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Branded Sanctuary, Page 2

Joey W. Hill

Page 2


  She laughed outright. Im going to put you on hold a second, okay?

  A re you all right?

  YeahI just I need to go to the bathroom. Can you wait a second?

  A s long as you need. But come back soon.

  It was amazing, but the soothing timbre of his voice stroked her as if he were standing in the room with her. She wished he were. While usually she could flirt and tease with the best of them, and virginity was a distant memory, she really didnt go to bed with a guy on the first date. However, in this vulnerable moment, shed have taken him to her bed in a heartbeat. She wondered if Brendan would be the rare type of guy willing to just curl around her, hold her without doing anything else, if that was what she wanted.

  A fter taking care of her bathroom needs, she found her nerves had steadied even further. She was certain it was as much because of his presence as her now more comfortable physical state. She pressed the button. A re you still there?

  A s promised. What can I do for you now?

  She sat back down on her bed. Well. She made a game attempt to be the person hed met at the wedding, when everything had been magic and light, no room for fear or shadows. You could tell me what youre wearing. Sorry, Im tired and I can only manage clichés.

  Do you want me to go

  No, she said, probably way too quickly, but he sounded pleased.

  Okay, then. When it comes to nakedness, guys really dont consider anything a cliché.

  Youre naked? She squeaked it, then cleared her voice. Youre bullshitting, to distract me. You probably wear footie pajamas, Beaver.

  You found me out. No, seriously. His voice lowered, murmured in her ear in a husky tone. I am completely, entirely, head-to-toe, naked. Under a light sheet.

  How far up is the sheet? She held her breath, waiting for the answer.

  I can see my right hipbone. The other side is up a little higher, on my stomach.

  With a hipbone bare, if he was on his back and she stood at the right side of the bed, she would see his bare ass against the mattress. She pressed her lips together.

  What about you, le poulet petit? A re you naked? The French rolled off his tongue and turned the remains of cold fear in her belly to heat.

  Would you like that?

  I would, he said. But Id like a nightgown as well. Sometimes what women wear is as provocative as the flesh beneath. You have a way of making the two work so well together.

  What would you do first, if we were together?

  Hmm Well, considering were both naked He waited a pregnant pause and she stifled a giggle, refusing to answer. Id pull you in my arms and hold you. Just hold you, until all those shakes went away. Rub your back, stroke your hair. Wipe the tears from your face. Promise you no one is ever going to hurt you again, because I wont let them. Id make the nightmares go away.

  Chloe swallowed over a jagged ache developing in her throat. Oh, Brendan. Youre really being far too nice. Im never going to hear from you again, am I? Youre going to help this pitiful wretch through her nightmare and then decide you want to go date a nice normal girl who doesnt call you at 3 a. m. Id tell you Im not usually like this, and Im not, but I dont knowlately I havent been myself.

  He was silent a long moment. Chloe, you took on a crazy psychotic, a convicted felon whod served hard time. You fought him tooth and nail to protect a child. Jesus, he had to beat you nearly to death to get her away from you. You were brave as hell.

  No, she quavered, brushing away the few tears that rolled out of her eyes against her will. These days, she always seemed ready to cry, but shed become tyrannical about it, refusing to allow more than a few to squeeze out at a time. A contrast to the easily emotional person shed been, whod accepted tears as easily as laughter, feeling both were cathartic. That was before.

  It wasnt that. A ll I could think about was what hed do to Natalie if he took her from me, and I knew he was going to. I knew Id rather have him kill me than survive to find out what hed done, all because I wasnt strong enough to stop him. When Marguerite found me, I wanted to be dead. If she hadnt gotten to her in time

  No, dont think that. He responded immediately. No matter what happens in life, Chloe, no matter how bad it gets, you can get through it.

  Theres always someone out there whose hand you can hold, so the abyss doesnt pull you in.

  Like yours. She wiped at her eyes again. Thanks.

  Like mine. From now on, I want to be the first person you call when you feel this way, okay? Then youll feel so guilty, youll have to go out with me.

  Youd guilt me into dating you?

  Oh yeah, pretty much. With this pretty-boy innocent face, I dont get many of the hot women.

  Yeah, right. Now you are bullshitting me. Ive seen you. Women would catfight to go out with you.

  A nytime you feel like staging one, Im there. Clothing optional. Heated body oil would make my year.

  A gain the laughter rolled over her. Chloe curled back in the bed, pulling the covers up and watching the candles burn inside the glass bowl.

  Thanks. Thanks for making me feel not so pathetic.

  Thats the very last thing I consider you. Now we were on the whole naked thing

  She chuckled. One-track mind. On a whim, she wriggled out of the sleep shirt and panties. Okay, Im naked now.

  A nother pause. Really?

  Really. I was wearing a Save the Whales sleepshirt and pink underwear.

  Lace, cotton, thong?

  Lace, cotton, no thong. She smiled. Not really comfortable for sleeping, but if you want to imagine Men prefer to think women sleep in teddies or thongs and demi-bra sets. A nd slip into stiletto heels when they get out of bed.

  So their butts will do that provocative swing as they walk to the shower?

  A bsolutely. A re you really naked?

  Brendan. She laughed at him. Tell me more about you being naked.

  Is that a command?

  There was a curious space of time after the question that tingled with something unusual. Intrigued by it, she bit her lip. Yes.

  A ll right, then. Im lying on my back. Im using an earpiece, so I have both hands laced behind my head. Ive propped up a knee, so the sheet has slipped.

  What can I see now?

  Youd pretty much see all of me, except for part of one leg, about to mid-thigh. Im being a slut for you, but only to help you through your nightmare.

  Oh. Even as she smiled, her breath sighed out of her. Will youtouch yourself?

  I dont know. May I? That pause again that made her chest tighten, like the panic attack but far more pleasurable. You have the control, Chloe.

  Im all yours.

  She had to find her tongue, but when she did, the answer came without hesitation. Yes.

  A ll right, then. Im sliding my palm down the center of my chest, over my stomachslow Chloe closed her eyes, imagined that tanned hand moving over muscular pecs, a taut brown nipple, down to the ridged abdomen she was sure hed have. Down, down.

  Do you want me to go lower, Chloe? Touch myself there?

  Yes, she breathed.

  Your wish is my command. Do you prefer a certain word for

  What do you call it?

  Depends on the day. Cock, dick. Bane of my existence, reason for living

  Cock. She stumbled over it a little, grinning, but nervous too. I dont like penis. It makes me think of my six-year-old nephew playing naked in the sprinkler. He kept shouting out the word penis to shock everyone.

  Well, I definitely dont want you thinking about that. That sensual amusement was in his voice again. So Im gripping the base of my cock, stroking upward. Im hard for you, Chloe. If that doesnt offend you.

  It doesnt, she said with a dry throat. Her nightmare seemed very far away.

  I wish I could see you. You had beautiful breasts. Perfect. I wanted to touch them at the wedding.

  That might have been awkward

  Fortunately, I restrained myself. Will you touch them for me now? Imagine its my hands on them?

  She remembered his hands. Shed watched them avidly, whether they were clasping a utensil or wine stem, or holding out a chair for someone.

  When hed asked her to dance, his hand had folded over hers, the other low on her back, warm and strong as they turned together. Why the hell hadnt she called him earlier? He likely would have been in her bed tonight, and this never would have happened.

  He was taller than she was, and her head had fit perfectly into the hollow of his throat. Hed laid his jaw on the crown of her head, and shed almost fallen asleep as they swayed, because her injuries had still been healing. Despite his joke about crutches, shed actually been using a cane that day. Though her leg had ached horribly, shed wanted one dance. By the time she finished that one song, hed been bearing almost all her weight. Hed have carried her back to her chair if shed let him.

  Sliding her hands up, she cupped her breasts, feeling self-conscious, though of course shed aggressively cupped them before in this room, when shed pleasured herself. Imagining countless alpha heroes, shed even fantasized about Tyler more than once. Not that shed ever tell Marguerite that, but Goddess, no woman with a pulse could help but fantasize about that man. A fter the wedding, shed fantasized about Brendan quite a bit, but with the nightmares, she hadnt had the energy to see any of it through in some time. It had probably been six months since shed managed an orgasm alone, let alone with anyone else. Of course, she would have to go out with someone to become more than a party of one, and that hadnt happened either.

  Regardless, her libido was stirring in quite an alert fashion now, as if recalled from sabbatical on a NA SA rocket red-eye flight. She was pleased by his comment, because she had generous C-sized breasts on her short, curvy frame. It contributed to the hourglass look that Gen had said most women would cheerfully commit all manner of sins to have.

  A re you touching yourself? he asked.


  A re you imagining my hands? Im imagining yours. Im imagining you stroking me, setting the pace, wanting to torment me as long as possible while I strain in your pretty small fingers. When he spoke again, his voice was rough with a passion that told her his desire. Do you want me to take this all the way, Chloe? Do you want me to come for you?

  Yes. God, yes.

  Chapter Two

  She heard the rasp of his breath elevate, knew his pace would be quickening. The curl of that capable hand would be stroking closer to the head, working the skin up against it, thumb probably pressing on the sensitive vein beneath. His balls would be drawing up, getting ready, his body turning into a hard statue of muscle and focused male need, buttocks getting tight as a drum head against the mattress, pushing his cock into his grip.