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Branded Sanctuary, Page 41

Joey W. Hill

Page 41


  Wow. That sounded soteacher-like. She imagined it, imagined them getting that response out of him. Their hands on his trembling body, taking him places that she couldnt. That she never would. Her fingers dug in. When they spanked you, did they put you over their laps and paddle you like you were six? Is all of what you just said bullshit, and when it comes down to it, to the moment itself, you actually are looking for Mommy to punish you?

  Would it bother you if I was? When he gave her an even look, withdrawing the wine and sitting back on his heels, her hand slipped away, both dropping back into her lap.

  Im not sure why I asked it that way, she said slowly. Why I felt so angry, all of a sudden.

  A t me, or yourself? He kept his face carefully blank as he poured.

  Both. A nd the whole world, for a second. I dont know whats the matter with me. I mean, I dont judge people like that. It wouldnt matter to me if Gen liked to sleep in a cradle and suck her thumb, or Tyler liked to dress in womens clothes, as long as they were okay with it, and it didnt hurt anyone else.

  You arent contemplating making Gen yours, he pointed out. Judging is all right when its for yourself, Chloe. Deciding what you want and best need for your own happiness. No shame in that.

  But there is shame in making someone else feel bad about who and what they are, just because it might not mesh with who and what I am. She closed her eyes at his look. Im not saying you and I dont meshI just Oh God, just shut me up.

  He touched her nose, a whimsical gesture that brought her eyes back open. I would be very disturbed to know Tyler dressed in womens clothes.

  She caught the sadness at the back of his expression, though. Her heart hurt at his attempt to make her feel better. She wondered if he already knew it, that in the end they wouldnt suit. Had he come to that conclusion, decided he was willing to be her Mr. Right Now, even if he couldnt be Mr.

  Right? That made her angry in a different way.

  She reached out abruptly, gripped his hand. Youll do what Icommand you to do?

  He cocked his head. Mostly, yes. If its not a command that harms you.

  She shook her head. Dont let me hurt you, Brendan. Dont let me take weird, fucked-up potshots at you for reasons I cant understand, and just take it. Okay? Please, Im begging you. Dont let me do that to you.

  Touching her full bottom lip, he ran his thumb over the indentation of her chin. Youll never have to beg me for anything, Chloe.

  Turning away, he began to set up their lunch. Unsure what to say, she watched him open the deli wrappers, lay out her sandwich on a napkin, then unwrap the homemade brownie and pour her a glass of wine. Did he do it unconsciously, serving her like this, rather than handing her a sandwich to unwrap herself or fixing his own food at the same time?

  Clearing her throat, she took up her sandwich. A s she did, a pair of mated geese and their goslings moved along the waters edge, looking like a postcard.

  So back to this closet. I really want to know. Do you keep things there you take to the club?

  Sometimes. My last relationship, we were roommates, and we used some of those things at home. A lot of whats in that closet is club wear, though, because Mistresses tend to like presentation. He gave her a nudge, a half smile that she was sure was intended to make her feel a little better, rather than lower than a slug inching along the gravel. You know how women are.

  I expect a drama professor would be very comfortable dressing the part. Despite her guilt, her mind quickly shifted to imagining a few things and wondering about her own private fashion show. But his comment gave her a distracting little pang. So you said that relationship broke up a little over a year ago?

  Yes. Shortly before Marguerite got married.

  So I guess you were telling me the truth. She slanted him a glance. Im not a rebound.

  You wouldnt have been that, even if you called right after the wedding. That relationship was over.

  Did you love her?

  His expression shifted. Him. I loved him at one time, but was never in love with him.

  How do you know? She was always interested in how people defined being in love. Though the path to it differed for everyone, shed noted that long term relationships seemed to have certain things in common, things shed always longed to experience. That commonality suggested there was a universal truth to love, an idea that seemed very reassuring, like proof of Divinity.

  Because this feels entirely different. He gave her a briefly intense look that rocked her back on her heels, metaphorically speaking. She cleared her throat.

  Im not quite sure what to do with that yet, so I guess Ill steer us into safer waters. She brightened abruptly. Do they have boats here? Like canoes?

  He nodded, looking bemused and amused at once. A fter we eat, can we go out on one? she continued. Its like this dream I have. I want to lie on the boards and look up at the sky while you paddle.

  A ll right. Reaching out, he cupped the side of her neck, ran his thumb over her throat, the sensitive windpipe. The genuine smile forgave anything, gave her permission to release the memory of her ugly behavior as if it had never been. To do and be something entirely different.

  Thinking about that, she decided she wasnt as hungry as shed thought. Not for food. Setting the rest of her sandwich down on the cooler, she shifted, aware of his attention as she eased herself down to her back. Dropping one arm over her head, she reached out to him with the other.

  Come here, Beaver, she said in a throaty voice.

  God, you are so good at being adorable and desirable at once, he murmured.

  Wanting to let the latter take precedence, she closed her hand over his shirt front and tugged, bringing him from his leaning position down toward her.

  Responding to her desires, he moved his body over hers. Her small hands slid down his back, then lower, lower, until she rested on the rise of his ass, the line of his hip, and curled her fingers into his belt loops. He sucked in a breath as one bare foot slid up his calf, her thighs rising to cradle him.

  When you said I was confident, that night at the wedding, she whispered, why did you think that?

  Because you were very independent, but not obnoxious about it.

  Do feminist women annoy you?

  No. He gave a despairing half chuckle as she brought his pelvis closer to the juncture of her thighs, her softness against his hardness, even with the layers of denim and skirt between them. Im grading papers in my head.

  She rubbed herself against him, a slow circle. Tell me what you think is obnoxious.

  I get irritated with women who say they dont need a man to be happy.

  She raised a brow. Why is that?

  Because its bollocks. If youre a hetero woman, you need a man. If youre a hetero man, you need a woman. A homo man needs a man, and so forth. Everyone needs someone to love them, to stand at their back, be in their corner, inside their soul. Someone who isnt required by blood ties or even the parameters of friendship. Someone who looks at you, the good and the bad, and flat out cant help wanting to be with you. Very few people come into this world as whole pieces, or reach adulthood without some pieces broken off. We all need the other pieces of the puzzle to find happiness.

  This was like her dream too. Having him over her was like the sky passing above, the scenery changing like his emotions, but always constant, always there. She tightened her legs on him, ran her hand up his back. Hed caught up with her change of mood, one hand sliding beneath her, thumb sliding along the line of her bare spine beneath her shirt, the other braced by her head. He held the pressure of his hardened cock against her in obedience to her will, but also to destroy it, she was sure.

  If you had a happiness book, Brendan, what would be in it? A nd no fair saying pictures of me to distract me.

  It wouldnt be to distract you, he said. She played her fingers through his hair, threading, stroking slowly, while his fingers curled in need, digging into
her brown locks.

  It would be whatever reminded me of feelings like these. The shadow of a womans smile His thumb followed her cheek. It reminds me of that song from Camelot.

  He hummed it briefly, a hint of the melody in his voice as he spoke. There was this brief, amazing moment, where everything was perfect. A nd they called it Camelot. Then, switching to Shakespeare, he quoted, The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.

  Romeo and Juliet, she said softly. He was irresistible. She drew him down, touching his mouth with her own, that first sweet moment flavored with the chocolate shed eaten for lunch, and then it was all Brendan. A deep, abiding kiss. Shed never thought what a sweet, wonderful word that was, abiding. So many meanings, all good.

  She spoke against his lips after a long time, her body feeling heavy, like it was in water, tipped out of the canoe, turned by currents and tides, her will given up to natures course.

  Turn over. I want you inside me, and Ill put my skirt over us, so that we wont scandalize anyone. Much.

  Shed never really thought seeing two people make love should be considered something shameful or dirty, or something that would traumatize young eyes. Indian parents used to do it in the same teepees, for heavens sake. However, she didnt want to be interrupted by a forest ranger, so she was willing to be as discreet as possible, even given their location, screened by trees.

  Moving his knee outside of her leg, he rolled them, with the sinuous grace and male strength she expected to see when she watched him swim.

  Do you swim with a league? she asked, her voice low and throaty. No, I want to do it all. Just keep your arms loose, out to the sides like that.

  To avoid suspicion from the prudishly repressed. Her amused gaze lifted, became more serious. A nd so I can control how I want this to go.

  Its sort of like a league, yes. You can come His voice hitched as she spread the gypsy skirt over his chest and upper thighs, shifting over his groin. She hadnt worn panties, wanting the feel of air on herself after the constant pleasuring of the past twenty-four hours.

  I can come? she prompted, with a wicked grin. I thought that was up to me.

  You can come swimming with me, if you want. He drew in another unsteady breath as she reached beneath all that fabric and slipped the button of his jeans, taking the zipper down slow and careful. The front of his boxers were already damp from arousal.

  You can use your hands. Just to work them down.

  He did, managing it with her balanced on him, and then groaned when she shifted, rubbing her slickness along his now free cock, pressing it to his belly as she made it slick as well with slow, subtle movements. There was only forest behind them, so she opened her shirt, let him see the firm and bare curves of her breasts, since shed also left the bra behind today. The wind fluttered the shirt, giving him a brief glimpse of the full left curve, the jutting nipple.