The warmth of Cam’s concern didn’t loosen the fear knotting her belly. “Nadia said she’s lonely. She claims I don’t understand loneliness because I’ve never been in a long-term relationship.”
“Lots of people are lonely even in a relationship.”
“I know! So it’s ridiculous and sad and…stupid she’s willing to go back to a man who beat her just because she doesn’t want to watch TV alone.”
“See? That’s why this asshole doesn’t want you around her, influencing her to think for herself.”
“I hate this. I hate that she’s putting Anton’s needs last.”
“And you would put Anton’s needs first.” Cam’s fingers caressed the side of her face so tenderly she felt tears welling again. “He’s been blessed to have you in his life, Domini.”
She’d been blessed. She loved that sweet little boy. He was the closest she’d get to having a child of her own. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Now can I kiss you hello?”
Domini parted her lips and Cam’s velvety hot tongue slipped inside her mouth. She wanted to make love with him like this—face to face, skin to skin, mouth on mouth.
After scrambling her brain for several tongue tangling minutes, he broke the kiss. “Bedroom. Now.”
“Maybe I want to drag it out.” Her hands floated down his chest. “Strip you slowly. Lick and taste and tease you all over. Maybe you should make me do it.”
His body went stone still. Then his voice was low, warm and persistent in her ear. “I said bed. Now. We do this my way. Remember?”
Domini recognized this wasn’t about sexual control with Cam. Heck, it wasn’t even about her. She stepped back and challenged, “And how is your way, Cam? With me bent over the table, or against the refrigerator, or on my knees, or draped face first across the bed? Or are we actually going to have sex some other way for a change?”
His eyes tapered to fine points. “For a change? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
It was difficult to stay the course, faced with his angry surprise, but she dug in her heels, bracing for a fight. “Every time, every single time we’ve had sex, it’s been from behind. I’ve never kissed you, or whispered in your ear, or even touched you when you got me off.”
“Is that a complaint?”
Don’t back down. She notched her chin higher. “Yes. I guess it is.”
Color dotted his cheekbones and his eyes glittered with something that looked like resentment, but she suspected was embarrassment.
“You told me you wanted to surrender to me, Domini. Me. Which means I get to call the shots.”
“Evidently that also means you get to hide.”
“Hide?” he repeated.
“I’ve never seen you naked. Never. You can blame it on being tied up or blindfolded or whatever you did to restrain me, but the truth is: you’re hiding yourself from me.
“I’ve opened myself up to you, Cam. More than I ever have with any man. And while I’m grateful you proved my trust in you was justified, I know you don’t feel the same about me.”
The muscle in his jaw jumped as he stared at her with those hard, dark, cop eyes that scared the crap out of her.
“You don’t trust me, do you?”
Domini purposely let her gaze drop to his left thigh. She let it linger before she looked at him again. “You think I’ll laugh when I see your prosthesis? Or are you afraid I’d be grossed out by your missing leg and run? Help me understand, Cam, because as much as I like you and trust you, I can’t do this anymore. It’s all or nothing.”
Two-hundred-odd pounds of aggressive, challenged male was right in her face. “Why are you pushing me?”
“Because you need it.”
“So what’s it going to be?”
The air stayed still and quiet.
It broke Domini’s heart to see him retreat. To watch that strong, chiseled face lower to his chest, almost in defeat.
After a couple minutes passed, Cam said, “You’re right.”
Her heart beat again; she breathed again.
“I’ve hidden my injury, my stump, my disability, whatever the hell you wanna call it, from everyone, not just you.”
“It embarrasses me that I’m…broken. Most the time when I’m wearing the prosthesis and it’s covered with regular clothes I can pretend I’m normal. But when that shit is off and I’m completely naked? I see I’m not a whole man. I can’t lie to myself. And I sure as hell can’t lie to you.”
His anguished tone nearly broke her resolve. Be strong for him now because he needs it.
“The only person in my family who’s seen it is Keely. And that’s only because she moved to Cheyenne and became my personal physical therapist. She kept everyone in our family away. She helped me deal with all the doctors and the prosthetic specialists, the millions of prostheses fittings, the excruciating rehab and learning to walk again. She…pushed me.
“Keely wouldn’t let me give up even when I wanted to give up on myself.” He briefly squeezed his eyes shut. “Jesus, did I want to just fucking hide myself and my ugly stump from the world.”
Even though Domini ached to go to him, she stayed put.
“After a few months of Keely working her ‘rah rah you can do anything’ magic on me, I tried to reclaim the sexually charged guy I’d been.” He laughed bitterly. “What a joke. I had sex one time after I had the hang of walking on my prosthesis. One. Fucking. Time.”
“I got her clothes off. I went down on her. She came. I thought all was going great…then she reached for the button on my jeans and I totally fucking panicked. I mean, the type of panic that’s pure debilitating fear. I knew I should’ve told her about my stump. I knew I should’ve practiced getting naked because when faced with it with a stranger the first time…I couldn’t fucking do it.”
Domini was well versed in those types of panic attacks, but she still didn’t go to him. He needed to get this all out.
“I’m thinking to myself, what a fucking loser I am. Somehow, I managed to pull it together and insisted we do it from behind. I only dropped my pants far enough she felt my cock and a little of my upper thighs. I fucked her fast and left. She probably never knew. But I did. The worst part was I realized I’d never be the same man. I’d be half a man. I never wanted to try again…until I met you.”
A million thoughts raced around in her head and she couldn’t seem to voice a single one.
Finally, Cam said, “Say something. Your silence is killing me.”
“Well, as encouraging as it is that you want to return to being that sexually charged man with me, you’ve still been selfish.”
Cam’s head snapped up. “Excuse me?”
No doubt he’d expected her to coo sympathy. To be sweet, soft-spoken and pat him on the head while clucking there there, it’ll be all right little soldier, all is forgiven.
“Not sharing your body or yourself with me is selfish. Oh, I understand you wanting to maintain the illusion of male perfection, but know something? I don’t want an illusion, Cam. I want a real man. I want you. I don’t care what kind of lover you used to be. I care what kind of lover you are now. And I can’t be the kind of lover you need if the only part of you I’m allowed access to is your cock.”
He stared at her with absolute shock.
“Uh. Yeah. Usually you’re so s—”
“If you say shy I’ll brain you,” she warned.
“No.” He smiled slyly. “I was gonna say subtle.”
“I am subtle and diplomatic most of the time, but there comes a point where in your face is the only option.”
“So Miss In-Your-Face, have I fucked this up completely by being a selfish and clueless dickhead?”
“Not by a long shot. Not since you’re willing to admit some things need to be different between us.”
Cam released a long, slow breath. “Thank you. I…I’m sorry.” He laughed self-consciously. “What do we do now?”
Humbling, that this formidable man looked to her for direction. The sudden boost of confidence allowed her to erase the distance between them. She twined her arms around his neck and held him until he stopped shaking. “First we get completely naked. Then we see how smokin’ hot it is to have sex in missionary position. Then we test out my cowgirl skills as I ride you. All within the parameters of your control, naturally.”
“Sound like a plan?”
“Sounds like the best plan I’ve ever heard.” Cam lowered his head and kissed her stupid.
Sweet baby Jesus. If Cam was crazy about Domini before, it was nothing—nothing—compared to the way he felt about her now.
He flat out fucking loved her.
The woman had guts. No one in his life said shit like that to him. Not even his in-your-face sister, not even at his lowest point. And the hell of it was she’d been exactly right. He had been a selfish bastard in bed. Even Domini’s surrender had been about him.
No more. He would lay himself bare for her. Completely. He ripped his mouth away and mumbled, “Stay with me tonight. At my house. All night.”
“Maybe. It depends on a couple of things.”
He ignored the spike of fear and said, “Anything. Name it.”
“Well, can I touch you as much as I want? Because I have a lot of catching up to do.”
“As much as you can handle.”
Cam tried to remain calm at the thought of her waking up and staring at his stump while he was still asleep.
This is about trust. You have to start someplace or you’ll lose her and never have to worry about her staring at any part of you.