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My Darling Bride: Chapter 26


A chill runs over me, even though it’s August. I’m in bed, my hands twisting the sheet as I grapple with the knot in my gut, trying to suss out where it’s coming from.

Maybe it’s because of Graham’s preseason game. With each day that draws closer to him going back on the football field, I want to beg him not to play.

Maybe it’s because I’m seeing my doctor soon. My hand touches my chest, checking the beats. Steady. Normal. But they haven’t always been recently. Something isn’t right.

I get up out of bed and slip on a slinky white robe and make my way to the window. I step out onto the balcony that overlooks Central Park. Even though I miss seeing Londyn in the mornings, I adore this view. I inhale a deep breath, trying to shake off the earlier feeling of trepidation.

Time has slipped by as the days have turned into weeks with us in the apartment. Each day brings new information about Graham. He’s never tried watermelon. He eats his french fries with mayo. That one made me giggle for a full five minutes until he told me to try it, and it wasn’t terrible. He loves warm weather and the sound of the ocean. He has a triangle-shaped birthmark on his hip and a tricky knee that he massages each morning, then ices down after practice. He still grieves from his mother’s death. I know because I’ve asked him to play his baby grand, and he tells me he’s not ready.

“Hey, sleepyhead. I made you a tea,” Graham says as he steps out onto the balcony. He’s wearing gym shorts and a practice shirt, and the sheen of sweat covers him. He’s been on an early-morning run. Today is Sunday, and I slept longer since Babs opens today at noon. I’ll pop in a little bit later.

Yesterday was a busy day at the bookstore; business is actually starting to boom. Of course, that could be because word has gotten around on social media that a couple of Python players frequent the store. Graham even works the checkout counter when he’s there. It’s fun to watch his earnestness as he asks customers if they’ve found everything they need. Maybe for the fall we can do a football window. Oh, perhaps we can twist the stereotype and have a girl baller and a boy cheerleader.

“Thanks.” I take the cup from him as he moves to stand in front of me, leaning his back against the rails of the balcony.

“You look deep in thought. What’s cooking?” he asks.

I inhale the smell of the peppermint tea, then take a sip. “I was thinking about the store. I’ve got so many ideas floating around. Babs wants to organize a book club, and I told her to go with it.”

“Romance? That seems to be her fav.” He smirks.

“Hmm, I was thinking about doing a singles event, like a speed-dating function where you bring your favorite book and talk to prospective dates about it.”

“I’ve heard of restaurants doing them. Sounds fun.”

“Plus, we could use the kitchen and make tapas.”

“Ah, what about adding a theme to the event itself, maybe to fit the window, like an era in history or the theme from a book, like Pride and Prejudice.”

A smile curls my lips at his obvious interest. “Only if you dress up as Darcy.”

“Only if you’re Elizabeth.”

I blush. “Of course. I want to do more for the children’s section too. Maybe let parents sign up to have a kid’s birthday there.”

Charlotte’s Web,” he says, and I smile.

“Maybe do a display of the prettiest book jackets or the most unique. I also want to buy more impulse products and put them near the checkout—bookmarks, candy, magnets.”

“Maybe magnets with the store’s logo on it.” A horn blows in the distance, and he looks away from me to check out the scenery.

I study the chiseled lines of his profile, the awful prickle of unease rising again.

He sees my frown. “Everything all right?”

I chew on my bottom lip. “Just a bad feeling when I woke up, like something terrible might happen.”

He stiffens, his body on alert. “Like what?”

I shake my head. “I don’t know.”

“Do you get them often?”

“No, but Gran used to. She’d say it was a ghost walking through her and that I better watch my back that day. When Jane was a toddler she seemed to have premonitions of something terrible on a certain day, but most of that was because of the house we grew up in. Any day could be an awful day. I was always prepared.”

He gives me a serious look. “You’re coming to the game, right? I’ve got your tickets at the gate. Lots of wives will be there. Even my dad is coming.”

We’ve spent time with Vale. On the Fourth of July, Graham rented a boat and invited my family and his, except for Holden and Divina. We sailed around the East River as Macy’s did their fireworks show. Four barges stationed between Twenty-Third and Forty-Second Street set off over twenty thousand aerial effects. Londyn gasped in amazement at the vibrant colors in the night sky. Graham and I cuddled in a big chair on the deck, my hand over his heart as he held me. I’ll never forget it.

“That bad feeling could be you. What if—”

“I’ll be fine, Emmy,” he says tightly. “Don’t worry about me.”

“Just telling me not to worry doesn’t work,” I insist, placing my tea down. “Life doesn’t work that way. You’re going to walk out onto that field, and anything could happen to you. A few days ago you came home with an ankle sprain from a tackle. What about all those studies Dr. Moreau sent you? Don’t you think about them? Aren’t you afraid?”

“No,” he says curtly. “Bumps and bruises are normal. I don’t want to be coddled like a child.”

“If you’d just listen—”

“Nope. I came out here to bring you tea, not discuss my career. You don’t know anything about football or how I feel. I’m going to eat breakfast.” He turns and stalks away from me, his shoulders tense as a coiled spring.

I exhale. He’s defensive because football is everything to him. It’s true I don’t know much about football, but he’s the one who keeps avoiding any discussion of the risks he’s taking.

A few minutes later, I step into the large tiled shower off Graham’s bedroom, feeling the rush of warm water against my skin. I close my eyes and let the heat seep into my tense muscles. I’m shampooing my hair when the shower door opens, and Graham steps in with me.

My mouth dries. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to how gorgeous he is, those hard muscles toned to perfection. His thick cock bounces against his pelvis.

I arch a brow, and he shrugs and grins mischievously. “What? It’s always like this with you around. Let me wash your hair for you.”

“I can’t say no to that,” I murmur as he eases me so that my back is to his chest.

I shove my premonition and my worries away, burying them far away from this moment.

Without a word, he pulls me close, our bodies wet and slick against each other’s. I lean against him, feeling safe from the world, as he pours my vanilla shampoo into the palm of his hand, then runs it through my hair. His fingers massage my scalp deeply, hypnotically. The steam of the water rises around us, cascading over our skin as he tips my head back to rinse me. He puts my hair over my shoulder, and his lips brush my neck as he kisses me. I melt against him, his cock hard against my ass.

His hands cup my shoulders. “I’m sorry I was short with you. Forgive me.”

My heart swells with emotion as I turn and wrap my arms around his neck and stare up at him. I wonder if he senses the way I feel, if it radiates from me.

For a moment, emotion makes tears prick my eyes. He’s that little piece of magic, that irresistible feeling I never imagined I’d feel for someone. I’ve fought it, but I can’t stop. That’s how love is, impossible to pack away and forget.

He smiles at me, his dimples popping as his eyes crinkle, and suddenly I feel lit up inside. I understand it now, why people do crazy things for love; the emotion of it is like a drug, intoxicating and addictive. And when he traces his finger over my lips as if memorizing the shape of them, I’m floating, safe and secure in his arms, with my protector.

“That’s a very intense look you’re giving me, darling,” he murmurs.

“I want you to kiss me,” I say as I push the hair from his face.

“You never have to ask.” He bends his head and kisses me fervently, earnestly, as if conveying all his feelings and emotions in that one embrace. He captures my lower lip in his mouth and sucks on it as I tighten my arms around him. I savor his kiss, his touch. I revel in him, never wanting this, us, to end. I cling to him as he kisses down my neck, his teeth nipping and pulling at my skin.

Butterflies dance as he grazes his fingers over my piercing, tugging gently on my nipple and making me groan. My core heats, a need for him flaring like a lit match.

“Graham,” I whisper as his hands caress my breasts, kneading them in his strong hands. My head falls back as he drops more kisses on me, his tongue sucking a pebbled nipple in his mouth.

“Am I making you forget about your bad feeling?” he rumbles against my skin, and I nod an affirmative, not able to speak as his fingers lightly play with my clit. He taps me gently, then draws intoxicating circles until I can’t breathe.

“That’s it,” he growls when I straddle his thigh and rub against his leg for friction. “You need more, baby?”

A finger dips inside me, teasingly, softly.

“More,” I whisper, and he chuckles as he picks me up as if I weigh nothing, and my legs wrap around his waist. We’ve had sex a hundred different ways since I moved in, and this is my favorite way, him displaying his strength while I get to look into his face and hold his eyes.

He pushes my back against the wall and stares down at me with yearning in his gaze. Firm hands hold my ass as his cock head slides into me, then out, just his tip, again and again until I’m writhing in his embrace.

Finally, he goes deeper, his shoulders shuddering as sensations whip over him.

“Darling,” he growls and sinks deeper, his cock like steel.

My fingers grab his hair; then I clench my muscles around him, making him gasp. His body then owns mine with devilish intent, his hips thrusting into me as he presses me against the tile. He feels so good, and each time he exits, I beg for more, to feel every delicious inch of him, every vein and ridge, and he delivers, his dick pumping into my pussy over and over.

Groaning in satisfaction, he rocks into me, and I whimper with need, rubbing my breasts against his chest seductively, inviting him to go harder, to fuck me like he can’t live without it.

I get lost in the sounds we make, the moans and groans and sighs of pleasure, the wet sound of our bodies in the water. He takes me with unflinching remorse, his eyes blown and dilated as he looks down at me.

He slows, his rhythm easing into long, languorous strokes as he draws out the intensity and my begging for release. He snatches my mouth with a deep kiss as his fingers circle my clit with each thrust.

I come suddenly, without warning, the sharpness almost painful in its glory, and it’s the best fucking orgasm ever, making my body writhe and shake and tremble. My face goes to his throat as I scream out, my muscles contracting and spasming over and over. Emotion, deep and from my heart, overwhelms me. “I love you,” I whisper into his neck, my lips tasting his skin, smelling his unique cherry-and-leather scent.

He pauses for a long moment, then resumes, his hands holding me tight, more tightly than before; then he goes over the edge to his own bliss.

Our heavy breaths are the only sounds uttered as he gathers himself. Then, with a pat of my bottom, he lets me down, shuts off the water, and tells me he’s going to get dressed and head to the stadium.

Without meeting my eyes, he wraps a towel around his waist, hands me one, then leaves the room.

Tears prick my eyelids. I didn’t mean to say those words. I didn’t.

He didn’t reply to them. He didn’t even acknowledge them.

My throat prickles with tears, and I fight them down.

It’s okay.

I’m fine.

It’s just another day.

And nothing bad is going to happen.

Or maybe my confession is the bad thing that happened . . .


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