Unexpected secrets, p.10

Unexpected Secrets, page 10

 part  #1 of  Hard Limits Suspense Romance Series


Unexpected Secrets

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  I opened her arms, and the little girl came flying into them.

  “Thea, I was so worried. Are you okay? Come inside, I’ve got the couch all set up for you. I’m going to take care of you, and you can call me Doctor Zee.”

  “Well, Doctor Zee, that’s very kind of you,” I said, struggling to keep the laughter out of my voice, turning back to Gabriel with a smile.

  His eyes conveyed, I warned you, and then he put his arm under my elbow to help me inside.

  His touch felt warm, comforting, strong, but I shook my head, trying to shoo the thoughts away.

  “Are you okay?” he asked, concerned.

  “Yes, yes, I’m fine. Really, I am. I feel 100 percent better.”

  “Come into the living room, Thea, I need to take your temperature,” Doctor Zee demanded, and I threw Gabriel a silent “help me” plea, but I had the sneaky suspicion he was enjoying this as much as his daughter was.

  “Bring her to the couch, Dad. Thea, I put some blankets here for you, now lie down.”

  “I really am feeling much better, Zee—I mean, Doctor Zee,” I tried to assure her.

  “I’ll be the judge of that.”

  Gabriel chuckled. “Now Zee, be sure to be kind to your patients.”

  “I will, Daddy,” she said as she grabbed my wrist. “Where the pulz, Daddy? Thea doesn’t have one. Does that mean she’s dead?” Concern wrinkled Zee’s brow.

  Gabriel walked over to the couch and knelt beside Zee. “Hmm. Let’s see. She looks very much alive to me, Doctor Zee. Here, move your thumb here.” He took Zee’s hand and moved it down toward the base of my wrist, “And your finger here.”

  His hand caressed my wrist and my pulse jumped.

  “See, there it is.” He softly ran his finger back and forth over the indent in my wrist where the pulse was beating erratically now. His eyes darkened, and I could tell he was well aware of the impact he was having, but I didn’t dare to pull my hand away or do anything that might upset Zee.

  “Oh, I feel it, too, Daddy! Yep, she’s alive. Now, Thea, the doctor at the hospital said you need to drink a lot of fluids, eat food, and rest. I’ll get some water. I’ll be right back. Daddy, you stay here and watch the patient.”

  “With pleasure.” He grinned.

  I snatched my hand away as soon as Zee walked into the kitchen, giving him my best, what do you think you’re doing glare.

  He laughed out loud. It was like music to my ears, and I struggled to keep the pain that stabbed my heart out of my face.

  “Are you okay?” He asked again, moving his hand to my forehead. “Does your head hurt?”

  I shook my head no. “We need to talk soon, Gabriel. I have so many questions—about Mackenzie and why she left the school without one of us—and about Daisy.” My voice grew quiet.

  “Tomorrow,” he assured me. “Today you need to rest.”

  “Okay, but do you think you can coach Zee on the fact that by tomorrow I should be fine to be up and around, please? I never was a very good patient.”

  “Understatement,” he agreed. “She’ll be the one reason you’ll actually listen to the doctor’s orders.” His eyebrows rose. “So don’t count on me trying to dissuade her from that.”

  He caressed my cheek before joining Zee in the kitchen. His touch leaving a warm mark long after he’d left.



  I tossed and turned all night, unable to sleep. I wrestled with my love for Gabriel, and the knowledge that I would be leaving in a day.

  Part of me wanted to maximize every moment, and part of me didn’t know how to survive being close to him when my heart, mind, and body craved him so completely.

  I’d finally fallen asleep when I heard a tentative knock on my door. “Come in,” I said with a sleep-laden voice.

  Zee opened the door, followed by Gabriel carrying a tray filled with breakfast food.

  “Good morning!” Zee called out. “We brought you breakfast in bed. Daddy and I made it ourselves.”

  “Mmm. That looks and smells delicious, Doctor Zee. I can’t wait to eat it,” I assured her with a smile.

  “You have black circles under your eyes, Thea. You’re still sick. What will we do, Daddy?” she asked, her inquiring eyes looking up at her father.

  “Very insightful of you, Doctor Zee. Let’s let the patient eat, and then we can decide what to do.”

  They both looked at me expectantly.

  “I’m feeling better already,” I assured Zee while giving a pointed look at her dad.

  “Zee, can you go downstairs to get the travel mug of coffee we made?”

  “Yep!” Zee exclaimed as she turned and raced out the door.

  “You okay?” he asked.

  “I am. I’m fine. I just didn’t sleep well, and nothing will help that except talking with you.”

  “Fran is coming this morning to take Zee to the park with her friends, so we’ll have plenty of time to talk.”

  I had no appetite, but under the watchful eyes of my doctors, I finished all the food on my plate.

  “Okay, you two. Scoot. I’m going to take a shower and then how about we go for a short walk?”

  Zee looked at her dad for direction. “I think that’s a good idea, Thea. Come on, Zee, let’s give her some privacy.”

  The shower was exactly what I needed, and I felt semi-normal as I dressed for the walk.

  Zee greeted me by taking my hand in hers and leading the way through the sliders to the backyard. I could feel Gabriel’s eyes on us as we walked, and I did the best I could to push away the sadness, and focus on enjoying the few moments I had left with this precious little girl. It was a cacophony of joy and pain, inexorably intertwined.

  The sun was shining high in the east and felt healing on my skin. The fall breeze was warm, and the air smelled fresh and new. The monarch butterflies were just arriving and there seemed to be nearly a hundred of them flying around the bushes in the backyard.

  I told Zee about the journey of the monarch’s from the northeast all the way to the south, how they’d continue their journey to Mexico where they’d spend the winter. Then begin the journey all over again in the spring.

  For a moment, I forget about the fact that I’d be leaving soon, and if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought Gabriel had, as well.

  He seemed different somehow, and I didn’t know what to think of it, but I liked the new ease we had fallen into together.

  When Gabriel suggested they return to the house, Zee whined she didn’t want to. But when Gabriel said he had a surprise for her, Zee’s whine changed to excitement. “What is it, Daddy?” she asked.

  “You’ll find out soon!” He smiled, and I glanced sideways at him, my mind filtering through ideas on what he might have planned. It was the first time I’d ever seen him this excited—he was like a kid about to open the door to a candy store.

  As we entered the gate into the backyard, I heard a sound, and then I knew.

  “What’s that noise, Daddy?”

  “Go see, Zee,” he said, as she ran ahead toward the sliders. In the next instant, a little bundle of gold came racing out of the house.

  “Daddy,” she screeched. “It’s a puppy!

  Gabriel and I laughed in tandem, and I clapped my hands, then raced ahead to greet the puppy with Zee.

  “This is a Goldendoodle puppy, Zee, and he’s all yours,” Gabriel explained when he reached us.

  “What should we name him?” She looked from Gabriel to me and back.

  “What do you think, Thea?” he asked, and I started to argue that it didn’t involve me, but he silenced me with one finger to my lips.

  I threw questions at him with my eyes.

  “What you think does matter, Thea. It matters to me, and to Zee, and to this little puppy we’ll all take care of—if you’ll have us.”

  Tears filled my eyes, and I did nothing to stop them as they rolled in torrents down my cheeks.

t be sad, Thea!” Zee rushed to me with a worried face.

  “I’m not sad, Zee. Remember when we talked about tears sometimes being about joy?” She nodded. “Well, these tears are filled-to-the-brim with joy.”

  Zee gave me a quizzical look, then a quick hug, and then rushed back to her new puppy.

  Gabriel gently placed his hands on both sides of my face and leaned in to give me the most gentle, beautiful kiss I’d ever received. My lips burned when he released me, and then he wiped the tears from my cheeks.

  “Is that a yes?” he asked as he pulled me closer.

  I still had questions to ask him, but I knew the answer to this one.

  “Yes, Doctor Mills, it’s a yes, yes, yes!” I affirmed, turning my face up for another kiss.

  “I know!” Zee exclaimed, interrupting the moment. “I think we should name him that love angel—what’s his name, Daddy?”

  He dragged his eyes away from mine. “Cupid?”

  “Yes, Cupid,” she declared.

  “Cupid,” he repeated. “I like it.”



  When an exhausted little girl and her new puppy had fallen asleep and been carried up to bed, we finally got a chance to talk.

  “So, Mackenzie chose on her own to go to the parlor?”

  “Yes,” Gabriel replied. “Daisy said she saw Mackenzie walking alone on the street, and when she didn’t see you with her, she followed her to make sure she was all right.”

  “Hmm,” was all I managed. “I saw you kissing her.” I kept my voice neutral.

  “No, you saw her kissing me. It wasn’t reciprocated.”

  I still suspected Daisy had a larger ulterior motive behind her actions, but nonetheless, I was grateful an adult Mackenzie knew had been with her from that point forward.

  “Did Mackenzie tell you why she left school alone without permission?”

  “She was very upset at the thought of you leaving and had noticed her teacher used a different door from the kids. She was smart enough to figure out if she used it too, she might escape unnoticed.”

  “Was she trying to run away?” Worry filled my eyes.

  “I think that’s possible, but she seemed to instinctually know to go to someplace familiar.”

  “Thank God the school isn’t too far from the parlor.”

  “I know. I’m grateful for that.”

  “How do we handle making sure she doesn’t think running away is a solution to her problems?”

  “We talked about it—as extensively as you can with a five-year-old. We’ll reinforce appropriate responses as we move forward. It’s all part of bringing up a child, Thea.”

  I nodded. I had a lot to learn.

  “It’s great that SOS could track the car following Mackenzie and me around—I was furious at the senator for putting a tail on me without telling me.”

  “You’re sure you’re okay with walking away from that assignment, Thea?” Gabriel asked, his eyes watching me closely.

  I looked down at the diamond ring glistening on my hand, still getting used to its weight on my finger. Zee hadn’t been the only one who’d gotten a wonderful gift today—.

  When I looked back at Gabriel, he was smiling, and my breath quickened as he took my hands in his, heat pooling between my legs.

  His eyes darkened—he didn’t miss a thing.

  “Very sure. No regrets,” I assured him.

  “How are you feeling?” He asked, concern filling his eyes as he tipped my chin up, ensuring my eyes would meet his.

  He examined them, then tailed his finger under my chin and down to my pulse. “Hmm. I think the patient may need to go to bed. It seems the excitement of the day may have gotten the better of her.”

  “Bed, hm?” I smiled. “I think that’s one order this patient might willingly comply with.”

  Before I could finish the words, Gabriel swept me off my feet and strode toward the stairs.

  “Put me down,” I hissed.

  “Not a chance.”

  “I’m perfectly capable of walking up these stairs on my own.”

  “I think it’s important for you to save your energy.”

  “Really? What for?” I asked with a mischievous grin.

  We reached his bedroom door, and he leaned down to open it, then paused. “Are you okay with this?”

  “More than okay,” I confirmed.

  He twisted the doorknob, and the door opened. He moved to the bed, placing me on it gently, then turned around and closed the door.

  “I love you, Thea.”

  I smiled. “I love you, too, Gabriel.” I bit my lower lip.

  He covered the floor in three steps, standing above me, his eyes devouring mine before he leaned over me and kissed me.

  We’d shared a few passionate kisses throughout the day, but nothing like this.

  I leaned fully into his kiss, which probed deep. His hands smoothed down my sides, then back up to my breasts, which he squeezed, teasing my nipples.

  My nipples hardened. A shiver shot through me. I’d never experienced anything like this before, and I was nervous.

  “Gabriel,” I said uncertainly.

  “Mm?” He paused his lips just above mine.

  “I don’t have a lot of experience—I don’t want to disappoint—.”

  He stopped my words with a gentle bite to my lower lip and I groaned. “No experience needed, my sweet Thea,” he assured me before his lips claimed mine.

  I was already wet, but now my pussy creamed. He dragged his lips from mine and moaned, kissing my neck, then pulling my hands above my head and holding them there while his other hand moved my shirt up over my head, wrapping it around my hands.

  I licked my lower lip, watching his eyes hungrily follow the trail, and he pulled me to him for a kiss that had me panting before he was done.

  “You’re sure this is all new to you?” he asked, nibbling at my ear, “Because you drive me absolutely crazy.”

  “Oh, did I neglect to tell you?” My eyes feigned innocence. “I have a new research project…”

  His eyes burned into mine, and he placed one hand on my wrists, bound together by my shirt. He stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity.

  I felt the passion escalate between us. My nipples pressed painfully against my bra, desperate for release

  My arousal was a fast burn, and I moaned as he gently cupped my chin, and moved in, kissing the base of my neck where my pulse throbbed. He nuzzled my neck, making his way toward my breast, then paused.

  “Enough, Gabriel,” I gasped.

  “Not even close,” he whispered softly, unclasping the front clip of my bra with his free hand.

  My bra fell to the side and my nipples pebbled in response to the cold air. He licked one, then the other, growling before he took one between his teeth.

  I whimpered.

  “Keep your hands above your head,” he commanded.

  Mm. Kinky, I thought, but then gasped as he squeezed my breasts together and began alternating between licks, bites, and sucks.

  If I thought I’d been wet before, I was positively dripping now.

  “Please?” I asked, panting.

  “Not even close,” he confirmed, unbuttoning my jeans, and pulling them off my legs, tossing them aside. My lace panties followed suit, and he growled as he stood above me, taking in every inch of my naked body.

  “You have too many clothes on,” I complained.

  “Tonight is about you,” he promised, and my eyes widened as he moved his head between my legs.

  “But— “

  “Just enjoy, Thea.” He encouraged as he moved between my legs, pushing them apart. “Open wider. Let me pleasure you.”



  I woke to the sun filtering through curtains. I was naked. Gabriel’s bed was super comfy, and my body felt sore. Suddenly it all came rushing back.

  There was a good reason—no four good reasons that I was sore today. I smiled like a
Cheshire Cat and stretched. A quick glance to my right confirmed that Gabriel was MIA.

  I bolted upright in the bed, what if Zee came looking for me? There was a soft knock at the door and I dove back into the bed and pulled the covers up to my chin.

  “Come in,” I said softly.

  Gabriel pushed the door open; he was holding a tray with breakfast on it. His eyes narrowed when he saw me in the bed with the blankets pulled up to my chin.

  “Where’s Zee?” I asked.

  “Fran took her to the park with the puppy.”

  I let a slow breath release through my teeth.

  “I was afraid you were her. How would I explain my nakedness?”

  His eyes darkened. He set the tray down on my nightstand and with one move whipped the covers off my body.

  I shrieked, one hand moving to cover my breasts and the other my pussy.

  “Don’t,” he growled.

  I gave him a you are kidding me, right? look, but he wasn’t having it.

  He grabbed both of my wrists and moved them above my head. “Keep them there or I’ll tie them.”

  My eyes widened, and I realized I had a lot to learn about the good doctor, but that thought filtered to the back of my mind as his teeth found one nipple and then the other.

  It was a pleasure-pain moment, and I writhed beneath him.

  My nipples hardened instantly. He sucked one into his mouth while his hand moved to my pussy.

  “Mm. So eager and wet already this morning, aren’t you?”

  “Mm,” I moaned in approval. “But today we level the playing field,” I demanded reached to pull his t-shirt over his head.

  He quickly removed his jeans, then his shorts.

  No wonder I was sore today, holy Toledo he was huge. It was a good thing I hadn’t seen that in the dark of night before he entered me.

  He smiled. “It’s all about the preparation, my darling. With proper preparation,” he continued as his fingers found my slit and moved slowly from my pussy to my clit, then back to my pussy and inside, “I’ll fill you perfectly. Hands above your head,” he reminded me.

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