Or kiss him.

No. Smacking him would make me feel better.

But so would kissing him.

Fuck. I hadn’t kissed him in over a week and all I wanted was to wrap my arms around him and hold on.

After I slapped him.

“Emmie, have you slept since the funeral?” I turned away from him—and the inner struggle I was having—and he let out a pained groan. “Damn it, baby girl, don’t you see that you need help?”

“I’m fine,” I muttered and sat down on the edge of my desk. I was exhausted because, honestly, I hadn’t gotten much sleep since Todd Jones’s funeral. The ten hours I’d slept that day had been dreamless—completely devoid of any nightmares. But since then I’d been fighting the damn things even during my waking hours. It was getting to the point that the dreams weren’t just memories, and what had actually happened sometimes felt like an actual dream compared to the way the details seemed to morph.

Mia never getting found. Gabriella dying. The blood…all that fucking blood.

I shivered at just the thought.

“You aren’t fine. You’re making yourself sick. Have you even looked in a mirror lately, Em? You are pale as a damn ghost and I can see your fucking bones. Your bones, baby. And those circles under your eyes make you look like someone has been using you for a punching bag.” He shook his head. “Baby girl, you can’t keep doing this to yourself. Let me help you.”

I wanted to be strong, wanted my tone to tell him I didn’t need anyone’s help. Instead my voice came out as barely a whisper. “I…I don’t need help.”

Nik stepped forward and caught both my hands in his. His ice-blue eyes were full of loving concern as he looked down at me. “Yes, baby girl, you do. This isn’t good for you. It’s not good for any of us.” I shook my head but he was quick to stop me from saying another word. “It’s not good for Mia, Emmie.”

That stopped me. “M-Mia?” I could feel the blood draining from my face. No. No, please no. She was fine. She was safe.

Wasn’t she?

“Yes, Mia. She’s been feeling your anxiety, Em. She hasn’t been getting much sleep either. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s flooding over into her emotions too.”

All the air seemed to be forcibly pushed from my chest and it took me a moment to catch my breath. There was probably nothing he could have said that would have made me take a harder look at what was happening to myself. Nothing but tell me that what I was torturing myself with every second of every day was hurting our daughter.

Fuck. I didn’t want that for her. Couldn’t handle the thought of Mia hurting like I did, of her being scared and anxious because of me. I was the parent. I was supposed to keep those things from touching her. From the second I’d known she was growing under my heart, all I’d ever really wanted was for her to grow up happy, to have the life I’d never had as a kid. I didn’t want her to know about the evils in the world, didn’t want her to see the bad things that other people were capable of.

Yet, there I was, letting her see firsthand how fucked-up the world was. I was showing her exactly what a fuckup I was as a mother.

Tears burned my eyes and suddenly I couldn’t see as they clouded my vision. “I-I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t…” I shook my head. “I’m sorry.”

Strong arms wrapped around me and a small fraction of my stress faded. Fuck, I missed this. Nik’s lips pressed against my temple as he pulled me against his chest. A sob caught in my throat and I grabbed on to his shirt, holding on with what little strength I still had. “It’s going to be okay, Emmie. I’m going to help you,” he promised as he rubbed his hands up and down my spine. “I love you so much, baby girl. Let me help you.”

Blindly, I nodded. “Please, Nik. Please. I can’t…Mia doesn’t deserve this. She’s just a baby. She shouldn’t… Gods, I’m so sorry.”

His arms tightened. “You don’t deserve it either, Em. It kills me that I can’t just take your pain away, that you have to live with the nightmares. You are so precious to me, sweetheart. I can’t live without you. Stop making me.”

“You…you and Dallas drugged me,” I whispered brokenly.

“Of course we did. You needed some sleep. I was hoping that when you woke up, you would have a more open mind about talking to a therapist, but it backfired.” He pulled back to look down at me. Lifting a hand, he wiped away a few of my tears and I saw that his eyes were over-bright with his own. The sight of his tears was like a sharp stab to my heart. “I asked Dallas and Axton for help because I wanted to make sure it was safe for you. I never would have done something like that if Dallas had said no. I was just so fucking worried about you. You couldn’t even focus. I’m sorry, baby. If I’d known that it was going to drive a wedge between us like it did, I would have come up with another way to help you sleep.”

I shook my head. “No, you were right. I was just being stubborn. I should have asked Dallas for help to begin with. The pills helped.” I grimaced. I had to face the truth. I’d been mad at him for what he’d done, but I’d been even more pissed at myself. It was hard to face the fact that I wasn’t indestructible. “I was so set against taking medicine to help me through this. I’m still scared. What if I get addicted to something? What if…?”

“We can cross that bridge if we ever reach it, Emmie. First, how about we go see Dr. Rayner?” I stiffened when he mentioned the therapist that Lucy still continued to see. I’d had more than a few sessions with the man in the past, but I had hated how he always brought up my childhood and then made me relive the night Vince Grady had made such a disturbing entrance into our lives.

“Do you think that will be best?”

Nik shrugged. “I think that it’s a step in the right direction, baby girl. You need to talk about what happened and you need someone listening who can help you process it all in a healthy way.”

I knew that he was right, but I didn’t want to give in. I hated talking to that damn doctor. Hated how I’d felt in the past after each session with him. He’d brought back so many things I’d only wanted to keep in the past that I’d begun to dread getting out of bed on the days I had an appointment with him.

As if he knew what was going through my head, Nik cupped my jaw in one of his big, warm hands and forced me to meet his gaze. “It’s going to be hard, Emmie. But I’m right here. I’ll help you through this, baby girl. I’ll hold your hand, fight your demons, slay your nightmares for as long as you’ll let me. You can do this. One day you’ll wake up and be able to put all this shit behind you. Until then, let me take some of it away.”

Fresh tears flooded my eyes and I swallowed back a sob as I nodded. “I love you, Nik.”

“I love you too, baby girl. More than life.” His lips pressed against my forehead as I crumbled against him. “I’ve got you,” he breathed at my ear. “I’ve got you and I’m not letting go.”

I couldn’t help it. The tears spilled free and I buried myself closer to him. All the anger I’d had for him and Dallas and Axton vanished and as I cried all my pain out on Nik’s strong, capable shoulders. It didn’t heal anything inside of me to cry like that, but it felt good to just let go, even for only a second.

With his arms around me like that, I knew that life could still destroy me, but at least I felt safe. That was how it had always been with Nik when I was five and that was how it would be fifty years from now. I knew he couldn’t make all the bad shit go away, but with those loving arms wrapped around me, it didn’t matter.

Long minutes passed before my sobs began to subside and Nik finally forced me to lift my head. Seeing the tears that he had held at bay glazing his eyes, refusing to let them fall, stabbed me in the gut like a sharp dagger. “How is it that even with your face all red and snot running out of your nose, you are still the most beautiful woman in the world?” he murmured, a smile teasing at the corners of his lips.

A broken laugh escaped me and I lifted my hand to wipe the last of my tears from my face. “You’re a freak like tha

t, babe.”

“Probably.” He lowered his head and brushed his lips over mine, barely touching them to my mouth in a kiss that was so lovingly tender that my breath caught in my throat. While the kiss was soft and gentle, I could feel his body tremble with need that he was trying hard to suppress.

Feeling that telltale sign of need, my own body responded accordingly. Suddenly I was pressing against him for a reason other than needing to feel safe. My pussy ached for him, my entire body craving the pressure of his on top of me. We hadn’t been together in a week and my body was demanding I take everything my husband had to offer

Ice-blue eyes darkened and he lifted one large hand to cup my jaw. “You know, we haven’t given this place a proper christening,” he murmured with a hungry look on his face. He licked his bottom lip and my eyes watched the small action in fascination, as if I’d never seen him do it before.

“True.” My voice came out a little breathless, but I didn’t care. Fuck, Nik knew me better than anyone else on the planet; he didn’t need to hear my voice to know how much I wanted him right then. He could tell by the pink that was probably filling my cheeks, the way my breathing was already coming in little pants, and the way my nipples strained against the material of my thin bra, outlined by my shirt.

“If you’re not mad at me anymore, we could have some really hot make-up sex right here on your desk…” His voice trailed off as those ice-blue eyes went behind me to the huge desk that I’d spent all day clearing of work.

I turned my head, looking at the desk. My already wet pussy flooded with hot, liquid arousal as pictures of Nik on his knees in front of me, licking my pussy until I came all over his face, flashed through my mind. A soft moan escaped me before I could stop myself and in the next instant Nik was reaching for my shirt. It was over my head and falling to the floor before I could even open my mouth.

“Get naked, Em,” he commanded as he went to work on his own clothes. “If I touch any more of your clothes I can’t promise I won’t rip them. I’m dying for you, baby girl.”

My body quivering with need, I started stripping as I headed toward my desk. My bra fell to the floor at the same time I kicked off my shoes. I unbuttoned my jeans, letting them fall in place before stepping out of them, but I left my panties on. Heart pounding, I sat down on the edge of my desk just as Nik dropped down into my rolling chair.

It was a delicious sight to see ice-blue eyes on fire, but that was exactly how Nik’s eyes appeared in that moment. The cool blue seemed to blaze with the hottest fire that ever existed. Scooting the chair closer to the desk, both his hands caught my thighs and spread them wide so he could move between them.

“I said naked, Emmie.” His voice was more of a growl as his fingers caressed up the inside of my thighs and stopped at the edge of my lacy boy shorts.

“Fuck me with them on,” I told him.

“You’re such a godsdamn tease, baby girl.” He grinned wickedly up at me before burying his face between my breasts. The feel of his hot tongue licking the valley had my hands thrusting into his hair, unable to control the need to keep him there for just a little longer—eternity if possible.

He didn’t stay long, though, and quickly started kissing his way down my stomach, over the belly button ring I’d had redone after Jagger had been born, stopping only when he reached the top of my panties. Instead of pulling them down, his questing fingers sought out the hem on the inside of my right thigh and pulled the material to the side, exposing my drenched pussy. Nik growled something low and vicious, but I was too lost in how hungry I was for him to understand him.

I watched in fascination as his head lowered and he kissed the top of my mound. I tightened my hold on his hair, but he didn’t protest. Instead he decided to torture me further by skimming the very tip of his tongue over my clit, flicking the little bundle of nerves repeatedly in the way he knew drove me wild.

“You’re evil,” I said with a pout, tugging his head back with some effort.

He only grinned up at me and gave me a sexy wink, but my eyes were quickly taking in the sight of him completely naked, sitting in my work chair. Fucking hell, I was never going to be able to look at this office—or that chair—the same way ever again. From then on I would see this vision of my yummy husband in all his naked glory, his hand wrapped around his straining cock, the tip already glistening with need for me.

“Come here,” he quietly ordered and I went willingly. Sliding off the desk, I straddled his thighs and positioned my already pulsing pussy over the hot tip of his huge cock.

“Motherfucker,” he growled as I slid down his length, his girth stretching me in a delicious kind of way that never failed to have my walls clamping around him, begging for more. “You’re going to kill me one of these days, Emmie. But fuck, baby girl, it’s the only way I want to leave this world.”

I leaned forward, pressing my forehead to his as I gave my body a few seconds to adjust to his size. Even going just a few days without him, my body tended to tighten up. Having gone a week, my pussy wasn’t completely ready to take his size yet. “I love you,” I whispered.

“Fuck, babe. I love you too.” Big hands grabbed my ass, squeezing roughly but not enough to hurt or leave any bruises. “Ride me, Em. Let me see you as you take all of me.”

I leaned back, grabbing the arms of the chair to steady myself as I met his eyes. “We have a lot of time to make up for.”

“A whole fucking week’s worth, baby girl. So get to moving that sexy ass of yours so we can try out every flat surface in this damn room.” He smacked a hand over my panty-clad ass just enough to make my pussy flood even more with need for him. “Now move.”

He didn’t have to tell me again. I lifted my hips enough that he slid halfway out of me and slammed them back down, taking him a little deeper. My tits bounced and I watched him, his eyes practically glued to the sight of my tits jiggling as I bounced up and down on his lap. Seeing how much he enjoyed the sight of my body, loving the way his breath hitched and he licked his lips only drove my own desire higher. I increased my pace, practically pounding down on him, thankful that he had his legs locked in place and the rolling chair didn’t move as I rode him until I was crying his name and my pussy was clenching around him in release.

“That’s it, Em.” He kissed each nipple before burying his face in the valley once again and grabbing hold of my hips. His fingers tightened until they were almost painful and he started thrusting up into me, meeting me as I continued to bounce, wanting another orgasm—a hundred of them. Just wanting to feel how thick and hot he was inside of me, how much his body shuddered as I sensed his own release approaching.

He froze under me, his fingers grasping me so hard that I knew this time he would leave bruises, but I welcomed the slight pain. He tossed his head back against the chair, his throat straining as he let go of a yell that echoed off the walls of my office. “Emmie,” he cried when I kept bouncing, wanting to drain every last drop from him. “Fuck, it’s so good. So fucking good.”

“Yes,” I panted. “Yes. Oh, fuck. Yes.”

Later, when we could both breathe again, I lifted my head and glanced around the room. “How about my windowsill next?”

He chuckled, but I could see the desire burning in his eyes even as his cock came back to life inside of me. “I’m game, baby girl.”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Harper

A wet tongue licking across my face woke me from a deep sleep. I jerked awake and it took me a few seconds to realize where I was. Seeing our bedroom at home, I breathed a sigh of relief and then wrapped my arms around Ranger who was still licking my face.

“Hey, big guy.” I kissed the top of his head and then used his body as a pillow as I hugged him close. “I missed you.”

Ranger let out a soft whine that told me just how much he’d missed me too, and I couldn’t help but smile as I closed my eyes again.

Only to have my stomach protest.

Jumping up from the bed, I made a

run for the bathroom and barely made it in time to empty my stomach into the toilet. From the bedroom, I heard Ranger bark and follow after me. A new round of heaves hit me at the same time the German shepherd touched his cold nose to my back.

“Harper?”

I moaned and vomited again, my stomach roiling painfully.

“Harp?”

I couldn’t even lift my head from the toilet to look at the man who had just run into the bathroom. Beside me, Ranger whined in concern and I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him I was okay, but I didn’t dare move. I didn’t think I could stand long enough to give him a bath if I got puke on him.

A cool, damp cloth was pressed to my forehead and I sighed in thanks as Linc gathered my hair back and secured it with a hairband. “Still not feeling well?”

I shrugged and leaned my head against the—thankfully—clean toilet lid. I was seriously going to have to give the housekeeper, who came in a few days each week, a raise.

“I’m okay,” I finally told him when my stomach felt like it was finally satisfied with the amount of torture it had just put me through.

“Ready to go back to bed?” He crouched down next to me, his green eyes full of concern as he took in my pale, sweaty face that was flushed slightly from all the exhausting vomiting I’d just done.

I didn’t even have the energy to nod. Linc gave me a grim little smile and lifted me into his arms. “You should see your doctor. Maybe this bug you got is something more serious.”

I pressed my lips together to keep from blurting out what was really wrong with me. I ached to tell Linc what was going on, but I’d promised Shane I’d keep my mouth shut until it was safe to tell our friends and family. But the weight of our secret sat hard on my chest. Linc wouldn’t tell a soul. I trusted him with my life…

But I didn’t dare risk the baby.

Linc carefully laid me down on the king-sized bed and tucked the covers over me. I curled up in a ball and wrapped my arms around my middle. It seemed this baby was going to make its presence felt in every way possible. It was that knowledge that made every second of nausea, every moment of harshly roiling stomach bearable. I’d take this and anything else as long as my baby was healthy.


Tags: Terri Anne Browning The Rocker Young Adult
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