Authors: Maya Banks
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction, #Contemporary, #General
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Copyright © 2010 by Maya Banks
Edited by Jennifer Miller
Cover by Natalie Winters
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: April 2010
Adam Colter fingered a strand of Holly’s light brown hair as she lay sleeping. Her back was nestled into his chest, her behind cradled in his groin.
He allowed his hand to slide from her hair to her shoulder then down her side and over the swell of her belly. Underneath his fingers, the baby moved, and his chest tightened at the fierce satisfaction that gripped him.
She stirred restlessly, and he pulled his hand away, not wanting to disturb her sleep. She tired easily these days with the baby being due just a few short weeks from now.
With reluctance, he pressed a kiss to her head then carefully extricated himself from the bed. He dressed then went in search of his brothers.
He found Ethan and Ryan in the kitchen eating breakfast. They looked up as Adam entered, their gazes questioning.
“Holly still asleep?” Ethan asked.
Adam nodded. “She didn’t even stir when I slipped out of bed.”
Concern wrinkled Ryan’s brow. “She’s been awfully tired lately.”
Adam took the seat at the bar next to his brothers. “I wanted to talk to you both while she’s sleeping.”
Ethan frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“No. I just wondered if we shouldn’t move Holly to Denver well before her due date. I was thinking two weeks at least. I don’t like the idea of her going into labor early and getting stuck on the mountain.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Ryan said. “The idea of her going into labor here scares the shit out of me.”
Ethan nodded his agreement. “If you want I can call and book a condo.”
“Do that,” Adam said. “I’ll make arrangements with Riley to take care of the horses while we’re gone.”
A light shuffling sound had Adam and the others turning around. Holly stood in the doorway, her hair disheveled and dark circles under her eyes.
“Good morning,” she murmured as she walked over.
She slid into Adam’s arms and turned her face up for his kiss. He covered her mouth, enjoying the taste of her sweet lips.
After a moment, she eased from his arms and turned to Ryan. Ryan folded her in his arms and hugged her tight, his hand going down to tenderly cup her belly.
“Mornin’,” he murmured as he gave her a gentle kiss.
She rested a moment in Ryan’s arms before going to Ethan.
“How are you feeling, doll?” Ethan asked as he slid his arms around her.
“Tired,” she admitted. “Little Bit here has his days and nights mixed up I’m afraid.”
“Kept you up, huh,” Ethan said sympathetically. “Sit down and I’ll fix you something to eat.”
She shook her head. “I’m not that hungry. Thought I’d get some juice and go sit on the front porch for a bit.”
Adam exchanged worried glances with his brothers as she headed to the fridge to pour herself a glass of juice. She waddled back out of the kitchen, and a few seconds later, they heard the front door open then close.
“Book that condo,” Adam said grimly. “We’ll head out after her next check-up with the midwife.”
Holly stepped out the front door and closed her eyes as the cool September breeze blew over her face. She dropped her free hand to her belly and massaged absently as she made her way to the big comfy chair the guys had gotten for her.
She sank into the plump cushion and sighed in relief as she propped her feet up on the ottoman. She’d only been on her feet a few minutes and already they were screaming in protest.
Whoever said pregnancy was all peaches and sunshine had clearly never experienced it.
She sipped at her juice and rubbed her hand over the swollen mound of her stomach. In response, the baby kicked and rolled, bringing a smile to Holly’s face.
She hadn’t exactly been truthful with the guys. Sure, the baby kept her up from time to time, but lately her sleep had been plagued by nightmares. Since returning to the men she loved more than anything, she’d been afraid that something would happen to separate them again.
There were nights when she woke, bathed in sweat, reaching out to make sure they were still there. Especially Ryan. No longer did he get up to return to his room. He seemed as anxious as she was to make sure nothing came between them again.
She touched him often, reassuring herself, combating the images of him being shot. Just as Adam and Ethan seemed to reach out for her, their fear of losing her just as prevalent.
They all fought their demons in different ways, and frankly, Holly was ready to move beyond the paralyzing fear. Ready to settle in with the men she loved and live their life together.
The door opened and she looked sideways to see Ethan eyeing her with concern. He walked over and settled into the wide chair next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
He leaned to kiss her temple, and she closed her eyes in pleasure.
“What’s going on with you, doll?” he asked in a gentle voice. He placed his free hand over her belly and stroked up and down in a comforting motion.
She sighed and leaned further into his embrace. He kissed the top of her head as it came to rest against his chest. He began rubbing her back, massaging and kneading the muscles.
A low moan of pleasure worked its way from her throat.
“Feel good?” he asked.
“Uh huh.” Her tongue felt too thick to form words. Her eyes closed wearily against his chest as he continued his rub. The sleepless nights caught up to her as Ethan worked magic with his hands. Her eyelashes fluttered and she struggled to try and stay awake.
Ethan looked down as Holly’s eyes closed in her battle to stay awake. He continued stroking her back, enjoying the feel of her in his arms. He silently urged her to submit to the desire to sleep. God knew she needed it.
He hated that she still fought with the nightmares. Oh, she wouldn’t ever admit to it, but he heard her quiet whimpers, felt her flinch and shake in her sleep. The others were just as aware.
They made sure she was never alone during the night. When the nightmares began, they held her, comforted her, but they felt helpless as her terror continued.
He looked down again to see her face buried in his chest. Still, he waited, wanting to make sure he wouldn’t wake her when he carried her inside.
He turned his head when he heard the front door open. He raised his finger to his lips when Ryan slipped outside. Ryan’s gaze swept hungrily over Holly, worry darkening his blue eyes.
“I’m going to take her in,” Ethan said quietly. “Open the door if you don’t mind.”
With great care, Ethan eased his arm from around Holly and stood up. Then he bent and curled his arms underneath her, lifting her up against his chest. He moved slowly to the door, stopping when she nuzzled her cheek further into his neck.
When she settled back down, he proceeded through the door that Ryan held open for him. He walked to the bedroom and eased her down on the bed. She made a sound of protest when he moved away from her. Taking only a second to shed his shoes, he crawled into bed with her and cuddled her close.
She let out a sweet sigh of contentment as she snuggled into his arms. He resumed rubbing her back as he had on the porch until she relaxed completely in his embrace. Soon her even breathing filtered through the room, and Ethan closed his eyes, content to lie there with the woman he loved filling his arms.
When Holly awoke, she first registered that Ethan was no longer in front of her. But her back was cradled into a hard chest and a hand rested possessively on her rounded abdomen. She smiled. Ryan.
She blinked the cloud of sleep from her eyes and marveled at how much better she felt. Part of it was the extra hours of sleep she’d needed but the other part was the reassurance she felt with Ryan curled around her body.
Wanting to face him, she struggled to turn over, a not-so-simple feat these days. Gentle hands assisted her and warm lips met hers as soon she eased around.
She sighed in utter contentment as Ryan deepened his kiss, his tongue brushing over hers. She slid her hand up his naked chest then to his shoulder and over the puckered scar from his gunshot wound.
Unexpected tears swam in her vision as she once again relived the horror of that night. Damn pregnancy hormones. She was a walking basket case these days.
“You’re not going to lose me,” Ryan murmured as he pulled away from her mouth.
God, she needed this reassurance. Her heart seized every time she looked at him lately.
“I love you,” she said, her voice whispery with emotion.
“I love you too,” he said gruffly.
The baby kicked and rolled between them and Ryan’s face relaxed into a grin.
“Active today, isn’t he?”
He moved his hand into the waistband of her sweat pants and eased it downward until her belly was bared. His fingers smoothed reverently over the taut skin. Then he bent down to press his lips to the small bump just underneath her ribs.
“Is that his foot?”
Holly chuckled. “Could be. I can’t ever keep up, he moves so quick.”
He slid his hand up, pushing her shirt until he cupped one full breast. Then he bent again and kissed the swollen nipple.
“I’ve missed you,” he said, and she knew he meant their lovemaking.
She moaned softly as he swirled a fingertip around the puckered tip, left damp from his tongue.
“I’ve missed you too,” she murmured.
In reality, she was about to scream in frustration. They hadn’t made love to her in weeks. She knew they were being considerate of her discomfort, but it was an unnecessary restraint of their part.
They’d been nothing but excruciatingly gentle since she’d returned to them, never taking her in the way they had before. They made love to her reverently, almost as if they were afraid they’d hurt her.
Sure, not a day—hell, an hour—went by that they didn’t touch her, caress her, shower her with tenderness, but it wasn’t the same as making love to her.
“I won’t break,” she said.
A ragged sigh of frustration broke from Ryan’s chest.
“I don’t want to hurt you or the baby. Adam, Ethan and I discussed this. We think it would be best to wait until after the baby’s born.”
A frown tugged on her eyebrows. She rose up on one elbow and glared down at Ryan.
“Let me get this straight. You and your brothers decided, on your own, without consulting me, that you would be abstaining until after our baby is born?”
He eyed her cautiously. “Uh, yeah.”
She pressed her lips into a tight line. “I see. And did it never occur to you that maybe I had no desire to abstain? Since when do you make my decisions for me?”
He looked at her in complete befuddlement, the look of a man who knew he was cornered and had no idea what to say to get out of it.
She almost grinned, but it would completely ruin the stern look she was trying to effect. Instead she leaned down and pressed her lips to his chest. She licked the lines between his hard muscles, dipping down to explore his rigid six pack.
His breath escaped in a long hiss. “Holly, I don’t think…I don’t think this is a good idea.”
She raised her head to look him in the eye. “That’s your problem. You’re thinking way too much.”
She slid off the bed, taking only enough time to shimmy out of her clothes before she crawled back on top of him.
Her fingers dipped to the button of his jeans. “The way I see it, you have a couple of choices,” she began. “One, you can take off your jeans like a good boy, or two, you can suffer the wrath of a hormone-crazy pregnant woman.”
“Well, when you put it that way.”
His hands reached down to fumble with his jeans. They shook as he shoved the denim down his hips. A few seconds later, he was naked, his cock straining upward.
A surge of desire shot through her system, leaving her breathless. Not giving him any time to change his mind, she put her hands on his chest to brace herself then threw one leg over his hips.
His hands supported her shoulders as she reached down to position his cock at her pussy entrance. Then she sank down, sheathing him in one motion.
Ryan threw back his head, eyes shut tight as he clenched his teeth. She smiled. She might be a little rusty, but that wasn’t exactly her fault since they hadn’t exactly been willing participants of late. But she was going to remedy that. Starting now.
His hands slid down her body, over the curves and swells until they settled on her hips. She began a slow, sensuous ride, determined to punish him for holding out on her. He’d be begging for mercy before she was finished.
She leaned forward, letting her hair fall over his chest as she continued to roll her hips. Aching, exquisite pleasure built in her pelvis, curling like fire in her abdomen. God, she’d missed him too.
Her fingers curled into his chest. She panted as she felt the slow rise of her orgasm. No, she wouldn’t end this so quickly. She sank down again and paused, enjoying the feel of him embedded so deeply inside her.