Authors: Adriane Leigh
Rapture and Lace, (Lace Series #3)
Copyright 2013 by Adriane Leigh. All rights reserved.
Cover Design by Chris Mascaro
"Eva." He dropped to his knees at the edge of my bed and grasped my hips with both of his palms. He laid his head in my lap and I ran my fingers through his hair.
"I knew something was wrong when I left. I knew we weren't right. I tried to go home. I tried to work out, get work done, go to bed. My bed sheets feel empty when you're not there. Your heartbeat helps me sleep. Your breath soothes my soul. I know you're mad, but, please don't leave. Don't run on me Eva, I love you, more than I knew I could ever love anyone. When we're apart I think of nothing but you. You're my everything."
I took slow deep breaths and watched Carter’s beautiful head in my lap. I ran my hand down his strong neck to his upper back and circled my fingertips on top of the muscles. For so long I had thought he consumed me; that it only went one way; that he would leave me at any moment once he realized I didn't fit into his world.
And yet here he was.
My hands moved to his face and I held his head in my palms. "Hey, look at me."
His head remained bent.
"Look at me, Carter." I forced him to lift his head and look me in the eye. "You consume me. I've got it so deep I can barely even breathe. When we're together you take my breath away and when we're apart I'm lost. I won't run again, I promise. What can I say to make you believe me?"
Carter's fiery gaze held mine with an intensity that only he could muster. "Marry me. Go to bed with me every night, and wake up with me every morning for the rest of my life."
The air left my lungs.
The seconds stretched like minutes. I knew for every moment I didn't answer him, he thought my answer would be no. Could I do it? Could I live with him in his big house? Would we get sick of seeing each other every morning? Would he get bored with me? I still wasn't convinced that he was a monogamous kind of guy.
Then I checked myself; that had been my problem all along hadn't it? Second-guessing my place in this relationship; my worthiness of such a beautiful and lovable man. I had to take him at his word, if I had learned anything over the past few days, it was that. I had to believe him when he told me he wanted me here, in his life, every morning and every night.
"Really?" His eyes looked up at me in childish wonderment. Tears sprang to my eyes as I entwined my fingers in his messy hair. "Yes, Carter." I nodded and pulled his lips to mine tenderly. He wrapped his hands into my hair and held me tightly, kissing me with a new kind of intensity. He pulled away and his lips dusted against mine.
"I love you so much." He kissed my lips lightly. And then he pulled away and shook his head, laughing. My heart jumped into my throat for a moment. Had he gone mad? Why was he laughing? Uncontrollably now. My heart beat faster—maybe this was wrong, maybe it was a joke. He didn't want to marry me; I’d been so foolish.
I pushed myself further up the bed and turned my head as angry tears sprang to my eyes. How foolish could I be? Carter turned me into a blubbering idiot. When I was with him I didn't know up from down and the logical part of my brain ceased to work.
"Eva." His voice pulled me from my fog. "You've made me so happy. I don't deserve you. I know I’m hard, Eva, I know I’m so fucking hard to be with. But I’ll be better." He crawled up my bed and wrapped his hands in my hair again, pulling me to him. His lips pressing to mine made my brain buzz and my nerve endings prickle with heat.
"Carter…" I pulled his head back from mine gently. He grinned a slow, lazy grin and nipped at my lips. I smiled softly; he looked so young and beautiful and carefree in that moment. Not the CEO who ran a billion dollar company, but a man that looked his age. Playful and sweet. "You really want to get married?"
"Yes. I want to marry you, Eva. I want to be tied to you forever." I frowned at his statement.
"Carter, we don’t have to get married for me not to leave. I wasn't going to run tonight. I just needed time. So much happened tonight…" My thoughts trailed off softly.
"I’m not marrying you because I’m afraid you'll run, Eva. I was afraid, but that's not why I want to marry you. I love you. Every day I want to show you how much I love you. Will you let me?" He placed one finger under my chin and lifted my head to look in his eyes.
"I love you, Carter, so much." I jumped to my knees and threw my arms around his neck, squeezing him tightly.
"Let's go tonight. Let's leave, we'll go to Aspen and get married this weekend," he whispered.
"What?" I pulled back in shock.
"Let's do it, Eva. I don't want to wait a moment longer than I have to." His thumbs danced along my jaw line and around the sensitive skin of my neck.
"You don't want a wedding with family?" My heart thumped in my chest erratically wondering if I could do this, if I could jump up and marry Carter this weekend.
"No. I mean… I don't care. If you want that, then we'll have that. All I want is you. How I get you, it doesn’t matter."
"But Carter…" my thoughts trailed off again. I wondered if he'd forgotten what I’d told him. He waited patiently for me to continue. "I can't have kids." My heart dropped. He wouldn't want me now. He would remember that I was damaged goods. I couldn't give him beautiful children with steely blue eyes and silky toffee-colored hair.
"Eva I don't care about that. You're what matters to me, nothing else."
I watched him thoughtfully as he stroked my hair and smiled at me with a soft look in his eyes.
"What do you say, Eva? Will you marry me this weekend?"
My heart flip-flopped in my chest. My brain buzzed with the idea of marrying Carter. I bit my lip, squeezed my eyes tightly and nodded. "Yes, let's do it."
He wrapped his arms around me instantly and squeezed. I could feel his heart beating through his chest, and mine meeting it beat for beat.
"You’re so beautiful, I can't wait to have you all to myself."
"You always did, Carter. It was always just you and me." I smiled peacefully at the revelation in my own mind. I inhaled his delicious freshwater scent and ran my fingertips along the nape of his neck. My stomach swam in a cocktail of lust, passion, love, and excitement.
"Let me call Parker." He pulled away from me, pressing his lips firmly to mine, before pulling his phone out of his pocket.
"Parker, call Livingston and let him know we're flying to Aspen tonight." He made a few more plans and then hung up his phone. "You've got an hour, baby."
My eyes widened in surprise. "An hour? Can't it wait until tomorrow?" I smoothed my hands around his shoulders and skimmed my nose along his neck.
"I want to marry you, Miss Austin, without delay." A roguish grin spread across his face. "Pack some things. Let's go." He swatted me on the bottom.
I pouted and then gave him a peck on the lips. "I love you."
"Say it again." He pressed his forehead to mine as emotion pulled in his eyes.
"I love you." I kissed his nose.
"I love when you say that," he whispered.
"I love saying it." I smiled.
"Now get ready." One of his hands squeezed my bottom. I shook my head with a smile and then pulled away to find a bag to pack some essentials for what would be my wedding weekend. My heart skipped a few beats at the thought.
"Are you ready, Miss Austin?" Carter held my hand tightly in the back of the Bentley, his beautiful eyes regarding me thoughtfully. We'd just pulled up to a private tarmac at Logan International and were preparing to board his private jet.
I nodded at him. I didn't think I could speak I was so nerved up. The ride to the airport had been just enough time for the excitement to dissipate and the anxiety to set in. Carter probably sensed my nerves since I’d been so silent during the car ride. He'd held my hand the entire time and caressed it softly with his thumb. It was that brief contact that was keeping me from leaping out of the moving car. It's not that I didn't want to marry him; I wasn’t having second thoughts about Carter, I was having second thoughts about marriage period. I'd never been particularly interested in settling down, as my mother often said. Her vision for my future hadn't necessarily been my own. But then again, maybe I'd never found the right person. And now I had.
"Can I still work?" I blurted out. Carter raised his eyebrows.
"Of course. If you want. You don't have to." He continued to stroke my hand with the pad of his thumb. "Are you having second thoughts?" he whispered.
"No." That didn't come out confident at all. "No," I said more emphatically. "I’m just nervous. And I have a lot of questions." I bit my bottom lip distractedly.
"Well don't. Because we'll be perfect." He pulled my lip from my teeth with his thumb. "I love you, and you love me, right?" His gaze penetrated mine. I nodded. "Then that's the only thing that matters." He pressed his lips to mine in a searing kiss. Butterflies jumped in my stomach just like they always did whenever he touched me.
"After you, Miss Austin." He waved a hand toward the waiting plane. A wide smile slowly spread across my face as his grin met mine. I kissed him quickly one more time, turned, and strode to the plane without a second thought.
"Evening, Mr. Morgan. It's a clear night all the way to Aspen. No troubles anticipated." The pilot met us as we boarded the plane.
"Thanks Livingston." Carter's hand held mine securely. Although it was probably a possessive gesture, it was oddly comforting. Carter did possess me, body and soul.
"Mr. Morgan." An older, blonde flight attendant gave us a genuine smile. Her eyes landed on me. "I’m Karen."
"Eva." I smiled and took her outstretched hand.
"I’ll be accompanying you to Colorado tonight. Can I get you a drink?" she asked.
"Yes. White wine, please." I was desperate for the butterflies to stop knocking around in my stomach.
"Of course. Mr. Morgan?"
"Whiskey, Karen. Thanks." We made our way to the comfortable leather seats. I slumped down into one as Carter set our bags near the back of the plane and then came to sit next to me.
"You okay?" His eyes watched me.
"Yep." I reached for his hand and squeezed tightly to reassure him.
"Aspen is beautiful right now. I don't get a chance to come often in the fall."
I nodded with a soft smile.
"Have you ever been to Colorado?"
"No." I shook my head distractedly. My inner dialogue was going crazy. I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. In fact, hadn't it been the second time this week Carter had nearly given me one?
"If there's anything else I can get you let me know." Karen placed our drinks on the table in front of us.
"Thanks." Carter nodded to her. He held my hand tightly and picked up his whiskey glass with his left hand. My palms became sweaty and suddenly I was uncomfortable with his hand in mine. I loved him. I knew I did, but my brain couldn't even begin to process what the next forty-eight hours would hold for me.
My hand flinched in his. Carter glanced at me out of the corner of his eye as he took a soft sip of his drink. His grip tightened as I reached out with my other to grab the wine glass. I brought it to my lips and drank fully. The liquid washed over my taste buds and moved down my throat, helping to calm my nerves. I took another gulp, and then another, finishing off my drink. Karen caught my eyes and I nodded for another.
Carter's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"You're not an alcoholic are you?" His mouth quirked into a teasing grin. I gave him a saucy smile and slugged him in the arm with my other hand. His lip pouted in mock-pain and he grabbed his upper bicep. I rolled my eyes at him.
"I love you." He turned his body to me and ran his fingers through my hair. His eyes gleamed with passion and adoration.
"I love you, too." I leaned into him and kissed him softly and slowly. I pulled away and smiled just as Karen came back with my wine.
"Thanks." I gave her an embarrassed smile because she'd just caught us canoodling. She smiled back and then stepped away.
"You okay?" Carter questioned me again.
"Yes. I am so much better than okay." I kissed his knuckles, still interlocked with mine, and then readjusted in my seat to get comfortable, preparing for a long flight across the country.
A few hours later the lights were dimmed and the cabin of the plane emanated a soft glow. I had been trying to read on my tablet, but my brain couldn't focus on the words. Carter sat beside me with his briefcase open looking at reports. He'd taken his contacts out and had put on a pair of glasses. The dark, plastic frames had a geek-chic vibe that looked devilishly sexy on him. Worn with faded jeans, the cuffs rolled slightly, and a dress shirt and sweater, he looked delectable. He, coupled with the wine and the quiet solitude of the cabin, had my nerves humming with lust.