Since I Fell for You by Bella Andre


  "No, you need to listen to me." He'd never known anyone so strong, so powerful--and yet so gentle and good--all in one devastatingly beautiful package. "I see the way your eyes soften when you look at me. And when you kiss me, it's magic. Sweet, sinful magic." He watched her skin flush at the memory of the sparks that had exploded between them, and felt his heat up too. "No matter how hard you try, you can't hide what you're feeling. Not from me." She took his hands in hers, the flour from the pasta he'd been making coating her skin as she ran her fingers along his with shocking sensuality. "It took me a long time to understand that the mistakes my father and mother made were theirs, not mine. I've only just realized that I don't have to repeat their broken love story." She interlaced her fingers with his, then took a step closer. "And neither do you."

  All he wanted was to believe that what she was saying could be true. He was beyond desperate to drag her into his arms and crush her mouth beneath his. Every last need, every ounce of his passion, was wrapped up in having Suzanne naked and pliant and gasping with pleasure in his arms.

  At this point, there was only one last-ditch way to save her from the relentless, unquenched desire that had turned them both inside out. He'd tried blunt. But he hadn't been crude. Hadn't fully shocked her into seeing exactly what being with him would be like when he wasn't capable of being the man she seemed to think he was.

  "I want you. We both know how much I want you." He let her see the unguarded truth of his intense need for her. "But I damn well won't let myself touch you tonight unless you can honestly tell me that after we sleep together, and I don't call, your feelings won't be crushed." He hated himself a thousand times over for painting such a bleak and brutal picture for her, regardless of its honesty. "No matter how hard you try," he said in an echo of her words from moments before, "you can't hide how much you long for a love like your brother Drake has found with Rosa, like what Smith and Valentina have. I'm not going to deny that I want to touch you, kiss you in a thousand different ways. I'm not going to claim that I don't want to tear off your clothes and take you right here on the counter, and then again in my bed, my shower, up against the wall, any and every possible way I can have you. But just because I can't control my desire for you, that doesn't mean I'm going to be the happily-ever-after you've been looking for. I'll never be that man."

  This was where she would finally break away from him. This was where she would tell him to go to hell for daring to speak to her this way. This was where she would look deep into his eyes and see the emptiness, the darkness inside his heart from all the past misdeeds he could never undo.

  She slid her hands from his, cupped his jaw, and said, "I promise I won't be crushed."

  "Suzanne." Her name was a plea. "Don't lie to me."

  "I'm not lying."

  "Neither am I." His voice was tight with emotion...and unquenched need. "I don't want to hurt you, but if we do this tonight, I know I will."

  "You won't." She feathered her fingertips over his face and went up on her tippy toes so that they were face-to-face. "You might not have wanted this to happen, but you're falling in love with me. Just like I'm falling in love with the bodyguard I swore I didn't even want"--she slid her arms around his neck and pressed the length of her body against his--"but now don't think I can live without."

  *

  Suzanne's heart had never pounded this hard. This fast. But it wasn't because she was nervous. How could she be nervous when Roman was the one she'd been hoping for?

  She'd almost been too frightened by the depth and speed of her feelings to see what was right in front of her. But after her father had helped remove her blinders--and after Roman had just admitted how much she meant to him, and that he never wanted to hurt her--she was one hundred percent positive that he was the true love she'd always believed she'd find one day.

  She wished he could see it as clearly as she did. But if there was one thing she'd learned from her endless hours of reworking code, it was that it took time to see some things clearly. Time--and focused, determined, passionate effort.

  Tonight, she was going to apply all those lessons she'd learned from running her business to something infinitely more important than any code she had ever, or would ever, write.

  Roman's love was worth every ounce of focus, every bit of determination, and every single moment of passion.

  Passion she already knew was going to last a lifetime.

  But first she needed to be as brave as he'd repeatedly said she was. Brave enough to stand firm and not let him push her away tonight, no matter how hard he tried, no matter what he said. She wouldn't let herself give in to fear, wouldn't let herself run, no matter how fast her heart was pounding as she opened herself up to Roman. Body, heart, and soul.

  Sex had never been more than merely fulfilling physical urges for Suzanne. But she already knew that being with Roman tonight would change everything.

  Because it would truly be making love.

  "The counter, your bed, the shower, up against the wall--" She listed all the places he had sent whirring through her minutes before. "I want you to take me in all of them, Roman. I want you to love me in all of them."

  Before she realized his intention, he was lifting her into his arms and heading toward the stairs. He didn't speak as he took them two at a time, and she didn't dare say more either. Not yet. Not until she was absolutely positive that he wouldn't turn back, certain that he wouldn't pull away from her again.

  As a tall woman with curves, she rarely felt delicate. And as a software programmer, she rarely felt feminine. But he was so big, so strong, that she felt both sensations tonight. He carried her as though she weighed nothing at all. And as he held her, it seemed as if he never wanted to let her go.

  Twining her arms even more tightly around his neck, she inhaled his clean, masculine scent. She nuzzled her nose against the rough, dark bristles on his face and neck that had grown since they'd left the lake earlier that day. It wasn't enough just to breathe him in, though. She needed to taste him too.

  She was about to lick his skin when she was suddenly falling. Straight into the middle of his big bed.

  As she looked up at Roman, his face was a mask she couldn't read. But the fact that he hadn't denied having feelings for her--that he hadn't laughed in the face of her saying, You're falling in love with me--already spoke volumes. And the way he was yanking open his button-down shirt and shoving off his boots said everything else she needed to hear.

  Regardless of what he believed to be true about his capacity to love, he wasn't going to turn away from her tonight.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  Suzanne Sullivan was in his bed.

  Roman was undone by the sight of her long, dark hair strewn across his pillows, her cheeks flushed with arousal, her eyes bright with anticipation. Still wearing the black T-shirt and jeans she'd put on that morning, she was utterly stunning. And sexy as hell, even with nearly every inch of skin covered up.

  How could he not kiss the bravest, most extraordinary woman he'd ever known? And how could he not make love to her, when every moment between them had led them here, to this inevitable night together?

  From the start, he'd thought she was an open book, especially about things she loved. And now, where other women might hide their feelings, she'd said that she loved him.

  Suzanne loved him.

  She'd said he was falling in love with her too. Said it so sweetly. So confidently. As though she wasn't the slightest bit afraid it might not be true. He'd never known anyone strong enough to open up her heart like that. Open it up to the potential pain of not having that happily ever after.

  He wished like hell he could prevent that pain. But once he told her the full truth about his past...

  One night. He desperately wanted this one precious night with her. One night where honor could finally take a backseat to desire. One night where he could love her with his body in all the ways he didn't deserve to love her with his heart. He would tell her everything in the
morning, but for the next few hours, he couldn't waste the chance to love Suzanne Sullivan with everything he had.

  He tossed his shirt into the corner of his bedroom before prowling toward her.

  "Wow," she breathed. "You're amazing."

  She stared at his bare chest as if in awe, and he couldn't help but be filled with pride that she liked what she saw. All those endless hours of push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups had been worth it, if for no other reason than to please her.

  "I don't feel the least bit sorry for the women you've been with and dumped before me. Not now that I know what they got to see." She reached for him. "What they got to touch."

  He grabbed her hand before she could make contact with his abs, gently but firmly. When she'd nuzzled his neck on the way up to his bedroom, he'd nearly taken her right then and there on the stairs. But he needed tonight to be good for her. Not just good--mind-blowing. Which meant he couldn't let her touch him, kiss him, yet. Not when he was poised to erupt at any second from the slightest provocation.

  After capturing her other wrist as swiftly, he brought both of her hands to his lips. He kissed her pinkies first, then the tips of her ring fingers, then her middle fingers, then her pointer fingers. When he got to her thumbs, he swept his tongue against each pad.

  "Roman." Her voice shook as she said his name. "You're not going to make this quick and dirty, are you?"

  Dirty? Yes.

  Quick? Not on her life.

  In lieu of answering her with words, however, he traced the three lines inside her left palm with his tongue. Her whole body began to tremble, and the flush from her cheeks seemed to have spread everywhere.

  "I never knew my hands were erogenous zones," she whispered as he turned his attention to her right palm.

  "Every part of you is capable of feeling pleasure," he murmured before running kisses up the tender skin at the inside of her wrist. "And I'm not going to let either of us rest tonight until we've discovered all of them." He punctuated his promise with a swirl of his tongue inside her right elbow.

  He'd never met anyone with as unwavering a focus as Suzanne. Right now, it was gratifying to have every ounce of it on what he was doing with his mouth. Especially when the gentle scrape of his teeth over her bicep brought a gasp.

  "You've only kissed my hands and arms, and I'm already about to do something I never thought I would do in a million years."

  He stopped his onslaught of kisses to ask, "What's that?"

  She looked as though she couldn't believe what she was about to say. "Beg."

  He didn't even try to hold back a wicked grin. "Oh, you'll definitely be begging before I'm done with you."

  "I don't like that word. Done."

  He didn't either, regretting it the moment he said it. But he didn't have a better word to replace it, not when he refused to be a bastard who made promises he couldn't fulfill. The only way he could erase the reminder that this night wouldn't last forever was with pleasure, with arousing kisses and naughty nips at parts of her body she'd never even known were sexual.

  He lifted both arms above her head and wrapped her fingers around the iron bars of his headboard. "Keep your hands here until I tell you to let go."

  "What if I don't?"

  He liked her challenge more than he should. Liked everything about her more than he should, damn it. "I'll tie you up if I have to."

  It was a million miles from the romantic things he was sure she wanted to hear, but you wouldn't have known it from the spark that lit in her eyes. "So either way, I win?"

  She'd done this from the start, made him laugh with her smart mouth. "Tonight," he promised, "we're both going to win."

  The sound of her breath catching in her throat at his sexy vow was unbearably erotic. And the teasing smile she gave him as she made a show of letting her fingers go slack on the iron before gripping it even tighter a few seconds later, had his blood racing so hot in his veins he was surprised there wasn't steam coming off his skin.

  With her arms lifted over her head, her T-shirt rode up so that a couple of inches of smooth skin were bared. Forcing himself to go slow, to tease and taste rather than immediately devour the way he so badly wanted to, he feathered his fingertips over her stomach. Firm muscles danced beneath his fingers as she worked for breath. But he didn't plan on letting her get it back anytime soon as he lowered his head and pressed a kiss to her belly button.

  She was still holding on to the headboard as her body arched toward his, a little pleading sound coming from her throat. "You taste so sweet," he murmured against her belly, before reaching for the hem of her shirt and slowly sliding it up to uncover the lower edge of her rib cage. He nuzzled his bristly jaw over her. "You feel so soft." Taking the cotton fabric between his teeth, he dragged it up even higher to reveal a delicate, yellow lace bra.

  Perhaps he should have been surprised by the feminine undergarments beneath the black T-shirt. But he wasn't, because Suzanne was the full package. Brains and beauty, serious and sensuous, all at the same time.

  He'd spent the past two decades trying to make up for his behavior as a teen in the boxing ring by holding himself to perfect control everywhere else. But with Suzanne, his control wasn't just fraying--it had shattered into so many tiny pieces that he honestly didn't realize he'd ripped her T-shirt in two until it lay splayed open on either side of her.

  If ever there was a cue that it was time to stop the madness, this should have been it. But instead of cringing away from him, Suzanne urged, "More." She licked her lips, leaving them glossy and extra kissable. "I want more of you. More of your passion. More of everything."

  Permission granted--demanded, even--he cupped her lace-covered breasts, groaning at how perfectly they filled his large hands. His thumbs stroking her soft skin, he loved feeling the tips pucker tightly against the thin layer of yellow lace.

  Bending his head, he covered the lace with his mouth, licking, sucking, biting at her flesh like a man possessed. In response, she arched her back up off the mattress, giving herself over to him completely.

  He'd known all along that she would be like this in bed, utterly unashamed, totally unafraid to follow wherever passion led. The fact that she wouldn't balk at anything--and that she would find pleasure wherever he did--made him even crazier. So crazy that, yet again, he was barely aware of what he was doing as he caught his teeth on the thin lace threads that held her bra together at the center and tore them apart. All he knew was that there was no going back. Definitely not tonight. Maybe not ever.

  Because once he had Suzanne--once he had all of her--nothing would ever be as good. He already craved the taste of her, was a slave to her scent, was addicted to her sounds of pleasure.

  His hands and mouth vied for possession of her breasts as he moved over her to take everything he so badly wanted. But he couldn't get enough of her, no matter how much he stroked, caressed, kissed, nipped. Again and again he loved first one breast, then the other, then both together. Her hips rose up against his as she said his name in a voice that grew more hoarse by the second.

  "Roman. Please." He'd never heard anything more beautiful than the sound of her begging him to help her find release. "I'm so close."

  The thought of taking her over that first peak with nothing more than his hands and mouth at her breasts nearly took him over the edge.

  It was pure male instinct to push the hard ridge of his still fully clothed erection into the heated vee between her legs at the same moment that he cupped both of her breasts and suckled hard. In the space between heartbeats, every muscle in her body tensed, then let go as she went pliant with pleasure, undulating her hips beneath his to catch the waves of bliss that washed over her, through her.

  When her climax finally subsided, she lay back against the pillow looking at him with a lazy smile on her face. "That was amazing."

  And it was only the beginning.

  He'd kept her jeans on to force himself to go slowly, but he was going to lose it soon if he couldn't finally se
e, touch, taste every glorious inch of her. He had her sneakers off and the dark denim on the floor within seconds, leaving her clad only in yellow lace panties.

  In an effort to regain even the tiniest bit of his self-control, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. But the scent of her arousal only revved him higher, pushing him that much closer to the edge of madness.

  Reverently, he knelt between her long, toned legs and reached to cup her lace-covered sex. Her eyelids fluttered closed as she rubbed herself against his hand. "Do it again, Roman. Make me come apart again. With your hands. With your mouth. Any way you want me, I want it too."

  He was already more than halfway to doing everything she wanted, but he understood why she was saying the words aloud. Because after spending so long vowing to resist her and believing it was the only honorable path forward, she obviously wanted him to know that he wasn't doing anything she didn't want him to do.

  He wanted to tell her that he was going to make her come at least a half-dozen different ways tonight, with each climax better than the one before, but he couldn't get the words out. Not when he was wholly focused on hooking his thumbs into the edge of her panties and slowly sliding them down. He barely had them off when he had to cup her again and stroke her wet, hot skin.

  She was slippery with arousal, his fingers sliding back and forth over her until he couldn't stand not to go inside, first with one finger and then a second. Looking at her face, he realized she was watching him touch her, watching herself lift into his hand so that she could take him deeper with each stroke.

  She climbed higher and higher, her skin flushing an even deeper rose, her eyes dilating as another orgasm beckoned, her breath coming even faster now than when they'd been sprinting through the park.

  Her head fell back and her eyes fluttered closed as she chased her next climax, his name falling from her lips again. He'd never been this hard, never been this close to losing it as he was when she pulsed and clenched over his fingers in release.

  Sweet Lord, if it was this good to feel her come, how was he ever going to survive making love to her?

 
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