My palms move lower and skim her stomach before I slowly approach touching her between her legs. This is going to be the problematic area and I'm afraid of her reaction. She may think it'll be fine but change her mind the moment I touch her. It might make her think of what he tried to do to her.

I'm slow and cautious as I inch my hand lower. I hear her breathing increase. I'm apprehensive, unsure if she's beginning to panic. I decide to not take any chances and my hand retreats. I can't risk the harm I could cause by continuing.

She reaches for my wrist as I'm pulling my hand away. "Please don't stop. I want you to keep going," she says as she pushes it lower. "I'm not afraid."

Maybe she isn't but I am. I fear she's pushing herself too hard and too fast because she thinks she needs to prove something. "You don't have to do this right now."

"I know but I want you to touch me. This is what you and I do, and I need to know that he didn't ruin the way you feel about me."

Fuck! This is about me. She's afraid I won't want her because of what he did?

I turn her around so I can see her eyes. "Baby, I love you and there's nothing anyone could do to change that—especially him or what he did to you. Trust me when I tell you that I could never stop loving you because of something like this."

She rises on tiptoes and kisses me, biting my lower lip and tugging on it with her teeth. "I need you to show me."

I have to trust her word. If she says this is what she needs, then I have to have faith in her. "Here or your bedroom?"

"Bedroom. This shower is too small for everything I want you to do to me."

She turns off the water and pulls the curtain. She steps out and stands dripping on the rug as she waits for me. I'm not sure my second foot is on the bath mat before she puts her arms around my shoulders and jumps up to wrap her legs around my waist.

Luckily, my reflexes are quick and I catch her under her thighs before she lands on her bum on the floor. "Damn, baby. You could've warned me."

I carry her to the bedroom and the cold air chills both of us. I toss her playfully onto the bed. I slide in beside her and the sheets absorb the water beads on our bodies. "We've just fucked this bed up."

"Not yet, we haven't," she says as she pulls me on top of her. Our wet bodies slip effortlessly against each other and it's exhilarating to have her slide against me, skin on skin. She brings her legs up around my waist and squeezes me closer. "I want you to fuck me like you mean it. Don't you dare hold back because you think I'm fragile; I'm not and I won't break."

Aggressive isn't a good choice for us right now, even if she thinks it is. "I know how strong you are." I kiss the side of her face where there's an unpleasant reminder of what that bastard did. "I don't need to see you tolerate rough sex to be convinced of that." I kiss her forehead just below the laceration. "Don't make this about him."

She puts her hands on my face and strokes her thumbs over my still-wet cheekbones. "I love you so much."

"I love you too." And now I want to show her how much.

I move my lips over hers and she follows my lead for the slow, seductive kiss I want to give her. She slides her fingers up the back of my wet hair and I feel drops of water roll down my neck. Her hands leave my hair and glide over my shoulders and down my back through the moisture unclaimed by the bed linens.

Relaxed legs replace the tense ones squeezing my waist. She lets them fall apart beneath my weight and I recognize it for what it is—her giving me domain over her body. I take great pleasure knowing she trusts me enough to do so.

I move my hand down her body until it's between her legs and that's where I cup my hand around her and begin rotating in a circular motion with only the slightest pressure. My mouth is still pressed against hers but neither of us is concentrating on the kiss. I know the task she chooses for me to focus on.

I gradually apply more pressure and I feel the increase in her breathing against my mouth. She begins to lift her hips in rhythm with my hand's motion and I close in on her most sensitive area. I know how to top it off quickly for her, but I wait because I want her to enjoy this for a while longer.

She rides my hand harder and I sense her immediate urgency. "Do you want me to make you come?"

"Oh, God, yes," she says with panting breath against my mouth.

I slide two fingers inside her and place my thumb over her erogenous nub. I apply light pressure with a gradual increase as my thumb slides back and forth. "I'll always take care of you, baby."

I feel her entire body tense, followed by the internal rhythmic spasms against my fingers. Her legs tense as she arches her back. It never gets old seeing her this way. I'm still amazed by how hard she can come and how beautiful she is when she does.

When the rush of her orgasm is over, she relaxes and looks up at me hovering above her. "You're so good at that."

I'm relieved that she's handled my intimate touch so well. I'm confident that she is going to be fine with me being inside her, but I still choose to proceed with caution. I press my cock against her slick slit and watch her face for any outward sign of stress. "You're okay?"

"Yes. Please stop being weird about this. That bothers me worse than what actually happened. I don't want awkwardness between us, so now it's me telling you to leave him out of this."

She's right. I'm the one being weird and it stops here and now.

I kneel between her legs and grasp her behind her knees to pull her down the bed. I tap her on her hip as I tell her to lift her bum and I push both of the pillows under her hips before I drive deep inside her. She gasps and then smiles up at me. "That's more like it."

As I slide in and out of her in this different position, she never once takes her eyes from mine and I covet the deep connection I feel with her. It's erotic—yet incredibly loving—and is something I've never felt with any other woman. Ever.

As I thrust into her over and over, I lose myself in her caramel-brown eyes, because it's so easy to do, and I'm able to forget the night's events. I feel it building and then my favorite part happens when I get to thrust as deep as I can inside of Laurelyn as I call out her name. When I'm finished, I remain inside her because these are the moments I love. I'm able to envision it all when we're like this—our future as husband and wife with our children. And I always see it happening in Australia. Never here.

And I'm afraid that could be a problem.

I fall asleep in Jack Henry's arms. I must've been content because I don't wake once during the night. There's no way I could've done that before we were separated, but something about being apart has caused a change in me. It makes it possible for me to allow him in my space while I'm sleeping.

When I open my eyes, he's already awake. No shocker there. "Hey, you."

He kisses the top of my head. "Good mornin', love. Sleep well?"

He pulls me in for a hug. "See? It's not so bad having me close."

"I've never thought it was bad," I explain. "I just wasn't used to it. I endured last night just fine."

He scoots away from me. "Endured? Hell, don't do me any favors."

I think I'm wearing off on him because that's one of my lines. "I'm sorry," I laugh. "Endure is a poor word choice. That's not what I meant at all." He lies back down beside me. "I just meant that I didn't wake up once, so I was obviously content with having you in my space. Our space."

"Our space sounds much better than your space."

My stomach growls and I remember there are no groceries in the apartment since I've been away for weeks. "There's nothing here to eat. I doubt I even have enough to scrounge up something for breakfast, so I'll have to make a grocery run this morning. And you're going with me." I point to my nightstand. "Open that top drawer and pass me a pad and pen so I can start a grocery list."

He stretches over to open the drawer and the sheet pulls back just enough for me to catch a view of his sculpted ass. I pull the sheet back a little more for a better view and run my hand over it. I can't resist.

He laughs as he digs around in the drawer. "Hmm…what do we have here?"

I don't care what's caught his attention because I'm enjoying the view way too much.

When he rolls back, he's holding the purple vibrator in one hand and the Bullet in the other.

Oh, shit. I totally forgot about those being in that drawer. I cover my blushing face with both hands. "A gentleman would have pretended he didn't see those."

"I think we've established that I'm only a gentleman in public—not in the bedroom. But I must tell you that it makes me feel pretty damn spectacular to know that you needed two of these battery-operated boys to replace what I did for you."

As if that's even possible. "You'd be mistaken if you think any number of those things could ever replace what you do for me."

"They don't have to replace. They can…enhance," he suggests.

He's twirling the Bullet around in his hand. "Well, maybe we should try them out and see. You might like the kind of enhancing I do with them."

I have no doubt I'd like anything he does to me while using them. "Now?"

"Unless the grocery store is going somewhere."

"Smart-ass." Of course, he means now. I don't know why I'd think otherwise. He's a morning man. And a night man. And an everything-in-between man. "Okay."

He moves down in the bed. "Close your eyes and don't open them. I want you to lie still and completely concentrate on the sensations."

I reach for my pillow and put it over my face because I know me. "I'll be too tempted to look."