We Were Once - Page 36

Putting my dirty doctor cap on, I continue to role-play. “What else ails you?”

“My heart, Doc. It races when I see you. It’s heavy in my chest when we’re close.” I hear his gulp, but he doesn’t hold back. “It feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest.”

“I suffer from the same condition, the side effects of being with you.”

“Can we be saved?”

I don’t hide my wicked grin. “No, I’m sorry. It’s too late for us.”

“I was afraid of that.” Jokes are set aside as he caresses my face, looking at me like I hung the moon. Truth dots his irises like stars blanketing a Newport night, convincing me that I did hang the moon for him. Just as he placed the sun in the blue skies for me.

We’ve been each other’s days, but we don’t end in sunsets or only exist come sunrise. We’ve become the hours in between—twilight and dawn, the brightest noon, the darkest midnight, the golden hours. Together, we’re all hours with hearts on fire.

Joshua is a silver lining that just appeared out of nowhere in time to throw me a lifeline. I didn’t even realize I was drowning. “Me too.”

Holding my face between two hands with no wiggle room, he kisses me and then leans his forehead against mine. “I . . . I care about you, Chloe.”

Eyes open, the pain in his voice is evident, but it’s heard as if he’s given in to something he never saw coming. I understand, swept into a soul mate fate I never expected to find, much less at this age.

Soul mate.

Maybe he did see us coming.

Lifting up, he searches my eyes, needing my words as much as I need his. “I care about you, too,” I say. As my heart tethers to his, I love you is tacked on silently for only me to hear, but my weakness is revealed as a tear slips down my cheek.

The pad of his thumb collects it and brings it to his lips, his tongue dipping out to taste my vulnerability. “I promise I’ll never hurt you. No more tears.”

I nod, never feeling safer than I do in his arms. To him, I’m Chloe—not of the Newport Fox dynasty, not future surgeon, not Yale legacy. I’m the one he relaxes with after a long day, prefers kissing to studying, and I don’t need a pedigree for him to love me. He laughs at my bad puns and happily plays along with my sexual innuendos. Whether I’m a student or his girlfriend, he sees me and who I am on the inside.

That’s empowering.

I dip below the covers, taking him in my hands first and then my mouth. Deep and slow, just how the videos taught me. He fills my mouth, and I focus on breathing as well as his reaction to guide me.

When his hands cover the back of my head, there’s no pressure to them but a need to be touching me. It spurs me on, making me want to please him, to give him all he needs. This is not submission. He’s giving me his strength and bowing at my feet.

The power is intoxicating.

I move quicker, suck harder until his fingers fold into my hair, and the moans are loud. “So good.” Everything he gives of himself—his trust, care, and honesty—I take and swallow it down.

We lie next to each other, still and quiet, recovering. Kissing me once and then again on the chest, he keeps moving lower, making my breath catch from the thought of him down here and the feel of his lips.

Taking a deep breath, I run my fingers through his hair. I won’t hide from him despite some unexplained shame I keep buried inside. Embracing life means embracing Joshua, and that look in his eyes that tells me how beautiful I am without words gives me insight to who he thinks I am. Why would I hide from that? I butterfly my right thigh, opening up for him, to him.

He pushes down the covers, the air-conditioning whipping over me as his eyes trace my breasts, my belly, and my body. “Do you know how beautiful you are, Chloe?”

I’m not drunk, but he makes me feel that way. My breasts are exposed, the cool room hardening my nipples. Leaning down, he kisses each of them and then lower to my belly.

My inner thigh.

My knee.

Shin.

The top of my foot.

I’m covered in kisses until I’m utterly jelly in his hands. We’ve been fast in every other way but slowing down makes sense. I want to feel each part of my body awakened by his lips.

He backtracks up the other leg. I had thoughts of this happening, deep down wishing it would when I wore that outfit for him, and now that I’m bare before him, I have absolutely no regrets. “So sexy,” he murmurs as he kisses the mounds of my breasts.

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