“Nothing worth repeating. She’s a sick, selfish, disgusting person. I’m glad you got the hell away from her. I understand your affection for this”—he nodded at the trailer—“place.” He finished without bashing it this time. “I’d prefer this too. Hell, I’d prefer one of these boxes and a dark alleyway than living in the same house as her.”

The idea made me laugh. It wasn’t funny but it was exactly how I felt. The corner of his mouth lifted but the sadness in his eyes didn’t match up. Where had that come from?

“Let’s get these inside. I have another one then my things. I want to get this done so I can hold you.”

I started walking toward the trailer when he started talking, but his last comment caused me to pause mid-step. I almost tripped. Hold me? Was I asleep? Would I wake up soon and all this be a dream. If so, I was going to be devastated.

Forcing myself to keep moving, I unlocked the door and Bray sat the boxes down inside. As he walked past me on his way back outside he stopped, bent down, and pressed a kiss to my lips again. Nothing demanding. Just a kiss. An achingly sweet kiss.

It was after he was getting the other stuff from his truck that I finally gasped for air. I’d been holding my breath. My fingertips touched my lips and they were tingly. It was a new sensation. Bray Sutton was being . . . sweet. No demands. No crude sexual demands. Just gentle touches. And it was rocking my world. I didn’t feel balanced.

The boxes sat in the middle of the small area and I saw a large S written on the front. I had no idea what she decided not to give to charity. I was almost afraid to look inside. But I had to face it. Whatever she kept I needed to decide if I was going to keep. Not with Bray here watching me. I’d have to find time alone.

Bray walked back in with another box and sat it down. Then the duffle on his arm he dropped on the table that was built into the left wall of the camper.

“The rest can wait,” he said his voice low.

I opened my mouth to ask him what his plans were, but his hands clasped my waist and he pulled me close to him. Not hard. Not rough. But with more gentleness than I expected from him. Much like his kisses tonight.

Bray’s eyes held something I wasn’t familiar with. I couldn’t look away from them. They made my insides feel soft and squishy. The urge to curl up against Bray and cling to him was overwhelming.

He backed up and sat down on the small couch behind us bringing me with him. As if he read my thoughts he pulled me into his lap and held me. Had I said it aloud? I hoped not . . . but then again, he was doing exactly what I wanted. And it was amazing. With Bray, any touching in the past led to sex. I’d never felt like he wasn’t working toward getting my panties off. Not that he’d ever had to try very hard. At this moment, the sexual tension had been replaced with something else, but just as powerful.

His hand came up and cupped the side of my head and pressed it to his chest. I sighed as I rested there. Listening to his heartbeat. Content. Safe. It was as if the demons in my head couldn’t get me here. All I wanted to think about was how good he felt, how much I liked to hear the sound of him breathing, and how much power he had to crush me.

“Scarlet,” he said quietly, his mouth so close to my ear that I felt the warmth of his breath.

“Hmm?” I asked, unable to form words as I shivered from the chills the sensation of him holding me and saying my name gave me.

“I love you.”

Three words. Three simple words. Hearing Bray Sutton say them I knew . . . I knew that wasn’t possible. I’d feared this was a dream. One of the many I had escaped into in my life. Many times, they were stronger than others. It was as if my psyche knew when I needed to escape reality and held me in my dream longer.

This was one of those dreams. I’d wanted to believe it was real but the dream had ruined it all by having Bray say words that were impossible. Tears stung my eyes and then sobs started causing my chest to shake. I’d wake up now. Crying alone in my bed.

Bray’s arms wrapped tighter around me and the tears came harder. The gasping for air as I waited for this to be ripped away from me. My life thrown back in my face. As much as I relied on these dreams to give me happiness, when they were over it was hard to let go.

I reached up and grabbed his arms and held on tight. As if the dream couldn’t take me away from him if I had a hold of him. His muscles flexed under my touch and his hand brushed my cheek. The sobbing only got worse. How would I make it through after having experienced this? How unfair. My subconscious wasn’t thinking about how this would ruin what headway I had made living alone.

“Scarlet,” Bray’s voice startled me. He was still here. I wasn’t awake yet. Before the dream was over I straightened in his lap, grabbed his face, and pressed my mouth to his. Desperate to taste him. If I had to wake up alone, at least I’d have the lingering memory of Bray on my lips.

He didn’t open his mouth right away but with the tip of my tongue I traced his lower lip and with a groan his mouth opened. The salt from my tear-streaked face mixed with the mint and soda on his breath. Moving over him, I straddled his lap and ran my hands into his hair hungry to touch as much of him as I could before it ended.

The reluctance wasn’t like Bray, and although a noticed it I couldn’t seem to slow down long enough to figure out what was wrong. I didn’t trust my brain. If I stopped, I would open my eyes and this would end.

Bray’s erection pressed through his jeans. I rubbed against it wishing I had thought to get naked in this dream and not still be wearing my stinky work clothes. My shorts weren’t long but they had enough fabric to keep my sensitive area blocked from the connection it was aching for.

“Scarlet,” his voice was strained as he pulled back from my attack on his mouth.

I fought to lock my mouth on his again biting his bottom lip as he groaned again lifting his hips to rub his erection against me. I moaned with pleasure and began rocking against him.

A growl came from his chest, and then his mouth was gone and so was he. I stared at him panting for breath as he held me by my waist at arm’s length. This wasn’t how I wanted this dream to go.

“Jesus,” he said, staring at me as his chest rose and fell fast and hard.

“Don’t stop,” I said struggling to get to him again.

“Scarlet, wait, no, just wait.” He sounded pained. That caught my attention. There had been the pain in his eyes earlier. Why was I dreaming Bray was hurting or sad? That didn’t fit.

I closed my eyes and shook my head.

“Scarlet.” Bray’s hand touched my cheek. “Baby, are you okay?”

Slowly I opened my eyes and he was there.

“I don’t know. I’m not waking up,” I told him.

He frowned. “Waking up?” he asked.

I nodded. “Yes. I can’t get awake. While I’m sleeping I want you inside me. You’ll be gone when I wake up.”

His eyes widened, then he moved and knelt down in front of me. His gaze holding me as if he’d never leave. “Why do you think you’re asleep?”

That was simple. “You said you loved me. You only say that when I’m dreaming.”


BEING IMPALED BY a fucking wooden stake in the chest would have been less of a blow.

I stayed there, in front of her innocent, broken, tear-streaked face as she looked panicked. Her attempt to wildly fuck me on this couch had been hard to turn down, but knowing something was off had been the strength I needed to stop everything.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance
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