The kiss went on far longer than Nicholas intended, her taste intoxicating him like no other woman’s did, her hold on him incomprehensible but undeniable. When he finally lifted his head, the sight of her kiss-swollen lips pleased him, but before he could even think of taking Tabitha back to bed, it made another sound, and his lips twitched in wry amusement even as her cheeks instantly reddened.
Bee wished the earth could just swallow her up. “I’m so sorry.”
Nicholas grimaced. “Don’t be.” Self-mocking humor glinted in his gaze. “I should’ve fed you dinner first before satisfying my own appetite.”
“I’m not complaining—”
“It’s my responsibility to look after you,” he said gruffly.
“But—” Tabitha gasped when he suddenly rose to his feet, with her still in his arms. “No, please, I might be too heavy—” Bee awkwardly cut herself off as piercing green eyes bored through hers.
“You’re too thin,” Nicholas said gently. “And since I don’t think it’s because you’re the type to get carried away with crazy fad diets…you’ll tell me about it over dinner, mm?”
Bee looked at him uneasily. “But what if there’s nothing good to speak of?” Maybe others were fine with sharing their own sob stories, but a part of her had always found the prospect distressing. She knew without being told that the story of her life was no fairytale, and she just didn’t see any point in making others feel sad over it as well.
Having noticed the way Tabitha had become stiff in his arms, Nicholas glanced down at her and heard himself say, “Keeping secrets from each other will not bode well for our marriage.”
He felt her tremble at his words, and his arms around her instinctively tightened. A moment later, he felt Tabitha place her hand over his heart, and his chest clenched.
“I’m sorry,” Bee whispered. “It’s just…ever since my parents…I’ve gotten used to thinking it would be better for everyone around me if I kept things to myself.”
“Things are going to change now,” he heard himself assure her, and Tabitha’s answering smile hit him like a ton of bricks, the accompanying trust shining in her eyes making Nicholas feel strangely guilty and unworthy.
“Thank you,” Bee said shakily. “It’s just crazy how happy you’ve made me…” Her eyes teared. “I don’t know whatever made Danny pick me over all the others—”
You and me both, Nicholas couldn’t help thinking.
“But I’ll never stop thanking God that He’s let me become a part of your lives…”
It was the most poignantly sweet thing anyone had ever told him, but before he could even figure out what to say, her stomach rumbled out another warning, and color burst in her cheeks once again.
“I am so sorry!”
I’m not, Nicholas thought, unable to help feeling that he had somehow been granted a reprieve just before things could get too complicated.
“I swear it’s not always like this. It’s just that I hadn’t any time to eat after the flight…”
The miserable look on her face was too adorable to ignore, and he found himself pushing her against the wall, his mouth swooping down in a kiss that effectively turned her gasp of surprise into a moan. He indulged himself with one last kiss as his fingers squeezed the now-familiar fullness of her breast.
He managed to find the strength to pull away before things completely got out of control. As he let Tabitha slide to her feet, he saw the way her dark eyes begged for more, and a strained chuckle escaped him. “Stop looking at me like that.”
He gave her bare ass a light slap, and she half-gasped, half-giggled, unable to believe how much her life had changed in so short a time. One week ago, she had been quietly crying her heart out, feeling dirty and violated. And now…she was in this beautiful room, married to an equally beautiful man, and said beautiful man had just landed a playful slap on her bottom.
It was just too impossibly wonderful!
Nicholas was bemused when he saw Tabitha’s hands suddenly lift to her cheeks. “Tabitha?”
Hands still on her cheeks, she confessed, “I feel like I need to pinch myself. Life’s just been too incredibly amazing—”
Nicholas put one and one together, and he drawled, “Did you come up with that just because—” A smirk unfolded over his lips. “I slapped your butt?”
Bee froze. It was one thing to feel that way, but it was another thing to admit it out loud, and she found herself verbally grasping for straws. “I…um…err…”
The deep, sexy timbre of his laugh had her making a face, but even so the thought of refusing didn’t even enter her mind as Nicholas took her hand and tugged her close towards him.
“I’ll slap your ass as many times as you want later,” he promised huskily.
“But first, we need to get you fed.”
Taking her to the en-suite bathroom, he pulled out a shirt from one of the drawers and turned to her, saying simply, “Up.”