After a few moments, he took a deep breath and gazed at me. He soothed me first with his lips, and then with whispers of “love” and “beautiful” and “perfect.”
He stilled completely once he was inside, crushing his lips against mine. My limbs felt a bit like Jell-O, so I just wrapped myself around him, holding him as tightly as I could.
He pulled out, just a little, before pushing back in.
I breathed out sharply, biting my lip against the twinge of pain.
Garrick’s lips captured that bottom lip between his own, soothing, careful.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
I nodded, not sure I could speak.
“Do you need me to stop?”
I shook my head. That wasn’t what I wanted at all. I wanted him to feel what I’d felt earlier. I wanted to hold him as he came apart in my arms.
He repeated the action, and this time, it wasn’t so much pain as discomfort.
“Keep going,” I whispered.
Garrick burrowed his head into the curve of my neck, dragging his mouth over my pulse point as he pushed in and out again. The next time I was coherent enough to tip my hips upward to meet him halfway. His response was a groan that I felt all the way down to my toes.
His mouth memorized the skin of my neck and shoulders as we developed a rhythm between us. Something pushed and pulled inside of me, and each time our skin connected, I felt the pressure build a little bit more. His hand cupped my breast, and I felt the pleasure snake down my middle to the place where our bodies met.
I wrapped my legs around his hips and pulled him farther into me. His rhythm stuttered for a moment, his eyes closed, and he was beautiful as he tried to hold himself together.
My whole world was expanding in the circle of his arms.
He started moving again after a moment, and this time he reached a hand between us. I’d worry about how he got to be so good at this later, but for now I was too busy reaping the benefits. I was so close, and every muscle in me was clenched tight. I dug my fingernails into his shoulder one final time, my favorite new trick, and his hips snapped forward.
“Bliss,” He ground out.
I just wrapped my legs tighter against him, and rolled my hips upward. His head dropped to my neck, his breath hot against my skin. He thrust forward again so hard that my whole body shifted and pleasure poured through my body so fast that my vision went spotty. His body stilled against mine, his face still pressed into my neck, his arms cradling me. I lifted his face to mine, watching as his eyes clenched shut and his mouth fell open, and his whole body shuddered over mine.
When his eyes opened, they were still dark, but focused on me. He pressed a kiss to my forehead, then each cheek, and finally my lips.
“I love you,” we said together.
He slipped out of me, and I immediately reached for him, missing him, missing the way we fit together. He settled beside me and gathered me in his arms. I laid my head onto his chest, where I could hear his heartbeat. It was just as fast as mine. He laced our fingers together, and pressed his cheek into the top of my hair.
It was perfect.
I was full of perfect moments today.
And I wasn’t sure if what I said next would make it more so or ruin everything, but I’d found that not thinking too much worked well with Garrick. When my breathing calmed, I said, “I looked at apartments in Philadelphia.”
I nodded, still unsure what he was thinking.
“I know we still haven’t talked about this,” I began. “But I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve decided I do want to focus on acting, not stage management, and since I can’t afford New York, Philly seems like a pretty good place. I mean, I haven’t made any final plans. I’ve only done some research. You know, looked at some theatres, upcoming auditions, apartments, and day jobs, that kind of thing. But if you don’t think it’s a good idea, I don’t have to—“
“Stop right there, crazy talker.”
This was an awful idea. I’d just ruined a great moment… like I always did. Seriously, I was going to invent some kind of machine to shock me or punch me in the face whenever I did shit like this. It would be like conditioning, and maybe eventually I’d learn to shut the hell up. His hand found my jaw, and titled my face up toward his. His thumb grazed my lip, and his eyes gazed into mine.
“I think you would love Philly,” he told me.
The light was shining again in the form of his smile, and I relaxed into his arms.
“But don’t worry about researching apartments. You can stay with me while you look for a place.”
His face was carefully constructed—the lines smooth, his lips closed and resting somewhere close to a smile. I swallowed the lump in my throat, and said, “Really?”
“And if you don’t find a place you like, you can always decide to just stay with me permanently.”
I reached up, and brushed his hair back from his forehead so that I could see his eyes. “Are you asking me to move in with you? I can’t tell. You’re usually much more direct than that.”
He smiled. “That was me attempting to ask you to move in with me without scaring you off. Did it work?”
I said, “I’m not scared.”
And I meant it.
Six Months Later
My eyes were always drawn to Bliss during this scene. She was lovely and joyous, and it took all of my focus to keep from rushing to her. Our director had written her own adaptation of the classic Pride and Prejudice, and I doubted she’d approve of me adding my own adaptation wherein Bingley and Elizabeth end up together instead of that surly Mr. Darcy. Bliss’s eyes connected with mine, and even though I was supposed to be fawning over her character’s sister, my character was the last thing on my mind. We moved into formation for a dance where we were constantly moving and spinning. Every time Bliss and I passed, our eyes would meet, our hands would brush, and I’d curse the casting director who didn’t make me Darcy. I could be surly.
Immediately after the curtain call, I found her backstage and pulled her into my arms. “Garrick,” She sighed into my embrace. The words vibrated against my chest, and I held her tighter.
I whispered into her ear, “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
She laughed. “You say that every night after the show.”
I pulled back, and my cheek slid against hers. The curls around her face tickled my forehead. “What can I say? I’m persistent.”
She hummed, her lips pressed tightly together. “Persistent? I’d say unimaginative. You could at least get your own line.”
I traced my fingers over her back. I could feel the stays in her corset. God, I’d love to see her in that. Only in that.
“You want something original, love?”
“I do. Tomorrow, I expect the best line you’ve got, Mr. Taylor. But now, I need to go get dressed.”
She stepped away from me, and moved toward the women’s dressing room. She looked at me over her shoulder, and I felt that look go all the way through me. Several original things went through my mind, none of which I could say out loud. Her grin seemed to say that she new exactly what I was thinking.
“Hurry,” I said.
“Patience is a virtue, Mr. Taylor.”
She knew that name made me mental. It made me feel like her teacher again, which was infuriating and sexy as hell all at the same time. I went to say as much, but she’d already ducked into the dressing room.
I took a moment to breathe and clear my head.
Tonight, my plan started tonight. If I didn’t, I’d probably end up blurting it out with no warning whatsoever. And with Bliss’s tendency to panic that was definitely not the way to go.
I changed out of my costume, and hung it up for the maintenance crew as quick as I could. Tomorrow was our day off, which meant it was laundry day. Good thing too because my costume had definitely smelt better. A few cast mates invited us out for drinks, but I begged off. I hoped Bliss did the same. I wanted her all to myself tonight.
I was dressed and waiting for Bliss in record time. When the first girl came out, she laughed and shook her head. She leaned back in and said, “Bliss, your boyfriend is practically salivating out here.”
Boyfriend. I still wasn’t quite used to that. Even after Bliss graduated, it was awkward when people saw us together. It was nice that we had something fresh in Philly. We didn’t have to hide.
Every girl that exited gave me a knowing smile, but Bliss took her time, longer even than normal.
“Bliss!” I called through the door. “Are you trying to torture me?”
The door swung open again, another smirking actress, but not Bliss. I sighed. The girl said, “I’m pretty sure she is.”
I groaned, and pressed my face into the wall. The door opened, and I didn’t even bother looking.
“Go ahead, Loverboy. I’m the last one left.” I turned to find Alice, the older woman playing Mrs. Bennett. I smiled and reached for the door. Alice laughed, “Good luck!”
I didn’t think anything of her reply until I walked into the dressing room.
Bliss was still wearing the corset, sitting in a chair staring at me through the mirror. Her breasts were pushed up and out, and her eyes were dark as she looked at me. She reached a hand up, and started pulling bobby pins from her hair. It tumbled down around her shoulders, and my mouth went dry.
She was stunning.
“I thought I told you to be patient.”
I forced my feet into motion, and walked up behind her. I reached out and helped her with the pins. God, I loved her hair. I wrapped a curl around my finger and said, “I’m good at being patient. I’m just not good at staying away from you. Surely you know that by now.”
She grinned, and leaned her head back into my hands. “I think that’s been obvious from the beginning.”
I dropped my hands from her hair to her neck. I pressed down with my thumbs, massaging gently. Her eyes fluttered closed. Her lips parted. She had no idea how sexy she was. In that corset, she looked like a 1950s pinup girl.
I leaned down and pressed my lips to the curve of her shoulder. Somehow, despite being on stage under the heat of the lights for several hours, she still smelled divine. I dragged my mouth up her neck to that spot below her ear that drove her crazy.
She exhaled, like my kiss had pushed all the air out of her lungs. Her hand curled around the back of my head, pulling me closer. I smiled against her skin.
She said, “You’ve bewitched me.”
I chuckled, and traced a finger along the fine bones of her collar. I could map out the architecture of her body for days and never get bored.
“Body and soul?” I asked, quoting the play.
I opened my mouth and tasted her skin. It was almost as delicious as her groan that followed.
“Definitely,” she said.
“Who is being unoriginal now?”
A knock at the door broke the spell between us. Benji, the stage manager, poked his head in the room. I turned so that I blocked Bliss and that corrupting corset.
“You guys about ready? I’m going to lock up.”
“Sorry, Ben. We’ll be out in just a sec.” His expression was skeptical. “I promise. Two minutes.”
As soon as he shut the door, Bliss stood. I had to close my eyes to keep from touching her. That corset… my God. I kept my eyes closed because that was the only way we’d make it out of here in two minutes. Even so, hearing her change clothes was torture. Every rustle of fabric and zipped zipper brought a vivid picture into my mind. Even though I couldn’t see her, I could feel her presence, especially when she stepped in front of me.
Her hand curled around my neck, tilting my head down. I kept my eyes closed, but the heat of her breath caressed my face.
“Let’s go home, Mr. Taylor.”