Tessa woke with her nose pressed into a muscled bicep and a tangle of legs holding her firmly attached from the thighs down. They’d rolled sometime in the night and he was curled around her from the back with one arm under her head and the other resting around her waist.
She glanced at her clock and relaxed into him. They had hours yet before she needed to get to work. Always with the need to touch him, she gently raked her nails through the hair of his forearm and was rewarded when he nuzzled her ear and curled his arm around her tighter.
“Jon? Are you awake?”
“I could be, with the right incentive.”
Smiling into the semi-dark she turned in his arms and after a bit of adjusting they were nose to nose. Her small lamp had been left on across the room so she could see shadowy features on his scruffy face. Slitted eyes soft with sleep, the slash of lips full and relaxed and a nose that was more prominent than you would think on the first perusal of his face. She pressed her lips to his and lingered for a moment.
She brought her fingertips to his jaw, tracing the dent in his chin then letting her thumb follow the fullness of his lower lip and up to the slashing V of his upper. When he opened his mouth and lightly scraped his teeth over the pad of her thumb she couldn’t quite stop the soft moan that escaped. He flicked the tip of his tongue over the scored flesh and she replaced her mouth with her fingers.
The kiss was slow and thorough. Easy with the cover of night and the silence of the late hour, he deepened the kiss until she responded in kind. A lazy, slide of tongue drew her into the kind of kiss that could turn hot and greedy. Part of her wanted to push away the emotions and not deal with them, to drown in the waves of sensation that he could bring her. Easing the heat back, she finally broke away.
“We need to talk a bit, I think,” she said when she got her breath back.
He kept his eyes closed for a moment, then opened one when she didn’t say anything more. “Yeah, I guess we do,” he said on a sigh.
She traced her knuckle over the fine whorl of hair at the center of his chest. “I don’t know if I can be a dirty little secret, pardon the pun.”
He didn’t laugh. “And I don’t want you to be,” he said and brought his fingers up to cup her face. “I just have to figure a few things out before we can do the whole public thing.”
“How long is that going to be?”
“I don’t know how long. There’s a world of difference between seeing someone and seeing me, Tessa.” Slipping away he sat up, resting his forearm on a bended knee. He pushed his fingers through his hair.
Feeling the frustration coming off him in waves, she sat up and pressed a kiss to his shoulder, tracing the faded steer with a fingertip. “I know,” she said and moved behind him hugging him with her knees then her arms. She let her fingers thread through the hair of his chest slowly, easing instead of firing his blood.
The first rays of dawn peeked through her sheer curtains as the shadows of his back took form. Pressing a few kisses over the smattering of freckles along his shoulder blades she rested her chin on his shoulder.
He turned his head and she met his gaze. The distance she was expecting to find wasn’t there. Instead she found a resigned sadness she wasn’t prepared for. Curling her leg up to scoot next to him again she stood and grabbed her robe off a chair in the corner.
Taking her cue he stepped into his jeans that had made it to the floor sometime in the night. She rounded the bed and pulled him back to sit again. “I won’t push right now and it’s not like I need to go on Oprah to tell everyone in the world I love you.” When that didn’t crack a smile she sighed. “I can understand protecting your family but I’m not the type of woman that can just love you behind closed doors. Whether it’s the bedroom or any other door,” she said and clasped his hand.
“Nor do you deserve that,” he said and stood.
She held onto his hand and stood as well. She smoothed her hand down his sculpted back and brought their joined hands around his waist, lacing their fingers she crowded in on him. Now she could feel the distance creeping in.
“I’ll decide what I deserve, Jon.” She circled him and kept their fingers joined. Standing before him, she met his wary blue eyes. “I’m not going anywhere; I just need to know where we stand for public things, like the bookstore or seeing you on the street or in front of friends.”
He started to move around her and she pressed a palm to his belly. “Don’t do that.”
His eyes shuttered. “Do what?”
“Do that glacial thing. I’m not one of those people you can brush off if you’re not ready to talk about something. Tell me if you don’t know, it’s better than shutting me out.”
“I’m not shutting you out.”
His eyes went from cool to fiery. “I don’t know, Tessa. I don’t know what to do or how to explain to people that I’m with someone other than Dorothea. I don’t know how to tell my kids I love someone other than their mother. It’s all they’ve ever known.”
“So you’re going to live the rest of your life like a monk? Or have secret weekenders when you’re out of town?”
“I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
“Well, you’re going to have to eventually. Even if it’s not me,” she swallowed down the ache in her gut even saying it, “Someday, someone will matter enough that you would need to let them inside that inner sanctum of a family.”
His hands gripped her arms, “You matter enough,” he said with enough conviction to stop her jittering stomach. “I just don’t know how to do it yet.”
She closed her eyes against the swirling confusion in his eyes. Complications were going to be a part of her life now and she was just going to have to learn to live with it. She slid her arms around his waist and sighed when he pulled her into him. “I’ll wait,” she said quietly and raised her eyes to his.
With not quite steady hands he pushed her hair back and lowered his mouth to hers. The kiss wasn’t easy and it wasn’t gentle. A bit of desperation fueled their passion now. The easy pleasure of their morning burned away as he pushed her robe open and palmed her breast with mounting need.
Dragging in a deep breath she shrugged out of the silk and reached for the snap of his jeans. She curled her fingers inside and felt the hot silk and groaned when he hardened. “Show me,” she said.
He jerked off his jeans and pushed her back on the bed. His mouth latched onto her nipple, drawing deeply from her. His other hand tugged on the left one and she cried out. He knew each part of her that was sensitive and what would drive her mad.
With expert manipulation he turned her inside out with a few touches. His teeth scraped down her neck and down to her breast again suckling her with his hot mouth. She arched beneath him and her hands fisted into his hair.
He pulled her hands away and held them high over her head, braceleting them with one strong hand he used the other touch, to squeeze and to bring her off. She screamed when the orgasm punched into her. Instead of letting up, he only pushed her harder growling against her breast when he pushed two fingers into her in a punishing thrust.
She rode the next release with eyes open and blazing into his. “Show me,” she said again and hooked her thigh around his waist. “Inside me, now.”
He covered her, driving deep with measured strokes. Sweat dripped from his hair and his nose as he kept each thrust achingly slow. His teeth tugging on her ear as he said her name. Wrapping her thighs around his waist she arched against him and took it all. “Tell me,” she said on a gasp.
“I love you,” he said in her ear. Again and again he said it as he drove into her as if he could drive the point home with each trust. “I love you.”
She broke the stranglehold he had on her wrists and wrapped herself entirely around him. Hiccupping through sobs she felt the warm rush of his seed inside of her and felt herself go over again.
With shuddering breaths he slumped on top of her. His mouth still buried against her neck as he said it again. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said and held on as he dropped into an exhausted sleep. As much to calm herself as him, she ran feather light fingertips up and down his back. She wasn’t sure how long she laid there, with his heart beating against her chest, his warm body heavy on hers. Turning her head, she winced when the numbers read seven thirty.
With regret, she gently eased her way out from under him. Feeling him slide from within her left an ache she didn’t want to name. He curled into her pillows and kept on sleeping. She took a little comfort in the fact that he seemed to reach for her. She slid a pillow beside him to keep him in slumber and closed herself in the bathroom.
Adjusting the temperature of the water she eased into the corner glassed in shower and turned her face into the spray. Taking care with the muscles that sang with both the evening and the morning…well, intensities, she swallowed back a groan. Shampooing and conditioning first she reached for the body wash.
His smell still lingered on her skin as she took care to wash him away. She made a mental note to see her doctor for birth control. She was still in a safe time of the month, but she wasn’t a fool. The uncertainties alone forced her to be realistic.
Unable to linger any longer she quickly finished her shower and tucked a towel around her breasts. She ducked out to see him still sleeping and snagged her robe off the floor. Thankful that she used another room to dress and ready herself she eased out the door, shutting it gently behind her.
Fifteen minutes later she had dress pants and a sweater on with minimal make-up. Her day would be filled with running and glamour had no part of in the Christmas craze. She opened the door to her room again and smiled when she saw him spread out in her sheets.
He looked good in the crisp white and navy blue of her bed. Rounding the bed she pressed a kiss to his cheek. His hand snagged out to catch hers before she drew away. “Where are you going?”
“Shh…work, you stay there and sleep. Just lock up before you leave.”
His eyes opened to slits. “Come back to bed,” he said and tucked the covers around his neck.
“I would if I could, darlin’, but his girl’s gotta work. The bookstore doesn’t run without me.” She brushed a lock of hair back from his eyes.
He stretched and immediately curled back into the sheets, closing his eyes. “Will I see you tonight?”
“I’ll call you later.”
“Okay,” he said and drifted back to sleep.
She just shook her head and stood up. She left the door open, but turned back and decided she liked him in her bed. Very much.