Come lie with me, p.18
Come Lie With Me, page 18
Her eyes were such wide, huge golden pools of wonder, that they eclipsed the rest of her face. The thought of children was so enticing that she was tempted to tell him that she would marry him right then. She’d always wanted children, wanted to be able to pour out the deep reservoir of love that was dammed up inside her. The care and nourishment that she’d never received from her own mother were there, waiting patiently for a child of her own. Blake’s child: blue eyes; dark hair; that engaging grin that brought out his hidden dimple.
But a child was the one thing she couldn’t gamble with, so she didn’t argue with him. Instead she offered quietly, “I’ll see a doctor and get a prescription.”
“No,” he refused, steel lacing his voice. “No pills. You’re not taking any risks, however slight, with your body. I can handle it without any risk at all, and that’s the way we’ll do it.”
She didn’t mind; the thought that he was willing to take responsibility for their lovemaking was a warm, melting one. She put her arms around him and nestled against him, drinking in his scent.
“Tell me you love me,” he demanded, cupping her chin in his palm and lifting her face to him. “I know you do, but I want to hear it.”
A tremulous smile quivered on her lips. “I love you.”
“That’s what I thought,” he said with satisfaction, and kissed her as a reward. “Everything will be all right, darling. Just wait and see.”
She didn’t dare to hope, but it seemed as if he might be right. He bought a slim black cane that looked more like a sexy prop than something that was actually used as support, and every morning Miguel drove him to work. At first Dione fretted every moment he was gone. She worried that he might fall and hurt himself, that he’d try to do too much and tire himself out. After a week she was forced to admit that he was thriving on the challenge of working again. Far from falling, every day he improved, walking faster and with less effort. Nor did she have to worry that he was pushing himself too hard; he was in excellent shape, thanks to her program.
She almost drove herself mad thinking of all the women he was in contact with every day; she knew herself how attractive he was, especially with that intriguing limp. When he came home the first day she all but held her breath, waiting for him to say cheerfully, “Well, you were right; it was just infatuation. You can leave now.”
But he never said it. He returned home as eagerly as he went to work, and they spent the afternoons in the gym, or swimming if the day was warm. December was a pleasant month, with the afternoon temperatures often in the high sixties and low seventies, though at night it sometimes dipped close to freezing. Blake decided to have a heating unit put in the pool so they could swim at night, but he had so much on his mind that he kept putting it off. Dione didn’t care if the pool was ever heated or not; why bother with swimming when the nights were better spent in his arms?
Whatever happened, whatever the ending that was eventually written to their particular story, she would always love him for freeing her from the cage of fear. In his arms she forgot about the past and concentrated only on the pleasure he gave her, pleasure which she joyously returned.
He was the lover who she had needed; he was mature enough to understand the rewards of patience, and astute enough to sometimes be impatient. He gave, he demanded, he stroked, he experimented, he laughed, he teased, and he satisfied. He was as happily fascinated with her body as she was with his, and that was the sort of open admiration that she needed. The events that had shaped her had made her wary of repressed emotion, even when that emotion was happiness, and the complete honesty with which Blake treated her gave her a secure springboard from which she launched herself as a woman, secure at last in her own femininity and sexuality.
The days of December were the happiest of her life. She had known peace and contentment, not a small accomplishment after the terror she’d survived, but with Blake she was truly happy. Except for the absence of a ceremony, she might already have been married to him, and each passing day the idea of being his wife became more firmly rooted in her mind, changing from impossible to implausible, then to chancy, then to a half-scared, hopeful “maybe.” She refused to let herself progress beyond that, afraid of tempting the fates, but still she began to dream of a long stretch of days, even years, and she found herself thinking up names for babies.
He took her Christmas shopping, something she’d never done before in her life. No one had ever been close enough to her to either give or receive a gift, and when Blake learned this, he embarked on a crusade to make her first real Christmas one that would boggle the imagination. The house was decorated in a unique and not always logical blend of traditional and desert styles; every cactus found itself sporting gaily colored bows or even decorative glass balls, if the spines were large enough. He had holly and mistletoe flown in and kept in the refrigerator until it was time to put them up, and Alberta entered into the spirit of the season by scouring cookbooks for traditional Christmas recipes.
Dione realized that they were all going to so much trouble for her, and she was determined to throw herself into the preparations and the happiness. Suddenly it seemed that the world was full of people who cared, and those she cared for.
She’d been half-fearful that Blake would embarrass her by giving her a lot of expensive gifts, and she was both delighted and relieved when she began opening her gifts to find that they were small, thoughtful and sometimes humorous. A long, flat box that could have held a watch or an expensive bracelet instead yielded an array of tiny charms that made her laugh aloud: a miniature barbell, a track shoe, a sweatband, a Frisbee, a loving cup trophy and a little silver bell that actually gave a tinny little chime when she shook it. Another box held the charm bracelet that the charms were supposed to go on; a third gift was a best seller that she’d picked up in a bookstore just the week before, then replaced and forgotten to buy in the confusion of shopping. A lacy black mantilla drifted over her head and she looked up to smile at Richard, who was regarding her with an oddly tender look in his cool gray eyes. Serena’s gift made her gasp and quickly stuff it back into the box, as Serena rolled with laughter and Blake immediately came over to wrestle the box away from her and hold up the contents: a very intimate garment with heart-shaped cutouts in strategic places.
“This was something you overlooked when you bought all those clothes to wage war in,” Serena said innocently, her blue eyes as limpid as a child’s.
“Ahhh, those clothes.” Blake sighed in satisfaction.
Dione snatched the teddy…thing…whatever…away from him and replaced it in the box, her cheeks fiery red. “Why is everyone watching me?” she asked uncomfortably. “Why aren’t you opening your own gifts?”
“Because you’re so beautiful to watch,” Blake replied softly, leaning down so only she could hear him. “Your eyes are shining like a little girl’s. I have something else for you to…ah, unwrap later on tonight. Think you might be interested?”
She stared at him, her black pupils dilating until they almost obscured the golden rims. “I’m interested,” she murmured, her body already quickening at the thought of the lovemaking they’d share later, when they were laying pressed together in his big bed.
“It’s a date,” he whispered.
The rest of the gifts were opened amid laughter and thank-yous; then Alberta served hot buttered rum. Dione seldom drank, having an aversion to alcohol that dated back to her earliest childhood, but she drank the rum because she was happy and relaxed and suddenly the old restrictions no longer mattered so much. The rum slid smoothly down her throat, warming her, and when that was finished she drank another.
After Serena and Richard had left, Blake helped Dione up the stairs with a steadying arm around her waist. He was laughing softly, and she leaned into him, letting him take most of her weight. “What’s so funny?” she asked sleepily.
“You are. You’re half-drunk, and you’re beautiful. Did you know that you’ve had the sweetest, sleep
She stopped on the stairs and turned fully into his arms, winding herself around him. “You know I wouldn’t miss that for the world,” she purred.
“I’ll see that you don’t.”
She let him talk her into wearing the scandalous teddy that Serena had given her, and he made love to her while she had it on, then even that scrap of fabric seemed to get in his way and he stripped it off her. “Nothing’s as lovely as your skin,” he whispered, stringing kisses like popcorn across her stomach.
She felt drugged, her mind a little fuzzy, but her body was throbbing, arching instinctively to meet the rhythmic thrusts that took her to bliss and beyond when he left off kissing her all over and possessed her again. When they were finished she lay weak and trembling on the bed, protesting with a murmur when she felt him leave her side.
“I’ll be right back,” he reassured her, and he was, his weight pressing the mattress familiarly. She smiled and moved her hand to touch him lightly, all without opening her eyes.
“Don’t go to sleep,” he warned. “Not yet. You haven’t unwrapped your last present.”
She propped her lids open. “But I thought that you were…when we made love, I thought that…” she mumbled in confusion.
He chuckled and slid an arm behind her back, urging her into a sitting position. “I’m glad you liked that, but I have something else for you.” He placed another long, slim box in her hand.
“But you’ve already given me so much,” she protested, awakening at the feel of the box.
“Not like this. This is special. Go ahead, open it.”
He sat with his arm still around her, watching her face and smiling as she fumbled with the elegant gold wrapping, her agile fingers suddenly clumsy. She lifted the lid off and stared speechlessly at the simple pendant that lay on satin lining like a cobweb of gold. A dark red heart, chiseled and planed, was attached to the chain.
“That’s a ruby,” she stammered.
“No,” he corrected gently, lifting it from the box and placing it around her neck. “That’s my heart.” The chain was long, and the ruby heart slid down her chest to nestle between her breasts, gleaming with dark fire as it lay against her honeyed skin.
“Wear that forever,” he murmured, his eyes on the lush curves that his gift used as a pillow. “And my heart will always be touching yours.”
A single, crystalline tear escaped the confines of her lashes, and rolled slowly down her cheek. He leaned over and caught it with his tongue. “An engagement ring wasn’t good enough for you, so I’m giving you an engagement heart. Will you wear it, darling? Will you marry me?”
She stared at him with eyes so huge and deep that they drowned the entire world. For a month she’d shared his bed, trying to prepare herself for the day when she was no longer able to do so, savoring every moment with him in an attempt to store up pleasure as a squirrel stores acorns as insurance against a hard winter. She’d been certain that he would lose interest in her, but every day he’d turned to her and taken her in his arms, told her that he loved her. Perhaps the dream wasn’t a dream, after all, but reality. Perhaps she could dare to believe.
“Yes,” she heard herself say shakily as her heart and hungry yearnings overruled her head, and her head instantly tried to recover lost ground by adding, “but give me time to get used to the idea…. It doesn’t seem quite real.”
“It’s real, all right,” he muttered, sliding his hand along her ribcage until a warm, full breast filled his palm. He studied the sheer perfection of her softly veined flesh, the taut little cherry tip that responded instantly to his lightest touch, and his body began to tighten with the familiar need that he could never quite satisfy. Gently he began to ease her down into a supine position. “I don’t mind a long engagement,” he said absently. “Two weeks is plenty of time.”
“Blake! I was thinking in terms of months, not weeks!”
He looked up sharply; then as he saw the frightened uncertainty in her face, his gaze softened and his mouth eased into a smile. “Then name the day, darling, as long as it’s within six months and you don’t pick either Groundhog Day or April Fool’s Day.”
She tried to think, but her mind was suddenly fuzzy, entirely preoccupied by the rough, wonderful rasp of his hard hands over her body. His finger slid between her legs and she gasped aloud, a hot twinge of pleasure shooting through her body. “May Day,” she said, no longer really caring.
He was disconcerted, too, his senses caught by the rich beauty of the woman under his hand while he tried to make sense of her words. “Mayday?” he asked, puzzled and a little shocked. “You’re asking for help?”
“No…May Day, not mayday,” she explained, exaggerating the two words so he could hear the pause between them. “The first of May.”
“What about it?” he murmured, dipping his head to taste the straining nipples that had been tempting him. He was rapidly losing all interest in the conversation.
“That’s when we’re getting married,” she gasped, her body beginning a slow, undulating dance.
Those words made sense to him, and he lifted his head. “I can’t persuade you to marry me before then?”
“I…don’t know,” she moaned. Her nails flexed into his shoulders. He could probably talk her into anything he wanted, the way she felt now. Though they had made love only a short while before, the need that was filling her was so urgent that it might have been years since he’d taken her. She turned to him, her sleek, soft body crowding him, and he knew without words what she wanted. He lay back, his hands guiding her as she flowed over him and engulfed him. She was wild when she loved him like that, her long black hair streaming down her back, falling across his face when she leaned forward. She worshipped him with the ancient, carnal dance of love, and the ruby heart lay on her breast like a drop of liquid fire.
For two days nothing intruded on the spell of happiness that held them enthralled. Everyone was pleased with the engagement, from the taciturn Miguel to a bubbling Serena. Alberta was as satisfied as if she’d arranged it all herself, and Angela hummed all day long. Serena passed along Richard’s best wishes; evidently a wedding was just what everyone wanted, and Dione almost forgot why she’d been so cautious in the beginning.
On the third day Serena arrived for dinner, alone and pale, though she was composed. “I might as well tell you, before someone else does,” she said quietly. “Richard and I are separated.”
Dione stifled her gasp of shock. They had been getting along so much better for the past several weeks that she’d stopped being concerned with their situation. She looked swiftly at Blake, and was shocked again at the change in his expression. She had known him as laughing, loving, teasing, angry, even afraid, but never before had she seen him so deadly and intent. Suddenly she realized that she’d never really felt the force of his personality, because he’d always tempered his actions with consideration for her. Now the steel, the sheer power, was showing as he prepared to protect his sister.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked Serena in a calm, lethal tone.
Serena looked at him and even smiled, her eyes full of love. “Nothing,” she said simply. “This is something I have to work out with Richard. Blake, please, don’t let this interfere with your working relationship with him; this is more my fault than it is his, and it wouldn’t be fair for you to take it out on him.”
“How is it your fault?” he growled.
“For not growing up and getting my priorities straight until it was almost too late,” she replied, a hint of the same steel lacing her sweeter voice. “I’m not giving up on him, not without a fight. Don’t ask me any more questions, because I won’t answer them. He’s my husband, and this is a private matter.”
He regarded her silently for a moment, then gave a brief nod. “All right. But you know that I’ll do whatever I can, whenever you ask.
“Of course I do,” she said, her face relaxing. “It’s just that I have to do this on my own. I have to learn how to fight my own battles.” As she spoke she flashed Dione a look that said, “See, I’m trying.” Dione nodded in acknowledgement, then looked up to find that Blake had witnessed the little exchange and was also staring at her, a steel determination in his expression. Dione met his stare blandly; he could ask, but she didn’t have to answer. If Serena wanted her brother to know that she was deliberately trying to put a distance between them, then she would tell him. If not, then he’d have to figure it out for himself. Richard and Serena didn’t need any more interference in their marriage, and if Blake discovered that he was the basic cause of their separation, he was fully capable of taking it up with Richard.
Later that night, after he had made love to her with an intensity that left her dazed and sleepy, he said lazily, “What’s going on between you and Serena? All those significant glances have to mean something.”
It was a sneak attack, she realized, struggling to gather her wits. He’d made love to her as usual, waited until she was almost asleep, and caught her unaware. To make the situation more even, she cuddled against him and slid her hand down his side in a long, slow caress. When she reached his thighs she was rewarded by the clenching of his entire body.
“It was nothing,” she murmured, pressing soft, hot kisses on his chest. “Just a conversation we had the day she took me shopping for all those sexy clothes that you liked so much. She must have a secret fetish for indecent underwear. She picked out most of those barely there nightgowns, and then she gave me that teddy for Christmas.”
Hard fingers wrapped around her wrist, and he removed her hand from his body. Leaning over, he switched on the lamp and washed them with light. Dione watched him, knowing that he wanted to be able to read the nuances of expression that crossed her face. She tried to shield her thoughts, but an uneasy coldness began to creep over her skin as she stared into his piercing blue eyes.
by Linda Howard / Romance / Mystery & Thrillers have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes