Zara woke up to giggles in her ear and to the feel of soft kisses being pressed all over her face. She was warm and snug and every part of her protested the idea of waking up and facing the day.
She opened her eyes slowly and smiled when she felt the kiss on the tip of her nose.
“Good morning, beautiful,” Nathaniel whispered softly, a huge smile on his face as he gazed down at her. Next to her, she heard Amy giggle and plaster herself to Zara’s back, trying to push her body between hers and Nathaniel’s. Zara laughed when she squealed as she almost fell over, her curls all over her face.
“Zara! You’re awake!”
She caught Amy at her waist and turned on her back so she could hold her. Amy sat on Zara’s stomach, her legs on either side of her, her eyes bright and happy. She looked like she had slept well and Zara herself felt very rested. She felt the pain in the side of her face resurface when Amy leaned down and kissed her there.
Nathaniel must have noted her flinch, because he quickly lifted Amy off her, holding her close and distracting her by blowing raspberries into her neck. It made Amy scream and laugh as she struggled to get away, enjoying every minute at the same time.
Zara sat up slowly, surveying the room. The sunlight streamed in through the window and she saw a tray of breakfast beside the bed.
Nathaniel saw her looking at it and he grinned at her, giving Amy a short respite.
“I made that for you,” he smiled, his brown eyes not so unlike Amy’s.
“And I helped!” Amy shouted indignantly, holding onto his neck.
Zara laughed, getting the comforter off her and stretching her arms above her head. She saw Nathaniel’s eyes roam over her body, a hungry look appearing in his eyes. She blushed when she noticed it and put her arms down, looking toward the tray and then back at him.
The look had vanished then and he gave her a tentative smile.
“Why don’t you go freshen up and me and my pretty partner,” he kissed Amy’s cheek earning a bright smile from her, “will go set up the table for Matt and Susan?”
Zara nodded eagerly, thanking them both and went into the bathroom, picking up the towel from the chair it had been on.
She took her time undressing, resolutely keeping her face averted from the mirror. She knew what she would see.
When she was completely naked, she took a deep breath and turned fully to it.
The side of her face was covered with a dark red bruise. She touched it lightly with her fingers and it hurt her. It looked like it was going to take a while to heal. Her eyes dropped to her chest and she swallowed hard against the lump that formed in her throat. There was another bruise forming on her left breast from when Peter had grabbed her.
She touched the mark, hating the fact that she could still feel the way his hand had twisted her flesh, bringing tears to her eyes. She swallowed and blinked away the pinprick of tears forming again.
She could down her body and she touched her stomach, moving her hand down to her thigh and brushing her mound. There was no mark there but she remembered the pain that had shot through her when he’d tried to invade her body in the most terrible way.
Zara took a deep breath and then went to the shower to turn it on.
The knock on the door made her pause.
“Zara?” Nathaniel’s voice came through the door.
“Can I come in?”
She suddenly remembered what she’d told him last night. Oh dear God, she had confessed that she loved him. She opened her mouth and shut it.
When she didn’t answer immediately, he said again, “Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I’ll just wait till you’re done.”
She quickly reached for the towel she had brought in and wrapped it around her body.
She hurried to the door and paused. Taking a deep breath, she unlocked it and pulled it inward. Nathaniel stood a few feet away, his hands on his hips.
When he saw her, he paused, his throat working hard. Zara’s hands came up to clutch the top of the towel to her chest. She saw his eyes darken with heat and she looked away, “Is Amy at the table?”
Nathaniel swallowed and shook his head, “Matt and Susan took her out for pancakes. She forgot all about me when she heard the words ‘chocolate pancakes’,” he grinned.
Zara laughed softly, her eyes looking up at him and then away again.
Nathaniel let out a small sigh, “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, Zara. I’m really sorry if I did. I’ll just step out and-“
“You didn’t,” Zara cut him off.
They both stared at each other in silence for a minute.
Taking a breath for courage, Zara stepped behind and opened the door wide, “I-I’d like it if you came in,” she looked at him, shyness suddenly overcoming her.
Nathaniel nodded his head immediately and came to her.
She stepped in further and he entered the bathroom, shutting the door behind him and locking it.
“I didn’t knock to ask you for sex, Zara. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay and ask you if I could take care of you,” he said slowly, reaching out to touch her cheek. Zara felt the tension leave her body and she rested her cheek in his palm. “I’m sorry, I’m just wired up after yesterday,” she explained quietly, moving to him and putting her arms around his waist.
Nathaniel hugged her close.
“I know you said you don’t want to talk about it now,” he kissed her hair, “but you know that I’ll be there when you think you’re ready, right?”
She nodded against his shirt.
She nestled into him, wanting his presence to take away the memories of what had happened, what Peter had done to her. She wanted to eradicate the touch of his filthy hands.
Underneath her fingers, Nathaniel’s body was warm and strong. Solid and all hers.
She swallowed the anxiety that crept up her spine when she realized what she needed.
Her grip on his shirt tightened.
“Will you make love to me?”
His arms around her tightened. Leaning back, he lifted her chin and brought her face up. Then he slowly bent his head, giving her a chance to refuse. He brushed her mouth in the most gentle kiss.
“I love you, Zara.” He whispered softly, cupping the back of her head and slanting his mouth over hers.
When his tongue touched hers, she greedily opened her mouth wider, needing him to touch her body in the same way.
She reached out and slipped her fingers underneath his shirt, tugging at it to get it off him.
Nathaniel broke the kiss to take the material off and flung it across the floor, uncaring where it landed. His hands went to the towel on her body and he quickly discarded it, stepping back to look at her.
Zara saw his eyes pause at the bruises on her flesh. She saw anger leap into his eyes. He went down to his knees and pulled her close to him so his head came up to her stomach.
Leaning in, he placed a soft kiss on her belly.
“I’m sorry, Zara,” he kissed her again.
Her entire body trembled.
“For not arriving sooner,” he shifted his attention to her hip bone, dropping a kiss to her side, making her knees weak. A thousand sensations flooded her brain.
His breath on her skin was warm and his touch made her insides melt.
She was slick between her legs, already needing him.
Nathaniel took his time, kissing a line from her hipbone to the center of her stomach and then up to the spot between her breasts. He let his hands move from her ankle, over her calves and knees and up the back of her thighs.
His slow, innocuous touch served to make the heat in her abdomen leap and transform to flames that made her want him to touch her where her body ached.
He stood up, leaning in and kissing her forehead, her nose and then her open mouth. Zara’s hands reached toward his waist and she quickly pulled his sweats off along with his underwear.
Nathaniel stepped out of them, kicking them out of the way.
Her hands caressed his back, his waist and then her right hand found his shaft. Nathaniel groaned into her mouth. Zara kissed him back like she was starving. And she was.
His hands left her upper arms and he curved his fingers around her sides, moving them up before he had her breasts in his palms. A whimper left her mouth when he brushed his thumbs over her nipples, sending a jolt of pleasure through her body.
When she turned her head to breathe, he moved his lips to her neck. He lightly sucked on the spot where between her shoulder and her neck.
“When you said that you loved me last night, did you really mean it?”
He brought his mouth back to hers, kissing her deeply and not giving her a chance to respond.
Zara’s thumb rubbed the head of his cock and he hissed out a groan, his palms enfolding her breasts almost reverently.
He leaned down and began suckling on the nape of her neck, “Tell me, Zara,” he said roughly, his voice straining with the effort to keep his hips still.
Zara nodded, her body feeling like it was on fire. “Yes, I did. I love you,” she moaned when he bit on her flesh, licking the sting away.
And that was all he needed to hear.