Home > Claiming the Billionaire (Seattle Bachelors #4)(8)

Claiming the Billionaire (Seattle Bachelors #4)(8)
Author: J.M. Stewart

He pulled himself from the memories and refocused on her face.

“I need to hear you say the words.” Like he needed air to breathe. He needed to know their relationship wasn’t a figment of his vivid imagination. Needed it to ground him in the here and now, because he’d left a huge chunk of himself back in the fucking desert. “You owe me that much.”

She fisted her hands at her sides and glared at him.

“Fine. Because your job scares the hell out of me. I couldn’t do it, Ty. I lost Nick to that damn war. He went over there and didn’t come back. I couldn’t sit around waiting for you to die, too. I have friends and way too many customers whose husbands and brothers and sons have died over there. I started a new jewelry line. Did you know that? In honor of the fallen. The thought of losing you like that?” Her breathing hitched and her lower lip wobbled. A single tear made its way down her cheek, but she didn’t acknowledge it. “But it happened anyway.”

He’d met Nick when they’d stationed him at Joint Base Lewis–McChord after Basic. Nick had already been three years in. He was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but like, who made friends with everybody. Five years ago, he deployed to Iraq, only to die months later when his Humvee rolled over an IED. Being the driver, he’d taken the brunt of the blast.

He had to hand it to Cassie. At least she was honest with him. He could work with that.

“I miss Nick every damn day, but I’m still here.” He opened his arms, holding them out from his sides. To prove a point. Because despite knowing he’d likely jump out of his skin the first time she touched him, he still hoped she’d end up in his arms. He needed her there, needed her soft touch to chase away the demons.

He didn’t know what to expect from her at this point, but an aching second passed in tense silence. She stared at him, visibly trembling, a few tears meandering their way down her cheeks. When he was sure she wouldn’t say anything else, that he was getting nowhere with her, Cassie drew a sharp breath. She took that step, slid her hands up his chest. Her arms closed around his neck, and her body became a second skin.

Tyler sucked in a desperate breath and gritted his teeth. For a moment, he could only stand there and remember to drag in oxygen. Memories snapped into his mind faster than he could stop them. Unending days of sitting, alone, curled up in the corner of a dank cell. Too many damn nights terrified to sleep for fear he wouldn’t wake up the next day.

That he’d never get to see her again.

His throat closed, taking his air supply with it, and he squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to stay in the present. It wasn’t real, but he could still feel that bastard’s hot breath on his face.


Her soft, familiar voice floated into his consciousness. The warmth of her hand settled on his chest, and he jumped, his eyes snapping open. Cassie stared at him, concern etched into the lines of her forehead. “What’s the matter?”

He forced a smile, positive it trembled like the rest of him.

“I’m fine.” One by one, he forced his limbs to relax. Jesus. He needed to calm the hell down. It was just Cassie.

“No, you’re not. What’s wrong?”

He shook his head. He wouldn’t go into this with her. Not now. Maybe not ever. What he needed was her, in his arms, as close as he could get her. Maybe then the goddamn demons would stop chasing him down.

Maybe then he’d finally stop shaking.

He reached out slowly, half afraid she’d disappear the moment he touched her, and cupped her cheek. When his palm slid over the warm suppleness of her skin, when she didn’t, in fact, evaporate into the ether, he allowed himself to draw a breath. God, she was real. It was a stupid thing to think, but it awed him all the same.

Encouraged, he slid his arms loosely around her, tugging her against him. The instant her soft body hit his, her lush, full breasts pushing into his chest, his whole body lit up. Like someone had set his blood on fire. He wanted to laugh. He hadn’t thought about sex or anything like it in three damn years, had been sure once that his dick had shriveled up from lack of use. One touch from her, though, and his cock pulsed behind his zipper. A groan escaped him, every inch of him relaxing into the sweetness of her. God, she was heaven, and he wanted to get lost in her.

Unable to help himself, he bent to brush his mouth over hers. Once. Twice. She had the most incredible mouth. So full and supple. When she lifted onto her toes, the last shred of his resistance went up in a puff of smoke. Three years of longing, of not knowing if he’d see her again, caved in on him. He cupped her face in his palms and drank her in, spent long minutes refamiliarizing himself with the shape of her lips.

She moaned, a soft little purr at the back of her throat that had always driven him crazy, and her hands burrowed beneath the back of his shirt.

He groaned again. Christ, he couldn’t help himself. If this was a dream, he prayed he’d never wake up. She’d told him once she adored the heat of his skin. Whenever possible, her hands had always been up his shirt. He’d gotten into the habit of not tucking them in when not in uniform.

She didn’t disappoint now. Her hands stroked upward, taking his shirt with it, and he pulled back to whip it off over his head. The shirt hit the floor with a soft shush of fabric, and Cassie took his hand, leading him to the couch. Once there, she released him and nodded. “Sit.”

In her quiet demand, the answer to his problem presented itself. If sex was where she was comfortable, that’s where he’d start—in the bedroom. Hell, they’d started that way originally. On that Fourth of July night, she’d ended up in his bed. They’d spent the night making love and talking.

Now it meant he’d have to touch her. He’d have to risk drawing up those ugly memories, but he hoped she’d let down a wall or two. So, he took the idea and ran with it.

He dropped onto the sofa behind him and crooked a finger at her. She shook her head, sinking to her knees at his feet instead and reached for the button on his jeans. As she popped it free and slid down the zipper, her slender fingers brushed his cock, hardening him to the point of pain.

He sucked in a hissing breath and shackled her wrist. “Uh-uh. I need you closer.”

It had been too damn long. If she put her mouth on him now, he’d go off like a goddamn Roman candle. He needed to take this slowly, or he’d embarrass himself.

For once in her life, Cassie didn’t argue but allowed him to pull her off the floor and slide onto his lap, straddling his thighs. When she leaned into him, pushing her gorgeous tits into his chest, he feared he’d bust the seam on his jeans. How the hell had he ever lived without that feeling? How had he ever thought he could let her go?

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