Astrid took a shower and Calder ordered food after checking with Cody, concerned his client would be angry he never showed and wanted his brother to deliver the envelope pertaining to Remy’s past.
She had nothing to wear, so while he sat in the other room that served as his personal office and study, she rummaged through the large walk-in closet.
Geez, was he anal-retentive or what? Whites, lighter hues, and black all hung in separate rows. Dress shoes, sneakers and sandals were all lined up in a built-in shelf. Ties on an automated rack whirled when she hit a button. She was after T-shirts, something simple. She finally located a faded college tee in the glossy amber highboy dresser with a huge tilting mirror set on top. He pressed his casual wear too. She rolled her eyes after opening another drawer, seeing socks and underwear also ironed.
Astrid walked out of the bedroom in just the shirt. It barely brushed her thighs, but felt comfortable in his clothes. Safe in his space. She strolled into the kitchen, running her fingers through damp hair. Looking inside of the fridge proved how much of a bachelor Calder was when all she found was beer. She grabbed one, then sat on the sofa to watch TV.
Calder entered the room, finding her engrossed in a zombie flick, distracted from reality. He leaned over the couch, amusement dancing in his hooded eyes. They entranced her, and he smirked.
“I’m gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge,” she quoted the movie along with the actor, and he laughed.
“Planet Terror, eh? Our food should be here soon. Are you hungry? Is that beer? It’s noon!”
Guiltily, she nodded, “What did you order?”
A buzzer shrilled, indicating someone was downstairs.
Calder dashed outside, returning with three bags of groceries, explaining while putting items away he used a delivery service since he worked long hours and had no time to shop.
They ate cold roast beef sandwiches and chips at the counter, talking about what they’d do when Remy stopped playing around and confronted them.
“I don’t think I should provoke him,” she said, “He called when you left, causing me to look out the window. Although he’s bound to approach me at some point, I have to go home.”
“Allow me to pick up your stuff and you can stay here.”
“What? Like a princess in a tower? Fuck that noise! Remy will find another woman to control. When I was with him on his days off, he was a bully. I never slept.”
“Why not? What did the two of you do?”
“It doesn’t matter,” she snapped, not wanting to get into details, “I have to live my life. You and I will deal with him in stride. Right?”
They had finished eating. Calder took her hand and led her to his bed without answering. Astrid understood his silent agreement to drop the subject of staying, and when they snuggled, she didn’t experience anxiety or uncertainty in his embrace.
Calder simply wanted to hold her.
“Cody’s dropping off Remy’s file after work,” he stated, propping his head on his forearm, “I’ll give it to you and step out. I won’t influence your decision-making.”
“Why did you look into his history?” she had to ask, “Especially since you walked away from me? Why bother digging into Remy’s past like a stalker? Like he stalked me. It’s the same thing, no matter how you spin it. Do you have a file on me?”
“No,” he frowned, “No, it’s not the same. Remy made threats out of the blue. When I first met him, I got this weird vibe. I worried for you, peculiarly after saying how secretive he is. Are you mad?”
She kissed his exposed neck, “No. I’m grateful you cared enough to do such a… odd thing.”
“Remy isn’t sane.”
Astrid ran her hands up the front of his shirt, “Who is? I’m certainly not. I’ve been told by several ex-boyfriends I’m nuttier than a fruitcake.”
He chuckled, “Um, you’d better stop touching me like that or I’ll go insane.”
She grazed her lips across his throat again, rubbing against his thigh. Calder groaned, his fingers twitching instead of touching her. She wasn’t sore, her body only resembled a bruised banana. She hated the crafted blank expression on his face when he saw the discoloration on her torso.
“Astrid,” he rasped, hot and bothered, “You’re making it hard not to just cuddle.”
She teasingly slipped a hand along the outside of his pants, “Oh, very hard. Cuddling is great but is it so awful I can’t resist you?”
“No,” he peered into her eyes with yearning, “I find you cuddly but men only indulge once a year. You should take advantage.”
She giggled, “So I’ve heard. What else do guys do?”
He smirked, wrapping her in his arms. The shirt raised, and he blinked at her wounds, trying to not show how much it upset him. He didn’t fool her though, yanking the cotton material back down.
“Do I disgust you?” she flatly challenged, “It must turn you off.”
“No,” he pressed their foreheads together, “Not in the least. Never. I don’t understand how he could hurt you. You are the kindest and sweetest woman I’ve ever met. It’s appalling.”
Astrid licked his bottom lip, and he chased for more. He captured her mouth with passion, turning her into mush. She squirmed in bliss, the heat of Calder’s body so inviting she yearned for all he wanted to give.
“Make love to me,” she purred, tugging at the buttons on his dress shirt, “Teach me how.”
He swallowed hard, hesitating. Oops! Had she said the ’L’ word? Calder hadn’t repeated he liked her that much after she contested there was no way he could love her. Her face turned red, and she fell limp in his embrace.
“Astrid, do you love me?”
She flamed redder, “Huh?”
He gave her a sweet look, his green eyes soft with affection, “I’m falling for you, Astrid. I am.”
Her heart skipped a beat and without embarrassment, she exclaimed, “That makes me so happy! If I cry, they are tears of happiness.”
“Could you love me?” he asked once more, his tone hopeful.
Astrid did not get Remy and Calder’s obsession with love. Not the thrilled, out in the open, exclaiming it ten times a day, love. They kept selling the damn word as some magical insight of how they felt towards her, but how could she explain it scared the crap out of her. No one had treated her with unending affection since her parents’ death, and she’d learned a long time ago, people were fickle. Offering her body was a hell of a lot easier than handing over her heart.
“I think so,” she slowly admitted, “I mean, you make me all mushy, weak-kneed, pulse hammering happy. Is that love? When you said you were going to work this morning, I almost cried because I didn’t want you to go.”
He smirked, “You got it bad,” he teased, “Astrid Trahern loves me.”
She giggled, tugging at his slacks, “Then let’s make love.”
He shed his clothes quickly, “Well, if you insist.”
Kissing along her throat, she adored the look on his face when he positioned himself between her thighs. Those hooded emeralds seemed venerable as if he was about to pop his girlfriends cherry.
“Close your eyes,” he huskily murmured, “Making love is opening your senses to how the other person communicates through touch, baby, not watching.”
Her head spun with anticipation. “You too?”
Calder closed his eyes, brushing their lips together. Astrid’s heart hammered, allowing the sensations of his tender treatment to clear her mind of all hesitance. She smiled at the warmth of his smooth skin when she placed her hands blindly on his wide shoulders. Their kiss deepened, coming up for heated puffs of air when necessary.
Calder’s approach was oh-so-gentle. Who knew making real psychical love could be so potent? She never wanted Calder to stop showing her such beautiful agony when two people bared their souls.
Without warning, Calder slipped his shaft deep. She didn’t flinch, a healthy sign after what she’d been through. She lifted her supple frame to meet his, biting his lower lip. He gasped when she undulated beneath him.
“Yeesss,” she moaned, trying out the words he hoped to hear, “I love you, Calder.”
“Damn,” he growled, shuddering at her unexpected profession, “You’re fucking perfect.”
She came as his declaration seeped into her center. The sweat on their bodies filled the room with the scent of passion and ardency as he continued to explore her form with tenderness. Their palms tangled, and he pressed her into the mattress.
“Oh god,” she whined when another orgasm threatened her sensitive nerves and she tightened around him, “Right there!” he groaned, hearing her elation, “Don’t stop!”
“Astrid,” he tried to break free from her hold as his dick pulsed with the need to fill her, “Fuck, let go.”
She did not, would not release him. Astrid kept her eyes sealed, experiencing emotions she had never allowed herself. He cursed, agonized between fucking her harder or pulling out. She held on, craving the gush of his hot virility.
“Calder,” she shouted, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
He pounded her until she broke a second time, a powerful rush of endorphins flooding her systems as their cries of joy bounced off of the walls. Only then did he let go, and the force of his orgasm knocked the breath from his lungs.
He exhaled heavily, shivering from aftershocks when she opened her eyes, feeling spent and delighted. She grinned at Calder, whose lids were still shut. The peaceful expression on his handsome face squeezed her heart.
She was in love.
Slowly, Calder fluttered his piercing green eyes open, catching Astrid’s grin. He chuckled, falling onto the bed. “That was amazing!” he gloated, grinning ear to ear.
Astrid rested on top of his sweaty chest, peering down at his blissful features, “Tell me about it. You had me coming in less than a minute. As usual. I’ve never told anyone I loved them before.”
Calders softened his smile, brushing the back of his hand across her flushed cheek, “I said it to my ex-fiancee, but this is different. I mean it, honey. You ground me, and I’ll prove I’m someone you can trust and keep loving.”
Nodding, she agreed, “It’s why I refrain. Platitudes are easy, but actions speak louder. I’m so happy. I could do this all day,” she lazily stroked his arm, “Round two?”
He playfully moaned, “What? Astrid, I should have worn a condom. Unfortunately, I always seem to come inside you.”
She didn’t know what to say to that, noticing the concerned glint in his eyes as if afraid of impregnating her. The thought made her realize both men had been shooting their seed into her young fertile womb. All that had been on her mind was how fantastic they fucked. She was on the pill, though she missed a few doses that week shuffling between Remy and Calder’s apartments.
He shook his head dismissively, “It’s all right. Why are you frowning, what is it?”
“What if I have your child?” she blurted, “Do you care enough to marry me?”
Calder wasn’t able to mask his surprised look at the mention of babies, issuing a nervous laugh. She waited, wanting an honest answer. His response mattered, even if it was a simple no.
“Astrid, that’s a loaded question,” he shifted to sit.
She rose to her knees, “So? I’m not ready for children, but if I had a choice, yours wouldn’t suck.”
“I’ve got something for you to suck on,” he mocked tackling her and she rolled out of reach with an adorable giggle.
Calder contemplated for a few seconds after sitting at the edge of the mattress, then shrugged with a cute smirk Astrid found irresistible, “Yes, I’d put a ring on you although couples have babies all the time without getting married.”
A flustered snort escaped her mouth, “Well, that’s reassuring I suppose but why?”
“Why not?” he frowned, “You’re wifey material. You could use a few pointers, but-”
“Oh, really?” she poked his broad chest, “You’re fortunate I like your balls where they are!”
Chuckling, he encircled her in his arms, pulling until she sat on his lap, “Okay! Okay! Probably. Would you ever consider marrying me, kids aside?”
Astrid blushed. What woman wouldn’t? She was lucky and knew it. Calder had qualities women across the globe dream about.
But… she should be honest.
“I’ll be frank,” she cleared her throat, “I closed off emotions I decided were not worth anything. Love? Are guys’ cocks in my mouth love? I thought so a few years back. Boys in high school used to tell me no one gave head like I could while lying they wanted a relationship, except I wasn’t their type. Excuses after excuses why they didn’t want me. Love is a type.”
“So, you are my type,” his gaze filled with compassion, not pity which she expected, “Compatible?”
“Yeah, exactly. I take care of my body, luring men with selfish intentions. Not love. Who needs it right?” she shyly smiled, “I loved my parents, and they called me their little doll, because of my pale skin my dark hair and eyes when I was younger had this porcelain quality.”
“I can see it,” he raked his hooded emeralds across her figure.
“I won’t marry without absolute adoration and loyalty from my partner. They were so enamored with each other, but when they had me, it strengthened their bond. People felt the love we shared when we walked into a room and settling for less isn’t an option.”
“Why do you think I broke off my engagement?” he snorted, “That’s a beautiful story and I’m sorry they never got to see the incredible woman you turned into. You and I belong together, babe. I sensed it when I kissed your pouty lips in the club that night.”
Astrid watched his shaft harden as she ran her fingertips across his chest, “You stole a kiss and I stole your heart?”
He grinned with so much tenderness she never wanted to witness the opposite. Never wanted those sultry eyes to turn stony as Remy’s did. Confessing her true feelings left her guarded, but his grin lit him up from within making her melt.
“Something to that effect. Did you let those boys use you for your own satisfaction? You manipulated them too.”
“Maybe,” she coyly replied scooting their pelvis’s close, “They sure taught me a few things.”
“Practice makes perfect I’m told.”
Astrid slid her fingers around his cock, and his smile faltered. She dabbed her lips down his jaw, and he grew stiffer, hips jerking with each twist of her palm.
“Such a minx,” he cupped a breast, “You always get me hard. I need a condom. It’s in the drawer.”
She retrieved the small package, and they took pleasure in light kisses and touches until so revved up they could no longer stand it. Just as Calder slipped once more into Astrid’s wet warmth, there was a loud knock at the front door.
She continued to ride him, his hands gripping her waist, mouth sucking her collarbone, urging her to ignore the disruption. His insistence they dismiss the unwanted visitor spurred her on. His desire for her outweighed all else.
“Astrid,” he growled, “Come for me. Oh, shit baby, do it now.”
Knowing he would not last, she kissed him harder. Their climax was as one, breathing nearly impossible as they clung to each other. It had been quick but fulfilling in a way she already pictured recreating over and over.
Rude bangs and muffled curses came from outside.
“I’m going to kill him…” he muttered before slipping her off his lap. After disposing of the condom and donning a black robe, he shot her a wink before scurrying out of the bedroom.
Tired but happy, she stretched out on the bed. Calder’s angry voice carried from the living room, then Cody irritated growl responded. With a glance at the bedside clock, noted it was four in the afternoon. Wow, time flew when everything was so blissful.
Astrid shivered, realizing why Cody dropped by. He brought over the investigators’ report on Remy. Was she ready to unmask Remy and betray his trust?
She had Calder to lean on and needed to know what he kept hidden from her all these months.
It was time to unveil Renold Meys’s secrets.