The Long Road Home(73)

By: H.D. Thomson

She pressed into him, wanting him, his hands, his mouth, the feel of his skin against her own. Impatiently, she tugged at his shirt, slipping it from his waistband, and sighed against his mouth when her palms finally touched the naked flesh of his back. He sucked in a breath at her caress, and his hands grew more urgent as they roamed over her back and glided around her waist to slip beneath her shirt. At the delicious sensation his hands were creating, she arched, wanting him to touch every curve and indentation of her body.

“Here. I want to look at you.” Inching away, John unbuttoned her blouse with shaky hands. The hunger in his eyes robbed the breath from her lungs as he released each button slowly, painstakingly. Once done, he parted the material, unveiled her breasts in a lacy white bra and cupped their weight in his large, dark hands.

She quivered from the heat in his gaze. He wanted her. Even a fool could see that. But a tiny sliver of fear lingered as his hands strayed from her breasts and lowered to the waistband of her jeans. He paused on the top button and looked up, a question in his gray eyes. “From here, there’s no turning back. I want all of you.”

She nodded, unable to deny him anything. Oh...but she was afraid. Her heart lay exposed, and he could so easily crush it with one word or look.

He flicked open the top button of her jeans and slowly lowered the zipper. Metal against metal whispered and mingled with their breathing.

Limbs rigid with tension, Clarisse raised her hips, enabling him to slide the denim over her thighs and ankles. She watched his face as he looked at her naked thighs, expecting some sign of aversion. Curiosity flickered in his eyes and something ... and something else that tugged at her heart.

“I’ll understand if you don’t want—”

He stilled her protest with a finger against her lips. “Shh—don’t even say it.” His dark and sober eyes held her captive. “Nothing’s changed. It’s a scratch. Nothing more.”

She flinched as his hand grazed her thigh. Tears welled in her eyes and she glanced down at the pink scars. “Are you blind!”

He cupped her chin and forced her to look at him. “No. Not anymore. What I see is what I’ve always wanted.”

Mesmerized by the love and adoration radiating from his eyes, Clarisse’s heart blossomed, not from pleasure or desire, but from something far more. Love. It was deeper, more binding than before.

“When I think we wasted three years, I get so angry...” The fire in his eyes singed her soul. “I’ll never let you go again. Ever. I made my mistake the once, but never again. Say you’ll marry me?”

It hit her that John didn’t care, that he couldn’t see her with dispassionate eyes. He loved her, disfigurement and all. In wonder, she caressed his cheek with her palm. If she hadn’t conquered feelings of self-doubt, misplaced pride and the terror of flying, she would have lost him.

“Oh, y-yes.” Her voice cracked with emotion. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I’m not fool enough to start asking questions. I love you.”

“I always have,” John breathed before capturing her lips in a soul-wrenching kiss.

Burying her hands in his thick, raven hair, she shivered as a kaleidoscope of feelings—wonder, joy and desire—embraced her. She might have taken a couple of detours, some rocky and perilous and some smooth and uneventful, but she had finally found the road home.

The End