Authors: Mardi Ballou
Keith felt as if he’d just fallen off a mountain only to be buried under an avalanche. What the hell had just happened? He could hardly recognize Brenda. He couldn’t lose her. Not like this. Not any way.
Taylor looked from him to Brenda. “I don’t need this crap. No way I’ll recommend you to my firm. Send me the final bill for your work for my sister. I can see why you’re a good investigator for that kind of case. Cheats.” On that word, she stomped out.
Not a good hit for his business to take, but he could deal with that later.
Brenda’s eyes glittered with some strong emotion he wasn’t sure he could identify. Maybe he didn’t want to identify. “You don’t have what it takes, Keith. Never have, never will. It’s past time for me to realize that. And cut my losses. That’s the best thirtieth birthday gift I can give myself.”
No. This couldn’t be happening. “Please listen. I messed up, but now I’m ready. Let’s make what we have work.” He got down on his knees.
”I’m out of here.”
He got off his knees and raced to the door, blocking her exit. “Brenda, no. Don’t do this. Give me a chance to explain.”
“I’m tired of hearing evasions. Do me a favor and move away from the door. I do not want to start my birthday listening to more excuses.”
“No. Brenda, no more evasions and excuses. You know I suck at finding the right words. Let me show you. Let me make love with you, communicate that way first. Then the rest.”
“Really? You expect me to fall for that?”
“Can you think of a better way to bring in a new year? Come with me. First I’ll show you, then I’ll tell you. What you mean to me.”
She started to push past him and he caught her in his arms. He kissed her like the drowning man he was. Though she resisted at first, her arms came around his neck as she responded.
“Keith. I can’t keep doing this. I’ll be with you one more time, but then it’s over—“
No. Never. Not exit sex. Still, he’d clutch at this lifeline, take what he could get. He’d let his passion tell her all the things he’d not been able to. Then she’d have to know they weren’t over.
She crossed her arms in front of her chest and seemed to dare him to turn her on. Nothing he liked better than that kind of dare. One more kiss and he felt her begin to warm to him. She flashed her “Do me now!” expression. Though his body responded instantly, a warning bell went off within. Maybe things wouldn’t be so simple this time. He chose to ignore the message. After all, they were so great together in bed, they’d make love and fix all the unhappiness.
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
“So you want a drink or something?” Now that they were headed in the right direction, jumping her bones immediately, tempting as it was, seemed unwise.
She fixed him with her hot gaze and licked her lips. “I want hot, me-centered sex. I’ll imagine I’m Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, with seven hot guys primed to pamper me and fulfill my every carnal desire.”
He blinked hard.
So much for finesse
. “Seven?” While he was no slouch in the sex department, this might be a bit of a challenge.
“My fantasy. Make it happen.” Her eyes smoldered with enough passion to satisfy seven guys. Certainly more than enough to make one lucky guy very happy.
Hands clutched over his heart, he made a solemn vow to comply or go down trying.
Was she crazy wanting to make love with him one more time before she walked away? How could she possibly enjoy their final forever time knowing it would be the last?
He’s meant so much to me for so long. But hey, I’m about to turn thirty. Time to grow up.
Keith gathered her up in his arms and she once again thrilled to his strength. The power of his arms around her when he held her close had always made her feel so protected, so secure.
The last thing I should feel when I’m with him is secure. Too bad. That’s what I crave. I need a man who can offer me all those physical gifts and treat me right.
“You look so beautiful tonight,” he murmured when his mouth wasn’t otherwise occupied.
In moments, their clothes had melted away and they were skin to skin in his all-so-welcoming bed. Touching him, being touched by him thrilled her now as it had every time since their very first night together. Too bad amazing sex and heat-the-sheets passion didn’t have any deep, lasting significance.
Be in the moment. Enjoy what’s happening now. It may be a long time—if ever—until you experience such intimacy again.
“Tell me what you want,” Keith exhorted in a hoarse voice that curled her toes and undermined her intelligence. He accompanied his command with strokes and nibbles. He licked and sucked first one nipple and then the other to full budding. Under the force of his attention, her body morphed into a site of pure pleasure.
“You know what I want,” she rasped in response. “You’d better.”
He broke off from nuzzling her breast in an abrupt movement that left her to shiver in the ensuing stream of cold air. He swallowed her up with his eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
“Awfully cold here, bucko.”
For a moment, he looked torn. But Keith was ever a man of action, not to mention that he had an erection he could hammer stakes into the ground with. She wanted him to do other things with that erection, other things that would pleasure her and give her a moment of respite before she plunged into what might be a long dry spell.
“I can’t let my girl get cold,” he growled and then suited his actions to his words. With his mouth back on her breast and his so promising hard-on pressed against her thigh, Brenda willed herself to suspend judgment. She’d go with the flow—and to hell with the future.
“So warm now,” she whispered. With Keith, warm—hot—became the operative word. She slid her thigh against his hardness, which brought a groan to his lips. They were so responsive to each other, a shared intimacy that had only grown stronger. Despite all the nonsense she put up with from him. Despite all the nonsense she let him inflict on her…
My pain and my unhappiness are too close to the surface. If I don’t mask my feelings, he’ll sense them. Maybe being with him like this one more time was a bad idea, no matter how good it feels. Maybe I should just cut my losses and leave now. So he’ll get a case of blue balls. He’s so non-stick, nothing will bother him for long…
Though he had to be at least as turned-on as she, once again Keith drew back. “What’s wrong. There’s a barrier between us—”
Resolving not to let disappointment and sadness intrude on their last time together, Brenda pressed tight against him. “I’d say there’s nothing between us but a millimeter or so of air. And we can fix that.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he once again focused on pleasuring her. Caught up in the onslaught of sensation, Brenda soon gave up any attempt to hold back. Surrendering her control for a moment or two would not undermine her determination to say goodbye.
He’d messed up royally. Despite Brenda being in his bed, he couldn’t be blind to the fact that something was really off. Not the sex, of course. What they had was so good that nothing short of a major natural disaster—and maybe not even that—could diminish it. But he sensed a deep sadness in her—and, no matter what she said, a distance between them.
He’d screwed up by not following through on his promises. Probably wouldn’t be the last time either. Her still being here meant they could fix what was broken between them, right? She couldn’t really mean it. He had to believe that.
But what if he never had another chance to make things up to her again—or even to mess up? Despite the heat between them, a chill raced up his spine. He had to find a way to show her how much he needed her in his life, even if he didn’t deserve her. He’d make love to her as if there would be no tomorrow, make this a true night to remember. “What do you really want tonight, love?” he whispered. “What are your fantasies? Let’s make each of them come true, one by one.”
She laughed and a surge of relief washed over him. If she could laugh at anything he said, maybe he wasn’t in so much trouble after all. Except the last bit of her laugh ended in a sob. Ah, crap, he’d made her cry.
Brenda steeled herself not to weep, at least not yet. She wanted the full pleasure of their lovemaking this last time, no tears during. She’d have abundant time for tears after. Years and years for tears. Stroking the side of his face, she willed her fingers to memorize the contours she so adored. Her Keith. Her guy, the one her heart beat for. She’d never again touch his face the way she could right now.
She took a deep shuddery breath and waited until she could trust her voice not to wobble before she answered. “Keith, my fantasy is for you to take charge and make my dreams come true without my having to say a single word. You know how you always say you don’t want to have to use words? Tonight I want to be wordless.”
He gazed at her quizzically. “Huh, something new. I guess I never realized how much I count on your words. I’ll try it this new way. But if I don’t get it, if I’m not doing what you want, let me know. Nudge me. Hell, you can bite me. Something.”
He met the challenge in great form. Whatever he did felt exactly right, better than she could have asked for. No sense feeding his ego any more on that score. He nuzzled her, waking up her nerve endings and lulling her internal warning voices into sleep.
If anything, he knew his way around her too well.
“I want to kiss you all over,” he whispered.
He turned her and, lips hot, kissed the nape of her neck. Goose bumps shot across her shoulder blades. She quivered at each touch.
When he’d kissed his way down to the small of her back, he turned her and buried his face in her belly. Though she always carried the awareness of a few excess pounds, all self-consciousness dissipated once he began to kiss her there.
A big smile lit his face as he glanced up, eyes dark with arousal. “Like that, baby?”
“God, yes. You know I do, Keith. More.”
With a growl he returned to tongue a favorite spot. And then, with exquisite attentiveness, he worked his way down to her mound, and Brenda exhaled hard. “Keith,” she breathed.
She trembled in delighted anticipation as he responded to his name by first teasing her with his fingers and then tasting her. She squirmed in ecstasy as he paid tribute with his lips, his tongue, and, ever so lightly and delicately, his teeth. Lost in such moments, she could let herself believe he knew everything that mattered about her, knew and loved her completely. And that would be enough for them to base their future on.
When he looked up from between her legs, their eyes locked. His lips flared with desire, his little smile a secret between them that stirred her to her depths. Then he broke the gaze to attend to her clit, stroking and tasting that sensitive nub with a magical combination of mouth and fingers. When the first tremors of her climax spiraled through her, Brenda gasped. Sooner, far sooner than she’d intended to let go she could not hold back.
Despite all the unhappiness she’d brought with her into their erotic interlude, she couldn’t resist him. No matter her mood, he could lead her to a screaming orgasm—several. He was the only one she’d ever been orgasmic with. Look what she was going to give up because he couldn’t be this good for her outside the bed.
Don’t think about any of that now. Be in the moment. Enjoy it because it will
ever happen again with Keith. And other men don’t do it for me like he does… Heck, thinking about other men at a time like this, it’s just wrong. I’ll need to get Keith out of my system… But not right now…
The self-talk ended just as Brenda gave herself up to a toe-curling, knee-knocking, eye-crossing come. “Keith,” she crooned and whimpered, stringing his short name into a long exhalation.
“Yeah, Brenda baby. Give it all up for me,” he urged, his voice a low rasp, between more kisses and nibbles. “It’s what I want. What we both want. Show me how good it is for you.”