Because if it broke again, she’d never be able to recover.
Violet sighed and stared at the ceiling without seeing it. She did notice, however, that they’d knocked the picture on the wall askew. It hung over their heads, a few feet above the headboard, and was tilted distinctly to one side. That was rather funny. “I think we were a little overly vigorous,” Violet said with a smile and pointed at the picture.
And just then, she noticed the picture itself. With a gasp, she sat up and whirled around to stare at the picture. It was a giclee, a mass-produced print of a pastoral scene that was probably sold in multiple hotel catalogs full of ugly but unobtrusive furnishings. She hadn’t paid a bit of attention to it before, and she probably wouldn’t have noticed it now except for one thing: the pastoral scene of a river that flowed toward a mill and a gigantic waterwheel.
“Do you see what I see?” she asked, pointing at the picture.
Jonathan sat up. After a moment, he laughed and quoted the first line of the poem again. “‘Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel.’”
“You think that’s our wheel?” Violet asked eagerly. She hobbled forward on her knees on the bed and pulled the picture off the wall, looking at the back of it. Nothing.
“Well, my note did say Kallista Hotel,” Jonathan agreed. He ran a hand over the cardboard backing of the cheap picture. “So it has to be something with this hotel.”
Violet stared at it, thinking. “This isn’t an original. I wonder if the other rooms have a similar painting in them?”
Jonathan gave her a musing look. “You want me to rent out the entire hotel?”
“Can you do that?”
He gave her that slow, lazy smile that made her heart turn over. “A billionaire can do whatever he wants, love.”
The next morning, Jonathan had rented out every room on their floor—the second floor. They’d gone through every room and only found two with the same painting as the one she’d been staring at in bed, and neither had a message written on them.
They’d returned back to Jonathan’s room, no closer than when they’d started.
Puzzled and frustrated, Violet returned to the poem, studying it over and over again. “That has to be the wheel. It has to.”
She leaned over the tablet, staring at the scanned message and wishing inspiration would strike.
As she did, Jonathan leaned over and murmured in her ear, “Shall I rent out another floor?”
“That’s just a waste of money if we’re on the wrong track,” Violet said, though she shivered at the feel of his breath caressing her ear.
“You know I don’t care about the money,” he said, and leaned in and kissed the side of her neck.
Violet gasped and arched, giving him more access to her throat. After last night’s marathon loving, they’d slept for a few hours, and she’d woken up to Jonathan’s hungry kisses in the middle of the night. They’d made love twice more, each time more fierce than the last, and when dawn had hit, Violet had fallen into an exhausted, dazed slumber.
Even now she was curled up in the blankets, naked, and seated at the table in their room despite the late afternoon hour. After finding no luck with the second floor, they’d returned to their room and made love again.
Jonathan had just showered and he smelled fresh and clean, and she wanted to lick the droplets of water off of his bronzed skin. God, the man was delicious.
“Some of us are trying to work here,” she teased him as he continued to nibble at her neck. She squirmed away from him with a grin and pointed at the tablet. “Look what you made me do.” Her fingers had hit the screen when he’d kissed her and she’d accidentally zoomed in, the handwriting on the note enlarging to an extreme degree.
“It’s fine,” Jonathan said, his mouth moving to her ear and his nibbling continuing onto her earlobe. “Just ignore it. We’ll work on it later.”
“You’re incorrigible,” she told him with a grin.
“Mmm, big teacher word there.” He gently bit her earlobe and slid a hand into the blanket, cupping one of her br**sts. “That turns me on.”
“Everything turns you on,” she teased.
“Everything about you,” he agreed, and she forgot all about working for the next few hours.
When Violet begged for mercy, Jonathan got dressed and headed downstairs to get them something to drink. They’d cleaned out the minibar of bottled water during their steamy night, and they were both thirsty. As she waited for Jonathan, Violet took a quick shower and pulled on one of Jonathan’s shirts, since her clothes were still in her room. He wouldn’t mind her borrowing it; heck, he’d probably like the way the slogan on the front of the T-shirt stretched tight across her br**sts.
While she waited for him, Violet grabbed the tablet and returned to the bed, determined to puzzle out the poem. The tablet was still open to the screen she’d left it at, and the giant font glared at her as soon as she tapped the screen. She flicked her fingers over the surface, trying to reduce the font down, and as she did, she noticed something curious: the “i” in the second line seemed to be darker than the rest of the lettering. It was impossible to tell when she was viewing it from afar, but close up, it was clearly darker.
Curious, Violet scanned through the rest of the poem. A few more letters were also darker. She got a pen and a piece of scratch paper from the bedside table and began to mark them down.
Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud;
Turn thy wild wheel thro’ sunshine, storm, and cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown;
With that wild wheel we go not up or down;
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.
Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands;
Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands;
For man is man and master of his fate.
Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
She stared at her notes, thinking. IVIIIII meant nothing to her. There were no darker symbols in the last paragraph, so she wondered if the spacing had anything to do with it. On a hunch, she separated out the letters by paragraph. IV III III.
The Kallista Hotel had four floors.
She gasped. That was it. It had been in front of their faces all this time. They just hadn’t paid attention to the lettering because they’d been so focused on the poem.
The door opened and Jonathan came into the room with a plastic grocery bag filled with bottles of water and a small bag of what smelled like fresh baklava. “I thought you might be hungry—”
She launched herself from the bed with a squeal and leapt for his arms. “I figured it out!”
Jonathan dropped the bags and held on to her as she flung herself against him. “You got it?”
“I got it! Room 433!” She grinned up at him, her arms going around his neck. “Ten bucks says that the room has one of these ugly wheel paintings.”
“How did you solve it?” His hands went to her backside, and he groaned. “And why aren’t you wearing panties?”
She was dressed in nothing but one of his T-shirts. “I’m wearing this because I haven’t left your room in the past twenty-four hours,” she teased. She grabbed his hand and dragged him to the bed. “Look, I’ll show you.”
He sat down on the bed and she crawled in next to him, pulling over the tablet and her notes, showing him her discovery.
“That’s incredible,” Jonathan murmured, and then turned to look at her, a smile on his face. “You’re incredible.”
Violet beamed at him, ecstatic. She’d figured this one out on her own. And with him smiling at her, she did feel pretty incredible. At that moment, Violet felt like she could take over the world.
And when his gaze went from smiling at her to down at her mouth, Violet realized he was aroused. Grabbing her bare ass had distracted him, it seemed. And she was feeling rather sexy and empowered herself. She wanted him, and she wanted to be the one in control.
So, with a wicked expression on her face, Violet leaned in for a kiss. As his mouth met hers, she placed her hand between his legs and stroked the bulge in his pants.
Jonathan groaned, his hand tightening over hers. “What about the room?”
“It can wait,” she said, stroking his c**k through his jeans. “It’s my turn to be in charge.” With a smile, she moved her hand to his chest and gave him a subtle nudge, indicating he should lie back.
Jonathan fell backward onto the bed, his eyes hot as he watched her.
With sure hands, she grabbed the buckle of his belt and undid it, stroking her hand over his c**k every so often to keep him excited. Next were the buttons on his fly, and then she was shoving his jeans down his hips. He lifted them to help her, and she grabbed his boxers next, pulling them down and exposing what she wanted—his cock.
He was erect and ready for her, thick and hard already. Violet gave a little shiver of pleasure at the sight of that and leaned over him. “I’ve been wanting to do this to you for days.”
“Have you?” he whispered, his voice ragged.
“Oh, yes.” Her hand slid around the base of him, encircling him with her fingers. She loved the thickness of him, loved the smooth flesh of his cock, the soft skin peppered with raised veins that felt fascinating under her fingers. “That’s why it was such torture for me to have my hands bound last night. I wanted to grab this and take it into my mouth.”
“But there’s nothing stopping me now, is there?” Her voice was breathy with desire. She leaned down and licked the head of him, loving the way his body clenched and tensed as she did. “And it’s just as tasty as I thought.”
Jonathan said nothing, but his hand went to her hair and wrapped in the strands there, as if needing an anchor.
She liked that. Violet licked him again, and again, using her tongue to bathe the head of his c**k in firm, teasing strokes. She circled the divot in the center with her tongue, lapping up the pr**cum that beaded there. “You’re delicious, you know that?”
“Not as delicious as you,” he murmured. “I love the taste of you on my tongue.”
“Yes, but now it’s my turn,” she purred. “So don’t distract me.” And when he started to speak again, she took the head of him fully into her mouth and sucked.
His head fell back on the blankets and he groaned.
Violet made a soft sound of pleasure low in her throat, and with one hand on his shaft, the other moved to his sac and began to massage it as she continued to suck on the head of his cock, rubbing it with the tip of her tongue. She pumped him with one hand, leaning over him, and then began to take him deeper, working him into her mouth with slow, easy motions. She loved teasing him with her lips and tongue, his c**k filling up her mouth and making her stretch to take him in.
“Violet,” he groaned as she squeezed her hand around the base and continued to suck him deep. “I’m not going to last.”
She released him with an audible pop. “Poor baby,” she murmured, not sorry in the slightest, and leaned down to give him another wicked lick. “Is big bad Violet going to make you lose control?”
His fingers dug into her scalp. “She is. She’s a wicked woman.”
“Mmm, I like that,” she said in a low voice, and then bent over his c**k again to take him into her mouth once more. This time, when she took him deep, she felt his hand press against the back of her head, a silent suggestion for more. She was happy to oblige, pumping him with her mouth over and over again.
Then, she felt him tense underneath her. “Violet, I’m going to come—”