The Best Is Yet to Come (Summer Lake 1) - Page 38

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"I pitched Summer Lake because I knew it would be a sure thing for my client. I was...going to lose my job." He watched her eyes widen with shock at her own admission. She had never liked being vulnerable, not even when she should already know he was the one person she could be vulnerable with. "My boss hadn't actually said anything to me about my job performance, but I could tell he was watching me. Waiting for me to screw up. After my father died, I couldn't concentrate. Not like I had before."

Calvin had promised himself he wouldn't stop her from going down her list of reasons why not. He'd thought they needed to get everything out there, every bit of pain, every last protest, to make sure there wasn't anything left between them to keep them apart. To keep them from forever. But when he saw her eyes grow glassy with tears, his final hold on his control snapped in two.

*

The minute his arms came around her--warm and steady, comforting and loving--she realized she was all out of objections. All out of protests. He had broken through all her defenses, one after the other, everything from the past to the future.

So then, why was she still so scared? She could feel herself shaking in his arms. She'd always been strong. Had always taken care of herself. But maybe instead of being one hundred percent of something hollow...maybe she could be one half of something whole.

"Sarah. My sweet Sarah." He pulled her closer, stroked her back with his hands, working to calm her. "Everything's going to be all right. I promise."

"How?" Her throat felt like she had swallowed fire. "How can you make that promise?"

"Because I believe in us. In you. In me." He kissed her softly. Gently. "Baby steps. That's what we'll take."

He made it sound so easy, made it sound like there weren't a dozen things that could go wrong along the way.

"Come inside with me tonight. Not because you don't want to go back to your mother's big house, but because you're choosing this. Because you're choosing me. Because you want what's mine to be ours."

And despite all of her vows to herself to be strong--instead of holding firm to her resolution to cut Calvin loose once and for all, for his sake--she took his hand and led him up the dock, across the sand, and through his front door.

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

Sarah felt shy with Calvin, more than she should have after the past two nights together. It would have been easier if he had reached for her, if he'd kissed her first and eased her into their lovemaking. But just as he'd needed her to make the choice to come inside with him, she knew he needed her to make this choice too.

To make love to him not simply because she couldn't resist...but because he was what she wanted. Past. Present.

And future.

She put her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. He was so strong. So steady. So warm.

She could feel how much he wanted her, but he held himself perfectly still, letting her lead their dance this time. She pressed her lips against his skin, kissing him where his pulse had leaped to life. She moved her hands to his shirt, pulling it free of his jeans, and as she ran her fingers over his rippling abdominal muscles, she could feel his growl of pleasure rumble up from his chest.

She'd thought they'd already started over with one another, but now she knew this was the moment when everything began again. Where they weren't loving each other because of kisses that had spiraled out of control, because their attraction burned hotter than anything ever had. But because they both needed each other in a way they'd never needed anyone else. Needed to talk. Needed to laugh. Needed to love. Needed to be there when everything fell apart and while they were trying to put it back together again.

Tonight was the first time she would let herself say to him, with her body if not yet with words, that she wanted to be with him. Wanted to love him. Even if it wasn't easy. Even if she still wasn't sure it made sense. Even if she couldn't look into a crystal ball and know that it would all work out in the future.

Their clothes were soon gone, leaving them to ride a wave of pure instinct, no thinking, no second-guessing, just a man and a woman who couldn't get enough of each other. She relished every touch, every brush of his lips against hers.

Everything she wanted was right here, right now, in his arms.

Pulling him down with her to the bed, she was so glad to be pinned beneath the hard heat of his body. And then he was filling her until she was bursting with him, with all the emotion she couldn't manage to hold back. She cried out into his mouth as he kissed her, just as they both reached the peak, then fell long and hard.

And when it was over, when she was on the verge of falling asleep in his arms one more time, she heard him say it again.

"I love you."

*

Later that night...

Sarah rode the carousel. It wasn't old or peeling or cracking. The horses were shiny and new, and it was spinning around and around, circus music playing as she rode a big white horse.

Holding on to the gold bar that moved up and down in time with the music, she wondered how the carousel had been fixed up so quickly and why she was out here alone riding it. But the thought wouldn't stay in her head. Not with the music playing, not while she was spinning.

And then a moment later, she was sitting in the sleigh behind the matched pair of horses, holding knitting needles and yarn. The his-and-hers horses shared a tender look as they ran forever in front of their sleigh.

Her heart warmed as she thought about how happy her grandmother must be to have her beloved carousel looking brand new again, to know that children would be able to experience the joy that had been such a big part of her childhood.

And then she looked down and realized her hands were moving. She was knitting something out of yellow yarn, the perfect color to match the markings on the carousel horse directly in front of her. For a moment, her hands looked so much like her grandmother's that she got confused.

Calvin's words floated into her brain. "Seeing you with those needles makes me realize how much you look like your grandmother."

He would never lie to her, she knew that, so maybe it was true. Maybe she was more like her grandmother than she'd ever realized.

As the shock of how quickly, how surely, her hands were moving with the needles and yarn receded, she looked closer at what she was making. Somehow, without needing to think about it, without needing to consult a pattern, she cast off the final stitches.

She had never felt like this, so completely out of her body, almost as if she were floating.

No, that wasn't true. Every time she was in Calvin's arms, every time he loved her, she had no choice but to let go of the thread that connected her to who she thought she was.

Being with him was like flying, floating on a cloud of pure pleasure.

And boundless love.

She looked down and saw that her hands were moving again, draping the tack she'd knitted over the horse's mouth. The bridle was a perfect fit, as was the knitted saddle that magically appeared on the horse's back. When she looked more closely at the carousel, she realized all of the horses were wearing knitted bridles and saddles.

Who had made them? She still barely knew how to knit and was far too slow to have done all of this. Had the women in the knitting group done this to surprise her grandmother?

The carousel suddenly stopped, so suddenly that she had to grip the horse beside her so that she didn't fall down.

A moment later, everything started to fade, the horses disappearing one by one until the carousel was gone completely and she was left standing in the middle of the building site, still holding her needles and yarn and the bridle and saddle, but there was nothing left to put them on.

*

"Sarah, sweetheart, it's just a dream. You're okay now. I've got you."

She woke up to the feeling Calvin's hands stroking her damp hair back from her face. She worked to catch her breath as she came back to reality, naked and warm in his big bed. In his arms.

She pressed her palm against his chest, lett

ing herself be comforted by the strong, steady beat of his heart. She felt so safe. More safe than she'd known it was possible to be.

"Every time you touch me," she whispered, "I forget everything. Everything but how you make me feel."

"Tell me how I make you feel."

His eyes were filled with so much love in the moonlit room that even though she knew better, she had to whisper, "You make me feel pleasure like I've never known before." She closed her eyes, relishing the simple touch of his hands on her skin, the way his thumb had begun to brush lightly across her lower lip. "You make me feel comfort. Warmth. Happiness." She opened her eyes again and met his intense gaze. "And love. So much love."

Suddenly, so suddenly that it took her breath away, she realized that holding back the words didn't make them less true.

"I love you, Calvin."

His chest stilled beneath her hand, even as his heartbeat jumped. "Tell me again so I don't think I'm dreaming it."

Fear hit her like a sledgehammer, but this time, instead of pushing him away, she worked to push the fear away. She placed her hands on either side of his face, her mouth on his, and she kissed him. He was so warm, so real, the most solid man she'd ever had in her life.

"You were right all along." She didn't realize she was crying until he began to kiss away the wetness from her eyes, across her cheeks. "I'm scared. I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a partner." Now that the floodgates had opened, she couldn't stop talking. "You're my best friend, and I'm so afraid of losing you again. Of losing our friendship forever this time. I tried to stop myself, tried to tell myself we could be lovers without ruining everything, but it was the biggest lie I've ever told."


Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance
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