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Authors: Vanessa Grant

If You Loved Me (22 page)

BOOK: If You Loved Me
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He followed her down onto the bed, trapped her with an arm across her waist.

"Gray," she whispered, "the first time we made love, I threw myself at you. You didn't want—"

"I wanted." His voice tangled with her heartbeat. "It was the craziest thing I ever did," he growled. "You were too innocent, too vulnerable. I couldn't... and then you started crying... I thought I'd hurt you."

"No... only for a minute."

He touched her throat and she turned her mouth to find his palm.

"I cursed myself afterward," he admitted, "for being careless, forgetting to protect you."

She pressed a kiss into his hand. She knew how to tie tiny sutures in a child's flesh without a tremor, but her hand was unsteady as she slid her fingers across his chest. She found the second button of his shirt. Released it.

"Emma..."

She fumbled with the third button until it sprang free, then she caught her lip with her teeth and released another button. Curls ran riot across his chest. She drew in a slow breath that took heat through every part of her body.

"Last night I wanted you to give me a child."

His heart slammed against her palm. She pushed his open shirt apart, moved her hand over his naked chest, and felt the shock of her caress tear through his body.

"I know it's not going to happen. I know that, but tell me—I know you must have loved your wife, but here and now, tell me it's me you want."

He kept her hands imprisoned as he bent down over her, his lips on her face, her cheek, her eyelids. Her mouth parted hungrily under his.

"It's you," he groaned as he freed her hands and brought her close.

The sun slipped out from the clouds and flowed over them as he undressed her slowly. He touched her breasts through the softness of the silk shirt, made her moan and writhe until she was begging, her sounds tangled.

He caressed her midriff, and she shuddered and buried her face against his shoulder. His touch burned through the lace of her bra. She whimpered when he kissed her breast, tears flooding through her.

"Emma... God, don't cry."

He cradled her face in his hands and gentled her tears with his lips, but she grew wild in his arms and hungrily sought his mouth. She caught his hands and brought them to the aching swelling of her breasts, tried to tell him how she had yearned all these years for the touch of his love, but her words were sounds and breaths and her hands on him.

His body was hard and pulsing, taking hers when the hunger grew unbearable and she cried out for him.

He turned her world to flames and soft harsh sounds, pulsing fire. His name was on her lips, his nakedness hot and desperate against her.

"Emma." His voice caressed her, shaken and ragged, pulsing with passion and filled with the love she'd always known was there.

"You won't forget me this time," he promised harshly as his mouth covered her breast and she was aching and dying and she couldn't... couldn't... please... oh, Gray... my love, please!

It was closer and not enough and she would lose herself in the hunger. She cried out; his fire was too much. Then he was inside her and she was racing, desperate and burning, and it was the end of the world, the beginning and the end, and she would die here with him, here where she'd always belonged, drowning in his love.

Afterward, the world shifted slowly, a kaleidoscope of sound and sight and sensation, her lover everywhere, the echo of her sounds and his needs, fragments of passion lingering on their harsh fading breaths.

When she moved against him, he shifted and drew her closer.

She drifted into awareness—her eyelashes pressing against the flesh of his chest, his arm cradling her body against his, his scent deep inside her. Silence, except for their soft breathing, because words might destroy the sweet intimacy of his arm gone lax against her.

While she slept, he slipped away from her.

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

Evening, the world deepening toward twilight.

As Emma moved, the sheets shifted across her breasts in an echo of Gray's touch. She opened her eyes and saw him standing at the window.

He must have known she was awake, but he did not move until she stood. Then he turned and she wanted to hold the moment back.

His gaze slid over her with seductive intimacy.

It was not over yet.

She moved closer, felt his eyes locked on her approach. Her fingers stroked the warm curve of his biceps.

"Tell me about your wife."

"Emma..."

She put her hands on his chest, stared into his face, and could not read the straight line of his mouth.

"I need to know."

He tangled his fingers in her hair. "Talking won't change anything."

"Please." They were naked together, yet there was a world of barriers between them. She pressed her cheek against his shoulder.

"Tell me what happened after you left Farley Bay. Tell me how you came to meet her. Tell me her name."

She felt his shrug against her face, then he sighed.

"It took a while to straighten out my dad's claim, pay off the debts and sell it out. Then—" Again he shrugged. "I went back to Farley Bay, talked to your father."

Her fingers clenched on his chest. "When?"

"Eighteen months later. He said you'd married Paul. The two of you had a baby."

She swallowed the pain. "It's hard to imagine you two standing on the street talking about me."

"I went to your place."

What would have happened if she'd waited for him, believing he might return? "When my dad told you about Chris, did you think he was yours?"

"If I had, I would have found you."

Her marriage to Paul had been difficult almost from the beginning, but Chris was the child of that marriage. She was thankful she hadn't had to face Gray at her front door, challenging her heart to betray the vows she'd foolishly made to Paul. She was glad she hadn't been forced to stand at her husband's side in an empty marriage and face the only man she'd ever loved.

"The only way I could get through my marriage with Paul was never to let myself think of you." Except in dreams. Nothing had stopped the dreams.

"I went back up north." He tangled her hair and released it, catching it again to twist it in his fingers. "I'd been taking pictures out there that first year and a half, just keeping myself busy. I did some guiding, hunting and fishing stuff, to bring in a few bucks. One of the parties I took out was a group from New York. An agent, three editors, a mystery writer. The agent got excited about my pictures. Not long after that I got the contract for my first book."

There would have been hard work organizing a proposal for a book, waiting for it to sell. Typically, Gray left out that part, making it sound easy.

"I met Sam just after that."

"Sam?"

"Samantha, that's her name." He was holding Emma in his arms and she strained to hear the emotion behind his words. "We got married a week later."

"And you said
I
was impulsive." Her fingers clenched in the hair on his chest. "You must have loved her very much."

"We were together three years." His voice was remote and she knew he was stepping back from feelings that were too strong. Three years of loving. More memories than she had ever shared with him.

She stared at her hand on his chest and couldn't ask if he still yearned for Samantha. The sun had reclaimed its gold, leaving the world in shades of gray.

"You've been apart a long time?"

"Yes."

"Do you still see her?"

"Sometimes."

It hurt to ask, but she couldn't stop herself. "Were they good years?"

He took her face in his hands and she let her eyelashes fan out on her cheeks rather than look into his eyes.

"What is it you want to know?"

"I don't know. I just ... where is she now?"

"Smithers area, inland. Ranch country."

"You keep track of her." Emma tried to pull away, but he would not let her free. She felt her nakedness, felt exposed, vulnerable. She'd set herself up to be hurt by his words. She'd married, had a life. He was entitled to the same.

"I'm cold," she said stiffly. "I need to put on something—when you see her, do you still—"

"She's remarried. They've got a couple of kids."

"Oh." Her heart was beating again. This was insane. She wanted to believe he could love her. Had she learned nothing all these years?

"Do you mind that Samantha remarried?" She opened her eyes to search his. "You didn't have children with her?"

His eyes shuttered. "Nor with you or any woman. Is that enough questions?"

"Yes... no."

He'd been angry when he realized Chris wasn't his. Did that mean he'd wanted children, or that he hadn't wanted Emma to have Paul's child?

"Gray, did you—did you ever tell her you loved her?"

"For Christ's sake, Emma!" He tangled his fist in her hair and tilted her face up to his. "Enough!"

"You aren't going to tell me?"

"I'm going to take you back to bed." His jaw hardened as his eyes flamed. "One night, Emma. Then, when morning comes, I'm going to get you the hell out of here before we tear each other apart with all the things we can't have."

* * *

Gray's first awareness was of softness and lingering sleep. He breathed in and warmth pressed against his side... Emma's body moving gently in the rhythm of her sleep.

This was no dream. He felt sensations he'd never known in dreams—the slight tickle from the fine hairs on her arm as it brushed against his side, the warmth of her breath on his shoulder, the almost-sound of her lungs filling softly with air.

Feelings surged over him as he lay beside her, more powerful than the old memories that had haunted him. Emma in his arms, himself buried so deeply inside her that he shuddered with the sensations, the feel of her clenching tight around him in the instant of her climax, the breathless moan from her throat earlier when he'd taken the tip of her breast into his mouth and sucked until she'd begged him to bury himself inside her.

Afterward, Emma surrounded by the warm water in the Jacuzzi, her body floating toward his when he drew her near, her flesh soft and slippery in the water; Emma caressing him beyond control with a simple touch when he'd sworn he was too empty to be roused again.

Emma...

She was sleeping so softly, making hardly more sound than a baby. He felt a stab of regret because what they'd shared had been safe sex. There wouldn't be a child. Eighteen years ago he hadn't been as careful, but neither had he been haunted by the vision of Emma as he imagined she might be with his child growing inside.

If only...

Shapes were barely distinguishable. There'd been no moon last night; now there was the gray and black of the hour before the sun rose—and Emma. He touched the softness pressing against him. She was lying on her stomach, her face turned toward him, a silhouette of soft sleep. Naked. The incredibly smooth flesh over her shoulder reminded him of the white, lush curve of her breast as he cupped it with the rough brown of his hand.

He smoothed his hand on her shoulder and it seemed she should wake from his calluses abrading her delicate flesh. He traced the beauty of her shoulder's curve until he found the faint roughness that was the small mole he'd kissed only hours ago.

She mumbled something that wasn't a word. He held his breath as she turned in her sleep.

This hunger would never leave him now. The dreams would be worse, slipping into his days. He had an aching need to keep Emma at his side always.

Forever.

God knew he had to go back a long way to find a time when he'd believed in forever. But now, in the stillness before dawn, he comprehended the depth of his compulsion for this woman, a need that had driven him all his adult life, and he tensed against the approaching pain of losing her again.

This time he could easily lose control and beg her to stay. Years ago he'd vowed it would never happen, that he would never beg anyone. He'd vowed if Emma came away with him it would be of her own will, with the full knowledge of what she was leaving behind.

Now he knew there was no point to her coming. His world and hers simply couldn't merge. But with the memory of how it had felt to be buried deep inside her, the feel of her breath soft on his flesh, he could believe all he'd ever want was to hear that sound every morning—her breathing.

I love you.
If she whispered those deadly words again, he might lose everything and beg her to give herself into his world forever. And in that moment she just might say yes. He remembered Emma wild in his arms last night, whispering love.

Didn't he know the dangers of trusting words of love, of letting that hunger free inside himself?

But if he asked her—

Maybe she'd stay. If she did, for the scrap of time before she came to her senses, it would be heaven here on earth—Emma sleepy in his bed in the mornings, Emma stumbling half-awake. Or perhaps he would rise before her and bring her coffee in bed. He would put the tray down and kiss her good morning, and it would be a long time before she remembered the wake-up cup of coffee she loved.

BOOK: If You Loved Me
2.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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