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Bound by him, p.9
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       Bound by Him, p.9

           Red Garnier
 
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  She felt the heady sensation of his teeth lightly grazing her skin, then he raised his head to trap her gaze once more, his eyes electric. “I’d be undone,” Andrew continued, as he fingered the collar of her shirt with his thumb. Then he opened a button.

  She caught her breath.

  He opened a second, and a third. Her breath stopped being sufficient, her body going hot. He finished flicking the last button open, then he eased the fabric apart, baring her to the mirror. Her skin tingled with every part that he revealed to his stare, and she was dismayed by the magnitude of her own need for him. A moan slipped through her lips as she closed her eyes and leaned weakly back against him, his strong body her wall. The only thing holding her upright was him, the man who’d always supported her.

  “Look at me,” he murmured.

  But she squeezed her eyes shut tighter, her breasts already throbbing as the air caressed her nipple tips.

  “Look at me, please,” he insisted.

  She forced her eyes open, and the first thing she saw was him. His face raw with need. His eyes blazing hot as one of his hands trailed an intimate path between the partings of his shirt, up and down, up and down, caressing.

  “Tell me . . . this isn’t the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen . . .”

  Clinging to his powerful stare while he rubbed his thumb deliciously around her belly button, she wanted to tell him that she might be able to say anything if she were looking at the woman.

  But she only had eyes for the man.

  The most beautiful man she’d ever seen . . .

  Stoking the most terrifying passions within her with a mere look, a mere touch, a mere word of encouragement.

  Her eyes widened as he eased one of her arms out of the shirt, and then the other, and then cupped the curves of her bare shoulders in his hands as she stood, naked, before him and the mirror. His voice was terse with arousal. “Do you see what I see?”

  He kissed her with his eyes, studying every inch of her body through the mirror’s reflection. Suddenly she saw the same thing he did. Her face soft with desire, her eyes dewy, her breasts round and full, the nipples beaded with arousal. Her hips were round and sensual, her pussy bare and glistening for him. She saw panting breaths and wide, dilated pupils. She saw parted lips and a woman burning for her man.

  Sensations spread through her as she watched him splay one large, tanned hand over the creamy, flat expanse of her abdomen. The move was sexually proprietary as he pressed her back against his large frame. “This woman . . .” he whispered, as he dragged his hand downward, heating up her skin underneath, “is the woman of my dreams . . .” He eased his two longest fingers along the turgid lips of her sex, then he cupped her entirely with his warm palm and eased his middle finger inside her throbbing body.

  A melting sensation spread down her thighs, and her entire body began to shake as he penetrated.

  “The woman of my fantasies . . .”

  She leaned back and moaned softly, feeling his erection through his jeans rasping against her bare bottom.

  “I will protect her . . .”

  His nose traced circles around her temple as he caressed the walls of her sex with that lone finger, and her head fell back on a moan as he added a second finger.

  “Do anything for her . . .”

  She rolled to his hand and turned her head, helplessly moaning out his name. His mouth clamped on her.

  She felt him fumble behind her, heard the rasp of a zipper. Then something soft and silky and hard rubbed between her ass cheeks. She mewed and pushed back against him, aching for him to fill her, ease her, keep her safe like he always had, love her like she craved him to. Make her forget, make her forgive.

  “Ask for it,” he said, as she anxiously pushed her bottom back against his erection.

  “Fuck me, please, Andy. Fuck me until I forget.”

  “No,” he rasped in admonishment.

  He stroked the length of his hardness along the fissure of her bottom and continued teasing her. Tempting her with his hardness, his authority over her body.

  “I already fucked you tonight, Whitney.” He slid his hand up her neck, cupping the sides of her face and pulling her around to give him access to her mouth. He grazed his teeth along her neck, groaning as he headed for her mouth. “Ask me to make love to you.”

  She mewed softly, overcome by her feelings of need and desire. “Make love to me.”

  As he lowered his lips to hers and gave her a series of slow, shivery kisses, she felt the press of his cock into her wet pussy, and when he thrust in surprisingly hard, she bucked as electricity bolted through her. Her breasts jerked as she sobbed, “Andrew.”

  He yanked out, then thrust back in, setting a soul-stirring rhythm as the tip of his middle finger fondled her clit with tantalizingly wicked little circles. “That’s right, my darling,” he cooed. “My love. My hot little baby. Come in my arms.”

  She exploded, drowning with his endearments, his powerful thrusts that rasped his heavy cock piercing all over her inner flesh. Her orgasm crashed through her, unleashing convulsion after convulsion. Her body twisted and spasmed against his as he continued rhythmically plowing inside her, until he delved down to his balls and ground her name out through gritted teeth, spilling his heat and desire so deep inside her, she felt his orgasm in her heart.

  Seconds later, he gathered her to him almost as fiercely and stroked a large hand down her spine. “I’m sorry I left,” he rasped, squeezing her. “I’m sorry for you. For us. For me. This wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

  Whitney’s body softened against his.

  When he held her like this, when he was inside her, he broke through all her walls, and now a ball of emotion clogged around her vocal cords. She couldn’t believe he was home.

  He brushed her hair back, looking into her eyes. “I swear by all I have that I will make you safe again. And mine. And you will never again have any doubt of that. Just give me time.”

  She stroked a hand down his face. She felt so tired, she pressed her head to his chest and nodded. “I’ll spend the night. But tomorrow we have to come up with a different arrangement.”

  Seemingly appeased, he laced his fingers through hers and pulled her into the bedroom. “We won’t need to, once you hear what I have to say,” he quietly whispered, then he pulled the sheets back so she could slip inside first.

  He followed her into bed, naked, where they both seemed tired and spent, their bodies heavy as they entangled themselves together. She was in the arms of the man she loved tonight—and she was too tired to think of anything else. Pushing the ache inside her aside, she traced his jaw lightly with her fingertips. “Thank you for protecting me.”

  But just like he used to, after an orgasm, he was already fast asleep.

  Chapter Four

  Andrew woke up in bed alone the next morning, and a quick scan confirmed Whitney’s belongings were gone. He groaned in frustration and slammed a fist into his pillow. “Damn.”

  He gritted his teeth and raked his hair with both hands. He’d wanted to wake up late with her, bring her breakfast in bed, finally try to talk to her. Calmly. Concisely. With a fresh head so that he could find the right words, and they might be able to solve the mystery of who their blackmailer was.

  Instead, she was gone.

  Groaning, he set his head back on the suede headboard, replaying the night before. She’d looked so undone by his touch, but so damned determined to keep her distance. He could see her struggling with her emotions when her eyes fell on him, her lovely green eyes viewing him like he was some sort of fucking stranger. Like he was a loser and a fraud and didn’t deserve to call her by the endearments he’d used to. God, she had him wound up in knots with this. Whitney was not a young girl anymore. She was too smart, this woman, and she knew him too damned well.

  Of course, he had to tell her.

  Now, after that blackmail note, it was doubly important for them not to keep any secrets from each other.


  A wealth of frustration and impotence gnawed at his insides at the thought of having to wait some more. He needed her. Her confidence. Her trust. Her love. His mind had kept spinning for possible solutions all this time, but every one of his excuses for leaving, aside from his oil field excuse, seemed stupid and unreasonable. Whitney knew his devotion to her bordered on obsession. Just as Andrew knew she responded in kind.

  He now realized if he wouldn’t be able to come up with an acceptable reason to have left her, then he had to tell her the truth.

  Especially now when she was at risk again. Holy God.

  Charging to his feet, he checked his phone and saw he had a text. Graves had saved Whitney’s number on his phone under the name, The One Getting Away.

  Very funny, asshole.

  The One Getting Away: Before you call to snap at me, I wanted to say don’t worry! I’m with Jerry. Office first, then lunch with Chloe. We can talk later if you find anything. Nothing out of the ordinary in Donahue’s cameras yet.

  Andrew: I want to talk you.

  Andrew: Tonight.

  He waited and tapped his fingers, restless to hear her confirmation. As he waited, he angrily changed her name to what he’d always had her under.

  Scowling, he went into the shower, and finally came out and wrapped himself in a towel to see her answer.

  My Redhead: Okay.

  His chest eased with relief, and then he ruffled his hair and hurried to get dressed. Before Sunday, he was going to get to the bottom of this blackmail.

  And tonight, he was telling Whitney.

  ***

  “Girlfriend, what you’re saying is pure ridiculousness with a little hint of silly.”

  Whitney laughed at Chloe’s words, both women seated comfortably at a small corner table at a nearby Starbucks. “What part?”

  “All of it. Andrew is crazy about you. Even since you were fifteen all he did was watch you and try to talk to you. He never even dated women his age, Whitney. And that’s not because he isn’t gorgeous. Don’t you remember? How he just . . . waited for you? That was the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen. He was older and could’ve gotten an easy girlfriend to take care of his urges instead of a young one like you who wouldn’t do shit for him.”

  With a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach, Whitney stared down at her small salad and picked on the lettuce without much of an appetite.

  “Danny said he only came to the parties to look at you,” Chloe added. “And I know for a fact that last night, he did not take his eyes off of you for a second. Those eyes look at you like it hurts, Whit. Like it genuinely hurts him to look at you.”

  Whitney scowled and tried to settle her nerves, but Chloe’s words weren’t helping with the decision she’d made this morning. Now she just sat there, feeling less than optimal, as she tried to digest Chloe’s words since she would clearly not be digesting her lettuce. “Do you remember when my Uncle Harry . . . how I, uh, I kept quiet for years about what he did to me?” Whitney asked tentatively.

  Chloe gentled her expression and lowered her chicken panini back to her plate without munching. “Yes, Whit.”

  “I’m not that girl anymore. I’m not going to stand by and let anyone hurt me anymore.”

  “I’m not saying that you should. It just strikes me as odd that you say he’s lying to you. Last night, Whitney, he almost looked . . . haunted when he saw you flirting with all those men. That man loves you.”

  Whitney sighed and dropped all semblance of pretending to eat, her fork clattering down on the table. “All right, so what would you do if Graves left for three years? Wrote you a letter every couple of months, and then didn’t write for a year, Chlo.”

  “Graves wouldn’t do that,” Chloe said brightly.

  “That’s what I thought of Andrew,” Whitney returned with a meaningful lift of her brows. “Now would you expect Graves to come back without even explaining why the hell he left for so long?”

  Chloe’s mouth pursed thinly, and lightly she drummed her fingers on the table. “Honestly even talking about it makes me queasy, because—”

  “Because you love Graves and he loves you. You don’t think you could possibly be without him for so long.”

  “Okay, so I see your point.” She lifted both her hands up in a placating gesture, then dropped them with a dreary sigh. “So what are you going to do?”

  “If I can even hope to have something meaningful with him in the future, I think we need a redo.” Lifting the sleeves of her silk button-down shirt, Whitney revealed one of her tattoos over the table, and her stomach lurched nervously once more. “I really think I need to have this removed.”

  Sheer horror widened Chloe’s eyes. “Whitney!” she cried, curling her hand around the tattoo as though protecting it from Whitney’s thoughts. “That’s like a divorce to you. You took that so seriously. You kiss it and stroke it like it’s actually Andrew.”

  “Obviously he didn’t take it as seriously as I did.”

  Frowning at that, she covered the tattoo back up and dropped her arm. The thought of not wearing his name on her skin tomorrow made her stomach churn, but honestly, deep down, she’d known it months ago, when Andrew had stopped sending letters, that she would have to have it removed. It was the only way she could think of to put their relationship back into perspective and allow for a fresh new start.

  And yet knowing what had to be done didn’t make it any easier.

  Half an hour later, she stared at the tattoo parlor sign and wanted to vomit up the food she hadn’t even eaten. Fralo’s Tattoo Parlor was the same small corner place they’d visited three years before, when Whitney was barely turning twenty, young and in love, ready to promise Andrew the world. He’d been older, wiser, and he’d been her everything.

  They’d shared two wonderful years together.

  But now, they had been apart even longer.

  Her throat was on fire when she walked up to the man behind the counter and showed him her wrists. “Can you take these off?”

  The embodiment of ink with a “beard” tattoo failed to remember her.

  He didn’t seem to be acting as though what she asked was something monumental. He merely studied the design, nodded as though very pleased with his work, and said, “Tattoos are permanent, everyone knows that, but I can hide it with a color close to your skin tone.”

  She asked the price, then nodded at the number he gave her, and hated that she wanted to cry. “So can you do it now?”

  Within minutes, she was sitting in that same chair, the one that had made her feel flutters of excitement while sitting there before, as the man got everything prepared. Soon the machine began to buzz on her right wrist. The pricks didn’t feel good this time. They didn’t feel like it was Andrew, branding himself to her.

  Instead they brought a rush of memories so deep, it overwhelmed her, a part of her screaming for her not to do this, that she didn’t really want to do this.

  She saw Andrew in all the years of her life. The first time she’d seen him at Chloe’s house. Dark, next to Daniel Lexington’s blondeness, Andrew kept staring and staring at her, making Whitney blush the color of her hair. She saw him when he’d smiled at her, an I see you smile that told her he very much liked what he saw. That same smile always stole her breath away.

  She saw him listening to her with quiet rage as she told him her uncle had touched her, his eyes brimming with determination to make it better for her.

  Then, then he was making love to her that first time, gently, lovingly, telling her she was so pretty . . .

  Her body had been used before. But nobody, not even Whitney, had ever loved it like Andrew.

  She watched the artist work while a part of her screamed that this was a mistake. That this was the man she loved, the man she would fight for. Oh, God. Did she really want to do this? “Wait!” She sat up and stared down in horror at the damage. “Wait, wait!”

  Fralo lifted his head, his bearded face pinching in displeasure. “Y
ou still owe me, lady, whatever you decide. So just tell me. Are we doing this or not?”

  She stirred uneasily in the chair, remembering Andrew’s fierce protectiveness, how he made love to her, how fiercely truthful his eyes shone every time he told her. She remembered his text. I want to talk to you. Tonight.

  She looked hastily back at the man, and said, “I guess not.”

  She wasn’t ready to give up on him, on them. Instead she clung to the hope that he planned to talk to her honestly this evening and arranged her shirt to cover her wrists, ignoring the little chip he’d taken off from the W. A souvenir.

  “Crap,” she murmured when she noticed she was missing a button from her sleeve. It had probably popped off at Starbucks when she had eagerly showed Chloe what she would do.

  Feeling crafty, she seized the little spider over her right breast and pinned it to the lapel of her shirt. She figured it would also give her easier access, too, if she needed to use it. Once she paid the man and stepped out, she squinted in the glare of the sun and started for the side alley where Jerry had said he’d be waiting for her.

  She was going to talk to him tonight. He’d either come clean, or these came off tomorrow—

  A body stepped right before her.

  “Whitney, Whitney.”

  She tipped her head back and froze in disbelief. A face from her past stared back at her. A face that contained stony-looking eyes that scrutinized her with puzzling intensity.

  “Joe. Wow, what a coincidence,” she said, gathering her breath.

  Her cousin looked much older than she remembered. And it seemed that he’d been eating every second of those five or more years since she’d seen him.

  He grabbed her head from behind and rammed a cloth against her mouth and nose, and as she inhaled to scream, she felt herself fall into his arms as he whispered, “No, Whitney, it’s not a coincidence at all.”

  ***

  “The only prints found correspond to you and Whitney. Some faint ones correspond to the family of Harry Donahue. Merely himself and his son. But this could be expected since probably the photograph originated there.”

 
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