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It's Not Over (Paths To Love Book 1) by Grahame Claire (31)

Chapter Thirty-One

Vivian

Eight Years Earlier

Daniel and I fought the Christmas Eve shoppers at the market in Te Anau, bought enough food for a couple of days, and were headed down a dirt road to places unknown. He assured me he knew where he was going, so I hung on for the bumpy ride. When we arrived, it was totally worth it.

On the edge of a blue-green lake was a modern cabin, my mountain rising behind it. It was made mostly of glass; in such a spectacular setting, it would have been wasteful to obstruct views from the inside. I was beyond thrilled. The condo in Queenstown I had adored, but this…I was utterly smitten.

Daniel parked the car at the front door, and I jumped out, practically running to the entrance.

“You might need this,” Daniel said, dangling a keyring from his fingers as he caught up to me.

I inserted the key into the lock and threw open the rustic wooden door. On the far side of the large room was a Christmas tree, decorated with colored lights and ornaments. My eyes glassed over. A tree. In a cabin. By my mountain. My heart felt like it was going to burst.

“Daniel,” I whispered, glued to the twinkling colors. “Thank you.”

“Do you like it?” he asked, watching me intently.

“I love it.” I dragged him over to the tree. The scent of pine filled my nose as I examined the ornaments dangling from the branches. These weren’t just generic balls. There were some, but they all looked old. Some of them were homemade. I fingered a Styrofoam star with gold glitter on it. Next to it was a handprint with Christmas 1979 painted on it.

“These are the ornaments we used on the tree when I was growing up. I tried to get some of yours, but your parents never answered or returned my calls. A tree full of new glass ornaments seemed too impersonal.” His hands were in his pockets, a subtle blush on his cheeks as he avoided looking at me. There were good memories on this tree for him. Ones of the vanilla-scented and baked goods variety.

“Is this your handprint?” Daniel nodded shyly, the color staining his cheeks deepening to a crimson. “I can’t believe you did this. It’s…I…”

At a loss for words, I threw my arms around him and buried my head against his chest. He rested his cheek on top of my head and held me close. “We couldn’t have Christmas without a tree.”

I would have loved any old tree, but the fact that he had put so much thought into it brought tears to my eyes.

“You’re up shit creek for the second date,” I told him.

“You haven’t even been on it yet,” he protested. We grinned at each other. “I better go get our groceries.”

“I’ll help.”

We unloaded the car, and he joined me on the back deck.

“I wish Muriella were here. She’s not spending Christmas alone, is she?” I asked.

His answering smile was secretive. “She’ll be here tomorrow. I couldn’t leave her alone for the holidays, but she insisted we have time to ourselves before she arrives.”

“M’s coming here?” I shrieked, relieved she wasn’t going to be by herself.

“I take it you’re okay with that,” he said wryly.

I shoved at him. “Better than okay.”

He pulled me into his arms. “This lake brings out the aquamarine flecks in your eyes. They’re beautiful.”

I didn’t think he’d noticed, but clearly I was wrong. “Thank you. This place is perfect.” The scenery was incredible, but it was Daniel that made it perfect.

“We’re going to stay a few days.”

My face lit up. “I already don’t want to leave.”

“Neither do I.”

I pecked him on the cheek. “Do you think we could have a fire later? I know it’s not that cold, but it would be nice to have hot chocolate while we sit by a fire and wait for Santa.”

“How is he going to find us?” Daniel asked, eyes dancing with mirth.

“He’s Santa. He knows .”

After he’d gone to take a shower, I scurried to the kitchen, digging through our haul. There were three stockings hung by the fireplace, and I dumped half a bag of miniature Mars bars into one of them. Then I searched through my purse for the gift I had for Daniel and put it under the tree. A box was there that most definitely hadn’t been before. I wrapped up one more thing for him, using the circulars from the grocery store and some twine I found in the kitchen.

After dinner, we sat in front of the fire and drank hot chocolate, snuggling.

Daniel broke the reverie. “I think we’ve had a visitor. Better go check and see what he left.” I looked up at him suspiciously. “Go on.” He indicated toward the tree.

I scampered over, finding a package to me from Santa. I glanced at Daniel, my stomach jittery. He watched me carefully, and I finally blew out a breath, tearing open the paper to reveal a black velvet box. “What is it?” I whispered, frozen.

“Open it and see.” His eyes brightened as that little upward curve of his lips I loved so much appeared.

I opened the lid. A choker of large black diamonds surrounded by smaller aquamarine stones glittered up at me. I gasped. This was no doubt the most exquisite piece of jewelry I’d ever laid eyes on.

“Daniel,” I breathed. “It’s too much. I-I can’t.” My eyes glassed over, and I blinked the moisture away.

“You don’t like it?” he asked.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I love it. But I can’t accept it.”

His eyes were sweet as they stared at me. “You can,” he encouraged.

My gaze dropped back down to the necklace, and I filled with longing. I didn’t want it because I loved the jewelry. I wanted it because it was from him. I knew if I put it on, it would be like him touching me, even if we weren’t in the same place.

I noticed a key in the center of the box with ‘Yale’ stamped on it. I was pretty sure that was just a generic brand. It appeared ordinary enough, strikingly similar to the gold one that went to my apartment.

“What’s this for?” I asked, still refusing to touch the contents of the box. If I did, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to let it go.

“One day you’ll find out,” he said, taking the box out of my hand.

“You’re not going to give me a clue?” There were a billion locks in the world this key could fit.

“When the time is right, you’ll know,” he replied enigmatically.

“It’s not to your apartment, is it?” I asked, sounding appalled, even though I didn’t mean it that way.

Daniel frowned, appearing wounded. “No.”

“What else could it be?”

Daniel patted the sofa beside him. Once I sat, he positioned my back to him and gently pulled my hair to one side before placing the choker around my neck. Then he turned my shoulders so he could see the jewelry. “Perfect,” he said.

“When? How?” I asked, still unable to touch the cool stones resting against my skin.

“I saw a similar design in the window of a jewelry shop a few days after we met. It reminded me of your eyes, so I went inside and asked if they could make something like it with aquamarine surrounding the black stones instead of plain old diamonds. Turns out the shop specializes in rare custom-made jewelry. I picked out the stones myself.”

“A few days after we met?” I asked incredulously, and he nodded.

“I was in Paris. I can’t really explain it, I just felt compelled, like I had to go in that shop.”

“Daniel…” I searched his face, trying to come up with adequate words. “I love it, but I can’t keep it. It’s too expensive. And you’ve already done all of this .” I reached for the clasp to take off the necklace.

“Don’t,” Daniel said. “Wear it. What’s the harm?” His tone was indifferent, but his eyes were not. I couldn’t say no to him.

Daniel put his arm around my shoulders. I leaned my head on his and let out a contented sigh. Then I turned my head so my chin rested on his shoulder and gazed up at him.

He looked back at me with an expression I could only interpret as love. “Keep the necklace please. For me.”

“I don’t want you to buy me expensive things,” I said quietly. “All I want is right here.”

He swallowed thickly, but held me close. “Me too.”

I glanced past him at the twinkling lights. “Can we sleep by the tree?” I asked. “I always wanted to do that.”

Daniel tucked a piece of my hair behind my ear. “I’ll make us a pallet.”

I grinned at him. “I’m going to change into my pajamas.”

I raced to the bedroom and put on Daniel’s old T-shirt and pajama bottoms. I took off my socks, but put the ballet slippers back on.

The kitchen, living, and dining area were open plan, and when I arrived back, the only light was from the fire and the glow of the Christmas tree. Daniel had made a bed on the floor beside the tree and was sitting on top of the blankets in his lounge pants and a gray T-shirt. His eyes went straight to my feet, rounding when he looked up at me. He’d said on the subway how sweet it would be when he finally got to take them off. It was time.

He held out his hand, and when I took it, warmth surged through me. I sat beside him, tucking my legs under me, making sure my feet were on the hardwood floors, not our covers, so that I didn’t get them dirty.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because you listened to me. You never gave up. You’ve proved that getting to know me is more important than sleeping with me.” I touched his face, because I couldn’t not touch him. “You’re in this with me, even if it isn’t easy or comfortable for you. I have never felt more wanted in my life. You are more than worthy, D.”

He drank in my words, though they didn’t seem easy for him to believe. “I have never wanted anything as much as I want you. And that’s a problem. It gives you the upper hand.”

“I already have the upper hand.” Daniel could only laugh. “You walked right into that one, Princess.”

“I did.” His expression sobered. He sat up and took my chin in his strong hand, his eyes flashing as he spoke. “I want you, Vivian. All of you. Not just that gorgeous body, but your heart and your mind.”

“Then it’s yours.” He looked stunned when I said this, like he wasn’t expecting that I would offer it so easily.

“When you walked away from me at that charity auction, I should have let you go. I couldn’t. It was a selfish thing to do, chasing after you like a goddamn puppy.” He stopped and shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe his behavior. “No matter how much I want to keep you, I’m afraid I won’t be able to.”

I searched his face for any kind of clue as to where this was coming from, what the hell he even meant. “I’ll take however long we have then.” Mentally, I crossed my fingers. There was no way in hell I was ever giving him up.

“You never do what I think you will,” he said.

“Daniel?”

“What?”

“I need you to make me a promise.”

“I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try.”

“No matter what, you will fight for me. For us. I can’t be with someone who won’t do that.”

He cupped my face, his solemn eyes looking deep into mine. “That’s a promise I can easily make.”

“Then let’s do this like there’s no tomorrow,” I said and he smiled, infinitely more relaxed.

“I’m in.”

Now it was my turn to smile, and he maneuvered me so I was on my back with his body covering mine. As he kissed the tip of my nose, I realized he looked as happy as I’d ever seen him, and a deep satisfaction came over me, knowing I had something to do with that.

“I’d like to be kissed again, please,” I requested.

“Is that all you want?” he asked, chastely brushing his lips across mine.

“No.”

“What else?” He licked my neck and blew his hot breath on the spot, making a shudder roll through me. I closed my eyes, savoring the feel of his teeth nipping at the sensitive skin. “I asked you a question, Vivian,” he reminded. I hummed, rolling my head to the side to give him easier access.

“What was the question?” He laughed against my ear, the sound tickling me as warmth spread throughout my body. Black diamond eyes looked at me, and my breath caught in my throat. He had me exactly where he wanted me, and I didn’t care one bit.

“What else do you want, Vivian?” He was using that voice on purpose, deep and throaty, and my stomach muscles tightened as my ache intensified.

“You.” Getting that one syllable out was a major accomplishment, especially when he was back working on my neck with that lethal mouth.

“You’re going to have to be more specific,” he taunted, and I groaned, lifting my hips. “With words.”

I gripped his hair and tugged. “I want you to do things to me that I never imagined, to do everything .”

His eyes danced, full of desire and longing. “I’m glad we’re on the same page, because I will do anything and everything I please to this body, which is mine . You’ve forfeited your last opportunity to get out.”

“I don’t want to get out. And by the way, you’re not going anywhere either.”

“I couldn’t even if I wanted to.” It made me inordinately happy that he would so readily admit that.

“I hope you brought protection,” I said, and a little burst of laughter escaped from him.

“It’s funny you should mention that. Hang on a sec.” He was gone before I could protest, and I flipped over on my stomach, watching him disappear. He returned a second later with an industrial sized box of condoms.

“Expecting much?” I asked, grinning.

“I found this in my suitcase. Apparently Muriella went to Costco.”

“I wish I could have seen her buy those. That tiny little devil with a box bigger than she is.”

He smirked and placed the open package under the tree. Excitement buzzed through me. I wondered now how I’d ever waited all this time for him. He oozed sensuality, those damn three-piece suits like foreplay. But my patience was fresh out. I wanted him to touch me more than I wanted to draw my next breath, so I put my slippered feet in front of him, to move him along.

“Trying to tell me something, Princess?”

“Just that I want you to hurry up,” I said, wiggling my toes.

“We’ll get to that.” Daniel dropped to his knees, then stretched out beside me, and I rolled on my side to face him. “I like you in my clothes, even if they’re too big.”

“I thought you were going to say they’d look better on the floor,” I said innocently, eliciting a laugh from him.

“You have a point, but I’m going to take my time. We’re not in a hurry.”

“The hell we’re not. Santa’s coming, and he won’t if we’re awake,” I protested.

He gave me a look, like I was a mystery he couldn’t quite figure out. “Do you still believe in Santa, Vivian?”

I blushed, but looked him in the eyes, the lights from the tree twinkling in them. “I know…” I trailed off. “But every year I hold out hope he’ll come. It’s silly, but I can’t make myself stop.”

“That’s not silly, V.”

“I thought he might not find us this year, since we aren’t at home, but I was wrong. Santa came early this year.” I pressed my lips to Daniel’s. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to unwrap my present.”

“Not yet. I get to open mine first.” He licked the seam where my lips were pressed together. “Now sit up.” I shot him an unimpressed look. “Please.” I shifted to my knees, and he did the same. “Arms up.” I didn’t move, and he looked at me in exasperation. “Lift your arms. I’m not saying please.”

I reached up with a saucy grin, and he fisted the hem of the T-shirt I was wearing. He paused for a moment, like he was preparing himself for something he’d been waiting to do for a long time. I held my breath as he disappeared behind the shirt. It went off over my head, leaving my torso bare.

He tapped my knee. I rose, lifting my rear off my heels, the pajama bottoms falling because they were too large, my gray cotton boy shorts with black trim revealed. Daniel hooked a finger in the low-rise waist and ran it along my stomach, making goosebumps rise on my skin. “I like these. Very sexy, Princess.”

I flushed with pleasure, swaying my hips, enticing him to do it again. My shoulders rolled as I shivered. He loved that he could do this to me with the simplest of touches, and I didn’t try to hide it, letting myself be open to whatever was in store.

He grabbed my hips and eased me into a sitting position on our pallet. He removed the pajama bottoms over my slippers and tossed them aside. His eyes raked my body, appreciating every square inch of me.

I leaned back on my palms, my chest jutting forward, and he licked his lips, ready to pounce on me, though he made no other move. I yearned for him to touch me, anywhere, even if only for a second, but he continued to appreciate me as no one ever had, and it had a powerful effect on me.

“You are a vision.”

“I’d like to know if you are, but you’re withholding my prize,” I retorted, only half kidding.

He laughed at my petulance, running his index finger down my cheek. “My Vivian. What am I going to do with you?”

“At the rate we’re going, nothing.” He seemed more than amused at my impatience.

“If you can’t be more appreciative, I’m going to have to gag you.” I didn’t know if that was an idle threat or something he’d actually make good on. My pulse quickened, though I couldn’t decide if it was in apprehension or excitement. “One day I will. And not just with my cock.” So it wasn’t a threat. A dark spot formed on my panties where I was wet between my legs. Daniel noticed immediately.

He moved, spreading my thighs apart and settling between them. He ran his nose over the fabric of my underwear, inhaling deeply before running his tongue up the same path. I jerked as if I’d been electrocuted. No one had ever been so up close and personal, and my legs fell apart, welcoming him.

“I can’t wait to taste you. I bet my Vivian is so very sweet.” His breath whispered over the damp spot of my panties, tickling my already sensitive skin.

I watched his every move intently, anticipating what he would do next. He kissed my inner thigh, and I sucked in a breath as he ventured upward, his perfect teeth tugging down my boy shorts enough to reveal the skin over my hip bone. He licked and blew his breath.

He caressed my stomach with his tongue, then glided up my sternum. My nipples hardened to tight buds, aching for his touch. But he continued upward, feathering kisses along my jaw.

“No one has ever appreciated you, but I’m going to show you how special you are, V. Are you ready to be ruined for any other man?”

“God, yes,” I groaned.

To prove his point, he found that spot on my neck, the one that made me feel like I was vibrating when he kissed it, and I moaned. “Let me take care of you, Vivian. Clear your mind of everything else but me.”

“Kinda hard not to, Daniel.”

He chuckled, his teeth sinking into my earlobe. “Now you know how I am about you all the time.”

I gasped, my eyes flying open to meet his. “Daniel. Please.” We hadn’t done anything, and I was already reduced to this.

“I’m beginning to like that word. Please .”

The word shot through me, fanning the flames of my already overheated body. He inched lower, running his tongue around one nipple and then the other, blowing cool air out of his mouth. They hardened to painful peaks, and Daniel sucked on one, soothing the ache.

“I wish you had two mouths,” I complained, lifting a hand to my free breast, kneading. It wasn’t nearly as effective as his mouth.

“I’ll remind you of that later.” He replaced my hand with his, squeezing none too gently. Daniel skimmed my nipple, then bit down on the taught peak. I cried out in pain, but then he flattened his tongue, soothing the sting, and the pain blossomed into pleasure. He didn’t neglect my other breast, creating the same sensation with his stimulation.

There wasn’t an inch of me his hands and mouth didn’t touch. He teased me to the point I thought I was going to die from lack of what I needed so very badly. My body was so sensitive, even when he breathed on me, I felt it all over, like a tidal wave rolling from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.

When he had worked his way down to my slippered feet, he knelt and cradled one foot in his hands. Pure adoration was on his face as he caressed it. He didn’t have to say anything—I could see that this meant as much to him as it did to me. Although I appreciated that he was taking his time, my desperation for him was reaching new heights. I wanted him to hurry the hell up.

He removed the first slipper. I saw a protector, a confidant, a best friend, a forever—everything —as he gazed up at me. I’d somehow figured out the combination to the vault that secured his secrets. It swung wide open, and he didn’t try to hide. The man at my feet loved me with every fiber of his being. He could have said the words, but they wouldn’t have had near the power of that look.

A soft smile touched his lips as he removed the other slipper. They were old and worn out, but he treated them as if they were fragile and rare, placing them carefully under the tree. He lavished affection on my toes, chipped polish and all, like he had all the time in the world, then licked and kissed his way up one leg, skipping the apex where I craved him most, and down the other. “Vivian, I will do as I please with you at my own pace. I have waited for months for this moment, and you will not rush me while I become better acquainted with you.”

I couldn’t argue with that. My heart expanded as I watched him savor me, tears pooling in my eyes. I hadn’t expected something spiritual to happen. Daniel made me feel alive when I’d thought I already was.

“When do I get to do the same?” I asked breathlessly.

He grinned up at me. “I love how eager you are for me. Don’t worry, you’ll get your present in due time.”

I let out an impatient breath and felt him smile against the soaked crotch of my panties. Daniel peeled the boy shorts all the way down my legs until they were off.

“I’m keeping those,” he informed me.

“Another pair for your collection?” I bit out. I was fucking jealous, and I didn’t like it at all.

“I’m starting one. I’ve never had a use for women’s underwear, but I want yours.”

Relief rushed through me as I relaxed into the covers. “If I find a secret stash at your place, there will be hell to pay, Mr. Elliott.”

I glared at him, half serious, and his smile broadened. “Vivian, why the fuck would I keep the underwear of women I have no desire to see again? I don’t need to collect trophies.”

It was torment of the most delicious variety as he kissed his way back down, this time going directly to my lower lips. His nose ran along the delicate skin and down the seam where I was more than ready for him. He inhaled deeply, almost looking drugged. This was intimate, but I didn’t feel shy with him.

“My Vivian,” he whispered before getting his first taste of me.

I shuddered. Daniel said something I couldn’t hear, but his eyes never left mine as his tongue plunged inside me, then ran circles around my clit. I reached for him, grabbing fistfuls of his dark hair, demanding that he not stop. Plunge. Circle. Suck. Three times he repeated this pattern before lifting his chin up.

“Come,” he commanded, and I did, tumbling into that euphoric space that transcended all else.

He didn’t stop, head buried between my thighs, whispering naughty things while making love to me with his mouth. I came again almost immediately, and he looked most pleased with himself, his chin shining.

When he licked his lips, I thought I’d lose it again. I held my breath as he crawled back up my body.

“My pussy tastes sweet.” His lips were on mine, his tongue spreading my flavor in my mouth.

I grabbed the hem of his T-shirt. Our lips parted only to get the garment off over his head. “Sit up. I want to see you,” I demanded.

He smirked, his tongue delving back into my mouth, the protest on my lips dying instantaneously. I ran my hands along his back, reveling in the feel of his hard muscle, memorizing the planes of his body. Goosebumps rose on his skin at my touch, and I smiled, pleased with the effect I had on him.

“I didn’t hear a please, Princess,” he needled, and I bit his bottom lip. “Close enough,” he conceded, rising onto his knees.

The Christmas tree provided enough light for me to see his sculpted upper body. I was tempted to applaud or whistle—maybe one day I would—but licking him seemed like a much better option. I took the opportunity to appreciate him, letting my hungry eyes rove over the muscles of his chest, down to his abdominals chiseled into eight tight sectors. His pajama bottoms were tented, and I abandoned my plan to run my tongue all over him for the moment.

“Stand up,” I commanded, mouthing a ‘please’ to go along with it.

He got to his feet. I wasted no time hooking my fingers into the waistband of the flannel pants, drawing them down, and revealing his erection. My eyes widened at his size. His cock tempted me, begging me to wrap my lips around it. I plunged, going for gold, gagging when the head hit the back of my throat.

“Jesus Christ, Vivian,” he cursed, yanking on my hair, holding me back. I looked up, worried I’d done something wrong. “Are you trying to unman me? Do that again, and I’ll come down your throat.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and darted my tongue out, circling the head. It was all I could reach with him holding me back. If I made him come this quickly, I didn’t know if I’d ever get my ego to deflate.

A pearl of liquid beaded on the tip of his cock, and I greedily licked it. He loosened his grip without releasing me, and I leaned forward, running my tongue down his long, thick shaft and closing my mouth around one of his heavy balls. Daniel hissed, threading his fingers through my hair. This time I traced the throbbing vein under his shaft. I circled the head before sucking it into my mouth. Inching lower, I took him in more slowly this time.

“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life,” he praised. I sucked as I released him, skimming my teeth along the sensitive skin before becoming more aggressive and taking his length back into my mouth.

Daniel cradled my head as I sucked on him. When he nudged the back of my throat, I swallowed, taking him deep. I’d never felt so sexy in my life. Admiration filled his eyes when he eased up and guided me back down. I wanted to make him come, watch him fall apart because of me.

“Enough. I’m too close.” He pulled my head back.

“I wasn’t finished,” I protested.

Daniel laid me on my back and got on top of me. “You’ll have my come soon enough, V, but the first time you do, it’s going to be inside you.”

Daniel slipped a finger inside me, and I moaned as he stroked that sensitive spot. After he added another, he said, “Damn, Vivian. You’re so tight.”

I shut him up by kissing him, and he didn’t stop me, his fingers working in and out of me until I shuddered, my cries of pleasure floating into his mouth.

“Thank you,” I panted when we came up for air.

“For what, V?”

“For making me feel like I never have before.”

“I take it that’s a good thing?”

I’d gotten him to do that small-smile thing, but tried to play it cool. I took his face in my hands. “It’s the best thing.”

Daniel shifted off me, moving to the box of condoms. He hesitated by my shoes, fingering the worn leather. “I have to put them back on.”

“Why?” He couldn’t have changed his mind . I had to have him. We’d already started this, and I wasn’t ready to stop.

“I want you wearing them while I fuck you.”

I stuck my foot out faster than you could say Baryshnikov. He slipped the shoes back on, tore open a condom packet, and rolled it down his length. Immediately, I had visions of him stroking to orgasm, and seeing that in the flesh very soon became a top priority. My stomach dipped as he crawled back on top of me, drawing me back to the moment, the tip of his erection nudging my entrance.

His hair was a mess from my fingers, his eyes bright with desire, shining this intense passion down on me. “Vivian, you’ve ruined me.”

He pushed inside of me, my tight center putting up some resistance. I was reeling from his words and the look on his face, stunned by his free admission. I could see it was true, that look of love intensifying the deeper he drove into me.

When he was fully seated, we both sighed and he stilled, letting our bodies acclimate to one another, though they felt as natural together as breathing.

“Everything,” I whispered.

His eyes widened a fraction before he closed the distance between our mouths. “Everything.”

I welcomed him, holding him snugly in place, gripping him as he withdrew. The pace with which he entered me again was excruciatingly slow. I needed him to take me faster. But he did as he pleased, just like he’d promised, claiming me with every thrust.

“Damn it, Daniel. I need you.” I dug into his back and raised my hips to meet him.

“I know, Vivian,” he soothed, kissing my forehead, slowing even further.

Daniel .”

His grin was wicked. He was enjoying every second of this sweet torture. “Do you feel how perfectly we fit together?” His cock filled me so completely, I couldn’t tell where I ended and he began. “You were made for me.”

God, he stole the breath from my lungs. “You were made for me,” I corrected with a kiss.

“It is impossible to argue with you when you always have a valid point.” He slid out of me completely and pushed back in.

“Then don’t waste your time doing it,” I said.

Daniel thrust into me without mercy, and I cried out in surprise. “Is this a waste of time, Vivian?”

“No. God, no. This is why time was invented.”

“Once again, you leave me no choice but to agree with you.” He sounded exasperated, but he looked perfectly happy. I wrapped my legs around his waist, digging my heels into his back, encouraging him to move.

He sank into me balls-deep, and I moaned at how perfect he felt. “You lied to me,” I said as he plunged and retreated.

Daniel fully withdrew and stopped moving, ignoring my cry of protest. “About what?” He looked concerned.

You are romantic.”

He relaxed and sank back into me. “I assure you, I am not.” I glanced over his shoulder at the twinkling Christmas tree and mouthed ‘liar’. “Is it a crime to want to make you happy?”

“As long as I do the same for you, then no.” An orgasm stirred, taking me by surprise.

“Are you sure you want to come now, V? Because once you do, I’m going to be right with you,” he promised.

“I don’t have much of a choice,” I said breathlessly.

He withdrew, and the sensation subsided a fraction. “I’m going to teach you to control it, until I can make you come with only a look.” I didn’t believe that was possible but was in no frame of mind to argue. He pumped slowly in and out of me, driving me to the edge of bliss once more. When he sensed that, he withdrew again, and I cursed, but he whispered so softly I could barely hear him. “Trust me. Hold off as long as you can, and when we go over, we’ll fly.”

Three more times he took me to the edge, and on the fourth, he gave me the command to release, and we soared together. His raw pleasure was a sight to behold, intensifying my own. He hadn’t lied to me. The orgasm went on for days, Daniel prolonging it with a flick of his tongue over my sensitive nipples.

“That was beautiful, Vivian.”

I flushed with joy, my body alive, my heart overflowing as we remained joined together. “I love you too.” I dropped the bomb and then kissed his cheek, trying not to laugh at the look on his face.

He blushed, resting his forehead on mine. “You can’t,” he said hoarsely.

“Yes, I can. I do,” I told him.

“Vivian.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “I don’t want you to.”

“You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.” When he opened his eyes, there was pain there I wanted to take away. “Daniel, I’m not trying to hurt you. But I promised you all of me. That’s what you said you wanted. So I’m giving it to you.”

“Please, Vivian,” he pleaded, his voice troubled.

I touched his cheek. “Hey. I’m not going to hide how I feel from you.” My voice was gentle but firm, and he nodded. “If you wanted something meaningless, we wouldn’t be here now.”

“I-I can’t.”

I looked at him with a soft smile. “You already do.” He clung to me, and I held him, listening to his heart drum. “We’re not on desperate ground.”

He lifted his head, surprised at my Art of War reference. “It feels like I always am,” he confessed.

“Not with me.”

“Especially with you. You’re dangerous for me.”

I brushed my lips across his. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

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