Apologies for posting this kind of late today! The Dude’s off, a rarity on a Saturday, and we’ve been busy doing a few chores, running around, and working on motorcycles. I might actually get my dirt bike working again, can’t freaking wait!!
Earlier this week, I posted a small snippet of new material over on Facebook that seemed to get some people excited. For today’s Snippet Saturday, I’m going to cheat a bit and include that, but also a bit of material from earlier to set the scene. As usual, the regular caution applies that this is an unedited manuscript, not everything may make it into the final book, blah-blah-blah. 😉
(oh, and mom, you can stop reading here 😛 )
Jeremiah looked at me. “You two head upstairs, I’ll deal with this.”
My mouth moved silently, unsure what to do. Lucy took my hand, snagging my attention. She gave me an encouraging smile, even if it was weak around the edges. “It’ll be fine, but you should go and take care of yourselves for right now.”
I nodded, still numb with shock. Walking a few steps, I stopped beside Damian, looking up into his face to get his attention, but his focus hadn’t wavered from the table. Not knowing what else to do and unable to speak past the lump in my throat, I reached out and took his hand. Only then did he finally look back at me, and the turmoil I saw in his eyes took my breath away.
Shaken, more so when I saw the fresh blood on his split knuckles, I gathered myself together and tugged at his hand to follow me. I thought he’d rebel, insist on doing things his way, but he walked beside me silently, his gait stiff. The hand in mine trembled, and his breathing was heavy, but he said nothing as I led him out of the gardens and back inside the hotel.
If anybody noticed his condition, they said nothing as we made our way to the elevator to Damian’s floor. Flustered, I released his hand, indicating the controls nervously. “I don’t know how to…”
Damian stayed silent, but keyed in the proper sequence with his security measures, and seconds later the elevator opened. We both got inside, and as the doors closed I began rubbing my suddenly cold upper arms. There was no reason to be cold, even in the air conditioned desert, but I couldn’t seem to get warm. I knew Damian was watching me but he made no move until we reached his loft.
He exited the elevator first, striding into his suite while I hesitated for a long moment before stepping out. He returned seconds later, a small decorative blanket in his hands. Wordlessly, he draped it over my shoulders, and I looked up into his face, surprised by the kindness. I could read nothing in his eyes, but he wouldn’t stop looking at me, the back of his fingers brushing across my collarbone as I clutched the shawl over my body.
His knuckles were beginning to swell and, frowning, I took his hand to examine the damage. My lips tightened as I saw the split skin, as well as a nail that had been bent back and broken. Taking a shaky breath and with a renewed sense of purpose, I looked around the large suite. “Where’s your bathroom?”
Damian pointed across the living room and, clutching the blanket around my shoulders, I hurried that way to see what he had in the way of first aid kits. Moments later, I returned with a small bag and pulled him in toward the seats, pushing him down onto the couch as I sat down beside him. I winced at the cracked skin, and gave him an apologetic look as I pulled out some alcohol pads. “This is probably going to sting.”
He remained quiet as I dressed his wounds, wiping off the blood along the back of his hands I was certain didn’t belong to him. The cuff of his white shirt was speckled with blood, and I pushed it up to clean his wrists and paused. Inked skin played a peekaboo game, a tattoo that started just above the wrist and disappeared inside his shirt. It was dark, even against his olive skin, and seemed to be the edge of a solid design that continued up his arm.
Part of me wanted to know what rest of that tattoo looked like, as well as what he’d done to Gary, but for now I just focused on the wounds in front of me. I cleaned the wounds and covered them with ointment, then bandaged his hands with gauze and medical tape. Damian had a small cut on his brow that had already begun to clot, and I cleaned up around it before deciding to let the cut heal on its own.
I stood again, gathering up the garbage to throw away, and turned to walk away when Damian’s hand on my hip stopped me. I froze as he leaned forward in his seat and rested his forehead against my belly. Unsure what to do, I slowly lowered my empty hand onto his head, running my fingers through his thick, short hair.
“I wanted to kill him.” Damian’s voice was ragged, and his fingers twitched against my hip. “I wanted him dead just for touching you.”
My breath caught in my throat, the hand petting his head stilling. There was nothing for me to say to that. Swallowing, I carefully extracted myself from his grip, walking into the bathroom and throwing away the garbage I was holding.
When I came back outside, Damian was hunched over, elbows on his knees and holding his head in his hands. Concerned, I went to stand in front of him, and didn’t protest as his arms again went around me, pulling me in close to him. He spread his legs to give me more room, and I felt a twinge of guilt at the way my insides clenched at being so close to him.
I had nothing to give but comfort, so that’s what I did, winding my fingers through his hair again and softly massage his scalp. He pressed his face against my belly as I moved my hands lower, massaging his neck and stiff shoulders as gently as I could. His proximity was doing funny things to my insides, making my brain short circuit; when his fingers danced up my sides, I trembled but didn’t move away.
His fingers found their way to the zipper of the dress, and my eyes fluttered closed as he slowly moved it down my spine. My belly clenched as, when the zipper reached its end, he continued with a light touch down the back seam of the dress, fingers tracing a line on the fabric over my backside. I squeezed my eyes closed as he gripped my hips, turning me slowly so that I was facing away from him.
When he laid a soft kiss to the base of my spine, I trembled.
I didn’t stop him as he slid the dress straps off my shoulders, letting the fabric pool at my waist. His fingers traced the curve of my spine, down and around my hip, then back up my side. I squeezed my eyes shut, focusing only on the feel of his hands on my body.
I’d never been touched like this before. Need rose up in me, sharp and hot, almost choking me with its intensity. At that moment, I think I would have done anything he asked of me, but he stayed silent, just learning the dips and curve of my body with his hands.
He pulled at my hips, wanting me to turn around, and slowly I faced him. My whole body was trembling, my eyes still tightly closed. It was a wonder my legs were holding me upright still; they felt like jelly, ready to collapse at the slightest breeze.
His hands stilled on my body. “Open your eyes and look at me.”
The way he said the words, it was somewhere between a command and a request, and I was powerless to resist. I opened my eyes and looked down at him, my belly clenching at the answering fire I saw in his face. His eyes didn’t leave mine as he kissed my belly, and I had to put my hands on his shoulders or I would have collapsed then and there.
“Stay with me tonight.”