With one hand still clutching the panties, his other worked to free himself from the confines of his jeans. He was already rock hard, his dick swollen and ready. He stroked himself hard and fast, pumping without mercy as Savannah’s scent filled his senses. His long measured strokes turned harder, uneven, as his thoughts turned towards Savannah. Her soft skin, her preference to be held in his arms, and the light feminine scent of her skin. He pumped faster, praying for relief to come. His legs trembled, and he reached one hand to the counter to support his weight just as his orgasm hit.
Cole and his older sister shared a resemblance in their coloring—both had dark hair and inquisitive, yet kind, mocha-colored eyes. But the similarities ended there. Whereas Cole was the strong, silent type, Marissa was talkative and outgoing.
On the way there, she overwhelmed Savannah with questions and, unused to talking about herself so much, Savannah struggled to keep up as they moved through topics ranging from her upbringing to her future plans.
Yes, she liked living with Cole.
Yes, she missed the compound, but only because of all the little ones. There was always something that needed doing and she liked feeling useful.
No, she’d never dated.
No, nothing was going on between her and Cole.
Why did everyone keep asking her that? And why did they seem surprised when she said nothing was? Perhaps they thought like Jacob, that a man’s only interest in her was physical, but so far Cole had given her no indication that was the case.
Marissa misread her silence. “It’s okay, you can trust Cole.”
Savannah merely nodded. Somehow she knew that.
A few minutes later, Marissa parked in the mall’s overflow lot, and then turned to look at Savannah. “You ready to do some damage?” she smiled.
They set off for the entrance, Savannah hesitating at the automatic gliding doors. Marissa stopped at her side.
“Are you okay? Being in public like this?”
Savannah nodded, though she supposed it was a fair question, this was a new experience for her. One of many lately. “Are you kidding, I’ve dreamt of this moment.”
Savannah dutifully followed Marissa into at least a dozen different stores, accepted armfuls of clothes, modeled the garments in the fitting room, and graciously waited while Marissa looked her over, commenting on what worked, and what didn’t. When they made their way up to the register, Marissa piled the clothes onto the counter and handed over Cole’s credit card.
Savannah snatched back a few of the garments. “It’s okay. I don’t need all of these. Just because they fit doesn’t mean I should get all of them.”
Marissa took the items from her and handed them back to the cashier, frowning at Savannah.
“Marissa,” Savannah pleaded. “This is too much. I can’t let Cole pay for all this.” She would never be able to pay Cole back at this rate.
Marissa rolled her eyes. “Oh yes you can. And you will. That boy’s got more money than he knows what to do with. Every week he stuffs his paycheck in the bank for savings. Besides, he told me to make sure you get everything you need. If I bring you back with one little bag of stuff, he’ll be pissed. Trust me.”
Savannah couldn’t really imagine Cole being pissed off, but she trusted Marissa, and she didn’t want to be responsible for making him angry. Especially since he had done so much for her already. She nodded her head in acquiescence.
But Savannah did draw the line at getting herself one of the gorgeous handbags she noticed in the department store they went to. She didn’t need it. So it felt wrong to indulge at Cole’s expense, despite Marissa’s urgings.
Several pairs of jeans later, more than a dozen tops, three pairs of shoes, an assortment of bras and panties, and even a little bit of makeup, Savannah was exhausted. They stopped for lunch at Marissa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, where she had her first ever burrito, a delicious vegetarian concoction. She made a mental note to prepare for Cole at home sometime.
“This is it? This is all you got?” Cole pursued the half-dozen shopping bags littering the entryway to his condo.
“Told you.” Marissa shot a satisfied look at Savannah.
Savannah walked over to Cole and hugged her arms around his waist, sucking the breath from his lungs, more out of surprise than anything else. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He patted her back carefully while Marissa scrutinized them.
Savannah shuffled off to her room, toting several of the bags.
“You guys got a chance to talk?” Cole asked his sister.
Marissa nodded, handing him the last of the shopping bags. “Yes, she’s a really nice girl. Despite her upbringing, she’s surprisingly normal. She’s got a good head on her shoulders.”
He agreed, peeking into a pink bag filled with panties. Whoa. His eyes shot back up to Marissa’s, hoping his desire wasn’t reflected in his eyes. “Yeah, thanks for taking her out.”
Savannah returned, carrying Cuddles on her hip. “Thanks for today. Both of you.” Savannah smiled.
“Oh! And guess what?” Marissa asked, looking at Cole.” We ran into Levi outside and guess what? Savannah is going on her very first date!” Marissa squealed.
Savannah’s eyes nervously darted to Cole’s, as if bracing for his response.
Damn meddling Marissa had gone too far this time. Way too f**king far. “No,” he barked out. He turned to stalk off for his bedroom.
He heard Marissa tell Savannah that she’d fix this and she trailed after him down the hall. Cole didn’t bother to lock his bedroom door, knowing Marissa would beat on it and demand to be let in, or carry on the conversation through the door, probably loud enough that the neighbors would hear.
He heard the door open as she slipped in behind him, but Cole remained facing the window, looking down on the traffic below. He didn’t even want to think about Savannah dating. “She’s not ready for that, Rissa. You need to stop interfering. Not everyone wants to f**king date all the damn time. Just because you’re over thirty and single, and miserable being alone, doesn’t mean everyone else is too. Christ…” He ran his hands through his hair, pulling it in opposing angles and released a heavy sigh.
When he turned and faced Marissa, his expression softened. Damn, her lip was trembling.
“I was trying to help. Savannah’s nineteen going on twenty soon, Cole. She wants to date. She wants to be normal. She told me that herself.”
“She wants to date?”
“Yes. Maybe it’s time you stopped treating her like she’s some sick little kid, and let her spread her wings a little. She’s young and she’s been hurt, but she’s not stupid.”
Fuck. Marissa had spent one afternoon with Savannah and had already gotten more out of her than he had. He looked at Marissa and saw the hurt in her eyes . She’d only been trying to help, and he’d snapped at her. “Hey, I’m sorry about what I said. You know that any guy would be lucky to have you.”
Marissa took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. “This isn’t about me. Tell me why you reacted like that to Savannah going out on a date.”
“I don’t know.”
She stepped in closer to him. “I think you do. Is it because you don’t like the idea of another guy with Savannah?”
Cole scrubbed a hand across his jaw. “I don’t want him pawing all over her. She wouldn’t know what to do, how to protect herself.”
“Cole,” she scolded. “She’s an adult. She can handle herself. But if you’re so worried, go with them.”
Ha laughed. “Like a chaperone?”
“No, you idiot.” She swatted his shoulder. “Isn’t Levi’s mom that cougar who wants you?”
He nodded. There was no denying the woman had been after him since he moved in three years ago.
“So make it a double date. You and the cougar, and Levi and Savannah. It’ll be good practice for her — something normal that she can do, and you’ll be close by in case he gets grabby.”
He smiled at his sister. “And who’s going to protect me when the cougar gets too grabby with me?”
She laughed. “I have a feeling you can handle yourself. Besides, maybe you’ll even have fun.”
He supposed it could work. There was just one little problem. He didn’t like the idea of anyone other than him taking Savannah on her first date. At least he’d be there for it. A compromise he supposed he could live with.
Cole and Savannah were enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon when a loud buzzing from the intercom system grabbed their attention. “Are you expecting someone?” Savannah asked.
Cole shook his head. He didn’t like the idea of anyone interrupting the private bubble he and Savannah had created the past several weeks. He punched the button on the wall. “Yeah?”
Static crackled through the speaker. “Uh, yes, my name is Dillon James. I’m looking for Savannah.”
Cole whipped around to face Savannah. Her face had gone pale and her hands were shaking. She slowly shook her head, bringing her finger to her lips.
How the hell had Dillon tracked Savannah here? Cole gave a tight nod and pressed the talk button to reply. “Sorry, no one named Savannah lives here.”
It took everything in him not to go rushing down the stairs and into the lobby to face this a**hole. He turned to Savannah instead. “You okay?”
Her eyes remained locked on his, full of intensity.
“He can’t hear us, Savannah.”
She drew a shaky breath. “I just…it’s probably stupid of me, I just don’t want to see him right now. He won’t like me living here with you. I don’t want to deal with him.”
Cole went to her side, placing a hand on her shoulder. “It’s not stupid. You don’t have to face him. You’re safe here. Okay?” Her shoulders shook and his hand automatically rubbed out the tension. It didn’t escape his notice that Savannah was in a near panic at both seeing Dillon and fear that he’d snap seeing Savannah with another man. The thought did not sit well with him. He hadn’t been in a proper fist fight over a girl since sixth grade, but he wouldn’t hesitate now if the occasion called.
She nodded. “Thank you, Cole. For everything.”
Cole folded her into his arms, unsure of how to comfort her. He hated that Savannah had a history with that creep, and that she had grown up around men with screwed up belief systems. He wished he could shield her from it all, but he’d settle for holding her, and for her part, Savannah clung to him like he was the last tree standing in a thunderstorm. It broke his heart, and renewed his decision to protect her all at once.
That evening, as Cole dressed in dark jeans and a light blue button down shirt, he knew he needed to tell Savannah about his date with Sali. He sprayed a squirt of his seldom-worn cologne onto his neck, and ran his hands through his hair in an attempt to tame it. He hadn’t thought much of going out with the girl when Marissa approached him about the idea. And even though only a few weeks had passed since he agreed to the date, somehow he felt closer to Savannah. Perhaps it was seeing her with Levi, or that he no longer fought off her cuddling at night, or because the other night felt like a date between them, but whatever the reason, he felt strange telling her.
He found her in the living room, her knees drawn to her chest on the couch. “Hey Savannah.” She turned to face him, cradling Cuddles in her arms. “I’ll be going out later. You don’t need to cook dinner tonight.” He wondered what Savannah would make of him going on a date . And if he was going to have the balls to tell her.
“Oh. Okay. I can eat some of the leftover pizza from last night. And Cuddles and I will probably just watch a movie.”
“Okay. Remember to keep the door locked.”
“I will,” she promised. “Cole?”
“Where are you going?”
He hesitated only a second. He wouldn’t lie to Savannah. Besides he was free to go on dates. “My sister set me up on a blind date.”
“Oh.” Her bottom lip jutted out just slightly. “But I’ll see you later, when you get home?”
“Yes,” he reassured her. “I’ll be back later tonight.”
It remained unspoken between them, but both knew they’d be sleeping together in his bed later.
He set off to meet Sali at the pub. He’d have preferred to pick her up, but as Marissa reminded him, girls don’t let men they don’t know pick them up. He could be some creepy stalker, and then he’d have her address. He assured her he wasn’t going to begin stalking her friend from yoga, but that had only started Marissa on a whole other rant that he obviously didn’t date enough if he didn’t know the simplest of rules.
When Cole entered the pub he searched out Liam first. A lot of times he could be found behind the bar, providing a second set of hands for the bartender rather than sit alone in his office in the back. And tonight proved no different. Liam nodded once, spotting Cole across the room. Liam was his last single friend, but he certainly didn’t lack for female companionship being the owner of a popular bar. It was meeting quality girls that he found difficult. Cole knew that if Liam met the right girl, he wouldn’t be opposed to settling down. He and Liam had been friends for over twenty years. In college, they had often tricked girls into thinking they were brothers. They were both a few inches over six feet, with dark hair and when neither had shaved for a few days, which Liam often neglected to do, they took on an uncanny resemblance.
Cole took a frustrated breath. He wasn’t sure how he was going to find her. He saw two single women at either end of the bar. One was a knockout blonde, beautiful with legs up to her tits. His sister didn’t love him that much. The other woman was plain brunette, a few pounds overweight and glasses so big, they belonged in another decade. He shook his head, wondering if he could just slip out before she noticed him. Damn Marissa. She’d roped him into shit like this before, always using the phrase, ‘Well I thought she was cute,’ to clear her conscience.