Downtime

By: Karyn Lawrence

CHAPTER ONE


Lexi’s fingers flew across the keyboard and then abruptly stopped. Something was wrong. Was it the code? She scrutinized the command lines, but everything looked correct. So why did the hairs on her arms tingle with awareness?

Her gaze left the screen and drifted up to the large form darkening her bedroom doorway, one which hadn’t been there a second ago.

“Parker!” she cried, yanking on the cord to pull the headphones out of her ears. “What are you doing here?”

She shut her laptop and sat up in their bed, looking down at her tank top and pajama pants, the fluffy comforter pushed around her lap. There were plenty of times during an op that Titan Group kept her husband working long hours, but there was never a threat of him coming home in the middle of the day. Certainly not early enough to catch her still in pajamas.

Okay. In fairness, it was past noon.

But she was working on a new program that had consumed her life for the last ten days, and she was so busy, sometimes she forgot to eat. Parker knew this, and thankfully, there was no judgement in her husband’s deep blue eyes. Only amusement.

“Pack your things.” He crossed his arms and leaned casually against the doorframe. “We’re getting away for a little R and R this weekend.”

“What? Where?” She scrambled off the bed.

“West Virginia.”

Lexi stood with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face. “I can’t go anywhere until this Paradigm program is done.”

He knew that, yet his amusement grew until a smile spread across his lips. “And when is that going to be done again?”

“Another day, that’s it.”

“Didn’t you say that before? Like, on Tuesday?”

She groaned. The program was taking much longer than she’d expected. She’d set up mini-deadlines, and then blew right past them. What should have taken an hour, took three. As soon as she coded one thing, it broke the programming on another section. It was beyond frustrating. Usually she was so good at working smarter, not harder, but this program was kicking her ass.

“I have to finish it.”

He strolled toward her and her body instantly responded to his proximity. She’d been working on a deadline and he’d been on a mission. They’d barely slept in the same bed this week. So, now every inch of her was hyperaware of him. Every inch of her wanted his powerful arms wrapped around her, his lips pressed to hers.

Parker’s eyes hooded as he closed in, as if battling the same desires, and losing. His voice dipped low. “You don’t have to submit it for another week.”

“I don’t, but I want to debug and beta test.”

He swept the long locks of her platinum blonde hair back over her shoulder. His fingertips slipped beneath the strap of her tank top, urging it to the side. The fabric stretched over the curve of her shoulder and the strap slid down, threatening to expose her.

“Let Paradigm do that.” He leaned down and kissed her newly exposed skin, giving her a shudder of pleasure. Oh, his mouth was wicked and sexy, almost as much as his brain. Her eyes fell shut as his mouth continued its gentle assault, moving downward, peeling more of her tank top with it. Her nipples had tightened into hard knots, and the cotton hung just on the edge of a point, barely covering her.

Lexi’s mind was cloudy with lust for the man she loved. What was he doing home again? Oh, yeah. “Lemme finish the program and then you can take me wherever.”

“What if I want to take you right now?” His words were loaded with innuendo, and her body clenched in response. “The reason you’re having trouble with Paradigm is because you’re wound tight as a spring. You need a release, Lex.”

Yes, her body chanted. A release was exactly what she needed. Her fingers threaded through his dark brown hair, holding his head to her and his lips against her sensitive skin. Just one more centimeter and the tank top would fall. His teasing was torture, and the ache between her legs intensified.

But she didn’t love his phrasing, and her competitive side reared up. “I’m not having trouble with Paradigm, it’s just complex.”

“Want me to take a look?”

He was throwing fuel on the fire. When they’d only known each other by their online handles, hers as SilverChaos and his as BlackDawn, there’d been some competition between them. Friendly by hacker standards, since the big names in the underground community had big egos to match. They were the exception to that rule, but even in marriage, their competitive nature never completely faded away.