Home > Happily ​Ever After (Cinder & Ella #2)

Happily ​Ever After (Cinder & Ella #2)
Author: Kelly Oram

My eyes drooped as I lay stretched out on the plush couch, head propped up on the armrest, staring at the computer on my lap. It was getting late, and the words on the screen were all starting to blur together. I must have been closer to sleep than I thought, because I jumped when my instant messenger dinged at me.

Cinder458: I miss you.

I snorted. He was such a goofball. Shaking my head, I couldn’t help typing a response.

EllaTheRealHero: Ha! You’re such a dork.

Cinder458: I’m serious.

EllaTheRealHero: That makes you even more of a dork.

Cinder458: No, it makes me romantic. You’re such a brat.

EllaTheRealHero: And you’re annoying. Leave me alone. I’m busy.

Cinder458: But I miss you. I need you. Right now.

When a hand began to lightly tickle my sock-covered foot, I glanced over my laptop and huffed in exasperation at the man typing on his phone at the other end of the couch. “Seriously, Brian,” I groaned. “I take the GED tomorrow. You told me that if I came over, you’d let me study. So far, I haven’t done much studying.”

“You’ve already passed two practice exams. How much more studying do you need?”

Brian, having had enough of my ignoring him, stole the computer off my lap and set it on the coffee table. My heart spiked as he crawled across the couch toward me, being mindful of my scarred and damaged legs. He had that look in his eyes again, the one that made women around the world fantasize about having his babies.

I still couldn’t believe that of all the women in the world, he chose to give that look to me. We’d been an official couple for a week now, and the novelty of dating one of the country’s hottest movie stars still hit me on a regular basis. Especially at times like this, when he was trying to melt me with his smoldering bedroom eyes.

He came to a stop inches from my face. His tall, muscular, perfect body hovered above mine, waiting for my permission to fall against me. Just waiting. Building tension without even touching me.

Shivering, I sucked in a sharp breath. My head swam as he filled my senses. His body heat warmed me. His cologne—a subtle spicy musk—hit me as I breathed in, triggering my hormones as if it had been designed to do so. It was probably called Eau de Bottled Lust. “Brian, come on. Seriously.”

“Ellamara,” he whispered softly. Dangerously. “Forget about your test already, and kiss me.”

That did it. The man knew my weakness. With a groan, I lifted my arms around his neck and pulled his mouth to mine. He was more than ready for the kiss. We connected with passion, and he kissed me deeply. It was as if he’d been waiting his whole life to kiss me, and not just the last couple of hours.

“It’s really not fair when you use your audiobook voice on me,” I breathed as soon as he released my lips.

He smirked against my mouth. “I know.” His head moved to the side of my face, his lips finding something new to torture: the soft spot of sensitive skin just behind my ear. “Why do you think I used it?”

My eyes rolled back in my head, and I buried my fingers in his soft, dark hair. Brian took that as the okay to turn our kiss into a full-on make-out session. He lowered his body on top of mine, angling himself slightly to the side so as not to squish my small, frail body under all of his weight. I nearly gasped, both from pleasure and fear.

Having his hard muscles pressed against me from head to toe and his hands wandering over the top of my clothes was a new experience for me. We’d only been dating for a week now, but even for a week, I’d been pretty shy about getting physical. I’d never been serious with anyone before my accident, and after…well…I’d been downright scared of dating. Terrified, even.

I pushed away my nerves for a few minutes, letting my desire rule my actions. Brian felt so good, and as anxious as I was, I craved him as much as he wanted me. As he readjusted our bodies, making us comfortable on the couch that suddenly felt way too small, my hands found his chest.

I’d touched his amazing, award-worthy chest once or twice before. I’d rested my hands there while he held me and kissed me, but I’d never been in a position to explore it before. Fueled by lust and not thinking clearly, I dragged my fingers down his abs, feeling each individual muscle, hard and defined.

I shuddered again. He was perfection.

Brian seemed to like me touching him, because he paused for a moment, as if surprised. And then something inside him just snapped. He found my mouth again, devouring me in a heated kiss.

My heart pounded, and it became hard to breathe, but in the best possible way. My hands found the hem of his shirt and slid beneath the material. When I felt his blazing hot skin, I came back to myself. I squeaked in surprise and stilled my fingers. Brian growled in response. “Yes, Ella. Do it. Put your hands on me. I want you to touch me.”

I wanted to. I wanted to more than anything, but I hesitated, surprised and a little embarrassed by what he said. His words had been a desperate request more than a command, but they had been so direct. Brian had a lot more experience in the dating department. There were only three years’ difference between us in age, but sometimes it felt like twenty. Every time things got physical between us, I felt like an innocent little schoolgirl dating a full-fledged grown-up man.

When I didn’t act, Brian ripped his shirt over his head. He covered my trembling hand with his large strong one and guided my fingers to his body, splaying them across his stomach. This time, we both shuddered.

His skin, so soft and hard at the same time, burned beneath my touch. It felt as if he were on fire, and it made me nearly combust as well. I quit being shy. I let my hands roam, exploring every inch of his stomach, chest, and shoulders.

My lips found his neck and drifted to his bare shoulder as my hands met his back. His whole body tensed, and, with a low groan, he squeezed me to him, being a lot less gentle with me than he ever had been before.

His hands slipped under my shirt, doing some exploring of their own, but when his fingers slid over my scars, they doused my desire as if I’d fallen into an icy lake. Gasping, I scrambled to sit up, and Brian immediately sat back, giving me space. His eyes bore into mine, filled with concern. “Did I hurt you?”

My face heated with embarrassment. “No.”

“Then what…” His voice trailed off as he solved the mystery. His expression turned pained. “Your scars?”

I took a deep breath and chewed on my lip.

Brian took my damaged hand in his and rubbed his thumb over the back of it. “Your scars are part of you, and I love all of you.” His thumb stilled, and he met my eyes with a searching gaze. “You believe that, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. I just…” My throat closed up, and my eyes started to burn. I hated that this bothered me. It shouldn’t have. I knew he didn’t care about the scars. I knew that. But I cared. His body was flawless and beautiful. Mine was…not.

“Ella,” Brian rasped. His voice was too full of emotion to take on that low, rumbly quality that makes me melt, but this new, strained voice was just as overwhelming. He squeezed my hand. “I love you so much.”

He’d said those words often this week, and they nearly burst my heart every time. Now, with the emotions flying high between us, they nearly brought me to tears. I’d spent the last year thinking I would never be loved again. Brian had proved my insecurities unfounded a thousand times over. “I love you, too,” I whispered, swallowing back the raw feelings that were choking me.

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