Chapter 26 ~ Love. Loss.

They fumbled, fussed and cussed their way out of their clothes, his boots flying across the room and bouncing off the wall with a thud, her skirt flung just as far but landing silently, his jeans twisting in a knot and tangling him up, but mercifully disappearing with everything else.

Finally free, he scooped her up in his arms, his skin bare against hers for the first time—the intimacy of it a powerful narcotic causing time to speed up as her senses struggled to comprehend the sudden, powerful need that overtook her. He was pure energy and she clung to him.

His hands were everywhere at once, strong, rough, tender, teasing, pleasuring. His mouth trailed behind, his breath hot, fast, arousing. She couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate on any one touch, on any one kiss, so she surrendered to it all and let it consume her, feeding the white hot fire, an aching need that coiled hotter and tighter, the pressure building, begging for release.

When he gently pushed her thigh higher and settled into the cradle of her hips, her heart pounded in anticipation of what was coming.

“Wait,” she whispered as she reached for him, pulling him in for one last, long kiss before they crossed that final, thin line that separated who they had always been from who they would forever become.

“We could stop,” he said, his voice soft and low as he brushed her hair from her face, his thumb gently wiping away the single tear that escaped from the corner of her eye.

Shaking her head, she lifted up to him. He held her gaze, loving her, as he pushed with exquisite tenderness. Her breath caught in a gasp of surprise from the intense pleasure, her tight muscles already contracting in climax. He sucked in a breath, exhaling hot as he moaned into her neck, “Oh, shit.”

“Don’t stop,” she whimpered back, her body begging him to push her through the fire. “Don’t ever stop.”

Her hands dug into his backside as she lifted up to him. His hand slipped under her and lifted her higher, the resistance wholly orgasmic.

“Stace…” He paused again, moaning an agonized curse low in her ear, the muscles of his jaw clinched hard and tight as he tried to fight it, but couldn’t.

As he pushed harder, she clung to him, biting on her lip at first to keep from crying out, but then not capable of caring anymore as his body sent hers screaming into oblivion. He followed her immediately, every muscle in his body tight as he came hard and fast, crying out, surprising even himself with the power of the sensation shuttering through his rigid body.

He paused for the briefest second before his mouth came crashing down on hers, his kiss hot, his tongue demanding, plunging and stroking hers, still craving to make love to her. She matched his passion with her kiss, holding tight to him so he couldn’t pull away as she rolled them over and coaxed his body to hurry into doing what they both desperately still wanted and needed, the fire still smoldering, burning, intensifying.

Finally, he was lifting her, guiding her, moaning in a husky rumble as she made love to him again, slower this time, deeper, truly connecting with the reality of what they were doing, of who they had become.

As she danced above him, his hands and mouth roamed her body, the intense desire in his eyes enveloping her heart. He was beautiful in arousal, and she closed her eyes for the briefest of moments, just long enough to lock the image of him—his face, his love—and the sensations his body bestowed upon hers into her memory forever. His hands slid up her thighs, to her hips as her back arched, the explosion spiraling through her entire body, heat flowing from her core, surrounding him.

“My god, Stace,” he moaned and gripped her hips tighter, holding onto her with everything he had as her rhythm sped up, racing them both to the edge—free-falling.

After, as she lay in his arms with their legs in a tangled knot and their bodies still hot, she closed her eyes and whispered, “Don’t go to sleep so this night never ends.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m not even close to being done with you yet,” he whispered back. His hand skimmed down the length of her body and back up, pausing on her backside then stopping to explore her breast, his thumb stroking her tender skin. “You are so beautiful, Stace.”

“I’m a mess,” she protested and opened her eyes.

The intensity of his gaze, still burning with wanting, took her breath away.

“I love you, Stace.” His lips met hers before she could respond, but her heart cried out in answer for her. She loved him, too. She was, for the first time in her life, completely and absolutely in love.

***

It was five a.m. before Dan turned onto the gravel to Chelsea Lake. He was exhausted, every muscle in his body weak from exertion, but he was flying high and feeling invincible. Nothing could hurt him. The wolf of his nightmares could kiss his ass. He cranked up the radio and sang along to every song that played, whether he knew the words or not. When he pulled into the driveway, his headlights flashed across his new house. It was beautiful—full of promises of a future, his future, Stacy’s future, their future together. He was going to fill it with love, she was going to fill it with life, and if he was lucky, together they would fill it with children’s laughter—little boys, little girls, twins, triplets, quadruplets even, however many her heart could create, every single one of them with a smile as beautiful as their mother’s.

Still feeling as if he were in a dream, he opened the door to the cabin and turned on the lights.  What he saw made him stop dead in his tracks, the song gone from his lips. He walked slowly across the room, not wanting to believe, but when he knelt down and reached for her, he knew.

His beloved Dolly was gone, and she had died alone.

Life punched him in the gut, stealing his breath, stopping his heart. He sat on the floor beside her, carefully lifting her to his lap, supporting her head as he cradled her to his chest. She was a good girl, the best girl in the world, and he had let her down. He knew she was old, her time short, but he hadn’t paid attention to how close she really was. As he cried, he stroked her head to tail, apologizing for his selfishness, and asking her forgiveness. One last time, Dan kissed his favorite girl, hoping to heaven she and Millie were together again.

 

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