Collide (Chapter 15: Letting It All Go)

The cold infinite October sky held an unobstructed view of a full harvest moon as Emily and Olivia stepped out from their building. Pulling in a deep breath, Emily stared at the twinkling stars spreading across the backdrop of towering buildings. She longed for this season. The air, although crisp, managed to warm her, reminding her of Colorado.

Home.

If there was ever a time in her life that she felt she needed her mother, it was right now.

"We look amazing, chick," Olivia trilled, waving a taxi over. "My mother always says the best money spent is money spent on hair, makeup, and nails for an evening like this."

Before Emily could agree, a sleek black limousine pulled up in front of them. The chauffeur stepped out, and Emily recalled that he'd driven them out to Gavin's home in the Hamptons.

"Good evening, Miss Martin," the gray-haired plump gentleman said to Olivia. "Please forgive my tardiness this evening. The city has quite a few blocks closed down for repairs that I was unaware of."

"Hey, Marcus," Olivia replied with a smile, walking over to him. "Did that sneaky bastard send you?"

"Yes, Miss Martin. Mr. Blake told me to arrive at six o'clock sharp for you and Miss Cooper. Again, I apologize for being late."

"Hell, I love surprises. I figured we were hailing a taxi over to the party," Olivia laughed and then turned to Emily. "Apparently, Mr. Blake sees fit to shower things he desperately wants in only the best…because he's never sent one before."

Emily shook her head and slipped into the limousine.

After getting themselves comfortable, Olivia popped the top off of a bottle of champagne, pouring them both a glass. "Has Dinkerbell called you again today?"

"Dinkerbell?"

"Yeah, like Tinkerbell. Did he call you again?"

"That's a new one," Emily sighed. "What do you think?"

"Well, I figured he might've gotten the point already since you haven't taken his calls," she shrugged. "And no flowers came to the apartment today, so I assumed he'd finally given up."

Emily knew it wasn't in Dillon to just give up that easily. "Right, maybe not to the apartment, but he sent them to Bella Lucina today while I was working."

"Shut up," Olivia let out, her eyes wide. "How many this time?"

Emily considered her over the rim of her glass. "Let's just say there was enough for Antonio to decorate each table and the entire bar area, and he had an extra dozen leftover to bring home to his girlfriend."

Draining the last of her drink, Olivia leaned back in her seat, her expression soft. "Well, I'm proud of you for not giving in to him. But, in all honesty, I hope you stick to your guns when he finally gets back from Florida. When I spoke to Trevor earlier, he said all the idiot's been talking about while they've been down there is how he's determined to get you back."

Emily looked out the window, her eyes taking in the glittering lights of the city. As she watched them go by, she thought about how much she felt like a victim of a violent crash – so battered and bruised. Although she had no broken bones and no pierced skin, her heart bled internally from the wounds inflicted by Dillon. The words he said to her kept running through her head, stinging just as much now as when he first had said them.

She couldn't deny she did indeed feel guilty for causing the whole situation. She also knew that she could've prevented what'd happened. Regardless, she wouldn't cave to him. She couldn't. She made sure to send every call he made straight to voicemail. He even went as far as calling the elementary school she worked at. She ignored those messages as well. However, her biggest surprise was when his mother showed up at her apartment unexpected, unannounced, and quite pissed. Emily cut the visit short by slamming the door in her face upon her arrival.

"It's apparent I have to speak with him when he gets back," Emily sighed. "I can't just end it with him without closure."

"Why not? He doesn't deserve any kind of closure from you, Em."

"I'm not talking about his closure, Olivia. I need closure of my own." Emily tossed back the rest of her champagne and promptly refilled her glass. "No matter how you slice and dice it, he did a lot for me and my family. I know he was wrong for what he did, but he was drunk, and that's something I need to take into consideration."

Olivia glared at her from across the limousine. "You're falling right back into his trap again."

"How am I falling into his trap, Olivia? He's not even here."

She started tapping her temple. "Right, he's in that brain of yours like a little fungus. My brother gets hammered and doesn't freak out on Fallon." Olivia leaned over and poured herself a second glass of champagne. "I've dated plenty of guys who got smashed, and they didn't pull the shit that he pulled with you. I'm sure you've had ex-boyfriends that didn't do that either."

"I didn't really date that much before Dillon," Emily shrugged. "I really have nothing to compare it to."

Olivia's face creased with confusion. "Why would you need something to compare it to, Em? End of fucking story – drunk or sober, low or high, mad or happy – a guy's not supposed to place a hand on a woman. Ever."

Taking a sip of her champagne, Emily looked away.

"I'm not kidding, Emily. You may think that what your father did to your mom is the norm, but it's not, friend. It's far from it." Swallowing hard at the memory, Emily brought her attention back to Olivia. "I suggest you rid yourself of needing closure from that asshole because he's just like your dad. Box up the shit he has at our apartment, and I'll have my brother get your stuff from Douche's place." Crossing her legs under her red silk gown, she added, "Thank God you hadn't signed a lease on that apartment you two found."

"I don't want to talk about this anymore tonight," Emily said, her voice teetering between frustration and pleading. "I want to enjoy one evening without thinking about this whole mess with Dillon. Please, Olivia?"

"Okay, but I'm back on your ass come tomorrow then."

Emily let out a sigh and nodded. "That's fine."

Five minutes later, the limousine pulled up to the St. Regis hotel. Marcus opened the door for the women, and each slipped out onto the sidewalk, thanking him for the ride. Pulling her shawl over her shoulders, Emily locked arms with Olivia, and they made their way into the lobby.

After Olivia checked her coat, they floated into the expansive ballroom where the fundraiser was in full swing. Music from a live band hummed through the air while white-gloved waiters traveled the room with flutes of champagne and caviar. The whimsical space held vaulted cloud-dappled ceilings highlighting gilt chandeliers. Soft, pale pink lights, honoring the color of breast cancer awareness, made the white silk material draping the tables look like cascading waterfalls. Beautiful pink roses and carnations sprayed up from glittering mounds of hydrangeas in the center of each table.

The second Emily made her way into the ballroom, her eyes found Gavin's. She also found she had to remind herself how to breathe. A smile broke out across his face as she watched him excuse himself from a group of men he was speaking with. Not only did Emily focus on him as he strolled across the space, but she noticed that the eyes of every other woman in the room also gravitated to him. Young, old, tall, short, black, or white – women couldn't help but stare. He looked amazing, wearing an Armani tux that was tailored to perfection. Sliding his hand through his hair, he crossed the room with a stride that was sexy, powerful, and strong.

Olivia leaned in to hug him when he approached. "Thank you for sending the limo for us," she paused, cocking a mischievous brow while she laughed. "Well, not for us, but either way, it was a nice gesture."

Shaking her head, Emily smiled, feeling a blush creep across her face.

"Of course I sent it for you both," he laughed. "I just never thought to send one before."

"Sure, whatever you say, Blake," Olivia replied, her voice holding playful skepticism. Gavin laughed again. He knew she was onto him. "Where are your parents? I wanna say hello to them."

"They're over there," he answered, gesturing to a table in the center of the room.

"Cool, I'll catch up with you two in a bit." And, with that, Olivia skirted her way through the party in the direction of Chad and Lillian.

Turning to face Emily, Gavin's eyes slowly languished over every inch of her body. God, she looked exquisite in every way possible – a princess among peasants in the room. It was all he could do to catch a decent breath. A black, strapless velvet gown, accentuating her cleavage, flowed to the ground, hugging her subtle curves like a fitted glove. His gaze swept past a diamond choker, ignoring its sparkle, and fixated instead on the startling fullness of her lips that glistened ruby red. Tiny diamond pins held her hair up with only a few tendrils framing her heart-shaped face. Smoky hues of gray shimmered over her eyelids as her beautiful emerald eyes locked onto his icy blues.

Trying to compose himself, Gavin reached for her hand and regally lifted it to his lips, placing a soft kiss on it. "Words fail to describe the way you look this evening."

Emily smiled sheepishly. "Thank you," she breathed out, grasping onto her clutch. "You look great, too."

"Why, thank you." He smiled. "Shall we?"

With mild trepidation, she nodded, as he tucked her hand in the crook of his arm.

He led her across the room, pausing briefly to engage in conversations with some of the guests who stopped him. Along the way, he introduced Emily to a few of the families that his mother's foundation had helped over the years. Their smiling faces showed their gratitude in every way possible. Among the guests were some of New York's leading breast cancer researchers, organizations, and a few politicians whose families had been affected by the disease. With the subject hitting so close to home, Emily felt awestruck at the generosity Gavin and his family extended to those in need.

"Emily, you remember my brother, Colton, and his wife, Melanie," Gavin said, pulling out a chair for her.

Nodding, Emily reached across the table and shook their hands. "I do. It's nice seeing you both again."

"You, too," Melanie replied. "My children have actually asked for you quite a few times."

Emily smiled. "They have?"

Draping his arm over the back of Melanie's chair, Colton answered, "They sure have. They said you're the best soccer player in the world."

"That's too funny," Emily laughed. "Well, tell them I said hello. I'll have to muster up another soccer game with them."

Gavin smirked and took a seat next to Emily. "Don't let her fool you. If I recall, I'm the one who taught you how to play soccer." Looking at her, he shot her a wink.

Emily smiled and shook her head.

"Ah, yes, brother-in-law, take all the credit." Melanie laughed, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder. "Emily, be forewarned that all the males in the Blake family try to take credit for anything they can." Emily quirked a brow in Gavin's direction, and he laughed. "But, for right now, this Blake woman is about to take credit for teaching her husband how to dance." Melanie rose from her seat and reached for Colton's hand. "Aren't I right, sweetie?"

Standing up, Colton curled his arm around her waist and planted a kiss on her head. "I have two left feet, so yes, I'll give you credit for trying to teach me how to dance."

"Don't fall flat on your ass, brother," Gavin yelled out as the couple moved to the dance floor.

Colton turned around, effectively flipping the bird in Gavin's direction.

"Hmm, do I sense sibling rivalry?" Emily asked.

"All-out sibling rivalry," he answered, motioning one of the waiters over. "I revel in any chance I get to make him look like a clown."

"You're too much," she laughed.

Gavin smiled mischievously. "I know, but he deserves it."

The waiter approached the table with a bottle of expensive bubbly in tow and a towel draped over one arm.

"What would you like to drink?" Gavin asked.

Knowing she and Gavin didn't mix well with liquor, Emily figured she would keep it light. "Actually, I'll just take an ice water."

He creased his brows. "Are you sure?"

With an answering smile, she nodded.

After ordering himself bourbon on the rocks, Gavin leaned back in his chair and looked at her. "I'm happy to see you're no longer sick."

"Thank you. That was a rough few days."

"I'm sure it was," he replied, knowing they were hard enough for her without adding illness to it. "I stopped by the restaurant to check in on you, and Fallon said you'd already left."

"I know. I meant to call you, but it completely slipped my mind. I'm sorry about that."

"No need to apologize. I just wanted to make sure you were doing alright."

"Well, thank you for checking on me," she smiled and placed a napkin over her lap. "I truly appreciate it. But I'm okay, honestly."

She may have smiled, but Gavin couldn't see a trace of happiness in her eyes. Throughout the evening, he kept the conversation with her on lighter topics, staying as far away from anything that had to do with Dillon. Gavin learned that, although her teaching position was supposed to be full time, it fell through, and she would only be working part time as a substitute for now. Either way, she seemed happy about it. He ribbed on her a little more regarding his Yankees making it into the World Series, promising her that by the end of her lifetime he'd turn her into a certified fan. She begged to differ, but nonetheless, it made her laugh, and that's all that mattered to him.

After everyone enjoyed dinner, Gavin's parents approached the table. The stately couple's arms were locked together, their faces flushed from dancing and champagne.

"Olivia," Chad said with a smile. "My beautiful wife's given me permission to dance with you."

She cocked an incredulous brow. "Oh, has she?"

"Indeed, she has," he laughed, reaching for her hand.

"Are you sure, Lillian?" Olivia smirked and stood up. "I just may steal him from you."

"He's a very debonair man," Lillian smiled, her green eyes shimmering with delight. "He just might sweep you off your feet, kiddo, so I'd be careful."

"Can't say I'd disagree with you on that," Olivia laughed and strolled over to him. "Come on, old man. I'll show you how we younglings do it."

Chuckling, Chad placed a kiss upon his wife's cheek and led Olivia out onto the dance floor.

"You look beautiful this evening, Emily," Lillian said, taking a seat next to her. "I hope you're enjoying yourself."

"Thank you, Mrs. Blake, so do you. And I am enjoying myself. Everything's spectacular."

"Tsk-tsk," she laughed, patting Emily's hand. "Remember, Mrs. Blake makes me feel old. But I'm happy you're having a good time."

Emily smiled. "Thank you, Lillian."

"You do look beautiful tonight, Mom." Gavin rose from his seat and placed his hand on her shoulder. "I may have to keep an eye on you to make sure no other man steals you away from Dad."

Looking up to him, she cupped her hand over his. "You've always been my biggest fan, Gavin," she trilled with an adorning smile. "But, really, sweetheart, after thirty-five years of marriage, I'm not going anywhere. It's pretty safe to say your father doesn't have to worry about that."

"Doesn't have to worry about what?" Colton asked, approaching the table with a drink in hand.

"Oh, it's nothing. Your brother's just being overprotective," she laughed, rising to her feet. "Where's Melanie?"

Colton pointed over his shoulder. "She's out in the lobby, calling the babysitter to check on the kids."

"Perfect timing then," Lillian replied as she locked arms with Colton. "Care to dance with the woman who brought you into this world?"

"Certainly." He tossed back the rest of his drink. "I'll try my hardest not to step on your toes."

As son and mother whisked off to the dance floor, Gavin looked to Emily. "Would you like to dance?"

Biting her lip, Emily glanced around the ballroom and then back up to him. "Dance, huh?"

"Yes, dance," he chuckled. "I promise I'll be good."

"That I highly doubt, but I'll trust you this one last time." He laughed as she removed the napkin from her lap. Standing up, she smiled. "But I must warn you, I'm probably no better than your brother is."

"That's impossible," he said, smiling. "Just wait here a second. I'll be right back."

She nodded and watched as he strolled over to the band. He spoke with the lead singer for a few moments and then made his way back over to her, a mischievous smile running across his face.

"Why do you look like you're up to something?" she asked, cocking a brow.

His dimpled smile widened as he reached for her hand, tucking it in the crook of his arm. "That would be because I am up to something."

"And what would you be up to?"

Leading her out to the dance floor, he remained silent, but the smile on his face never faltered.

"Gavin," she laughed.

"Emily."

"What are you up to?"

He waited until the band struck up the chords to his request. "Do you listen to jazz?" he asked as he placed a hand on the small of her back. Lacing his other hand with hers, he tucked it against his chest and drew her into him.

Taken aback by their very close proximity, it took her a second to gather her thoughts. "Umm, yes, I have before. My grandmother used to listen to it while she cooked."

"Mmm, are you familiar with this song?"

"I don't know the name of it or the singer," she answered, fighting to ignore how enticing he smelled. "But I do recall remembering how beautiful it was the first time I heard it."

Looking down at her, he smiled as they swayed back and forth. "It's called 'La Vie en Rose,' and the singer's Louis Armstrong."

"It's beautiful."

"It is. And this is what I was up to," he whispered into her ear.

Trying to catch her breath, she bit her lip. "What do you mean?"

"Well, I've pictured us dancing together to this very song."

"You have?" she asked, attempting to hide any hint of shock in her voice at his confession. She then inwardly laughed at herself, considering the confessions she'd made to him.

"Yes, I have. So thank you very much for this dance."

"You're welcome." She could see the look in his eyes – the same one that nearly drowned her into him every time he stared at her like that. She averted her gaze over to his parents where they, too, were dancing. "It's amazing that they've been together so long. It's almost impossible to believe a love that strong exists."

Gavin studied her face as she watched his parents. Something in her voice and eyes ached to have something deeper than what she had with Dillon. It was then that Gavin knew he needed to wake up with her lying next to him, longing to see what shade of green her eyes were when they were still lazy with sleep. He wanted her hair tangled in a mess and draped over his strong arms when he woke up to her smiling up at him. In the coldest of winters where blankets didn't provide her body enough warmth, he wanted to be that warmth. Most of all, he wanted Emily to fall in love with him. It was more than a desire for her body; it was his need for her heart and soul. If he could have one night with her, Gavin was sure he'd be able to convince her that they were made for one another.

His warm fingers lazily traveled up her spine, coming to rest on the nape of her neck. "You deserve to be loved like that," he whispered against her hair.

When he pulled back, their lips were close. With the slightest movement from either, they would connect.

With his whisper bracing soft and sexual, Emily pulled in a ragged breath and tried to ignore the electricity tingling over her skin. The combination of his touch and the seductive sound of his voice had her body aching with need. Now she was breathing harshly. She felt her breasts rising and falling and noticed his gaze flick over them as she looked away, not saying a word.

Gavin stopped moving, and Emily brought her attention back up to his face.

His touch was almost unbearable, whispering over her jaw, as his gaze penetrated into her. "I can still taste you on my lips."

Heart ricocheting through her chest, Emily lost all ability to think and simply drowned in the feeling of his hands, now tenderly floating down her waist. Unable to speak, she simply looked up into his blue eyes.

"I miss the way your body feels against mine." Wetting his lips, his hands clenched her waist tighter. "I miss feeling the way your pulse accelerates when I touch you." He swallowed, closed his eyes, and inhaled her scent, the sweet smell of jasmine intoxicating him. Opening his eyes, his voice notched lower, softer even, as his hands framed her face. "I want to take my time with you, brushing my fingers over the spots that he's neglected. He's never loved you the way you need to be loved," he whispered into her ear, pulling her closer. "Let me love every part of you. Your mind…" He trailed his fingers down her neck. "Your body…your heart…your scars…" His hands ghosted back down her waist. "Your quirks…your habits…your thoughts…all of you. Give me all of it, Emily."

Swallowing hard, Emily's body shook. She backed away from him, not meeting his eyes, her voice low. "I can't do this with you, Gavin. We…we can't do this." He moved toward her, but she stepped away further. "Tell Olivia I'll meet her back at the apartment. I have to leave."

She spun on her heel and headed for the table to grab her clutch and shawl.

With tangible shock on his face, Gavin watched as she scurried through the ballroom, making her way through the crowd. However, he wasn't about to let her go. He wasn't about to let her walk out of his life.

Not now. Not ever.

In a few quick strides, he made his way through the throng of guests and caught her by the elbow in the lobby. Eyes filled with confusion, he looked down to her, his heart pounding. "Why are you running from me, Emily?"

"I'm not running from you," she whispered, her eyes brimming with threatening tears.

Sighing, he plowed his hand through his hair. "You are running from me, and I want to know why."

She looked away. She refused to see the pain evident in his eyes – and refused to feel the pain in her heart. "It'll never work out. You and Dillon were friends, and he'd never allow this to happen."

"What?" he asked in disbelief, stepping closer. She backed away. "How do you think he'd be able to control anything between you and me?"

"He will," she said as tears slipped down her cheeks.

"The hell he will," he breathed out, taking another step closer. Before she could back away again, he gripped her waist with one hand as the other wiped the tears from her face. "You're supposed to be with me, and you know it. You said it yourself that you feel me when I'm not near you." Dipping his head, he looked straight into her eyes, his voice low. "God, Emily, please…you have to give us a chance. Let me take care of you. Let me love you."

She waited for the words – the right words – to come to her, but they didn't. Cupping her hand over her mouth, she backed away, feeling Gavin's fingertips fall from her waist. A steady stream of tears dripped from her eyes. She looked at him for a moment while her heart grated to shreds in the process, and without another word, she walked out of the lobby.

Watching her slip into a taxi, Gavin stayed rooted in her wake, his heart sinking as he tried to process what had just happened. He knew Dillon had a hold on her, but Emily believing he would be able to come between them fucked with Gavin's head – and it fucked with it bad. Before he knew it, he was digging in his pocket for his keys and heading out to his car. After sending his brother a text to let him know that he had left the party, he found himself driving all over the city. Part of him wanted to drive over to her apartment and push the issue further, but logic told him that he had pushed far enough. There was nothing more that he could say to her, so all he wound up doing was going home.

Upon entering his penthouse, Gavin shrugged out of his tuxedo jacket, grabbed a bottle of bourbon, and promptly poured himself a shot. After tossing it back, he ripped the bow tie from his neck, kicked his shoes off, and sat at his kitchen island. He couldn't help but let out a laugh, although inside he wasn't laughing. He was sinking – sinking further into what he needed. Pounding his fists on the counter, he damned himself for not going to her apartment. Remembering his brother's words, Gavin knew right then and there that he hadn't fought hard enough for her. Standing up, he paced back and forth, staring at his phone while debating what to do. He went to dial Emily's number but stopped himself. This didn't merit a phone call. He needed to go to her – and he refused to stop himself this time.

"Fuck it," he said, digging back into his pocket for his keys.

Swinging the door open, he all but forgot about his shoes, but it didn't matter – because he was met by the most beautiful green eyes staring back at him. They didn't say hello. Words were unnecessary. They both knew right then that they would speak volumes through their actions before dawn broke. Spontaneous combustion ignited within both their bodies as they lunged at the same time – colliding – their mouths sliding over one another. Somewhere in between, the door snapped closed, and Gavin's shirt was ripped off.

Cradling the back of her head, Gavin's kiss exploded like tracer bullets against Emily's lips. Before she knew it, he had her lifted up off the ground and pressed against the wall. Placing her arms above her head, he shackled her wrists in his hand as she wrapped her legs around his waist. With the hard, rigid set of his body pushing against hers during their heated kiss, Gavin's free hand fell to her thigh, sliding her dress up over her waist. The air hissed with the sound of her panties being torn from her body. In anticipation, her wet slick center ground hard against the refined material of his pants. As a deep yearning desire began to blaze through Emily, she pulled her wrists from his hold and feverishly started unbuckling his belt.

"I couldn't get out of the taxi, Gavin. God, I couldn't get out," she moaned against his mouth.

The feeling of want, the feeling of need, and the feeling that they belonged together was something she couldn't ignore anymore. She didn't want to ignore it anymore. He was all she craved and desired, and the only thing she feared was that she wouldn't be able to get enough of him.

"I was coming to get you," he growled, sliding his tongue across her jaw. "I wasn't letting you go this time."

Reaching down, Emily slipped her hand below his boxer briefs, skimming over his thick, hard length. She started stroking him, her senses reveling in the feel of his pearly fluid against her thumb circling his tip. A deep ragged groan tore from Gavin's throat as she stroked him up again, releasing his shaft from its confinements. His lips moved from her mouth to her ear and down her throat, biting and sucking, as she pumped her hand around him.

"I need to feel you inside of me right now, Gavin, please."

"I have to get a condom," he groaned against her mouth.

"I'm on the pill," she breathed out, sweat glistening on her neck.

That's all he needed to hear before he hoisted her up higher – only to pull her down onto him. Pushing up inside her hot, wet warmth, Emily's head snapped back against the wall, unable to believe how incredible he felt. She let out a forceful breath as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Arching her back, he thrust inside her again, completely burying himself to the hilt. Tongue sweeping in and out, Gavin groaned when she tightened her legs around his waist, her hands knotting in his hair. Although her back chafed against the wall with each thrust, the pleasurable burning sensation of his girth overrode any pain she should've felt.

Gavin pulled back, and they gazed into each other's eyes, drinking up the emotions in the air. Their chests were rising and falling together with every shallow breath they took. As ripples of pleasure shook through Emily's body, Gavin slammed his mouth over hers, continuing his exploration of her tongue as he carried her into his bedroom.

A small groan of agony escaped her lips when he placed her on her feet. Emily stood before him, her body trembling from head to toe as she tried to catch her breath.

Without hesitation, he rid himself of his boxer briefs and socks, his predatory gaze hot and focused on her quivering lips.

Emily's eyes traveled from his beautiful face and moved lower to take in the delicious sight of his taut abdomen, the V leading her straight to the long-awaited answer of where his tattoo ended. It was magnificently beautiful. Straight from his left rib cage, it snaked its way down, curving over his hip before dipping lower still. As Emily's eyes followed its progression, she admired the elaborate black ink circling down around his thigh, the dragon's tail wrapping itself around and around. She imagined her fingers or even her tongue pursuing the same path tonight.

"There's not a man on Earth who doesn't wish he was me right now," he said, cupping her face while brushing his thumb over her lips. Like a wild animal stalking its prey, he slowly moved around her, ghosting his lips over her shoulder and then sliding his tongue up her neck. "Your mind and your body will never forget the things I'm going to do to you tonight. Every…single…inch of your body is going to feel me."

Forget about his teasing touch, his words alone had Emily feeling as though she was about to combust. "Oh my God," she breathed out.

"Yes," Gavin said with a cocky smile on his face.

Slowly, he continued to circle and tantalize Emily's body with soft kisses, ultimately stopping behind her. With his breath heated and warm, he kissed her ear. Lashes fluttering closed, she felt pleasure streak through her body with each soft brush of his lips. Gavin slowly unzipped her velvet dress, watching it slip to the ground and pool around her heels.

"Step out," he whispered into her neck, unclipping the diamond pins holding up her hair.

Her hair cascaded over her shoulders and tumbled over her breasts. Trying to breathe, she stepped away from her dress as a heightened level of sexual desire began to slick over her skin. Still standing behind her, with one hand, Gavin's fingers unhooked her strapless bra while the other floated around to the front of her stomach. Burying his face in the curve of her neck, Gavin gently gripped the back of her thigh and drew her leg up onto the bed. A moan escaped Emily's lips as he slipped his fingers deep inside her. Fiery pleasure shot through every nerve ending in her body. Lifting her arms up behind her, she dug her fingers into his hair, clawing and grasping as tight as she could. Cupping her chin, Gavin angled her face to the side just enough to crush his mouth over hers, groaning while his tongue flicked in and out. As one hand worked deeper inside her wetness, the other smoothed along the globe of her breast, rolling her hardened nipple between his fingers. A hot shiver rippled in Emily's stomach, tingling its way through her entire system. Panting faster, Emily pulled his dampened fingers up to her mouth, sucking and swirling her tongue along them. Before she took another breath, Gavin spun her around and slammed his lips against hers.

"You fucking unravel me when you do that," he groaned, his voice harsh, hoarser now.

Heart racing, she delved her fingers into his hair. "Good, now unravel me," she moaned, her body hot, riveting with need.

"Oh, I'm going to." He skimmed his lips over her collarbone. "Now lie that beautiful body down on the bed but keep your thigh highs and heels on," he commanded.

His words sent shivers straight down the length of her spine. She couldn't do anything but simply comply with what he had asked. Cool silk sheets slid against her heated body as she scooted herself along the massive king-sized bed. It only took a few strides, and he was standing before her, so close she could feel the heat and desire emanating from his pores. Emily's heart sped up when she felt his hot gaze slide over her naked body, his eyes devouring every inch that was exposed to him.

With his blue eyes penetrating hers, Gavin slowly dropped down to his knees, pulling her body to the edge of the bed. He spread her thighs, opened her wide, and arranged her legs over his shoulders until nothing was hidden. He reveled in the sound of her moaning before making contact with her flesh. Stroking one hand along her stomach, he lifted her foot, still in her high heels, and kissed her ankle through her stocking.

"Tell me how much you want me to taste you," he whispered, slowly licking his way up her calf as his one finger lightly circled against her wet opening. She was soaked in her desire for him, and it was all he could do to control himself.

"Oh my God, Gavin, please," she begged, raising her hips and squeezing her breasts.

Spreading her legs further, he breathed out one last hot breath against her pussy before his tongue laved slowly against her clit. Sliding his fingers inside, he licked through the sweet juices easing from her body as if his lips were savoring a Popsicle on a hot summer day. And by God, they were the sweetest juices to ever slide over his tongue. He licked deeper and tunneled his tongue inside her, pulling in her moisture in fear that he would never get to experience it again. Honey…she was pure fucking honey. Gavin would give up everything he had acquired to taste her – to smell, feel, and explore every inch of her – so intimately every day for the rest of his life.

"You taste so fucking good," he breathed out, pushing his fingers deeper inside her.

Emily's breath began to rasp through the air, her body arching and trembling against his mouth, and it only made Gavin hungrier. His dick was hot and hard, every inch of him straining to be inside her with each moan dispelled from her lungs. Every time she cried out his name and tugged at his hair, he felt his own body tremble with an anticipation he had never known. It was all he could do not to explode without even being inside her. When he felt her growing close to the edge, he slowed his stroking tongue, brought her back down, and began the whole thing again – over and over – until he knew she couldn't take anymore. When her thighs quaked and shook from waves of climax, he gripped the side of her hips, yanking her harder against his greedy mouth. As she cried out his name again, he nipped, sucked, and pulled her swollen velvet-soft flesh between his teeth.

Before she could come back down from the superior heights of ecstasy he brought her to, he slowly licked languorous circles back up her body.

Pausing over her stomach, he looked up into her eyes, her face flushed and her breathing labored. "God, you're so beautiful," he groaned, sliding up her body. Burying his face against one of her breasts, his tongue swirled and sucked around its taut peak. He grabbed the back of her knee, hitching her leg around his waist.

Emily's breath caught while he hovered over her, continuing to tease his tongue across the swell of her nipple. Every touch was deliberate. Each flick intended to evoke a reaction from her. And she reacted. Her moans echoed through the room, her heavy breathing piercing even her own ears. His tongue – swirling around her breast, gently nipping here and there – caused her body to lurch toward his devilish mouth.

Emily couldn't take in enough air when he finally sank himself inside her. Ribbons of flames licked and thrummed their way through her core. Every thick, long, and hard ridge of him felt magical. For no man – not even Dillon – made her body feel the way Gavin did.

For a beat, they both drowned themselves in the moment as they gazed into one another's eyes, unnamed emotions swirling around in the air. It was then that Emily felt Gavin's claim on her – unspoken and silent. She had lost her body; now it was defined solely by his.

Groaning, Gavin pushed himself deeper, and Emily breathed out hard, pulling his mouth down to hers. He slid his tongue in and out, burying his hands into her hair as their breathing quickened from the sensations spilling through them.

"You like the way you taste on my tongue, don't you?" he asked, his breathing rough and ragged.

Panting, her nails bit into his back as she kissed him harder. "Yes."

"Your body was made for mine." He slid his tongue down her jaw, his hands cradling the back of her head. "Every fucking inch of you was made for me, Emily."

Kissing her, Gavin stroked his hands though her hair as Emily dug her head into the pillow, raising her hips up to meet his thrusts. Their bodies moved together in synchronous rhythm as if they were ideal components made for one another, both writhing under their suffused heat and need. Even though every inch of him was clad with muscle, his embrace was soft and gentle. He did nothing fast and nothing hard. His patient measured movements showed control while he took his time soaking in the moment, worshipping every inch of Emily's body. As their breaths mingled and danced, their mouths played over one another, their hands whispering across one another's bodies. Quickening his pace, Gavin cupped her breast, filling his hands with her softness, while his ears cherished every moan that left her lips.

Gavin dipped his lips to the hollow base of her neck. "You're my weakness, Emily," he groaned, slowly sliding his tongue against her neck. "Such a sweet weakness."

Thrusting her fingers into his hair, Emily pulled him into her mouth as he buried himself deeper inside her warmth. Gavin felt her climax coming as she gripped his caging biceps, digging her nails into his flesh while her slick pussy tightened around him like a vice.

Bringing his arm under her back, he pulled her up against his chest as his fingers knotted in her hair. "Come for me, Emily," he groaned, sweeping his tongue through her mouth. His muscles quivered with restraint to hold off on his own.

As soon as he felt her body start to fall apart under his, he let himself go with her. Their bodies entwined in sheer orgasmic delight as they shook, jerked, and trembled in each other's arms. Sweat against sweat and soul against soul, they soared and fell together, each wondering if they'd ever be able to come down.

When their breathing and bodies slowed, Gavin stared into her eyes. He gently moved her hair away from her face, still in awe that she was there beneath him. He took his time passionately kissing her, his tongue giving thanks to her mouth, her neck, and her shoulders.

As she looked up to him, Emily's hands slowly worshipped him back, her fingers smoothing through his hair, caressing down his chiseled face, and ultimately tracing his mouth.

Gavin had never felt so connected to someone before in his life. Holding her completed him; feeling her made him whole; and he needed to let her know that. "I love you, Emily," he whispered over her lips. "I think I've loved you from the second I laid my eyes on you."

He pulled his head back slightly, and Emily went to speak, but he placed a finger over her lips. "I don't expect you to say it back. I just need you to know this wasn't just sex for me." He placed another soft kiss along her jaw. "I want it all, Emily. I want to spend my nights holding hands with you," he breathed the words into her ear. "I want the all-day texting." He kissed her temple and caressed her cheek. "I want the laughing and the forehead kisses." He softly ran his lips over her forehead. "I want the date nights, the movie watching, and the breakfast making." He dragged his hands through her hair, his teeth tugging gently at her bottom lip. "I want the late-night drives, the sunset watching, the screaming, the yelling, and the crying." Still kissing her, he smiled against her mouth. "I know I'll definitely want the make-up sex that comes after all of the screaming and crying. I want the good, the bad, and the in-between. All of it is what's going to make us amazing together."

Although she found it hard to swallow, it didn't take long for her to reply because there was no second-guessing in her mind. Emily knew clear to the depths of her soul – through every fiber of her being – that she loved him, too. His touch, the emotions bleeding behind his words, and the sincerity in his eyes cast any fear of him – of them – away.

Staring at his beautiful face, she wound her hands around his neck, tears spilling from her eyes. "I love you, too, Gavin." Leaning up, she softly kissed his lips, and she could feel the shock moving through him. She kissed him deeper in an attempt to alleviate that shock. It worked because she felt his body starting to relax. "I want all of those same things…and I need them with you. I want to make you happy."

Leaning his forehead against hers, he took her chin in his hand and brushed the pad of his thumb across her lips. "There's no way you couldn't make me happy. It's impossible."

Gavin rolled to the side, taking Emily with him. With that, they made love – unrelenting and sweet – through the night into the early morning hours.