Authors: Elizabeth Lennox
Maggie was thrilled by the traditional bridal shower with all of her friends in attendance, pretty pink and white or floral wrapped gifts and a beautiful cake covered with frosting roses in Maggie’s wedding colors that Gabby made herself. Several of their other friends helped organize it with Gabby and on the day of the party, they all crammed into Gabby’s tiny cottage, happy to sip wine, eat appetizers and cake and joke about men in general. It was a heartwarming gathering of her friends, but she still felt like a part of her was missing. No matter how hard she tried, every time she slowed down, she started to think about Damon.
So after the party, she worked even harder, pushing herself at work, taking on more projects and going to exercise classes in the evenings. She’d sometimes go back to the office after her workouts, just so she didn’t have to be alone in her cottage, sleep in that bed without Damon, imagining his large, masculine body surrounded by her pink, cottage roses and his feet hanging off the mattress. She took on so many additional projects that even her boss was looking at her strangely. Her friends and co-workers joked that she was becoming obsessed with getting her next promotion, but Gabby just smiled stiffly and ducked her head back down to resolve her next problem.
By the end of the third week, she acknowledged that she had to slow down. She was exhausted all day long and couldn’t seem to make it through her evening workouts. Several times that week, she’d make it home only to fall onto the couch and fall asleep, waking up several hours later starving. She would raid her pantry and fridge, which wasn’t a good idea since she didn’t have much in the way of food, but after eating anything she could find, she would simply fall back into bed and sleep until her alarm woke her in the morning.
Maggie’s wedding was absolutely beautiful. Her friend was radiant in her lace covered wedding gown and Marc was thrilled to watch her walk down the aisle to him. When they walked out of the church with happiness glowing on each of their ecstatic faces, Gabby couldn’t stop the tear from falling down her cheek. She even wished it was one of those sappy, happy tears but she couldn’t help the pang of jealousy she felt that her best friend had found her true love.
Damon wasn’t her true love, she told herself angrily as she went through the motions of having a good time at Maggie’s wedding reception. He was just really good in bed. She had to stop equating good sex to a viable relationship. The two were not connected!
A week after the wedding, she was busy cleaning her apartment, hair tied up in a scrunchie, no makeup on since it was Saturday and she always cleaned on the weekend. Because she needed to keep busy, she’d also tackled the grimy job of scrubbing her cabinets. When the doorbell rang, she wasn’t concerned but took off her rubber gloves and dusted the dirt off of her jeans.
She suspected that it was Maggie who had come back from her honeymoon and raced to the door, eager to hear all the details and see her friend, anyone who could keep her mind off of the man who constantly slipped into her consciousness. “Are you all tan….” She stopped in mid-sentence when she realized that it wasn’t Maggie. In fact, it was the one man she’d thought never to see again and as soon as her mind registered his presence, she stepped back and shoved the door shut.
Or tried to. The man wouldn’t allow her to close it. Instead of being a gentleman and allowing her to slam the door in his face, he stepped into the cottage, putting his hand up to stop the door from closing and smiled down at her with those grey eyes that never failed to entice her, even now when she was so angry about him just showing up out of the blue after a month. “Will you let me explain?” he asked gently.
Her eyes widened with surprise. He wanted to explain now? Over a month after he skulked out of her house without a word? Was he really that arrogant that he thought she would actually listen to his explanation?
Obviously he was, since he was standing in front of her expectantly. “No! Get the hell out of my house! You walked out once, you proved that you are quite capable of that task so just do it one more time!”
“Don’t you want to hear why?” Damon looked down at her heart shaped face, those lips pursed in anger and it took all of his strength to keep his hands from just pulling her into his arms and kissing her. She deserved an explanation, or at least as much of an explanation as he could give her. He didn’t understand it completely himself, but he knew that he wanted her and wasn’t going to give her up. She felt too right, too soft and perfect when he was with her and he wasn’t going to lose her again.
She took a step closer and punched him in the stomach, so angry with him she couldn’t think. Pain and anger had taken over where rational thought should be because of his surprise re-appearance. “Did someone die?” Unfortunately, his stomach muscles were so tight and hard from whatever he did to work out that it hurt her hand with zero impact on him. The obnoxious man didn’t even grunt from her jab, although she knew she hadn’t put her heart into it. She didn’t want to hurt him physically, just show him that she didn’t like him anymore.
Derrick’s eyebrows went up with her question, not sure where she was going with it. “No.”
She crossed her arms over her stomach and took a step back. “Did you find out you had some horrible, terminal disease?”
“No!” he replied, his palms raised up for emphasis.
Her eyes skimmed over his body dressed in a casual white shirt and well worn jeans that looked delectable on him. She tore her eyes away from his broad, muscular shoulders and looked up into those grey eyes once again. “It appears you have all of your limbs, so there’s really no valid reason why you had to leave, without any note, any goodbye, just skulking away in the morning. So no! I really don’t want to hear why you did that! I just want you to get out of my house!”
She was screaming by the end of her tirade but he didn’t budge, which only made her angrier. She wanted to punch him again, but the first time had only hurt her hand and hadn’t even received a grunt of acknowledgement.
“If you’ll just hear me out, I really think I can give you a good enough reason why I left like I did.” His voice was soft and coaxing, and he was moving forward, his hand grabbing her fist before she could punch him again. Gabby was instantly distracted when he took her fist in his large, warm hand, sending shock waves through her body when he massaged the tender knuckles.
“Don’t hurt yourself, Gabriella.”
“Gabby! My name is Gabby! I thought it was sweet when you used my formal name before but now I know what an absolute jerk you are and it just irritates me!”
He chuckled, having suspected she had this kind of fire in her before because of her passion in bed, but seeing it in full force was delightful. “Your name is Gabriella. Not Gabby. I will call you what I want to call you.” He took another step forward, boxing her into the back of her sofa. “And since you refuse to listen to me, I’m going to have to take extreme measures to show you that what we had together is not gone.”
“There’s nothing…” she started to say, but then his mouth covered hers and his hands slipped under her shirt, completely distracting her from what she was going to say. She wanted so desperately to push him away and tell him to get out again, but she couldn’t speak with his mouth covering hers, kissing her as if she were the most delicious donut in the box. And she kissed him back! She couldn’t help it. Her body had missed this excitement so much! She hadn’t known it existed before he’d entered her life but after just thirty-six hours in his company all those weeks ago, she knew that he was the only man who could stir her senses and make her feel so incredibly beautiful and desired.
“Don’t do this,” she gasped, but her body moved closer, her face lifted and she searched for his mouth, wanting to taste him again. “You have to go.”
“Later,” he growled and swung her up into his arms. When he had her on her bed, drowning in her flower covered down comforter, he pulled the scrunchie out of her hair and tossed it to the side. “You’ll never have to clean again, Gabby. I’ll make sure of it.”
She had no idea what he was talking about, but his hands had moved to her waist, sliding under her shirt, lifting it over her head. A moment after her pink cotton tee shirt was tossed aside, his mouth covered her nipple, making her scream out with the reaction of the heat on her nipple, his teeth biting the sensitized flesh and she arched into his mouth, demanding more. Her hands slipped into his hair, holding him in place while his mouth sucked and nipped, driving her crazy. He didn’t stop until her hips were moving underneath him and then he moved to the other breast, giving it the same attention.
“Damn you!” she gasped, but her fingers were pulling at the buttons on his shirt, pushing the material out of her way. When she finally reached his skin, her fingers moved over the dark hair and strong muscles, her head thrown back as she reveled in being able to touch him once again.
He would have helped her pull his clothes off, wanting to feel her tiny hands on his skin desperately, but he was too busy trying to get her clothes off of her adorable body, needing to feel all of her to make sure this was real. She didn’t try to get his shirt off, just tore at the buttons, then slid her hands over his chest, moving downward to unbuckle his belt. When he stood up to pull her jeans down, he helped her by ripping off his own before coming back to her, pushing her legs apart as he covered her with his large body. Grabbing a condom, he tore the foil off recklessly and slid it on as fast as he could.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said a moment before he pushed himself into her. He closed his eyes, savoring the feel of her incredible heat surrounding him, clasping him and giving him that sense of perfectness that he’d only felt when he was with her the last time.
He watched her beautiful face as he moved inside her, using her gasps and whimpers as clues on how to move, when to move faster or slower. When she was so close, he moved against her like she’d told him to the last time they were together. And when she climaxed in his arms, her screams and the tight throbbing brought him along with her.
As his orgasm took over, his last thought was that he was finally right where he knew he needed to be. With this woman and in her arms. Everything felt right when he was with her.
Afterwards, he cradled her in his arms, rubbing his hand across her back. He realized after several minutes of silence, that she’d actually fallen asleep on him. He lay there in her tiny bed and made plans for her. He already had a house picked out for her. He’d bought it last week when he accepted that he wanted her back in his life. Mentally he worked through the way she made him feel in his mind, forming a plan of action that would help him keep his distance, but still be with her as much as he could without being singed.
As he settled into the mattress, content to just hold her until she woke up, the thought occurred to him that his feet were once again dangling off of this damn bed! The house he’d bought her was about ten thousand square feet and he was determined that the very first thing that would disappear was this miniature mattress. He didn’t want to move because she felt so perfect sleeping in his arms, but his mind was anticipating making love to her when his feet were no longer hanging off the end of the bed.
She’d need a full time maid too. One that would cook for her, he thought as his fingers moved over her back, feeling the ribs that were now protruding. As she slept, he took a moment to survey her body and he realized that she’d lost too much weight. His eyebrows shot down as she took in the other bones that were now jutting out where they shouldn’t be. She’d been thin before, but she’d lost weight and it didn’t look right on her. She wasn’t the stick thin kind of woman. She had perfect curves and a softness that was inviting and exhilarating.
Which only meant she hadn’t been eating well after he’d left. He felt bad but his mind immediately went through different ways he could make it up to her. Diamonds, he thought with relish. Yes, a diamond bracelet would look fabulous on her wrist. And matching earrings. He thought about a diamond necklace he’d seen in a store one morning recently and knew that it would look perfect around her sexy neck where he could kiss her and make love to her. He rather liked the idea of making love to his woman draped only in diamonds.
Gabby woke up feeling hot and extremely uncomfortable. Her stomach felt as if it were going to heave at any moment which was not good since she hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. She opened one eye and looked at the clock. Why did it say that it was already past noon? She’d woken up earlier, hadn’t she? Or was it not the same day? Things had been a bit of a grey blur since…
Her head snapped to the left and she saw Damon sleeping next to her. She didn’t have time to wonder about the dark circles under his eyes because her stomach decided at that point that it didn’t like movement of any kind. As she raced to the bathroom, she scrambled into her robe before emptying what little was in her stomach into the toilet. Over and over her stomach heaved, getting down to the acid before it finally settled into just a horrible, nauseous feeling.
She was reaching for a wash cloth when a warm one was handed to her. She didn’t bother to look up, knowing that Damon was towering over her. “Why are you still here?” she asked after she’d wiped her face, leaning against the cool tiles of the bathroom wall.
Damon flushed the toilet and crossed his arms over his massive chest. “When was your last period, Gabriella?” he asked, his voice hard and unyielding.
Gabby turned to glare at him, furious that he would ask such a horrible and intimate question. “Is it really any of your business?”
His eyes actually hardened with her reply. “I have a suspicion that it is very much my business. Answer the question,” he demanded.
She would have rolled her eyes, but she just didn’t have the strength. “I don’t know exactly. Sometime in July or August.” She felt too miserable to fight him, so answering was just the next easiest reaction.
She heard his sharp intake of breath and wondered about it, but she didn’t have much time since her stomach heaved once again. “Please, just leave me alone,” she begged in between bouts of sickness.