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Taking the drinks over to them, the guys' verbal skills were suffering from the reversed blood flow. Mitchell handed Jessica her drink, the moment of awkwardness broken when Mitchell finally managed to utter "Wow."
"Yeah," Jack said in an awed tone as he stared at Sam. Handing her the cup, as an afterthought he said, "It’s wine." Not wasting any time, he reached out and guided Sam over to a quiet corner where they could talk privately.
Jessica looked inside her goblet, sniffed the liquid, took a tentative sip, then a larger swallow. At Mitchell’s grin, she said, "Hey, you’re not the one having to parade around half naked in front of everyone." Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the note from Casey. "Casey had this stuck in with the stuff Janet brought today."
Mitchell took the note, read it. "Any idea what it means?"
She shook her head. "I’m guessing dessert, or candy. I can’t think of anything else that she would have referred to as ‘sweets’".
A servant came out and announced, "The meal is ready. Please take your seats."
Taking another healthy sip of the wine, Jessica followed Mitchell to the table.
Jessica, Mitchell, Jack and Sam took their places on one side of the table. The others sat on the opposite side, and the meal commenced. Servants moved quietly between them, delivering platters of food and filling the wine goblets.
Jessica wanted to blend in with the furniture; better yet, sink into the floor. She couldn’t think of another time in her whole life where she felt this naked. Brojorn was taking every opportunity to check out what was on display, and while the advisors were a little more discrete, they were just as bad. What made things worse were the other women; they made no effort to hide their appreciation of Jack and Mitchell, though the guys didn’t notice them in the least. They were too blown away by the women sitting at their side.
The way they were seated, Jessica didn’t have a good view of Jack or Sam. She wondered if Jack was sitting as close to Sam as Mitchell was to her. Several times their arms brushed each other, and she was doing her best to focus on something else. Given the situation, her sense of touch was heightened considerably, and the subtle contact of skin on skin was driving her to distraction. Her efforts were in vain, though. Towards the end of the meal while answering a question about cultural differences, Mitchell reached over and took her hand, threading his fingers through hers while his thumb stroked softly. If she had thought their arms touching had been distracting, this was ten times worse.
The meal was uneventful, and the servants returned and cleared away the dishes. Two servants walked in bearing silver trays, placing them in front of the guests. They held what looked like gummy candies, brightly colored red and orange.
At her puzzled look, Brojorn said, "They are a sweet delicacy made from a native plant. It is steeped first in order to extract the oils. The effects are quite pleasant, similar to the wine."
Jessica thought of the note. ‘Sweets—two for you before the dance, one in the room. One each for Cam.’
Leaning closer to her, Mitchell said, "I take it these were what the note was referring to?"
"It’s gotta be. I haven’t seen anything else that matched the description."
He picked up a red one from the tray, took a small bite, then popped the rest of it into his mouth. "They’re actually pretty good." Before Jessie could reach out and take one, Mitchell picked up another. Bringing it to her lips, he said, "Open."
The tone in his voice sent a shiver down her spine; well, that combined with the look on his face. ‘Just do what he asks; it’s no big deal,’ she thought to herself. Opening her mouth, she took the candy between her teeth. Before drawing his hand back, Mitchell brushed his fingertip lightly along her inner lip, then turned back to the tray as if he had done nothing. If Jessie hadn’t had the candy between her teeth, she probably would have choked on it. What he had done was subtle, but it definitely had an effect. Chewing the confection slowly, she noted it had somewhat of a fruity essence. Mitchell picked up a second candy and fed it to her as he had the first one, his finger lingering a little longer. Damn it. He didn’t need to be stoking the fires now. The last thing she needed was to have to battle the urge to jump him right there. Of course, it didn’t help that Brojorn had started chuckling for no apparent reason.
The ingredient in the candy only took a few minutes to manifest. A pleasant warmth slowly spread throughout her body, along with a relaxed sensation. It didn’t dull the senses, however. She was definitely wide-awake. She vaguely wondered why Casey had wanted her to have two, but Mitchell only one. He outweighed her by a good sixty pounds; that alone would reduce whatever effect it had on him compared to her.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Brojorn arose from the table, along with his companions. A servant appeared at his side.
"Take away the tables and make preparations for the entertainment."
The servants quickly cleared the remaining items from the tables and removed them, placing the cushions against the wall. Brojorn led them over to the alcove, where he and his advisors made themselves comfortable on the sofas. Jessica, Mitchell, Jack and Sam settled on the sofa closest to the wall. The servants lit several candle sconces on the walls, and the brighter lights were dimmed.
The three consorts had gotten up and gone through a curtained doorway. Soon, music began to play and the women returned and started to dance. The entertainment had begun.
To say that Jessica was relaxed was an understatement. She leaned back against Mitchell, and he put his arm around her, holding her close. If she had been more alert, she would have realized that the main effect of the candies was a lowering of inhibitions. It felt natural to be this close to Mitchell; it didn’t dawn on her that a half hour ago she wouldn’t have felt comfortable being this close.
Sam and Jessica watched the women dance, and realized the style was similar to what they had learned from Casey. The fact that the three women were paying an inordinate amount of attention to Jack and Mitchell did not escape their attention. Jessica caught Sam’s eye and realized she was also getting a bit pissed as well. She glanced over at Brojorn and found him watching her, the smile on his face letting her know he knew exactly what she was thinking. Asshole.
One consort was particularly annoying. She was short, with long black hair and was over-blown, at least in Jessica’s opinion. Her movements had become blatantly suggestive, and the fact that she kept getting closer and closer to the guys had Jessica thinking about putting a boot up her ass. Brojorn started laughing out loud, and look she shot him had him laughing even more. Thankfully the music ended, and the consorts took their places next to Brojorn and the advisors. Once they were seated, Brojorn turned to her. "You are ready?"
Biting back a smart-ass reply, she and Sam got up. Looking at her friend, she saw they were pretty much on the same page. "Stools?"
"Oh yeah," Sam replied.
Jessica turned to Brojorn. "We need something for the dance." Figuring he had his telepathic abilities in full swing, she just pictured what she wanted in her mind. "Two of them."
Chuckling to himself, Brojorn more than happily got up and went through the servants’ doorway, returning with two stools. "Will these do?" he asked as he set them down.
‘You know they will’, Jessica thought, not bothering to answer him aloud as he resumed his place on the sofa. Whether Brojorn had coaxed the other women regarding their attention to the guys or not didn’t really matter. Jessica and Sam, with the help of the sweets and wine, had gone into territorial mode, and Brojorn couldn’t have been more pleased.
The guys watched this exchange closely. It hadn’t taken them long to figure out what the jelled candies did, and chalked up Sam and Jessica’s reaction to the consorts as an effect of it. Their interest perked up even more when Brojorn brought out the stools. While Mitchell had a general idea of what kind of dancing they were going to be doing, Jack was totally in the dark. They watched as the girls positioned the stools, then disappeared momentarily through the curtained doorway. Soon, the beginning sounds of Shakira’s "Hips Don’t Lie" began pulsing through the room.
Stepping back through the doorway, Jessie focused on Mitchell, Sam on Jack. They began the seductive dance that was a blend of Mediterranean and Latin American moves, and soon were immersed in the music, letting it guide their movements. Colette would have been proud; between the jealousy they were feeling because of the other women, and their relaxed state, Sam and Jessie gave the most sensual, provocative performance they had ever done. Halfway through the dance, taking a scene from the video of the song, they used the stools as props, positioning them directly in front of the guys, singing to the music as they executed the moves:
"…Oh boy, I can see your body moving
Half animal, half man
I don't, don't really know what I'm doing
But you seem to have a plan
My will and self restraint
Have come to fail now, fail now
See, I am doing what I can, but I can't, so you know
That's a bit too hard to explain…"
Mitchell and Jack watched with rapt attention, both of them trying to come to grips with the fact the two sensual women dancing in front of them were actually the accomplished scientist and linguist they knew so well. For the four of them, all the others in the room had ceased to exist.
After coming up off the stools, Sam and Jessica sent the props sliding out of their way with a shove of their foot. They turned sideways to the guys, their backs to each other, and gyrated their hips sensuously, coming close to touching each other, but not quite.
Jack felt his mouth go dry. Sam was completely into the music, and with the way she was looking at him, he knew if he were to die right then and there, he’d die a happy man.
Jessica still had a tiny voice of reason echoing in her head. ‘What the hell are you doing? Are you trying to provoke him even more?’ The other part of her wasn’t listening. Knowing she was throwing gasoline on the fire, she got close enough to Mitchell where he could have reached out and touched her, almost daring him to as her body bent and swayed, her hips keeping time with the drums. Glancing down at him, her breath caught in her throat. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Where the hell had that look come from? She had seen him in plenty of different situations, but never had she seen that look on his face. It could only be described as pure sexuality. ‘Yep, you went and did it now,’ was the last thing the inner voice said before falling silent. She began to get the distinct feeling that what she had heard about Mitchell’s prowess was not an exaggeration.
As the music faded away, both Jack and Mitchell stood. Brojorn didn’t have to ask; he knew that the dance would set everything he wanted into motion. He signaled two of his servants. "Take our guests to their rooms, and see to it that they are not disturbed."
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