Breathe Me Page 14

I blinked away tears until I finally fell asleep, delighting in a sudden, calming revelation which took the tightness from my chest away with one, swift whoosh. I knew full well that they weren’t the only lucky ones—they weren’t the ones who needed me like a breath of air. No, it was me. Not Sasha, who stellarly broke my heart. Not Joss, who watched me like a worried mother. It was me… I was the one being saved.

The doorbell rang before I could answer it, I heard a key turning in the lock and Joss walked right in. She was the only person who had a key to my apartment, so why was I even surprised to see her? I was furious she had the gall to even come to my place. I knew she would try to talk me out of my slump.

She waltzed into my room, and I watched the distress pass through Joss’s features. It screwed up her pretty face and made me want to just hold her, pull her close and wipe all those worries away. She was like a sister to me, even if we were cousins. But she’d crossed a line, and I didn’t know how to forgive her for it yet. Eventually I would, but what would I do next?

Joss’s eyes narrowed, watching me as they cast a more determined, dark look across her face. I’d never seen her like that, ever.

“I’ve been calling you.”

“I don’t want to talk.”

“And Sasha… he’s been calling you too.”

“Don’t even talk to me about Sasha.”

Joss frowned, her face flushed from the heat outside. I was pretty sure she was fuming at me, too, and restraining herself from choking the living shit out of me.

“Look at me, Piper. Really look at me, please.” She leaned forward, making me cross my arms and stare at the ceiling. She sighed loudly before slumping down on the other side of my bed. The silence between us was thick, neither of us wanting to relent. “You can’t hold on to demons like this. Let it go. The past doesn’t define me. It’s just a place I’ve been. You let it haunt you, like some restless ghost that screams in your head at every waking moment. Why do you let it paralyze you until you can’t remember what you really want? Don’t do this, Piper. Don’t let it win.”

I shifted and flicked my piercing stare from one of her deep brown eyes to the other, hoping to find the answers within them. “How?” I whispered as my voice choked, deep in my chest. “How do I let go?”

She appeared relieved by my answer. “It’s not something anyone knows how to do. You just breathe. You get up each day, smile, take in the precious things all around you. Enjoy them with every fiber of your being.” Her words prickled my skin as she spoke. “Most of all, you have to love passionately and let yourself be loved just as much. You know I never meant to ever hurt you. I did it all out of love for you, and by not telling you what I was up to, I made you mad. I get it. But… get over it. He loves you, I love you. Don’t push us away. I’m sorry.”

Listening to her drone on and on about life, sorrow, tragedy, about the way things sometimes go and how they aren’t under our control and yada, yada, I laughed out loud.

Joss screeched to a halt, her eyes wild, wide and confused. My giggling continued, bringing my fair complexion to a cherry red tone for sure. In the end, it wasn’t a game, but my own unwillingness to see what was so extremely obvious in front of me this entire time.

“Piper?”

My laughter choked out into a fit of coughing before I managed to clear my throat and peek at her. She inched closer to me, asking me if I was okay and if I needed anything. Boy, would she regret asking me such a thing. For now, there was only one thing I wanted.

“Yes, I do need something,”

“What is it?”

“Don’t get me wrong, none of this is funny. I just realized that despite your conniving intentions and your obvious ignorance of my feelings about all this, I don’t care.”

“You don’t care?” Her eyebrows twitched, not understanding me. “You don’t care about what exactly?”

“About all this. It’s stupid to stay mad at you. I care about you, about Sasha, Cam and Leah. So in all that, no matter how crazy it was of you and him to think that I could be fooled so easily without consequences, it doesn’t matter anymore. I love him. I know that now. I forgive you both. I just had to stew over it. You’re the one who always says to never forget the people around you who cherish you the most, because in one second, they could be gone.”

The look she gave me was all I could ever ask for. It was brilliant, like a sun bursting through the morning dullness, bringing life and light to every living thing which needed it. She was always my sunshine, even when her eyes were shiny with the wetness of unshed tears. I reached out, yanking her into my embrace and squeezing her.

“You know, that wasn’t very cool, though.”

She nodded, laughing and sobbing all at the same time.

“Love you, Joss.”

“I love you back, Piper.”

Chapter Eighteen

Piper

I STARED THROUGH the slit in the doorway, studying his dark blue eyes beaming back. My heart was racing, and this surprise was certainly a pleasant one. He looked somewhat tired, but it only added to his incredibly delicious features. It was difficult to stay mad at him, and it made me feel weak, even though I was tired of fighting my feelings.

“Hey,” I whispered, barely aware that I had yet to unhook the brass chain dangling just under my nose. “What’s going on? You scared me. I thought the building was on fire or something.”

“Sorry about that.” He rubbed his chin where the short stubble growing finely on his jawline made me want to feel its slight roughness with my fingertips. Tracing his lips would have been infinitely pleasurable. “I know it’s late. I just… I had to see you.”

I wrinkled my eyebrows at his statement, feeling jilted out of place, but I couldn’t deny wanting to pull his arms around me. “One sec.” I yanked the chain off and opened the door wider, letting him through before I clicked it shut, pressing my back against the cool metal of the door.

“Can’t sleep?”

He shook his head, invading my space as I reseated the security chain. His proximity was more than I could bear, but he inched even closer until his arms slipped around my waist and his breath made mine catch. “The nights are long, especially when all I can think about is you, Piper.”

How could I respond to that? I couldn’t. At least my stuttered words would never leave my lips, as his were pressed onto mine, his hands softly cupping my cheeks. Kissing with an intensity that grew with each second, I let myself relax into his body, melting like butter right into him. I kissed him back as my eyes closed, not wanting to feel anything but this. His eyes were tightly shut, and his body reacted immediately to mine as we stood there, devouring each other.

I couldn’t even breathe, but somehow, I didn’t mind it one bit. It was like being in an orgasmic bubble that stopped time and let me feel the rush overwhelm me as his lips left mine to explore my jawline, then up toward my earlobes. His tongue tickled my skin, making me gasp. My clothes were swiftly moved aside as his hands explored my body, first through the thin camisole and then slipping under it to caress my skin. It sent waves of energy up my navel and down to every place inside me capable of pleasure.

My silky robe fell to the floor in a rumpled pile before he pulled me close and lifted me up so I could wrap my legs around his torso. We continued to kiss, his tongue furiously tangling with mine. Already I was on fire, and his love would be the only relief from the building inferno within me. At that moment, I wanted him more than I’d ever wanted him before. More than in college, or on the many lonely nights I’d prayed he’d come crawling back to me and beg forgiveness. All of that was now meaningless. I was here, in his arms, set ablaze by every finger trace and lick upon my skin. It was a place to disappear into, and I was more than willing.

His fingertips burned, and I could feel the warmth of him increase as he pulled me toward the bedroom. I didn’t know if I would make it. I was breathless, and my senses felt hyperaware of every movement, ever touch. Once there, he stood in front of me, pulling his shirt off and letting it drop to the floor. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him, his rippled stomach, his scent intoxicating as he continued his kisses down toward my belly button and onto the edges of my lace panties. His tongue slipped across my skin, near the indention of my hipbone, making me suck in a gasp as he pushed at the lace and then helped it along with his fingers.

I wanted him to rip them off and take me immediately. The urge to grab him and shove him onto the bed for me to devour filled my mind with a desperation I hadn’t felt in such a long time. It was a feeling I wanted to drown in and relish forever.

Tucking his fingers under the band of the lace, he yanked the thong down and tosses it to the side. Still kneeling, he gripped my thighs and brought his soft lips across my leg, nipping as he made his way up. Goosebumps flared across my skin, making everything contract, inside and out. It threw me into a shivering mess, every touch, every flick of his tongue. I was done for. I’d do whatever he wanted as long as he continued to lick and nip his way across my skin. He found my lacey satin bra in his way, reached behind me and unclasped it with ease.

The way those indigo eyes stared at me, full of mischief and gleaming in the dim lighting of the room, imprisoned me. I couldn’t help but to run my fingers through his thick blond hair, loving the feel of his messy locks. It made him smile, the lust apparent in his eyes a reflection of my own. He was enjoying every second of my torment, and I was most definitely a goner, overtaken by his spell once again.

He continued to explore as he also carelessly let my bra drop to the floor. I was na**d, and he still had half his clothes on. Moving my fingers to his belt, I made fast work of it and tore at his slacks. It was only fair. I wanted to see more, all of him.

Helping me along, he pressed against me once he was free of his clothes. His skin sang against mine, and I could feel the sheen of sweat building as we furiously began kissing again, aching to become one as we inhaled each other, like a medicinal high that threatened to consume us to the very end. I wouldn’t have minded, for it was everything I needed just then. As we slid into the bed, I let the pleasurable emotions engulf me. With his body so close, his breath felt warm against my skin and his cologne lingered, transferring his scent to me. Nothing turned me on more than inhaling his sweet aroma.

Would I always feel like this, I wondered, or would it fade away, especially when my torturous memory had a tendency to overwhelm me? Gripping my fingers on his shoulders, I let him take me away to a place more real than my mind could have ever imagined. A place I never wanted to live without.

“Piper?” Sasha’s question was laced in longing, and I let myself come out of the trance just long enough to answer.

“Yes?”

“I love you. You know that, right?”

I nodded. I had never been surer of anything. “Yes.”

His smile makes me want to lick those lips once more. “Good.”

“Sasha?”

“Yes, my love.”

“I love you back.”

Chapter Nineteen

Piper

A SIREN WAILING in the distance awakened me, and I stared into the spinning ceiling fan, feeling the exhaustion set fire to my muscles. Blinking, I wasn’t quite sure what time it was, but from the looks of the sun spilling through the slats of the blinds, it was close to noon. The bedside clock confirmed my suspicions. I’d slept in, but it wasn’t like I had anywhere special to go.

Drat!

I shoved the blankets off me and sat up, pausing as the room spun in a nauseating tilt. We’d been up all night, having way too much fun. Just thinking about it brought a blush to my cheeks as they warmed up, betraying my thoughts. He’d done so many lovely things to my body all night long, and every sore muscle was thanking me for it dearly. I didn’t care—the chapped lips and aching muscles, along with rat’s nest hair, had been well worth it.

Speaking of Sasha, where was he? I swung my legs over the side and surveyed the room. My clothes were still scattered across the carpet, making me realize how na**d I was. I pulled a tank and undies out of my dresser and slipped on some shorts. Yanking the knots out of my hair, I took a peek at my face in the mirror and groaned. Scrubbing the leftover smears of makeup off, I finally emerged from my room and headed toward the yummy smell of food. He was cooking for me again, which again brought me dangerously close to never letting him go. I could definitely let him continue to cook for me. The sex was an extra, extra, extra plus.

But first, he had a lot of explaining to do. I was tired of being angry, and I promised myself no matter what, I’d listen to what he had to say. It was kind of useless to fight now, especially since I’d handed myself over to him many times the night before. A bit of me didn’t want to hear it, and another part wanted to let him have it. He’d caught me off guard, and there had been no time to assess just how angry I was. Now it was probably too late to hash it out. The way he could always disarm me, one way or another, left me puzzled.

Straightening my stance and pulling my shoulders back, chin up and a determined pose to my lips, I strode into my dining room, if you could call it that. It was more of a breakfast nook, really. My lips wavered and dropped open at the feast displayed before me. Two plates stacked high with pancakes, bacon, eggs and potatoes sat steaming. He’d used my good place settings, the ones I brought out for guests, not the old but trusty mismatched plates I usually used. He had a candelabra set up in the middle, where a small flame flickered in the soft breeze of the ceiling fan. He’d even pulled out my tablecloth, which I usually didn’t pull out until Thanksgiving.

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