Selfless: A Relentless Series Novella (The Relentless Series Book 3) (4 page)

BOOK: Selfless: A Relentless Series Novella (The Relentless Series Book 3)
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Could I trust him not to break my heart again?

“You own my heart, no matter what happens between us, and I’ll do everything in my power to protect you. Even if that means I have to walk away from you because it’s too hard.”

He’d always had an uncanny ability to read my thoughts. Some things will never change. I just wished that I could still read him as well as he could still read me.

“I’ll let you try, but it’s going to take a lot for you to earn my trust back.”

A grin crossed his face. “I would be disappointed if it was easy.”

I let him take my hand in his again. His fingers ran lightly over my pulse point, making my heart race. We stared at each other, lost in our thoughts and memories from the past.

Rhys’ eyes flashed with the same realization that mine did. He wanted me just as much as I wanted him. It had been so long since the last time he had kissed me. Touched me. And right now I craved the feeling of his hands on my body.

We suffered through dinner, unable to taste anything even though I knew the food here was amazing. Somehow we’d come to an unspoken agreement. After dinner, one way or another, we would find out just how much chemistry there was left between us. My pulse rose with every bite as we came closer to finishing our food.

How had we gone from being uncomfortable around one another to ready to find the nearest bedroom? Hell, the nearest flat surface would work at this point.

“Mandi?” My name sounded weighted as it rolled off his tongue. He threw so much meaning into that one word. I took his hand in mine as we exited the restaurant and tried not to run to the car.

“Your place or mine?” I asked.

Where had this bold attitude come from
? It wasn’t like me at all, but I liked it.

“Yours.” The stubble covering his sharp jaw line ran along my neck as he spoke into my ear, sending a shiver up my spine.

 

 

To my surprise Rhys didn’t maul me as soon as we walked inside my house. Lucy greeted us at the door, jumping and whining for attention. The little traitor followed Rhys around, practically begging for him to rub her belly. It was pathetic that I was jealous of my dog, wishing that Rhys was touching me instead of rubbing her silky fur.

I got us drinks and opened the large glass fold up doors to the back deck. It seemed to be his favorite place in my house, which was just fine with me since it was mine too. The night air was perfect as I took in a deep, calming breath. Rhys held his glass of wine loosely in his fingertips as he stared off into the ocean. I couldn’t help but notice the differences in him from when he was just a kid. A contented sigh slipped from his lips.

“I’ve missed you,” I said softly. The admission was huge, one I hoped I wouldn’t regret, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he really understood how important it was. It shocked me that I was even willing to open up that much to him. Rhys made me do things and feel things I didn’t think were possible anymore.

“This is so confusing. I don’t know what to say now that you’re in front of me. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say over the years, but now that you’re here all I want to do is stare at you because I can’t believe this is real.”

I smiled. “Me too.”

He held his hand out to me and grinned. “Come here.”

Hesitantly, I walked to his side. My heart thundered in my chest as I took those last few steps. His arm wrapped around my waist and pulled me against his side. I sighed as his lips ran over the column of my neck.

“Rhys,” I whispered.

“Every damn time I smelled honeysuckle I thought of you. When I was in New England it was fucking everywhere. I thought I was going to go nuts remembering every detail about you. It was torture not being with you when the memories hit me like that. God, I want to tell you everything that’s happened in the past twelve years. It sucked not having you there to talk to about my day.”

A small smile tugged at his lips as he spoke, making me weak in the knees. What did this man do to me? I lost my freaking mind every time he was around. My friends called me the sensible one. Wasn’t I still supposed to be pissed off?

“Did you really miss me that much?”

He brushed a lock of hair away from my face. “I beat myself up every day. My liver took a big hit those first few months, and if it wasn’t for Micah I’m not sure I would have made it through that time. It took me an entire year to not try to call you and beg you to take me back. After that I just resigned myself to the fact that you would never forgive me for leaving in the first place.”

We were quiet for a few minutes.

“You terrify me, Rhys.” He leaned back and looked at me, confusion etching his features. I chuckled. “Not like that, I’m just scared of what I feel for you. What happens if you leave again? It destroyed me when you left. You just disappeared and my whole life fell apart.”

Rhys set down his wine on the ledge and took my face in his hands. “Amanda, I want you. More importantly, I want what’s best for you more than anything in this world.”

“I don’t know what it would do to me if I opened up again and you left,” I whispered.

His lips softly brushed mine, and I swear the world stopped spinning for a split second. He tilted my head and deepened the kiss. My fingers gripped the back of his shirt. As we broke apart, I rested my forehead on his. We were silent as we stood there, both of us lost in the emotion of our first kiss for more than a decade.

“We don’t have to figure everything out tonight.”

Our phones starting ringing almost simultaneously, jarring us out of our embrace. I looked at him and we both dove for our phones. I answered mine first. Violet was crying and I started to panic.

“What happened? Is he okay?” My voice was shaky. I was almost scared for her to answer.

“He woke up! He’s talking and he recognized Taylor as soon as he opened his eyes. Amanda, he’s finally awake!”

“That’s amazing news, Vi. What can I do?”

“We’re all meeting up at the hospital now. Can you come?”

“Absolutely. I’ll be right there. Do you need me to bring anything?”

“Nope, just get your ass here.”

I grinned. Rhys was hanging up as I turned back towards him.

“Jax,” he answered my silent question. “Telling me the same thing that Violet told you I’m sure.”

“I know you and Stephen had your differences, but will you come to the hospital with me? I told Vi that I would go up there.”

He kissed my forehead and I leaned into him.

“Of course.”

I grabbed his hand and tugged him towards the front door. Lucy whined as I grabbed my purse. She was sad we were leaving so soon after coming back. Her treats sat on the front entry table because she liked to look pathetic as I left each day. Rhys petted her small head and gave her one of the nasty chicken jerky pieces that were her favorite. Happily she trotted off, probably to go eat her treat on my bed. Spoiled little brat.

“She loves you.” I smiled and looked into his expressive blue eyes.

He shrugged. “I’m good with animals.”

“You always have been,” I said thoughtfully. “Animals and kids.”

“Let’s go Shortcake. Your friends are waiting for you.”

“Come on, our friends are waiting. They called you too.”

He stopped walking suddenly. Shock registering on his face. “So they did. Huh. I didn’t see that one coming.”

I grinned and pushed him out the door.

 

 

Violet’s mouth dropped open as Rhys and I walked up hand in hand. I hadn’t even realized we had done it, essentially falling back into old roles that felt natural. Gage and Jaxon stopped their discussion mid-sentence, staring at us like we were a freak show. I dropped Rhys’ hand and he stiffened next to me.

“Hey guys,” Jax said, then cleared his throat. “Stephen’s awake and he’s doing great. Taylor is a hot ass mess though. She’s laughing one second and crying the next. The emotions from the past week are catching up with her.”

“Violet’s been wearing off on you,” I said laughing. Jax cocked his head, making me laugh even harder. Vi giggled next to me. Even Gage and Rhys joined in.

“What are you guys laughing at?”

“Please,
please
say ‘hot ass mess’ again. Your Australian accent with that phrase is amazeballs.” Violet was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. I grinned. We all needed the relief of laughing. Things had been too real and scary for us to laugh in forever.

“Really it’s awesome Stephen is awake. What can we—I do to help? Does anyone need anything?” Rhys asked when he was finally able to stop laughing.

I was already making him doubt that I wanted something between the two of us. Damn it. I was such a freaking idiot. Why in the hell did things have to be so complicated between us?

“We would like to help,” I said, giving Rhys a tight lipped smile. Reaching down, I grabbed his hand again. He squeezed once and dropped it. I frowned, but didn’t move to take his hand in mine again.

My friends gazes ping-ponged between us and our odd interaction. Maybe it was the fact that I had actually brought a man with me, or maybe it was the fact it was Rhys, but they were all dying to ask a million questions. Thank goodness my nosy friends knew to leave well enough alone.

Gage was the one that broke the awkward silence surrounding us. “Mason and I are going to move Taylor’s stuff back over to the house tomorrow. Rhys, we could use another set of hands to carry her million boxes of clothes if you don’t mind.”

“Sure, I would love to help. Mason is Emmy’s, um,” he trailed off, unsure of what to call him.

“Her ex-husband slash whatever the hell they’re doing, but just for right now, the ex,” Vi answered, shaking her head. “Those two are as bad as Taylor and Stephen.”

“Wait,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “Isn’t she dating some doctor that Lexi works with?” I held my hands out and shook my head. “You know what, never mind. I don’t want to know.”

“Probably a good choice,” Jax said laughing. He put his arm over my shoulders and led me towards Stephen’s room. “Come on, let’s go so you can say hi to the drama king. He was already asking about you.”

I glanced over my shoulder at Rhys. He was staring at me with an odd expression on his face. I wished that I could still read him like I used to be able to. This new man was a mystery compared to the boy I once knew.

 

 

Hours later Rhys drove us back to my house. We were both exhausted and emotionally drained. Things had been tense for a few minutes between Rhys and Stephen, but when Stephen realized what was going on between Rhys and I he was much more welcoming.

It took everything I had not to fall asleep on the short drive home while Rhys drove through the darkness. I leaned back against the headrest when he parked.  

“Why don’t you just crash at my house tonight? I know you’re as tired as I am, probably more because you were the one taking care of everyone.”

Rhys pinned me with a look. “Are you kidding me? Amanda, you didn’t sit down from the time we got there until the time we left. I’m sure your ankle is killing you in those heels.”

I shrugged and stifled a yawn. “It’s no big deal. Come on in.”

I opened the car door and stepped out into the night air. It cleared my head just long enough for me to realize the magnitude of what I had asked Rhys to do. Oh God, what if he thought I thought I was only thinking about sex?

I sound like a freaking high school girl.

He inclined his head and stared at me for a moment. “Why don’t I just catch up with you tomorrow? You need sleep, not to be worried about me fitting on your couch.”

I took a deep breath and tried to calm my nerves.

“Rhys, get your ass in the house.”

He raised an eyebrow and took the keys from me I had been fumbling with to open the front door.

“Do you always take care of everyone but yourself? You’re so fucking selfless, Mandi.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing to want to help people.”

“Sometimes it is.”

I looked at him in disbelief.

“What do you mean by that?” There was an edge to my voice that he couldn’t ignore.

“Do you ever do anything for yourself? Something that
you
want, not what your career demands, or your friends need. Do you ever just stop and do something that you enjoy?”

“Why are you so up in arms about this?”

“Never mind.” He was disappointed, but I couldn’t tell why. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He opened the door for me and stepped to the side so I could walk inside. I rubbed a hand down my forehead in frustration. “Please just sleep in the guest bed. I’m worried about you driving this late. It’s four in the morning and we’ve had a really rough day. Plus, I don’t want to be alone,” I finished on a whisper. “This house is too big for one person and after everything that we’ve been through tonight I just don’t want to be here by myself.”

I didn’t even realize I was crying until his fingers gently wiped away the tears streaming down my face. My head rested on his chest as he pulled me into his arms. Lucy whimpered at his feet, and I realized she was just as concerned about me as Rhys was. How ridiculous that my dog could pick up on my feelings more than I could.

“Where’s your bedroom?”

“Third door on the left.”

Rhys picked me up and carried me down the hall to my bed. He was gentle as he laid me down and pulled off my heels one at a time. I moaned in pleasure as he rubbed my feet after dropping each shoe to the ground. His lips brushed across my forehead gently. My fingers grasped at his shirt to keep him from pulling away.

“Please just stay with me tonight.” My voice was a breathy whisper. God, I prayed he couldn’t hear the need in my voice.

He met my eyes and I saw the internal debate over whether this was a good idea or not. To my surprise he nodded. I untangled my fingers from his shirt and let him step back to take off his shoes. My eyes never left him as he unbuttoned his shirt and laid it across the small chair in the corner of the room. He hesitated for a moment before unbuttoning his pants and tugging them down his muscled thighs.  Surprise covered his face when I sat up and tugged my dress up over my head, leaving me only in my bra and panties.

“Do you want me to go grab you something to put on?”

I shook my head and bit down on my full bottom lip. My long blonde hair cascaded over the pillow as I lay back. Rhys’ Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat as his gaze burned my body. Tingles shot up my spine.

“You’re even more amazing now than you were at seventeen.”

I smirked. “I go to the gym a lot more.”

I laughed as his eyebrows furrowed together. “That’s not what I—”

“I’m kidding Rhys. Get in bed please.” He crossed the room in three strides after turning off the light. I grabbed his hand and tugged him down to the bed with me. The feeling of his skin against mine made me shiver.

“Are you cold?”

I nodded. Better that he think I’m cold than actually know what was going on in my head. He tugged the covers up over us. Instead of being shy like I usually would, I put my head on his chest and lay my hand on his stomach. Rhys tensed and I looked up at him.

“Are you okay?”

He sucked in a sharp breath before answering. “Yeah, fine.”

My fingers traveled up and down his stomach in lazy strokes. Goose bumps rose under my touch and he grabbed my hand quickly.

“What’s wrong?”

“You can’t do that.”

I leaned up on my arm, and looked up at him puzzled. He moved my hand down and ran it along the very hard bulge in his boxers. I gasped and blushed, but didn’t immediately move from touching him.

“Unless you want to do something about that, you need to stop Mandi.”

I sat up on my arm and looked down at him. “What if I want to do something?”

He groaned into the dark room as I gripped him through his boxers. I licked my lips and his mouth crashed against mine. When his fingers tangled in my hair, I moved on top of him, lining us up perfectly. I ground my body against his, causing a soft whimper to slip from my mouth.

Our lips crashed together in a tangle of lips and tongues. I bit down on his full bottom lip and was rewarded with a guttural growl. His fingers tangled in my hair, pulling my head back so he was able to ravage me further. My fingers gripped his biceps so hard they would probably bruise.

He broke our kiss, leaving us both breathing heavy. “Amanda, are you sure this is what you want?” I nodded and moved his hand to cup my breast. He groaned. “Shortcake, you’re killing me. I need words. Tell me what’s in your head.”

I leaned down to whisper in his ear. “Touch me, Rhys. I want you everywhere.”

Apparently that was enough because Rhys gripped my ass as he rubbed his cock against me. I ground my hips against his and reached behind me to unfasten my bra with one hand. The thin material between us was delicious torture. His mouth explored my overheated skin as his hands cupped my breasts, pinching my nipples as his mouth moved.

The sounds of exploring and finding spots that made us cry out echoed off the walls of my bedroom. Rhys pulled back and looked at me. His gaze was full of promise. It threw me for a second as I looked into his electric eyes. This wasn’t the boy that awkwardly made love to me in the backseat of his car for the first time. Rhys was a man that obviously picked up a few tricks along the way. Not that I could blame him for that. I certainly wasn’t a lily white virgin anymore either.

“Shortcake, where did you go?”

“Huh?”

“Where’s your head?” Rhys fingers were inside my panties and I hadn’t even realized it. I really had spaced out. “Mandi, are you sure you want to do this?”

He attempted to pull his hands back and I grabbed his wrist.

“If you stop, I’m going to murder you.”

He chuckled. “What’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”

“This is so different.” I whispered. Thank goodness for the dark, so he couldn’t see the blush running over my cheeks. “It’s good different, but we aren’t fumbling kids anymore. I’ve always wondered what it would be like as adults between us. Rhys, you were my first everything.”

His nose ran along my collar bone and up my neck. “I want you more now than I did then, and I didn’t think that was possible.”

The feeling of his breath on my neck made me shiver in pleasure. “Then you should show me.” I squealed as he flipped us over so I was on my back. He chuckled softly and I smacked at his chest. “Warn me before you do something like that.”

“Why?”

His fingers pinched at my nipples and I bit down on my bottom lip to stifle my moan. “It’s…um…holy fuck. Keep doing that.”

BOOK: Selfless: A Relentless Series Novella (The Relentless Series Book 3)
6.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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