“Cole? Answer me, dammit,” Marissa shrilled.
He dragged the phone away from his ear, closing his eyes. Maybe those six Jack and Cokes he’d knocked back weren’t the best idea. “I f**ked up, okay? Is that what you want to hear, Rissa?”
She stayed silent.
“Is she really in the bathroom crying?”
“Of course she is. She told me, well as best she could, about Abbie. Goddammit Cole, that girl was a wreck. I had no idea you were still seeing her all these years.”
“Yeah…well…” He scrubbed a hand over the back of his neck. Marissa had met Abbie years ago when they were dating. Liam’s questioning gaze met his, silently asking him if he wanted another drink. Cole waved him away. “Pretty f**king stupid of me, huh?” He had put his own life on hold, barely dated, barely did anything but work and faithfully visit Abbie every Sunday, simply because he knew it cheered her up. And then when the whole Dillon thing cropped up, he’d completely forgotten about her. He’d never forgotten a Sunday before. Never.
Marissa sighed. “I didn’t say that. But Jesus, Cole, you can’t take sole responsibility for saving every girl you meet. And Savannah didn’t need saving. She just needed your love.”
“Don’t tell me what Savannah needed. I know what she needs,” he said, anger bubbling up inside him. He gripped the bar until his knuckles turned white, avoiding the urge to hit something.
“Listen, I’ve got to go. Savannah’s just come out.”
“Let me talk to —” The phone went dead.
Fuck! He slammed his phone down onto the bar in front of him. Liam sauntered over, eyeing him with caution. “Was that Savannah?”
“No.” He didn’t mention it was Marissa, because every time he brought Marissa’s name up lately, Liam wanted to play twenty questions with him. He was almost ready to tell him it was fine — he could ask his sister out—but figured he’d make him suffer a little more. Cole tried to stand, gripping the bar for support.
Liam shook his head. “I’ll call you a cab. Take your drunk ass home.”
“I’m not drunk,” Cole slurred. Okay, maybe a little. “Yeah, all right,” he conceded.
Liam slapped Cole’s shoulder, resting his hand there. “I think you’re in love with her, bro.”
Not Fucking Helpful. Why did everyone keep saying it? Cole shrugged out of his grip and headed outside to wait for his cab.
He made his way upstairs, gripping the wall for support. He tried the door knob, found it unlocked and went inside. Marissa and Savannah were huddled around her dining room table. Seeing Savannah’s puffy, red eyes was like a fist to his gut. All the air was sucked from his lungs. He’d done that to her.
“Cole! You shouldn’t have been driving!” Marissa screamed, jumping up to punch him on the shoulder. Neither had any tolerance for drunk drivers after the way their parents were taken from them.
He held up his hands in surrender. “I took a cab, relax.” He stepped around Marissa, heading straight for Savannah like she was a light at the end of a tunnel, his beacon in the darkness. He’d been trying to save everyone, yet Savannah had been the one to teach him. Her compassion, her genuine nature continued to level him. She was all he needed. And he’d been so wrong. She didn’t need saving — he did. He knew with certainly, he’d grovel, beg, and promise her the world, if she’d only hear him out.
Savannah watched him with guarded eyes, drawing a shaky breath.
“We need to talk.” His voice was a coarse, broken plea in the room.
Marissa stepped between them, her hands planting themselves on her hips. “I don’t think that’s a good idea right now. You’re drunk, Cole.”
Without removing his eyes from Savannah’s, he muttered the only word he could think of. “Please.”
Savannah merely nodded and followed him back to Marissa’s office. She sunk down into the leather office chair. Cole leaned against the door frame, hating that he no longer had the right to pull her into his arms. Hating that she no longer needed him for comfort, and that he was the source of her pain.
“Savannah, I’m sorry, so sorry that I kept Abbie from you.”
She held up her hand. “Don’t say her name.”
Shit. His shaky legs gave out and he slid down the wall to sit on the floor. God, he needed to think. How did he ask for a second chance from the girl who meant everything to him?
“What am I supposed to do now?” Savannah asked, brokenly. “I feel like a total fool. You humiliated me, Cole. I thought we had something special…I had no idea you were off…” She stopped short, sucking in a deep breath and holding it. He could see that she was trying not to cry again. He hated himself even more.
He looked up. Sadness blazed in her green eyes, made all the more brilliant from her tears. “We do have something special. Don’t give up on me, Savannah. I f**ked up big time, and I know that. I thought I was doing the right thing continuing to see Ab- her, but you’re right, okay?”
A single tear escaped and rolled down her cheek. Cole crossed the room on his knees, taking her face in his hands and wiping away the dampness with his thumbs. “I’m so f**king sorry, Savannah. Please don’t cry. Please, baby.” He was not above begging if that’s what it took.
“You lied. You left every Sunday to see her while I waited for you.”
The pain in her features crashed through him. What if she couldn’t forgive him? He would do anything; spend his life trying to re-earn her trust.
“I know. And I shouldn’t have kept that from you, I was just so torn up over what to do.” His heart thumped erratically in his chest. “But you’re the one I love, Savannah.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re drunk. Don’t say that.”
“I am drunk, but you think I’ve just now realized that I love you? I started falling the moment I saw you. Then you came home with me and even though you should have been a mess, you were taking charge in my kitchen, cooking for me, taking care of me when I had the flu, and the first time we made love?” He fought off a shiver at the memory. “It’s never been like that for me before. I’m in love with you, Savannah. Hopelessly and completely. You own me, baby.”
Her mouth tugged into a small grin and she swallowed. He ached to kiss her, but he didn’t know if that was allowed. He’d never had to grovel before. He’d always been the one to cut out on relationships, never the one seeking.
“And I explained to Abbie that we both needed to move on. I’m not going to see her anymore. I’m yours. You own me, Savannah. You always have.” Suddenly it seemed very fitting that he was on his knees before her.
Two heartbeats passed and still Savannah remained quiet, her eyes locked on his. She brought her hand to his stubble-covered cheek and held him there. “I knew I was falling in love with you, but then when I saw…her… and found out you’d been seeing her behind my back this whole time, it destroyed me.”
“No.” He placed his hand over hers, holding it to his skin. “Don’t say that. I can’t handle that I hurt you. Please let me fix it.”
“Let me finish.” She straightened her shoulders, seeming to draw composure from the small move. “I’ve only known you a short time, but you wedged yourself into my heart. You became everything to me. My entire life before you fell away, and I had the chance to be me, to become who I wanted. You helped me, without any selfish motivation of your own. And I probably shouldn’t, but I trust you. I’ve always trusted you, right from the very beginning. If you say you’re done seeing her —then I believe you. But don’t you dare break my trust again.”
He grinned, liking the strength he heard in her voice. Seeing her growth and confidence was sexy. He brushed her hair back from her tear-streaked face, aching to kiss her, to take away all her pain. Stop thinking with your dick, a**hole. “I hate that I made you cry. I hate seeing you like this,” he admitted, his thumb tracing gentle circles over her cheek.
Savannah’s gaze intensified. “Even though I’d be heartbroken without you, Cole, I wouldn’t be broken like Abbie was. I’m not her. I don’t want you walking on eggshells around me, or afraid to tell me things because I might not like them. If we’re going to have a relationship, it has to be on equal footing. I want to be your partner, not your project.”
Cole remained silent for several long seconds, working to understand her plea. “I know you’re not her. You’re an amazing, beautiful, strong woman who has complete command over my heart, hell my entire body. I’ve never loved anyone like this, Savannah. You’re everything to me, and I wanted to shield you from all the f**ked up shit from my past. I don’t want a project either, but I am always going to be your protector. That’s just how I’m wired, babe. I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.”
She nodded. “Okay. I just wanted you to understand. You can’t break me like that, so don’t hold things back from me. If this is going to work, you have to communicate with me — with complete honesty.”
“I can do that.” He smiled, and Savannah’s gaze wandered to his mouth. “Babe?” he asked, leaning closer, his own eyes flicking between hers and her lips.
“Yeah?” Her voice was just as breathless as he felt. The effect of her so close it was dizzying, intoxicating.
“If you want complete honesty…I need to kiss you now.”
Savannah’s tongue dampened her bottom lip and Cole leaned forward, sealing their mouths together in a passionate kiss.
Cole’s mouth felt good. Too good. Savannah was lost to pleasure, sensation. Her brain struggling to give up control to her body.
A series of firm knocks rained against the door. “Um, Cole?” Marissa’s muffled voice came from the hallway.
Cole lifted his head. “We’re busy,” he called toward the door.
Savannah’s eyes darted to the door knob, trying to remember if they’d locked it, not that she expected Marissa to barge in or anything. But God, she couldn’t imagine anything more embarrassing. Her jeans were around her ankles and Cole’s face was buried…well, somewhere good.
Marissa knocked again, more insistently this time. “I’m glad to hear you’re um…making up….and I don’t care that you’re drunk and in my apartment. I do care, however, that you’re f**king loud enough to wake half my building. Come on, I’m driving you guys home,” she called.
Heat flamed in her cheeks. Shit. Had she been too loud?
“Just give us a few more minutes,” Cole growled.
Savannah moved to get up, trying to adjust her clothes, but Cole held her in place. “Stay.”
Her eyes searched his. “We can’t…we should go.”
He shook his head and bent to nibble on her inner thigh. “We will. But I want to make you come first,” he whispered. His breath rushed over her core, and a wave of dampness surged between her legs.
“Cole…” she pleaded, brokenly.
“Shh.” He moved her panties to the side once again so her swollen pink flesh was on full display. “Let me finish taking care of you, then we’ll go.” His mouth covered her sensitive flesh and, tossing all manners aside, he ate at her greedily, licking and suckling until she was writhing again. She groaned loudly and Cole’s hand came up and clamped down over her mouth, his eyes watching her reaction as his mouth continued its greedy display.
She was nearly sliding off the leather chair, but the pressure of Cole’s face between her legs held her in place. She should have felt embarrassed, overwhelmed by his dominance, but instead she just felt loved. Incredibly cherished and loved. And apparently delicious.
He focused in on her sensitive flesh, finding a rhythm that destroyed all thoughts of Marissa waiting on the other side of the door.
She came hard and fast, her h*ps lifting from the chair, her hands fisting in Cole’s hair.
Her body shuddered with the violence of her release and when she opened her eyes, she was surprised to find herself in Cole’s arms. He’d lifted her from the chair and was holding her against his body, her feet dangling several inches from the floor. He kissed her mouth, and she tasted her own arousal, and liquor, and Cole. Her eyes drifted closed again in sated satisfaction.
He let her slide down his body until her feet reached the floor. Cole took her face in his hands, pressing a final kiss to her mouth. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” It felt so good to finally say it to him, and even better to hear him say those words.
“Can I take you home?”
Home. The word rolled easily from his tongue and made her feel even more complete and happy than she thought possible.
Suddenly becoming aware of the large bulge in his jeans, she gestured to his lap. “What about you?”
He winced as he adjusted his staining erection. “I’ll live.”
When they got home, Cole stopped Savannah from going inside and lifted her in his arms to carry her across the threshold. It reminded him of the first day he’d met her. He’d taken her in his arms then too. It’d just felt right. It still did. There was something so familiar about her, like she was made to be his. He carried through the darkened rooms and laid her on his bed—their bed—and set about removing her clothes piece by piece. His erection hadn’t gone down since their encounter in Marissa’s office over thirty minutes ago. He knew he would need her twice before he found relief. The first time would be hard and fast, the second time slower and more controlled.
He slid her panties—still damp from her earlier release—down her legs and discarded them on the floor before moving to his own belt buckle. Savannah watched with wide eyes as he removed every last stich of clothing between them. She looked at his engorged c*ck and then at his right hand. He knew what she wanted, and he obliged, gripping himself and stroking lightly. She licked her lips, slowly tracing them with her tongue. Fuck, he needed to be inside her. Like yesterday. He was already leaking pre-come and his balls ached.