One Hot Australian Night (Chapter Five)

When she woke in the morning, Zalia's muscles were tight and aching. Though she shouldn't have been surprised. She'd done the most vigorous workout she had in months. Five rounds of mind-blowing sex would be enough to leave anyone feeling tender. Turning to thank Xavier for the most brilliant night of her life, she found she was alone in bed. His clothes were gone from the bedside table. The clock on the table read ten a.m. Of course he was gone; regular people didn't sleep in until ten on a Saturday morning.

With a groan, she stretched her arms and legs out and got out of bed. Dressing quickly, she wandered around the suite searching for a note, hoping he'd left some way to contact him. She came up with nothing. Not even a note to say thank you for a night filled with sex.

Sadness and rejection overcame her. After the conversations they'd had, the emotions they'd shared, she had been sure she was more than only a hook-up.

Apparently she'd been wrong. At that moment, she wanted to crawl into bed and eat an entire tub of ice cream. That would make her feel better. Unfortunately, she had to go home to do that. That meant a walk of shame through the hotel lobby.

Swallowing her sadness and biting back the tears of rejection that welled in her eyes, she exited the hotel with her head held high. Once she'd walked almost a kilometer down the road, she fumbled for her phone to ring Kara and tell her what happened.

Rummaging through her bag she found her wallet, makeup, lip-gloss, keys, even a handful of bobby pins. But no phone.

"For crap's sake," she groaned and received a confused look from an old man walking by.

She had left her phone at the hotel. She considered turning around to find it, but the bookstore was only a few minutes away. She'd ring them from there and pick it up later. After all, nobody would be trying to contact her urgently. Right then she wanted sugar and her best friend. Kara would tell her she was fantastic and that Xavier was an idiot for letting her go.

She didn't believe that herself for a second. Out of the two of them, Xavier was definitely the catch, not her. Still, Kara would tell her otherwise. A best friend would always pick a girl up when she was down.

***

The bookstore was empty. That was rare – Saturday mornings were their busiest day. She called out, receiving no response. With a frown and a hint of concern in her mind, she approached the break room and found Kara there with her phone to her ear.

She noticed her and her eyes widened. "Oh, she's here." Kara hung up the phone and grinned at her. "Hey girl, how'd last night go?" Zalia chewed the inside of her lip, holding back the tears that had been threatening to erupt since she realized Xavier left without a note.

"Honestly, it was great. Fantastic. Better than any night I've ever had in my life. He was wonderful."

"So why do you look like you're about to burst into tears?" Kara asked with a concerned expression.

"This morning sucked. He left before I woke. He didn't even leave a note." A few stray tears fell, but she held back her sobs. She wasn't going to cry. No man was worth her tears.

"Don't cry, babe." Kara wrapped her up in a tight hug. "Seriously. There's no need."

Zalia pulled away, confused by her friend's strange statement.

In the front of the store, the bell rang, indicating that someone had entered.

"Get it." Kara practically pushed her out of the break room, ignoring her protests. "Seriously, it's for you."

"Kara, what the hell?" Zalia entered the store, wiping her cheeks and turned to face the customer that had entered, only to find Xavier.

Standing a few feet from her, his hair was messed and the clothes he'd worn the previous night were wrinkled. Still, he was gorgeous.

She met his heated gaze and warmth spread through her like a wildfire. Hope and happiness mingled in her chest.

"What are you doing here?"

"I picked up your phone when I left."

He closed the distance that separated them and gave it to her. "Oh, thanks." Sadness filled the pit of her stomach, as she experienced rejection all over again.

"Sorry I left so early," he apologized, his blue-grey eyes sincere. "What are these tears for?" His fingers wiped at her moist cheek.

She sniffed and stepped back, hastily dabbing at her face. "You left without a word after we shared what I thought was an amazing night."

"It was." His soft voice pulled her gaze back to his. "I had to let my brother in the office since he 'misplaced' his keys again." Zalia couldn't help but smirk at the irritation in his words. She'd had to let Kara into the store or the house more times than she could count.

"You looked so beautiful and peaceful, sleeping, I couldn't wake you. But I didn't have time to leave a note…."

"So you stole my phone."

Happiness and warmth spread through her body when he grinned at her. She hadn't imagined the intense connection between the two of them.

"I could never walk out on you." He cupped her face and rested his forehead on hers. "I've never felt this way about anyone, Zali." She smiled at the nickname.

"Even my wife."

Whoa. She looked up at him with wide eyes, finding nothing but adoration in the now deep blue depths of his.

"I feel exactly the same way."

"Well, then," he whispered against her lips and pressed his body to hers. "It appears we have some exploring to do.