I sighed. “You don’t understand Bianca at all. She would never do that. She’d never work against us. That would be too much like working against me, and she doesn’t have that in her. She is on my side without reserve, and she respects my judgement. If I tell her that I’m with you, that will just be it. She has my back, no exceptions. We’ve been partners through too much bad stuff for it to work any other way.”
“I hope you’re right…,” he said.
I bit the tendon between his neck and shoulder hard enough to make him moan. “What were you saying?” I asked him with a smile.
“I forget,” he breathed.
I got to work peeling off his clothes from behind. My smile grew wicked. “That’s what I thought…”
James rose, striding to the closet. He came back out in a pair of boxers. “Don’t move,” he told me. “I need to get something from the entryway real fast.”
I didn’t say anything, and he looked at me. He pointed, the twist to his mouth almost playful now. “I mean it. Don’t move.” With that, he strode out.
“Crazy bastard,” I muttered loud enough for him to hear, but I didn’t move. I heard him laugh as he walked down the hallway.
I let out my own laugh when he strode back into the room. He had the soft beige scarf from the photo shoot wrapped around his neck. He grinned a wicked kind of grin. I felt myself grow wet just from that look.
He was out of his boxers and back on the bed in a flash of naked golden skin. I couldn’t look away.
He straddled me, unwrapping the long scarf from his neck slowly, teasingly. It took forever the thing was so long.
I watched him, captivated. I felt like I was getting an X-rated strip tease from a glorious God. “You’re the most beautiful thing on the planet, James,” I told him.
At the bottom of my vision I saw his erection twitch, and he closed his eyes for a long moment. There was no denying that he was susceptible to flattery, but that wasn’t why I’d said it. I’d said it because I couldn’t look directly at the sun and not remark that it was blinding and brilliant.
Once the scarf was free, he covered my eyes with it, wrapping it twice around my head. He raised my arms above my head, stretching them taut, his hard length rubbing along my torso as he did so. His cock pushed hard into my sternum as he wrapped the scarf around my arms. I gasped.
He wrapped that soft length from my wrists to my elbows. It was a firm hold but not tight. When that was secure, he wrapped it over my collarbone, lining it even with my underarms. He barely jostled me as he wrapped it around me twice there before moving down to my breasts and then ribs. He wrapped it around and around with smooth sure motions, somehow managing to get it under my body while barely moving me. He wound it around my waist next, bringing it back up to wrap around both my eyes and arms, binding them together.
He had me well and truly caught when he pulled back, straddling my hips.
He said one word before he set to work on my body with his mouth. “Struggle.”
I tested my restraints rather hesitantly at first, not imagining that the scarf would pose any real challenge. It was so soft, so stretchy, but the man knew what he was doing. Always.
I gasped as he licked a path down my navel to my inner thighs. He sucked at a tender spot while I worked against the scarf, making no progress, just moving the wicked thing against my body deliciously while he did even more delicious things down below. He worked that clever mouth from my groin to that sensitive spot behind my knee and back again. I struggled hard, because it felt good, because I couldn’t believe that the ridiculous scarf could hold me so securely, and because I wanted my hands free to push that teasing mouth where I needed it to be.
I only succeeded in trapping myself more securely, and James took his sweet time moving that tongue just where I craved it.
I stopped struggling when he finally buried his face between my legs, thrusting his tongue inside of me before licking up to my clit.
He lifted his head as I stilled. “Keep struggling,” he told me.
I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear the wicked smile in his voice.
He plunged two hard fingers inside of me, once, twice, and I came on a dime. He was kissing up my body, nudging aside the material where it covered a nipple. He sucked hard on my nipple as he plunged inside of me. I gasped and struggled harder against the soft bindings.
He was dragging his cock out of me, hitting every perfect nerve, when he uncovered my eyes. The rest he left imprisoned as he dug his elbows into the mattress on the sides of my breasts and drove into me again and again. His eyes showed me that the tender-lover was driving for this ride, though the warm smile in his voice as he tormented me had given me fair warning.
“Say it, Bianca,” he said, his voice more tender than demanding. Still, I knew it was an order.
“I’m yours, James,” I told him softly.
His eyelids fluttered briefly as he started to come inside of me. He bottomed out in me with the sexiest little moan, and I came.
“Cashmere fucking,” he told me with a smile as we caught our breath.
I laughed. “So that’s what that was called. Good to know.”
He unwrapped me from the long scarf slowly, rubbing it along my body as he did so. I rubbed against him, always craving his touch, even as my eyes drifted closed and I fell into a hard sleep.
I had the dream again and woke up scrambling out of bed in the dark, disoriented and scared. Hard familiar arms caught me almost immediately, lifting me from behind, and carrying me into the bathroom. I had to shut my eyes tight as light flooded the room.
We were already naked so he just stepped into the tub, never letting me go as he turned on the water and leaned back against the edge of the huge tub. I turned into him, wrapping my arms around his neck, clinging as hard as I could. Soothing arms stroked my back, washing and comforting, soft whispers telling me everything would be fine.
“I can’t stand it. I know it’s a dream, but it feels so real,” I whispered. I didn’t break down, didn’t cry this time, though the dream had shaken me as badly as before. More so.
“Shhh, Love. Just breathe. The memories will fade. Nightmare memories always do.”
He said it like someone well acquainted with nightmares. I wasn’t surprised.
I lifted my head to look at him. He stroked my hair, meeting my eyes squarely. He could communicate so much to me with just those exquisite, tarnished eyes of his.
I swallowed hard. Residual fear from the dream still haunted me. The thought of losing him made me desperate and empty and filled me with despair darker than anything I’d ever known, and I was hardly a stranger to dark thoughts.
I pulled back enough to move up his body, straddling his hips in the rising water. I traced a finger over that smooth brow, the hollow in his cheek, that perfectly straight nose, those pretty lips, and then across that hard jaw.
I cupped his face in my hands, watching him steadily. He pressed his own hands over mine, giving me such a loving look that I melted.
“The thought of losing you makes me desperate,” I said, shifting our faces closer. My eyes were steady on his when I took the leap. “I love you, James,” I said, my voice just a whisper. “So much.”
His eyes closed for just an instant, and he took a deep breath. When he opened them again there was such a raw relief there that it made me shake.
“Thank you,” he said roughly. “I’ve been waiting for that, and wanting that, for so long.”
He stroked his hands over my hair, watching me, his eyes going to that soft loving place that I’d come to crave and depend on so quickly.
He was silent for so long, just watching me and touching me, that I lost our silent standoff.
“Do you…love me?” I asked him, my chest hurting.
“That’s a silly question,” he said, stroking my cheek. “An unnecessary question. I’ve never made a secret of my feelings, Bianca. I know you’re a skeptic, but you must have realized that I fell for you right away.”
I leaned my cheek into his hand. “Why haven’t you ever said the words, then?”
He bit his lip.
I watched that vulnerable action with rapt attention.
“I wanted you to say it first. Not for pride, and not for my ego, but for my heart. I haven’t said those words to anyone since my parents died, and I didn’t want the first time to be met with a rejection. I was afraid you would get spooked and run again. I preferred to give you time rather than break my own heart. Can you understand that?”
I nodded, feeling crushed under the weight of my own skepticism. I hated what my baggage had done to him, what it might do in the future, all of the pain it had caused him, because there was no cure-all for my issues. One big one was rearing its ugly head even as I had the thought.
“But why?” I asked him, my voice much smaller than I liked it to be. “That’s what I don’t understand.
His brows shot up, and he gave me a genuinely baffled look. “Why?”
“Why do you love me?”
His eyes got so soft, changed in an instant from confused and into that impossibly tender look that got me every time. “You want me to break it down for you?” he asked succinctly.
He traced a finger across my brow. “I can do that. I’d enjoy that actually. You’re my favorite subject, Love. I’ll start with your eyes. I fell in love with those first. One look was like a punch to the gut. You have these ageless eyes on such a young face. I just knew that you had seen bad things, lived bad things, and from the start, I knew that you could understand pain. Understand loneliness and despair. Understand feeling hopeless and helpless and alone. I fell in love with your eyes first because I looked into their depths and saw the other half of my soul.”
That got to me, and my eyes filled with those humiliating tears that I couldn’t seem to avoid lately.
He traced a tear down my face, giving me his fondest smile. “I freely admit that was enough to catch me, and you’re going to tell me I’m crazy, but I’ve been around the block too many times to count, and I was experienced enough to know, right from that first meeting, that I was falling for you. I didn’t understand it until after our first time together, wouldn’t have given it that name, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was lost from then on. But let’s get back to my favorite subject.”
He reached across the tub, turning the water off. He plunged that hand back into my hair to cup the back of my head.
“Next, I fell for that hard-won composure of yours, that steely self-control. When I got you to smile at me, or even to acknowledge my presence, it felt like an accomplishment. I’ve never needed the chase, never wanted it, really, but I relished it with you, even knowing that it was trouble for me, that you were trouble.”
“Next, hmm, let’s see, that’s harder to pin down, because that was a lot of things at once. I’ll lump it all together and say that I fell for your reaction to me next. Your submission. I’ve never felt anything like this kind of chemistry before. The way you trembled at my touch, that innocent response that you couldn’t hide, and that I couldn’t doubt. And then we made love. After that, I couldn’t call what I felt for you anything but love, not to myself, even knowing that you didn’t feel the same, at least not like I did—not yet.”