Page 39 of Stinger

I brought my hands to her hair and ran my fingers through it gently. I was breathing hard now, the feel of her warm mouth sucking me was such intense pleasure that I didn't think I'd be able to hold out for long.

As my breath hitched in my chest, she increased her speed and suction. The sounds of the running water, my heavy breathing and the wet sounds of her mouth working my c**k sent me over the edge and I panted out, "Grace, Grace, oh God, that's good. I'm gonna come, baby."

My h*ps surged forward of their own accord and she bobbed her head slightly, letting me know that I should come in her mouth which made my orgasm explode, hot and intense. I moaned through it as I watched her slow on me, swallowing all I had to give.

As she stood up and kissed me on my mouth, I swayed slightly. "What the hell? I didn't know you were a professional." I grinned smugly at her.

Her brow dipped for a split second before her eyes lit and she burst out laughing. "Very, very funny," she said, smacking me on my ass.

"Ow!" I said loudly, but then grinned again at her.

We finished washing each other and then got out of the shower to decorate our sad little tree. In truth though, when we sat back on the couch, snuggling, with a roaring fire in the fireplace, I looked at that half-bare, leaning tree, decorated with outdoor house lights, and I didn't think I'd ever seen a more beautiful Christmas tree in my life.

I pulled Grace against me and I knew without a doubt in my mind that I loved her. I was in love with the woman in my arms. In that moment, it was as clear and as peaceful as the snow falling gently outside the window. Maybe I had loved her for a long, long time. Was that possible? Did it even matter when it had happened, or why? Maybe love was complicated, and yet the simplest thing in the whole wide world.

She snuggled into me and the words hitched in my throat. After a minute, she turned to me and looked into my eyes dreamily. "Happy Christmas Eve, Carson," she whispered.

I smiled down at her. "Happy Christmas Eve, Buttercup," I said.

CHAPTER 34

Grace

I woke up to the sounds of birds outside the window, rays of sunlight streaming in around the closed shades. It was Christmas! I rolled over lazily and stretched, and then snuggled into Carson's warm back. He leaned back slightly and I kissed the smooth skin of his shoulders, my lips lingering on his small scar, breathing him in.

"Good morning," I heard him say groggily.

"Hi," I whispered, my lips still on his back. "So you don't always get up at the butt-crack of dawn, huh?" I teased.

He chuckled. "No, not always. Especially not when I have a warm, soft Buttercup to snuggle with."

He turned toward me and we snuggled for a few more minutes, our hands roaming and my ni**les hardening, wetness pooling between my thighs.

"How are your muscles this morning?" he whispered.

"Good. Better," I whispered back. I could still feel some residual stiffness, but more like I'd worked out hard rather than threw myself under a moving train, like I'd felt the day before.

Carson moved over me and made love to me slowly and gently, moving his h*ps leisurely until I groaned out in frustration, and he smiled against my shoulder and sped up.

I cried out and Carson groaned against my neck when our orgasms hit us simultaneously, goosebumps rising on his skin.

"God, I love to hear you scream," he said, his breath hot against my ear, muffled so I could barely make out his words. He pulled out of me, rolling slightly to the side.

I smiled. "I'll try to get a hold on that," I said.

He leaned up. "No way. We'll just buy a house way out in the countryside so we won't disturb the neighbors." He grinned.

"A house?" I breathed, my expression going serious.

He studied me. "Someday, yeah, a house. I want to come home to you, Grace. I want to have Princess and Junior with you." He paused, his eyes filling with even more warmth. "I love you," he said softly.

My body stilled completely in his arms and I blinked at him, my lips parting. I had realized I loved him last night sitting in front of the fire looking at our pathetically beautiful Christmas tree, and it was confirmed for me a million times over as I stared into his vulnerable expression now. "I love you too," I whispered.

The smile that took over his face was stunning and immediate. "You do?" he asked.

I nodded my head, my eyes filling with tears. "Yeah, I do," I said. "I really do. And you remembered Princess and Junior," I whispered.

He grinned. "I'd never forget our kids, Buttercup."

I laughed and sniffled. "Merry Christmas, Carson."

"Merry Christmas, Grace. Come on, let's get up. I have something for you."

He stood up and started to move toward the bathroom to toss the condom and I sat up too. "What? You have something for me? How?" I was confused.

"Don't worry about that," he called from the hallway. "Just get up and pull something on."

I got up and pulled on Carson's boxer shorts and one of my sweatshirts.

I stopped by the bathroom and then went out to the kitchen to find Carson making coffee. I got the ingredients out for pancakes and bacon and started preparing to cook.

He came up behind me and put his arms around my waist, whispering into my ear, "I love you, I love you, I love you." He smiled against my neck. "I love saying that."

I grinned and turned my head so that I could kiss him. "Hmmm… I love hearing it. I love you."

We stood that way for a few minutes and then I whispered sadly, "I wish everything back in Vegas was magically fixed and we could just stay here forever."

He sighed. "Yeah, unfortunately it doesn't work that way, Buttercup. It's going to be okay though. Somehow, it is. And we're going to come back up here for Christmas next year and we're going to bring all our friends and family and we're going to celebrate the fact that it's all behind us."

I turned around, facing him now. "Promise?" I whispered, looking into his eyes.

He nodded. "Yeah, I promise," he said, kissing me softly on my lips. "Now make me breakfast, woman."

I pushed him away and then swatted him on his ass. "Move back, Carson Stinger. You're about to experience the best pancakes you've ever eaten."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, chuckling and going back to the coffee maker.

We sat down at the kitchen island to eat and Carson groaned when he took the first bite of my pancakes. "Good God, woman, you know your way around a bowl of batter."

I laughed. "Damn straight. I'm the Christmas morning pancake maker in my house," I said, picking up a piece of bacon and dipping it in syrup.

Carson looked up at me. "You okay not being with them today?" he asked.

I smiled. "I miss them, I need to call them in a little bit here. But there's nowhere I'd rather be than right here with you."

He smiled back but didn't say anything. We finished our breakfast and then brought a second cup of coffee each into the family room. There was a small present sitting under the tree. I raised an eyebrow and looked at Carson. "Seriously, how'd you manage that?" I asked, indicating my head to the gift below the tree.

He grinned. "I picked something up in town when I was buying your boots and coat."

I put my hands on my hips. "Hmmm, very sneaky." I frowned. "I don't have anything for you though. And you got me something. And it's our first Christmas," I said, looking up at him on a small frown.

Carson came over and pulled me to him. "Grace, I don't think you get me very well. You broke off your engagement, changed Christmas plans with your family, ran through an airport, changed a flight, borrowed a car, drove six hours, hiked through snow, and practically got frostbite to be with me. And then when I told you I was involved in activities not exactly looked upon favorably by the legal system, you accepted it without batting an eyelash. You asked what we were going to do when I told you about Josh, and you took the whole situation on without question." His eyes glittered down at me and my mouth fell open slightly.

"Well then," I whispered, "I guess a better question is, is that all you got me?" I tilted my head toward the gift under the tree.

He burst out laughing. "Yeah. I'll try to do better next year." He grinned.

I grinned back.

He let go of me to light a fire in the fireplace as I sat on the couch sipping my coffee. He brought me the small gift and I smiled at him as I tore the paper open.

It was a jewelry store box. I looked up at Carson and he smiled gently at me.

I pulled the top open and inside was a beautiful silver charm bracelet. I picked it up and looked at it closely. "It's beautiful," I whispered.

"Do you have one?" he asked.

"No, I don't have a charm bracelet," I said. "Will you put it on me?" I smiled, holding my wrist out.

"Wait, you didn't look at the charm," he said, turning the bracelet over.

I looked down at the small, silver coin on the other side. I stared at it for a minute, understanding flooding my brain. Tears filled my eyes and I looked up at him. "A shot for a secret," I said.

He nodded. "That's where it all started." He smiled at me and I threw my arms around him, kissing his face–his lips, his cheeks, his eyes, his forehead. "I love it. It's the best present I've ever gotten," I laughed out, through tears.

He laughed and kissed me back. "Good. I'm glad you like it. I can't wait to add to it," he said.

I nodded my head, sniffling as he fastened it around my wrist.

I kissed him one last time and then said, "I should call my family."

"Okay. We'll need to drive into town to get reception. Just pull on some warmer clothes and we'll make the call from my truck."

I nodded, still sniffing. I went back into the bedroom and pulled on my jeans and met Carson by the door as we pulled on our boots and jackets.

A few minutes later, we were driving into town. I took my phone out of my purse and turned it on, seeing that I had reception. I had checked it the couple times we were in town and I had texted my sisters once to let them know I'd made it to Utah. The only message on it now was a return text from Julia and a voicemail from her number too.

Carson pulled into a parking space on the street and turned to me. "Do you want me to take a walk while you make the call?" he asked.

I smiled, but shook my head no. I dialed my dad's number first and took a deep breath, biting my lip as I waited for him to answer.

When I heard his deep bark on the phone, I said softly, "Merry Christmas, Dad," with a smile in my voice.

"Grace?" his voice softened.

"Hi, Dad!" I brightened. "Having a nice morning?" I bit my lip.

"Well, yeah darlin', I am, only I'm kinda missing my oldest girl. Seems she's run off with some man and left her old dad and her sisters high and dry."

I laughed softly. "No, you know I'd never do that. It was just kind of an emergency situation and I had to act fast. You know how you always taught me to act first and ask questions later? Well, that's kinda what I did."

There was a beat of silence on the phone. "Well, I guess I can't argue with that. You love him, I suppose?"

I breathed out. "Yeah, Dad, I do, I love him." I laughed, looking over at Carson. He wasn't watching me, he was looking down at his own phone, texting, but I saw his shoulders still when I said I loved him.

"And," I continued, "I think you will too."

"Well, if he's someone who's got your love, Gracie, I gotta figure he's okay. What happened to the one we went to dinner with in Vegas? I forget his name now."

I laughed, knowing very well he didn't forget Alex's name. "We were just better off as friends."

"Well, better you realize that before the wedding, than after, so good job there." He paused. "I love you, Gracie."

I breathed a sigh of relief. "I love you too. Merry Christmas. Did you get the package I shipped?"

"Yup. Just about to rip into it. You'll have to get your presents at Easter."

I laughed. "Okay."

"Okay, Gracie. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Dad."

I hung up, sniffling and smiling at the same time. Then I texted Julia and Audrey a group text: Merry Christmas! Miss you! Love you! Group call ASAP next week! Xxoo

I turned off my phone and smiled over at Carson, scooting over and snuggling into his side. He hugged me to him.

"Everything good?" he asked quietly.

I smiled up at him. "Yeah, everything's good."

He grinned down at me and just as he was lowering his lips to mine, his phone rang.

Carson's brows snapped down and he answered it as I sat up and moved to my side of the cab.

"Hello?" he answered.

He listened for a couple seconds.

"Okay," he said, strain suddenly in his voice. "We're leaving now."

He then turned to me, worry in his expression.

"We need to get back and take a quick shower and pack. There's a situation back at the hotel. We've gotta go."

**********

Carson had given me a quick run-down of what was going on as we showered very quickly and packed up the cabin.

Apparently, Dylan thought he was close to pin-pointing the location of the guy who had set Josh up, and they needed all the guys close-by, just in case.

There was also a situation going on on the forty-fifth floor with one of the women. She was pregnant and although she didn't know her exact dates, the doctor who had originally examined her thought she was about eight and a half months along. They all thought they could get her home before she had her baby, but she had gone into labor that morning. Likely, she was further along than they thought.

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