The protector, p.27
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       The Protector, p.27
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           Jodi Ellen Malpas

  I smile, pulling it down from the wood before reading on.

  Head across the driveway. There’s a gap between two oak trees. Follow the trail until you reach the huge trunk of a fallen tree. Your next instruction is there.

  Jake x

  A silly, excited thrill courses through me at the thought of going on a treasure hunt. Because Jake is the treasure.

  I drop my shoes to the floor and slip my feet into the ballet flats by the door. I waste no time letting myself out of his house. I see the two oak trees at the far end of the drive like he said I would.

  I run, an unstoppable grin on my face, and once I pass through the middle of the trees, I find myself in an overgrown woodland, but there’s evidence of a trail. I hurry down the path, being sure to avoid the larger branches that are scattered here and there.

  I feel like I’m in a fairy tale. The canopy of trees above me is allowing only a sliver of low evening sunlight to break through as I hurry along, eventually finding myself in a huge round clearing with a massive tree trunk laying across the center, its bark falling off. It looks like it’s been here for a hundred years. There’s a piece of paper pinned to the top.

  My excitement lurching, because I’m closer to Jake, I dash forward and snatch it up.

  One day I’m going to fuck you on this ancient tree trunk.

  Look to your right. There’s a silver birch. Pass it and follow the new path until you reach a red rosebush. You’ll find your next instruction there. Watch the thorns.

  Jake, x

  I bring the paper up to my mouth and bite the corner, resisting running off toward the silver birch that I’ve already located. Maybe if I stay right here he’ll get fed up waiting, wherever he is, and come find me. Then he can make “one day” today and fuck me on this old tree trunk.

  Circling slowly, I take in my surroundings, floored by how beautiful it all is. A lost woodland, swamped by huge trees, some of them hundreds and hundreds of years old. It’s quiet and peaceful. The only sounds are of nature—pure, untouched nature. No cars, no buildings, no pollution. I could stay here forever. Why can’t we just stay here forever? Get married, have children, and bring them up in this peaceful sanctuary, away from the big city and outside world? I bite my lip, thinking I’m getting way ahead of myself. Or am I?

  I rush over to the silver birch and pass it, finding myself on another clear pathway. The crunching and breaking of twigs under my feet barely register. I’m desperate to see him, desperate to fling myself in his arms and disappear into an oblivion of Jake. Nothing but Jake. His strength, his passion—all of him.

  I see the rosebush up ahead, the burst of bright red pulling me in like a magnet. It’s huge, a picture of English beauty amid the overgrowth of the woodland. Slowing my pace, I see the crisp white of a piece of paper nestled amid the thorns and flowers, waiting for me. I come to a stop, taking a minute to wonder what this note might say. The blooming scarlet blossoms are ripe with an intoxicating scent that makes the urge to caress one and bring it to my nose too hard to resist. I inhale and breathe out, closing my eyes. I’m warm through, calm and serene. Releasing the rose, I reach for the paper, being sure to watch for thorns. The note catches on a few as I tentatively pull it from the foliage until I can read his words.

  This place is my safe haven. Now it’s yours, too. Everything I have is yours.

  I love you. More than I imagined I could ever love someone.

  Take a rose and put it in your hair. Then follow the trail until you find the beautiful red Acer tree.

  Jake. x

  I bring the paper to my nose and inhale deeply, like I could breathe his written words into me. He loves me. Everything he has is mine, but the only thing I truly need and want is his heart. His peace.

  I carefully reach forward and gently pick the biggest rose I can find. It comes away from the stem with ease, as if wanting to help me out. Tucking some loose strands of blonde around my braid, I push the bubble of ruby petals behind my ear.

  Then I circle to find the trail and begin to follow it, smiling the whole way. I weave through trees, sometimes even coming back on myself a bit, but I stick to his order and keep to the path. The huge red tree it leads me to takes my breath away, the leaves as red as the rose tucked behind my ear. Pinned to the trunk is another note, and for the first time, I wonder how many notes there are. I’m growing impatient. I hurry over and detach the paper.

  Whatever you decided to wear, take it off. Take everything off.

  A quiet hitch of breath spills, my body tingling with life.

  There’s an opening past this Acer tree that will lead you to me. Hurry.

  Jake. x

  I swallow and drop my bag, releasing the paper, too. Then I check around me as I kick off my shoes and reach for the hem of my dress. It’s a crazy thing to do. There’s no one here. No one can see me. It doesn’t make Jake’s demand feel any less forbidden, though. It’s warm, the evening sun still low and bold beyond the treetops, and the night time chill hasn’t yet spiked the air.

  But my nipples still harden as I pull my dress over my head. Letting it tumble to the ground, I bite my lip as I start pushing my knickers down my thighs, instinctively looking around as if someone could be watching me. I giggle to myself. I bet the squirrels and the birds are wondering what the hell is going on. Who’s this human stripping in our woodland?

  Stepping out of my knickers, I leave them at my feet and look beyond the Acer tree for the opening through the mass of bushes and trees. I see it and smile. Re-securing the rose behind my ear, I start toward the clearing, my breathing quickening with each step.

  I’m sure to be careful as I breach the gap, the green foliage around me still dense and threatening to scrape my naked skin as I pass through. I shimmy and skirt past bushes and branches, until I see sunlight, not just scattered now, but bursting more freely up ahead. My pace quickens, and I hold my breath until I break free of the woodland that’s held me in its enchanted clutches for too long.

  “Oh my God,” I whisper as I move into the clearing. I’m still in woodland, except it’s more open. The trunks of the trees are thinner, smooth, and spaced generously in neat rows. I look down and smile, absolutely mesmerized by the sight. The ground before me is a sea of blue. English bluebells. I take it all in. Or I try to. It’s beyond beautiful, this hidden haven.

  Something stirs behind me, and I spin, forgetting momentarily why I’m here. My hand comes up to my chest on a small whimper when I find Jake.

  He’s standing behind me, his lean body naked, too, a smile on his handsome face.

  Chapter 25

  JAKE

  She’s like a mirage. Like something that only your wildest imagination could dream up. I feel like I’ve been waiting here for eons, my temptation to go hunt her down nearly getting the better of me. I’ve imagined this all afternoon, from the moment I drove her down the long lane to my safe haven. This part of my land is like something out of a picture book. It matches my angel perfectly and seems to have come alive, like it’s been waiting all this time for her to arrive.

  The light wind stirs the leaves, the sunlight more obvious in this section of the dense woodland that backs onto my home. The carpet of bluebells surrounding me is vibrant and mesmerizing. Not unlike Camille. Her blue eyes are sparkling brightly, in wonder and awe, her slender body still but alive.

  Taking one step forward, I tilt my head a little, trying to coax my body to relax, my hard muscles beginning to ache from tension. I’m not sure why I’m tense. She’s safe here. She can roam free on my land and putter around my home without me trailing ten paces behind her all the time. Yet that knowledge didn’t make it any easier to wait here for her to find me. I felt anxious, and the reason is deeper than a fear for her well-being.

  As long as she’s away from my sight, the deep ache within me will never leave. I need to have her close by for my own selfish reasons. Because I feel incomplete when we’re apart.

  Her flawless skin is glowing, the mou
nds of her small breasts pert and calling for me. She has a single red rose tucked behind her ear, just like I asked. She’s a vision of pure, exquisite beauty.

  I go to her, loving the sight of her chest pulsing more visibly the closer I get, her eyes never straying from mine. I’ve never felt so alive. My heart has never pounded so hard. My cock has never longed for release so desperately. She’s mine for the whole of the night, all of my fears forgotten for now. Until tomorrow. Tomorrow I fix everything. Not just with her father, but with myself, too. And I’m praying that if Camille Logan doesn’t already know the extent of my feelings for her, she will after tonight. And she’ll forgive me for keeping so much from her.

  She’s looking up at me, keeping quiet as I absorb her face, drinking in every tiny piece of her. “You found me,” I say, my voice unavoidably hoarse. I slide my palm onto her hip and round to her bum.

  “I’ll always find you.” Cami’s voice is equally rough as she mimics my words, her hand coming up to rest on my heart. It fucking sings with happiness. “This place is beautiful.”

  “It’s yours, too. Everything is yours.” I dip my head and capture her mouth, pulling her in closer to me. I don’t close my eyes, unwilling to sacrifice the striking vibrancy of her blues. I’m gentle, nibbling and pecking my way across her lips, and then plunging my tongue deep, swallowing down her groans. My cock is jerking, shouting at me to give it what it wants. But it’ll have to wait. I have other plans, and they don’t involve diving into her just yet.

  Slowing our kiss, I gently pull away, having to be more forceful when Cami’s hand comes to the back of my head and tries to push me to her. “Patience, angel,” I murmur, smiling when she grumbles under her breath.

  “You’re waiting here for me naked, and you’re asking me to be patient?” She sounds totally exasperated, and I love it.

  I look down at her, my hand smoothing across her cheek. “I want to make this last.” Pushing her away until we’re completely disconnected, I point over her shoulder to where I’ve laid down a blanket in a small circular clearing.

  Giving me a sideways, curious smile, she turns slowly to find what I’m pointing to. I hear the slight hitch of her breath. “A picnic?” she breathes, swinging back to face me, the loose strands of her hair whipping her face.

  For reasons unbeknownst to me, I feel my cheeks heat. Am I blushing? “Yes, a picnic.” I move in and sweep her from her feet, my ears invaded by her surprised squeal. “I’m going to feed you, feel you, lick every inch of you, and then I’m going to make mad sweet love to you.”

  Her hands cling around my shoulders, her face a picture of delight. “Are you blushing, Jake Sharp?”

  “I don’t blush.” Let’s get that straight before she clings on and runs with it. “It’ll be you blushing soon.”

  I drop to my knees, still with Cami draped across my arms, and find a clear space by the basket, which is loaded with champagne, strawberries, and cold meats. A picnic. In my bluebell woodland? Fuck me, who would have thought?

  But I needed to take her off to a faraway land where no one and nothing could disturb us. And I need to show her how much she means to me.

  Laying her gently on the blanket, I guide her arms to above her head, my eyes traveling the length of her long body stretched out before me. This might be more difficult than I thought. Every part of her is calling me, and my body is reacting, making it imperative that I lock down my focus and resist it. She’s not trying to make this hard for me. She’s just lying there, looking up at me as I fight the urge to take her breasts instead of the champagne. I rest on my haunches and pull the foil from the lid, glimpsing down at her every now and then to see where she’s focused. As suspected, each time, she’s skating greedy eyes across my torso, nibbling on her lip.

  “I didn’t see any glasses,” she observes when I pop the cork, slipping my thumb into the bottle neck to avoid losing too much.

  “We don’t need glasses.” I tip the bottle and let a splash of the liquid hit her tummy. She gasps, her body bowing sharply with shock. The move has her nipples pushed up high, the buds erect. I swallow down my control and maneuver so I’m stretched out beside her, on my side. Flicking one last look up to her, I lower my head and catch the trickling champagne that’s running down her side, licking it up until I find myself on her abdomen.

  “Oh, shit!” She slams her palms into the blanket at her sides, cracking her body further into an arch.

  “Feel good, angel?” I ask, circling her belly button with my firm, slick tongue.

  “Yes!”

  It feels so good, the warmth of her skin and the cold of the champagne creating a delicious mix of hot and cool in my mouth. Tipping the bottle again, this time more carefully, I start dripping the liquid across her breasts, working my way down her body until I’m at the apex of her thighs. She starts to shake, mumbling incoherent words to the treetops above.

  She’s felt nothing yet. I take a swig and hold it in my mouth, then resting the bottle to the side, I push myself up and straddle her, bracing my upper body on my arms. I wait for her to open her eyes, my hardness jutting from my hips, brushing across her ribs. I can’t tell her to open, so I dip my hips, pushing my cock into her tummy. It works in an instant. Her eyes open on a desperate yelp, landing on mine with a bang. I release a little liquid from my mouth, letting it trickle across her lips. Her eyes widen with knowing delight, her hand lifting from the ground. I shake my head, and she pouts. It’s adorable, and it very nearly has me spitting out the rest of the champagne and ravishing her.

  Damn, keep your control, Jake!

  She licks her lips. She fucking licks her lips, slowly, purposefully, and with one hundred percent intention. The little fucking minx. I let a few more drops escape and plummet to her lips again, except this time she opens her mouth, capturing the flow. And once she’s swallowed slowly, she performs the same calculated string of movements, licking her lips. The vision is arresting. My heart kicks in my chest and my erection begs for some relief. I’m a fool. I don’t know how I thought I’d get through this, teasing her, tempting her, making her wait for me. It’s completely backfired. I swallow down the remaining champagne and shake my head to myself, silently amazed by this woman’s ability to send my self-discipline to shit.

  “Taste nice?” she whispers, tilting her hips up and pushing into my groin.

  I drop my head, my body concaving in a ridiculous attempt to escape her. “Stop it, angel,” I warn, clenching my eyes shut.

  “Stop me,” she counters, egging me on, her voice silky and enticing.

  “Fuck.” I give in to the magnetism that’s pulling my body down to hers. Our skin meets, my arms come up to lie upon hers above her head, and I swivel my hips, finding her slick opening and pushing a tiny way in. The little bit of penetration steals my breath.

  She moans, arching beneath me deliciously. “Jake.”

  I’m in only a tiny bit, but her muscles tighten powerfully, trying to pull me in further. I grab air, drinking it in urgently as I break out in a sweat.

  “All the way,” she begs, fighting against my arms holding her down. “Jake, please!”

  The sound of her begging so desperately breaks me, and I surrender to my body’s need, pushing forward until I hit her deep. “Oh Jesus,” I pant, my forehead meeting hers. “Camille…” My whole fucking body is buzzing with a need so profound, I don’t know what to fucking do with it.

  “You’re shaking,” she pants, looking deeply into my eyes. So deep, I’m sure she’s found my dark soul.

  I swallow down the sudden lump in my throat and start to gently rock into her, gliding smooth and slow, thriving on the constant moans and cries she’s releasing. Her sounds of pleasure are the most potent aphrodisiac, spurring on my craving. But I try to keep my rhythm cool and consistent.

  “I just…” My words evaporate. I feel so fucking overwhelmed, more so than I’ve ever felt when indulging in her. Maybe it’s because I’m here, in my peaceful place. Or maybe it’s bec
ause I’ve finally accepted what I need to do. What I’ve wanted to do for so long but doubted I had the strength I know I need. Doubted myself. Cami has given me that strength. Given me clarity. I have so much to mend.

  “You just what?” she asks, her voice a breathy whisper, her hips matching my sway, pressing us together perfectly.

  “I just love you so fucking much.” I can’t begin to comprehend it. I can’t wrap my mind around the intensity of my feelings for her. My building emotion is getting the better of me, stabbing at my heart with relentless force, physically hurting it. Releasing her arms, I cradle her head, feeling her legs coming up around my waist and gripping me.

  “Snap.” She threads her fingers through my hair and tugs a little, reinforcing her cute counter. She’s showing all the signs of an imminent orgasm, her eyes bright and almost frantic. She starts nodding, like she’s read my thoughts, telling me she’s on her way.

  Shit, the sight of her unraveling under me beats anything I’ve experienced. And knowing I’m the cause of her condition just makes it all the more gratifying. I nod, too, my eyes stuck to hers, needing to see the moment she lets go. My strokes become faster, my instinct searching for the release we both need, and which only I can find for us.

  I’m nearly there, every muscle stretching, my jaw tightening. The blood is pounding in my solid cock, driving me on.

  Her round eyes are panicked, her legs squeezing around me
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