Tired. Never in his life had Dom felt so tired. Even his clothes felt heavy, making his legs ache and pulling his shoulders down where the cotton touched his skin. Old and tired. He had raced for almost the entire span of his life and never had he hated it so much. Hated the life and hated it at every place where it touched him. If he was another sort of man, he would walk away from it, but he knew that he couldn’t. That he wasn’t made that way.
Eddie looked back at him just once before he got into his truck and pulled out of the parking lot. It didn’t take an awful lot of imagination to see Eddie considering his options. He expected to be let down and there was a small part of Dom that wanted to do just that, let him down. It was factoring in all the other things that would have to take place to allow it that pushed the idea of picking up and leaving from Dom’s head.
Tired. Dom didn’t want to leave where he was. It may have started out as a form of self-punishment, a self imposed exile, but the fact was that he liked where he was. He liked how he lived and didn’t want it to change. There was no one out in the desert to bother him and no one from his old life that came out. There was Mia and Brian. Their kids. Even Jim.
Amber. The name was a whisper in his head, quiet but impossible to deny. Dropping his head and sighing, Dom knew that Amber was at least a part of why he couldn’t just pick up and leave. A big part; he didn’t want to leave Amber here, alone, but that wasn’t all of it and Dom knew it. He liked her, maybe more than just liked her. Running a hand over his head in frustration, he pressed against the side of the doorway, knowing that it was something that would have to be dealt with, sooner or later.
Blood dripped onto the wooden step outside his bedroom, dissipating in the rain water. The towel that he had wrapped around his hand was heavily soaked through in places. Pulling the bloody cloth back, he flexed his knuckle, wincing a little. It wouldn’t need stitches, but it was a mess.
‘Mia’s gonna kick my ass,’ he thought, as walked the short distance between the garage and the back of the diner. Closing the door at his back, Dom considered patching up his hand himself but it was quiet, and Mia heard him, her head poked around the corner, eyes pulled to his hand first.
For a moment, he almost mumbled that he would come back later and backed out but walking out went against his grain. He could no more leave the small hallway than he could leave Desolation and start new somewhere else.
Like he had countless times before, Dom pulled up a well worn milk crate and sat with his back against the wall. Eyes closed, he balanced his mangled fist on his knee. The hand was a dull throb, but it didn’t really hurt; he’d had worse. The sigh was Mia’s, he knew. The first aid kit set down on another crate next to him.
When he opened his eyes, Mia sat across from him. The blood-soaked towel was dropped in a bowl at her feet and Amber handed her a clean one. Heat settled over his hand as Mia cleaned it first. He didn’t interrupt; there wasn’t any explanation he could give that didn’t sound stupid, so he kept his mouth shut.
Amber left and brought back another hot towel and, sitting down, handed it to Mia. Warm and electric, Amber’s hand settled on his, as she helped Mia wrap gauze around his hand, holding it there while his sister taped it. Looking up, he caught a glimpse of warm hazel, before Amber dropped her eyes, looking at the floor. Leaning forward, Dom touched her under the chin with his good hand, so that she would have to look up at him.
“We need to talk.” The four words sounded small and ineffectual; Dom held her with his eyes and hoped that would be enough. “Mia…?”
“Brian gave me the quick and dirty version already; I’m sure I’ll get the rest when he picks me up tonight.” Mia didn’t look up from her work, tightening the tapes until the pressure was a low buzz in his head. Eyes cutting from Amber to her older brother, Mia did some pleading of her own. Not having any answers for her, Dom closed his eyes, resting his head back against the cool wall, reaching out for Amber’s hand instead.
It was casual, comfortable. And unfamiliar. Glancing quickly at Mia first, Amber slipped her hand into Dom’s larger one. The first aid kit clicked closed, and Dom looked up at Mia again, just before she leaned in and kissed his cheek. He could feel her intake of breath, the pause, knowing that she wanted to say something but held back. Dom knew her so well, she didn’t need to say anything; he also knew that nothing he could say would make her worry any the less.
They had kissed not that long ago and Dom had stayed with her, sleeping beside her, but neither of those things felt as intimate as the way he held her hand. Strong and calloused, he could inflict pain so easily, as his damaged hand proved out, but he held her like something that would break. Not tentatively, but firmly, like he wanted to hold on.
“We need to talk,” Amber repeated what he had said earlier. He had been so serious that it made her uneasy, but she said it anyway; if she could kiss him, she could definitely talk to him.
Standing, Dom traced his thumb over the back of her hand and pulled in a breath; no idea where to start. How was he to start a conversation that he never wanted to have in the first place? “Have you had dinner yet?” Like a coward, he changed the subject to play for time.
Amber stayed in the hallway, nervous, her heart racing. “That’s not exactly what you wanted to ask me, is it?” She had no idea what Dom wanted to talk to her about but it had to be serious; Brian had pulled Mia aside not that long ago and spoke to her. Their whispers didn’t carry far, but the tense silence did afterwards. As it wasn’t pitying looks and avoidance, Amber knew that it wasn’t what she had initially feared; that Dom, once he had kissed her, would drop her like a hot rock.
Snorting quietly, Dom lowered his head to hide a quick grin. “No, not exactly.”
Tilting up her chin, Amber held the look as long as she could bear. Her chest hurt it was so tight, but she didn’t look down. “I’m all out of tequila, but we could grab a couple of beers before we go.”
It was bravado talking, Dom knew; her eyes said something else and her voice shook underneath. There was nothing at all wrong with bravado, with defiance; she had balls when it mattered, and didn’t have to bust his all the time to prove that she did. It was just something else about Amber that he found he liked. They were starting to add up.
Not letting go of her hand he stepped closer until they nearly touched in the small space; he still held her hand. “I’d rather keep a clear head.” His head already hurt and he knew it would only get worse; drinking wouldn’t make it any better.
“Let me say goodnight to Mia….”
“I’m fine, Amber,” Mia poked her head around Dom’s torso, a hand at his waist. Dom could feel her squeeze, a pat, a release, and then Mia was walking back to the kitchen.
Amber fought the urge to wipe her hands on her pants; as nervous as she was, she didn’t want to pull away from him, didn’t want to drop the hand he still held. Instead, she turned and walked back down the hallway with Dom barely a step behind her the whole way, close enough that when she stopped to open the door at the back of the diner his chest pressed against her back.
Out in the middle of the driveway she faltered, unsure where he wanted to talk. It had been a lot easier in the diner’s narrow corridor, with Mia, where she knew where things would lead. There was no going back from the kiss that they had shared. Dom didn’t pull, just walked forward holding her hand. Following was easy.
‘Scratch that’, following Dom was easy and it wasn’t as though she had never been in his bedroom before. Aside from the hole in his door, nothing had changed. Fidgeting, she sat backwards in the chair with her arms over the top rather than sit on the bed. Given the size of the room, there was no way to avoid Dom anyway; he took a seat on the edge of the bed, close enough to her that if he wanted, he could reach out and touch her. Amber stayed where she was, aware of every inch of space between them.
Exhausted before, Dom felt even worse now if that were possible and, sitting on the very edge of the bed, he leaned forward and ground the heels of his hands into his eyes. A childish wish perhaps, to want everything to go back to normal when you took your hands away.
Not entirely sure where to begin, Dom found a spot and jumped in. “Did Brigh.., he ever tell you what he did for a living?”
The distaste that crossed Dom’s face at his mention of her ex-husband’s name wasn’t lost on her. Of course it was how she felt whenever she had to speak of him but it still came as a shock to her when others also felt that way. It wasn’t what she had expected him to ask, not that she knew what he was going to ask. Caught unawares, she gaped. “I…shit, I don’t really know what he does. I only know the company’s name and I wouldn’t even have known that if it weren’t for the divorce. How’s that…all the time that passed and I didn’t even know that.” Her forehead rested on the back rail of the chair. “You must think I’m such a moron.”
It stung; Dom didn’t know what she did either. At least he knew where she worked. ‘Probably know more about it than she does.’ That didn’t make him feel any better. “You’re not a moron,” he stated quietly, simply.
Dom hated to talk about Brightman at all but there wasn’t much choice; he refused to refer to him as anything but Brightman. There was no way he would refer to him as Amber’s husband, ex or otherwise. “Brightman works for International Trade, in import/exports.”
Dom rested his elbows heavily on his knees, uncomfortable as Amber looked up at him and nodded. He watched as her eyebrows bunched, the hurt look becoming one of shock as he explained about the trucks, the thefts. What the trucks had been carrying and where they thought the equipment ended up, what they intended to do about it. Talking about it with Brian, Eddie and Jim had made him angry but it hadn’t hurt. Watching as Amber was slowly crushed under the weight of what her husband had done hurt.
Sighing, he shifted his weight and reached out, touching her chin again, wishing what he wanted to say was over. “Brian explained it a lot better than I could, but what it comes down to is that the company you work for now is a subsidiary of International Trade.”
Ears buzzing, Amber felt numb, dull shock momentarily stealing her words. “I didn’t…you have to believe me…”
Her pleading with him hurt too and he scooted forward, sitting on the very edge of the bed so that he could better cup her face. “Nobody’s blaming you.” Intently, she watched his face, desperate to know that he believed her; it just made him angrier at Brightman, that she would have to plead. “I’m not blaming you.”
It was a punch in the gut. Amber pressed heavily into Dom’s hands, raising hers to cover his; she couldn’t stop shaking. All the time that had passed and she had never known, had never really suspected. If her marriage had been a normal one, she would have asked, could have asked, but it hadn’t been. In the beginning, Alan had simply stated that he was in sales, or in management. He would get so angry when she asked that she quickly learned not to ask. No one had told her.
Lowering her head to press her lips against the calloused palms of his hands, she took a shaky breath. There were so many different kinds of strength. Holding Dom’s powerful hands, she let herself be held, to draw from it. “Why would they hire me; surely they had to know about my… about Brightman.” Pulling her weary face from his hands, she let her mind run free. “So why would they hire me?”
His fingers tingled at all the points where her lips had touched. Amber’s face looked sharper when she was deep in thought; her brows pulled together, a hard line between them. Lips thinned to a straight line; hazel eyes sharp with intelligence.
For a moment, that bright spotlight shone on Shirley, the woman that had found her the job. Not surprising, the very thought hurt like hell. It didn’t last; she had made some stupid choices in her life but Amber was not a stupid woman.
“Sorry.” At her automatic apology, Amber looked up and made a half-assed effort at a cheeky grin that made the both of them smile momentarily. “I was worried that it might have been…” Hands fluttered up off the chair and Dom grinned, dropping his head to hide it; Amber had picked that up from Mia, talking with her hands. “Shirley was the one that got me that job.”
Still again, Amber rested her cheek on the back of the wooden chair, looking out the window. Dom watched her eyelashes flutter and knew that she was fighting tears, blinking; to be betrayed by someone she had come to trust was a kick in the teeth she didn’t need.
“She made the calls…”
Dom had no real way to know, no way to be positive, but Shirley had come out to the diner. He had held her hand and knew how sincere she was; he wouldn’t accept being wrong and right now, Amber needed to hear that one thing in her life wasn’t fucked. “I don’t think Shirley had anything to do with this, do you?”
The hope was heartbreaking. Sighing, she turned away from the window and looked at him directly. “No. No, I don’t.”
She didn’t want to believe or she didn’t believe, Dom didn’t ask, didn’t press. For all Dom knew, all the companies that she had worked for had some sort of tie to Brightman. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more that made sense. Brightman was all about control; controlling his wife’s employment fit. He would ask Eddie about it later; Eddie knew where she worked. It didn’t matter in the scheme of things; the only comfort in it now was that it meant Amber still had a real friend in Shirley. It wasn’t all fucked.
“What do you do for the company now?” It wasn’t really changing topics, just a lateral shift.
Trying to fit it in with everything that she had just heard, just learned, Amber tried to put her employment in some sort of perspective. Some sort of use. “Billing…I mean, that’s not all I do, but I do the billing. Deal with the accounts.”
It hung there in the air between them; Amber afraid to ask what Dom needed from her. Dom uneasy about asking. His head tilted to the side, assessing angles. “You do the same thing at the other place you worked?”
Amber nodded and, frustrated, Dom ran his hands over his face and stood, making Amber nervous but she refused to cringe back from him. Dom spun on his heel to pace across the room. To the wall opposite and back again with Amber watching every step; his agitation made her tense but at least it didn’t make her afraid.
“You know, something about this doesn’t fit; maybe we’ve been thinking about this all wrong.” It was as though he spoke to himself, quiet, soft, thoughtful, nothing at all like his normal tone of voice.
Amber just nodded, slightly ashamed, as he spoke aloud what he had thought earlier; that all her jobs were tied to the same company, to Brightman. It was a hard thing to admit to being so controlled, that she had been for years.
“You’re out now,” he swept the shame away easily and continued. “Which is why I think this is interesting. They should have canned you when you went for the divorce. But they didn’t. They not only kept you then, but kept you even after they had gotten rid of him. Hired you somewhere else.”
Dom had stopped pacing and stood in the middle of his room. “They wanted to hold onto YOU for some reason.”
“I hear I make a mean cup of coffee.” It was out before she could stop it; her smart mouth had been a constant source of pain while she had been married, and even being beaten hadn’t stifled it entirely. Biting her lip, she lowered her head a little; she wouldn’t say she was sorry again.
Dom huffed out a laugh; he liked her smart mouth just fine. Like her bravado, it didn’t go unnoticed that Amber never had to cut anyone else down to make him laugh either. He was making comparisons and for once, it didn’t bother him that he was; Amber came out on top every time so far. “Not gonna discount that, but I think it’s maybe something else. Maybe they want to keep tabs on him somehow?”
Raising her head off the back of the chair and looked up at Dom. “What if they know, or suspect at least, that he has some sort of tie to the thefts?” That made sense to her, at least on a purely clinical level. It would take company ties to get manifests for the shipments, or there would be no way to know what was in the trucks before they were stolen. A terrible thought occurred to her. “What if they think I’m involved and they’re watching me?”
At the distraught look on Amber’s face, Dom felt like kicking himself again; that she had a point didn’t make it any easier. In two steps he crossed the room, settling his hand on her shoulder, a quick squeeze and he left his hand there. Setting his hip against the chair as he talked, he let his mind run free where it would take him, something he had seen Jesse do enough times.
“It’d probably be simple for them to compare what you worked on and what got stolen. That’d rule you out pretty easy.” There was no way to be sure, but it felt right. “Brian says these guys are involved in intelligence. If they wanted to set you up to be sure, they could do it; I doubt they’d keep you there if they thought it was you.”
“So it’s definitely my coffee then,” Amber chuckled uneasily, running a hand through her hair and letting out a sigh. She turned around in the chair to face his computer, heat spreading through her belly when his hand settled on her shoulder again. “I’m guessing you need me to find a truck?” In the reflection of his computer screen, she watched as Dom nodded. “What if I can’t get in?”
“Then we’ll know something we didn’t before. Might be good to know where you stand.” Their eyes met in the reflection, the smallest of nods.
The room was quiet save for the clicking of the keyboard as Amber accessed her account; as someone who regularly worked from home, it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Or it wouldn’t have been in normal circumstances. Now, Amber kept expected to be greeted with a huge warning splash screen. ‘Maybe an ear-splitting alarm or two.’ “What am I looking for?”
Feeling hollow, watching the screen intently, Dom mouthed the words, “Somewhere in the vicinity of Lakeside, a window of a couple of days at the most, carrying dual use equipment.” Eyes closed, his chest hurt.
Amber watched him in the reflection but said nothing; she didn’t know why it was affecting him the way it was, but it had to be something big. She didn’t know what worried her more; being denied the information, or being granted access easily, but she went about it with her head down, scouring through manifests and time sheets until she came up with something she thought could be of use. “I think that’s it,” she whispered, her elbows on the desk and her head in her hands, not turning around.
Dom not quite absently rubbed her shoulder, feeling the tight knots beneath, feeling her tension and wondering at how she could hide it so well, that she was afraid. Looking at the screen ahead, Dom summed up the information and sighed.
There was a part of him that didn’t want to believe any of it. It would have been easier if Amber couldn’t get the information or if the information wasn’t so damning, but it wasn’t to be. Tomorrow night, a truck laden with dual use equipment would make a stop at a weigh station just outside Lakeside, bound for Los Angeles.
Except that the truck would never get there, or wouldn’t get far once it did, Dom knew. In his head, he could see it all so clearly; the pursuit, the trailer laden semi pulled over on the side of a lonely stretch of road. Whenever Dom had been committing the thefts, the whole truck would be stolen and the driver would be left stranded. He knew that this part of the theft had changed; that only the trailer would be stolen, and that there was likely a deal made with the driver beforehand. Maybe at the time. The bare bones hadn’t changed.
“I’m going to have call Brian.” Dom pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, hitting Brian’s number on speed dial.
“I should go….” Amber made to stand, to leave, but Dom hadn’t lifted his hand from his shoulder, just held her there. Gently, but held.
At her nervous look his grip softened and he threaded his fingers into her hair instead, playing with the ends of her hair while he waited for Brian to pick up. “I don’t want you to leave.”
Her chest tight, Amber swallowed and listened as Dom related to Brian what they had just discovered. Seconds drew out. It was a logical step, after the passionate kiss that they had shared, but it still made Amber’s chest knot up. It felt awkward, hard to breath. Dom’s continued contact made her mind swirl.
A soft click and he was intent on her, the phone left on the side of the desk as he sat once more on the end of the bed. The hand that had been in her hair trailed down her arm as he sat, but he hadn’t let her go. Like he expected her to bolt the moment she was free. It was odd for him, he wasn’t used to women actually wanting to leave, usually he couldn’t get rid of them. Except that one look at Amber and he knew that she didn’t want to leave either; she was just nervous. It affected him. It had been a long time since a woman was nervous around him, since he had been around a woman that could still feel that way.
How her heart managed to race when she couldn’t breathe, Amber had no idea, but that’s what it felt like. She felt hot and fought the urge to raise a hand to her cheek to feel just how much; it had to be written all over her face. A thought that only left her more flushed. ‘Great. Now you’re going to look like some stupid teenager.’ Which is exactly how she felt.
Dom tugged lightly on her hand, no real force behind it. It wasn’t a demand, but a want, a need, and it was that insistence that drew her forwards until she stood between Dom’s knees.
Needing to clear her head, Amber closed her eyes and raised her chin, tearing her eyes away from his; he could make her stop thinking, just by looking at her. If she wanted to, she knew that she could pull free from him, turn and leave. Unlike Alan, she knew that Dom would let her go, if she wanted to. She didn’t want to; that’s what it came down to.
She didn’t want to go; it had been a long time since someone had really wanted her, for her. It felt like forever. Biting her lip, she dropped her chin again, trying to get some sort of control over her breathing, her rampant emotions.
“Stay with me.” Insistent, arrogant, cocky and playful. And sincere, all at the same time. Dom played with her hand as he held it, fingertips running over her knuckles while his thumb traced over the sensitive skin of her inner wrist. Her entire body felt centered in that small patch of skin. Hypnotic.
Swallowing, Amber wondered if he had any idea what he was doing to her; if it mattered to him all that much if he did. Closing her eyes, she shut out all the doubts. They weren’t her doubts, they were someone else’s. They were Alan’s. Twelve years of Alan. Years of her mother. Neither were voices she wanted to drag around anymore. Dom wanted her. Now. She was a big girl; if he changed his mind the next day, she could deal with that. Somehow.
Dom didn’t pull, didn’t demand; there was no way for her to know if he ever did or even had to. Amber didn’t care, she wanted him too. Shaking a little, Amber turned her wrist, holding his hand in hers, enough to fully get his attention. Once she had it, she wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it; she had wanted to say something, explain about her nerves and tell him how long it had been. Nothing came out and she was actually kind of grateful. ‘Probably say something really stupid.’
Instead, she turned and sat beside him on the end of his bed under the window, close enough that their hips touched, making her skin feel all hot and tingly again.
Anything but oblivious about women, Dom had carefully watched Amber’s every reaction, knowing she wanted to stay and wanted to run at the same time. He knew what made her want to bolt but what made him take it easy was how much he didn’t want her to and not solely for selfish reasons.
Turning, Dom pressed her backwards, lowering her gently to the bedspread. Taking his place beside her; he didn’t push, just lay close to her, braced on an elbow. He still played with her hand, tracing a fingertip over the slightly damp center of her palm.
It tickled and she had to fight the urge to wipe her hand on her pants, his bedspread, anything. The heat from his skin didn’t make it any easier; Dom lay close enough to touch her along the entire length of her body. Something she should have at least been used to by now, if not comfortable. It felt different; his skin was as hot as hers. She wondered, not for the first time, if he felt the same.
‘He’s probably had a hundred women in this bed, doing the exact same thing.’ Her inner voice was seriously starting to piss her off. ‘Could be worse, you could start doing that talking out loud thing you’ve been doing.’
Dom’s head tilted, quizzical, as she snorted, a sound neither had expected. Amber went with talking out loud; she already felt stupid. “I’m nervous.”
“So I gathered,” Dom murmured as he dropped their linked hands until they touched her side, his fingers over hers, burning her skin. “Want me to stop?”
No. No, she didn’t want him to stop, but the word wouldn’t come out. He was so close, his nose just brushing her cheek. A simple turn of the head was all she needed and her lips were against his, tentative and shaky at first. For a fraction of a second she stayed there, frozen, wanting him to respond and scared that he would at the same time.
Dom extended the arm that he was leaning on, dropping a little lower and Amber sank back deeper, succumbing, surrendering, to what could only be described as a sweet kiss. It was sweet and soft and gentle and if it was Dom’s plan that this was to melt whatever resistance she had, it worked and worked well.
Dropping her hand, Dom cupped her face as the kiss deepened from sweet to passionate as their lips parted, tongues touched. Her low belly tightened into a hot knot as she reached out for him, touching his waist, sliding her palm along warm soft cotton, over the defined muscles at his ribs.
Everything about him overwhelmed her. His mouth, his tongue, the way his stubble burned across her chin. The heat of his breath, the low, muted growl of satisfaction as she answered his passion with her own. The weight.
The weight was the hardest for her, as he half-pinned her against the bed until she felt that she couldn’t breathe. The hand that caressed over his sides now held him off slightly and she struggled for breath rather than breath in time with him.
She was panicking.
Dom pulled back a little, wet, swollen lips touching lightly, parting unwillingly. His hand in her hair, he held her there, the callused pad of a thumb tracking in an arc over her flushed cheek. Panic wasn’t a reaction he was used to but Amber was already far from what he was used to. A heavy thigh draped across her hips, he nearly straddled her, carried away by their heated kiss. She was panicking.
That she didn’t want to go was clear; her body reacted to his at every point it showed in a woman. Hardened nipples, her throat flushed pink as she panted against his skin.
The pale flaw of her fading bruise brought it into stark reality. Kissing the tip of her nose, he grabbed her hip and smoothly flipped over onto his back, bringing Amber with him and gracefully pushed backwards on the bed until they were in the middle.
Amber still held him at the waist, his shirt knotted in her fist as though she didn’t want to let go. Her hair was a wonderful mess, her shirt pulled free with an inch or so of her belly exposed. Dom’s hands held her hips in place, straddling him easily. He didn’t like being on the bottom but he’d make an exception this time.
Only his hands moved, fingers splayed across the gentle swelling curves of her hips, thumbs anchored in the creases of her thighs. The muscles there tensed as her weight settled, bringing her in contact with the hard length of his erection. Indecision. Press lower or pull back. Dom stayed still and let her decide but kept his hands on her hips anyway; he liked the feel of her weight, her presence.
Eyes wide, Amber settled her weight lower, shuddering involuntarily at the feel of him, even through the layers of their clothes. Thoughts scattered at the maddening slow pass of his hands caressing her hips; she could easily lose her mind.
‘Too late.’ Untangling her hands from his cotton shirt, she found that she mimicked his touch, fingers spread wide as her palms skated over his chest, pulling his shirt up a little with them. Hinging at the hips, she lowered to his chest, sucking in a breath as their bare bellies touched.
Looking up was one of the hardest things she’d done, it would have been easy to bury her face in his chest and never say another word. So she looked up. Dom’s lips were still wet and full, eyes heavy lidded as he looked up at her through the dark fan of his lashes. She could feel his breath start in his belly, swell his chest, right down to the flare of his nostrils as he exhaled; her breath easily fell in time with his.
“Still nervous, Amber?”
Desire had not only darkened his eyes but deepened his voice and for once in her life, she loved the way her name sounded. Was she still nervous? Hell yes, if not for the same reasons as when they had begun. “Are you going to come back?” It wasn’t what she wanted to ask.
Amber was still nervous, he knew. Her weight had settled but the pulse at her thigh pounded in a runaway pattern, easily felt against his skin. Whenever he had told her about the trucks, he had mentioned that they would be going out after them, to stop the latest truck from getting through.
Dom wasn’t so oblivious as to think that’s what she was talking about, or not solely talking about. It drove him nuts sometimes, but he had been around Mia long enough to know, if not accept, that women didn’t always come right out and say all of what they meant. It wasn’t hard to hear the rest of what Amber asked. ‘Are you going to come back to me?’
Keeping one hand on her hip, he threaded the other through her hair, bringing her close enough to touch, to kiss, and told her what she really wanted to hear. His sincerity surprised him, that he meant it so much. “I’ll come back for you.”
He drank in a warm flash of hazel before she dropped her head, blushing furiously; it was what she wanted but not at all what she had expected. Dom hadn’t expected it either, that he would mean it. Nuzzling past the fall of her hair, he kissed her again, holding the back of her neck.
Breathing felt strange, something she had to think about amidst the jumble Dom had made of her senses. Even with him beneath her, he was still so much in control, powerful hands at her hip, in her hair, pulling her into the kiss. Not that she was fighting it.
She felt stretched, her body taut over his. The hand at her neck pulling her closer as the kiss once again grew heated. The hand at her hip pressed her away and pulled her back, imperceptible at first, more an intention than movement. By their first shared moan she rocked in a controlled arc, just a matter of inches, grazing over now tight denim.
Eyes closed, she stopped thinking and mapped out the path with her body. Thumb pressed into the crease of her thigh, pushing her back. Back along the hard length of his manhood, stopping at the interruption of his fly. Then his hips arched slightly, fingers drew her back in, sliding, fabric on fabric, the organic contours of their bodies conforming to each other even through their clothes. The apex of the stroke, skipping over a harder ridge and then she was pushed backwards again, flowing like water, like tides.
Panting together, their tongues moved in time with their hips. It had been a hell of a long time since anyone had touched Amber that way, had made her feel hot and reckless, wild. She pushed at his tee-shirt and it inched higher with every pass of her hips until it could go no further, at least not without Dom’s help. They were at that point.
The kiss broke in fits and starts, leaving them both breathless and straining against each other, wanting to get closer. The fog cleared slightly and Amber sat up a little but didn’t pull away; Dom left his hand on her hip a moment longer, just to be sure she wouldn’t move, although he was pretty sure that she wouldn’t.
Letting go, he pulled his shirt over his head, letting it drop off the side of the bed, lying back beneath her. Humming low in his throat, he watched her as she watched him. That women liked to look at him wasn’t new to him either but he liked to watch her as first her eyes and then her hands roamed over his chest.
She was shy and he found that he liked that. A lot. That her blush deepened when she brushed against the hard pebble of his nipple. He let her explore, letting his hands fall again, to the bare skin at her waist, raising her shirt a little more. He watched her face the entire time as his hands slid up along her sides, taking her shirt with it, a question unasked.
As she raised her arms for him, Dom gently pulled her shirt over her head, letting it drop off the bed on top of his. Not losing contact with her skin, he expertly undid the clasp of her bra, holding eye contact with her the entire time, in case it wasn’t what she wanted. He would have just asked but he was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to answer him, and if she did, she just might bolt. She was so shy.
Small shallow breaths and then she leaned down against him once more, skin against skin, for a kiss that was harder, more demanding than before. The pressure of her against him was more insistent, the action choppier, less of a graceful arc.
A low growl as they kissed had Amber whimper, an unwitting sound that she likely couldn’t have stopped even if she had known what she was doing. She was lost, out of her element, but trusted Dom not to hurt her. Not to discard her. She wanted him, and he wanted her, that much was clear.
Holding her as he had before, cupping the back of her neck, Dom kissed along her jaw, taking her earlobe between her teeth. Reveling in the sounds of her small gasps and moans as she buried her face in his neck to make it easier for him. The laugh wasn’t cruel, but soft, as he lipped at the shell of her ear. “Still nervous, Amber?” Goosebumps radiated across her skin, under his hand, when he said her name, so he whispered it again, drawing it out.
Her breath huffed out against the side of his neck and he could feel her smile. “It’s kind of late for nervous, isn’t it?”
Could he stop? Dom wasn’t sure; he was so hard he hurt, the ache spreading through his low belly. Still, he pulled her back a little until their lips just touched as he spoke. “Not too late. S’up to you what you want.”
Hot and wet, her mind a whirling fog, Amber faltered. She had never been asked what she wanted; it had never been a choice before, just a duty and not one she was always willing to perform. So many things were different, and could be different. She wanted different so badly; it could be tasted and it tasted like Dom. “If I wanted you?”
Dom bit his lip to keep the cocky grin to himself. He couldn’t stop that he felt that way, it felt like winning and he couldn’t help it even after all these years, but he could keep her from seeing it. He kissed her softly, the same sweet kiss where they had began, and realized that a lot had changed for him too. That she was so shy had really effected him, it touched him.
He stroked her sides, down to where their hips met, skipping from the heat of her skin to the warm of her pants. Her lips parted as she looked at him, raising her hips so that he could unbutton her fly. Her body shifted awkwardly as she toed off her shoes and Dom helped to hold her still, his hands at her waist.
Carefully, not taking his eyes from hers, he eased her pants over her hips, and they repeated the same awkward dance as before as Amber shucked off her pants, letting them drop off the bed. Feeling vulnerable, she made to cross an arm over her breasts but Dom took her wrist in his hand, holding her still, at first.
Gently, he pulled her towards him until she lay against his chest, only then did he let go of her wrist, strong hands caressing her arms, moving up over her back and down to her waist. Lingering at the small of her back, he stroked up and back, traveling a little lower to the swell of her rear.
Skin was hot at all the places where it touched his; goosebumps everywhere it didn’t. It was a fitting physical display of the chaos Dom exerted on her. Lust. Fear. Desire. Vulnerability. It was a heady mix that made it hard to breathe right.
More practiced, Dom held Amber with one hand and, arching up a little, unbuttoned his pants and slid them halfway off his hips. Amber dropped her head into the dip at his shoulder; he could feel her trembling and he closed his eyes, ignoring his pants and returning to stroke her back. Once again it surprised him how deeply her shyness affected him, at how gentle it made him want to be with her. She wasn’t just a fuck; she wasn’t Heather or a long line of women just like her.
One hand on her back, the other in her hair, he raised her chin to look at her again, cupping her jaw, playing through her hair, finally settling against her ear. Flushed deeply, her ears burned beneath his hand, hectic spots of red high on her cheeks as she looked down at him. Asking was not something he did, it wasn’t something he had ever had to do, not when women threw themselves at him the way they did. He asked Amber.
“If you’re not okay with this, it’s okay to say no. I won’t get mad.” It hurt to add the last. Hurt to think it, hurt to say it. Dom knew that he’d never lay a hand on her, not like that, not ever.
“I don’t want to go, it’s just…been a while. Guess I’m a little rusty,” she added, feeling stupid.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Dom said, smiling against her lips. ‘Or racing. For ten seconds, you’re free.’
The tremble became a shake, as she laughed. “You haven’t seen me ride a bike.”
Women didn’t normally laugh in his bed either but the sound of her quiet nervous laughter had him pull her closer, burying his face in the side of her neck. “I want you, Amber. It’d be hell to watch you walk out.”
Her mouth watered at the sound of what he had said. Three simple words. ‘I want you.’ Maybe she was pathetic, needy. But she didn’t think so. She needed him too, she wanted him too. Moving carefully, she helped him toe his pants the rest of the way down and they both struggled, laughing a little as they worked to kick off his boots first.
Hot and wet, Dom held her hips still as he pressed his head back and closed his eyes. She was ready, and he’d been ready the moment he touched her. Moving his hands back down to hold her hips, he pressed her back until she sat astride him once more.
Amber’s fingertips skipped across his torso, sucking her lip involuntarily as her hands neared the dark head of his cock laying flush against his belly. It made her fidget, hips shifting, her silky wetness pressed hard against the base, the feel of him beneath her making her dizzy.
Dom moaned softly and arched his hips, making the same slow pass that they had made when they were still clothed, stopping before his head touched her. Slicking backwards and angling his hips up at the base, he ground against her clit, reveling in her sharp intake of breath.
Before he lost what he had of his senses, he reached back and pulled open the drawer of the file cabinet he used as his night table, pulling out a string of condoms. Amber’s eyes darkened and her blush deepened, not wanting to watch but watching anyway until he was smoothly sheathed. Only then did she tear her eyes away, like she had been caught doing something that she shouldn’t have.
Dom held her hips and traveled the rest of her body with hungry eyes. Over her belly, lingering over her small breasts, dark nipples hardened into upturned peaks that trembled with every panted breath. Over the deep flush of her chest and throat that let him know just how aroused she was, how ready she was.
Lastly to her face, lips parted. Reaching up, he pulled her down to him, wanting her lips as much as he wanted the rest of her. Her nipples brushed maddeningly across his chest before she settled against him. Cupping her neck, he kissed her forcefully, his tongue sucking at hers.
The hand at her waist dropped, moving between their bodies as he held himself in position for her, the dull head spreading her wet lips wide, the pressure making both of them moan, a shared hum.
Amber gasped, a sound somewhere between lust and surprise as she pushed her hips back, the thick head pressing inside, filling her so much already but not enough. Drawn taut once more between the hand at her neck and the hand at her hip, she was speared.
Amber wantonly pushed back against him as he withdrew, moaning her disapproval, only to gasp as he plunged forward. Even from his back, beneath her, he was in complete control of every movement. His hand pinned her hip where he wanted it while his hips pistoned upwards, the angle precise, the target clearly struck.
And still he hadn’t filled her completely. Withdrawal, a slow drag made with the same skill and precision, to maximize every sensation. Her neck arched and her moan sharpened, an octave higher at the end. The next thrust seated him fully, making him growl as he pulled her down for a deeper kiss. Back. Slick hot, tighter than he was accustomed to, he buried himself over and over.
That she would come was a foregone conclusion and he worked her body to pull all that he could from it as surely as he could with any engine he had ever worked on. He had all the skill and talent he needed, and held her as she tipped over the edge, holding himself back.
Skill was only half, maybe even less than half.
Amber cried out as Dom slammed hard into her once more, right before he flipped her onto her back, settling firmly between her thighs. Eyes wide and surprised, she looked up at his intense face, close enough that they shared the same breath.
“Look at me,” Dom growled softly, his lips nuzzling against her sweat slick skin.
Amber couldn’t have looked anywhere else even if she had wanted to. He didn’t hold her hard but he did hold her, his hand in her hair, a thumb swept across her cheek. Earlier she had panicked at the weight, at being pinned. It didn’t feel like that now, but it did take her off guard.
Kissing her hard, a passionate, demanding kiss, hot, hard and completely sincere, Dom poured everything he had into that one kiss, and pulled back until their lips just touched again. “I’m not him. I’ll never hurt you. Ever.”
Skill only went so far; it was passion that drove Dom. It was passion that fueled him, and passion that he lived for. Shy. Real. Hot. Amber fueled that passion without ever being aware that she had, just by being who she was.
Less practiced, Dom pulled back, just to snap his hips forward, ground hard against her to make her cry out. Raising her thighs, Amber pushed a heel into the hard muscle of his ass, seeking leverage as she locked her ankles around his waist, completely willing, completely eager. Her hands clawed at his shoulders as he plunged forward and she sought a way to reciprocate.
Choppy, untimed, the first few strokes were raw, hard, as they sought to find the perfect range of motion. Her cry sharpened, roughened, the back end more animal as their bodies moved together and apart.
Dom wouldn’t close his eyes, he wouldn’t shut her out, wouldn’t shut the image of her out. He didn’t need to think of someone else, somewhere else. Amber’s damp skin, the tang of her sweat, the hungry sound of her voice. The nails in his back as he struck her deep, these his body responded to. Racing a step behind her, pacing her until he could anticipate, until they moved as one.
Both panting hard, they tried to hold on as long as they could. Amber’s thighs burned with strain but she could no more stop than Dom could. There was no distraction that could take Dom from the sound of her voice. Amber didn’t scream, didn’t talk dirty to him, didn’t do any of the fake things he had learned to shut out. Her moans and cries were real and, as she cycled towards another orgasm, her voice was lost, her mouth pressed to his shoulder. In his head, his heart, he could still hear her and came as she tightened around him.
He had to withdraw and wished that he didn’t. Lifting only as much as he had to, his body skimmed over hers. Amber unhooked her ankles but her thighs hugged against Dom’s sides and her arms wrapped around his neck.
Beneath him she trembled, her face now pressed into the side of his neck. Wet. He could feel her tears, couldn’t hear her cry. Whispering her name against her ear, he held her, shifting his weight off her so that he could hold her without crushing her. Dom lost all sense of what he said to her, he just whispered and stroked her back in long caresses until she stopped trembling and lay still in his embrace.
“Stay with me tonight.”
Copyright © January 2008 xxxevilgrinxxx