“Leave, Clare.” I can’t move. “Go back to bed,” he commands, his tone desperate. His hand stills and he releases his cock. “Please,” he utters, his voice gruff, as if he is in pain.
My feet unlock from the imaginary vise they have been in and I step toward him. We don’t break eye contact, even when I grip his cock and stroke him from root to tip. I’m not sure if I have ever done this before or if I am even doing it correctly, but the way his breathing hitches and his eyes flutter tell me that I am doing something right. I pump him harder, swirling the wet tip with the pad of my thumb. His hips sway and his pants become more erratic. I am seconds away from dropping to my knees when he suddenly grabs my wrist.
“We can’t,” he says, his eyes boring into mine.
“Why? Is it because of Corinne?” I ask. He blinks several times and shakes his head. “Your girlfriend?”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“But I thought…”
“Corinne’s my sister.”
He doesn’t have a girlfriend. Which means…
He pries my fingers from his cock and tucks himself back into his pants. He moves past me and steps out of the bathroom. Like a fool, I follow him. “Oh. I get it now. You just don’t want me,” I say.
He stops and faces me. “Is that what you think? That I don’t want you?”
“You stopped me…you said we can’t…”
“We can’t because you belong to someone else. You remembered him today, caught a glimpse of the man you admitted loving, and I’ll be damned if he is who you are thinking of as I sink into you. I won’t share you. I’m not built that way.”
I feel like complete shit. Griffin is doing the noble thing, protecting my virtue and his heart. I am such a bitch.
Dylan is important to me. I care for him. Love him. But in what way? If it is a romantic type of love, then why didn’t I feel guilty when I touched Griffin? Or when I think about him taking me, claiming me? Griffin turns and walks to the living room. I pathetically escape to the bedroom. I am no longer afraid of the nightmares that could plague me if I even manage to fall asleep tonight. No, what I fear are the dreams I may have of the man who has just protected me from myself.
I can absolutely see Tia owning her own bakery. She has the brains to run a business and the skill to produce one mouthwatering sugary concoction after another. I think she will be ready one day to take on that venture, but not yet.
I don’t want to think that she’s going through the motions, working, eating, sleeping, repeat, but I can’t bury my head in the sand, either. She has yet to go see a therapist and she is still plagued by nightmares, the kind that drive her into my bedroom on a nightly basis. Every night is the same. She quietly enters my room. I hold the covers up and she slips in beside me. We don’t talk; we just let the silence sooth her. I both hate and love those moments. I hate them because I know that her nightmares are what brings her to me. I love them because for those few hours she allows me to hold her, lets me in…trusts me. And that means everything.
Sure, there have been times when she’s been lying there and accidentally brushed up against my cock. My mind drifts to less chivalrous things in those moments, but I am able to squash those thoughts by remembering how much it must take for her to come to me night after night.
I decrease the speed and my pace goes from a sprint, to a jog and then a brisk walk. A few minutes later, I power down and step off the treadmill and wipe my face with a towel. I plant myself on my bench and start to adjust my free weights when I hear footsteps on the basement stairs.
“Oh sorry, I didn’t know you were still here. I thought you left for work.”
Tia has reached the bottom step and I’m tempted to command her to turn right around and go back where she came from. Because I’m about to lose my shit. Tia is wearing workout shorts and a black tank top that hides nothing. I notice her cheeks pinken and I feel my own face heat up.
“I wanted to get a run in before work. Got to get back in the saddle again. All we do is eat.”
I laugh because she’s right. We do eat a lot and I love that she doesn’t shy away from food that most definitely can expand your waistline, though from where I’m standing, she has nothing to worry about.
Stop looking at her.
“The treadmill is all yours. I was just going to lift a little. Are you okay if I stay?’
“Of course. It’s your house. Have at it,” she says.
I’m a couple of reps in when I realize just how much trouble I’m in. I should have left when I had the chance because I can’t stop my eyes from wandering over to Tia, her ass to be exact. She is jogging and sweating and looking amazing. I’m so distracted that I almost drop a free weight on my foot. I turn and face the wall, do some curls and try to come up with an excuse as to why I need to cut my workout short. I can hear her feet pounding on the treadmill, her steady breaths. After a few minutes, I decide to do some pullups on a bar I had bolted into the ceiling. I’m on my fifth pullup, still not facing her, when I hear her even breaths turn into light pants. Christ, now I know what she would sound like when she is…
“I’m so out of shape,” she says.
I do something stupid, release the pullup bar and turn around. Beads of sweat have gathered on her forehead. My gaze drifts lower, and I spot a lone droplet work its way down her neck and disappear between her cleavage. I bite back a groan, grab my towel and wipe my face. I need a shower, a cold one.