious about her body, her insecurity screamed at her to grab her clothes and cover her body. Yet another part of her, the part of her they had taken over, was willing to believe the lies, if only for the time being. If only to feel joy and pleasure for a few more minutes.
Hands skimmed over her naked body. Kisses pressed against her skin. Murmurs of sweet words drifted to her ears.
She kept her eyes shut, determined not to break the spell. Determined to let them give to her what she’d never had. If they rejected her later, if they told her they no longer found her attractive later, she’d be all right with it. At least she would’ve had this time together. After all, fantasies were never intended to last forever.
A mouth covered each nipple, one nipping at her taut bud while the other lashed a tongue over and around the peak. She moaned and reached for them, but strong arms forced her to move her arms above her head.
Hands pushed her legs apart. She sucked in a quick breath, ready to feel the raw hardness of a cock at her pussy. Instead, she gasped again as pressure struck her pussy. Spread wide, a tongue slicked along her wet seam, driving her insane as it brushed over her clit.
An orgasm, fast and furious, slashed through her at the slight touch. She cried out, and a hand covered her mouth. The man between her legs sucked on her clit and drank her juices, the noise of his thirst giving her a delighted satisfaction.
“Easy, babe. People, kids, might hear you.”