Dara overcome her fears?
Dara leaned forward, seeking and finding his lips. “You’ve eased my worry. Thank you . . . Come to bed with me? Hold me? Let me fall asleep in your arms?”
Matt wanted nothing more and gently eased her across his lap, her arms curling around his shoulders. “Hang on,” he told her, lifting her up and carrying her through the warm apartment. Matt heard her sigh and utterly relax in his grasp. Dara rested her head on his shoulder, brow against his jaw.
“I can’t believe how handsome you really are without that beard. Who knew?”
Matt smiled. “I was a little concerned you might not like my mug once you saw it.” He toed open the door, revealing a huge king-sized bed with a blue quilt with a Texas lone star across it. More cowboy and ranch décor from her ranch world. These things meant something emotionally comforting to Dara, signifying happy memories, he hoped. The dresser was dark oak and at least a hundred years old, with old brass handles on each drawer. There was a modern-day hurricane lamp with a small light in it. A handmade brown, white, and black braided rug, oval in shape, sat beneath the bed and part of the room. The floors were old, dark blond oak as well. There were frilly white curtains with a thick barrier of dark blue behind them to keep the light out at night.
“You look like a male model, Matt.”
He deposited her gently on the bed, going to close the door. “Model? I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that.” He grinned. “Maybe you’re a tad prejudiced?”
She shrugged out of her pink robe, revealing a silky pink long-sleeved gown. “First and foremost, you’re a warrior,” she said. Pulling the robe away, she hung it over a nearby chair. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she added, “A very, very good-looking warrior. And no, I’m not prejudiced. Just honest.”
Matt crouched down, his hands resting lightly on her lower thighs, the cool of the silk beneath his fingers. He peered at the now-healed cut across her knee.
“How’s this doing?” He lightly grazed it, pleased with the stitches he’d sewn across it.
“Fine,” she said, sliding her fingers through his short hair, watching the play of gold and brown as she sifted through the strands. “Completely healed, thanks to you.”
Matt leaned into her palm, his hands tightening fractionally against her curved thighs. “Been keeping up with your belly dancing?”
“Absolutely. It’s the way I take off the stress that accumulates by the ton at the hospital. If I couldn’t dance, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“Well,” he murmured, easing to his feet and unbuckling his belt, “how about if I hold you while you sleep?” Because he was clear about his love for Dara. It felt as if they were picking up after seeing one another just yesterday. Only it had been two miserably lonely weeks without her.
Her hair glinted like gleaming liquid gold in the lamplight, the shadows gently showing off her high cheekbones and the velvet of skin he wanted to taste, lick, kiss, and nip—not necessarily in that order. She was to be eaten, relished, worshipped, and thoroughly and completely loved. Matt knew he could do all of that for her.
“You know, sex is a great stress reliever, too,” he said, trying not to smile as he pulled off his shirt and placed it on a nearby chair. He wore a white T-shirt beneath it, which he pulled up and over his head. Dara’s eyes changed, her lips parting as her gaze moved approvingly across his chest and shoulders. Yes, she liked what she saw. So did he. They were probably not going to get much sleep tonight . . .
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