Lost in thought, Abe ran a loving hand over Ariana’s swelling belly, then grinned when she stirred from sleep and blinked lazily up at him. Wrapping his mind around that – not only had she been his wife for over three months, but was also carrying his child – was too much of a dream come true, one he never wanted to wake up from.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Cambridge. It’s fifteen after one.”
Nuzzling closer to him, Ariana yawned and let her eyes drift shut. “Five more minutes.”
He snickered against her hair and then kissed her forehead. “Take all the time you need, baby, but I have a feeling Becky and Janie will—”
Quick and persistent tapping on the chamber door cut off his words and had him rolling his eyes in irritation.
“—knock on the door soon,” he finished through a clenched jaw, his mood swiftly turning sour at the lack of private time the island’s residents allowed him to have with his wife. “I can kill them, you know. Nobody will find their bodies. I swear it. Did I ever tell you that I’m a shark whisperer?”
Ariana giggled as she pushed against his body, and when he tried to grab her, she threw a pillow in his face and scrambled out of bed.
He fell back to his own pillow, defeated. “We are going on vacation. No cell phones. No knocks on the door—unless it’s room service—and, best of all, no distractions.”
Laughing as she opened the door, Ariana greeted her friends with a hug and took the coffee Janie held out with a sigh and a gracious smile. “I love both of you so much.”
Abe huffed as he glared at them. “You just saw them yesterday. And you don’t need that caffeine; it’s bad for the baby.”
Ariana took a long sip and winced as the heat bit her tongue. “The only thing that’s bad for the baby is my blood pressure going up when his or her father fusses over me too much.”
Abe blanched, and started to throw back the comforter to go to her, but thought better of it once he caught sight of Becky and Janie looking at him. Unlike Ariana, he hadn’t dressed after making love the night before.
He exhaled in relief as he studied the growing smirk on his wife’s face. She was the only one who could, quite literally, drop him to his knees with only a few words. He kept waiting for the spell she had him under to wear off, but with each day that passed, he had only grown more mesmerized by her charm.
Abe raised an eyebrow. “Come here, devil woman.”
“Abe,” Becky said, laughing. “There’s no time—er… take all the time you need, Your Highness,” she said quickly, when his mouth flattened into a thin line and his teal eyes locked on her, daring her to say one… more… word.
He would burn that damn clinic to the ground before he would allow anyone to take even one more minute with her away from him. She already worked too many hours as it was. It had started out being only five, but then had swiftly moved up to six, then seven. He had drawn a line at eight, but, more times than not, Ariana stayed at the clinic up to ten hours, even against his wishes and constant phone calls.
He tore his piercing eyes away from Becky and they softened as he met Ariana’s smile.
She set the cup down and crawled up on the mattress and into his awaiting arms. She stared into his eyes as her fingers brushed back the hair hanging over his ears, reminding him it was time for a trim. That would take all of fifteen minutes, so what would he do with the other four-hundred-sixty-five minutes she would be out of his sight?
He had some ass-chewing to do, that’s what, and he was going to do that first.
“I’ll be back before you know it, Abe,” she said sweetly, almost convincingly, but he knew better; she’d been telling him that every day since she’d started working, and it had never, ever been true.
Even though he knew arguing would get him absolutely nowhere, he still pleaded his case. “Stay here,” he whispered. “Take the day off. I could use a little healing myself.” He grinned devilishly.
The only answer he got was a small smile and a long kiss. Abe wrapped his arms around her and pulled her across his body, rolling with her until she was lying on her back and he was looking down at her beautiful face.
He knew she wouldn’t concede to his wishes today, but that wouldn’t stop him from trying. He had faith that one day she would.
“Sunset, Ariana. Please. I have something I want to show you.”
She laughed. “I just bet you do.”
He tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear and softly kissed her lips. Lingering a breath away, he spoke so only she could hear. “It’s sort of important and special. It’s been in the works for several years, but it’s almost complete now. I didn’t want to mention it until Roger said you could see it. He sent me a text last night, but you were too exhausted after work, so I didn’t say anything. I don’t think I can keep from telling you what it is until your next day off, so please don’t overwork yourself today, and try to get out of there by eight.” He paused for a moment. “And eat light for supper; I’m taking you out afterward.”
Ariana’s eyes narrowed to thin slits, but there was amusement in them that she couldn’t hide behind her fake anger. “You know how much I hate surprises.”
Abe knew she could have searched his thoughts in one instant, so he quickly rifled through his memory for the lyrics of Mary Had A Little Lamb, just in case. Mindreading was one witchy trait that could be both a blessing and a curse, but thankfully Ariana tried not to use it
too often. For that, he was grateful. It was bad enough that he couldn’t keep his hands off his wife for more than five minutes. Keeping his thoughts off her would be downright impossible.
He kissed her quick and moved away, so she could get up and ready for work. The quicker she left, the quicker he could let out his aggression on someone who couldn’t paralyze his vocal chords. “You’ll like this one. I promise it won’t embarrass you.”
“Can we come?” Janie asked, the petite girl nearly jumping up and down at hearing about something new and exciting on the island.
Abe chuckled. “Yeah, you can come. Bring someone, if you like,” he said, knowing that Janie had been spending quite a bit of time lately with Ryan from maintenance, and would more than likely want to bring him along. It was killing Lance to see her with the guy, but since he had been the one who let her go, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot he could do about it but mope.
“Who else is going?” Becky asked with a sneer.
Abe shrugged nonchalantly, but he knew she was inquiring whether Will, his brother, was going to be there, and possibly be with Katrista, the girl who had flown to the island on the back of a minion from Hell under the orders of Apollyon, the demon who damn near took Ariana away from him in more than one way.
Just thinking about that night made him want to wrap Ariana in the tight cocoon of his arms and never let her out of his sight, but that had been almost three months ago, and they hadn’t seen or heard from the guy since his descent back into Hell. Gloria, their personal guardian angel, was checking in on a regular basis, but she hadn’t sensed any evil hanging around the island, either. It was still a struggle to relax, but Abe knew how Ariana hated to be smothered, so he forced his worry from his features, for her.
“I’m not sure, Becky, but if you think I’m going to tell my brother he can’t go just because you’ll be there, then you don’t know me very well.” He ignored the hurt look in her eyes and slapped Ariana’s butt when she crawled over him to get out of bed. He chuckled when she yelped.
After hearing the shower come on, he looked back to the two girls standing in the middle of his bedroom. “Would the two of you mind leaving? I’m about to go shower with my wife, and Ariana threw my boxers across the room last night.”
He smiled as the two girls immediately avoided eye contact, their faces turning a bright shade of pink in embarrassment at being in the same room with their naked king.
“Go on. Ariana will call you when she’s ready to leave. I can’t promise you’ll be on time for work, so you may want to leave without her.” He stopped and huffed when they only stood there with sullen expressions. “What? She isn’t yours; she’s mine. Go!”
Tripping over their feet, both girls turned and ran for the door.
With a smile on his face, Abe threw back the cover and jogged to the bathroom. He could only see the top of Ariana’s wet head, leaned back into the steamy shower spray, eyes closed as she basked in the warmth of the water. He tiptoed around the tiled wall that separated the shower from the rest of the bathroom, and had her in his arms before she even opened her eyes.
Ariana smiled as he touched his lips to hers, and Abe noticed that he couldn’t fit his body flush to hers any longer, not with his young growing so rapidly within her womb.
He ran one hand over the soft skin of her belly and pulled her mouth to his with his other by the nape of her neck. A low moan escaped her mouth and he drank in the ecstasy like a wino who had just found a forgotten bottle of eighty-year-old wine in the cellar.
She gasped for air when he released her mouth to devour her neck and that little spot below her ear she loved for him to kiss.
“Abe,” she panted. “I’m going to be late for work.”
An approving growl rumbled from his chest as her hands slid down to his hips. “Damn right, you are. I told Becky and Janie to go on without you, that you would be there when you damn well got there.”
She laughed against his mouth when he claimed ownership once again. “You are such a king.”
Lowering his head to explore more of what she had to offer him, he looked from one tempting mound to the other, and finally decided to take the left rosy nub between his lips and softly massage the other with his hand. Decisions decisions. It was a tough job being a man in love. He often thought he needed at least one extra mouth. Wondering vaguely whether Ariana might be able to witch it on his body, somewhere, he focused on the task in hand.
Ariana’s lips parted, and he smiled when a rush of pleasurable sounds echoed off the walls of the bathroom.
With his other hand free, he ran his long fingers over the cheek of her ass, down the back of her thigh and pulled her right knee up to his hip. He wasn’t worried about her getting off balance and falling. He had her. He had all of her.
His head jerked up and he crushed his mouth on hers just as he slid through the soft folds of her sex and into his most favorite place to be.
His jaw clamped shut and his hand shot out to brace them against the shower wall when her muscles tightened around his erection.
“Yeeees!” The cry escaped her throat and her nails clawed the skin on his back, but he pumped into her, keeping a steady rhythm and watching her expression as the orgasm threatened to rip through her body. “Abe…” she said, winded, and grabbed his biceps, squeezing the thick muscles and making him grin, “I—I need…”
“I know, baby. Just let it go.” He jerked his hand from the wall, pulling her other leg up, and just like a pro, she hooked her ankles at the small of his back and took all of him. His knees damn near buckled.
Aiming to get his own release by the time Ariana’s climax was over, Abe growled and quickened his strides. Her body quaked all around him. He was almost there. He was there.
“Take my vein,” Ariana whispered.
Pulling a bit back from the rush, he blinked the water out of his eyes and looked down at her in confusion. Sure enough, her head was tilted to the side and her wet hair was moved away, baring her neck and that throbbing vein to him. He jerked his head away, trying to ignore the instant bloodlust and the anger that was quickly boiling up inside him.
“No,” he said shortly.
“Abe, please. You need it. I want you to.”
He stopped moving inside her and set her feet on the wet tile. Grabbing a towel from the hook on the wall, he threw it around his waist, tying it extra tight, so just maybe it would cut off the circulation in his erection and deflate the damn thing.
“Abe! Where are you going?”
“Not now, Ariana.” He threw open the bathroom door and walked into the bedroom, and wasn’t a bit surprised to hear she had followed.
“What did I do? I don’t understand why you’re acting this way. Talk to me, damn you!” she shouted when he only stood at his closet and shoved hanger after hanger to the right. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what he was looking for.
He stopped and let his arm fall, but didn’t turn around. “You know how I feel about using you as a meeker while you’re pregnant. We’ve had this discussion before, Ariana. Hell, we’ve even fought about it a few times, but you don’t seem to understand or maybe you just don’t care; I don’t know—”
“You think that I don’t care about my child?” she said, and Abe turned around, the muscles in his jaw doing the same workout they did every time their conversation led to him feeding from her. “How can you even say that?” she snapped. “If I felt, in any way, that you taking the amount of blood from me that you need would hurt the baby, I wouldn’t ask you to do it.” She pointed to her chest, and fury burned throughout Abe’s bones.
“I know it won’t hurt the baby—”
“But I don’t!” he roared, causing her to flinch. He shook his head and reached into the closet, grabbing a random shirt and a pair of jeans. When he looked back at her, he was a little calmer, but not much. “I don’t know what is good or what is bad for the baby, Ariana, but I can’t imagine taking anything from you that the baby needs could ever be a good thing. I won’t do it.”
He ripped the towel away, and to his delight, either the terrycloth or his pissy mood had done the job, because Mr. Happy wasn’t so happy anymore. Without wasting time going to the dresser for boxers, he just shoved one leg at a time in the jeans then buttoned and zipped the fly. After throwing the shirt over his head and pushing his arms through the armholes, Abe finally made his way to the dresser to grab socks.
“Abe,” Ariana whispered, but he didn’t look at her. He couldn’t look at her when he was this mad, especially when it was her that he was mad at. “Abe, look at me. I have to go to work, and I don’t want to leave you upset.” He still didn’t say anything.
Abe put his socks on and located his boots by the bar. Tying the sons of bitches wasn’t going to happen with his hands shaking so badly, so he just shoved his feet in, grabbed his keys from the bar and headed for the door.
“Abe! Where are you going? The sun is out!”
“Go to work, Ariana. I’ll see you later.”
He jerked open the door, then slammed it shut behind him.