I stroked her hair softly as she lay in my arms. It felt good to hold her, and it felt more than right to have her in my bed. I needed her more than I would admit, and the pain it caused us both was more pain than I’d ever known in my whole life. Her scent was now embedded in my bed and this was where she belonged; not in the room down the hall or even in the room next door. But here, in my bed, where I could love her for the rest of my life. Now that we were back in Malibu, back to reality, there were going to be some issues we’d have to deal with, one of them being Richard.
I couldn’t help but run my finger lightly across her cheek. She opened her eyes and looked at me with a smile on her face.
“Good morning,” she whispered.
“Good morning. I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“You didn’t, and I wouldn’t mind if you did. How long have you been awake?” she asked.
“About a half hour. I just laid here and couldn’t help but stare at you.”
Her smile grew wider as she lifted her head and softly kissed my lips. “I love you.”
“I love you more, sweetheart. Are you up for a run?” I asked.
“Yes. I miss our runs along the beach,” she said.
We climbed out of bed and threw on our running clothes before heading downstairs to see Charles. I could smell the fresh blueberry muffins Charles had made and they were making my mouth water.
“Stop salivating, Ian. You can have one when we get back.” Rory smiled.
She already knew me way too well. When we walked into the kitchen, Rory walked over to Charles and gave him a hug.
“Charles, it’s good to see you, friend. Miss Sinclair will be moving in permanently, so you are to accommodate her and her requests.”
“Welcome home, Rory. It’s good to see you.” Charles smiled.
“Thank you, Charles. It’s good to see you too,” she replied.
I walked over to the counter by the stove where Charles had the blueberry muffins cooling. Just as I picked up one, Rory walked over and took it out of my hand.
“Hey! What are you doing?” I asked.
“You can wait to eat that when we get back.” She smiled. “It will give you something to look forward to.”
I placed my hands on her hips as I kissed her nose. “I’m already looking forward to something else.”
“Me too! So we better get running so we can hurry up and get back.” She winked.
“Damn you, woman. You’ve already started getting—”
Rory put her hand over my mouth and whispered in my ear, “Not in front of Charles.”
I kissed her head and ran out the door. She followed behind me, laughing. We ran down along the shoreline and kept our usual steady pace. I looked over at her and smiled.
“What?” she asked as she caught up to me.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about how this is our first run together in Malibu as a couple.”
“Yes, it is. Do you like it?” she asked.
“I love it, Rory, and there’s something I need to tell you.”
I didn’t want to tell her, but she’d eventually find out and she’d be pissed. So I thought it better to come clean now. She had a look of worry on her face as she stopped.
“What is it?”
“Keep running, sweetheart. It’s nothing bad. It’s just something I did that I think you should know about.”
“Ian, just tell me,” she said as she started jogging again.
I took in a deep breath. “I bought the building that was the bakery and your apartment and I called in a favor to a friend of mine that works for the city and had him put the note on your door.”
“You did what? Why the hell would you do that, Ian?” she asked as she stopped behind me.
This was the hardest part for me. I could no longer just tell her because I could. I owed her an explanation because she was my girlfriend and simple little answers wouldn’t work anymore. I ran my hands through my hair as I turned around and stood a few feet in front of her. She had her hands on her hips and her head cocked, waiting for my answer.
“I did it because I hated you living in that tiny little room. I wanted you at my house, and if I would’ve asked you to move back, you would’ve said no.”
“So you just lied to me?”
“I didn’t lie, I don’t think. I just didn’t tell you,” I said as I walked closer to her.
“No, Ian. I think that classifies as a lie.”
“Sweetheart, listen to me. I wanted you with me, in my house, where I could keep you safe. I wanted to save you from your nightmares, and I wanted you in my arms at night. At that time, it was the only way to get you back home.” I smiled as I held her face and lightly kissed her lips.
“Since you’re so free with telling me things, I have some questions that I want answers to, and I feel like you owe me since you lied to me.”
“Rory, I didn’t lie to you. But I will answer any questions you have.” I smiled as I kissed her again.
“The blonde you took to the gala; did you bring her home and fuck her that night?”
I couldn’t believe she asked me that. It obviously was bothering her, and I wasn’t going to lie. I wasn’t starting off our relationship on a lie.
“No, Rory. I didn’t sleep with her. In fact, I left the gala early and left her there with Andrew. Seeing you before I left made me feel like complete shit. I came home that night, alone, and went to bed.” A small smile graced her face after I gave her my answer. “Was there something else you wanted to ask?”
“Yes, actually, there is. When I came over the morning after you and Andrew went to dinner, I saw Andrew and the two women walking down the stairs. One of them said to thank you for last night and then Andrew said you were out running, but he didn’t know how, since you only got a couple of hours sleep. Did you fuck one of those women?”
“That explains your attitude that morning when I asked if you were pissed at me. I knew something was bothering you.” I pulled her into me and held her head against my chest before pulling her back and giving her another kiss. “I swear to you, Rory, on my life, that I did not sleep with any of those women. I let Andrew use the room. He was with the both of them, not me. They were telling him to thank me for letting them use it. Andrew wanted you to believe that I slept with one of them. God, I wish you would’ve asked me about it that day.”
She wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me as tightly as she could. “Thank you, Ian, for being honest. I love you so much.”
“I love you more, sweetheart, and don’t ever forget it. Now, can we finish our run because I can’t stop thinking about those blueberry muffins?”
“You bet.” She smiled as she took my hand and we finished our run.
“Damn, Charles, I think these are the best blueberry muffins you ever made,” I said as I took a bite.
Rory looked at me and laughed as she walked over to where I was standing and wiped a crumb from my mouth.
“You should have heard him when we were in Paris, Charles. He was telling the people at the French bakery that they needed to get the recipe from you for blueberry muffins because theirs weren’t cutting it.”
“Ian, seriously?” Charles smirked.
“It’s true, Charles. The muffins over there are shit.”
I sat down at the table with my muffin and coffee and stared at Rory as she looked out the window. She was sweaty from our run and she never looked more perfect. I was getting hard just staring at her.
“I think we need to go shower now. I have to go into the office for a while.”
She looked at me with a smile and got up from her chair. She walked over and stood behind me, wrapping her arms around me and whispering in my ear. “Taking a shower is a good idea because I’m dirty, and I want to be even dirtier with you in the shower.”
She ran her hot ass up the stairs as I jumped up from my chair and ran up after her. She lifted her top over her head before she reached the bedroom and threw it behind her. Damn, she was hot and I couldn’t wait to get her in the shower. She had it started before I fully stripped out of my clothes. I stepped into the shower and grabbed her hips as she wrapped her arms around my neck.
“I’m afraid that I’m going to have to punish you.”
“Why’s that, Mr. Braxton? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“But you did, Miss Sinclair. You didn’t let me finish my blueberry muffin.”
“I do believe I taste better than your blueberry muffins. So if you’re still hungry, then by all means, help yourself.” She smiled at me.
Not only did she awaken the beast inside, she welcomed it, and I was more than happy to do as she wished.