In Just Once More, Robert Dade is a man who knows what he wants and never hesitates to go after it. Money, power, and — at long last — the woman he loves, Kasie Fitzgerald, are now his. But after so many years of living by his own rules will he really make the compromises necessary to keep Kasie by his side? And when a man even richer and more ruthless than he is takes an interest in Kasie, will Dade be able to protect her? Or will his controlling nature drive her toward the very danger he seeks to shield her from?
I stand now in the doorframe of my living room, quietly studying her as she lounges across my antique leather sofa, taking in the lean curvature of her legs as she stretches them out across the cushions, the waves of dark hair that brush against her back, the swift movement of her brown eyes as she reads her book, a scholarly account of the vicious love affair between money and war.
She’s . . . she’s more than lovely. She’s the personification of what art is. Everything from her perfectly toned body to her razor-sharp mind has been finely crafted with the skill and training of a master, and she is that master and the canvas.
She raises her head from her book, her gaze now mine. “You’re staring,” she says, her voice sensuous, teasing.
“As long as you’re near me, I’ll be looking,” I say simply. “Because I can.”
“Rather entitled.” She places her book on the oak coffee table, careful to put her bookmark in place.
I walk over to her, between the coffee table and the sofa, and place two fingers under her chin, raising her face toward mine. “You’re in my house,” I remind her. “Everything here is mine to look at.”
“I could leave,” she says lightly, a smile playing on the edges of her lips.
“You could. But you won’t.”
“No.” She takes a deep breath, causing her breasts to press against the thin silk of her blouse, tempting me, inviting me. “I won’t.”
It wasn’t that long ago that she would have answered differently. When I met Kasie, she was with someone else, someone unsuited and unworthy of her. I ensured our proximity by devising a way to work with her. I fought for her, won her, and then I fought everyone who wanted to hurt her. I was ruthless; Kasie would say too much so. She’s probably right, but then let’s face it, it’s not as if she hasn’t crossed a few lines herself. And if you won’t be ruthless for love, then how valuable is that love? My real mistake was having underestimated her. She didn’t need my protection, only my partnership. She even left me for a while because I failed to see that.
I won’t make that mistake again.
At least I’ll try not to.
But as I caress her smooth cheek with the back-and-forth motion of my thumb, it’s hard to believe that I would be able to restrain myself if anyone tried to hurt her again.
I take a step forward. “The only thing I doubted was my own worth.”
In my entire life I’ve never said or even thought such a thing, and I’m shocked to find that as I say it now, it’s completely true. And so I take another step, then another, until I’m right in front of her, my hands holding her arms before lifting to her hair, pushing it back from her shoulders. Gently I rest my forehead against hers. “You are my ocean. You are the only thing I can trust.”
“You don’t have to say that,” she whispers.
“I don’t have to say anything,” I agree. “Still, it’s the truth. I trust you. And . . . I love you,” I say.
Those words have never been easy for me, but now that I have said them out loud I can see the smile in her teary eyes. “I love you,” I say again before I kiss her, gently at first, as if asking permission before my hunger takes over, the intensity increasing as her hands move to my face, then she’s pulling me closer and the desire is both intense and tender. I push her toward the bed even as she pulls me there and we tumble down onto it, our lips parting for no more than seconds before they connect again, her hands desperately working on my buttons as I yank down the zipper on her dress.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
With one hand I undo the clasp of her bra; my other hand strokes her hair, gently pushing it away from her face.
I love you.
She tosses my undershirt to the floor, and my cotton-jersey pants quickly become a discarded pile on the bed. Her hand is wrapped around my c*ck, and between kisses she breathes the words back into my mouth,
“I love you, Robert, I love you.”
I have never wanted anyone as much as I want her, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever wanted her as much as I want her right now. I tear her panties from her body. I want to be inside this woman.
I need to be inside her. Right. Now.
And when I enter her she cries out, her legs immediately wrapping around my waist as I adjust my position, placing my feet on the ground as I thrust into her again and again. And still I kiss her, still I pet her hair, slip my hand beneath her back, arching her up to me as she clings to my shoulders.
This woman who is art, who is my ocean, who will be my wife.
I pick her up, never losing our connection as I press her back against the wall, as her thighs continue to hold me. Her arms are now around my neck, her hands on my back, in my hair, and I’m thrusting up now, celebrating a new way to be inside her, our breathing in sync, our rhythm our own. And when I release her it’s only to turn her around quickly so I’m pressed up against her back. As she presses her hands and face to the wall, my own hands are now free to explore her in different ways. Fondling her breasts, toying with her clit as I bend and straighten my knees, thrusting into her as she absorbs me. It’s everything I can do to hold myself back until she cries out again, until I feel her contract around me, shudder against me. That’s when I fill her again, exploding inside her. That moment of mindless bliss so brief and so damn perfect.
“Kasie.” Her name comes from my lips like a puff of air.
“Robert,” she whispers, “you have my heart.”
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