Zara sat across the table from him. Nathaniel had finally acquiesced and they were now having Susan’s delicious chicken lasagna.
The meal had been mostly silent with one of them initiating some sort of conversation once in every few minutes. It wasn’t forced and for the first time, Zara felt comfortable around him.
He watched her a lot, his eyes hardly leaving her face. She met his gaze for only a fraction of the time that was necessary. He seemed to enjoy making her squirm and his lips remained in a half smile throughout dinner.
When Zara stood up to gather the plates, he didn’t pause. Pushing his chair back, he moved toward the sink.
When he put his plate in and reached out for hers, she moved one step back and looked at him skeptically.
“What are you doing?”
Nathaniel gave her a slight frown.
“Doing the dishes?”
“Are you asking me or telling me that?”
Nathaniel gave a low growl and snatched the plate from her fingers.
“Okay, smartypants. I am doing the dishes.”
He began cleaning and left her gawking at him.
When she didn’t respond, he turned to her.
Zara stared at him, her lips stretching into a big smile.
“What?“, he snapped, his eyes narrowing.
She gave a soft laugh, “Nothing. Please continue.”
Turning her back to the counter, she placed her palms on the surface and lifted herself up.
“I’ll just sit here and watch.“, she grinned as she gave him a thumbs up.
Nathaniel rolled his eyes at her and continued.
Zara glanced appreciatively at the handsome figure he made. She’d let him do the dishes for a lifetime if she got to see the view like this.
And his kisses. God, his kisses.
They made her tremble and messed with her head till she would do absolutely anything to get more of them.
“Tell me about your grandma.“, she said suddenly, her eyes watching his.
Nathaniel stilled for a moment and looked up, his focus on the tiled wall before him.
“She is the best person I know.“, he murmured softly, his eyes taking on a far away look, a hint of a smile on his gorgeous lips.
Zara scooted closer, taking care not to let the water get on her clothes.
“She’s always been there for me, you know?“, he looked at her.
Zara swallowed the slight lump in her throat and nodded.
“She’s funny, kind, smart and bakes so fucking well, I wouldn’t mind surviving the rest of my life eating only her cinnamon and raisin cookies.“, he laughed as he turned off the water and wiped his hands on the dish towel.
Zara smiled, wishing she could meet this wonderful woman.
“She sounds amazing.”
Nathaniel smiled wider.
He came around to stand in front of her, his palms coming to rest on either side of her thighs.
“What about you?“, he asked, tracing his fingers along her hip.
Zara bit the inside of her lip when he grabbed hold of her waist, his thumb stroking its slight indent.
“Don’t you have grandparents?”
She shook her head, placing her hand over his.
“They died a long time ago, before I was born. I have no memory of them.“, she shrugged.
Nathaniel’s thumb paused.
His finger came to her chin and tipped her head back to look at him.
“I’m sorry to hear that.“, he said softly.
Instinctively Zara narrowed her eyes.
“It’s no big deal or anything.“, she said.
Nathaniel stared at her for a second more before he pulled back, his fingers dropping to his side.
“What would you normally be doing around this time?”
Zara blinked at the change of topic.
“Uh, I would be reading actually.“, she said as she climbed down, her shorts suddenly feeling inadequate, even though they weren’t really that short.
“You’d be reading Ptolemy’s Gate?”
Zara froze and spun on her foot.
“How do you know that?”
Nathaniel gave her a devilish smirk.
“I did a bit of digging myself.“, he teased.
Zara folded her arms across her chest.
“Nathaniel, I’m serious!”
He laughed even louder, coming to her and turning her around, leading her to the couch, where her book lay at one corner.
“I just saw the title when I came over the other day.“, he lied as he sat down, his back resting against one arm of the seat.
Zara grabbed the book from where it lay and began to sit down opposite to him. But he took hold of her hand and turned her, plonking her down so that her back was pressed to his front.
“What are you doing?“, she asked in a hesitant voice, trying to pull away.
Nathaniel merely wrapped his arms around her middle and pulled her closer.
“Just sit down.“, he growled again, one palm coming dangerously close to her breast.
Zara froze instantly.
“Good girl.“, he murmured into her ear.
He leaned over her, his head above her shoulder, his legs on either side of her own. Zara sat as stiff as a board, the comfort she had felt just minutes ago, replaced by the stark awareness of how amazingly warm and safe his embrace felt. She had never been so close to a guy before and everything Nathaniel did to her turned her on like hell or made her want to fling herself into his arms and just hold him.
The feelings scared her and yet she was thrilled in a very, very good way.
“Zara, relax.“, he spoke soothingly, his slightly rough palms stroking her forearms that held the book to her chest as if it could protect her from all the feelings that had chosen that moment to inundate her already defenseless senses.
"Zara.“, he said forcefully as he pulled her further into him.
Slowly, she let her back rest more fully against him, the back of her head coming to his shoulder. She leaned back as far as she dared to, without putting her entire weight against him.
“A-are you sure you’re fine this way?“, she asked in a bid to move away from him.
Nathaniel seemed to sense her hesitation. He simply bent forward further so that he was hovering over her.
“Just open your book and read.“, he said, taking the novel and flipping it open to the bookmarked page.
Zara took the novel in her hand, her eyes skimming over the words, not really reading, her attention solely focused on the warm breath that cascaded down the skin of her neck. He seemed to be reading it along with her.
After a few minutes of faked concentration, when she hadn’t turned a single page, she gave up.
“I’m done for today.“, she announced as she shut the book and attempted to move away from him.
His grip didn’t loosen even a tiny bit and she ended up falling right against him.
She instantly apologized as she turned her head to the side, her fingers already prying at his arms that held her pressed to him.
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to-”
The rest of her words died in her throat when she felt warm lips on the back of her neck.
She froze for a whole other reason now.
“Stop running away from me.“, he murmured as he dragged his mouth across her skin to the hollow behind her ear. He kissed her there once. Then twice. And then took her earlobe into his mouth, sucking on the tender flesh.
Zara’s grip on his arms slackened and she fell against him, tilting her head to the side to give him better access.
Her body develping a will of its own, her butt shifted and pressed into him, revelling in the hardness that pressed against her lower back. Nathaniel growled and bit into her lobe, one hand moving down her stomach to grab her inner thigh, mere inches away from the spot between her legs.
Zara let out a soft moan when one palm unerringly cupped her breast, his fingers relieving the ache that had been building up since last night when he had kissed her outside the club.
“Do you have any idea about what you do to me?“, he hissed as he abruptly flipped her over so that she lay on top of him.
Zara protested against the lack of pressure on her breast and glared at him through half shut eyes.
“Do you know how badly I want to touch you-“, he broke off, his hand trailing down her body to the junction of her thighs.
“Here?“, he growled as he cupped her through her shorts and Zara gasped at the electricity that shot through her.
Before she could recover enough, he grabbed the back of her head, bringing her face to his and slammed his mouth down on hers.
Zara was overwhelmed with the intensity and shock that coursed through her system at the feel of his hand right at her core. She braced herself against his shoulders.
His grip on her hair tightened painfully and she whimpered in her throat. Instantly, he changed their position, pushing her back till she lay on her back and he was on top of her.
Nathaniel kissed her like a crazed man, his tongue licking hers, his teeth nipping at her lips. His hand returned to the spot between her legs and Zara cried out when he pressed against her hard enough that she thought she couldn’t take it.
Her fingers had slipped into his tshirt and she pulled the hem up. They broke the kiss as he took off the clothing and flung it away. She didn’t have time to look before he claimed her lips again.
When his fingers began unbuttoning her shorts, she instinctively pushed his hand away. Having his hand against her naked flesh was too much for her right then.
Nathaniel groaned into her mouth, but he let her shorts stay, his fingers rubbing her mound through the light material. He lifted her legs up and hooked them at his waist, his mouth never leaving hers. Zara grabbed hold of his shoulders.
She was wet already.
His fingers stroked her rhythmically, pressing, swirling around the spot. She felt his body relax slightly when she felt a wave of moisture erupt between her legs. There was no time for embarrasment when he growled in pure satisfaction and pulled away from her lips, leaving them swollen.
The next second, his lips had closed over a pert nipple through the fabric of her shirt and bra and he sucked, his hand pressing down on her hard.
The pressure was too much. Too good. And Zara cried out as she flew over the edge, spasms of pleasure taking hold of her body as stars danced in front of her eyes.
The only thing she was aware of was Nathaniel’s warm body pressing down on hers as he buried his face in her neck, the scent of her arousal in the air.
When she finally came to her senses, she felt his rock hard erection against her belly. Reaching down, she slid her hand between them, determined to give him the pleasure that he had just granted her. She had watched enough of porn to know the basics at least, even though she didn’t have a clue about how exactly she would succeed.
His hand caught hers right before she could touch him, at the same time that his head lifted. He was breathing fast, just like her.
She looked in confusion at him.
“No.“, he bit out, the nerve on his forehead throbbing.
“Why not? I want to make you feel good too.“, she said softly, her eyes trailing down to the spot where he lay against her.
Nathaniel shook his head.
“Not today, Zara. We need to sleep. Before I lose my fucking common sense and strip you naked.“, he sucked in a harsh breath.
She stared at him in defiance.
“Stop it, Nathaniel.”
He shook his head and sat up, bringing her along with him.
“Don’t argue with me tonight, Zara, please.“, he pulled her to her feet.
He shot her a silencing look.
Zara glared at him and stalked off into the bedroom, banging the door shut behind her.
After she had spent a few minutes in the bathroom and had cleaned up, she had almost worked herself up into a rage.
But the moment she stepped back out and caught sight of him sitting on her bed with his head in his hands, it all evaporated in a second.
He looked up when she came to him and gave her a light smile.
“What’s wrong?“, she asked softly.
Did he already regret what had happened between them?
Her heart sped up.
“I’m just worried about my grandmom.“, he said softly as he gathered her into his arms and placed his head on her stomach.
Zara hugged him tight as she felt the tension in her body disappear.
“She’ll be just fine, Nathaniel. You’ll see.“, she sent a prayer to heaven hoping it would come true.
He sighed and pulled her down, slipping inside the comforter.
They lay down side by side, Zara’s back to the wall as Nathaniel held her by the waist, his arm draped across her, her head nestled against his bare chest.
“Would you go out with me this weekend?”
She froze and then smiled.
“I’d like that.”