Read Twelve Days Online

Authors: Teresa Hill

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Love Stories, #Christmas Stories

Twelve Days (30 page)

BOOK: Twelve Days
9.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"I can't imagine being happy without you," he said. "I can't imagine being without you at all."

Which gave her hope, but still, "It's up to you. This time, it's your choice."

"I don't know what's going to happen, Rachel."

"We never do. Never."

"The kids' mother could show up tomorrow."

"I know. It's what they want. What about you, Sam? Right now? In this moment? What are you waiting for? What do you want?"

Sam stood there, not moving a muscle. There'd been times in his life when he felt as if he wanted so much and had absolutely nothing to call his own. And there were times when he thought he was asking for so little, surely he ought to be able to have it.

Right now his whole world seemed so full, here in this house with three children he'd come to love sleeping upstairs and his wife practically in his arms. And it was all balanced so precariously, he felt as if it could slip through his fingertips in an instant. One wrong move, and it would simply disappear.

His first instinct was to hold on as tightly as he could to her and everything they'd ever shared. There had been joy mingled with all the sorrows, love unlike any he'd ever known.

He did love her, and he believed more than ever that she actually loved him. He didn't even want to tell her how hard it was for him to believe it—that someone could love him, that it could last. But he supposed she already knew because he'd told her what his life had been like.

And it seemed they were at a crossroads. Tomorrow was Christmas. He was supposed to go away in a day and a half. He had a feeling if he didn't go then, he never would. And as she'd said, there were no guarantees. Not ever.

Which meant this was a question of faith, of what was left of their feelings for each other and whether they could muster up any hope that the future could truly be better, different, that what they'd found now could last.

How much did he love his wife? How strong did he think she was? How strong was their commitment to each other?

He wanted to let go of all doubts and bask in the love she seemed now to offer so earnestly, so generously. He wanted all those dreams for the two of them he'd once seen shining so brightly in her eyes.

Still, the smartest thing to do right now would be to wait until tomorrow. This whole thing with the children might be over by then. They'd know, and they could decide what to do from there.

Nevertheless, he eased an inch closer to her, because he'd been without her and missing her for so long.

What if this was all he ever got? All they had left? It seemed selfish to reach for her feeling like that, but there it was. He still wanted her, wanted anything he could have with her right now.

Sam went to say something to her; he wasn't even sure what. But his throat felt too tight and the words never made it past that point. He felt as if he could easily choke on the emotions running through him, felt as if he were about to go toppling over the precipice, and didn't really care at the moment where he was when the dust finally settled. Because he was doing it to get to her, for however long he could have her.

Looking for a way to lighten the mood, to maybe get through this without letting her see what it cost him, he glanced around the room and remembered... Christmas. It was Christmas Eve. She'd gotten out the wrapping paper, the ribbons and bows, while he was upstairs, and then he remembered...

"You never told me what you wanted for Christmas."

She looked puzzled for a moment, then hopeful, then very tentative as she reached for something on the table at his side and came up with a big, red bow. She peeled the paper off the adhesive on the bottom of it and stuck the bow on his shirt, squarely over his heart, and then left her hands there on him. He absolutely loved having her hands on him.

Giving him a shy, tentative smile, she said, "I was hoping I'd find you under the tree. All wrapped up with my name on you."

He closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the feel of her hands running over him. He bent his head until his cheek was nestled against hers, and he could smell her, the Rachel smell, mingling with that of the tree and the fire.

Rachel at Christmas, he thought.

Rachel in the light of the fire and the tiny, blinking, white bulbs reflected off her smooth skin.

He'd seen her like that once, late one Christmas night. A Christmas when there hadn't been a lot of money for any kind of gifts, and she'd given him herself, right there by the tree.

Sam's entire body started shaking with need. He reached behind him and flicked off the light, heard a little catch in her breath as his arms came around her and he settled her against him.

There was a tape of Christmas songs playing softly in the background, a happy, triumphant song. "Joy to the World." She was humming quietly to it even now.

She'd loved Christmas once, he remembered. Loved everything about it. Enjoyed it more than anyone he'd ever known. There had been joy inside of her once, and maybe life hadn't beaten it all out of her.

He slid his hands across her back, thinking about how small she was, how vulnerable she felt against him. He always forgot that about her until he had her this close, and he thought about how easy it would be to hurt her, how much hurt he'd seen in her face over the years.

She pressed her nose to the side of his neck, inhaling deeply of him, and he thought of doing the same thing in her hair. He loved the softness of her hair, the feel of it against his skin.

He let his hand slide into it, his palm cupping her cheek and his fingertips buried in the silky strands. She was wearing it down tonight, which he loved, and it was longer than it had been in a while.

He remembered one time lying flat on his back and her leaning over him, kissing him all over, him discovering how much he liked the feel of her hair on him. Remembered how she'd laughed and teased him with it.

He missed that woman, he realized with a stark longing that he thought might send him to his knees.

"I've missed you," he whispered. "Everything about you. It's been pure hell staying away."

"I've missed you, too," she whispered, kissing his neck, his jaw, his cheeks and finally his mouth.

She was very tentative about it; she'd seldom taken the lead when it came to lovemaking, even in all the years they'd been together, although she'd always been eager to please. Just shy. He'd take her hands and guide them to where he wanted them to be, show her, teach her. But he didn't do that tonight. He let her do what she wanted, let her set the pace for this sweet awakening, let all the memories come pouring back with such clarity, such poignancy.


She was like a song inside of him, a half-forgotten, sad, sweet, so sexy song. His blood was on fire, and yet he couldn't find it in him to rush this. He wanted to savor every moment, every touch.

She pressed her mouth to his, her lips soft and questioning. He let out a ragged breath, his heart settling into a strong, heavy thud, and the whole world seemed to slow down around them.

The lights were blinking on and off on the tree, and the fire crackled and hissed every now and then, the light from there flickering over them, as well. She teased at his mouth with her tongue, and he opened up to her, to that first heady taste of her.

He wanted to stay locked in the power of that kiss for days, wanted to take and take and take until she was limp in his arms. His hands started to move, running up and down her arms, across her back, tugging at the buttons on her blouse and then undoing her bra and slipping inside to the soft, soft skin of her breasts. He found smooth, heated skin and pearly nipples. She cried out when he touched them, when he bent her backward in his arms and laved them with his tongue:

She tasted so good, so soft, and the sounds she made and the fine trembling in her body drove him on. He could not get enough of her, kissed and suckled and outright devoured her until he sensed that she was very close to a climax and so was he.

It had been entirely too long, after all.

Sam backed up a bit, tugged off his shirt and threw it into the corner, unfastened his pants and pushed them and everything else off. Then he went to work on her clothes. Her shirt came off completely, her bra. He pushed her back onto the rug in front of the fire and went after the fastening of her skirt, tugging it down, pulling off her panties, until she was gloriously bare before him.

There was a scar on her belly, a not-too-neat one that for a time had been long and raised and hard, a constant reminder of the fact that he'd nearly lost her, too, and of all they'd gone through.

But it had faded over time. Quite often, he forgot it was there. She had always hated it, always tried not to even look at it, and didn't like for him to see it at all. But there it was. She wasn't trying to hide tonight, and he had the urge to press his mouth along every inch of that now faint, slightly pinkish line.

"Are you cold?" he asked as he eased down onto the floor beside her.

"A little," she said.

He pulled the afghan off the back of the sofa and covered her to her waist, and then he ran his hands along that scar, and then buried his face against her belly, right there along the thin line.

"I nearly lost you, too," he said. "All these years, not talking about the rest of it, I don't think I ever told you how scared I was that night. I was sure I was going to lose you, too, and that my whole life might as well be over."

"But you didn't lose me," she said. "I'm here. I'll always be here. And we're not done."

But he had nearly lost her again, he thought. In just the last few months, he'd nearly lost her. He still might.

he reminded himself.
Just a little faith.

He could find a little. He had her in his arms, after all.

He sat up, leaning over her, his hand running up and down, watching the way she shivered beneath his touch, watching how responsive her body was. Seeming to reach for him and then shrink back when the sensations grew so intense it was almost too much to bear, but then she reached for him again.

He studied the contrast between his big, sun-browned hand on her delicate skin, the sight of which was always his undoing. There'd been a time when he thought he'd never touch her this way, that she'd never allow it and if she did, she'd come to her senses soon and be done with him. Or that her father would find out and kill him. But here she was, years later.

There'd been a time, too, early on when he'd been lost himself and so desperate for a connection with anyone. A time when he'd spotted her and found her fascinating and so confusing and she'd made him want things he knew he shouldn't. A time when she'd made him believe in things he never imagined for himself, a time when her dreams had become his.

She'd given him hope when there was none in his life, taught him all about dreaming. How could he ever imagine giving that up? She'd given him back his dreams once.

"Sam?" she said, her voice low and husky.

"Yes?" he asked.

"I want to touch you. I want to hold you. I want you inside of me. I want you to fill up all the empty spaces again."

And so he did. He teased her for as long as he could stand it, wanting her weak and nearly spent before he slid inside her, because he knew what it was like for her when he could hold out that long. He wrapped his arms around her like he'd never let her go and settled his body over hers and then kissed her some more, rubbing his body against hers. She started moving, unable to help it, moving in a slow rolling thrust of her hips against his. Her legs were restless, captured by his, and he could feel the little ripples of arousal running through her, could feel how close she was.

"It feels like it's been forever," he whispered. "A lifetime." A long, lonely one.

"I know," she said.

Sam knew just what she'd feel like when he slipped inside of her, just how smooth and slick and tight she'd be. He knew the way her body gripped his and held on, how hers needed time to adjust to his. He knew the sounds she made in the back of her throat and the way her hands clutched at him and how tight her entire body grew just before she came. And he knew what it was like to pour himself into her and all of her heat, and the way they both had to work so hard for air afterward.

Knew the way she liked him to roll sideways and take her with him, until she was lying on top of him, and her hair was everywhere, and she pressed little kisses along his chest. It would be damp with sweat, and his heart would be pounding, and he'd want to sleep just like that, all night long. With her on top of him, utterly spent in his arms.

He knew all of that, and she was all he remembered and more. When he couldn't wait any longer, he nudged her thighs apart and pushed his way inside of her, barely, pausing right there on the edge while he tried to get himself together so that maybe he could make this last. Just maybe.

He felt all the heat of her, all the need. Her hands were pulling him closer, and she was whispering, "Please, Sam. Please." And then he slid home. There was no other word for it. It had been just this way, just this powerful, just this certain, the first time he'd ever done it. He felt as if he'd finally come home.




Chapter 16

BOOK: Twelve Days
9.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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