"We'll find a new home together."
His eyes warmed. "I know." He sighed. "I just feel . . . stripped bare, I guess," he said, smiling a smile lacking humor and raising his eyebrows.
I studied him for another minute, my eyes drinking in the striking male beauty of his face, the depth of emotion and sensitivity behind his eyes. I'd never get tired of looking at him. Loving him would never cease being my greatest pleasure in life. "I've always liked you stripped bare," I said, smiling a cheeky smile at him and trying to get him to smile back. It worked. I went serious. "You've always been most beautiful when you're stripped bare," I said, meaning that in every single way. "You, just you, with nothing else, no job, no house, no money, nothing. Stripped bare. You will always be enough for me. You will always be my dream come true, my destiny."
Calder let out a loud exhale, relief filling his expression. He leaned forward and kissed my lips. "I will give you more though."
"I know," I whispered. I tilted my head. "Want to get in the water with me?"
He gazed at me a minute and then nodded. "Yeah, okay."
"No one's here. We could be naughty and strip even more bare." I nodded my head toward all the trees blocking the pool from anyone's sight. "No one can see us."
Calder chuckled, and immediately began removing his swim trunks.
When we were both na**d and submersed in the heated water of the large pool, I wrapped my arms around his neck and we bobbed like that for a little while, me sighing out at the delicious feel of the water lapping around my shoulders and Calder's hard, wet, bare body right up against mine.
"Right now, I can imagine we're in the water at our spring," he said, smiling. "I can imagine it's just us and the stars." The look on his face was peaceful, serene.
I nuzzled into his neck, kissing him softly there. I felt him stir against my belly and as if my body was answering, I felt an immediate tingling between my thighs. "This is better," I whispered. "We're free. It's definitely not how we would have wanted it to go, but we're here, we're together."
Calder turned us around in the water and I laughed, leaning my head back. The sky was cloudy and overcast above us.
"Sometimes I miss it," he said. "Is that insane?"
I lifted my head and looked in his eyes, moving a piece of dark hair off his forehead. I shook my head slowly. "No. We both knew ourselves there. Even if we didn't like it, we knew who we were. We knew what we wanted. Out here," I brought one hand from around his neck and waved it to the side of us, "it's not always clear. It's confusing and scary sometimes."
He nodded his head, his expression unreadable to me as he looked in my eyes. "You always get it," he said. "It's a f**king relief." He closed his eyes briefly and I laughed softly.
Calder's use of a swear word sent a jolt of surprise through me that ended between my legs. "The big society is rubbing off on you. Now you're using dirty words?" I raised one eyebrow, teasing him.
He grinned wickedly and spun us around again. "Only with you. I only get dirty with you." He leaned in and ran his tongue up my neck and I moaned. "Let's get dirty." He grinned against my skin.
A thrill shot through my body and a pulsing throb started between my legs. It was somewhat shameful how little Calder needed to do before I was practically panting for him. But, hadn't it always been the case? I figured it always would be.
Calder gazed at me, his eyes moving over my face. "You're painfully beautiful," he whispered.
I breathed out a small laugh. "It's not supposed to be painful."
"It is." He pushed my bangs to the side. "Yours is the type of beauty that makes a man want to fight wars and pillage villages full of other men who might dare to look at you."
I laughed softly, my heart skipping a beat. "No pillaging necessary. I'm yours. I've been yours since the beginning of time."
Calder's eyes flared and I leaned forward and kissed his lips gently. He walked us over to the wall of the shallow end of the pool and sat me on the edge. He leaned into me and took my mouth, at the perfect height so that our faces met as he rested his hands on the cement next to my hips. He moved in between my thighs and I wrapped my legs around his hips.
He broke from our kiss and gazed at me with heated eyes. The throb between my legs intensified and my breaths grew quicker. Calder's eyes moved down to my pebbled ni**les and his eyes darkened with lust. That look . . . Oh God, that look. "Please," I murmured, bringing my hands up to his head and pulling him forward. I needed his mouth on my br**sts right that second. He obliged and when his warm, wet mouth closed over one nipple, I moaned loudly. It felt so good. I always felt like I was at risk of cl**axing just from what Calder did with his mouth on my ni**les. It was bliss. With one hand braced on the cement behind me, I used my other hand to hold the breast Calder was licking and sucking and watched him as he pleasured me that way. The sight of him along with the delicious feel of his mouth was almost my undoing. "Calder, I need you inside of me. Now," I groaned out. He smiled against my skin and then glanced up at me with heated eyes before he moved to my other nipple. I panted out in time with his tongue flicks, pressing into his erection that was right at my core.
"I'll never stop wanting you," I said, my voice barely a whisper. Calder's mouth paused for just a brief second, but then his tongue lashed out again, harder this time. I gasped out, my body pressing into his more forcefully.
He reached down and took his erection in his hand. I watched him stroke himself a couple times, my breath catching in my own throat.
"Scoot forward a little," he said, sounding strained, that beautiful smoky voice even more gravelly.
I swallowed and did as he asked, moving from side to side until I was at the very edge of the pool. I brought one fingertip to a vein that started at his abdomen and ran downward, imagining the blood pulsing to his shaft below. Something about that had lust shooting through my veins.
Calder let out a strained groan and lined the tip of his erection up with my entrance. I groaned out, too, half in frustration, half in relief. His eyes met mine and they were dark and unfocused.
He pushed into me inch by slow inch, looking into my eyes the whole time. I wanted to close my eyes and relish the sensation of his body filling mine, but I couldn't look away. There was something dark and deep and powerful in the way he was watching me.
He pushed in until our bodies connected and I gasped and he moaned, his eyes falling shut and his lips parting. I wrapped my legs around his h*ps as he began to move slowly, so excruciatingly slowly. He wrapped his arms around me and brought his mouth to my ear, tickling it with his breath and causing my body to unconsciously buck into him. The sensations he was causing were almost too much. I didn't know whether I was going to have an orgasm or self-combust. Possibly both.
"The things you do to me, Eden," he whispered, his voice low and raspy. The things I do to him?
I just moaned, raking my fingernails over his back as he started another slow slide out.
"I love you so much it makes my guts ache." He slid in slowly, pressing firmly against the part of me that felt swollen and achy with need. Sparks of pleasure burst through my body and my legs tightened around his hips. "I want to f**k you and worship you." He slid out and I made a gurgled sound of loss in my throat, excitement shooting through my body at his dirty talk. He pushed in again more quickly, brushing his thumbs over my ni**les and causing more sparkles of pleasure to dance around the perimeter of my foggy vision. "I want to worship you while I f**k you. I want to f**k you until you feel how much I worship you." He slid out and then pushed in in several quick thrusts, bumping his pelvis against my body in a delicious tease that was too much and not enough at all. "I hate it and I love it because I know it will never change. It's been this way from the moment I laid eyes on you and it'll be this way until the day I die."
"Calder, Calder," I moaned out. There was so much I wanted to say, but none of it would organize itself in my brain. He was holding me hostage on the edge of orgasm and it was glorious and torturous. I was rendered completely useless when it came to any words other than his name.
Calder stroked into me again several times, his thumbs still rubbing over my sensitive ni**les. "Yes," I moaned.
"I'm tormented by you, and I'm the luckiest man in the world," he rasped, finally, finally moving faster, bumping the juncture between my thighs at the absolutely wonderful speed I needed it. I panted to his rhythm, my hands grasping at his back.
"I want everyone on earth to know you're mine. And I," he took two quick thrusts, "can't even marry you because I don't even have a name."
My eyes widened right at the same moment my body tightened and pleasure exploded through me, causing me to cry out his name again and again. I came back down woozily as Calder pumped into me fast and hard twice more and then pressed into me, groaning his own cl**ax into my neck.
I stroked my fingernails down his skin softly as he breathed harshly against me, circling his h*ps very slowly to draw out his pleasure.
After a minute he pulled back and looked up into my face, his expression half tormented and half blissful. I took his face in my hands, kissing his lips softly. "You want to marry me?" I whispered.
"God, yes," he rasped.
I smiled against his lips and brought my arms around his neck. "Then let's figure this out," I said, joy blooming in my chest. "Because if there is one thing I am absolutely sure about in this world, it's that I want to be married to you."
Calder kissed my lips again, smiling against my mouth, and pulled his body from mine. He was silent for a minute as his eyes moved over my face. "I've been thinking, Eden," he paused, running his hand through his hair.
"What?" I probed, putting my fingers on his chin and tilting his face back to mine.
He met my eyes. "What would you say about taking a road trip to Indiana?"
I nodded immediately. "Road trip? Yes." I tilted my head. "But are you sure about Indiana? Why?"
He shrugged. "For the reasons you mentioned it before. Partly to see if you recognize anything, I guess. I know it's a long shot in the dark. But . . . mostly, just to get away from the craziness here, but still be close by. To walk around without being hounded, to be together, to sleep in a bed that doesn't announce my every move to your mother," he smiled, but then went serious again. "To get some freedom."
I bit my lip, warming to the idea immediately. It would be a wonderful relief not to worry about who was outside our door for at least a short while. And maybe by the time we returned, things would have died off. "Yes."
Calder looked relieved. "Thank you."
I shook my head. "No, this is for both of us. Xander mentioned us getting away this morning, too."
He nodded. "We need it. Do we have to tell the police?"
"I don't think so. They didn't say we couldn't leave town." I shrugged. "I mean, we could anyway, just to be considerate, I guess, but I don't think we're required to. And I don't necessarily want them to know where we're going."
"You already told them about recognizing the Indiana sign though."
I nodded. "I know, but I don't want them to think we're going on some vigilante information-gathering mission. Chances are good that nothing at all will come of it anyway."
Calder nodded. "And that's okay. It just seemed like it made sense as far as a location."
"It does." I smiled. "Now go gather my bathing suit before my mom comes home and finds me undressed.”
Calder chuckled and then swam to the other side of the pool where my suit sat right on the edge.
I grinned and then squinted upward as the sun broke through the clouds, casting the gloomy day in sudden light. It felt appropriate, because while before it had seemed as though a cloud was over us, surrounding us, now, everything seemed clearer, brighter. The man of my dreams wanted to marry me, had more hope in his eyes, and light had begun to shine in my heart once more.
Later in bed as I stroked Calder's hair, cocooned in his warm arms, drifting toward sleep, he suddenly said, "That day, Hector kept calling me Satan's spawn. He said it over and over. What do you think he meant by that?"
I shivered, even though I was far from cold. "I don't know," I said. "Who knows what was going through his sick brain?" Something inside me told me I didn't want to know. I snuggled more deeply into Calder's embrace.
Once Eden and I decided to take the trip to Indiana, my mood improved immensely. I had felt trapped, confined, and worthless for almost a month. And I had been trying so hard to snap myself out of it. After all, I had Eden back. If someone had told me two months before that Eden would be back in my arms, I would have happily agreed to live in a dark cave with her for the rest of my existence. And now, here I was edgy and frustrated. I felt ashamed of myself. But the simple truth was, I longed to take care of her. I longed to feel like the man she deserved. I wanted so desperately to give her things, to work for her, to provide a home for us, marry her. And I couldn't exactly do any of that from the guest room in her mom's house, especially considering how welcome her mom made me feel. Or not.
All of that, in addition to my apartment being demolished, and seeing Clive on television had brought on a deep despair. I hadn't expected the very sight of his weasly face to plummet me into a spiral of anger and feelings of defeat. But it had. Despite Clive Richter's small stature, he had always held a place of authority and power over me. Physically, I had always been stronger. But emotionally, or rather power-wise, he had always controlled me, and in some sense, that was still true.