“What are you doing here?”
The voice made Isabel jump. Looking behind, she found Brandon’s eyes trained on her, a deep frown on his brow. She had not heard him enter the barn, and her cheeks flushed at being caught.
“Why are you here?” Rising from the floor, she discreetly tugged at the hem of her tunic. Brandon’s gaze rolled across her form, settling on the strands of hay stuck in her leggings. When his eyes returned to her face, she shifted uncomfortably.
“This is my parents’ barn,” he explained, crossing his arms. “There’s a storm brewing and I wanted to check on the horses.” An eyebrow arched at her. “What are you doing here at this time?”
“Killian brought me here,” she answered, referring to his five-year-old nephew. “We were playing.”
Brandon did a quick survey of his surroundings. “I don’t see him anywhere.”
“He left with his dad a while ago.”
“And why didn’t you?”
“I wanted to stay.”
With a small sigh, he looked at the roof. The first raindrops had started to pour. “I heard you reading to Carlton Diamond,” he said. “Seriously?”
His mother’s horse glanced at him in askance, then proceeded to ignore him. Isabel bit her lip, her face turning redder. It had seemed like a good idea since horses could not point out how abysmal her Irish was.
“I’m sorry.” She picked up her notebook from the hay. “I can go.”
“No.” Shaking his head, he uncrossed his arms. “There’s no way you can make it home through the storm. You’ll either be hit by lightning or get blown away.”
For a small second, she looked nervous. She was certain Elsa and Emily were worrying about her. She did not have her phone and they would panic if they did not hear from her.
“You can call your family from my house.” Brandon offered, as though reading her mind. Unzipping his rain jacket, he stepped closer. “Here, you need this.”
“I don’t mind the rain.”
“You’re not used to roughing it.” His undertone was firm and unwavering as he put the jacket around her shoulders. Helpless, Isabel slid her arms into the sleeves and allowed him to lift the hood. “If you get drenched, you’re sure to be ill.”
Before she knew it, he was taking her hand and dragging her out of the barn. “We have to make a dash, alright?” he warned but her attempt to keep pace with him had robbed her of the ability to nod. It was a little past three in the afternoon but the dark sky and blinding rain made it seem much later.
They reached the house in a minute. When a bolt of lightning lit up the living room, she realised they were the only ones there.
“Where are your parents?” she asked, watching Brandon shake the water out of his hair.
“Visiting friends.” Turning on the lights, he kicked off his boots and headed for the kitchen. “They aren’t going to be back until later.”
“Oh.” Isabel shrugged out of the rain jacket and hung it out to dry. In the kitchen, she saw Brandon wiping himself with a towel, his t-shirt clinging to his torso and highlighting every curve and sinew of his body. The grooming had given him a slightly more polished appearance. His muscles were firmer now, his cheeks chiselled, and the cleft in his chin more pronounced. Her stomach suddenly tightened.
“Are you going to make the call or do you want me to do it?” His query made her flinch. Tearing her gaze from his soaked clothing, she met his eyes.
“I can do it,” she nodded. Brandon gestured at the phone and made his way toward the stairs.
“I’ll change out these clothes and be right back,” he called out, footsteps thudding up the narrow stairway. The floors creaked above her as she made the call, doing her best to not imagine Brandon stripping himself. She assured Emily that she was at the Carlton Lodge and would return home once the skies cleared. Her aunt sounded relieved. What better moment to be stuck together than a dark and stormy evening, right?
Isabel dreaded storms. If there was anyone Brandon loathed to pass a storm with, it was his girlfriend. His sweet, stubborn girlfriend, who was sitting on his parents’ sofa and picking out hay from her clothes. Every time lightning tore through the sky, she stiffened and looked around in numb horror, then blocked her ears with her fingers as thunder roared. He wondered how she had planned to go home in his absence.
“Do you want any tea?” he asked, rounding the corner to return to the kitchen. “I’m making a pot.”
“I’m okay.” The words were stiff. He looked over his shoulder to find her nervously twisting a strand of hay between her fingers and dreading the next bolt of lightning. He shook his head.
“You’re cold. And afraid.” Lighting the stove, he put on the teapot. “You need something to soothe your nerves.”
“And making tea is the best you can do?”
Brandon rolled his eyes. “Give me a minute,” he sighed, waiting until the water had boiled over. He added the tea and turned off the stove. When he walked over to the sofa, Isabel shifted slightly to make room for him.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, gathering her hands in her lap. “I should have gone home sooner.”
“Yes, but I don’t mind having you here.” Reaching out a hand, he picked a strand of hay from her tunic. “I only came home yesterday and did not have the chance to call on you.”
“You did text though.”
“So you’re running the chip counter now, huh?”
She gave him a fleeting glance. “It’s a good distraction.”
“Distraction from what?”
“Everything.” She swallowed hard. “School, only two months to Leaving Cert, going back to London for college, not having you around…”
He breathed out, his throat tight. “I noticed you cleaned my room. Took me thirty minutes this morning to find my socks.”
“Is that a complaint?”
“No… not at all.” With two fingers under her chin, he turned her face. “I’m sorry about being gone. Maybe we will get to be together more often when you’re in London.”
“But you aren’t supposed to be seen with me, remember?” she said, starting when lightning and thunder boomed at the same time, nearly making the house shake while the windows rattled.
“Maybe I’m starting to not care any longer.” Cupping her jaw, Brandon tilted her face up to his. “Maybe I will convince you to stay the night when I have an apartment in London. I will even drive you to college whenever I’m available.”
Isabel’s eyes widened. “You’re not serious.”
“I am.” He brushed her bottom lip with his thumb, his stomach in knots. “You have no idea how badly I miss you when I’m not here. I can barely stand it sometimes.”
“Now you realise why I work at the restaurant?” she breathed, trying and failing to break the gaze. He had the sweetest face she had ever on a man, the calmest, kindest eyes, and every time he smiled, it reminded her of the open, genuine soul that resided inside him. “It makes me feel closer to you when you’re away.”
“You do it pretty well, though,” he nodded, his thumb stroking her cheek. His mother and sisters rambled on about how good she was with the customers and how people had begun to see her in a different light. It made his heart soar.
Six months since her performance at the Hawks Well Theatre, she had made great strides. Her walls had started to break down, she had less mistrust of people, and they found her smiling and talking more easily. Perhaps his mother’s chips had also finally had some effect on her, because she was no longer waifish. Her dark circles were gone, her face had a healthy glow, and even though she was still underweight, the curves of her body were more pronounced. Every time he set his eyes on her now, he saw the luscious woman that was hiding behind the scared, awkward girl all this while.
“You’re not mad that I took over your role at the restaurant?” she murmured, big, doe eyes searching his face. A gruff laugh spilled out of him.
“Mad? I always worried how Mam and Dad would manage without me.” He rested his forehead against hers, his hand involuntarily tightening around her cheek when thunder crackled. “With you here, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“Besides, you’re a star now,” she added. “Running the chip counter or waiting tables don’t suit you.”
“This is my home, Izzi. It’s all I knew until the band happened.” His mouth lowered and hesitantly grazed her lips. With a small sigh, her eyes dropped close, but another clap of lightning had her burying her face in his shoulder. His arms came around her.
“It’s alright,” he soothed. “It won’t hurt you.”
“I hate it,” she grumbled.
“But I’m here with you.” Drawing back, he cupped her face again. When his lips met hers, it was without any trace of hesitation. She arched into him, opening her mouth to let his tongue court hers, impatient and insistent. Missing him was one thing; spending every waking moment in unspent desire was another. Sometimes they merged seamlessly to turn her into an idiotic mess.
Brandon pulled away with a gasp when she reached for the evidence of his arousal.
“What are you doing?” he asked, giving her a questioning stare. Isabel’s hand returned to her, guilt tinging her blood.
“Remember what you told me that day in the woods?” She closed her eyes when the memory came alive in her mind. They had gone riding together through Hazelwood, for the first time on separate horses. Things had become too heavy between them during a stroll, hands exploring, mouth plundering, hips grinding. Brandon had stopped them with the promise that he was going to wait until she was ready, no matter how long it took.
“Yes…” He swallowed, his heart hammering louder than the storm outside. “What about it?”
“I’m ready,” she spoke in a rush. When she opened her eyes, his face reflected stunned surprise. “What?”
He failed to answer. Even when thunder rippled through the house, he did not flinch. “You know what you’re talking about, right?” he stuttered, taken aback by her candour. Isabel nodded.
“I can’t bear it anymore,” she whispered. “Every day that I’m apart from you, I…”
Her face flamed as she trailed off and looked away, unable to believe she was making that admission. Brandon held her face again, perusing her beauteous countenance.
“What?” he urged. “Tell me, Izzi.”
“I…” She scrunched her eyes. “I touch myself until I’m biting the pillow and tearing up.”
The words and the mental image they presented hit him with a flood of heat below the belt, and he felt himself turning harder than he already was. It was no different for him, although he had never admitted it. He had wanted to wait until she was strong again, until he had her explicit consent. After that moment in the woods, he had realised that she desired him as much as he wanted her, but he had not expected her to be so candid about her feelings.
“It’s a big thing, you know,” he said, taking back his hand. She gaped at him.
“You… you don’t want me?”
“I think you can see right here how much I want you,” he sighed. “But this isn’t about me. It’s about you.”
“And I want you just as much.” Her hands trembled. It was indeed a big step, one that would change the tenor of their relationship. But she felt ready for it, now more than ever.
“It’s easy to say that.” He held her hand between his palms. “I don’t want you to regret it.”
“I don’t regret anything that’s ever happened between us.” She frowned, her hand tensing in his. “Do you regret being with me?”
“You know very well I don’t,” he emphasised. “I just want you to be sure about this. You don’t have to make a hasty decision.”
“What makes you think I haven’t considered it before today?” She squeezed his hand. “That’s all I thought while you were gone.”
“You did?” he sniggered, raising his eyebrows. “Tell me what you thought.”
Her shoulders sagged. “We don’t have much time,” she pointed out. “Stop teasing me and get serious before your parents return.”
“They won’t be back soon.” Quickly glancing at the clock, he smiled. “They weren’t supposed to be back until eight, but the storm might hold them off for longer.”
He traced her cheek with his index finger, before moving to her lips. When she opened her mouth and bit his fingertip, he yelped.
“And I was under the impression that you’re the sweetest, purest, most innocent thing in the world,” he smirked.
“I’m being forward, I know,” she said. “But I’m also scared.”
“I can imagine.” He took her lips in a chaste kiss, hoping to calm the nervous tremors coursing through her. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I will love you regardless.”
“I want it because I love you,” she whispered against his lips. “I don’t want to hide anymore.”
“You were never hiding from me.”
“You haven’t seen what lies underneath my clothes.”
“I don’t care and I mean it.” Moving his lips from her mouth, he pressed them on her forehead. “Do you trust me?”
“It’s funny you should ask,” she said. “The fact that I’m here with you like this, ready to take the leap, speaks for itself.”
When his lips caressed the side of her neck, her hands curled into fists. The pressure had been building for days, the tension driving her insane. The wet trail he left on her skin only added fuel to the raging fire.
He claimed her mouth again, and Isabel let out a small hum of delight, shifting until she was almost on his lap. Brandon grabbed her legs and pulled them on either side of hips, one hand on her waist and the other inside her hair. When she pressed against his erection, he felt her wetness, soaking through the leggings.
“For the last time,” he breathed. “Do you want this?”
“Yes.” Her arms circled his neck. “Make me yours. Forever.”
The confidence in her affirmation freed him from the last fragment of restraint. He swiftly scooped her up and headed for the stairs. Isabel did not protest. She’d rather like to do it in his bed. The same bed she’d fantasised doing it in while cleaning his room.
The thought made her laugh inside her head. Less than a year ago, she was shy and reclusive, afraid of facing each day. Since the concert at Hawks Well Theatre, something had changed in her. She was no longer uncertain about her relationship with Brandon. Despite the envy and loathing of other girls, she had learned to ignore the demeaning comments and cherish what they had together. She loved him, belonged with him. Nothing else mattered.
“Let’s take it slow.” He put her down and shut the door behind him, turning the lock in place. “I’m a little nervous.”
“Why should you be nervous?” she chuckled.
“Well.” His hands settled on her shoulders in the dark room, illuminated occasionally by flashes of lightning. “You’re the only girl I will make love to for the rest of my life. What if I botch up our first time and you never let me touch you again?”
“You cannot botch up anything,” she murmured, suddenly awkward. Brandon’s hands slid down the long sleeves of her tunic and met her fingers.
“I hope not.” Bringing her hands to his lips, he kissed each of her knuckles. “I don’t know what it’s like to be intimate with someone I love deeply. Someone who means the world to me. “
“I… I mean the world to you?”
He kissed her hair. “You always have.”
She grabbed his arm when he attempted to turn on a light. “I like it dark,” she whispered.
“I want to see you.” He flicked the switch to bathe the room in a dim glow. “And I want you to see everything that I do to you.”
Stepping back from him, she firmly clutched the hem of her tunic, throat working on a hard swallow. He had broken down her walls, save that one. The only existing barrier between them was her clothes. When his hands fell on her hips, she trembled.
“What are you afraid of?” he cooed, holding her against his chest. “I love every part of you. Please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed.”
“I’m sorry,” she croaked. “I’ve never…”
“Been naked with anyone? That’s okay. It’s just me.”
Brandon frowned. “You’re worried because it’s me?”
She hesitated before speaking the next words. “I don’t want you to be repulsed by my body. It would kill me.”
He peeled her face from his chest and looked into her eyes. “I know you’ve been through terrible things and your sense of trust is fragile. But if there’s anyone you can allow yourself to be vulnerable with, it’s me. I will never hurt you.”
“What if you don’t want this anymore once I’m unclothed?”
“We have to get you unclothed first to find that out, right?” Two strong fingers found the zipper of her tunic. Isabel stiffened, body taut and unmoving, but not protesting regardless. “Relax,” he purred. “It’s just you and I here. I swear nothing that happens between us will leave this room.”
The garment was deftly unzipped and slowly pushed off her shoulders. As her arms fell to her sides, the tunic slid down her chest, past her hips, and pooled around her ankles.
Full, perky breasts stared at him from behind a pink bra, every lush hollow and swell of her bosom on display. Brandon’s mouth went dry like sandpaper. Since Pentoniac happened, he had seen scantily clad dancers and models up close more times than should be comfortable. But he knew for certain that the girl in front of him was the most delicious sight he had ever witnessed. His eyes raked over the deep cleavage, the tiny waist that curved into hips with some fullness, all the way to the slender legs hidden behind the tights. When his gaze returned to her face, her eyes were squeezed shut.
Brandon’s heart almost broke. She had possibly misconstrued his silence.
“Shh. It’s alright.” She trembled in his arms when he enfolded her, the ridges of her spine stark against his hand as he stroked her back. “You’re more beautiful than I’d imagined.”
“I’m not,” she shook her head.
“You are. Now I know what you hide beneath the clothes.” Of course, he could see the scars. Though they were fading, against her dewy skin, they were still quite loud. But they paled in comparison to her perfect shape. “I can’t believe you’re mine. That I will get to relish this body for all my life.”
Her eyes were wide when she looked up. “You like my body?” she queried. “You’re not disgusted?”
“Where did you get that idea?” he gasped. “I’ve loved you for years, Isabel. I’ve known you more intimately than anyone else. You think some scars are enough for me to be repulsed?”
Her eyes drooped shamefully. “I hate my body.”
“I don’t.” Holding up her wrists, he kissed every scar on her arms, blinking back the tears and trying his best to not think of the story behind each of them. That was not the moment. He wanted her to know that he loved her in entirety just the way she was.
Gently, he lifted her and placed her in the middle of his bed. It was not too big but would have to work. Sliding next to her, he gave her a tender smile.
“How do you feel?” he asked, stroking the fading scar across her hairline. Without offering an answer, she twisted her arm behind her back and unhooked her bra. The next moment, she tossed them to the floor.
Good god. Every coherent thought seemed to leave his mind when he saw the delicate, erect nipples. The pressure in his pants was suddenly painful and he groaned against his will when her hand dipped between his legs.
“You’re harder than you were downstairs,” she observed. Brandon swallowed a few times to moisten his dry throat. It had been days since he last found any relief. His sac was heavy with obvious buildup.
“And you still think I don’t like your body, huh?” With a breathy chuckle, he hunched over her, brushing his lips against hers. She sighed into his mouth when the contact deepened, his erection digging into her pubic mound and intensifying the dull ache. Big hands cupped her breasts, making her back arch. Displeased that he was more clothed than she was, Isabel tugged at his shirt, but he ignored her indication and continued lavishing attention on her body. His mouth trailed down her neck and decolletage, and Isabel’s head tipped back, eyes closing on a shaky moan.
That was the sweetest noise of need he had ever heard. When he captured one of her nipples in his mouth, she moaned again, and the sound turned his young blood hot and thick.
“Take me, please.” She was not too proud to beg but when he played with the waistband of her leggings, pulling it down one inch at a time, the tension was too much to bear.
“Not yet.” The waistband was lowered to reveal pink knickers with visible dampness. The heady smell of her arousal made the fire blaze through him, his erection weeping inside his underwear. He could get high off her smell alone, the heat pulsing from her womanhood enough to drive him wild.
He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it on the floor. Her lips were exploring his torso in an instant, leaving moisture on his skin. She did not know how much she loved body hair on a man before she met him. His hairy chest was possibly her favourite part of him. Well, one of her many favourites.
Brandon guided her back onto the mattress, crawling lower to show her flat stomach some attention. Isabel grabbed his shoulders.
“Tell me you’re going to take off your jeans at some point?” she asked. Brandon leaned in to share a lazy kiss with her, allowing her hands to undo the placket of his pants. Without breaking the contact, he pushed the jeans down and kicked them off. Her hands seemed too small when they cupped his flagrant erection through his underwear.
“Brandy…” Her face tensed abruptly. “I’m not on birth control.”
“Don’t worry.” He kissed her throat, the involuntary noises spilling out of her simply divine. “I’m here to take care of you, not put you in trouble.”
She looked down when he parted her legs and breathed on her soaked womanhood. “Wh-what are you doing?”
“Savouring you.” The panties were rolled off, exposing her virgin sex. “I wish you could see how wet you are.”
“I know…” she sighed, her skin breaking out into prickles when her legs were obscenely spread on the bed and her moist opening examined with a finger. “I’m so ready for you.”
He said nothing in reply. Stroking the little knot of nerves a few times, he circled his finger all across her pleasure centre, coating the digit in thick, feminine cream. She writhed when he pushed it in.
“Does it hurt?” he asked.
“A little…” She tried to breathe. “That’s almost like a tampon.”
“The tampon hurts?”
Isabel closed her eyes, mentally digging a hole to hide in. “I need the larger sizes… you know… because…”
Her muscles squeezed around his finger even as she spoke. Brandon gently pulled it out and added a second finger. “Because you bleed heavy?” he posed, filling her again. A groan erupted from her, along with a flood of moisture. Brandon stroked her hard nub with his thumb while lazily thrusting his fingers, marvelling at the way the untried tissues resisted and welcomed him at the same time.
“You’re dripping wet,” he announced smugly. “I couldn’t have imagined I do this to you.”
“I’ve wanted you inside me for months now,” she admitted, fisting the sheets. “The way you tease me at Bohemia… the look in your eyes, the tone of your voice… God… It sets me on fire…”
“You don’t even have to do anything to set me on fire.” He pulled out his fingers and pressed a kiss on the top of her sopping cleft, smirking when the muscles quivered. “Had it not been for you, I wouldn’t have known that the mere sight of a girl standing in the corner of a room with a glass of Irish coffee, twisting a cinnamon stick, could be arousing.”
For the first time that evening, Isabel laughed. Her rosy, taut cheeks bulged out and made her face appear fuller, and Brandon failed to resist the urge to sink his head and kiss the little circles of colour while giving her firm derriere a squeeze. She giggled again, her muscles slowly loosening under his body.
“I don’t do it on purpose,” she insisted playfully.
“Oh, I don’t either.”
“You do!” She accused him with a slap to his arm. He shook his head.
“Am I to blame if you’re turning me on all the time?” Reaching down, he pulled off his underwear and grasped his throbbing erection. “This is how I spend so many nights in the hotel room, fucking my fist under the blanket, biting my lip, and trying to be dead quiet while thinking of you. Sometimes, I don’t even care if Nathan or Kyle end up hearing me. I love you, right? I’m not ashamed to admit that I need you, want you.”
Rivetted, Isabel watched him slowly pump his long, thick shaft. He was gorgeous with bulging veins and a fat mushroom head, and although his generous size was intimidating, it also made her mouth water.
“Do it,” she goaded. “I can’t wait anymore.”
With a fortifying breath, Brandon left the bed and reached for his underwear drawer, wondering if Isabel had seen the condoms at the bottom of the pile of socks while cleaning his room. He’d had them for months, just in case the opportunity presented itself unexpectedly. He was glad about not having to rush out in a storm to buy protection while sporting an impressive erection, leaving his breathtaking girlfriend naked in bed.
He briefly closed his eyes, gathering all his courage. That was it. The moment he had long awaited. His only hope was to make it comfortable for her, even if that meant hanging on to every bit of control when his body was bursting for relief.
“I love you…” He brushed a kiss to her lips, his sheathed hardness now proudly pointing towards his navel. “I’ll be as slow and gentle as possible. If it hurts, just tell me to stop.”
She nodded, sweat blooming on her skin in anticipation. When she saw him kneel back and position the tip at her opening, her eyes closed. Brandon took her hand and entwined fingers.
“Relax. Breathe deep.” He pushed in a scant inch, her body tensing all around him. He grunted, fighting the constriction the thick bellend found its way inside.
“Got you.” He sucked kisses across her shoulders. “Got you, love.” The hand he was not using to guide himself in wrapped tenderly around her chin, then reached down to palm her throat. A little soothing, a lot possessive. She gasped, legs shifting in earnest.
“Feels so good… so tight.” His growl of hard ownership was accompanied by a long thrust, burying the rest of him inside her. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” Isabel croaked. “God, Brandy…”
“I can stop.”
“Don’t you dare.” She heaved out a laugh. The tampons had not prepared her for that. The massive fullness, hard as a rock and twitching inside her, and she was snugly enveloping him. Their bodies had blended, hard to tell where one ended and the other began. “Needed you for too long.”
He kissed her again, dragging his lips down the side of her jaw. “You have me,” he panted, sweat breaking out on his skin. “All of me.”
“You can do it,” he coaxed gently. “Just let yourself go.”
He moved slowly, tiny circles at first, followed by larger circles, then long smooth strokes, withdrawing to the last inch and ploughing back in. His old, rickety bed creaked underneath them, but they could not care less. She was creamy slick and yielding, and he was fighting hard to keep it slow despite the urge to devour her like a maniac.
“Harder.” Her legs wrapped around him, spreading her wider. “Please.”
“Are you sure?” He looked down at her face, a trickle of sweat dripping from his sideburn.
“Yeah…” Bucking her hips, she tried to match his thrusts. “I need it.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’m fine.” She ran her hands down his sweaty back, the muscles flexing under her palm. “You feel so good… I need more…”
“Okay… but you can always stop me if—”
She grabbed his face with both hands and swallowed the rest of his words. “Take me the way you want to,” she hissed impatiently. “Don’t hold back.”
The look of pure desire in her eyes broke through his control. Cocooning her body, he closed his eyes and let his hips gather momentum. She held onto him, her eyes glazing over as the passion mounted. Their lovemaking blended with the sound of the rain and the wind, the chorus of moans and heavy breaths hanging in the air. Brandon took her legs and tucked them across his shoulders, opening her that impossible bit more. She whimpered, surrendering to the possession.
“I won’t last,” he spoke on a ragged breath. “Not with you clenching the life out of me.”
Isabel did not need the warning. He had waited for this too long, his patience understandably thin. And every time he hit the sensitive spot inside her, it pushed her closer to her own precipice. She bit her lip, her vision blackening.
“I love you…” she moaned on a tremulous exhale. Brandon growled, swelling inside her as the tension peaked.
“I love you too… Oh, Izzi…” His head snapped back, his testicles tightening in preparation. “Tell me you’re close… Please, baby…”
She choked out a cry, her nails digging into his arms. His thrusts turned into a mad, almost vicious pounding, his desperation getting the better of him. “Come on,” he hissed quietly into her ear. “Please, Izzi. Do it for me. Please…”
“Brandy…” Clinging to him, she sobbed in confused pleasure, legs stiffening, pelvis spasming. With the first contraction, she screamed, arching and twisting on the ruined sheets. Her body shuddered and spasmed around him as he moved relentlessly.
“Shit…” he groaned, a deep grimace forming on his face as the first molten spurts were wrenched out of him. He kept thrusting through his release, rope after rope of hot cream spilling into the sheath. Isabel buried her face in the pillow, failing to stop another orgasm from taking over her.
“Oh…” Brandon’s hips continued to move as her ecstasy massaged him into another frenzy of need. He spilled again, and again, one bout of savage rush followed by another, more intense, more furious. He crushed her to his chest, struggling to breathe while tremors racked through him. When he collapsed on top of her, he was certain he was not the same person anymore.
It was only after regaining his senses that he realised she was crying.
“Hey…” He lifted his head to see her hiding her flushed, tear-soaked face behind her hands. “Are you alright? Did I hurt you?”
She could only shake her head as he rolled onto his side with her limp body and tugged at the sheets to cover her bare form, engulfing her in his protective warmth. The rain was still pouring hard although the storm had passed. He filled his chest with air, letting out a deep exhale. The room smelled of sweat and sex, a scent he would forever associate with their consummation.
“Look at me.” He tilted her face, wiping the tears with the base of his thumb. “What’s happening, baby?”
“I don’t know… I felt things I never thought I would…”
“It was probably too intense,” he said. No, it was definitely intense. “Did I scare you? You felt so good… I kind of lost it there…”
“No… I liked it.” She momentarily met his gaze. “It was hot.”
Brandon’s mouth twitched with the ghost of a smile as he held her hips and carefully pulled out of her. She winced as the fullness left her, and the wet burn was all too palpable. He unsheathed himself, knotted the condom, and discarded it. Then he pulled her back into his arms, wishing that moment would never end.
“I hope you know how much this means to me,” he sighed into the crook of her neck. “I promise I will always respect the trust you’ve placed in me.”
“Was I good enough?”
“Hmm-mm. Way better than my imagination.”
His face darkened for a moment. “You must be really sore, aren’t you?”
Without an answer, she snuggled into his arms, listening to the sound of the rain with their legs tangled. She was not alien to pain and hurt, but this was different. The soreness reminded her how she had given herself to him so openly, dropping her guard and being vulnerable. It was both erotic and liberating to be so free with the one she loved, keeping no barriers or secrets. He had been the most thoughtful man, easing her through the new experience. A small warmth blossomed in her chest, making her fall a little deeper in love with him.
“How long are you staying again?” she asked, smothering a yawn. “A week?”
The terseness made her look up at him. He glanced at her at the same time and pursed his lips. “This makes staying apart from you so much harder,” he confessed. “Now that I know how you feel around me and how amazing making love to you is… I’m pretty sure I will be going insane.”
“I’m right here,” she smiled. “All you have to do is come home and take me.”
“I will.” With a teasing smirk, he rolled on top of her. “When I’m insatiable and you’re trying to swat me away, I hope you remember you did this to me.”
“I will never swat you away.” Craning her neck, she sought his lips, and he obliged by sealing them in a tender kiss. The familiar smell of his body was comforting. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Taking her hand, he kissed the back of her palm. “The storm’s blown over. I should probably drop you home now. Are you sure you can walk?”
Isabel nodded, pushing herself into a seated position. Brandon noticed the discomfort when she shifted on the bed and winced.
“I’ll take the car out,” he offered, rolling out of the bed. “It’s raining and you’re not exactly comfortable. I won’t put you through a walk.”
He pulled on his underwear and jeans and proceeded to pick up her clothes from the floor. With aching tenderness, he slipped the bra on her, kissing her neck and her shoulders as he went. The tunic was next, followed by the knickers. Stretching her legs and flexing them at the knee, he put back the leggings, before coming up for a kiss. Isabel held him close and fought back the emotional surge, having never felt so cherished, so complete.
“Can I call you once I’m in bed?” she asked quietly.
“You don’t need to ask.” He kissed her cheek. “I love to fall asleep to your voice. Although tonight I don’t think sleep is going to be easy with my bed still smelling of you.”
“But you must sleep.” She pushed back his hand with her fingers. “You’re performing at the Sligo Rovers game tomorrow.”
“Are you coming to the game?”
“I never do.”
“But tomorrow if you did, we could sneak off to the lake afterwards.”
“Oh.” The twinkle in his eyes made her heart flip. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. Have a fire going, make some hot chocolate, watch nightfall descend on the horizon.” Brandon held her hands, giving her fingers a gentle squeeze. “Cuddle under a blanket as I play with your hair. Let the world fade away as we kiss and meld into one…”
Her eyes dropped close as the husky murmur washed over her. “You’re supposed to be single, you know,” she pointed out and felt his hands instantly tense.
“At home in Sligo?” he frowned. “Are you serious? Everyone here knows you’re my girlfriend. This isn’t London. I don’t have to do my manager’s bidding here.”
He rose to his feet and picked up his shirt from the floor, slipping it on. “I’ll make sure you’re home by nine.”
“Brandy?” she breathed, rising from the bed. “Do you regret what just happened between us?”
“Of course not.” Touching her face, he enjoyed the softness of her cheek against his palm. “It cements our relationship, gives it permanence.” He pulled her close until she was pressed against his chest. “You know my values, right? You just gave me your virginity and it’s a big deal for me. There’s no way I’m going to hide our relationship from the rest of the world after this.”
“Louis wouldn’t like it.”
“That’s not your concern. I know you don’t want anything to come between me and my dream but it kills me to have to pretend to be single. I cannot go on hiding what you mean to me. I want to flaunt my amazing girlfriend.”
“I’m not fit to be flaunted,” she said with a tired exhale.
“Izzi, you used to think I wasn’t making us public because I was ashamed of you,” he murmured. “Things are different now. I’m glad you’re getting better and I will never expose you, I promise. But I cannot pretend to be single anymore. Isn’t it unfair to you, to our relationship? There’s so much I long to do with you. I want to see you sing and dance, I want to see you run amok in the rain, I want you to sag in my arms after a few too many… I want our love to change you into the person that your years in London didn’t allow you to be. And I’m going to make sure that happens.”
He kissed her shoulder. “You’re a real challenge sometimes,” he said. “And I think that’s part of the reason why I love you so much.”
“You will figure out how to tame me,” she giggled.
“You are wonderful the way you are. I’m not changing a thing.” Grabbing his car keys, he unlocked the door and they made their way down the stairs, the sound of the rain getting louder as they approached the door. Brandon pulled up in front of the house, opened the door for her, and helped fasten her seatbelt. Then he was kissing her, sweet and unhurried.
“Will you come with me to Nathan’s 21st?” he asked.
“Uh-huh. He asked me to bring you.”
“It can be the first time you step out with me in public.”
“The press will be there?” she asked.
“No. Only friends and family. I’m dressing up as Sgt Pepper.”
“What?” she laughed. “It’s fancy dress?”
“Yeah, but you don’t have to. You look fancy enough anyway.”
Isabel laughed again, sinking in the seat. “I’ll think about it,” she said.
Brandon started the car. “That means a no?”
“No. I mean… I’ll think about it.”
He nodded, knowing that she was still shy around unknown people. And there would be many at Nathan’s birthday bash.
They reached the Barrett residence in ten minutes. He reached over to open the door on her side and quickly kissed Isabel again.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, stepping out into the rain. Emily answered the door before she could ring the bell, and Brandon waved to her from inside his vehicle, promising to drop in during fairer weather. His eyes met Isabel’s demure gaze and he saw the joy their union had brought her, and if Emily noticed it, she indicated nothing.
Wishing them goodnight, he stepped on the accelerator, turning the car around. What had he done to deserve her? He did not know, but he would certainly do nothing to lose her. She was too precious for that.
Emily and Isabel watched his BMW fade into the night, the lights disappearing behind the pall of rain. The older woman shut the door and laughed.
“He’s besotted with you.” She said to her niece. “As you are with him.”
Face flaming, Isabel ran to her room, closed the door, and leaned against the door. Her blood sang, her heart danced, she felt alive.
It was all because of her Irish charmer. The man who had loved her back to life.