His mouth met mine with a surprised gasp before he slowly relaxed, tilting his head and turning the kiss from a simple meeting of our lips to something real, and warm, and . . . lovely. My mouth opened under the urging of his, and I felt his arms go around my waist, his chest press into mine.
He leaned away, just a breath, and it was all I could do to not pull him back again. “You’d do this for me?” he whispered against my lips.
I giggled. “Kissing you is a hardship I’ll have to bear.”
Jensen pressed another sweet peck to my lips. “It was already so weird, and then this . . .”
“It was never that weird.” I glanced over at the group of friends catching up, pointedly ignoring us. “But this . . . this makes things very interesting.”
We were all a bit stunned, to be fair. The entire drive from Jamesport to Willimantic, Hanna and Will had been prattling on happily about the history of our next destination and all the things we were going to do. I assume this played into our reaction when we saw Becky and Cam and were faced with either climbing into the tour bus or awkwardly bowing out: we moved on autopilot, silently forward.
We could have left, really. There were a million other things to do, and absolutely no reason to stay in a stilted situation, but in the end—standing in a small huddle outside the bus—it had been Jensen who insisted he was fine.
And, at his side, I nodded. “We’ve got this. Not a problem.”
So we climbed aboard the tour bus, sitting in tidy rows and making polite small talk as we drove.
In truth, I had no idea what I was in for. We got off pretty easy with the brewery tour—hand-holding throughout, a few kisses here and there when it seemed the newlywed thing to do. I figured the rest of the week would be more of the same: some snogging, some canoodling, maybe I’d get to sit on that lap, feeling those muscular thighs beneath me for a few minutes here or there.
All of this was so naïve, and just within the context of brewery tours, wine tasting, grape smashing. It never occurred to me what it meant that we were all staying in the same small B&B in Windham.
Until we stood at the reception desk, checking in.
“I have you for four rooms, three nights,” the woman said, smiling up at Jensen. “Is that right?”
As fate would have it, Hanna had sent Jensen and I up to check in for all of us while she found a parking spot for our van on the street. Becky and Cam and the other couple in our group—Ellen and Tom—were lined up behind us to get their own room keys.
“That’s right,” Jensen said, and then startled markedly beside me. “Oh,” he said, too loudly. “No. Only three. Rooms. We only need three rooms. Right? Did you . . . ?” He turned and looked down to me. In my peripheral vision I could see Becky watching us.
“We got four rooms at the last place,” I explained to the woman, laughing awkwardly.
“Pippa likes to . . .” Jensen said, searching. And then he answered, “Sing loudly,” just as I answered, “Practice yoga early.”
“Very early,” he agreed in a burst, just as I said, “Very loud singing.”
Because that’s what normal people do.
Because I didn’t look at all like a bleeding idiot.
Cam squeezed her, a proud smile on his face. “Becks is getting her instructor certification. She’s a real convert.”
“Oh . . . it’s the British version . . . of that,” I said, with a casual wave of my hand. Yes, because I was so sophisticated that I practiced a niche British version of hot yoga. My brain went into overdrive as I tried to explain how I would do this in my hotel room. “You know, with the . . . steam, from . . . the shower?” I said, looking up at Jensen, who nodded as if this were a perfectly normal explanation for why he and his new bride would get two bedrooms on their honeymoon.
“Listen,” Becky said, excitement making her voice go up an octave, “Cam runs early every morning. Why don’t you just save yourself the money and come do your steam yoga in my room in the morning? Or better yet, we could do some yoga outside, in the field? I’d love to practice some of the routines I’ve been working on with someone else.”
I blinked at her, wondering why she was being so nice, trying so hard. Really, wasn’t it better for everyone if we just agreed there was no requirement to socialize?
“It won’t really help with the loud singing,” Jensen said dubiously.
The woman at the front desk perked up and handed us the three room keys. “We have karaoke at the bar next door, every Tuesday from seven to close!”
Beside me, Becky clapped in delight. “Perfect!” She looked emotional, almost as if she might . . . cry?
He worked to smile through a grimace. “Perfect.”
“I don’t think you realize what a disaster this is,” I said, opening my suitcase and pulling out my toiletries bag.
Jensen stared bleakly down at the tiny bed we were meant to share. “No, I think I do.”
“I don’t mean the bed, you wanker,” I said, laughing. “For fuck’s sake, we can share a bed. I mean the yoga.”
“You don’t have to do the yoga,” he said, confused.