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Chapter One–Cade

Warmth spread around me, coating me like a second skin as I drifted back from slumber. Francesca lay curled beside me, her body pressed close to mine, her blond locks spread over my chest. Deep, even breathing let me know she was still asleep, her chin slightly upturned as her head relaxed on my shoulder. God, she is beautiful and she’s mine. Long, dark lashes sat on her cheeks, pink, full lips puckered where she mumbled incoherently every so often. She was adorable.

Last night, I’d proposed…and she’d said yes. She’d held my heart since the day I saw her sitting on the bus bench reading her romance novel, and I’d finally gotten the balls to do something about it. My alcohol problem was always an issue, but wanting her, needing her, was enough to make me want to change. So, after acquiring her services for my lawsuit, I’d decided it was time for me, Cade Kelling, to be an adult. Be a man. Do something about my demons and get the woman I love. I left for rehab right after the trial, spending three months away from my heart’s desire. Pops, my jackass father, was kind enough to ensure I couldn’t see or speak to Francesca the whole time. Luckily, he couldn’t cut out the mail, so we’d been old school and wrote letters to each other.

Three months wasn’t enough to cure me, not by a long shot, but I was on the road to recovery. Reid, my sponsor, was more than willing to volunteer to be my 24/7 babysitter so I could get out early. The next year would be busy with me going to outpatient therapy and AA meetings every single day. I’d do it all again to see the look on my gorgeous woman’s face when she saw me last night. Francesca was a lawyer, but after quitting the firm she worked at when we first reconnected, she opened her own office. I was released from rehab right before her grand opening party, only she had no idea. I showed up, surprising her with my arrival and a proposal.

The party was a success. Business men and women came from all around the area, filling her small office to the max. Her assistant, Zander, called every connection he had, helping her reach the maximum amount of people. Her best friend, Daphne, had planned the whole thing, making the event fun, professional, and engaging. Speaking of engaging….

Her soft fingers curled around my arm, the sparkler shining as the sun hit from the window. She moaned softly, arching her back like a cat, instantly taking my mind from my memories to her soft body against me. Stretching beside me, her long legs untangled from mine. Her hands released my chest. I watched with fascination, my desire for her growing by the second. Her lids gently opened, revealing her bright, love-filled, brown peepers. I still couldn’t believe she was mine, she wanted me.

“Hi,” she said groggily, causing me to stir with need.

“Hey,” I replied, gazing over every part of her body. “I like this.”

She pulled the sheet to her shoulders, her insecurity getting the best of her. “Like what?”

I looped my finger over the edge, jerking the sheet away and completely off the bed. “Me. You. Naked.” Leaning over, I grasped her fingers, locking them and placing our hands beside her head, lowering mine to capture her luscious lips for a kiss. Tongues collided and a rush of heat flowed through my body. Our night had been miraculous, even better than the first time we’d made love, but all I wanted to do was have her over and over again. I moved my lips to her neck, teasing her with my tongue. Silky skin contracted under my touch, her involuntary shudder visible. Her mouth parted as she sucked in a deep breath.

A soft moan caught in her throat as she released one of my hands, trailing up and down my body. Tingles and shivers ran the length of me as I pushed my knee between her legs, making room for me. She bit her lip as I pressed myself into her warm cocoon. Her eyes rolled back and she gasped with delight when I fully entered her. Her moans vibrated through my ear, pushing me deeper into her warmth. Wrapping her legs around my waist, she pulled me as close as she could, snaking her lips over my neck and shoulders as I moved within her. Her fingers kneaded and scratched at my back, her breathing intensified the faster we went. We rocked in rhythm, our hearts beating as one, our bodies moving as one. I brought her to ecstasy long before I felt the release spurring out of me. She cried out for the second time as I, too, was overwhelmed with pleasure.

I buried my head in her neck, kissing her lightly as we caught our breaths. Her fingers found my hair, lightly threading through it as she massaged my scalp. Lifting my face to see her, I locked our eyes, placing a small kiss on her nose. She giggled into me, pressing her mouth to mine and kissing me hard. I was still deep inside her, and she wasn’t making things any easier for me to get up and get ready for the day.

“Francesca,” I murmured, thrusting into her one last time. “I have a therapy session in less than an hour. We’ll continue this later.”

She growled, grabbing my ass and slithering her body against mine. She felt so damned good. “Are you sure?” she asked seductively. Her dark brown eyes were full of lust, her desire evident with each move her body made.

I groaned, giving her a kiss full of promise and slid out of her. “I’m sorry, I wish I could just stay here with you.”

Laying back on the pillow, she nodded slightly as she watched me walk away from her backwards. “New rule, Cade.”

“What’s that?” I questioned, just as I reached her bathroom door.

“You have to stay naked any time we’re here alone,” she laughed, giving a sexy grin.

“Anything for you, Francesca,” I replied with a wink.

Reid was seated in Francesca’s living room by the time I was showered and dressed. The guy was punctual and high on life…almost to the point of annoying the hell out of me. He did in the beginning, but once I got through all the detoxing and anger that came with the shock to my system, I realized he really only wanted to help me. He was over joyous with his three year sobriety status and flaunted his happy all over. I hoped I got to the point he was at, even if I was slightly scared I’d run everyone in my life off.

Francesca came in the room, her long legs peeking out of the pink fluffy robe she tied around her. Golden hair shone with each move she made, her delicate hands placing a cup of coffee in front of Reid as she granted him one of her heart stopping smiles.

“Hey, Reid,” I said as I stepped behind her, pulling her to lean against my body. She felt so good, fitting perfectly into me. It took all I had to not kick Reid out and take her back to the bedroom.

“Cade.” Reid nodded. “You ready to go?”

Giving a longing glance at the beauty in my arms, I reluctantly nodded. “Yep.”

“It was nice seeing you, Francesca. I’ll bring him back here before we head in for the evening,” he directed to her.

She nodded, her hair brushing against my arms as she did so.

Kissing the top of her head, I squeezed her torso close, “I’ll miss you,” I murmured in her ear, nibbling the lobe before I stepped away.

The smile she gave was breathtaking, her gleaming eyes giving me a look of desire and adoration. She lifted her hand, giving a small wave, before I turned to go.

Reid waited for me on the other side of the door, leaning against the stair rail. He appeared casual and collected, but when it came to being a sponsor, he was all business. He looked me over and gave me a hard glare. “You holding up ok?”

Agreeing, I said, “For now,” I paused, nodding my head back to the house, “she’s pretty amazing, so it distracted me from being out in the real world again.”

He started down the steps and I followed reluctantly. I knew deep down the therapy, the meetings, and all the talking was what I needed. Leaving Francesca hurt, but she was the whole reason I went for help in the first place. Without her love and devotion pouring back into my life, I wouldn’t have checked myself into rehab.

We settled in his car, as my keys were still locked away in Reid’s apartment lock box. After turning the ignition, he turned to me, motioning for me to buckle up. “I’m going over the schedule one more time,” he started, pulling the car carefully on the street. He wasn’t just Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, he was also the most cautious driver in the world. He drove slower than my grandpa, and he was eighty-nine years old.

“We already went over it three times,” I groaned, slumping back in the seat. I knew he’d go over it again no matter what I said.

“Ok, first you have a meeting with the therapist. Then a circle meeting with the other outpatients, followed by group therapy, then you and I will head back to your place, after I let you see Francesca, to get the rest of your things.”

I nodded along with each statement, waving my hand along with the words I’d heard already. “When can I get my job back?”

“You can’t even think about working for another three months, when you qualify for night meetings. Cade, this was a very special case, you have to understand that. I pulled some major strings for this to happen, and I wouldn’t have done it for just anyone,” he explained, his eyes not leaving the road. I didn’t even see him blink.

“I know, and I thank you for it. Last night was really special for me and Francesca. We owe that to you,” I stressed, “but I need to pay for my apartment. My bills. I want to give you some money, I mean, I’m going to be living with you.”

He held up a finger, “Ok, one, I get paid from the treatment center, so don’t worry about paying me,” he said, then held up another finger. “Two, your dad wanted me to tell you that he’s paying for the six months of rent. He stressed he would stop if you fell off the wagon,” he concluded.

I was shocked. Pops had already told me he wouldn’t bail me out, give me money, or help me in any way. He’d been mostly absent through my rehab days, though Francesca told me he contacted her. Pops and my relationship had always been strained, more so recently than in years past, but that wasn’t saying much. He’d always been hard on me, not believing in anything I did. I often thought Francesca’s belief in me was what I craved from my father, though I’d never admit that to anyone besides my therapist.

“You ok? You didn’t have a heart attack or something because of what I told you, did you?” Reid joked.

I glanced his way, shaking my head and saying, “No. I’m surprised is all. Doesn’t seem like Pops to wash his hands of me then come back for another round.”

Stopping at the red light, he finally turned to look my way. “Cade…I really think it was your girl. She talked to him and he called the same day, but made me promise to not tell you until after the first night was through.”

Gritting my teeth, I said, “Because he thought I’d fail that quickly.”

“You proved him wrong,” he pointed out, turning his attention back to the road. Gently pushing the gas pedal, we crawled along in the traffic until we were finally closer to our destination.

I sat back, pondering everything. My relationship with Pops was shifting. Unsure of how to feel about it, I let the feeling settle in around me while I soaked it all in. Francesca was changing everything and everyone around me. Her brightness, her kindness, and her energy were penetrating even Pops’ hard exterior. Since the very first time I laid eyes on her, I knew she was special; one of a kind, but this…this was more than I expected. She’d re-staked her claim on my heart, tearing down all my barriers, leaving me exposed and vulnerable. She was slowly healing my wounded soul, and it appeared she would repair other areas of my life as well.

“Cade?” Reid’s voice pulled me from my thoughts.

Turning, I asked, “Yeah?”

“We’re here, Buddy. You ready?” he questioned, a smile playing on his lips.

I nodded. I was more than ready. No one believed in me but Francesca and Reid. I would prove them all wrong. I had no other option.

The meeting with my therapist was for an hour, where I talked about my feelings, my cravings, and the events of the night before. He wasn’t happy I’d proposed, stressing over and over that I shouldn’t start something so serious straight out of rehab. No matter what he said, he couldn’t sway me. I explained time and again that anything with Francesca wasn’t new, that she’d held my heart for years now, but he simply sighed and wrote more notes about me on his legal pad.

I needed to ask Reid what the big deal was later. It was my life, my choice, so why did this guy care so much?

“She’s what led me here. I don’t know why you would want me to wait to tell her how I feel. It’s not like we’re getting married tomorrow, I just wanted…no needed her to know how deeply I care. I would do anything for this woman. She deserves to know that,” I explained, resting my elbows on my knees. My time was almost up, and I didn’t know why, but it was necessary for this guy to understand.

“I get it, but you’ve only been sober for three months. What if you only wanted her because of the alcohol?” he said.

His statement shocked me. Angered me. I stared in disbelief. “I wanted her more when drunk, yes, but that was sexually. I was never good enough for her because of my drinking. She deserved better, and I didn’t hold enough desire to do better at that point. But…she’s back in my life. I know it’s for a reason, and I know that me growing up and getting control of my bullshit ways is what needs to be done. I can be the type of man that deserves her. That’s why I proposed. She makes me want to be better, to be sober, to do everything I can to see her smile, happy. She’s the only one that believed in me from the beginning. And I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I know what I feel for her isn’t the side effects of alcohol.”

He nodded, not saying anything but that our time was up. I finished up the day quickly, not getting upset with anyone else. Most people congratulated me on the engagement, others said nothing. Dr. Lyons was the only one that questioned my decision. He could question it every day, but my answer would always be the same. I knew it was the right decision. The perfect choice for us.

Chapter Two–Francesca

My feet padded across the floor as I hurried to get ready for work. Being my own boss had its perks, like not scheduling a client until ten a.m. and making my own office hours, but lying in bed with Cade all morning put me seriously behind. I still felt his warm arms around me, engulfing me with love and protection. Hamlet darted in front of me, causing my slipper to slide. I caught myself on the door handle, barely saving myself from a bruised butt. “Hammy!” I yelled.

He turned his small, still kitten face to me, meowing softly before darting back through my legs and flying into the kitchen like the mafia was after him. That cat would be the death of me. I loved him, though, and he brought happiness to me on dark days, and soothed my loneliness while Cade was in rehab. Shaking my head, I laughed as I threw the robe on the chair by the door and stripped my clothing for a quick shower.

Zander’s desk housed folders, post-it notes, about a thousand pens, and two steaming cups of coffee. He sat in his chair, spinning back and forth as he typed quickly at the computer. Watching him made me dizzy. His dark hair was ruffled, his tie slightly askew. He really was an attractive guy. Sometimes I thought he knew it, but today more so than usual. His shirt was tight, showing off his defined muscles, and his taut stomach. He gazed up at me under his dark lashes and gave me a smirk.

“Heya, Boss. How was last night?” he asked, wiggling his brows suggestively.

Groaning, I pointed a finger in his direction. “One, don’t call me boss. Two, it’s none of your business.” I grabbed the cup closest to me, raising it in question, “Mine?”

“Of course, Boss. I have to keep you happy,” he joked.

Glaring at him, I questioned, “You’re not going to stop calling me boss are you?”

He shook his head, “Nuh-uh.” The grin gracing his face was full of mischief.

I was in trouble. Rolling my eyes, I sipped the burning hot liquid from my cup, tucking my briefcase under my arm to grab the folders for the day. “Let me know when 10 o’clock shows up,” I instructed, licking my lips to cool them.

“Will do,” he saluted, biting back a smile.

Giving him a look of death, I turned on my heels and headed to my office. The day wasn’t completely full, it was only my first day, but I was pleasantly surprised with how many people set up appointments. Not consultations, but full blown hired me before they came in appointments. It was flattering. I was young for a lawyer, I knew, but I’d worked my tail off to get in this spot. Many people didn’t want to take a chance on a new attorney, much less so if the attorney was younger and a female. I was lucky this many people held faith in my abilities. A small part of me wondered if someone out there was watching out for me, sending people my way so I would be successful. I couldn’t think of anyone, but I mouthed silent thanks nonetheless. Finishing up my coffee, I tossed the cup, spread the files across my desk, and dove in to paperwork until my client arrived.

The day passed quickly, the clients all eager for my assistance, open for my opinions. I missed Cade, more than I thought possible considering I saw him just nine hours ago, but I did. My heart ached for him. His dark mussed hair, his lopsided, sexy grin as his blue-green eyes devoured me. I quickly reeled my thoughts back in, packing my case for the night. Daphne expected me for dinner at the café a few blocks from the office in less than ten minutes. Zander left over an hour ago, so I’d been alone with my thoughts and desires for a while.

Flipping the light switch, I glanced at the calendar on Zander’s desk for tomorrow’s clients before locking up and heading to Peter’s café. I’d texted Reid earlier, informing him of my plans to pass along to Cade. His rehab was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. His addiction was always something I’d known about, but the depth of it ran much deeper than I realized. The amount of therapy he needed was intimidating, but I wouldn’t let him know my worries. Naturally, I was concerned about everything. Loving Cade for all these years was always a dream, and now that he admitted his feelings back, it terrified me to an extent. He could relapse at any moment, though I prayed he wouldn’t. We would get through this together.

The chattering inside Peter’s echoed out on the empty sidewalk. Our town was not too large, but not too small. There was enough to keep everyone satisfied, but not so much we became crowded, overwhelmed with each other. Pushing the door open, I saw Daphne seated at the corner booth, our table, with a glass of water and a cup of coffee waiting for me. Smiling widely, I waved at her as I rushed toward her.

She stood, greeting me excitedly, “Franny!” she screeched giving me a quick hug.

It seemed I couldn’t get away from the awful nicknames today. “Not you, too,” I groaned, throwing my purse in the seat and sliding in.

She raised a brow, “Huh?”

“Zander keeps calling me Boss, and it’s annoying me,” I told her, opening my straw and placing it in the ice cold drink.

“That’s the boy assistant, right?” she questioned, genuinely confused. She couldn’t keep anyone straight unless she knew them personally. And somehow, I wasn’t sure how now that I thought about it, her and Zander had never been introduced.

“Yeah…he was at the opening last night. The dark haired, attractive guy? He’s like two years younger than us,” I explained, certain she had at least seen the guy before.

She bit her lip, twirling her straw in the drink as she pondered my words. “I don’t recall.”

Rolling my eyes, I waved a hand, telling her, “Never mind.”

“Ok,” she said, already bouncing to the next topic. “Tell me about last night.”

“What about it?” I asked coolly. I knew it would drive her crazy if I made her pull everything out of me.

Narrowing her electric green eyes, she snapped, “Don’t do that. I want to know. And I don’t have all night.” She pointedly stared at her menu, tapping her foot against edge of my side of the booth.

I laughed loudly, taking a sip of the brimming coffee. “Ok, ok. He got out of rehab early thanks to Reid, his sponsor, so he could come to the opening. When I got there, he was in my office and he just proposed, which I told you briefly last night,” I grinned, thinking back to the magical moment. “It was amazing. And so unexpected. Anyway, the new stuff. He got to stay with me last night, but he has to live with Reid for the next three months, then he goes through another evaluation.”

The server walked over, asking for our order. Daph was short and to the point, keeping her gaze well hidden from me. I knew she was about to say something I wouldn’t like, but I was prepared for it. She’d never been fully one hundred percent for Cade. She knew how he was in high school, the drinking and the lies. In general, she didn’t trust men easily.

“How do you know this is real, Francesca? He’s hurt you so much in the past, I really worry this is just a stunt to get in your good graces. And an engagement? I’m happy you’re happy…” she sighed. She ran a hand through her long, ebony locks, looking distraught.

“It’s ok,” I admitted, giving her a weak smile. “I would be worried, too. I…I love him. And I have faith in him.” My argument wouldn’t be enough for her overprotective nature, but it was all I had at this point. Only time would tell how things would work out, but I wouldn’t let fear make me miss out on all the wonderful things I could have with Cade. Daphne didn’t understand, because she never let anyone in. One broken heart ruined her for all these years. It was sad, thinking about what she could be missing out on, but I wouldn’t let her bring me down.

She stared at me, opened mouth. “Love isn’t enough, Franny.”

“Yes, it is,” I sternly disagreed.

“Don’t be stupid,” she mumbled, shaking her head.

Her words angered me. I slammed my hand down, palm first, on the table, catching the attention of the other dining guests. “That’s enough, Daph. I know you don’t trust or believe in love, and that’s fine, but you could at least be happy for me. I was going to ask you to be my maid of honor tonight, but if you can’t support me, I don’t see that being a good idea,” I admitted.

The waitress timidly approached the table with our food. She sat it down, asking if we needed anything else with wide, scared eyes.

“Yes, I need this to go, please,” I requested.

She nodded, her gaze darting between us, but she didn’t ask anything. She took the plate back without hesitation.

“What’s your problem, Francesca?” Daphne questioned, her ton flat, her eyes cold. “It’s true. You’ve always had a weakness for Cade and I can’t help but think back to when you two finally had sex and he kicked you out the next morning. That only happened four months ago! I mean, why would you want anything to do with him? He’s a jerk.”

Sighing, I counted to ten in my head. I needed to calm myself down before my friendship with Daphne was completely ruined. She knew Cade was having withdrawals and almost ended up in the hospital that morning. I wasn’t sure what her problem was. “Daph, I know you’re upset and worried, and I get it, but I’m leaving before one of us says something we can’t recover from. You don’t trust men, don’t believe in love, and I respect that. You can’t sit here and accuse me of being stupid for experiencing something you don’t believe in. Our friendship doesn’t work that way,” I said, biting back the tears.

The waitress brought my food back in a bag, giving me a soft grin as she handed me it and the check. Standing, I gave Daphne one last glimpse as the moisture built in the corners of my eyes. I didn’t bid her goodbye, or say any more, just paid for my food, left the girl a tip, and left.

Daphne had always been my most loyal and best friend. Our friendship went through many growing pains, the ups and downs of growing up not lost on us. No matter what, we always pulled through stronger than ever, but her words cut deep this time. I didn’t know if I could forgive and forget as easily as I had before.

Cade made me happy. It was simple and true. Yes, he had an addiction and he’d hurt me countless times, but he was trying, working harder to be better for me. His newfound devotion was admirable and heartwarming. Love wasn’t easy. It wasn’t something that one gave without caution, something to be shared with just anyone. It was much more to me, and I knew the same was true for Cade. Love was a never-ending emotion linked to another, a fragile piece of heaven we held in our hearts, tying us to another’s soul for eternity.

Even if Cade and I could no longer be together, if something ripped us apart once more, I would cherish these moments we had, keep them forever in my memories to bring me joy. If Cade and I didn’t work, as Daphne seemed to think would happen, I would have this small sliver of happiness to tide me over. I would hold these minutes and hours as dearly as I held Josie’s memories.

My fragile self-esteem rarely got the best of me, though it always lingered just beneath the surface, I could generally suppress it. But this time…it took over, completely overshadowing any optimism. Insecurities seeped in, clouding any coherent thoughts, darkening my mood to match the black sky.

I slipped in the car, leaning my head against the wheel as I listened to the storm roll in outside. The thunder clapped loudly, shaking me to my core. I drove home, wishing I could make it before the rain fell, but knew the weather matched the night’s events. I pulled in the driveway as the first splash of rain hit my windshield. I was drenched by the time I got to the door, the frustration of realizing I left my food in the car driving me almost to the point of screaming.

Deciding I wasn’t really hungry anyway, I dashed inside to find Cade sitting on the couch. His eyes washed over me, a small grin gracing his handsome face at my soaked state.

“Francesca, I like this look,” he snickered, standing to come over to me.

However, I wasn’t in the mood to be charmed. I wanted to be alone and wallow in the fact my best friend hated me being happy. Ok, that may not have been entirely true, but I was upset and the darkness took over. “What are you doing here?” I snapped, my tone much harsher than I intended.

He stopped moving, dropping his arms to his side. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I snipped, dropping my bags on the table and squishing my wet shoes to the kitchen.

He followed, though not too closely. “Liar. Even I know when a woman says nothing is wrong that it means the world is ending or everyone was out for her.”

“Why are you here?”

“You already asked that,” he said slowly. He’d realized my mood and seemed to be treading more carefully.

“No, I mean with me,” I sighed, trudging back to the living room. I slung my shoes off, directed at the door, allowing my soaked tootsies to dry on the carpet.

He stood about five feet from me, watching me intently. He spoke, his eyes not leaving mine. “I love you, Francesca. Now tell me what happened and don’t give me this nothing bullshit.”

“I got in a fight with Daphne.” I diverted my eyes, staring at the couch. I briefly wondered where Hammy was hiding. He hated storms.

Cade stepped closer. His blue eyes were blazing, the feelings for me pouring out. “About us. And now you doubt my love?” he questioned.

“No, I know you love me. I just don’t know why,” I exhaled. “I mean, look at me,” I barely choked out. My tears were on the edge, about to stream down my face.

He was in front of me in seconds, slightly towering over me, running a hand through his dark locks. His eyes were drawn close, appearing hurt. His chest heaved with his breathing and I worried for his reaction. “You never did know how beautiful you are,” he whispered. He trailed a finger down the side of my cheek. “Francesca, you are the most giving, wonderful, kind person I’ve ever met. You are beautiful inside and out. Your eyes reach all the way down to your pure soul. Your hair is silky soft, and I would sleep wrapped in it if I could. I know you have your insecurities, we all do, but please believe me when I say you are beautiful. Every curve on your body, every mole, every scar. I love you for you and that means everything. I want it all.”

The tears fell down my face, the salty liquid bled into my lips. I wrapped my arms around my body, not knowing what to do, how to act.

He pulled me close, kissing the top of my head and lifting my face by my chin. “Francesca,” he murmured before kissing from my temple to my collarbone, across it and back up. Hot lips found mine, the warmth of his mouth reeling me in and leaving me dizzy. He kissed me senseless, caressing my tongue with his but reaching deep within me. Butterflies danced in my stomach, his hands slowly peeling my heavy shirt from my body. It clung to me from the rain, but he finally freed it, throwing it across the room.

“I’m going to show you how beautiful you are,” he said, sprinkling kisses across my shoulders.

“Can we go in the bedroom and turn off the lights…?” I questioned, my gaze lowering. Cade was always a ladies man, I knew he’d been with more attractive women than me. My lumpy curves stood out, shaming me to cover myself with my hands.

“No,” he stated, shaking his head. “You don’t like your body, yet I love it. And I’m going to show you every single day how sexy I think you are. You’ll believe me eventually.”

He plucked my hands from around my middle, leaving me feeling bare. He reached around, unhooking my bra and removed it. Instinct told me to duck and cover, but his gaze said to not move a muscle. So I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.

He kissed me softly, his lips pulling and sucking mine as his rough hands caressed every inch of my torso. He continued upward, his fingers finding and kneading my breasts. His kisses moved down, replacing his hands, as they traveled further to remove my pants. Stripping me bare, he left me shivering and blushing with insecurity.

“Open your eyes, Francesca,” he delicately demanded. “I want you to watch.”

I peeled my lids wide, relishing in Cade slowly removing every stitch of clothing covering his sexy body. He had no shame, where I had more than enough for both of us. He came closer, gripping my thighs and kissing me passionately.

Intensity grew between us, our breathing heavy and shaky. He kissed me feverishly, leaving me wanting him desperately. He moved me to the wall, stopping just short of pressing me against it, and flexed his arms as he moved to pick me up.

My thoughts cleared and I pulled back. “You can’t pick me up,” I said, embarrassment flooding my hot cheeks.

“Yes, I can,” he said huskily, moving to me again.

“I’m too heavy,” I insisted, shaking my head. “Let’s go in the bedroom.”

“No,” he refused. Pinning me to the wall, he moved swiftly and had me off the floor faster than I could process. “Wrap your legs around me, Francesca. I need you,” he growled.

“Cade,” I started, but stopped when I felt him against me. He was ready to go and the thought was thrilling, being taken against the wall. It was something I’d never done. Gazing in his desire filled eyes, I obliged, opening up to him and feeling every inch of him instantly. I rolled my head back, holding it on the wall as he moved inside me, his hands tightly holding my butt as his fingers deeply massaged me. He held me the entire time, rocking me to ecstasy. Crying in pleasure, I felt his body shudder and his head drop to my shoulder.

“Oh my…” he breathed against my neck, his hot breath tickling my skin. He finally lifted his head, giving me a peck on the nose, and grinned seductively. “It was hotter than I expected.”

I smiled sheepishly, “I liked it.”

“I knew you would.” He pulled away, gently lowering me to the floor. “Come on,” he said, taking my hand.

“Where are we going?” I asked, unsure if I could walk steadily. My legs were weak and trembling.

“To take a bath,” he winked, leading me to the bathroom.

He filled the large tub with steaming water and bubbles. He walked around confidently, like he wasn’t even aware that he was naked, and it mesmerized me. One, because it was sexy when he was naked, and two, because I wanted to be that sure of myself. I watched as he gathered the essentials, images of us in the bath together playing through my head.

As if he read my mind, he turned, his desire for me once again evident, and smirked. “Ready, babe?” he asked, wiggling his brows at me suggestively.

“Really? In there?” I questioned, nodding.

“Oh, yeah.” He spun me to him, pressing his body against me and rubbing in all the right places.

“This I can’t wait for,” I giggled, pushing him off and climbing in the soapy basin. I turned to give him a wink, biting my lip and he followed.

It was the best bath of my life