“I have a girl,” I told him. “I’m going to go see her.”
The air seemed to shift around us. He stood, slowly. “Okay. I’ll hold it down on this end. You go be with your girl tonight.” He walked to the door, limping slightly, and paused. “If I have to tell you every day that I love you for you to accept it, I will.”
I looked at him.
His eyes were clear, gazing at me steadily. “I mean it. I love my children. All of them.”
I didn’t know how to take that, so I didn’t respond.
He went back inside, and after another five minutes, so did I.
I didn’t call Aspen.
There were text messages from her on my phone, but I would read them tomorrow. I just wanted her, and fifteen minutes later, I pulled past the gate and drove to park in front of her neighbor’s house.
I called her.
“Blaise?” She sounded tired.
I started to tell her I was here, but the words froze in my throat.
I realized my hand was shaking. That was odd.
I tasted salt, and I frowned, touching my face.
I was crying.
I’d cried before, but I’d always known I was crying.
I hated crying. It was weak.
That’s what he would have said if he saw.
A gurgling sound bubbled up from my throat. What the hell was that?
“Blaise?!” Aspen sounded alarmed.
I hadn’t meant to make her sound like that.
I hadn’t meant for her to find out about any of this.
I’d just meant to go to her, crawl in bed with her, and hold her. That’s all I wanted.
But I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t get any words out.
I hung up, hating that I’d hung up on my girl, but I couldn’t talk. What point was there, then, to see her? I was useless to her. I was worthless.
But I couldn’t bring myself to leave, so I sat in my Wagon and stared ahead, not seeing anything.
It might’ve been a minute later, maybe five. But there was a tap on my window, and then I saw Aspen.
She was biting her lip, her eyes all worried, and I hated that I’d made her feel like that.
But I was paralyzed. None of this made sense to me.
She opened my door. She reached inside. She unclipped my belt. She took my keys out of the ignition. She grabbed my phone, and then she took my hand.
I was led inside, and we both crawled into bed.
She wrapped her arms around me, and someone was crying.
I wanted to believe it was her.
I knew that wasn’t true.
I woke up to the feeling of lips pressed against my neck. He swept my hair to the side, the movement a caress. His arms around me, his legs entwined with mine, he was tasting me. His hand skimmed down my side to my hip, then slipped under my shirt. He rubbed my stomach, moving in slow circles, and I knew where he was going.
I strained against him, lust and need throbbing inside of me.
I felt him against me, rolling his hips, grinding slow.
I gasped, my head pressed to my pillow as his fingers found my breast. He held me in the palm of his hand, and his thumb caressed my nipple.
I’d never thought about dating. It wasn’t that I didn’t like boys. I did. I crushed hard on them, but I worried they wouldn’t want me. It had settled firmly in me and taken root, holding me down. Then Blaise happened, and I was still trying to catch up.
I was still trying to catch up, but this morning, even if I’d been considering remaining a virgin, that was gone. He’d been destroyed last night. I didn’t know what had happened, but I would. Until then, I’d just hold him.
And this morning, I was going to love him.
I wouldn’t say the words, but that’s how I felt. I knew I’d been falling.
It was done. I was over the edge.
I was his, for as long as he needed me. I was his.
I was resolved. And feeling that surety, I took his hand and guided it between my legs.
It was as if that was the last permission he needed.
His kisses grew more insistent. He thrust hard against me, pushing aside my underwear and sinking in. He curved his fingers into me, thrusting in rhythm from behind.
The pleasure was building.
I’d never, ever, thought this would happen to me.
I’d never thought someone would care for me like this, would need me, would come to me when they were wrecked.
Love and the need to protect him, care for him, made everything so much stronger. Clearer. I reached behind me. I needed more of him.
I didn’t care about anything. Only him. Only this moment. Only us.
I couldn’t reach him, so I pushed at my underwear, pulling it down as the throbbing overwhelmed me. It pulsated through me.
He paused, his mouth at my ear. “Are you sure?”
I nodded. “Yes. Please.”
He groaned and leaned up, his mouth finding mine.
He turned us, moving more slowly. Gentle. He held himself above me, and the look in his eyes broke my heart, but in all the right spots. I was shattered, moved beyond words, because whether he knew it or not, I saw love shining back to me.
I reached up, cupping the side of his face, and pulled him down to me. His lips melded to mine, and it was like the last turn of a key in a lock. He reached over the side of the bed, pulling a condom from his wallet. A second later, I felt myself open, almost magically, even as he slid inside of me. There was pressure there, the barrier, and he paused, a soft curse slipping from him as he kissed my neck. Then he thrust through, breaking it, and sank deep into me.
He held still, holding me fiercely.
He turned, nuzzling my throat before lifting to my mouth. “I didn’t know. I didn’t think.”
I shook my head. “The pain’s almost gone.” And it was.
He waited, letting me adjust to him, and when I began to move my hips, he moved slowly with me. He let me set the pace. As pleasure overtook the pain, I felt amazed. I hadn’t known this would be what it felt like.
It was so good, and it was with Blaise.
I wound my arms around him, my fingers sinking into his skin, as if I could climb out of my own to be even closer to him.
He thrust harder, rubbing against me, and then it was only the sensations. I was almost fevered, needing more and more.
“Fuck, Aspen.” He moaned, a hand to my hip as he lifted himself, only to sink farther inside of me. He hit a deeper angle and pushed me over the edge, my body trembling and jerking with my orgasm. Waves and waves hit me. I rode them out, loving them, as Blaise waited until I was done.
He held himself still, watching me.
I looked back at him, knowing this morning had changed me. It wasn’t just the sex. It was more than that—last night, realizing I loved him, and yes, this morning too. All of it swept through me, overloading my body, but I knew he needed to finish.
I reached up, pulling him back to me. I kissed him, tasting him. “I’m okay.”
His arms flexed, still holding me. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” I ran my hands down his back to his hips, and I lay back, my hips rolling against his. I wrapped my legs around his waist.
He groaned, his lips pressed hard against mine, his tongue slipping inside and tasting me as he began to move inside of me again. This time was for him.
He thrust slowly, gently at first.
Then as I continued to be okay, he went harder. Deeper. He held me up, his hand under my ass, as he pounded harder. I moved my legs higher around him, and with a primal growl, he reared up and went deep two more times before his body jerked.
After a moment, he collapsed onto me, and I savored it.
I held him as his body shook. Trailing a lazy hand down his back and side, I waited until he looked up at me. He reached for me, and we kissed. It was tender at first, but then grew more demanding, commanding.
He lifted his head, his eyes black as he studied me for a beat. “I don’t deserve you.”
I think my heart broke. “Blaise?”
He shook his head, pressing a kiss to my forehead before he pulled out. “Let me clean up, get rid of this.” He stood, taking the condom off, and went to the bathroom. It was then that I felt the stickiness between my legs and winced, also feeling some soreness.
I reached down, pressing lightly. I hadn’t thought about this when we were in the middle of it.
Blaise came back a moment later, carrying a washcloth.
His face was gentle as he sat beside me, moving my leg. “Let me see.”
I did, but it was different now. I felt self-conscious.
As if he could sense it, he shook his head. “Don’t feel that. You are perfection, Aspen. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.” His words came out fierce as he put the washcloth between my legs. It was warm, soothing.
He cleaned me, and I relaxed back into the bed.
I nodded, my eyes closed.
“You’re going to be sore. I’m sorry.”
I opened my eyes, seeing the worry in his. “Hey, I didn’t tell you.”
He looked tormented. “I knew. I mean, I didn’t, but I should’ve known. I should’ve asked.”