“Oh baby,” he breathed, encircling her with his arms and lifting her feet off the floor. She buried her face in his neck and sniffled.
And that was what Gabriella had wanted. Someone she loved, someone who loved her back, someone she trusted. Someone to take her in his arms and comfort her. Let her know with hardly any words it was all going to be okay.
But Ian had done that, hadn’t he? He’d tried. “Okay, I’m getting misty,” she said, giving Brian’s arm a pat. “I’ll leave you two alone.”
“I’m taking her home,” he said over Candace’s shoulder. “Tell Macy she’ll call her later.”
Probably a good idea. The second Gabby emerged from the hallway, Macy practically mobbed her. “Do you know? Did she tell you?”
“They’re going home. She’ll call you later.”
Macy huffed. “Well, it’s obviously positive, then.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” She looked past Macy to Ian, who lounged over by his station, not a single thing about his demeanor giving her an indication he suffered any emotional turmoil himself. “I’m going,” Gabby said, mostly to him, though Macy stood directly in front of her. “See you guys later.”
She left to absentminded farewells and hit a wall of humidity outside. At least her and Candace’s spring due dates would spare them being gigantic in the Texas summer heat, but it would be hell on the nausea. Before she’d even reached her car, her cell phone dinged in her purse.
My place tonight? I’ll cut out early.
He’d said they would talk later but never specified when. Tonight… She wasn’t sure it was “later” enough, but she should probably take what she could get. Sure, she sent back. Eightish?
See you then.
The door opened to her knock at 7:58—she’d stared at the digital time display on her car’s console for three minutes and then glanced at her watch twice before knocking—and Gabby pasted on a smile she hoped was bright.
If the one Ian gave her in return was any indication, she succeeded. He’d changed since leaving work, now wearing black jeans and an emerald T-shirt. Both hugged him in all the right places, and the latter deepened the color of his eyes until they almost matched the jewel-tone of his shirt. Momentarily, she lost her breath. That smile of his, so unaffected—it gave her hope that they could sort this out. It warmed her from within.
“Hi,” she said as he stepped aside to let her enter and closed the door behind her.
“Are you hungry?”
Was he kidding? She was ravenous. But her nerves were as jumpy as a teenager’s on her first date. She wanted to eat her weight in Chinese food, but she also worried that she might throw up at any minute. “Um…yes and no. And if you were pregnant and hormonal, maybe that would make total sense to you.”
He chuckled. “I’ll take your word for it.”
His apartment was a total bachelor pad, functional but not much else. She hadn’t expected anything more, really, but it was a jumping-off point for her mind to go crazy. Was the motorcycle his only means of transportation? Not that she expected the guy to go buy a minivan, but…ah, God. This would never, ever work, would it?
“Well, I’m not much for cooking, so I thought we could go out if you wanted, or I could get some take-out. I didn’t know what you like.”
“Um…I’m easy to please.”
“Or we could sit here and talk,” he said, watching her face and apparently reading her mind.
“I think that’s best. I’m not going to be able to eat until…I don’t know. I was going to say ‘until we figure this out’, but I don’t know if there’s a solution to be found, really.”
“How about this?” He took both her hands in his bigger, warmer ones. She looked up at him, getting lost in those complicated eyes. While his shirt brought out the striations of green, the amber still smoldered, making her think of sunlight on a hot spring day. “We take it day by day. You don’t change any of your major plans, and I won’t change any of mine. Because I think you’re right—there aren’t any answers to be found right now. We’re both in the dark about each other.”
Okay, yes. He was definitely right about that. “I’m so used to having control. All this uncertainty is…hard for me.”
“I’m used to having control too,” he said. “But I rarely have a plan. It’s possible, if it’s what works for you.”
She could see how that was so. She could also see how that quiet strength of his could be a rock for her on chaotic days. Brian had once told her something she’d never forget—that Candace was the eye to his hurricane. Candace was his calm, serene center; she kept him grounded. Gabby had identified a lot with Brian and his rebellious nature since her upheaval a few months ago, and now she wondered if she might need that grounding influence herself. Her ex-fiancé had only been another hurricane right beside her, each of them swirling along their own separate paths. How could that have worked?
Maybe the balm for her fiery blood was right in front of her. All she knew was she didn’t really want to talk. She wanted to be in his arms.
He read her mind again. Before she could make a move, she was pulled gently against that hard chest. Burying her face in his neck, she breathed in his clean scent. God, she loved the way he smelled. And the way his short hair felt under her stroking fingers, soft and pliant and damp from an obvious recent shower. She could get all the comfort she needed from his body alone. She wanted to take all she could get.
“Are you happy?” he asked, his voice rumbling in his chest beneath her ear. “Underneath all the uncertainty and the loss of control, are you in any way happy about this?”
“I am,” she whispered, letting her hands stroke down his back and pulling him closer. “I do want you to know that. When I saw that first positive test, I was so terrified, I just…panicked. And I don’t panic. But after it sank in for a while… I don’t know. I began to realize I don’t think I would change it. It’s something I thought I’d never have the chance for again. Now it’s happening.”
“I’m glad,” he said. “And I want you to know I’m sorry about asking you why you even bothered to tell me. Thank you for telling me. You didn’t have to. You could have gone back to Dallas, and I’d have been none the wiser. I know that.”
“It’s okay. I’m sorry too. We got pretty heated.” She felt a little ridiculous having this conversation crushed against him like this, but she could get used to having every conversation like this. He felt too good and smelled too good to let go, and he made her feel so warm and protected.
It was too premature for thoughts like that, she knew, but her heart and her hormones didn’t give a damn.
She loved the way his hands slid through her hair, the way he combed through it with his fingers as if he couldn’t get enough of the feel of it. “Want this wrapped around me,” he murmured, tugging just enough so that her face tilted up to his. Her eyes closed and her breath caught, waiting for his kiss to sweep her away. “Guess we’re already in enough trouble, though, huh?”
Impatience tightened her muscles. “The damage is already done. I do hope you’re clean, though? Because obviously something got through and—”
“I’ll get myself tested for you, but no, there’s no reason whatsoever to think I wouldn’t be. I’m always safe.”
“Okay. Me too.” She shifted her weight to her toes, lifting her mouth to his and sliding her lips across his.
“Mmm. Thought tonight was for talking?”
“Didn’t we just have a breakthrough?”
He gave her bottom lip the tiniest, faintest lick with the tip of his tongue. “Did we?”
“Day by day, remember?”
“Oh yeah. But what about getting to know each other?”
“Isn’t this getting to know each other? Kiss me,” she whispered.
His lips curved, separated from hers by only a breath. “I already know how you kiss.”
Oh, she was going to kill him. After he kissed her, though. And f**ked her. She hadn’t really thought about it much before coming here, but yeah, she wasn’t leaving without an orgasm or three. The first-trimester horniness wasn’t a myth, at least not for her. Starving, nauseated, emotional, horny—she could check each off her list. She lifted her mouth to his ear to whisper into it, “There are some things you don’t know how I do.” And she drew his earlobe between her lips and sucked on it, giving it a nip with her teeth at the end.
“Jesus.” His hands clenched on her ass and ground her against his growing erection. “Gabby.”
“Please, Ian?” She slid one hand down his chest and rubbed him through his jeans. He groaned, leaning into her. “Let me suck it,” she whispered, giving the outside of his ear a lick. “Talk later. I promise.”
“You’re a fuckin’ siren, woman. I knew it from the second I saw you in the bar. I knew you’d lure me to my demise.”
“Your demise?” She chuckled. “Don’t think I’ve ever lured a man to his demise before. I’ve been lured to mine, though. More than once, it seems.” Letting her knees buckle—mainly because she didn’t want to talk about it anymore—she slid down the length of his body and went to work on his belt. His hands remained on the top of her head, stroking, still combing through her hair.
She released his c*ck from his jeans, and her mouth watered. He was so gorgeous. Long and broad. Made for pleasure, with such a thick coronal ridge that her p**sy clenched in anticipation of the feel of it stroking through. Looking up at him through a few strands of hair that streaked her vision, she placed her tongue flat on the bottom of his head and licked over the tip, collecting the drop of precome and letting him watch her savor it.
His fingers clenched in her hair, and his other hand moved to the base of his shaft, holding it rigid for her. His eyes burned into her. He didn’t speak, but his breath became rapid.
She enclosed his head in her mouth, swirling her tongue around it, sucking it until he gasped and shuddered. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he chanted. He began to move, pushing his h*ps forward. She pulled back, releasing him when he sought more and then giving him long, wet strokes up his shaft until her cheek met his hand. Then she dipped under and gave his balls a lick, prompting him to release his c*ck to give her better access.
And she reveled in it, exploring the spice of his scent and the texture of his skin. Warmth spread from her lower belly…where his tiny offspring lay nestled in her womb. God. At any other moment, she might’ve thought the idea would be a buzz kill, but no…it enflamed her. He was already inside her. They shared a connection some people who’d been together for years hadn’t achieved. It was a blessing.
His head rolled back on his shoulders. She pulled his jeans down his h*ps and dug her nails into the firm muscles of his ass.