Sunday, September 18, 2011

Massage Therapy, Chapter 17 - Test, part 2

From the Desktop of Bella Swan
Sunday, August 29

When Edward is sleeping, I can imagine what he must have looked like as a boy.

His furrows are smoothed, his fine lines softened into an untroubled landscape. His lips and cheeks are still translucent pink, eyelashes inordinately long. The hallmarks of a child’s beauty still linger in the blueprint of his adult face. I long to see photographs of Edward when he was young and carefree, still unspoiled by life’s harsher lessons.

That vestige of long-lost innocence held me in its spell as I watched him sleep on my sofa. The early-morning massage appointments, rigorous tennis match and punishing sex that followed had taken their toll. We had settled on the couch after our kitchen tryst, wrapped in a silent cocoon of each other’s arms and our own thoughts, before Edward grew drowsy and I encouraged him to take a nap. He insisted I lay with him, and I was happy to oblige for awhile, feeling each breath he took rumble in his chest before stirring the hair on my neck.

I was wide awake, thinking. Pondering. Trying to figure out why Edward always pushed our boundaries in the sexual arena and nowhere else. Maybe that was the place where words weren’t as important; where he could simply take action and be in control.

I wondered where he would have taken our game if I hadn’t sucked the wind out of his sails. Did he really bring sex toys to my house this weekend? If so, what kind? I doubted they would be anything that would really shock me. I had already crossed the line with him that first night, when he literally had me up against the wall. In that telltale moment, I had made the decision that I would follow wherever he led me. I had given my body, my heart and my soul to him willingly. So what was he still fighting for?

I wasn’t sure, but I had no doubt that he was struggling. The fear was in his eyes again. The same fear that Rosalie had once spoken of seeing when she looked at him--the fear I saw the first night I saw him sing. Something was changing . . . escalating. I felt the fear seeping into me through osmosis. But I wasn’t afraid for myself. I was afraid for him.

I stroked the soft hair at his temple and touched my lips to his in butterfly kisses. The corners of his mouth turned up in a smile and his arms tightened around me, but he didn’t awaken. There was no greater feeling than the one I had in that moment, knowing that even unconsciously, I made him smile.

I wanted nothing more than to erase Edward’s sadness; to make him forget whatever was plaguing him, at least for a little while. Having the power to do that, even temporarily, was not one I took lightly. He had done the same for me many times over. I was ready to do whatever he asked--or demanded--of me. I didn’t feel ashamed of my acquiescence because I would be asking for his as well.

He had told me that sex was a two-way street--all about give and take. To me, every aspect of a relationship should to be that way, not just the sex. I was willing to give, and I expected him to do the same in return. He hadn’t disappointed me so far.

Except for not revealing to me what was eating away at his soul, of course. I was torn between wanting to know everything about his past and enjoying my ignorant bliss awhile longer. I had the feeling this was one of those times when I should be careful what I wished for.

Hunger pangs began to gnaw at me as I lay wrapped in Edward’s embrace. I looked over his shoulder to the clock on the wall and saw that it would soon be time for dinner. I decided that I should fix something substantial, because I was sure he would be ravenous when he awoke.

I also suspected that our evening was going to be an intense one. Like last Saturday night, I knew that he was not finished with me. This would be another weekend of exploration, of pushing boundaries and getting to know one another even more intimately.

“Bring it on, Mister Cullen,” I whispered softly in his ear. “I’m ready for you.”

He made a low, throaty sound but remained asleep. I chuckled a little as I tried to gently extricate myself from his grip, but as I slid out of his arms and let my feet drop to the floor, he scowled and grabbed for me in earnest.

“Where are you going?” he murmured, eying me through heavy lids.

“To make us some dinner. Don’t get up. I’ll wake you when it’s ready.”

The smile played at the corner of his lips again. “You are the most awesome girlfriend ever.”

“Yes, I am, and don’t you forget it.”


I pulled the nearby afghan over his shirtless torso before I kissed him on the tip of the nose and made my way to the kitchen.

The first thing I noticed was the tablecloth, wrinkled and completely askew from the primal acts that had taken place on its surface. I smoothed and straightened it out of habit, then realized with chagrin that it needed to be thrown in the hamper after having my naked body thrust repeatedly against its surface.

Goosebumps rose on my skin at the memory. It wasn’t a regretful shudder, but a delicious shiver. I wondered why I didn’t feel more humiliated at being spanked like a child before being fucked like a whore. Or maybe I did feel humiliated, but perversely enjoyed the debasement. Perhaps on some deeply subconscious level, I felt I deserved the punishment, for transgressions long gone but not forgotten. And maybe Edward was provoking me into retaliation--waiting for me to strike back and give him the treatment he thought he deserved.

I tried now to dissect what I’d been feeling as Edward’s slaps to my ass had continued, methodical and deliberate, hard and unrelenting. The resulting sensations had forced me to teeter on the knife’s edge between pleasure and pain until the line between them began to blur, one becoming indistinguishable from the other.

I’d been undeniably turned on by his show of dominance. My groin was throbbing with want and thick with cream by the time he impaled me with his cock. I had felt like a cat in heat, panting to be taken, reveling in the sensation of his body possessing mine. Every hard slap of his torso against my ass was reminiscent of the smacks from his hands--pushing my body to the brink of pain with the intensity of its pleasure. He liked bringing me to the edge; dangling me there on the precipice until I fell with him, always on the side of ecstasy.

I had enjoyed teasing him too, the times I had gone down on him. Giving and withholding pleasure; making him wait until I was ready for him to come. Was that so different than what he had done to me this afternoon? We were already mastering the art of give and take, yet Edward still seemed intent on testing our limits.

Fine. I could test his limits, too. I had the feeling that’s what he was after anyway, when all was said and done. He was waiting for me to push back.

As I began poking around in the refrigerator, I decided that I was probably over-thinking things. I doubted Edward had ever sat around analyzing our sex life thus far. He had probably reasoned it down to the basic fact that he loved fucking me, and I loved it too. We should just enjoy ourselves, do whatever felt good and forego whatever didn’t. My life would probably easier if I thought like a man more often.

After a quick inventory of the kitchen, I discovered I had the ingredients to make a simple version of Italian chicken with some rice pilaf and veggies on the side. I hummed contentedly to myself the entire time I prepared the meal. I like cooking for Edward, just as I did for Charlie. Men are so easy to please in that respect. They always seem inordinately grateful for even the simplest offering.

Chicken in the oven, broccoli and rice on the stove, I left the kitchen unattended for a moment to throw on some real clothes. I refused to sit at the table and eat dinner in my underwear, regardless of the fact that they might be coming off again right after the meal. Besides, this pair was ruined with the evidence of our last bout of love-making.

As I threw them in the hamper along with the kitchen tablecloth, I prayed again that my birth control pills had been doing their job this past week. I had gone from zero to one-eighty in the sex department in just eight days. When I stopped to think about how much sex I’d been having, I was a little stunned. Was that normal for a couple who had just gotten together? I supposed it was. Sort of the “honeymoon” phase of a new relationship.

Then again, since when did Edward and I ever qualify as “normal” anyway?

The cooking smells permeating the apartment must have awakened him, because he was standing next to the sofa, yawning and stretching, when I emerged from the bedroom. He looked more like a lion than ever, mane awry in every direction, ubiquitous scruff sprouting from his face and neck.

He was magnificent.

“You knock me out,” I whispered, half to myself, as our eyes met.

“What’s that?” he asked as he approached, arms outstretched to me.

“Nothing. I’m a lucky girl, that’s all,” I sighed as I allowed myself to be enfolded in his embrace. I hugged him close and laid my cheek against his chest, taking comfort in the beat of his heart beneath my ear.

“Always backwards,” he teased softly, his fingers stroking my hair. “Especially when I wake up to delicious smells like this. I can’t believe you cooked for me again.”

“Why wouldn’t I? We have to eat. And I have yet to see you attempt anything more
than a sandwich.” I grinned up at him, and the sight of him so close nearly knocked me out again.

“I’m going to fix my grilled salmon for you sometime, and make you eat your words along with it.” He grinned back down at me as his hands gently cupped the sides of my face, then combed through the hair behind my ears. His touch still undid me completely. I wondered if I would ever be immune.

“Promises, promises,” I said with a slight roll of my eyes.

“Hey, that’s how I got Lucky to stick around. Maybe it’ll work on you, too.”

I shook my head in exasperation. “I think your other methods have already done the trick.”

He answered with only a self-satisfied “hmm” before giving me a sweet, languorous kiss. It was all I could do to pull away from him to go check on dinner. He tagged along close behind, his hand refusing to relinquish my waist. He hovered over my shoulder as I checked on the chicken, then peered down into the dishes while I stirred and seasoned them some more.

“Looks great,” he said appreciatively. “I’m famished.”

“I wonder why,” I retorted with the quirk of an eyebrow as I turned to face him. My eyes raked over his long leanness, clad only in slate gray boxer briefs.

“Why don’t you put on some clothes for dinner?” I suggested as my gaze hovered helplessly over his bare torso in my face. “Unless you want me to end up using you as my plate.”

His eyebrows shot up and that irresistible smirk possessed his mouth. “Funny you should mention that. I have very special plans of that nature for dessert.”

A surge of adrenaline raced through me as I raised questioning eyes to his.

“You still haven’t snooped in my backpack, have you?” he asked. He sounded almost annoyed. “How many hints does a guy have to drop?”

I ignored the familiar little dance my nerves were doing down my spine and through my groin. I narrowed my eyes at him and said, “Don’t worry. I plan to do a thorough inspection after dinner. You’re obviously dying for me to find out just how perverted you really are.”

His grin was truly devilish then, even while he feigned innocence. “I’m not perverted at all. I’m only interested in giving you complete and unadulterated pleasure.”

Sweet Jesus. “You already do that,” I informed him, as if he didn’t already know.

“Oh, I’m just getting started,” he murmured, leaning closer and giving me a look so provocative that I was ready to disrobe and have a go with him on the countertop next.

“I’ll bet you are,” I answered hoarsely before I gave him a gentle shove. He really did need to take his naked, smirky, sexy self away from me before dinner was ruined. I wondered if he had any idea how deeply he affected me, even more so now that we were intimate. His nearness was almost more than I could take sometimes.

Edward let out a defeated sigh, then went to the living room to retrieve his clothes while I set the table. By the time he returned, I was pulling the chicken from the oven. He helped me carry the dishes to the table, then sat down and filled his plate with enough rations to feed a small platoon.

“Do you want a salad, or bread, or fruit or anything?” I asked him, worried that I hadn’t fixed enough food.

“No, I’m fine. This is so good,” he mumbled through a mouthful of chicken.

“Okay,” I said with a small laugh. Even after Charlie’s roughest days on the police beat, he never ate this much. But I liked the fact that Edward had stopped having impeccable manners in front of me. It wasn’t in him to be a slob, but he was clearly comfortable enough to chow down when he was hungry and not worry about what I thought.

“Is something wrong?” he asked me.

“No. Why?”

“You’re not eating,” he pointed out. Then, suddenly, he bolted from his chair. “Shit, I forgot the wine. I’m sorry,” he called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the living room again. Apparently wine was one of the weekend provisions he’d brought with him.

“That’s fine, we don’t need it,” I hollered after him, but he was already back and fishing glasses out of the cabinet by the time I was done.

“Of course we do. A dinner this good deserves a nice glass of wine to go with it,” he insisted.

I shrugged and decided maybe a couple of drinks would be a good idea before I faced the more questionable contents of Edward’s backpack. I thanked him as he set two generous glassfuls on the table and settled back in his chair.

“By the way, where did that nice tablecloth go?” he teased, referring to the bare wood tabletop.

“I thought that perhaps it would be in poor taste to eat dinner off of it after we just had sex on it.”

He crooked his half-grin at me and said, “I would have had absolutely no problem with that.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Because you know me well,” he smiled. It was that secret sort of smile only a lover can give. The kind that causes all sorts of tingles and flutters to invade various parts of my body.

It was also the kind that suddenly made me ask myself, how well do I know him? My split second of uncertainty at the answer brought on flutters of an entirely different nature.

He didn’t seem to notice my uneasy pause. “Let’s make a toast to that,” he suggested, raising his wine glass.

“To what, exactly?” I asked, lifting my glass to his.

“To knowing each other even better,” he said. His eyes seemed to be searching mine for something. Or maybe offering me something instead.

“To knowing each other completely.” I gave him a pointed look as I clinked my glass against his.

He hesitated briefly before echoing me. “Completely.”

We continued to stare at each other as we sipped and swallowed to seal the deal.

“So, what are you doing for Labor Day?” he asked in an offhand manner, as if changing the subject wasn’t a relief for him.

I had to stop and think. “A week from Monday, right? Well, I guess I’ll still be recovering from the music festival on Saturday,” I said with a laugh. I was actually looking forward to my first real find for Java Noise headlining a big local show. I could feel that Vegan Vamps were on the verge of a breakthrough beyond the local scene, and a lot was riding on their performance next Saturday night.

“Right,” Edward said in acknowledgement. “So, how would you feel about recovering with me at my parents’ house that day?” he asked hesitantly.

“You mom and dad want us to come over?” My heart leapt a little at the prospect. Surely Edward wanting me to spend more time with his family was a good sign. And the fact that they liked me enough to invite me into their home had to be a good sign, too.

“Yeah, you know my mom. Any occasion to throw a little party and she’s all over it like white on rice,” he said with a fond chuckle. “She wants all of us kids to bring our significant others over for a barbecue or something. It’s kind of a send-off for Alice before she goes to grad school. What do you think?”

I could feel my face practically beaming. “I think that sounds great. I’d love to come. I’m going to miss Alice, though,” I added.

“I will, too” he said wistfully. “Except when she’s being a colossal pain in my ass,” he amended with a grin. His smile faded a little and he gave me a concerned look. “Rosalie’s invited, too. I hope that won’t be too awkward.”

I bristled slightly and took a couple sips of wine. “I guess I’ll have to wait and see how this week goes at work before I get too worried about it. I’m still blown away at what she did. What does Emmett think about the stunt she pulled?” I wondered suddenly.

Edward frowned. “I haven’t spoken to him yet. I’m curious to know if she even told him. Surely she did. She’d have to know that if she didn’t, I would.”

“Well, if she’s not honest with him at this stage in their relationship, there’s not much hope for their future together,” I commented. “I mean, she can’t keep something that big from him and think she’ll get away with it.”

Edward’s frown deepened, and his eyes grew distant as he stabbed at his food with his fork.

What are you hiding from me? I wondered. How bad could it be? Don’t you know that I’ll love you no matter what?

I could feel the words on the edge of my tongue, waiting to be spoken. But as he continued to avoid my gaze by concentrating intently on his meal, I knew I couldn’t utter them. I didn’t want to push. Fate would eventually force his hand, just as it had mine when I’d nearly killed Lucky and could no longer keep my past trauma inside. All I could do now was be there for him when he reached the tipping point.

“You’re Emmett’s brother,” I continued. “She has to know that you two will talk. I’d love to hear her explanation to him for why she railroaded you the way she did.”

Edward finally raised guarded eyes to mine. “I think I’m just going to drop a couple of hints the next time I see him, to find out how much he knows. Hopefully Rosalie came clean on her own. I don’t think I should be the one to do it for her.”

I decided it was time to steer the conversation away from this sore subject. “Well, regardless of what’s going on with her, I’m looking forward to spending some time with your family. I like your mom and dad. I want to get to know them better.”

Edward finally smiled at that. “I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Brace yourself for the inquisition.”

I only laughed. “You have the weirdest view of your parents. They’ve been nothing but nice to me so far.”

“And I’m sure they’ll continue being perfectly polite while they grill you about your long-term life goals, and how many kids you’d like to have one day,” he warned with a grin.

“Well, that’s easy: work my way up to being President of Java Noise, then have two-point-five kids.”

“I’m glad you have it all figured out,” Edward said with an impressed-looking raise of his eyebrows. “Let’s nix the half-a-child idea, though, okay? We don’t need that kind of challenge.”

We. He was talking about a long-term future in terms of “we.” First came his teasing about marriage, and now children? We’d been dating a mere week. But as Edward and I exchanged that secret smile again, I couldn’t imagine wanting those things with anyone else.

We kept the conversation light during the rest of dinner. Edward asked if it was okay to bring the gang to the Seattle Music Fest next weekend if they promised not to bug me while I was working. I assured him that there wasn’t a lot for me to do except make sure that everything was running smoothly between Vegan Vamps and the event promoters. Rosalie and I would see to it that the band got their allotted sound check time and were able to set up properly for the show. We would be there for trouble-shooting more than anything else. The band’s management would take care of a lot of the hands-on work.

By the time I was done explaining our duties and describing how excited I was to see my first pet project headline a festival, Edward had cleaned his plate. He was leaning back in his chair, arms crossed, grinning and staring me down with those penetrating eyes of his.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” I finally demanded as I finished up my own dinner.

“I love how excited you get when you talk about your work,” he smiled. “You have such passion for what you do. It’s one of my favorite things about you.”

I gave him an embarrassed smile back. “That’s one of my favorite things about you too, you know. You care about what you do, and it shows. I’m living proof.”

For a brief moment, he looked as if he was going to argue with me about it. But then he said simply, “Thanks.”

I began cleaning up the dishes and Edward was quick to help me carry them to the sink. He offered to help me wash them, but I suggested we leave them for later. I didn’t want to do chores. I wanted to drink more wine and find out what he was planning for this mysterious “dessert” of his, which apparently involved one or both of us being used as the serving dish. I allowed my mind to wander a little further down that decadent road now that supper was finished and night was falling.

“Thank you for feeding me, by the way. That was delicious,” he declared, wrapping his arm around my waist and leaning down for a peck on the cheek. “It was so good I almost didn’t leave room for dessert.”

“The operative word being ‘almost,’ right?” I replied with an askance look up at him.

“I always have room when it comes to my appetite for you,” he replied suggestively as he steered me toward the living room.

“Hmm. So are you trying to tell me that I’m the last course?”

“That’s the plan. But I’ll need your complete cooperation in order for it to work,” he said, in that mildly ominous tone he liked to drape in velvet so that it was more agreeable.

“You mean, my submission?” I clarified. We were nearing the couch now, where Edward’s belongings lay.

His lips twitched as he fought the smirk. “Only for a little while. And then I’ll give you mine.”

I bit my lip, unable to quell my rising apprehension. Or was it excitement? The blood was pulsing between my legs as I sat down on the sofa, next to the backpack. Edward sat on the other side. We looked at the innocent black nylon bag, then at each other.

“Okay, let’s see what we have here,” I said, trying to keep my voice nonchalant. I unzipped the backpack and looked down at what appeared to be nothing but a couple changes of clothing. I reached in and pulled out jeans, t-shirts and briefs, uncovering two zipped bags at the bottom of the backpack. Inspection of the first revealed that it contained the usual mundane toiletries. My heart began to thud erratically as I pulled out the second bag and slowly opened it.

A glint of shiny silver was the first thing I saw as I drew back the zipper. The round, connected circles of metal that met my eyes were quickly identifiable as handcuffs. My heart picked up its pace as the reality of what was about to happen began to set in.

I gingerly pulled them out and dangled them between us while Edward warily studied my face, waiting for my reaction.

“Handcuffs,” I managed to comment, trying to sound blasé. “You really own a pair of handcuffs?”

“Two pair, actually,” he replied smoothly, glancing at the bag. “One for each hand. They should work well with your headboard.”

My heart was racing now, as were my thoughts. I peered down into the bag and sure enough, the second pair was right there on top. I removed them from the bag and set them with their mate on top of the coffee table. I took a deep breath and looked to see what else he had in store for me.

Something encased in a zip-lock bag was next. I grasped the bag in slightly trembling fingers and pulled it out into the light where I could see the contents.

I was greeted with the sight of a pale pink vibrator. It consisted of a smooth, slender wand attached to a handle with a multi-speed switch on it. I stared at it a moment, immediately wondering what he planned to do with it. Its girth was nowhere near that of his own penis, which made me suspect he was not interested in stimulating my vagina with it.

I raised a knowing eyebrow at him, but his face remained a mask of anxious expectation. He was waiting for me to finish.

There were only two more items in the bag. The first answered my question about the vibrator, because it was a tube of personal lubricant. The second made me laugh out loud.

“Hershey’s chocolate syrup?” I exclaimed. It was so ordinary, so harmless-looking compared to the other sex props that I couldn’t help but erupt in nervous laughter. Suddenly the picture of what he wanted to do became perfectly clear.

“It reminds me of your eyes,” he said with a cautious smile.

“My eyes?” I said with a humorous snort. But when I looked up at Edward, I could see he was serious.

“I think it will look good on you,” he said softly, seductively. “And taste even better.”

My heart picked up its pace again as I began to anticipate Edward’s fantasy come to life. I looked for a way to relieve some of my anxiety, so I reverted back to false bravado.

“So this is it?” I asked him, waving the empty bag in the air before setting it on the coffee table with the other toys. “I’d say you showed remarkable restraint. There are no whips or gags, no cock rings or butt plugs here,” I said cavalierly. I’d never even seen any of those things in person, let alone used them. But the second or two of shock on Edward’s face was worth the outrageous comment.

He composed himself quickly. “I left those at home this time,” he joked, although I wasn’t absolutely certain he was kidding. I decided to voice my suspicions.

“I’m surprised you forgot the plugs, considering what a butt fetish you have.”

His eyes narrowed at me. I wondered if he would deny it, but I knew it was true.

“I have a Bella fetish,” he replied diplomatically. “I love all your parts equally.”

“That’s very politically correct of you, Mr. Cullen,” I said. “But I happen to know you are especially enamored of my ass.”

He took a breath and tried to stifle his grin. “It’s a very sweet ass. I won’t deny it.”

I decided to be candid, since we were about to embark on a journey into new territory and I really had nothing--or maybe everything--to lose.

“So why didn’t you try it earlier? In the kitchen,” I questioned.

“Try what?” he replied obtusely. He wanted me to say it out loud.

I decided to skip being vulgar and put it in clinical terms. “Why didn’t you try to have anal sex with me? I know you want to.”

His gentle smile was almost patronizing. “Because I would have hurt you, and you never would have let me near your ass again.”

I thought back to the pornos that Mike had made me watch. It had always looked so easy; not really painful. Edward obviously caught my quizzical expression because he continued to explain.

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a very big difference between the size of my finger and the size of my dick,” he said, as if I were a simpleton. My irritation rose, just like it had the first day in his office when he had spoken to me that way.

“So you don’t think my ass can handle it?” I said crossly.

He let out a short laugh. “I know your ass can’t handle it. Yet,” he said. Then his tone grew more serious. “But I’d like to work up to it, if you’re willing. If you want to.”

I looked over at the pink vibrator again and understood his logic. Its size appeared to split the difference between what I was used to and what he hoped I’d get used to. I realized I was as curious as I was nervous about that particular sexual frontier. I knew that I would end up trusting him as I always had, and that most likely I wouldn’t be sorry.

He reached out and took my face in his hand, stroking my jaw with his thumb. “If you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to. Just tell me and we’ll stop. You know that, right?”

“Of course I know that,” I assured him. “I want to be open-minded. I want to make you happy.”

He scowled and his eyes flashed with anger. “No. Don’t do anything just to make me happy. Whatever you decide, do it to make yourself happy. That’s all I want. I want you to feel amazing, and get off on whatever we try. Otherwise, forget it.”

I tried to explain myself better. “But Edward, a relationship is about compromise. I like doing things to make you happy, just like you do for me. I feel safe with you and I want to try new things with you. I want you to get off just as much as you want me to. I won’t know if I like something until I try it.”

His hand continued to stroke my face; his eyes did the equivalent with their gaze.

“You have to tell me immediately if you want me to stop,” he ordered.

“I will,” I promised earnestly. And then, a little less so: “Bossy.”

His eyes took on a wicked gleam. “Name-calling is grounds for the handcuffs, you know.”

“Am I in trouble?” I murmured, sensing a new game beginning. “Are you going to arrest me?”

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice dropping, becoming huskier. “But I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to detain you for awhile.”

“I won’t answer any questions without my lawyer present,” I declared. “And don’t even think about frisking me. You lay one hand on me and I’ll make you pay.”

“I look forward to your retaliation, Miss Swan,” he murmured, his face dangerously close, lips nearly touching mine. Then, right as I was about to give in to his kiss, he turned abruptly and scooped all the sex props back into their container.

I had no time to react as he zipped the bag, tucked it under his arm, then turned and hoisted me over his shoulder. He stood up from the couch and hauled me, caveman-style, to my bedroom while I shrieked in mock protest. He then tossed me unceremoniously on the bed and was on top of me in seconds, ensconcing himself between my legs.

“It’s no use fighting,” he purred, his lips inches from mine. “I have reason to believe that you’re a thief. I intend to search you thoroughly until I can prove that you’ve stolen something of mine.”

“And what’s that?” I retorted, wrapping my arms and legs around him rather than struggling.

“My heart,” he said with a cheesy grin.

I groaned, rolling my eyes. “Does that line actually work on anyone?”

“You’ll have to let me know,” he replied, still grinning. And then, suddenly, his mouth captured mine, and all laughter stopped. His tongue was probing and insatiable--searching, just as he had promised.

We gasped for air when he finally broke away. “You do have my heart,” he said, not joking this time. “And my soul, my body, even my thoughts . . . They’re all about you.” He kissed me again, still hungry. My kisses in return were just as greedy. I moaned and writhed beneath him, burying my fingers in the thicket of his hair.

“I’d say it’s an even trade,” I gasped the minute he pried his lips away. “It’s only fair when you own me completely.”

“Do I?” he asked, his eyes imploring for a moment before his wicked smirk returned. “Then you won’t mind if I strip-search you for evidence.”

He began pulling at my clothes then; t-shirt up, shorts down. His hands stroked my bare limbs; lips and tongue and teeth nipped at my neck and chest. I yanked at his clothes too, determined to reveal his bare flesh as quickly as he had mine. He helped me along, throwing our t-shirts in unison to the floor before pushing my camisole toward my shoulders. I raised my arms obediently so that he could draw the fabric over them and toss it atop our shirts.

His mouth closed over my left breast immediately, knotting the flesh of my nipple thoroughly with his teeth and tongue before capturing the right breast and repeating the motion. My fingers tore into his hair and kneaded his scalp while I rocked beneath him, pushing my body against his. His lips traveled south, tongue leaving a wet trail on his way to the boy shorts.

“And what might you be hiding in here, Miss Swan?” he asked, pulling at the waistband. “I’m afraid you’ve left me no choice but to perform a body cavity search.”

Down came the fabric, over my hips, my buttocks, my thighs, my calves, my feet. I lay naked before him while his eyes caressed me from my feet upward, his hands slowly following. Something between a sigh and a moan escaped me when his touch reached my groin.

“Don’t worry. I promise I’ll be gentle,” he murmured as he smoothed his hands over my abdomen. My legs began to open instinctively, welcoming his probing fingers. They stroked me up and down, parting my labia, seeking the slick spot and making it slicker. My hips tilted upward into his touch, pulling his fingers inside; my head fell back as I groaned with pleasure.

“Of course, maybe gentleness is overrated. Maybe you require a firmer hand.” I moaned again at his words before I even felt the unbearable sensation of his fingers plunging deeper, curling into me, and stroking me with quick, firm motions. I grasped the pillow behind my head and dug my fingers into it as his hand intensified its movements. I was practically sobbing by the time he slowed, kneeling over me to whisper in my ear.

“I definitely think I’ve left something of mine here before. Deep inside you.” His lips brushed my ear lobe gently; his fingers moved languidly in and out of my body now, drawing a deep gasp from my lungs with each penetration.

“I don’t want it back,” he continued quietly. “I’d stay inside you forever if I could. You feel like home to me.” He kissed me tenderly on the cheek and I wanted to cry at the emotions swirling through me. I reached up and took his face in mine, pushing him back slightly so that I could look into his eyes.

“You are home,” I whispered.

His gaze reflected every emotion back at me before he kissed me hungrily. I reached down and tugged at the closure of his cargo shorts, slipping my hand inside to grasp his erection the minute the zipper came down. I stroked him in time with his fingers inside me, our rhythm growing faster as we panted softly, still lost in each other’s eyes.

He finally squeezed his shut with a groan and withdrew from me. “Not yet,” he whispered, pulling away from me. I bit my lip to stifle my disappointment as he got off the bed. He let his shorts fall to the floor and pushed his briefs down after them. I loved the sight of his cock springing free, pointing at the object of its lust on the bed before him.

He moved to the head of the bed and pulled one of my pillows to the middle of the mattress, propping it vertically against the headboard. He gently tugged at the pillow under my head; I lifted myself up so that he could remove it and layer it over the first. My heart began to race because I knew what he was doing. I scooted back toward the cushion he had created for me and reclined against it, half-sitting, half-lying against the slope of pillows.

It was time for the handcuffs.

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