A shiver trickled down her spine. She snuggled tight, loving the feel of his arms enclosing her in shelter. “Me, either.”
She closed her eyes, enjoying the rumble of his chuckle against her ear, then fell asleep.
When he woke up, he was afraid it’d been a dream.
Gabe turned and immediately relaxed. Bella lay beside him, hand tucked under her cheek, an adorable frown on her face as if she were dreaming about something that pissed her off. Her hair was a tangled, glorious mess tumbling around her shoulders. A tiny snort escaped her lips.
Hmm, the precursor of a big-time snorer.
He traced the line of her puffy mouth, trying to memorize the beautiful lines of her face, the paleness of her skin, the way her chest rose and fell with each relaxed breath. She was everything he’d ever wanted, and she was finally his.
Doubt crept in. They’d woken up three times last night to reach for each other, their hunger not even close to being quenched. Morning light streamed through the blinds. He wondered if she’d wake with regrets. Wondered if the impulse of last night would cause her to pull back again, and this time, he’d have to live with knowing how good it was when she’d been his. Even for a little while.
He had no regrets. Last night, his fantasies had become reality, and he’d never forget. He just needed to convince her to take a chance on a future with him.
Slowly, her eyes flickered open.
He smiled. “Good morning.”
Her answering smile was sweet and a bit sleepy. “Morning. What time is it?”
Relief hit. She wasn’t about to jump out of bed with a long litany of excuses and explanations of why they shouldn’t have slept together. “Only seven. Want me to go down and get you coffee?”
“Yes, please.” She stretched out her hands, locked them around his neck, and brought him in for a kiss. She was warm and soft and cuddly.
His heart turned to mush in his chest. In moments, the kiss turned deep and hungry, and he tugged off the sheet to caress her bare curves, murmuring in satisfaction as he found her wet. “Before or after?”
“Huh?” She blinked, arching into his hand, her gaze beautifully blurred.
“Do you want the coffee before or after I make you come again?”
Her cheeks flushed. He loved the way she had little modesty in bed but was shy when she had to walk to the bathroom naked. She’d made him promise not to look.
She nipped at his lip like a playful kitten and clung close. “After.”
He sheathed himself and slid home. This time, he brought her to the brink slow and easy, enjoying her broken cries and the sexy scratches she left on his back. He steeped himself in her taste and scent, and watched her fall apart with fierce satisfaction.
His own orgasm hit hard, slamming his body into an earth-shattering pleasure he’d never experienced before. Everything was different with Bella. The satisfaction reached beyond the physical, touching the empty place in his chest that seemed to never get filled. When he finally kissed her and got up from the bed to wash up, he felt like beating his chest like an ape, he was so damn satisfied.
He dressed back in his pants and rumpled shirt, rolling up the sleeves. “Gonna change quick in my room, where I left my clothes. I’ll bring coffee and breakfast.”
“Thanks. I’ll check on Zoe. We leaving in about an hour?”
He shot her a grin. “Or two.”
He shut the door on her laugh, reveling in the sound.
She hung up the phone after hearing Zoe’s voice and wondered what she was going to do.
Last night had changed everything. She was not one to ever do things on impulse. Her past loss and being responsible for her daughter taught her to step away from things that didn’t make long-term sense. It had worked well for her since Matt passed.
But now, Gabe had stolen a piece of her heart. And she needed a plan.
Sex for her was more than a physical outlet—it always had been. Taylor had tried to get her to loosen her narrowed limits, but sex meant emotional connection. Even a kiss felt wrong unless there was a certain chemistry. That’s why there had only been Matt, her first true love.
But now there was Gabe, too.
The erotic images of their night together flickered past her mind. She hugged them tight, and decided to take a quick shower before he returned. God, she’d kissed him and hadn’t even brushed her teeth! But ever since she’d seen him with Devon, she’d been haunted by the knowledge she’d made a terrible mistake. She’d wanted more time with him after the reception, hoping to talk and be honest about how she’d been feeling lately. Maybe even trying to open up the door one more time.
Until she’d looked into his eyes and realized her heart was already invested. She sensed if she didn’t take a risk, she’d lose him, and the possibility of what they could be together was too much to leave behind.
She scrubbed her skin reluctantly, not even wanting to lose his scent, then dressed quickly in jeans and a long-sleeve pink sweater. Putting her long hair in a casual ponytail, she sat down on the sofa to wait.
They had to talk. Discuss what they wanted from each other and how to proceed. She crossed her legs, uncomfortable in the cold light of morning, but she also didn’t want to lose that thrill of finally connecting with the man who made her happy. Yes, there were obstacles, but she couldn’t imagine returning home and going back to the way things were between them.
He opened the door with two extralarge cups and two platters filled with a variety of food. “It was a buffet, so I got a bit of everything,” he said, putting it down on the table. His gaze raked over her with regret. “You got out of bed.”
“I figured I needed a shower.”
“But you’re wearing clothes.”
She laughed, feeling slightly giddy. “It’s easier for me to eat and talk when I’m not naked.”
“Funny, it’s the opposite for me.”
She tossed him a humorous look and sipped the hot brew. She speared a piece of fresh pineapple, dipped it in some yogurt, and ate with pleasure. They made short work of the breakfast since both of them were starving. Finally full, she crossed her legs comfortably and sat, sipping her coffee.
“How’s Zoe?” he asked.
“Good. She loves sleeping at Avery and Carter’s—they spoil her rotten.”
“As does Taylor. And Pierce. And me. And Daisy. And—”
“Yeah, I get it. Hard not to, since she’s rarely a brat. I’m lucky to have such a sweet kid.”
“Definitely, but I also think being raised with extended family is special. She’s always surrounded by people she loves, so there’s no lack of attention. I love that you and Taylor share a home.”
She sighed. “Yeah, I’m going to miss her. It will be like another hole in the family when she leaves, but not all of us were meant to stay.”
“She’ll always come back, and you’ll get a cool place to travel to on vacation.” His grin was full of sexiness and sunshine. He reached over and snagged her hand, entwining his fingers with hers. The familiar touch of his hand made goose bumps prickle. “Even though I’d love to take you back to bed, I think we should talk.”
Her heart sped up, but she nodded. “Okay.”
They looked at each other for a few seconds in silence. He rubbed his head, half laughing. “I guess I’ll go first. Last night meant a lot to me. I want to be clear how much you mean to me. I don’t want this to be a one-night stand.”
As she looked into his handsome face, she saw the wariness lurking, the fear gleaming in the depths of his dark eyes. It hit her full force that he believed she was going to wave off their night as a fluke, a pleasurable experience that they needed to move on from. Her chest tightened at the idea of hurting him like that, using him to slake an itch, like so many women had labeled him before.
She got up from her chair, this time kneeling in front of him, her gaze locked on his. “I don’t want a one-night stand, either,” she said softly. “I wouldn’t have taken you into my bed for a fling. Last night was special. I just think we need to figure things out when we get home about how we want to approach this. I’m hoping you understand when I tell you I need to go slow.”
He cupped her cheeks and pressed his forehead to hers. “I can do slow,” he said.
She covered his hands with hers. “I want plenty of time for Zoe to get used to me seeing someone. And to work out how we handle our business and personal lives. And the best way to tell my family. And—”
“I get it, sweetheart. There’s no rush. I’ve waited this long to finally ravish that sweet body of yours,” he said with a wicked grin. “I’m not going anywhere. We’ll see what feels best for you. I won’t push.”
She let out her breath in relief. “Then we’re in perfect agreement.”
He kissed her, his tongue thrusting lazily, and soon he was scooping her up into his arms. “Let me show you how good I can do slow.”
And he did.
“I need a night out,” Daisy whined over speakerphone. “I’m going stark raving mad playing with Meg’s Barbie dream house and watching movies every night. Please, Bella. Let’s go out and drink and pretend we’re fabulous single women.”