They might be going to bed but she wouldn’t be resting or sleeping. He tried to be gentle but when she wrapped her legs around his waist he only stumbled a few steps until they ran into the island. She sat on the edge of the granite countertop so he released his grip from her hips.

Belle tore at his shirt almost in a frenzy, her hands trembling. Something twisted inside his chest as he stilled her hands. “Let me take care of you.”

“I—” He put a finger to her lips before lifting his shirt off. He might still cringe a little at the thought of baring himself to her, especially with sunlight streaming in through the kitchen blinds, but her gaze was heated and needy, alleviating any worries.

Grasping the hem of her top, he slowly lifted it off. She raised her arms, letting him pull it completely free. She wasn’t wearing a bra underneath, something he’d known, but seeing her gorgeous breasts still made him suck in a breath. He could be gentle but they definitely weren’t making it to the bedroom this first time.

He leaned down and sucked one of her already hard nipples in between his teeth. She drew in a ragged breath as she arched her back, pushing herself farther into his mouth. Cupping her other breast with his hand, he slowly strummed her nipple with his thumb.

His entire body tensed with the need to take her hard and fast but that wasn’t what she needed right now. Even if she thought she did. Flicking his tongue over her sensitive skin, he circled her areola but stopped stroking her actual nipple. He did the same with her other breast, just teased her everywhere else.

Belle finally let out a growl of frustration as she tightened her legs around his waist. She tugged him tight against her, grinding against his erection. “I think you get off on teasing me,” she groaned.

He smiled against her breast before kissing a path down her long scar. She shuddered each time his lips brushed over her skin. Without looking up at her, he pressed on her shoulder, easing her back. “Lay down,” he ordered, not leaving any room for argument.

As she stretched out on the island top, he reached the top of her pants. Using his teeth and hands, he grasped the elastic material and tugged the pants down her legs. When she tried to squeeze her legs together, he grinned. “Oh no, I get to see all of you.”

He took her ankles and guided her feet up to the edge of the counter so that her thighs were splayed open and her glistening pussy was on display for him. Looking up at her face, he saw a trace of unease there. Not directed at him, he was sure, but whatever was going on in her head, he needed to calm her worries. He knew exactly how to distract her.

Unable to wait any longer he bent down and didn’t bother with easing her into anything. He immediately focused on her clit, teasing and licking without any mercy. The little bud was swollen with arousal and peeking out from behind her slick lips and the moment his tongue touched it, she jerked against his face.

Tasting her like this was heaven. Hell, just being near her was. When he thought he might have lost her, he’d known he loved her. It was probably too soon and he’d never been in love before but he knew what he felt. The all-consuming and overpowering need to be with her, to protect her was damn scary. He had a feeling he’d never completely stop worrying about her safety, but he could live with anything if it meant she was in his life.

With each stroke of his tongue, her back arched off the counter and her thighs squeezed against him. Her body was shaking and he’d barely gotten started. When she grabbed onto his head, he smiled against her wetness and slowly eased a finger inside her.

Her fingers tightened in his hair and her breathing became more erratic. She was so tight around just his finger when he imagined sliding his cock into her, he couldn’t fight his own shudder. God, he needed inside her soon. But first he wanted her to climax.

With the steady rhythm he’d learned she loved, he moved his finger in and out of her. When she started moaning his name and slammed her palms down on the counter, he smiled against her clit, still not easing up on his pressure. She was close.

As her inner walls started clenching tighter around him, he lightly pressed his teeth against her little bundle of nerves. That did it. She completely pushed off the counter as her cream rushed over his finger. Her climax was sharp and intense, her inner muscles spasming out of control.

Sitting up, she grasped his shoulders and tugged him to her mouth. Hungrily, he kissed her as she grappled with his belt and pants. Helping her, he shoved at them, but he’d barely gotten them down his legs before she grasped his waist.

Her fingers dug into him as she pulled him to her. As his cock pushed deep inside her wet heat, he stilled, enjoying the feel of her clenching around him. Burying his head against her neck, he inhaled her sweet scent. That raspberries and vanilla scent was subtle now, but it wrapped around him with a soothing purity.

“I love you,” he whispered, unable to look at her face as he said it.

Belle sucked in a deep breath so before she could respond he pulled his head back then crushed his mouth over hers. He didn’t want to hear her response if she didn’t feel the same and there was no way in hell he was pulling out of her.

Feeling a little out of control he thrust into her over and over as their mouths tangled with each other. He felt frantic as he slammed into her, but was unable to control his need and hunger. With her, he lost all sense of restraint.

When she dug her fingers into his ass, raking her fingernails along his skin, he came. His orgasm was as uncontrolled as hers had been. With her name on his lips he emptied himself inside her in long, hot strokes. Even when he’d spent everything he had in her, his hips still blindly rocked against her until she wrapped her arms tight around him, pulling him impossibly close.

“I love you, too, in case you’re wondering,” she said, slightly giggling. When she did, her inner walls tightened on his half-hard cock, making him shudder.

He pulled his head back so he could fully look at her. The love and trust he saw took his breath away. After shoving off the rest of his clothes he lifted her off the counter and headed for the stairs. He might need a short break but he didn’t plan on leaving his bed for a long time.

Chapter 10

Balancing three beers in her hands, Belle nudged open the door that led to Grant’s backyard. His patio was packed with his brothers, their significant others, his father and of course her own giant family. She couldn’t even attempt to count how many of her relatives were there. There were so many cousins, aunts and uncles—but no members of the Balis family which would have been odd under other circumstances but her mother was still enraged at Paulos for trying to manhandle her. Considering everything else that had happened in the last couple weeks—that was just a blip on her radar now.

Her family was so loud she wanted to be a little embarrassed but she couldn’t muster up anything. She loved all of them. And Grant didn’t care and that was all that mattered. Weaving through the laughing, talking people she made her way to Grant who was by his massive grill—where her father and brothers all hovered, staring at it with envy. She handed a beer to Grant and her father and kept the last for herself.

“Hey, where’s mine?” Alek, one of her brother’s grumbled. At twenty-nine he was the youngest of her three brothers but still five years older than her.

She smiled sweetly. “Your legs aren’t broken.”

Her father snorted in agreement. “What’s the matter with you? Your sister shouldn’t be doing anything. Get your own drink and grab her a chair while you’re at it.” Then he looked at her admonishingly as Alek hurried away. “You shouldn’t be doing anything, least of all getting me a drink. I thought you were by the pool resting.”

Odell and Dennis, her other brothers, both nodded in agreement. “I’ll grab you a lounge chair,” Odell murmured, hurrying off.

She contemplated protesting but knew it would be futile. She was used to their over protectiveness.

Grant shot her a sideways glance and she could tell he was fighting a smile. But he wisely didn’t tell her she needed to rest. While she might not have gone back to work yet—the hospital had forced her to take two weeks off with full pay—she wasn’t an invalid and she needed to keep moving. If she didn’t, her mother and aunts would descend on her wanting to know when Grant would be proposing.

Belle snorted to herself. Her mother had certainly gotten over her demand that Belle marry someone Greek once she met Grant. He’d actually surprised her with his ability to charm her formidable mother. Or course it probably had more to do with the fact that he’d saved Belle’s life from a serial killer. Her mother had been cooking like a madwoman the past two weeks. A covered dish for Belle and one for Grant every single day. As if either of them could eat that much. And Grant didn’t just tolerate her family; he seemed to genuinely adore them, which was icing on the cake.

Shaking her head, Belle kissed her father on the cheek then hurried away, blending into the crowd. It was amazing so many people fit in Grant’s backyard, but a few of her cousins had taken up residence in the pool and definitely weren’t leaving anytime soon. Those same cousins were flirting mercilessly with Vincent and Travis. Vincent was eating it up but Travis looked uncomfortable and a little scared. A six foot plus giant of a man with too many tattoos and piercings to count should not be intimidated by her petite cousins. She might have felt sorry for him, but her cousins were all gorgeous and there were worse ways to be tortured.

After stopping to talk to half a dozen people, she found herself in the kitchen again grabbing two more bottles of wine. As she set them on the counter she eyed the contents of the fridge, debating if she should bring out another platter of the cheese eggplant rolls her mom had brought. Grant would be done grilling soon but she didn’t think it was possible to have too much food tonight. Not with this crowd. Grabbing it, she started to nudge the door shut when large hands closed on her waist from behind.

Instinctively she jumped then recognized that masculine, very familiar spicy scent of Grant. Grinning, she leaned back into him. “Why aren’t you manning the grill?”