Dom’s eyes narrow as he watches me. “I’m not going to leave you, Alecia.”
I swallow and shrug a shoulder, not sure what to say.
“Okay.” He nods, as if that settles something and crosses to me.
“Okay,” he repeats and pulls me in for a hug, kisses my forehead, and breathes me in all in one smooth move. “You smell amazing.”
I grin and enjoy the feel of his arms looped around me, pulling me tightly against him.
“You’re a bit tense,” he continues.
“It was a long day.”
“Come.” He pours a glass of wine, then takes my hand and leads me through the house and up the stairs to his master bathroom. He magically produces a single pink tulip and hands it to me with a soft smile. I rub the petals against my nose and breathe the sweet scent in as he turns and runs me a bath, lights candles, and then turns his attention back to me.
With sure fingers, he unzips my dress and pushes it off my shoulders, letting it pool around my ankles.
“You’re beautiful, cara.” His eyes roam up and down my torso. “This bra is pretty.” His fingertips skim my skin over the light pink cups of my demi bra, making my nipples pucker before he unclasps it between my breasts and it joins the dress on the floor. With his eyes on mine, he hooks his thumbs into my panties and guides them over my hips and down my legs.
“Step out of those killer heels, please.” He takes my hand in his and leads me to the bathtub, watching as I sink into the steamy water and settle back with my head leaning on the ledge of his vast bathtub. “Here’s your wine,” he says with a grin as he sits on the ledge.
“It’s pretty in here.”
“With you here, yes it is.”
“You’re a charmer.”
“I’m just calling it like I see it,” he replies with a half-smile, showing off that sexy dimple.
“I like your dimple.”
“I hope that’s not all you like.”
I shrug. “Probably not.”
He chuckles and drags his fingertip down my cheek.
“Actually, there’s more to you than the flirty, charming Italian that I’ve known you to be.”
His blue eyes find mine, and he watches me calmly as I take a sip of wine.
“You’re not going to ask me what I see?” I ask boldly.
“What do you see, tesoro?”
I take his dry hand in my wet ones and plant a kiss to his palm. “I see a professional, intelligent, kind—”
“Just don’t call me nice.”
“Sexy, sweet man.”
“You’re the sweet one, Alecia.”
“This bath is nice.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“You’re not joining me?”
“No.” He sweeps my hair off my forehead with one fingertip. “I want you to relax. Take a deep breath.” He leans in and kisses my head, then stands and leaves the room.
Damn, he’s sweet.
I set the wine glass on the ledge of the tub and sink as far into the water as I can without sinking my mouth and nose under the water, take a deep breath, and the next thing I know, strong arms are lifting me out of the tub.
“No falling asleep and drowning, sweetheart.”
“I’m getting you wet,” I murmur against his chest and burrow closer to him, my arms around him, my nose pressed to his neck. “But don’t put me down.”
He chuckles and kisses my forehead. “I have to set you down for a second to dry you off.”
He dries me off quickly, and before I can get cold, I’m back in his arms, being carried into the bedroom, where he gently lays me in the bed and pulls the covers up over my nude body.
I watch him with heavy-lidded eyes as he quickly sheds his clothes and joins me, pulls me against him, into him, his arms folding around me and hugging me tightly, as if he’s afraid I’ll roll away from him.
Not a chance in hell of that.
I never knew that falling asleep in someone’s arms could be so comforting.
Because it never has been before.
I sigh deeply and press a kiss to Dominic’s neck. “This is delightful.”
“Mm,” he replies and kisses my hair. “Sleep, sweet girl.”
“We’re not going to have sex?” I ask with surprise, and pull back far enough to look him in the eye. His fingertips dance down that sweet spot on my neck, sending shivers down my arms, just as his other hand takes mine and he laces my fingers through his, then brings them up to his lips.
“I want to sleep with you,” he whispers roughly. “I don’t mean have sex with you, although I always want to be inside you. I want to sleep with you, in my bed, with your head on my chest and my arms wrapped around you. With my nose buried in your hair so I can breathe you in all night long.” He takes a deep breath and kisses my fingers again. “I want to sleep with you, here in this chilly room, so we have to cuddle closer. No talking, just being here, with you. I just want to be with you, Alecia.”
I swallow hard, my eyes pinned to his lips as he speaks, and feel my heart trip and my stomach tighten at his words.
“I can live with that,” I whisper hoarsely.
“Good. Sleep, cara.” He kisses my fingers again, rests our hands on his chest and guides my head down onto him, where I just seem to fit perfectly, despite our immense height difference.
I take a deep breath and feel myself relax against him. I feel him grin against my head as his fingertips tickle my neck again.
“Keep doing that and I won’t sleep,” I whisper.
“You’ll sleep,” he replies confidently.
I don’t speak again. I simply lie with him. Be with him, and after long minutes I feel him slip into sleep, but I lie awake for a while, listening to him breathe, listening to his heartbeat against my cheek.
Listening to the silence around us.
Is this what it feels like to be in love? This contentment, this attraction? This trust?
I can’t resist planting a kiss on his chest, and I feel his arms tighten around me in his sleep.
I’m quite sure that if this is what love is, I’ve tripped over and fallen right in.
“Seriously, this is like hot man overload,” Emily whispers to me as we sit in the white chairs before the arbor Dominic’s brothers made for Will and Meg’s wedding. The whole family is here for the rehearsal. All of the Montgomery siblings and their spouses¸ all of the parents, even the kids. It’s a huge family party, and they’re having a great time ribbing each other.