Why did he keep f**king up with her? He needed to get his body in check, not allow it to react when she was near. She was soft and innocent and needing comforting — that was all. What she did not need was him getting wood every time she was in the room. Christ, what was he, seventeen? His hands smoothed over her bare arms. She was so soft, so lovely and she felt so familiar to him, molded to his body like this.
“Just take me home…” she murmured lightly, still resting her head against his chest.
He wouldn’t push her to stay out. Tonight was supposed to be about her — a celebration to show her he was proud, but he could tell it was too much too fast. She wasn’t ready. “Tell me what’s wrong first.” He struggled to keep his pulse under control and waited for her response. He knew that whatever Savannah wanted he would give her. And that f**king terrified him.
“I want all of this, I do. My own life, a job, an apartment. I want to live, Cole. Fully live. Not have you watching me every second for signs that I’m about to lose it. Who knows, maybe I will at some point; but we all do sometimes, right?” He didn’t know if that was a jab at him, and his own nightmares. He raised his hand as if to stop her, but Savannah pushed it away, and continued. “And I need you, Cole.”
“You have me,” he murmured, bringing a hand to her waist. “You know that, right? Christ Savannah, give me a break. This is uncharted territory for me, but you have to know that I’d do anything for you. I’ll do anything to keep you safe and protected.”
“Cole…” her voice was a soft plea. “I need more than that. You must know how I feel about you…”
Her confession floored him. How had they gotten here? Then he remembered the meals she’d lovingly prepared for him, the puppy he’d brought home for her, the new wardrobe, running her bubble baths. Shit. He never intended for her to read more into it. She deserved taking care of, especially in the fragile state she’d been in.
He closed his eyes, preparing to explain to her why that could never happen, yet failing to find the words, failing to find a single reason why he shouldn’t take her home right now and strip her nak*d. She couldn’t possibly understand the crazy things that swirled through his head, how hard she was to resist for all these many weeks.
She stepped in closer, testing his resolve. “Please Cole.”
He could no longer deny the compelling feeling that she was supposed to be his. He felt the first pang of it when he found her in that dingy back bedroom. She was the brightest thing in that place — a light of wonder emanating from her green eyes even that day as she drank him in. And as hard as he’d fought it, every day he spent with Savannah only secured her place in his heart a little more. “If we do this… it’s on my terms, Savannah.”
She nodded, even though her eyes betrayed her confusion. But it was enough of an agreement for him. He could end it at any time. He would call the shots. “Come on.” He grabbed her hand, lacing their fingers and roughly pulled her toward the exit.
“What about…” She gestured to the table.
“I’ll text Marissa and tell her you weren’t feeling well.”
She nodded and allowed him to guide her to the door.
Once they were inside Cole’s bedroom, the air between them hung thick with anticipation. Though they had shared his bed for several weeks now, this felt like something else entirely. Something pre-mediated. Cole took an uneasy step toward her. The thought of taking their easy relationship somewhere new scared him, and he couldn’t say why. But when Savannah bit into her soft bottom lip and her gaze fell to his belt buckle, all coherent thoughts escaped him. He’d wanted this for too long, and now she was offering herself up to him.
He waited to see what she would do. It was the one promise he’d make himself. It would have to be her. She’d have to make the first move if she really wanted him. But then he supposed she already had. Wasn’t that what the night with Sali had been about? She watched from the doorway and when he went to her room… she’d been the one to remove her shirt, to tell him, wordlessly what she wanted. He’d listened, on some primitive level, and obeyed enough to give her what that moment required, but nothing more. He didn’t take her then. And wouldn’t now unless he knew it was exactly what she wanted.
When Savannah ventured a step closer to him and her eyes raked over his body, all self-control was lost. “I’m done, Savannah. I’m done resisting you. I’m done pretending I don’t want this.”
She whimpered softly and met his eyes. Hers were wide with fear…or curiosity, he didn’t know which. Didn’t care. He needed to be inside her.
“Take off your top,” he ordered.
Savannah lifted the shirt over her head and deposited it on the floor by her feet. She removed her bra next, letting it land by her shirt. Her chest was exquisite, just a palmful really, but creamy soft skin, and pale pink n**ples he hungered to taste.
“And now the skirt.”
Her fingers fumbled with the button, and once it was free, she began thrusting it down her hips.
“Slowly,” he whispered.
Savannah caught his eyes and her movements slowed. She carefully pushed the material over her bottom and down her legs, bending at the waist while her eyes watched his.
His lips separated and he sucked in a deep breath. “Just like that, baby. Nice and slow. I’ve been waiting for this too long to rush through it.”
Once she was standing in front of him, dressed in just her panties, Cole drew her to his chest and held her there, her feminine form molding to his masculine one. He held her for moment, needing to feel the warmth of her skin pressed his against his, and the steady thump of her heartbeat against his chest. He tipped her chin up with one finger and bent to kiss her, to worship her mouth like she deserved. She parted her lips, accepting him, rubbing her tongue against his. The raw need in her kiss pushed him over the edge, and he pulled away, breathless.
“Undo my pants,” he growled between kisses.
Savannah looked down at his belt buckle like it was some foreign contraption. He lowered his head to kiss her again and felt her hands working to free the clasp, before moving on to the button on his jeans. With one hand cradling her jaw, his other reached down to assist, lowering his zipper, and pushing his jeans down his thighs. Savannah broke the kiss to look down, and he watched as she became acquainted with his erection for the first time. Still clad in black boxer briefs, he was barely contained, tenting the material rather impressively. Savannah reached down and, with a single fingertip, touched him. His dick jumped.
Her face awash with desire, she reached out to touch him again, gripping his length through the material.
Fuck. The grip of her tiny hand was a thing of magic. He fought with himself, locking his knees and struggling to keep himself in check. He wanted to yank the boxers down and let her explore, but his need to touch her first won out. He lifted her underneath her arms and placed her carefully on the bed. She let out a surprised gasp, but stayed put on the center of the bed.
Cole joined her, lying on his side. Filtered moonlight and the dim light from the hallway cast enough of a glow to watch each other. Really see each other for the first time. Knowing this moment was about to change everything between them, Cole took his time, forcing his heart rate to slow. He admired the beautiful girl in his bed. He’d spent every night with her for several weeks now, but he usually did his damnedest to avoid checking her out. Now, he didn’t hold back. His eyes raked over her skin — the soft, lovely curves of her br**sts, her smooth shoulders, and the dip in her stomach that led to shapely hips. Her eyes wandered his physique too, a little smile on her lips as she looked over his torso. She placed a single hand on the center of his stomach, letting it glide up and over his pecs, then down over his abs again — but not going any lower. He could see her pulse thrumming incessantly in her neck, practically hear her erratic heartbeat in the weighty silence of the room. But she didn’t look afraid, more like curious about what would happen next.
Cole let her touch him, remaining still and silent. Chill bumps broke out over his skin as desire and need raced through his system. Her hand met the waistband of his boxers before skittering away to move back up his chest. Her palm settled over his heart, which was f**king pounding against his ribcage. She smiled softly at him, leaving her hand to rest there as if saying, it’s okay, I feel it too.
He explored her body next. He’d resisted for too long. His fingertips traced her hip bone, her skin warm and incredibly soft. He trailed his index finger up the center of her stomach to the patch of skin between her br**sts, wanting to take them in his hands, hell, wanting to take them in his mouth, but he paused, resting his palm against her chest. She met his eyes, seeking approval, seeking…assurance about how he felt. But rather than answer her unspoken question, about what this meant between them, he leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to her mouth. “Are you sure?”
Her eyes flickered open, finding his. “Yes.”
He remembered how responsive she’d been the one and only time he’d allowed himself to touch her, and couldn’t wait to see her come undone again, to watch her back arch and hear her call his name. He lifted up on one elbow and kissed Savannah deeply, their mouths fused together in a hot mass of sliding wet tongues and lips seeking…always seeking. With his mouth firmly over hers, Cole’s hand moved of its own accord, need spiking inside him strong and sure. He palmed her br**sts, his thumb grazing her nipple. She inhaled sharply at the contact, but his hand continued its path south, not stopping until he was cupping the mound of sensitive flesh between her legs, his fingers pushing past her panties to brush lightly against her bare skin. Her mouth stilled on his, falling open when his fingers glided over the seam of her p**sy, parting her to caress the sensitive nub. His fingers sought and rubbed, soft touches designed only to bring her pleasure. Her eyes remained on his, a little crease lining her forehead, like she was silently fighting with herself. Her body wanted this — she was already wet — but he could tell her mind was racing.
“Cole …” She gripped his wrist, preventing his hand from going any closer to the spot she wanted him.
“Savannah?” His voice was thick with desire. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…Do you need me to stop?”
“Just give me a second…” She squeezed her eyes closed, needing to think. The first time he’d touched her, she was tipsy from the alcohol and so desperate for contact after watching the erotic scene with Sali. Jacob’s gruff voice had been decidedly absent during her first encounter with Cole. But now, stone sober, with him looking at her like he wanted to eat her alive, his hot thick erection pressing against her hip, she needed a minute to gather her thoughts. Or more aptly, to turn off the unwelcome thoughts currently swirling inside her head.
He shifted on the bed, rising up on his elbow to look down at her. “Tell me what you’re thinking.” His features were washed in pale blue moonlight and his eyes were dark with concern.
She swallowed and let out a sigh. “I don’t know. Jacob always said that men wanted only one thing from a woman—the pleasures of the flesh. And once they had what they wanted, they left. They always left.” She twisted her hands in her lap, hating her nak*dness in this moment, wishing she could draw the sheet up over her chest without seeming overly uptight. “I want to…but I’m just…scared.”
He drew a deep breath, his chest lifting as his lungs expanded. “You’re afraid that’s all I want from you? Or that I’ll leave you after?”
“Both I guess…and if you don’t want me here after this, I don’t have enough for an apartment yet…”
“Savannah,” he groaned. “This isn’t all I want from you. I’ve been fighting myself constantly; I shouldn’t want this at all. I convinced myself that all I wanted and needed from you was the chance to take care of you like you deserved. To keep you safe. To help you to be happy. And then you totally shocked me. You were confident and determined when most would have been terrified. You were teaching me. You refused to crumble; you have strength where I don’t.”
“Of course that’s not true. You’re insanely strong,” she scoffed.
He glanced down and shook his head. “I promise you I’m not. But we’re getting off topic.” He clasped both of her hands between his. “What Jacob told you was bullshit. Some men are a**holes, sure, but not all. And you have way more to offer than that bastard gave you credit for.”
She twisted her hands together, trying to process his words. If she was being completely honest, she knew her fears were about more than just what Jacob had taught her. She’d witnessed Cole’s track record with women, his casual attitude toward sex, and this wasn’t just some physical act to her. It was so much more. “It’s not just what Jacob said…I’ve met some of the women you’ve slept with, Cole. I don’t want to be part of that pattern.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not getting this right. I’m not good with feelings and declarations of emotion… but I want you here, Savannah. And we don’t have to do…this. I just like having you with me. You smell nice. You cook for me, you hum when you carry Cuddles around the house — which is the worst name ever, by the way — and after having you live here with me, I’m terrified I won’t be able to go back to living alone. So you better not go anywhere.”
She dared a glance at his eyes again. His brow was crinkled in concentration and his look was determined and sure. He was telling the truth. He felt something for her. Even if it wasn’t love…she knew it was close. And she would take it. Take him and everything he had to offer her. Realizing that Jacob was wrong, at least about this one man made her chest tight. “Cole.” The word broke across her lips. There were no words to describe how she felt in that moment.