Fuck, when the hell had he gotten so goddammed mature?
“Babe, there isn’t anywhere in the world I’d rather be more than right here in this bed with you. The world could explode all around us, and I’d still stay in this bed.”
“You don’t feel a little divided in your loyalty right now?” She traced a tattoo of a Harley on his arm. One of the first he’d gotten. Well, the first he’d obtained by a legit tattoo artist.
She studied him for a moment as if trying to determine the truth of his words. Eventually, she nodded. “Brooke told me they found us because she called my phone.”
Mav nodded. “Yeah. Apparently, you left your curling iron at her house, and she wanted to let you know she had it. Some woman using the diner’s bathroom answered when she heard it ringing. She let Brooke know you’d lost your purse. Being the smart woman she is, Brooke trusted her gut and immediately told Curly. He sent someone to the diner, and when they saw my bike, the manhunt started. The club stalked every old contact of Curly’s until they found someone willing to talk.”
Willing might have been a stretch. Well, maybe not. According to Curly, the club’s guest had been more than willing to divulge the location of Lobo’s properties after spending a few hours with Scott. In another world, he’d have felt bad for the asshole.
“We got lucky.” She shifted her gaze out the window and whispered, “I was more scared this time around.”
He cupped her cheek and urged her to face him again. After a sweet, lingering kiss that didn’t help his stiffy, he asked, “Do you know why?”
She nodded, then ran a thumb across his lower lip. Unable to resist a little playfulness, he nipped at her, drawing a smile.
“It’s because I knew what it was like to be a prisoner. To be scared and hurt. To be ashamed and embarrassed. To feel so damn vulnerable and helpless. There’s nothing more horrifying than being helpless.”
He stroked her cheek. “I know, baby. I felt it too.” He kissed the bulky bandage over her right wrist.
“But the worst part was that I know what it’s like to watch you be hurt, and I was so terrified of going through that again.”
The single tear that rolled from the corner of her eye might as well have been a dagger to his heart. He never wanted her to feel an ounce of pain or fear, and while that was unrealistic, he tried his hardest to make it so. Knowing so much of her torment came from worry over him fucking killed him.
“No amount of pain is worse than seeing you hurt or scared,” he said. “So I understand. Christ, do I get that, S-Steph.” The hitch in his voice caught him by surprise, as did the thickening in his throat and the water pooling in his eyes.
Mav so rarely cried. What the hell was the point?
But this was Stephanie. The woman who owned every part of his heart and soul. Not only would she never judge him for an emotional display, but she’d also love him through every second of his despair. So, he let it happen.
“When he touched you….” He shook his head, unable to put a voice to the extreme fear. It surpassed description. A tear leaked from his eye, falling onto her cheek.
“I know,” she whispered. “I know.”
He pressed his forehead to hers. One after another, tears flowed from his eyes, mixing with hers. They stayed like that for a long while, feeling each other’s hearts beating together, breathing each other in, and releasing the anguish only they understood.
Eventually, Stephanie began to squirm beneath him. She arched her hips up, rubbing against him as she took his mouth in a hungry kiss.
Christ, he wanted nothing more than to sink inside her and stay there all fucking day, but…
“Steph,” he said as he ripped his mouth away. She panted, same as him. “We don’t—”
“Please, Mav,” she whispered. “Please. I need you. I need to feel you. Touching me. Inside me. Everywhere.”
He opened his mouth to give one more weak argument even as his cock ached to do what she asked for, but Steph placed a hand over his mouth.
“I’m okay. I just need you.”
“Then you have me, baby. Always.”
He kissed her again, tasting the near-desperation on her tongue. It calmed the worry in the back of his mind that she needed time. The sensual way she undulated up into him also spoke to her desire.
As he feasted on her mouth, he slipped his hands under her thin tank top. When he met the warm, soft flesh of her tits, he pinched her nipples, drawing a low moan from her.
“Love your hands on me,” she whispered against his mouth.
“They’re yours. Anytime you want them. Day or night.” He played with her pebbled nipples, alternating between pinching and rolling the nubs.