Josie understood grief. She could navigate the fog that descended when the bad news bears arrived and delivered their doom and gloom message.
Your brother has been injured.
Your brother needs surgery.
She had heard those words and the haze had swallowed her. There was no way out. She knew that. The bears stood guard, keeping her locked in fear and anguish.
Until Noah kissed her.
One kiss from a man who was fighting the same fears didn’t change a thing. But oh God, it felt so good. The touch of his lips, the feel of his hands pulling at her shirt as if he needed to touch the skin beneath . . .
Her body responded, demanding more, needing to feel more. She ran her hands over the smooth skin of his broad back, down to his waist and around to his chiseled abs. Her tongue touched his as she traced her fingers over his six-pack. So much strength.
Gliding her hands upward, she pressed her palms flat against his chest, dimly aware of his fingers toying with the button on her pants. He tugged at her zipper, but didn’t bothering pushing her pants down over her hips. He simply slipped his hands inside and drew her to him, keeping a firm hold on her ass.
Groaning, she broke away from his kiss and tipped her head back. His mouth trailed kisses over her jaw, down her throat, as if he needed to taste every inch of her.
More. I need more.
She wanted to keep the fog of grief locked outside his bedroom. She didn’t want to think. She just wanted to feel. She needed him right now because she couldn’t step into that place where the world felt like it was falling apart, spiraling out of control. Not yet.
“It’s not fair,” she murmured, her eyes open and staring at the ceiling.
His lips hovered over her the swell of her breasts peaking out over the top of her shirt. “Not much is.”
Oh no, don’t go there.
“You’re naked and I’m not,” she said, drawing him back to this place where physical desire dominated.
He let out a low laugh as his tongue glided over her skin, licking just about the edge of her t-shirt. “Not fair at all.”
She broke away from him and stripped off her clothes. Her movements were rushed and she nearly fell over trying to get out of her pants. But she wasn’t looking to seduce him. She wanted to take him, fighting her way to a mutual pleasure that would block out everything else.
His brow knitted together as he watched her. “Are you sure—”
“Shhh.” She placed her index finger over her lips. “I need you, Noah. I’m not calling, sending a letter, or a pigeon. I’m right here and I need—”
His lips captured hers, his hands on her hips, drawing her close and then guiding her back. Her legs touched the bed and she lowered down, sitting on the edge. She took him with her.
I won’t let go.
Noah dropped to one knee, his hands moving to her breasts. She leaned back and he followed, moving over her.
Wrapping her legs around his hips, she held him close. He didn’t pull away, or try to second-guess her. He just slid inside.
“More,” she whispered.
He stared down at her, his cheeks still damp from his tears. But he wasn’t crying now, he was looking at her as if she was everything he needed. And he was pumping into her hard and fast. There was nothing gentle or careful about his movements. It was as if he needed to take as much as he could, as if he was depending on her . . .
I can’t be strong enough for both of us.
She closed her eyes and let her hands roam. He had to meet her halfway, rescue her just a little . . .
His hips slammed into her. His right elbow pressed into the bed beside her shoulder and his upper body hovered over her. But his other hand wandered, gliding over her torso, reaching between them. His thumb brushed over the spot guaranteed to send her spiraling into pleasure. But then he stopped.
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. I promise I won’t turn into a idiot, calling out professions of love.
“Ready?” he demanded. “Because I can’t hold back.”
“Yes,” she gasped.
He thrust into her again, his thumb offering one more teasing touch as plain old missionary pushed her over the edge. She took the sweet relief, holding tight to the pleasure. She did not love this man. She refused to hand over her heart.
But she loved everything about this orgasm.
“Noah, oh Noah.” She chanted his name as if it would prolong the escape.
But one more thrust and he groaned, his face contorting as he came. His lips curled back and he looked as if was growling, a pure animalistic reaction to taking her, claiming her, and oh God—
“We didn’t . . .,” she said, her hand pushing at her chest, trying to get him off her. It was too late. She knew it was too late. “Oh, God, Noah.”
“Hmm,” he murmured, obeying her frantic scrambling to get him off her. He withdrew from her body and collapsed on his back, his legs dangling over the edge of the bed. They’d been in such a rush to feel something other than pain, to push away the tears, that they fallen sideways across the full-size bed. And they’d forgotten the most important thing.
“We didn’t use a condom,” she said.
He rolled onto his side and propped his head against his hand, his elbow pressing into the rumpled bedding. “Shit, I’m sorry,” he said his voice hoarse. Concern shown in his blue eyes. “I wasn’t thinking straight, sweetheart. I can promise you I’m clean. I wasn’t a saint these past five years, but I didn’t screw around like some of the other guys.”
She shook her head, not wanting to picture him screwing anyone else. Not right now while she was lying naked beside him, after he’d come inside her.
“I stopped taking the pill,” she said, her voice hollow. How could she let this happen? “I figured I wasn’t great at remembering it anyway seeing as I got pregnant. I meant to get an IUD. But I looked up the cost . . .”
“It’s going to be okay.” Noah drew her into his arms and she went, resting her head against his chest. He felt so strong, the muscles in his arms taut as they laid on the bed. “The changes are slim—”
“I can’t loose another baby,” she whispered.
“You won’t.” His hold tightened as if he could physical force the possibility away. “You could always take a morning after pill before you leave for Germany.”
“I could.” But despite the bubbling fear, she couldn’t bring herself to go to a doctor and ask to wipe away the possibility of a child. She couldn’t loose another baby, not to a pill or an early delivery.
Of course, she wasn’t in a position to have child. But still, after fighting so hard for her baby to live, she couldn’t erase another before he even had a chance . . .
“But,” she began.
“You don’t have to take anything, Josie. Whatever happens, we’ll get through it. And you don’t need to send a pigeon this time. I’m not going anywhere. And I’ll be here when you get back from Germany.”
She nodded, the fear she’d pushed away for a few blissful—and potentially disastrous—minutes, returned. Her brother might be dying. She might never get to hear him laugh, or give her shit for well, just about anything. And she might never get to see his expression when she told him she’d gotten naked with his best friend.
“It’s going to be okay, Josie,” he said as if he could make everything—Dominic, her potential pregnancy—A-Okay through sheer willpower.
She closed her eyes. You can do this. You can face anything.
She might be lying to herself. But she didn’t have a choice. She needed to be strong because Noah couldn’t rush in a play the hero this time. She’d found him reduced to tears, his emotions raw when she entered his room. He was in this with her.
With her head still resting against his chest, she wrapped her arm around him and held tight.
I’ll be your anchor if you’ll be mine because if we send out a pigeon, I don’t think anyone will rush to our rescue.