‘Yeah.’ He gestured to the room. ‘There’s plenty of space. It means you’ll not have to worry about Cole being left in the flat with your mum, but it also means that you can check on your mum anytime you want to.’
‘But Mum’s rent … her disability won’t cover it.’
‘Keep paying it. We can use the place as extra storage as well.’
‘I can’t afford to pay two rentals.’
‘You won’t have to. I pay rent on this place anyway. I’ll keep paying it. We’ll just have to chip in on food and utilities together.’
My heart was pounding hard at the offer, my emotions (and my body) screaming ‘Yes!’ at the thought of getting to wake up next to him every morning, but my mind was playing it way more safe. ‘We can’t intrude in your life like that, Cam. You’re not just asking your girlfriend to move in with you. You’re taking on a teenage boy as well.’
My caution caused a smile to form on his perfect mouth. ‘Baby, I already have taken on a teenage boy. I spend just as much time with the kid as I spend with you. He’s a good lad. I love him. I love you both. So will you move in with me?’
Tears started to fill my eyes as my chest compressed with too much feeling. ‘You love him?’
He shook his head at my tears. ‘Christ almighty, I’ve set you off.’
I slapped at him halfheartedly. ‘Don’t ruin the unbelievable romanticism of the moment.’
‘Was that a yes?’
Moving in with Cameron was a huge step for the three of us, but after all our ups and downs we’d come out stronger than ever. I believed we could do this, that I was ready, and that for now it was the best solution to our problem with Mum.
I snuggled deeper into Cam’s chest and closed my eyes as his arms automatically tightened around me. ‘That was a big, fat yes.’ As Cam relaxed beneath me, I realized how tense he’d been about asking, and an overwhelming rush of love for him washed over me. That love quickly turned into lusty tingles in all my lusty places as I felt the heat of his skin through his T-shirt. ‘God damn these ribs,’ I muttered, my voice now hoarse with sexual frustration.
Understanding, Cam groaned. ‘Baby, don’t. I’m struggling as it is without hearing that you’re struggling too.’
‘I know,’ I murmured plaintively, my wicked thoughts pouring into my hand as it slid slowly down Cam’s stomach and over his jeans. He hissed, inhaling sharply as I rubbed my hand hard over his growing erection.
‘Are you trying to torture me?’
I shook my head. ‘If you’re up for nice and slow’ – my fingers fumbled as I undid the button on his jeans and then slipped the zip down – ‘I can ease some of the pain.’
‘Jo, you don’t have to,’ he argued, but it was a halfhearted protest, and I could feel his chest rising and falling in excited breaths.
‘I want to.’
That was all it took to convince him and he helped me release him from the confines of his jeans and underwear. Days of pent-up sexual frustration now faced me in one throbbing, thick, veiny cock, straining towards Cam’s stomach. When I wrapped my cool hand around it, he tried to stifle another groan, his head falling back with the feeling.
My grip tight but slow, I began to stroke him. I couldn’t move any faster for fear of pulling on my ribs, and the torturous momentum had a sexy effect on Cam. Instead of watching my hand, I studied his face. He’d closed his eyes, his eyelashes resting against his cheeks, his cheeks now flushed at the crests. His lips were slightly parted in pleasure.
God, he was hot.
I squeezed my legs together, feeling my sex throb and grow wet with need.
‘Baby, I’m –’ He sucked in a loud, harsh gasp for breath and I was suddenly glad that the volume on the television in the living room was up high. ‘Going to come –’ His jaw clenched and he made this guttural noise as he came all over my hand and his T-shirt.
After a few seconds of listening to him pant, I bit my lip and mused aloud, indicating his T-shirt, ‘I hope that wasn’t new.’
His body started to shake with rueful laughter. He ran slightly shaking fingers through his hair, his eyes bright on me. ‘I just came like a callow youth.’
‘Magic hands,’ I teased.
Cam shook his head. ‘Jo hands,’ he corrected, then pressed a sweet kiss to my mouth.
After he’d cleaned up my hand and himself and changed into a fresh T-shirt, he got back on the bed, but this time he straddled me.
‘What are you doing?’ I breathed, excited but also still in pain. ‘We can’t do anything.’
He shook his head, his eyes full of heat. ‘You don’t have to do anything but stay as still as possible.’ And without another word he went to work on my jeans, carefully pulling them off, along with my underwear.
He pushed my thighs apart and crawled up the bed until his head was between my legs. Gently, he eased two fingers inside me and grunted. ‘Fuck, you’re soaked.’
‘I enjoyed getting you off,’ I whispered, trying not to writhe at the delicious sensation of him inside me.
‘I can feel that.’ Cam took a shuddering breath. ‘This is torture.’
‘Do you know what torture really is? Having your tongue so near and yet so far.’
He threw me a wicked smile and then promptly put that tongue of his to better use.
The peace it brought me to look back and no longer see that wall Cam had helped me scale so long ago was indescribable. I would never be back behind that wall again, or have my colours muted and my personality trapped in the stranglehold of my insecurities. This was me. Life from now on would consist of being real, which was somehow scary and freeing all at the same time.
It helped that the pieces of my life were falling nicely into place for once.
Cole pretended to be indifferent to the news that we were moving into Cam’s flat, but I could tell by the way he’d been enthusiastically packing, and slowly moving something new into the flat every day, that he was happy about the new arrangement.
As for Mum … well … first she’d gone off about how we were abandoning her, and how she wouldn’t let me do this to her, and I couldn’t take Cole, and I was a selfish little whore, and blah, blah, blah …
Allowing her to exhaust herself in a tirade seemed like the best way to cope with her. That way she tired herself out and had no energy to fight me as I calmly told her that if she didn’t let me move Cole downstairs, if she even dared to call the authorities, I’d leave her ass in the dust and never look back. I assured her that this way I would check in with her, and if she needed me I was only a staircase away. Her silence was a bittersweet relief and it informed me in its heavy weightlessness that I’d won this particular argument.
She hadn’t spoken to us for three weeks.
Wiping sweat off my forehead, I blew air out between my now completely healed lips and gazed around Cam’s sitting room. Boxes surrounded me on every side. Cole and I were supposed to be officially moving into Cam’s the next day – a Saturday – so that Cam and the guys could help us with all the boxes. Feeling a little overexcited about the whole thing, and restlessly wandering around the flat, I’d decided to take one of the lighter boxes downstairs to his (our) flat while he was at work. It was now late afternoon, my side was hurting a little, and I’d moved most of the boxes into their new home.
Cam would return from work in an hour or so and a few hours after that I had to be at the bar for one of my last shifts ever at Club 39. I was going to miss everyone at the bar. I’d still see Joss, of course, but that place had been a home away from home for the longest time, and I had spent time there with two of the most important people in my life. It was the end of an era.
However, something new and exciting awaited me. Uncle Mick had already given me two work T-shirts with his company name on them: M HOLLOWAY’S PAINTER & DECORATOR. I loved them. They looked great with the new overalls Cam had bought me.
Humming to myself, I pulled out my iPod and stuck it in Cam’s stereo dock, turning the volume up as I began unpacking. Time passed quickly as I sang along, dancing, and shaking my ass as I found places for all my stuff, attempting not to overwhelm Cam’s space with my things.
Just as I was breaking up the empty boxes, a pair of strong arms slid around my waist and scared the bejesus out of me. I yelped and spun around to find a bemused Cameron smiling at me. He gestured silently to the room and all of the new objects.
‘I got a little carried away,’ I explained, speaking loudly to be heard over the music.
He nodded, his gaze drifting over the mantel, where a photograph of me, him and Cole now sat next to his own pictures. The stylish mantel clock from upstairs now dominated the centre, the photographs dispersed evenly on either side of it. ‘I can see that.’
‘It saved us doing most of it tomorrow.’
Blue eyes dropped to my side and his hand came up, his palm pressing gently against my ribs. At the proximity of his touch to my chest, I felt my n**ples peak against my sweat-dampened tank top. We hadn’t had sex since before the attack. Fooling around while we waited for my ribs to heal had been fun, but my hormones were becoming a tad impatient for the play that succeeded the fore.
‘You didn’t hurt yourself, did you?’ Cam asked, his brows knitting together in concern.
Lying to him a little, I shook my head in response.
As if he knew, he scowled at me.
‘Okay, I got a bit overeager. It’s just because I’m excited to move in with you, baby.’ I tried to charm my way out of the coming admonishment.
It worked. With a roll of his eyes, he whipped his other arm out and pulled me against him. I wrapped my arms around his neck as he held me, resting my chin on his shoulder. Breathing Cam in, feeling the strength of him against me, and knowing that I could reach out and have this with him anytime I wanted made me sink deeper into him. Those lean, muscular arms of his tightened around me, not only comforting me but awakening another set of frustrated, neglected hormones.
Without really meaning to, we began to sway to the music, and Rihanna’s mournful voice sang ‘Stay’ at us. Goose bumps woke up all over my arms and I held on tighter to him, turning my head so our cheeks brushed. The song filled the room with such meaning it took my breath away, and as it hit the chorus Cameron whispered the lyrics in my ear, ‘… I can’t live without you …’
With my heart pounding with the profundity of what he’d confessed so romantically, I pulled slowly away from him so I could look into his face, and his eyes seared into mine. He meant that. He meant every word.
I was too full. Too full of emotion. Too full of love. There was no room for words. Instead I kissed him, throwing every feeling I had for him into it, my mouth savouring his in wet, hard desperation. Cam started moving us backwards as we kissed, his hands reaching out behind him as he led us out of the sitting room. He turned to guide us towards the bedroom, but I broke the kiss with a shake of my head, tugging on his hand.