Afterglow

And now, friends, it’s time for another excerpt.

I feel it necessary to mention that these excerpts are for the most part raw and might not be exactly what shows up in the finished product. But I also find it necessary to share, to show you what I’m working on, and to maybe suck you in, so you’ll want to read the whole damn thing once it’s out there.

Enjoy.

I tried remembering the last time I had basked in the afterglow of an almost life-defining series of orgasms, and I came up with absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Even the last time Stephen and I had sex, if I could recall that last time accurately, it had been nothing more than a ten-minute session to reach the inevitable goal. Almost a job, really. How had I allowed myself to spend five years in a relationship like that? How could I have given myself permission to always come last, both literally and figuratively?

Brandon was propped up on an elbow, looking down at me as my eyes danced across the ceiling of the room. It was easily the most magazine worthy bedroom I had ever seen in person, minus the heavy masculine hand that had obviously done the decorating. Everything was dark; purple wallpaper from ceiling to halfway down the walls, the black wood paneling finishing down to the floor; the heavy black furniture including the four-poster bed, topped with a dark blue and black plaid comforter with pillows to match. No amount of light from the various table and floor lamps could have brightened that room to a lively degree, but it felt like a perfect depiction of how I saw him; brooding, but comfortable.

His fingers seemed to slide along my skin, from my décolletage to just below my belly button, and back up again. I watched as his eyes wandered my body sleepily, the little half smile accompanying his stare. I could remember a time when I would have killed to have Stephen look at me that way. It wasn’t a look of lust, nor was he sexualizing me at all in the way he stared, but it was a look of appreciation and adoration.

My hand reached to rest against his rough cheek, my palm cupping his jaw, and he turned his gaze to my face and smiled wider, both corners of his mouth lifting.

“What are you thinking?” I asked the cliché question, remembering when I would ask Stephen that very question. His answer was always something mundane and typical, like that he was thinking about me, and I half-expected Brandon to say the same thing given the adoring look in his eyes.

I really need to stop making the comparisons to Stephen.

The spell had been broken and he rolled over onto his stomach, hugging his pillow and resting his broad chin into it. His eyes were on the headboard in front of him, looking up towards the carved scrolling detail along the edge for a moment in thought. “Well,” he said, and turned his face to look at me, resting his cheek on the pillow. “I’m thinking about how you are the only woman to ever be in this room.”

I tilted my head back against the pillow and laughed in disbelief. “Oh my God, stop it! Now you’re just lying to make me feel better. Come on, it’s okay. We’re adults.” But the straight-faced expression hadn’t left and I could only open my mouth and gape at him. “Are you kidding me?”

“Nope.” His hand reached down to grip one of mine, lacing our fingers together. “In fact, this is the first time I’ve been with someone in over five years.” He brought my hand to his mouth, pressing his lips against my thumb. His fingers played over mine like the strings of a harp. “I never thought I’d ever want to be with someone again.”

“How the hell is that even possible? Have you looked in the mirror lately?”

Brandon chuckled and the hairs along my arms stood on end. “Oh, trust me, it’s not as though women haven’t tried. But I’ve never been able to bring myself to go through with anything.”

“Including with me, remember?” I teased, remembering that night months ago.

“Yeah, well, that was my shitty attempt at fighting myself from having any feelings for you.” He released my hand and wrapped his arm around me, pulling me into the warmth of his body, and kissed me tenderly. “Obviously I failed miserably.”

I laughed, knowing the feeling all too well, and settled into the relief I found in his arms.

His thumb traced my bottom lip as he said, with that touch of sadness he had been tiresomely holding onto all damn night, “I really don’t want to leave this room.”

My eyes closed at his touch, sighing at the thought of never having to go out and see the real world again. Just lying there for all of eternity with that impossibly attractive man who was for some reason beyond all explanation in love with me. It was too hard to fight the smile that threatened my lips, so I didn’t. My eyes opened, and I hoped to see him with a smile that equaled mine because how could you not smile when you were this in love with someone?

But I didn’t see a smile anywhere on his face. Not on his lips, not in the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, nowhere. What I did see was his face pressed against a tattooed arm, biting the inside of his lower lip with an expression that told me he was fighting back a tsunami of emotions that weren’t of a good assortment.

“What?” I asked, all traces of my smile wiping away from my face as I imagined every possible reason for him to be looking at me that way and they ranged from him secretly being a serial killer and him being diagnosed with some horrible terminal illness that would take him away from me in two weeks’ time.

Brandon’s gaze caught mine, holding me there in an intense mental vice grip. “I love you, Holly.”

I reached a hand to him, resting it against the dragon that wrapped around his bicep. “I love you too,” I said, emphasizing each word because that’s what I felt I should do. For some reason unknown to me, it felt necessary to really drive the point home that I was in love with him and that wasn’t going to change.

He nodded and exhaled deeply, his cheeks puffing out. “I, uh, I have to tell you something, and when I tell you, I want you to do me a favor.”

Oh God, here we go. Serial killer.

“Okay…”

“I want you to remember what you just said, that you love me, and no matter what happens, I want you to remember that I love you.” His eyes seemed to darken in color as he spoke slowly. “Okay?”

I nodded quickly, suddenly needing the conversation to be over. Or better yet, not happening at all.

© 2017 Kelsey Kingsley

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