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The Cheat Sheet: Chapter 32

BREE

My hand is wrapped in Nathan’s as we walk silently down the carpeted hotel hallway. We’re on the 28th floor, headed to what I have no doubt is the best suite in the whole building. We stop outside the door and Nathan kisses my knuckles. Neither of us can believe this is real. He keeps touching me, kissing me, sliding his hand over my skin at every turn—and I think it’s because he’s trying to convince himself this is real in the same way I am. We’re in a fairy tale. We’re puppet shadows on the wall.

He slides the keycard into the lock, and the light flashes green. His forearm hits the back of my knees as he scoops me up into his arms to carry me over the threshold. My heart is in my throat, and we’re both laughing at the cheesy love that’s been echoing back and forth between us all night. I’ve been calling him husband. He’s been calling me wife. Everyone has cringed. But not us—not tonight.

Nathan carries me inside, and it’s dark. With me still draped in his arms, he reaches for the light switch, but I stop him. The moonlight is spilling in, steeping the room in romance and soothing my nerves.

I swallow, and Nathan looks sharply down at me. His eyes are black, velvet blankets. His gaze wraps me up tight. “Don’t be nervous,” he says, plucking my thoughts right out of my head.

“I am though. I’ve wanted it for too long, and you might be disappointed. I might not be enough.”

His smile is only a hint. A whisper on his mouth. He leans down and nuzzles his face against my neck, five o’clock shadow a murmur of delight. “You will always be enough.”

A trembling sigh falls out of my mouth, and I’m carried to the bed in his strong arms. He stops short and lets me slide down gently until my feet hit the floor. I look up and my breath is strangled. He is perfect. Moonlight casts over his strong jaw and sharp cheekbones, sketching out a profile that should be captured by da Vinci. I rise up onto my toes and kiss his full lips. He responds with patience. It’s so soft and tender. My hip is grasped. I slide my hands under the lapels of his tux and up, up, up his strong chest until they clasp in the soft hair at the nape of his neck.

I’m pulled in tight, pressed into him and grasped as if he’s planning to never release me. I’ll live in his embrace from now on. Our mouths explore. His hand splays out firmly at my back, and the other comes up to my neck. Our lips dance: soft, firm, back and forth.

My senses tip like a canoe going over a waterfall as Nathan’s mouth trails down my neck to my collarbone. His tongue lightly tastes my skin, and he groans in pleasure. This is it. Mine, mine, mine, my heart says now. I push his tux jacket off of his shoulders and feel the taut muscle beneath his shirt. I’m shaking. My stomach is tight. I need him. He helps me with the buttons, and then it’s tossed aside.

I hover my hands in front of his body, and he grins. I try to breathe, but someone has sat on my lungs. He chuckles, and impatience finally overtakes him. He grabs my hands and presses them firmly on his chest. SkinWarm. Firm. Still grasping my wrists, he tugs me with him toward the bed. He sits, letting me stand. Those big hands go to rest behind him on the bed, propping him up.

“You lead,” he says softly, handing me all the power.

I wish more than anything I didn’t feel timid right now. I wish I could show him how sexy I can be. Powerful. Not this trembling girl standing here in her fancy gown. But when my eyes glide up and meet his eyes, I see only tender adoration. He wants me as I am—always and forever.

As I step forward between his legs, the fabric of my skirt brushes against his pants. It’s jet black against pure white. A moon in the night sky. A white page speckled with ink. Starkly different, but together, a perfect complement.

I run my finger across his collarbone. Down his arm. Over his fingers. They flex, and I repeat on the opposite side. His entire body responds. Those muscles bunch and I paint my fingers down his abs. They are…glorious. There’s a faint bruise forming on the side of his bicep from when he got tackled in the game. I bend down and press my lips to it. Heat swirls in my stomach. Fire crackles in my heart. Nathan takes my hips and pulls me onto his lap.

We stare into each other’s eyes, and silence stretches in the most comfortable, soft cocoon. He pushes a wisp of my hair behind my ear, and I shiver.

“I’ve loved you for so long,” he says quietly, as if to himself. “You’re really here right now?”

I lean in and lay warm kisses up his neck to his jaw. He holds me like I’m spun glass. I will break if he squeezes too tight. “We’re both dreaming,” I say against his velvet skin.

“Thought so.”

He turns his face and catches my mouth. This time, it’s not such a quiet kiss. His lips are ardent. His tongue exploring. His heart is a hammer. It’s going to break through his chest and attack me.

Those hands grip my waist again, and he easily lifts me off his lap. I stand beside the bed, and he spins me away from him. I feel his fingers at my back, working the tiny buttons. I imagine what they look like between his big fingers and thumbs. Like a giant reaching into the sky and rearranging stars.

With every button that pops open, Nathan trades it for a kiss against every newly freed inch of skin. Romance curls around us. It winds through my bones like a taut string and connects to his touch. He kisses me like I’m hallowed. I hear his breath tremble, and I know he’s feeling the weightiness of this moment too. This pressure building, this intensity we’ve been carrying since that day on the high school track all those years ago. It’s all been building to this. Us.

Pop, pop, pop. Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.

“I will cherish you until my last breath,” he whispers against my bare shoulder, and the sound of my dress falling is like wind through luscious green trees.

His arms slide around my waist, and he pulls me back against his chest. Skin to skin. Holy and sacred. I tip my head back, and he kisses my throat.

“My beautiful, lovely, wife.”

We spend hours in our own world. Our love story tangible. Our hopes bared. Our souls light. Our fears set aside for this brief moment in time where nothing can touch us. In this place—in those arms—I am safe and free. I open my arms and dance in the rain. I twirl in the current. I lie back in the meadow as dark eyes sparkle above me.

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