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Page 12 of Be Mine (Holland Springs 6)

Liam didn’t reply. Instead, he stared at her until the air seemed to vibrate with tension. He took a step closer.

“Believe it or not, I’m not unhappy about this circumstance. Our circumstances.”

She searched his face. “I don’t know what to believe. I only know how I’ve been treated.”

“I am sorry for how things ended between us. There are times when I let my self-righteousness get in the way of decency.” He touched her face, a small caress that sent heat spreading outward. “And tonight… after seeing you, I haven’t slept. I couldn’t sleep. I was too worried about you.”

“And my answer,” she reminded him. “I didn’t give you a straight-up yes.”

His thumb kept up that slow glide. She wanted to turn into it, wanted to kiss his palm, his wrist, and work her way up his arms. He had amazing arms. She’d been held by them, after all.

“You. Bella. I was—I am concerned for you. Your answer be damned.”

She had nothing to blame but her pregnancy hormones for the swoony feelings that came over her. Never mind he’d inspired the same swoony feelings when she didn’t have any of those hormones.

“My answer is yes. I told my parents we were getting married next week.”

Relief smoothed out the grooves along his mouth. “That soon, but I thought you wanted them here so your dad could walk you down the aisle.”

“I did. I mean, I do want them here, but I can’t put that expense on them or ask for my brother to pay for everything.”

“I’ll buy you a gown,” he said softly, reminding her of the man she first met.

“I’d rather you buy me flowers.”

His head dipped. “Whatever my duchess wants.”

Then he kissed her, and she melted into him. She was hungry for him. Completely starved for his taste and touch. He trailed his lips down her throat, hands working at the buttons of her jeans.

She jolted at the feel of him as he touched her. She was wet and needy. He finger slid inside of her, and she moaned. His thumb pressed against her clit, and then began a torturous glide that had her panting.

The next thing she knew, her back was hitting the mattress and Liam was crawling up her body, his hands working together to make her wild. She tossed her head back and forth as his mouth found one of her hard nipples.

“These are bigger.”

“Everything is bigger,” she pointed out. A sliver of self-consciousness tried to pierce her happy bubble of desire.

“So?” He managed to unfasten her bra with one hand and smiled, like he’d just won first place. Like she was a prize to become deliriously overcome with lust.

Just like before. Would their end be the same, too?

She frowned, even as a second finger pushed inside of her. “You don’t—”

He sucked on the pointed tip of her other breast and pleasure shot through her body. “I like. I love. I want to devour you.”

“But I—”

Pausing, he looked up at her and said, “If you don’t hush, I’ll not continue.”

She smashed her lips together, faster than she would ever admit.

“Good girl.”

He did something with his fingers, and she almost screamed. Her back bowed off the bed.

“You are very, very sensitive.” He smiled wolfishly at her. “What would happen if I put my mouth between your thighs and kissed you there?”

She’d probably scream Glory Hallelujah. “I’d like it.”

He made a sound. “Only like it?” Without breaking the rhythm of his fingers, he kissed his way down her stomach, pausing at the slight bump. “I didn’t know you could tell this early.”

Biting her lip, she said, “It depends on the woman.” And if they’d been pregnant before. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t be intimate with him after only an apology and a proposal.

His lips skimmed the edge of her panties, his fingers now withdrawing.

“I can’t,” she gasped, edging away and sitting up. She refastened her jeans with shaky hands.

“I think we’ve already let the cow out the barn door, m’dear,” Liam said as he sat up. His erection was visibly outlined, and she swallowed.

She let out a nervous laugh. “It’s not that.”

“Then what?” He stood up, staring down at her with dark, unreadable eyes.

There wasn’t a way to put her thoughts into words, without causing problems. “I don’t want to start another fight.” The phrase had become her go-to excuse.

Suddenly, he held out his hand. “Come with me.”

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from his hand. This was almost surreal, but in reverse. Once again, he was asking her to go.

Only, this time, she didn’t hesitate.

Chapter Seven

Liam helped Bella into her coat, fastening buttons and generally taking an extraordinarily long amount of time to make sure she was properly shielded from the cold. August mornings in Scotland had to be freezing to her.

“Where’s your coat?” she asked.

“Don’t need one until January,” he said with a wink.

They left her room, and then the hotel, completely behind, walking along Princes Street. It was wet and the cobblestones fairly gleamed under the gaslights. If he didn’t pay attention to the modern traffic lights, one could assume they were walking back in time.

He took a deep breath and a white puff of smoke appeared as he exhaled.

“So weird to see that in the summer,” she said.

And that was what he needed to remember. Everything about their situation was strange to her. To both of them, really. They needed one another. He had to make this work, if not for their sake, but for the child’s. Having grown up with an indifferent father, he’d vowed to not be the same.

“Care for some breakfast?”

“I already ate, but…” She smiled at him, her eyes twinkling. “I’m hungry again.”

“I know the perfect place,” he said. “It’s nearby.”

He kept her close to him as they crossed the street and made a left, passing businesses that hadn’t opened for the day.

“Can you drink coffee?” he asked, as he opened the door for her.

“Yes, but I won’t,” she said as she hurried inside.

He frowned at that. Sure, he expected her to be mindful, but this… perhaps she had some concerns he needed to be aware of.

They sat at a table near the back of the bakery, in a cozy corner. All round them the shop buzzed with activity and smelled delicious.

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