Frayed Page 113

’’You got it.’’ I hold the fruit to his lips.

With my fingers so close to his mouth, my breathing only hitches higher and so does his. The oil crackles and splatters from the wok, but neither of us moves as his hands find their magical way down my body. Drawn to each other as we always are, the magnetic pull gets stronger with each day we spend together. ’’I love you,’’ I say softly.

Suddenly there\s a tap at the glass doors from out in the family room. I turn with a jump and a screech to see the shadow of two people standing out on the deck a silhouette of a man and a woman.

’’You\ e so f**king adorable,’’ Ben whispers in my ear.

He makes his way toward the door, obviously knowing who it is.

’’Who is that?’’ I\m wondering why they wouldn\ just ring the doorbell.

Ben slides open the door. ’’Caleb, where the f**k have you been?’’

The two guys slap each other\s back in a semblance of a hug. I\ve met Caleb a number of times. However, I\ve never met the girl. She\s stunning. Dark hair, dark eyes, and very fit, much like Caleb. I walk toward them.

’’I knocked, but . . . ,’’ Caleb starts to say but stops when his eyes cut to mine. And with his grin wide asks, ’’Bell, how are you?’’

Ben reaches out and takes my hand.

I give Caleb a smile. ’’Good, really good.’’

’’This is Gemma. Gemma, this is my best friend in the world, Ben, and his . . .’’ He pauses for a brief moment.

’’This is my girlfriend, Bell.’’

My heart chases itself in circles at his introduction. ’’Hi, nice to meet you.’’ I smile like an idiot.

’’We\ e just making dinner. There\s plenty.’’

Caleb glances in the kitchen. ’’Ben\s famous stir-fry I\d love to but Serena and Jason are waiting dinner for us. I just wanted to stop by and say a quick hi and talk to Ben.’’

He rocks back on his heels and tucks his hands in his pockets, obviously feeling uncomfortable.

’’Well, how about something to drink?’’ I ask.

’’I\d love a glass of water,’’ Gemma says.

’’The same.’’ Caleb smiles.

I head to the kitchen, staring back at them. I see their gestures but can\ hear anything. Ben keeps staring at me and once I put ice and water in two glasses I hurry back in to figure out what\s going on. When I hand the waters to Caleb and Gemma, Ben opens his arms to fold me into them. With my head tight against his shoulder he kisses me and says to Caleb, ’’You know what, I\m good the way things are.’’

There was a time I would have been eager for the story. But I went down that road once and I don\ ever want to go down it again. I know he\ll tell me as soon as I ask.

I look up. ’’What\s going on?’’

He smiles down at me and kisses the tip of my nose. ’’Nothing. Caleb was just looking for some advice, but I can\ really help him.’’

Caleb nods.

’’I\ll be right back,’’ Ben says, and when he comes back he hands some kind of flash drive to Caleb. ’’Good luck, man.’’

’’Thanks. I\ll be in touch.’’

We say our good-byes and once they leave through the front door, Ben looks over to me and sees my puzzled expression.

’’He just needed some information that I had of his.’’

’’Okay.’’ It feels as though there\s more to the story, but Ben\s body language says it all. He\s quiet, serene, and I feel he needs me to just be here for him. Next, he pulls me close and holds me tight for a very long time. ’’I love you,’’ he says.

’’I love you too.’’ I relish it when he tells me that because it isn\ often, but I know he means it, so I\m okay with that.

He pulls away. ’’Dinner can wait.’’

I nod my agreement because there\s a different kind of hunger I\m feeling all the way to the depths of my soul.

He extends his hand and leads me up toward our room.

We start to make love and when he slowly slides inside me the only words out of mouth are ’’I love you.’’

CHAPTER 37

Come to Me

Ben

We all want second chances. Perhaps we even all need them. But we don\ all get them. I know I\m one of the lucky ones. Caleb showing up last night proved it to me beyond any doubt. I\m happy with my life more than happy. I open my eyes before the alarm clock goes off with those thoughts floating around my mind. I lift my head and reach for her, but she\s not lying beside me.

’’S\elle,’’ I yell.

When she doesn\ answer I sit up and that\s when I hear it. The sound of her puking. I pull my boxers on and hurry into the bathroom. She\s wrapped up in her short pink robe kneeling in front of the toilet.

’’Are you okay?’’ I squat beside her and hand her a towel.

She takes the towel and wipes her mouth. ’’No. I think those vegetables you made me eat gave me food poisoning.’’

I try not to laugh. ’’I don\ think the vegetables would do that to you. Maybe the chicken, though? We did leave it on the counter a little longer than we should have. But I\m fine.’’

She looks up at me. ’’Your stomach is probably used to it.’’

This time I have to laugh at the pout on her face. ’’Come on. I\m putting you back to bed.’’ I feel her forehead. ’’You\ e not warm, but it could still be the start of a bug. Stay home today.’’

’’I can\ stay home.’’


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