“What are you doing here?”
Hermione flinched when she heard the shrill tone in her voice. She clutched the robe more tightly around her, fully aware that she was nude beneath as the handsome man attempted to not look amused. He failed.
“I work here,” Adrian Pucey reminded her with a charming smile that never failed to make her the butterflies in her belly do cartwheels.
“I’m fully aware that you own the place,” she said tightly as she watched him walk to the table and begin to prepare the items for her weekly massage. The massage was one of her few indulgences and it had actually become a highlight of her week; simply because it was a nice release of tension caused by the stress of her job and not because the man who owned the small business in Diagon Alley happened to be good-looking and inclined to flirt with her. No, not at all.
Besides, Adrian Pucey flirted with anyone, male or female, and had an easy smile and compliment for all of them. She wasn’t stupid and knew his flirting meant nothing, which is why she’d refused to take him seriously during the five months she’d frequented his spa. It was a shame, really, because he was not only handsome and friendly, which was rather surprising for a former Slytherin, but he was a smart businessman and had Mediwizard training, which meant he actually had a brain in his pretty head.
“Hannah has the flu,” he explained lightly as he placed a warming charm on the table and fiddled with bottles of soothing oils. “I had to cover her shifts.”
“Don’t you have other people who could do this?” she asked with just a hint of anxiety. How was she supposed to drop her robe and lie there naked while the man that had occupied far too many fantasies the past few months gave her a massage? It had taken her a month before she even felt comfortable enough around Hannah to not wear her bra and it had been another couple of weeks before she’d removed her knickers and begun to enjoy the massage nude. With Hannah, there was no risk of becoming aroused but, bloody Hell, she couldn’t let Adrian touch her.
“You don’t trust me to do this correctly?” he asked with a slight edge to his voice she’d never heard before.
“No,” she hastened to say, “it’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just, uh, can I put clothes back on?”
She was bright red now, not something attractive in a twenty-five year old woman, and shifted nervously as his gaze swept over her.
“Kitten, I think that’s the first time anyone has asked to put their clothes on around me,” he told her casually, the same flirtatious tone dripping off every word until he made the most common thing sound sensual and far too wicked. “I’d have expected more bravery from a former Gryffindor but feel free to do whatever makes you the most comfortable.”
He’d challenged her. Her eyes narrowed as she met his gaze and she realized that he knew she’d be unable to resist such a blatant challenge. “Turn around,” she told him primly as she tugged at the belt of her robe.
He licked his lips and the air seemed to crackle with tension as he met her stare easily. “I’d say it wasn’t anything I’ve not seen before and that this is a professional environment, Kitten, but I’d be lying through my teeth because I’ve never seen you before and I certainly don’t feel professional when thinking of you naked beneath that robe. I’m many things but a liar isn’t one of them.”
Before she could reply, he winked and turned around. He’s just flirting, Hermione. He doesn’t mean anything by it. She unfastened her robe and let it fall to the floor before she crawled onto the table, lying on her belly as she quickly put the towel over her arse so he’d not actually see anything.
Hermione rested her cheek on her folded hands and sighed as the warm table began to soothe her. “I’m ready.”
Adrian turned around and, after one very unprofessional sweeping gaze, he seemed to flip a switch and was all business. He poured oil into his hands, very large hands she noticed idly, and then went to work. “Close your eyes and relax, Hermione. This is a no stress zone,” he told her softly as he began to work at the knots of tension in her shoulders.
It was rather surprising that she was able to do so, soon forgetting that the amazing hands belonged to Adrian as she felt a week of stressful meetings and deadlines begin to leave her body. However, it wasn’t so easy for her body to ignore his touch and she knew her nipples were hard and could feel arousal slowly warming her as he rubbed and kneaded her flesh, talking quietly as they discussed the cinema and music.
By the time he reached her lower back, she was a mess; relaxed but oh so very aroused and aware. He stopped when he reached her towel, his fingers sliding along the edge of fabric as he cleared his throat. His voice was husky when he said, “The hour is over, Kitten. You’re no longer a paying client.”
“Okay,” she said slowly, wondering if he’d turn around so she could get up without him seeing her arousal. She was startled when she felt his hands, slick with oil, brush up her sides.
“I should step away now,” he told her quietly, lacking the flirting warmth that had the older witches giggling and the younger ones panting, “before I do something obviously unwanted and very unethical.”
Had he said those words in his normal tone, she’d roll her eyes and call him a lecherous flirt. However, he was quiet and there was a slight tremble in his voice that sounded almost like insecurity. He was serious. Hermione licked her lips and took a chance. “How do you know it would be unwanted?”
“Because she’s immune to my obvious charms,” he informed her softly. “That’s why I noticed her, in fact. Started off as a challenge, an effort to get her to react like everyone else because I didn’t know how to deal with her and this attraction I felt…still feel. I realized I didn’t want her to be like everyone else because she didn’t seem to think I was just some vapid pretty boy.”
“She may not be as immune as you believe,” she told him in a voice barely above a whisper. His hands stilled and she heard him inhale sharply at her words.
“So if I asked her out, again, she might finally say yes?” he asked hesitantly. He chuckled softly as he probably thought of the dozen times he’d asked her to put him out of his misery and go to dinner with him.
“She might, though there is a great chance of that if she wasn’t lying naked with only a towel to cover her bits,” she admitted as she realized she was still on the massage table and his hands were still lightly stroking her shoulders and back.
“Oh, bugger. Right,” Adrian muttered as he stepped back. “You do realize that I covered all the rest of Hannah’s appointments with other employees but couldn’t resist you?”
“I had a sneaky suspicion,” she said with a slight smile as she glanced at him to make sure his back was facing her. He was shifting nervously in place and she didn’t stop grinning as she got dressed.
“Mum always says I should have been in Hufflepuff since I’m rather pants at sneaky manipulation,” he confessed with a laugh. “She was a Puff, though, so she’s biased.”
Hermione smiled at the obvious affection he had for his mum. “I’m finished,” she told him, feeling rather shy all of a sudden.
He turned around and ran his hand through his hair, forgetting the oil he’d not wiped off. His hair was now sticking up in various directions and she felt a little less awkward as she bit her lip to keep from laughing. “Should I go with a ‘Do you like curry?’ or a ‘How about the two of us having dinner later?’ or simply ‘Kitten, I’m rather crazy about you and would love to take you out to dinner and maybe the cinema if you’d say yes so, uh, would you like to go out with me?’”
She stepped forward and smoothed down an errant lock of his hair before she met his gaze. She impulsively leaned up and kissed him, the chaste kiss becoming something far more heated as his lips parted and he returned it hungrily. His hands moved behind her as he pulled her closer, months of flirting giving way to desire as the kiss deepened. She finally pulled back and took a moment to collect herself before she smiled. “Yes.”
For eldee, eckerlilas, robin777, and zaralya
Originally Published: January 05, 2006
“What are you doing here?”