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Authors: Suzannah Daniels

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Teen & Young Adult, #Love & Romance, #Romance, #Contemporary

Delirious (13 page)

BOOK: Delirious
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She took a deep breath, which emphasized her collarbone. “I’m thinking about tonight,” she whispered.

“Are you nervous?”

“No…yes.”

I smiled and kissed her temple as I pulled her close. “Don’t be,”
I whispered in her ear. I was glad that I’d be her first. It wouldn’t have made any difference if I hadn’t been, but I couldn’t deny that being the first man, the only man, with Dara did appeal to me.

“You’re not scared?” she asked softly.

I chuckled. “No, I am many things, but scared isn’t one of them.”

She laid her cheek against my shoulder, and I pressed my jaw against the top of her head as I slid my hand under her veil and pressed my palm against her bare back. Her skin was warm, and as I allowed my palm to slide down the length of her back and rest just above the curve of her
derriere, part of me wished the reception would end because it was the after-party that I was really interested in.

As the next song began, Mr. Milton cut in to dance with Dara, and I pulled my beautiful
mother out on the dance floor.

“She looks radiant,” my mother said softly as she stole a glance at the bride, gliding gracefully across the floor.

“I know,” I replied, watching her with pride. “I’m a fortunate man.”

“Yes, you are. Make sure you keep her happy, Stone.”

“I intend to.”

“My boys, all grown up and married.”
She smiled at me, her Caribbean blue eyes tearing up, and I knew what was going through her mind.

“Don’t cry, Mom.”

“I’m not,” she sniffled.

“He’s
here, too, you know,” I said.

“Who?” she asked.

“Luke.”

She made a sound that was somewhere between laughing and crying. “Of all my boys, I think you were always the most in tune with what I was thinking.”

“We all think of Luke at times like this, and I’m sure we always will. But it’s time for us to let go of the pain. Luke would want us all to be happy.”

My mother sniffled again as she regained her composure. “Yes, he would.”

I kissed her on the cheek as the song ended. “From now on, we only think happy thoughts about Luke. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Delivering my mother back to the edge of the dance floor, I then whisked Ms. Golding into a dance as my father danced with Dara.

Emma called after us, “
Wait! I wanna dance in my pwincess dwess.” I turned to see her scurrying toward us. I stopped to scoop her up in one arm, and then I proceeded to dance with both of them. Emma squealed and squirmed as the three of us danced. She poked at my boutonniere and finally I set her down and took one of her hands while her mother took the other one.

Dara and I spent the rest of the evening mingling with our guests. When we cut the cake, I wanted to smear it across her face, but she’d made me promise that I wouldn’t, and since it was her day, I complied.

When the party finally wound down, the limousine took us back to the church, so that I could get my car. Dara and I were going to wait until the morning to leave for Destin, so I’d booked us a lavish room at the Quail Mountain Lodge to start our honeymoon.

Our luggage was already packed in my trunk, but before we could officially start, we had one more piece of business to attend to.

“We don’t have to call him, Stone. The wedding’s over.”

“He’ll just find some other event to crash,” I told her. As much as I hated the man, it was difficult for me to force Dara to look at the darker side of her father. “He wants the money. Let’s just give him the money. But if he ever tries to blackmail us again, then it’s a no-go.
He needs to know that this is it.” I was actually more worried about Dara than her father. I thought this might be the easiest way to end this uncomfortable ordeal for her.

“Okay,” she said, agreeing to the plan.

I dialed her father’s number and waited for him to answer.

“Hello.”

“Where do you want to meet?”

“Meet me on the main highway by the café.”

“We’ll be there in five minutes.” I hung up and drove the short distance to the café. Her father was already parked in the lot.

Leaving an empty parking space between us, I pulled in. Once I’d parked, I opened the door for Dara. “Do you wanna get out, or do you want me to handle it?”

“I’ll get out.” Dara picked up the bag that held the ten thousand dollars.

Since she was still wearing her wedding gown, I helped her from the car, and we both
walked to the rear of his car where he was waiting.

“You got the money?” he asked.

Dara held up the bag. “The money really is all you care about, isn’t it?”

“I did what y’all said. Now give me the money.”

“What did I ever do to you, Dad?” she asked.

He wouldn’t look her in the eyes. “Just give me the money.”

“Don’t threaten us again,” Dara warned. “This is all the money that you’ll get from us.”

“I don’t plan on ever laying eyes on either one of you again.”

“If you ever decide you want to talk to me—as your daughter—then call me.”

He said nothing in response, and slowly, she handed the bag to him.
Setting the bag on his trunk, he flipped on his flashlight and looked in it, counting the money until he was satisfied.

After scooping up the bag
, he pulled out an envelope that had been tucked in his front pocket. He handed the envelope to Dara, but he looked at me when he spoke, “I also kept my promise about delivering some information.”

My heart sank as I worried what was
in the envelope that Dara held in her hands.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got places to go.”
Before he got in the car, he stopped and called to Dara over the roof, “You look beautiful tonight.”

In the dim light of the parking lot, I saw her give him a
genuine smile, and even after what had just transpired, I knew that she craved her father’s acceptance.

“Thank you,” she said in response.

Then, he got in the car, backed up, and was gone.

I worried that she would be upset, but she seemed to be holding everything together pretty well.

“You okay?” I asked.

She took a deep breath as the embellishments on her wedding gow
n glistened under the fluorescent light from the lamppost. “I guess so. Maybe someday, he’ll decide that he wants to get to know me.”

“Maybe,” I said, making sure my voice held little to no hope because I didn’t want her to think that her father would ever be anything different than what she’d already seen.
But I also knew how important family was to Dara, and I didn’t quite have it in me to totally snuff out the tiny flame of hope that flickered in her soul.

Despite everything, she still wanted her father’s love, and I loved her enough that I wanted him to love her, too.

 

Chapter 13

 

Stone

 

By the time we finally got
to Quail Mountain Lodge, it was nearly midnight. It’d been a long, eventful, and memorable day, but I was glad to have Dara to myself.

The only damper was the fact that she was carrying around an unopened envelope that terrified me. I had no idea what
her father could possibly be using for a threat. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done since I started dating Dara that she didn’t already know about, but hell, I could screw up shit without even trying. Maybe he did have something on me…or maybe it was something on one of my family members.

I had hoped that
he was bluffing, but since I was staring at the envelope where she had laid it on the coffee table, I had a terrible feeling that the bluffing option had been sucked into a strong wind and carried away.

“Do you want to open the envelope?” I asked.

She had collapsed on the brown, leather couch in a glorious white heap of lace and satin and beads. I sat beside her, pulling her hand into my lap and rhythmically stroking her palm with my thumb.

“I don’t think I do.”

I looked at her, surprised by her answer.

She frowned. “I don’t know what he’s put in there, but I don’t want anything to ruin my wedding day. Whatever it is, it can wait.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

She nodded. “I thought about destroying it without even opening it, but I’m not sure whether not knowing what’s in there might turn out to be worse than knowing and dealing with it.”

The thought of not knowing intrigued me, but Dara made a good point. I could deal with whatever it might be against me or my family, but if she destroyed it, I would never be able to remove that thin wisp of smoke that would always be there, taunting her. Whatever she imagined that I or my family might have done could possibly be much worse than what we did.

“I think we need to deal with it. We can do it whenever you’re ready, but at some point, we’re both gonna have to face whatever’s in that envelope.”

“Not today,” she said, leaning forward and kissing me on the cheek. “I have a date with my husband.”

She couldn’t possibly know how much I enjoyed hearing her say that. I’d waited for this night for more days than I cared to count.

“Come here, my beautiful wife.” I gently wrapped my palm around the nape of her neck and pulled her to me for a kiss. She was soft and warm and sweet, all feminine qualities that a man like me loved in his wife.

I stood up and removed my jacket and tie, wondering why I hadn’t gotten rid of the restraining garments before now. I unbuttoned my sleeves and slid my shoes off.

Holding my hand out to her, I pulled her to her feet. I held her at arm’s length, wanting to memorize every detail before I undressed her.

“Dam
n, baby, you’re gorgeous.”

“So are you,” she said as she stepped toward me, running her slender fingers through my hair and pressing her body against mine.

She’d already removed her veil, but I removed the pins from her hair. Soft, blond curls fell around her shoulders, and she looked sexy as hell as she combed her hair with her fingers.

The lodge was an upscale resort with luxurious rooms with a rustic appeal. I had the fleeting thought that perhaps we should take a look around, enjoy the view from the balcony, but no view could compare to my wife’s beauty. So instead, I drank in her appearance, her wide, green eyes,
her pouty, pink lips. The white, lacy straps of her wedding gown contrasted with her tanned, slender shoulders. My fingers traced the scalloped edge of the V-neck over her collarbone until they dipped below the edge of the fabric and outlined her cleavage.

I sat on the edge of the couch and pulled her, still standing, between my knees, her back facing me. The deep V of the dress exposed her back, and I stroked the length of it, my fingers finally settling on the tiny buttons that lined up in the center of her derriere.

I deftly unbuttoned them and the fabric fell open, exposing part of her sheer, lacy panties. Pulling her to me, I wrapped my arms around her and planted kisses along the base of her spine, tugging playfully at her panties with my teeth.

My hands roamed over her hips and squeezed her sweet ass. It felt so freaking good to have her in my arms, and tonight, there would be no holding back.

Reaching back up, I pushed the straps over the edge of her shoulders, and she let her arms slip out of the fabric as it fell to her waist. My fingertips skimmed along her sides until my hands were back at her hips. In one quick motion, I pulled the dress down, and it pooled at her feet, leaving me with nothing but the view of her glorious backside barely covered by a scrap of lace.

S
he emitted a squeal of surprise, followed by laughter, as I scooped her into my arms and carried her to the bedroom.

The view off the balcony could wait. The unopened envelope could wait. Tonight, I would focus solely on m
y sexy, new wife. Tonight, I would finally claim her as my own in every way that a man claims a woman.

 

***

 

When I opened my eyes, a soft glow of sunlight peeked in around the edges of the heavy curtains that covered the windows. I lifted my head to see Dara curled at my side, the rumpled, white sheet wrapped around her body, her tousled hair flowing around her shoulders.

As memories of the previous evening flooded my brain, I closed my eyes and let my head sink back into the pillow.
I wanted to remember every moment, every touch, every sensation. It had been the best night of my life, and I wanted to tuck the memory into my brain and keep it forever.

Dara stirred by my side, her warm palm sliding down the length of my chest. I turned my head toward her and cracked
my eyes open, so I could watch her.

Smiling at me, she stretched like the night’s events had sated her.

“Good morning,” she whispered softly. Her arm snaked over my abs, and she hugged me to her.

“Morning, my little hummingbird.”
I shot her a grin. “And you were definitely humming last night.”

She smacked me
playfully. “Stone!”

“Get used to it, babe, you’re gonna be doing a lot of humming while you chase this sweet drink of nectar.” I rubbed my palm across my chest.

“I don’t have to chase anything,” she spouted. “All I have to do is snap my fingers and you come running.”

There was no reason for me to argue that point. I wasn’t stupid enough to test that theory. As long as the end result was similar to last night, I didn’t care who ran to whom.

“Are you ready to head to Destin?” I smoothed a loose tendril of hair from her eyes.

“I was hoping we could do something first.”

I closed my eyes, dreading that damn envelope.

“Would you make love to me again?” she asked quietly.

I decided that those were my seven favorite words as I grabbed her and pulled her on top of me. It took me a moment to untangle her from the sheet, my anticipation building as if I were unwrapping a precious gift, but it was well worth the effort.

 

***

 

Three hours later, we were on our way to Destin. We’d dropped off our wedding apparel at Dara’s house and hit the Interstate. It was a relatively short trip, and since I’d kept Dara up late into the night, she slept most of the way there, only waking when we stopped to eat.

Pulling into
the driveway of our rental house, Dara squealed as she leapt from the car.

“I can smell the salt!” she yelled. “Look!” She pointed at a glimpse of blue waters barely visible between the houses.

I couldn’t keep myself from smiling at her enthusiasm. It felt so damn good to see her happy.

“Hurry!” she screamed as she ran up the steps that led to the front door of the stucco house that would be ours for the next week.
The house belonged to friends of my parents, and they’d let me rent it at a huge discount. I closed the car door and hit the lock button as I trailed after Dara.

Once I unlocked the
front door and held it open for her, she sprinted into the house, slowing a couple of times as she hopped on one foot to rid herself of her sandals. Racing across the tile floor, she made a beeline to the back door and swung it open.

“Oh, Stone! It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! Look how blue the water is!”

I tilted my head to the side as images of making love to her in the wet sand settled in my brain. Dropping into a chair with a bright floral pattern, I removed my shoes and socks and followed her out the back door.

The
inground pool sparkled in the late afternoon sunlight, but its beauty was nothing compared to the beach just beyond it. Brilliant, white sand led to translucent blue waters, and Dara jumped up and down as she disentangled a windblown strand of hair from her face. “Hurry!”

Jogging to catch up with her, I took her hand, and she sped toward the beach with me in tow.
Since it was late in the afternoon on a private strip of beach, there weren’t many people milling around. We passed a couple strolling in their swimsuits and a lone jogger. A good distance down the beach in either direction, families were sprawled in the afternoon sun, allowing children to play.

White-tipped waves crashed onto the sandy shore
, and as the waves used their last bit of strength to reach toward the row of houses, they engulfed our feet, sucking at the sand beneath us. “That feels so weird!” Dara shouted. “Do you feel that?”

Her enthusiasm was infectious, and a huge grin settled on my face, as I told her, “Yeah, babe, I feel that.”

We waded a little farther, the water reaching mid-calf on me while it nearly reached her knees. “I see fish!” she exclaimed as she released my hand and bent over to get a better look.

“Oh,
my gosh! They’re nibbling on my toes!” She giggled, and I really wanted to kick myself that I hadn’t brought her here long ago. Watching her experience the ocean for the first time could very well be one of the most memorable moments of our honeymoon, not
the
most memorable moment, but it would be high on the list.

I grabbed her hand. “Come on.”

“Where’re you going?”

“Let’s go out a little deeper,” I urged.

“I don’t have my bathing suit on.”

“Neither do
I.” I motioned to my cargo shorts and tee shirt.

She looked hesitant a moment, and then she
followed me into deeper water.

As we waded waist-deep
, a huge wave crashed into us, nearly knocking my feet out from under me. It soaked Dara, and I pulled her to my chest, my arm locked tight around her waist, keeping her in place.

“Are there any sharks in here?” she asked, her arms
wound around my neck.

“Well, it is the ocean.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know if I like the idea of swimming with sharks.”

“Babe,
you were probably in more danger on the drive down here than you are now. The chances of being attacked by a shark are slim, not impossible, but slim. The chances of being attacked by me, however, might be a little higher.” I playfully nipped at her earlobe and groped her ass.

“I might like being attacked by you.”

I gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “Oh, you will definitely like being attacked by me.” I started wading a little deeper, and her arms put a death squeeze on my neck.

“Babe, you’re choking me.”

“Stone, please don’t go any deeper.”

It dawned on me that she couldn’t swim, and I immediately moved
back toward the beach. When we were back in knee-high water, I lowered her until she could stand. Her clothing clung to her body, revealing her curves. We sat on the packed wet sand, just within the ocean’s grasp as it stretched its waves toward us.

She sat, propped up with her hand against the shore
as she gazed out at the ocean. I reached over and covered her hand with mine as the water washed over us. “I love you, Dara Hamilton.”

“I love you, too.”
Puckering her lips, she stretched toward me with her face. I met her with a kiss, tasting the salt on her lips.

As beautiful as this moment was, I couldn’t help but wonder if she would still love me after she opened the mysterious envelope from her father.

We walked hand in hand back to the house.

“I wasn’t expecting
ocean water to make me feel sticky,” she said.

Glancing around the patio, I spotted the outdoor shower and led her to it. I turned it on for her, and we both rinsed off.

My clothes were soaked, and I pulled my tee shirt over my head and stretched it out over a lounge chair. I then took off my cargo shorts, which were so saturated they nearly fell off my hips without any help. I laid them across the chair, too.

“I’ll go get us some towels.”
Clothed only in my boxers, I entered the house and found some large beach towels in the laundry room off the kitchen. I grabbed a couple and walked back outside where Dara was waiting.

BOOK: Delirious
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