Authors: Raine Miller
I want to hold you, and be close, and know that nobody is going to come between us or try to take you away from me. I want you all to myself for once.” He tilted his head a little. “Do you understand?”
“I do,” I managed.
Neil kept his arms out, his eyes glittering at me in a way I’d never experienced from him before. He was demanding from me, sure, but that’s not what gave me pause. The feelings rushing through me were thrilling, but also very frightening at the same time. My emotions paralyzed me because I really understood, right then and there in that moment, the enormity of what I was doing. Giving myself over to another person. Giving myself to Neil.
It made me extremely
vulnerable. Didn’t it?
I felt the warning kiss of fear brush over my heart
, as clearly as a cold breeze that makes you rub your arms in an effort to ward off a shivering chill.
t know how I’d survive if I lost him now. If he stopped loving me, I wouldn’t be able to bear it. Or if I lost him to the war, which was a terrifying risk all on its own, and one he took every day he remained in active military service. I’d never make it out intact. Losing Neil would destroy me after this night.
Don’t think about the bad things, Elaina. Let all that go and come to me. My beautiful Cherry Girl…come over here and let me love you.”
All I kne
w, is that I found my way into the strong arms that I never wanted to leave, that I would ache for once he returned to the army, and that held me so perfectly, I had to tamp down the urge for more tears.
hard body and soft lips pressed into me, allowing me to feel a little of how it would be with us, teaching me what it meant to be granted the deepest wish of my heart—to be loved by Neil McManus.
nd at the very same time, I was forced to recognize my most terrifying fears in regards to Neil.
I could lose him.
And it would kill me if that ever happened.
Neil was careful with me once he got me into his bed.
He didn’t go beyond blistering kisses even though I would have let him. He kept us in check and his control was remarkable, because when he pressed against me I could feel how hard he was through his shorts. That it was Neil, and
erection I was feeling against my hip just made me hotter for him.
He hadn’t come to bed naked as I imagined he
might have when I first stepped out of the bathroom and saw him waiting for me. No, he was covered, plus the sheet was now completely bunched up between us from my restless legs flailing around. Good thing for the layers and the self-control Neil possessed, because I surely had none.
When things got too heated he
’d pull away and just look at me, stroking my cheek or my lips with a fingertip, waiting until we both cooled down.
I stared up at h
im in the dim light, my insides already a fluttering jumble to begin with, were now even more overwhelmed from his plundering kisses. I wondered where this was all going to lead with him.
Unable to keep still,
I arched into him and then pressed my legs together to relieve some of the ache. “I—I need—Neil, I—”
—I know exactly what you need, darlin’. I know what you need, just like I know what I want to do with you.”
He shifted his hips into me so I got a good feel of what was going on with h
is cock. He felt huge and this was not a surprise in any way. Neil was a big guy all over. I couldn’t keep my hands off him either. I splayed out my hands across his back as I met his thrust with my own body, feeling heated desire swarm me. I would have done anything he was willing to do and knew that any slowdown of passion would have to be all on him. I extended my hand down the front of his shorts, slowly putting my hand over the rock-hard ridge filling them up.
Neil hissed as my hand came to rest over his erect
ion, his own hand covering mine instantly. “But we’re not doin’ any of it tonight,” he told me softly, gently taking my hand in his and moving them both to the side.
“No. Not here and not like this.” He pressed his lips to the hollow of my throat and spoke against the skin there. “You’re too precious to me for some desperate shag in the middle of the night.” He moved up to my lips. “I won’t do that to you. It’ll be special when we make love. And we will.” He murmured against my lips. “Oh yeah, darlin’, we will, and it’ll be very…very…good when we do.”
Neil’s strong arms held me enclosed within them, teaching what it felt like to be body-to-body with the man I loved.
Beautiful, wonderful, and perfect is how it felt.
We also found that conversations came easily for us. Made total sense considering we had years of shared experiences to draw from.
“Do you remember the first time you came over to our house for dinner?”
I asked him.
“Of course.” Neil’s fingers stroked up and down my arm as if he just wanted the contact of touching
I couldn’t get enough
of his hands on me either. His touch was an affirmation of sorts for me. It made everything real and I desperately needed to believe that this was. All my hopes and dreams were riding on that simple fact.
I fell in love with you when you winked at me over the table.” I looked into his eyes and saw the twinkling laugh reflected in them even if he was silent. Neil could communicate very clearly without speaking, and he did it all the time. I’m sure it was a good skill for the military too, especially when he was leading troops into battle. No wonder he’d already achieved the rank of captain in the British Army.
“I remember winking at you, thinking you
were being so generous, offering me the last of your mum’s gourmet buns.”
nice to me,” I told him, “so I could afford to be generous. Not many seventeen year olds will give a ten-year-old the time of day, let alone secret winks.”
Instead of responding to my confession, Neil
loomed over me, his mouth dipping down to meet mine, his body pushing me back into the mattress again where he kissed me until I was breathless.
his hand over my heart and held it there. Nothing sexual or wandering in the way he touched my breast, just the gesture of feeling the place where my heart pounded under the skin. “This heart is so beautiful, now as much as when you were ten. You have a beautiful heart, Cherry.”
Just like you
“I think I used to,” I said.
“What do you mean
I curled into his chest and traced a finger into the hollow of his throat. “After my d-dad died, I—I know I changed and I’m not—I’m not the person I was before. I’m not the nice girl you remember from year
s ago, Neil. I hope you know that.”
But you are,” he said. “I know that’s not true. Why would you even think such a thing?” He tightened his grip around me.
“I’ve done things I never would have
, if Dad were still here.”
“We all have, Cherry.” He kissed me slow before speaking. “I wish I’
d been able to be here back then. I worried so much about you after your dad was taken.”
“I still miss him, so badly.”
“Of course you do. That’s normal.”
“But he would be ashamed of me and what I’ve been up to these last years.”
“And what’s that exactly?”
I didn’t know what to answer. If I was truthful, then Neil might be disgusted with me. If I wasn’t, then it made me a liar by omission and I didn’t think I could do that to Neil. I held our love to a higher standard, and somehow I knew he did as well.
“Well, I’m not innocent. I’ve done things I am ashamed of.
I’ve messed around with a bad crowd and…boys. Dad raised me to be better, and to think more of myself than where I’ve been keeping company, and where I’ve been.”
“If you’re referring to that cocksucker, Tom
pkins, then I agree wholeheartedly—he wasn’t fit to even share air in a room with you.”
I laughed softly. “I know. Dad would never have let Denny in the door to look at me, let alone take me on a date.”
“Your dad was a wise man,” Neil said wryly.
I in a fair bit in shock back at the pub when you were defending me. I couldn’t work out why you would be so interested…in me.” My voice trailed off into the night time silence.
Neil’s response was to roll me onto my back and kiss me with deep probing strokes of his tongue, almost harsh and desperate in his method to convince me I was worthy. “Have you worked it out now?”
“Not really,” I answered truthfully, “but I am so grateful you know.”
“Let me show you something.” He slid open the bedside
table and brought out a small object. “Hold out your hand, please.”
, and felt him slip a bracelet onto my wrist.
“You kept it all these years?” I asked, feelin
g like more tears might pour from me if he kept going with the gestures. I held my wrist up so I could get a better look in the poor light. The bracelet I’d handmade for Neil as a good luck charm to keep him safe in the war looked a little battle worn but it was still intact, still with the two owls and the infinity charms I’d put onto it.
“Yes, I kept it all these years. You made it for me.
Hell, I wore it as often as I was allowed. It goes everywhere with me.”
I could see t
he evidence of that easily from the texture and colour of the leather. I brought it to my nose for a sniff. I could smell Neil’s scent on this small scrap of leather knots and brass charms, and knew it had lain against his skin.
“I still have mine too,” I said.
He drew me close into the curve of his arm and rubbed the back of my neck with his fingers. “You know that I think of your brother and mum as family more than my own?”
“They love you, Neil.”
Again I could hear the ache in his voice. Neil didn’t speak of his shitty family life, or how he’d been virtually on his own from far too young of an age. He wasn’t a complainer, so for him to bring it up in a conversation with me felt monumental.
I love them too. And you all love me back, Cherry. I don’t need anything more.”
As I lay in the cradle of his arms, I looked up at the ceiling of his bedroom flat and thought about how happy I was in this moment
, being cuddled in the bed with Neil and enjoying his soft caresses and slow kisses. Neil and me together.
“Oh my God, we have to tell them about us!”
He laughed. “We can do it tomorrow.”
“Okay then. We will. I can’t wait to see Mum’s reaction.”
“I’m more worried about Ian.” He cupped a hand over his cock. “I’d like to keep this intact.”
It was my turn to laugh at him this time.
“I think your prized possession is safe enough.”
“Thank bloody hell.”
“Neil, you’re forgetting the facts.”
He raised a brow at me.
“Yeah, that fact that
the Morrison clan claimed you long ago, and we’re never giving you back.”
He liked that.
And kissed me for a long time afterward just to show me how much he liked it.
Later we had an opportunity to talk a little about the others who’d come before. That part wasn’t so nice, but needed to be discussed and I’m glad we did. I didn’t want him under any illusions that I was an untouched virgin. I’d been with a few guys, and most recently Denny Tompkins, and felt he should know the truth. I saw the tightening of Neil’s jaw as I got that off my chest, but still knew it had to be shared. He needed to know. My Denny was his Cora.
only consolation was that Neil despised my former boyfriends just as much as I’d loathed him with Cora, and others over the years. I hated that bitch.
The most important aspect
in all of this though, was how much we wanted to be together and needed what only the other could give to each of us. Now that we’d had a taste of how it could be, no other would ever do. For me, it was Neil…or nobody. He loved me in spite of my past and I felt the same for him.
held onto each other our first night together, whispering in the dark, sharing our dreams and unburdening our demons. With Neil’s arms around me, I drifted off to sleep peacefully. This time the scent of him was real when I breathed him in.
o much hope was riding on the future back then. I didn’t imagine anything could take him away from me after such a hard-won victory.
wouldn’t be so unfair to Elaina Morrison after all I’d already endured.
love was something I never questioned on my part and I did have it. I can look back now, and say with complete conviction, that I definitely had Neil’s love.
had it for a short time.
Far, far too short a time.
I had Neil’s love until fate swiped it away and took from me…again…until I was lost once more. Alone. Once more.