Love Her or Lose Her

Page 26

“Yes,” he said, voice resonating. His whole body resonating. “I want that.”

“Me too.” She wet her lips. “I’m going to finish up here. Can you go inside and preheat the oven for me? Three seventy-five.”

Backing away from her when she’d just admitted to needing him, even in a small capacity, was fucking agony, but he did it. Anything to not screw up this chance to have her cross the threshold of their home, even if it was just for a few hours. He stopped to glance back at Rosie on his way into the house and found her watching him from beneath her lashes. Looking . . . in need of reassurance? He knew how to give it to her. By worshipping her, pleasuring her, communicating love with his body.

But that didn’t work, did it? Not completely. Hadn’t Rosie said she felt empty afterward? He had to find a way to offer more. Give more.

Tell that to the testosterone flowing through his veins. As soon as he got inside, Dominic dropped the groceries off on the counter and adjusted his hard cock through his sweatpants. He planted his hands on the edge of the kitchen counter and breathed in and out. “Okay, not jerking off for a week was a bad choice, bro. Admit it. But you can do this. You can be in the same room as your wife and not fuck her until she screams the town into a power outage.”

Dominic visualized the same thing he’d been picturing all week, while trying to get his dick under control. One of his fellow marines had been bitten by a scorpion while on a perimeter check and the bite had gotten infected. Dominic pictured that mass of oozing flesh and started unpacking the contents of the grocery bags, teeth dug into his lower lip. Chicken stock, eggs, tomato paste, a green bell pepper.

His visualization exercise was working. He was halfway to losing his erection until Rosie walked in and immediately stripped off her sweatshirt at the door, carrying the T-shirt beneath it up to her breasts, showing off a hint of underboob before dropping back into place. She hung her sweatshirt on a hook and blew out a breath, glancing around the house as if she’d forgotten what it looked like, maybe even missed it—and Dominic’s throat cinched tight.

“Your truck was already pretty clean,” she said, tucking loose hair into her bun. “I feel like I cheated on my homework.” Her laughter was kind of skittish, reminding him of those first few middle-school dates to the coffee shop, when they were just getting to know each other. “Wow. Why am I so nervous?”

“This is your home. I’m your husband. You shouldn’t be . . .” Dominic heard the rote lines coming out of his mouth and dragged a hand down his face, laughing without a drop of humor. “I’m nervous, too, Rosie.”

Her breath caught. “You are?”

“Yeah.” Now that they’d returned to the scene of the crime, it became even more obvious how drastically their communication had dwindled. Their voices sounded almost foreign filling the kitchen together at the same time. “It doesn’t make you see me as less of . . . a man? Knowing I’m nervous?”

“What?” She pressed a hand to the center of her chest. “God, no. It makes me feel like I’m not crazy. It puts us on the same team.”

Surprise prickled up his spine. “I want to be strong for you at all times,” he said hoarsely. “Isn’t that my job?”

Her features softened as she regarded him. “Marriage isn’t a job, Dom.”

She hadn’t called him by that nickname in so long, his insides jolted upon hearing it. All day long, it was shouted over the sound of hammering on the construction site, but it sounded different coming from his wife. It came from the past. The future. It held weight.

“Duty is something I understand. It’s something I can’t fuck up.”

“I appreciate that. I appreciate what you do for us. For me.” The hand dropped from the center of her chest and she crossed to the counter, close enough to Dominic that he could count the goose bumps on her neck. “It makes me feel closer to you when you let down your guard. Makes me feel like I can do the same.”

Dominic was barely aware of moving closer. He found himself behind Rosie, zeroed in on the freckle behind her ear as she unloaded shopping bags. Fuck, she smelled good enough to take a bite out of. “You want me to put on your music?”

She shivered, fumbling a tub of sour cream and dropping it on the counter. “Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.” Her pupils had bled completely into the brown of her eyes when she glanced back over her shoulder. “I’m making empanadas.”

“Does that mean you’re happy?”

“This time . . . it means I want you to be. Happy.”

When he normally would have pressed his lap to her ass, kissed her smooth neck, and slid his hands up under the front of her T-shirt, Dominic backed away instead. God, it was unnatural to move away from the force field that drew him in so intensely. Like separating stuck magnets. Since she’d left, the kitchen had seemed so huge and empty; now it might as well be the size of a stand-up shower stall. His hands tingled with the need to run over her skin, and his mouth had definite acts of service in mind. Getting inside her head, however, was fulfilling a different part of him. The simple statement that she wanted him happy made his chest expand to the size of a marching band bass drum. Watching her prove it? Even better. Rosie had come over, cleaned his truck, and now she was making him a meal.

It was heaven on earth and nothing could ruin it. Not even his thwarted sex drive.

Dominic turned the knob of the old radio that sat on a perch in the kitchen window, salsa music crackling over the speakers. The device had belonged to her mother, and even though he’d bought her a new one several Christmases ago, she continued to use this one, static and all. Tradition. His wife loved tradition, but those little displays of it had been few and far between over the past few years. Or maybe she was just keeping them to herself.

Remembering how she used to dance in the kitchen while cooking made Dominic swallow hard as he watched her from his lean against the opposite counter. He catalogued every movement of her hands mixing the vegetables and meat in a bowl. Listened as she hummed along to the music as she spooned the filling into dough and forked the empanadas closed. When she turned to put them in the oven, Dominic took note of her shallow breathing and knew she’d been aware of him watching her the whole time. Careful, man, you’re letting the lifelong obsession with her show.

“Those should be ready in thirty minutes,” she breathed, fidgeting as she faced him. “Do you want to watch TV or—”

“Nah.” Before he knew his own mind, Dominic stepped into the warmth of her space, capturing her left hand in his right. “Can we dance, Rosie?”


Dominic came another inch closer, and Rosie’s head fell back like a string had been cut, giving him her upturned face.

“I don’t know i-if that’s a good idea.”

“You don’t?” Hunger bloomed in his middle, but he kept his features schooled. “The therapist said we’re allowed to kiss. Dancing must be on the hippie-approved list, right?”

“Whoa,” she said unsteadily, her gaze dropping to his mouth. “First you want to dance and now . . . kissing. You can’t just throw all of that out there.”

Dominic grinned and rubbed his right thumb in a circle around the palm of her hand. “Didn’t ask to kiss. I said I wanted to dance.” He slipped his left hand around the small of her back and eased their bodies together. “You made that leap, honey girl.”

Rosie sputtered for a moment, but if she noticed Dominic swaying her into the low, slow beat of the music, she didn’t show it. “So I did.”

“I forgive you for sexualizing me.”

“Shut up,” she said on a giggle, then cut herself off with a gasp when she realized they were dancing. “Oh, you think you’re slick?”

“Did you seriously forget how much game I have, Rosie?” He brought her tighter to his body, groaning inwardly over the tits that poked into his stomach, the press of their thighs. “Maybe you need a reminder.”

“Maybe I do,” she whispered, her breath fanning over his mouth. “Just remember the rules, okay?”

Dominic made a sound in his throat that somehow spoke of misery and contentment at the same time. It was amazing to simply hold his wife again. For the last five years, whenever they touched, he got impatient almost immediately to satisfy her. Please her. Now he wondered if he’d been trying to overcompensate for not giving her what she really needed. Words. Intimacy without sex. Dominic dragged his tongue across the seam of his lips, noticing the flutter of her eyelids. What was he supposed to be doing again? Oh, right. Reminding her he still had a modicum of game left. “Mmm, girl. Your hands really worked that empanada meat.”

She burst out laughing into his chest, her whole body shaking.

Dominic’s deep rumble joined hers and tension ebbed from his shoulders. Damn, he loved making her laugh, and those instances had been too few and far between. For way too long. “What?” He nudged her forehead with his chin. “You saying my game is rusty?”

“Those are your words, not mine.”

“All right. Take two.” They grinned at each other for a moment, but Dominic felt himself sober. “When you were standing at the counter, the sunset was coming in through the window. All around you, turning these little curls near your ears to gold. I was thinking, I wish I was a painter or a photographer because keeping something that beautiful to myself makes me a selfish bastard. Even though I want you that way. All for me.” He closed his eyes and breathed in roughly through his nose. “Every perfect fucking inch.”

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