Sweet Temptation

Page 20

Serena turned from her position by the window. “How long are they going to be? Damon didn’t answer his cell phone and we haven’t heard from them in hours.”

“They’re probably figuring out a plan to keep us under lock and key for the next year,” Julie said glumly.

“You should move away from the window, Mrs. Roche,” Sam said from the doorway.

Serena sighed and walked over to the couch to sit by Faith.

Julie scowled. Damon’s hulking chauffeur had been tasked with babysitting the three of them for the day. What the hell kind of chauffeur was built like a tank?

The sound of the front door opening had all three women on their feet. Damon strode into the living room, Nathan and Gray on his heels.

“How is Angelina?” Julie asked anxiously. The men’s expressions were so grim that fear scuttled around her stomach.

“She’s safe,” Damon answered. Even as he spoke, he reached for Serena, and she went to him, melting into his embrace. “She’s with Micah.”

“You ready to go home?” Gray said to Faith.

She nodded readily and took the hand he extended to her.

“We’ll stay in touch. You all do the same,” Gray said as they headed for the door.

Julie glanced at Nathan, who stood silently to the side. The intensity in his gaze caused her to shiver. He looked positively ... scary.

“You have a choice,” Nathan said as he stalked into her space. “My place or yours.”

Too unsettled to think straight, she merely stared up at him, her brows furrowed.

“We can stay at your place or my place, but you don’t stay alone, so make your choice.”

She reached out to touch his chest, seeking reassurance. “Should I be worried?”

He caught her wrist, and surprisingly, his fingers trembled against her skin. He brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed her closed fist.

“I don’t want you to worry, honey, because I’m going to take care of you. Which means you aren’t staying alone. He saw us, Julie. He had to have seen us that night. He got to me. He can get to you.”

She swallowed nervously. “We can stay wherever you feel is best.”

He relaxed. Had he expected her to argue? Was she that confrontational? Sure, she liked her independence, but that didn’t make her a moron. She wasn’t going to sacrifice her safety or his over pride.

“I think we should stay at your place. He may not know where you live, but he sure as hell knows where I do.”

“Okay,” she said softly.

“Come on.”

He tugged lightly, pulling her into his embrace. For a moment he held her, and only the erratic rise and fall of his chest against hers signaled his unease. He kissed the top of her head and smoothed his hand over her hair.

“Let’s go home.”

She nodded and followed him toward the door.

All the way to her apartment she watched him intently. He held her hand between them and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles in a deceptively calm manner. He was wound tighter than a rubber band, and she wasn’t sure if it was the danger he thought she was in or if it was something else entirely.

Paranoia crept into her mind despite her best effort to keep it at bay

He’s not going to dump you, dumbass. Men don’t move in with you temporarily if they’re ready to move on.

Unless of course it was a man with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. No doubt Nathan and all his buddies were extremely protective when it came to women. So was he protecting her because she was a woman or because she was his woman?

Shut up, Julie. Don’t ruin this.

When they got to her apartment, Nathan made her stay behind him until he made sure no boogeymen were prepared to jump out of her closets. She might have found it endearing and amusing if she weren’t so edgy.

He moved around her apartment like he was comfortable and at home. Lord knew he’d spent enough time there even if they’d never made the leap to official cohabitation. She frowned. Maybe she should have asked?

Screw this. She was a mess. She was tired and she wasn’t going to analyze stupid girly feelings when she was feeling particularly hormonal. Someone ought to market stupid pills. They’d make a damn fortune.

Nathan followed her into her bedroom, and before she could head to the bathroom to do her thing, he pulled her back and hauled her into his arms.

His mouth crashed down on hers. He stole her breath and devoured her lips in a greedy, passionate kiss. His hands fumbled carelessly at her clothes, ripping without care.

“Lose the pants,” he rasped between kisses.

Even as she hopped on one foot to get rid of her pants, he pulled frantically at her shirt. He forced her hands away from her jeans long enough to raise her arms over her head so he could get her shirt off. Then when she resumed shucking, he tore at her bra, ripping the lacy cups.

Even then the material didn’t come completely away, but her breasts spilled free and he cupped them roughly in his palms.

With one foot, she kicked the pants several feet away just as his mouth closed over a nipple.

Her breath escaped in a hiss as pleasure exploded through her mind.

“God I love your breasts.”

“I love that you love my breasts,” she gasped out.

She clutched his head, holding him tighter.

“You’ve got too many damn clothes on,” she complained.

“Easily fixed.”

He picked her up, his mouth still sucking her nipple, and walked to the bed, where he dumped her onto the mattress. As she lay there, he loomed over her, his hands going to his pants.

God, she loved it when he stripped in front of her. She rose to one elbow, watching appreciatively as he yanked off his shirt. His muscles rippled as he moved his arms. His chest flexed and bowed and his six-pack quivered.

Finally his pants came off, and he stood in front of her, his huge erection fisted in his hand. His eyes glittered with promise as he stalked toward her.

She gulped and edged backward.

He merely smiled and crawled on to the bed. His hand closed around her ankle, and he yanked her back toward him.

“I believe I promised you we’d have a talk,” he murmured when she was completely underneath him. “And I’m pretty sure I said it would take place with you naked. Underneath me.”

“Well here I am,” she said breathlessly.

He cupped her cheek in his palm and stroked over her skin, gently pushing her hair behind her ear. His intense gaze roamed over her face as if he was searching. For what?

“Do you have any idea what you do to me?”

Before she could answer—and really, what could she possibly say to that?—he lowered his mouth to hers in a surprisingly tender kiss.

Heat blistered over her skin, but the warmth went deeper, beyond her heart and straight into her soul.

“I love you,” she whispered against his lips.

He drew away, still stroking her cheek with careful fingers. “I love you,” he said seriously. “Do you know that, Julie? Do you believe that?”

He kissed her again, sweeping the words away before she could speak.

“I wonder sometimes if you aren’t waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like maybe you don’t think I’m in this for the long haul.”

She let her hands wander up his arms, to the thick column of his neck and then down to his chest. One thing she wouldn’t do is lie. Not to Nathan. He was the one man she could be herself with, and that meant letting him see straight into her heart.

“Sometimes,” she admitted. “I don’t doubt you, Nathan. I’m just scared. I know I can be difficult, and I worry that one day you’ll decide I’m not worth it.”

He parted her thighs with one insistent hand and found her heat with his fingers. She arched helplessly into him, her mouth falling open in a tortured moan.

He stroked. Petted. Slid his fingers insider her and then eased up to her clit, spreading her moisture over the straining bundle of nerves.

“For such a smart woman, sometimes you can be so dense,” he muttered.

Her eyes narrowed just as he added a third finger and stroked the walls of her pussy.

“Ah hell. How am I supposed to argue with you when you’re doing that?”

He found her lips again, silencing her with his mouth. And then his tongue. Like rough velvet, his tongue stroked over hers, warm, spreading his taste, and God, he tasted so damn good. He smelled good. He felt good.

“I think the idea is that you’re not supposed to argue.”

“Me not argue? Like that’s ever going to happen.”

He smiled and withdrew his hands. She wiggled in protest, wanting them back.

“I have something better,” he murmured.

He shifted his body, pushing her thighs farther apart. He positioned his cock at her entrance and pushed in the tiniest bit.

“You’re such a damn tease!”

He chuckled and inched forward, barely stretching her. She wrapped her legs around him and arched up, trying to make him slide deeper.

Finally he accommodated her and thrust all the way in with one forceful push.

She cried out. No matter how often he made love to her, she still felt the shock of that first penetration all the way to her toes. He was big and thick and she pulsed around him like warm honey. He just made her go all gooey, and she loved and hated him for that.

Still buried deep inside her, he put his arms down on either side of her head and levered himself up enough so that he wasn’t crushing her. He looked down at her, his green eyes so serious that for a moment she was worried. Until she remembered that he was as deep inside her as he could be. Who the hell broke off a relationship while they were buried to the balls?

“We need to get something straight, Julie.”

“Hell of a time for conversation,” she muttered.

“Oh, I think it’s a damn good time because you can’t escape me. You can’t run. You can’t avoid me.”

He flexed his hips, and she tightened her grip on his shoulders until her nails dug into his flesh.

“I love you, woman. And you damn well ought to know that.”

“I do,” she gasped. “Now fuck me please.”

“I’m not leaving you. I don’t want anyone else. You’re it for me, Julie. It.”

Her eyes widened and she went completely still beneath him.

“What are you saying, Nathan?”

He let out a string of curses. “Nothing I haven’t said to you a million times already. I’ve told you with words, with actions. I tell you with my body every damn time we get together, but you’re so determined only to see what you want to see. When are you going to get it into your head that unless you kick me to the curb, then this is forever?”

She honestly couldn’t formulate a response to that. Her mouth hung open as she stared into his eyes. He was serious. There was no hint of deception in his gaze. Just earnest ... love.

“I’m never kicking you to the curb, dumbass,” she said in a low voice.

He withdrew and then rolled his hips forward, eliciting another gasp from her.

“Good. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I vote we talk about making our relationship a little more permanent.”

Fear, excitement, joy and trepidation all went a little nuts on her. But still she wasn’t about to make any assumptions. And not only that, but what she was almost assuming scared the shit out of her.

“How permanent?” she asked cautiously.

He slid his hands down her body again, cupping her ass as he hauled her up. Now on his knees, he drove relentlessly into her, the force of his thrusts making her breasts jiggle uncontrollably.

“Shit, I love it when they do that,” he muttered as he lowered his mouth to one straining peak.

He devoured her breasts, moving from one plump swell to the other. There wasn’t a part of his body that wasn’t touching hers. His hips met the backs of her thighs, and his balls slapped the crack of her ass. He rode her hard, and when he was hopelessly deep, he lowered himself back to her, gathering her tenderly in his arms.

“Very permanent,” he said gruffly. “So permanent that you’ll never doubt how much I love you and how much I want to be with you.”

“I think I could go for that,” she said softly.

He paused and looked deep into her eyes, and for the first time she saw vulnerability that took her breath away. He was worried. He was as scared as she was.

Feeling shattered, she reached up to touch his face. Her fingers smoothed over his forehead, down his cheeks and then over the roughness of his goatee.

“I want forever, Julie. Marriage. You tied to me, legally, emotionally. The whole nine yards.”

Her heart fluttered in panic, but at the same time a tidal wave of sheer joy swamped her from head to toe.

“My ring on your finger,” he whispered as he swept her lips into another kiss.

“I like jewelry,” she murmured.

“And I like you. Naked.”

She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. She followed suit with her legs, curling them around his waist.

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