Protecting What's His Page 44

“I saw your face in the car, Ginger.” His voice sounded low, furious. “When you heard that message. You looked terrified.”

She shook her head in denial. “No, I—”

“Yes. So you know what your punishment is going to be, sweetheart? I’m going to make love to you. Slowly. Hell, it might take me until tomorrow. I’m going to lose count of how many times you come. And every time you do, I’m going to tell you that I love you. Until you f**king get used to it.”

Tears burned behind her eyes. God, he sounded so hurt. She turned to face him. “Derek, listen to me—”

“No.” His throat worked with emotion. “You’re not going to cry your way out of this.”

Ginger knew then she wouldn’t get through to him with words, only actions. They’d admitted to being physical people since the beginning. Only her body could persuade him to listen. As the water pounded around them, she put her hands on either side of his face and stared deep into his eyes. She stretched up to place her mouth on his and felt a stab of pain in her chest when he flinched.

Garnering her courage, she poured every ounce of love she held for him into the kiss. She apologized with her mouth for making him scared. She praised him for saving her life. Her hands stroked his face and neck, dipping down to his shoulders to pull him closer. Derek’s arousal pulsed hard and thick between them, but she didn’t reach for it like she wanted to, worried he might mistake her meaning. The kiss represented love and she needed him to understand that.

Derek pulled away to scrutinize her face. “Ginger?”

Tears mixing with spray from the shower, she nodded. “I love you, too.”

His eyes squeezed shut. Banding her arms around his waist, she buried her face against his skin and repeated the words over and over again, willing him to believe her.

She heard the shower turn off. Then Derek lifted her in his arms and carried her out of the bathroom. Laying her down, still soaking wet, on the pillows of the bed, Derek sat heavily with his back to her and buried his head in his hands. Propping herself up on her elbow, she waited without breathing.

When he finally spoke, his voice sounded hoarse. “When I turned the corner into your mother’s driveway, all I saw was that man tossing you into the trunk and slamming the lid. I couldn’t tell if you were alive or…” Ginger scrambled onto her knees, wrapping herself around him from behind. “When I heard you yelling and kicking, I think it might have been the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.”

Ginger pressed her face into his damp neck. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I scared you.”

Derek remained quiet for a moment. “I know I’m overprotective, but there’s a good reason for it. I see a lot of terrible things in my job, Ginger. Murders. The entire drive to Nashville, I couldn’t stop picturing your face on every single one…”

She climbed around him and onto his lap, forcing him to look at her. “Stop. Don’t think about it anymore. I’m right here. I’ll never do anything like that again.”

“You’re goddamn right you won’t.”

His gruffness made her smile, but it wavered under the importance of her next question. “And about taking that money…you don’t think less of me for that?”

Derek was already shaking his head. “Never. Especially after seeing where you grew up. And meeting Valerie.”

She bit her lip. “I suppose the worst way to introduce your boyfriend to your mother is from inside a trunk.”

“Please. I’m not ready to think about that again.” Uncertain eyes searched hers. “When you heard the voice mail…that look on your face…”

“Oh.” She blew out a shaky breath and tried to climb off his lap. Derek merely tightened his hold. “I thought maybe after what I’d done, you would change your mind. Decide I was too much trouble.”

Before the words were out of her mouth, Ginger found herself flat on her back with Derek looming above her. “Change my mind?” He sounded incredulous. “Ginger, I don’t want to encourage you to attempt anything like this ever again, let me make that abundantly clear. But I would come after you every time. Every. Time.”

Ginger laughed through her tears, but it turned into a moan when Derek parted her thighs and thrust deep inside her, holding her still against the mattress.

“Look at me. You own me. I’m owned.” He shifted his hips, making her whimper. “You own this, too.”

She moved restlessly beneath him. “Oh, Derek…please.”

Leaning down, he kissed her lips sweetly. “Easy, baby. I meant what I said. I want to make love to you. Let me, beautiful girl.”

Entwining his fingers with hers, Derek started to move.


“You’re not bringing that thing into our bedroom.”

“That thing?”

“You heard me. It gives me the creeps. Do you know how hard it is to creep out someone who investigates homicide for a living?”

“A harmless statue?”

Derek confirmed with a single nod, shivering as Ginger wheeled Dolly through the living room. She merely rolled her eyes. After ten months of pretending to live separately, yet spending every single night together, Ginger had finally consented to move in with him. Having tired of her stall tactics, albeit adorable, Derek decided to play dirty, demanding her agreement one night while her legs were up near her ears.

Since then, he’d had to fight to keep the constant smile off his face. She already had him wrapped around her little finger, he didn’t need to give her another reason to torture him.

“Think of it this way, baby. I won’t be able to get hard with a toothy blonde staring down at me.”

Ginger propped a hand on her hip and pouted, heating his blood. “I seem to recall you used to prefer toothy blondes.”

Derek growled, starting toward her. She knew her jealousy turned him on. Big time. Squealing, she turned and ran barefoot into their bedroom. Of course, he chased her. He would always chase her.

He tackled her on the bed, tickling her sides.

“Stop! Oh my God, stop stop.”

Her shirt rode up, revealing her navel. Dipping his head, Derek circled her belly button with his tongue. When Ginger’s fingers curled into his recently grown-out hair, tugging with encouragement, he smiled against her belly. Growing his hair out had been a great decision, even if it was a pain in the ass every morning.

“Derek, we can’t. Willa and Evan will be here any minute.”

He groaned, rolling onto his back, only slightly appeased when she continued playing with his hair. “So Willa is staying here and Evan is staying in your old apartment?”

Ginger laughed. “No. They’re both staying in the old apartment. They’re grown-ups now. And they have been studying abroad in Italy for the last three months.”

Derek frowned. “I guess I still think of her as a kid.”

“I know. And it’s very sweet how protective you are of my sister.” She tugged on a fistful of hair. “In fact, it’s kind of a turn-on.”

Derek’s eyebrows shot up. “Another one? Jesus, how many do you have?”

“I don’t know. You keep discovering them.”

He turned onto his stomach and crawled up Ginger’s body, his eyes focused on her mouth. “Are you sure we don’t have time?”

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