Being protected, being taken care of, was as foreign to Zach as it was to Sadie. She wasn’t going to let that hold her back.
Curling her fingers around his elbow, she pulled him in her direction. He resisted at first, but she wasn’t giving up. As he twisted toward her, she reached for his other arm, then used them to guide him down against her. She lay back against her pillow, positioning him along her side.
“It’s okay, Zach,” she repeated softly.
Her heart leaped as he buried his face against her neck, but she held still. It took time. Soon his skin was flush against hers, his breath puffing gently along her collarbone and his arm heavy across her waist. There were no more signs of the shakes, but she sensed a struggle for balance. One she couldn’t influence, but she could provide a safe haven until he found it.
She embraced his shoulders, securing him to her. Then she closed her eyes and measured her breaths. Soon his breathing matched hers, his rhythm evening out. Only then could she truly relax deep down inside, no longer worried that the nightmare would win.
He might not sleep well, but at least his body could rest.
But sleeping didn’t seem to be what he had in mind. Just as she began drifting toward slumber, his leg shifted over hers, sliding between her thighs. Languidly his hand explored what flesh it could find.
And she was more than happy to welcome his touch.
She kept waiting for him to speed up, to channel the adrenaline from his dream into a headlong rush for oblivion. Instead, he seemed to lose himself in pleasuring her, drawing out every caress to gift her with the ultimate in sensation.
Sadie found herself drowning in the unexpected sensuality that lasted longer than she could have dreamed possible, until every inch of her body was imprinted with the memory of Zach on a cellular level that meant he would be with her forever.
She still wasn’t sure if a forever without him was something she could survive.
Zach let Sadie sleep.
It was the least he could do after waking her up last night. The thought that he could have hurt her during his dream hung like a chain around his neck.
Something he wasn’t proud of.
But he’d survive. He’d learned long ago that he could do this. He would do this. Healing just took time.
As did other things.
He remembered staring down at Sadie’s back as he made love to her in the hot tub. The flex and pull of her muscles fascinated him, because they represented the strength and character of a woman who worked hard and provided for others when she could. A woman he loved.
If he’d had any doubts before now, they’d been obliterated last night. But emotions were much easier to face and acknowledge in the dark of night. Now he was about to face her across the breakfast table, and he had some explaining to do...
Which always went down better with food. His mama had taught him that.
He was in the middle of cooking up waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon from the supplies his caretaker had brought in when Sadie made her way into the kitchen. The sexy tumble of her hair made him think of all the things he’d done to her during the night. His body’s elation muted the slight panic over his plan for this morning.
Her gaze followed him as he moved, but she didn’t ask any questions. He could go with it and not bring up the nightmare he’d suffered for the first time in a year or more, keeping his secrets to himself. He hadn’t even fully shared the experience that caused the nightmares with his family.
But he saw that as the dipwad way of handling this. He wasn’t going to take the easy way out—that wasn’t the kind of man he was.
“Are you trying to butter me up?” she asked, peering over his shoulder. “Because waffles are definitely the way to go.”
He’d noticed her love of both waffles and pancakes whenever Gladys served them at the B and B. So he might have been working with a little insider knowledge.
“Do I need to?” he asked, glancing at her over his shoulder as he plated the food.
Sadie didn’t look away or back down. Her gaze held his. “Absolutely not.”
Good to know. He hadn’t hurt her when he was thrashing around last night. She’d told the truth—she was fine. Now he would do the same.
He let her dig in first, lifting forkfuls of buttery, syrupy goodness to her lips before he got down to the dirty details.