Authors: Mia Caldwell
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #African American, #Women's Fiction, #Romance, #Multicultural, #New Adult & College, #Multicultural & Interracial
She’d better get used to it, because in eight days, after the wedding that wasn’t going to happen didn’t take place, she’d never see Connor again anyway. It was a brutal thought, and one that managed to keep her up for hours despite her physical exhaustion.
By the day of the race, Angelina felt like she had explored Monaco at least in a fairly cursory fashion, and while she had enjoyed everything she’d seen, she was still happy to be headed home after the day’s event. It would mean escaping Brenda, though they were hurtling ever closer to their wedding date, which was in five days. Every time she thought about it like that, it sent a jolt through her body and made her heart race with dread.
She and Connor still haven’t hadn’t figured out or discussed exactly how events would play out, and they would have to do that soon. But for now, Connor needed to focus on the race, and she could see why after having observed the track. It was full of twists and turns, and she’d heard more than one driver and spectator comment on it being the most challenging course in all the Grand Prixes.
She had been bored watching the race before, when they had sat together in Barcelona, but it was different today. Before, he had been right beside her rather than in thirteen hundred pounds of steel that could slam into a barrier and explode in a moment. It was nerve-racking watching him maneuver through the other cars, and as the laps increased, her nausea grew.
She was ready for the ordeal to be over, and she now knew why she had never watched him race before, even on television. It wasn’t simply a lack of interest in racing. To know someone personally and intimately as they participated in such a harrowing event was nerve-racking, and she knew she’d never be able to sit through another race again. Not if Connor was in it and racing, at least.
Each time he navigated a hairpin turn, she immediately thought of the crash of his prototype, which someone at the course had caught on cell phone, and the video had gone viral between regular media outlets and the Internet. She’d seen it for days, and sometimes weeks after it had happened, but she’d always refuse to accept or acknowledge how badly it affected her. Now, watching him navigate around his fellow racers, seeming to move with grace and ease, she realized it had affected her so greatly because he had nearly died then, and he could to die at any moment now.
As the race wound down, and they were only a few laps from finishing, intellectually she knew he was probably going to be fine, but emotionally, she couldn’t stand to watch anymore. She had no idea where Brenda was. She liked it that way, and it meant there was no one to make any excuse to as left her seat in the stands and went to the bathrooms. Inside, she stood in line until a stall opened and then collapsed on the plastic seat and put her head against the wooden wall of the stall, biting back tears that threatened to escape.
She was trembling, and she couldn’t understand her reaction, or the sudden flare of panic. He was fine. There was no sign of any problems, and he was driving his usual car, one that was as safe as could be and well tested, completely designed by his sponsors’ construction crew, and nothing experimental about it. He was safe, so why was she falling to pieces?
A sob escaped her, and she reached for a handful of toilet paper as she began to cry in earnest. Panic clawed at her, along with the sharp bite of loss, and she heard the screams of excitement from outside that heralded the end of the race, filtering through the door each time it opened. Abruptly, she realized why she was so torn up by watching him speed around the racetrack. He was in danger, and she couldn’t lose them. She didn’t want to lose him. How could she live without Connor?
She was in love with him.
That realization made her sob all the harder, and it was several minutes before she was able to gather her composure enough to leave the bathroom after washing her face. She was certain she still looked like she had been crying, but it was the best she was going to be able to do in limited time and with nothing more than a comb, water, and paper towels at her disposal. She hadn’t bothered to pack makeup in the small bag she carried.
She made her way to his pit crew setup, finding Connor in deep discussion with his lead mechanic. It was obvious he hadn’t won, because he wasn’t in the Winner’s Circle, but he didn’t seem to care.
She tried to force a shaky smile anyway as she approached him, aware of his eyes darkening with concern as he turned away from Gary to face her. “I’m sorry you didn’t win,” she said in a shaky voice.
He shrugged. “I didn’t really expect to. I’m not quite in top physical condition yet. At least I got to race once more at Monaco before I retire.”
She smiled and nodded, feeling her insides shatter into a million pieces as she looked at him. She wanted to pretend like she hadn’t experienced an epiphany in the bathroom, but now that she knew the truth, she couldn’t seem to think of anything else. All she could think of was she loved him.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
The words kept repeating like a refrain inside her skull, and she was terrified she was suddenly going to give voice to them. That would just be a disaster.
He pulled her away from his crew, putting his hands around her biceps as he looked down at her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she said as she dissolved into sobs. A moment later, she was in his arms, and already weak, that only added to her temptation to confess what she was feeling. She let herself melt against him and cling tightly to Connor. “It’s stupid,” she said amid tears and hiccups.
“However you’re feeling, I don’t think it’s stupid. Talk to me, baby.”
That was the first time he’d ever used an endearment, and for some reason, that made her want to cry all the harder. Instead, she swallowed several times and did her best to suppress the tears that still threatened. She pulled back slightly from him, though she didn’t let go of her death grip on his jumpsuit.
“I think I had… I don’t know what you call it, but I was just thinking about your accident with the prototype, and the longer the race went on, the more anxious I became. I was just afraid something was going to happen to you, and it devastated me.” That was as close as she could come to the raw, honest truth at the moment without making herself completely vulnerable.
His gaze softened, and there was something in his eyes too, and an emotion she didn’t want to analyze too deeply, because it was dangerous. “I’m right here, and I’m fine.”
She nodded, though she was still trembling. “I know.”
He shook his head as he pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, hugging her against him in a warm embrace. “What can I do to make you feel better? How can I fix this?”
She wanted to say something crazy, like demand he promise to quit racing right then and there, but it wasn’t her place, and even if she had been his fiancée, she wouldn’t have felt like she had the right to make such a life-changing request, especially under the auspices of a command.
Instead, she surrendered to instinct and said the first words that came to her. “Let’s go back to the hotel. I need you to make love to me, Connor. I need to know that you’re here and whole, and we’re together, at least for now.”
His eyes widened with shock for a moment, and then he was bundling her against him as they pushed their way through the crowd. She realized Brenda was trying to get their attention, and she deliberately steered him the other way, not wanting the other woman to shatter the moment between them, or cause reality to intrude. She knew they were about to do something really stupid, something for which there might be no return, but after the realization she’d had in the bathroom, and the horror of watching him race, she couldn’t bring herself to care or second-guess the idea.
Connor didn’t know what it happened to effect such a change in Angelina, but he certainly wasn’t complaining. She remained glued to his side on the taxi ride back to their suite at the casino, not letting him out of sight or touching distance even once during the seemingly long trip, though it took less than twenty minutes in total.
Now, they were in the master suite, and he finally had full permission to do all the things he’d been thinking of for the past few weeks. He started by kissing her slowly, savoring her taste. Perhaps it was simply his imagination, but she seemed even sweeter than usual today, and he was certain he could grow addicted to the flavor of her and never be satisfied that he’d had enough.
Her fingers were busy moving over his body with more haste than grace, and he folded his hands over hers to slow down their trembling, almost jerky, exploration. “Easy. We have all the time in the world.” He whispered the words against her lips. They felt right and sounded good to his ears.
She relaxed for a moment before stiffening again. She returned her attention to his jumpsuit after breaking free from his hands, though she didn’t seem to be as frantic as she had a moment before. There was still an edge of desperation to her motions, as though she disagreed with what he had said. Perhaps she could hear a giant, unseen clock ticking down their time together.
That was a depressing thought, and it hovered on the tip of his tongue to suggest they do away with their end-date, but then he was distracted by the forceful way her fingers tugged at his zipper, soon peeling the jumpsuit from his body and leaving him in his fire-retardant underwear.
When Angelina fell to her knees, her fingers in the waistband of his briefs, he let out a helpless moan, barely having time to prepare himself for the pleasure before she had bared his skin and taken his shaft into her mouth. She worked her tongue and lips down the length of him, squeezing and massaging with the muscles of her mouth, and he surrendered to the flow of desire sweeping over him. He tangled his hands in her curls to hold her close, but not roughly or with any attempt at force. She was there because she wanted to be, and he had no need to try to force her to stay.
It was torture when she pulled away a few moments later, apparently sensing he was on the cusp of coming. Connor moaned again, trying to restore his control as she slipped away and gained her feet. He realized she was still wearing her clothes and reached out to help her remove them. When she was naked too, he cupped her breasts in his hands and massaged the peaks gently before pulling her back into his arms for a long, hungry kiss.
She let out a squeal of excitement and surprise when he suddenly swept her into his arms and strode to the bed, where he lay her out carefully, fully accessible to him. Connor joined her on the mattress, folding himself in between her legs as his mouth worshiped every part of her skin he could reach, dancing over her shoulders, arms, nipples, and navel, before settling in between her wet heat, shielded by neatly clipped black curls.
She grasped handfuls of his hair when he parted her folds so his tongue could sneak inside. She was tangy and sweet, and he licked her with broad, deep strokes, wanting to taste every inch of her. He didn’t stop until her thighs were quivering, and she was crying out his name in a ragged sob as she convulsed around him, torn to pieces by her orgasm before reassembling in a more boneless state.
While she was still in that relaxed haze, he lay down on the bed beside her and flipped her over, aligning her pelvis with his so he could sink inside her. He hesitated at the last moment, catching her gaze as her distant expression faded, and she returned to reality. “Can you reach the drawer of the nightstand?” At her nod, he said, “There’s a strip of condoms ins there. Would you get one please?”
She didn’t hesitate to comply, and he was sheathed and ready within seconds. After that, he allowed himself to let go as he sank into her with slow upward thrusts of his hips as he grasped her hips and pulled her down to meet him. She was thrusting eagerly against him as well, and they were soon riding a tide of passion together, matching each other’s pace, and he knew he wouldn’t last long, at least not this first time. She felt too good squeezing around, fitting him so perfectly as if she’d been tailored to do so.
He gritted his teeth and held out as long as he could, waiting until he felt her start to convulse around him before he gave in and let go of his own orgasm with a desperate cry of satisfaction as his erection twitched, and he spilled his seed inside the latex barrier keeping him from experiencing her full silken warmth. For a moment, he was bitterly resentful of the barrier, but also sensible enough to know that he wouldn’t even be this close to heaven without it.
Afterward, they lay together with her still atop him, her head resting against his chest. He could feel her relaxing, a sense that whatever had troubled her was perhaps finally being wrestled under control. He wasn’t certain if that was a good thing, if it meant a return to the more aloof Angelina—the one gearing up to leave him at the altar in five days.
Impulsively, he opened his mouth, and his words surprised even him. “Marry me, Angelina. For real, I mean. Don’t leave me at the altar. I want you to be in my life forever.”
She tensed, and then her body trembled. It broke his heart to feel her reaction, and though his own disappointment was a strong element of what he experienced, it was mainly concern and compassion for her. He’d certainly sprung that on her without any warning, and she couldn’t possibly have been prepared for it. Not even their earth-shattering lovemaking could have led her to believe that he would impetuously propose that they have a real marriage instead of a fake engagement.
He rubbed her back in a soothing motion as he said, “Don’t answer me yet. Just think about it. If you want, you can make me wait until the day of the wedding to find out with everyone else whether or not you’re going to be walking down the aisle. Just take your time and really think about it.” It was the best he could do, because he certainly wasn’t going to withdraw the offer, but he also didn’t want to rush her when he was afraid the answer would be negative at the moment, in spite of their intimate embrace. She needed time to think and decide for herself what she wanted from him and the relationship. In the meantime, all he could do was hope that he would see her walking down the aisle toward him in five days.
Angelina sat beside Kevin on the grass as her brother hummed wordlessly to himself and occasionally moved the crayon across the drawing tablet on his lap. He gave the appearance of studying something as he sketched it, but when she glanced at his picture, it was a system of random lines and blurs of color that resembled nothing she recognized. It was still a pretty picture, and she commented on it before returning to silence.