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Stephanie stared out the window, regretting her decision to come back to the guest house instead of going home with Eric.  She’d been flirting with him, she knew that, so why had she turned his offer down?  Was she really that afraid?  And what was there to be afraid of?  She could see in his eyes that he wanted her.  Could feel it in the way he kissed her, the way he held her.

Sighing, she ran a hand through her hair.  “You’re going to lose him if you keep this up,” she muttered to herself just as a knock came at the door.  Fussing with her hair to fix the mess she’d made of it, she realized how stupid it was that she hadn’t changed clothes when she got home.  Shrugging her shoulders, she figured it was probably Brooke at the door, needing her for something, so what did it matter if she had changed or not?

“Eric?” she whispered when she saw him through the glass.  Feeling her heart begin to race, she opened the door and greeted him.

“I went home and was thinking about being alone again in our bed, and I just can’t take it.  I’ll court you just like you wanted and I’ll put all the romance I can into it.  I’m starting tonight.”

Stephanie smiled.  “Really?”

“Yes.”  He nodded.  “Let me spend the night, Stephanie.  Even if all we do is talk, I want to stay with you.”

Suddenly she had the opening she needed to keep from seeming like she was begging.  Smiling when he reached for her, she leaned forward, her lips touching his, once then pulling back to hum her pleasure, then going back for another kiss.  “Come in,” she invited with a soft smile as she tugged at his hand, pulling him through the door, her free hand closing the door behind him.

Gathering her against him, Eric buried his face in her hair.  “God, Stephanie, I’ve wanted you so much for so many weeks.”  Pulling back, he looked down at her.  “I don’t want you to think I only miss you because I miss the sex.”  He tucked a curl behind her ear.  “I do miss making love to you, very much, but I miss just holding you.  I miss having your soft body bump into mine in the middle of the night when you get a little restless.  I miss your warm breath against my shoulder when you sigh in your sleep.”  Pulling her back against him, wrapping his arms tightly around her, he gently caressed her back.  “I just miss you.”

Stephanie’s eyes watered as she listened to his sweet words.  She could hear the longing and love in his voice, and knew that all the teasing about how a man only has so much restraint earlier had just been his way of covering up how much he really needed her.  As a tear tracked its way down her cheek, she reached up to caress his face.  “I miss you too.”

Catching the tear with his thumb, Eric held her face.  “Then why won’t you come home?” he asked softly.

“I,” she started, her voice shaky.

“What is it?” he asked, his thumb wiping another tear.

“I’m afraid,” she admitted quietly.

Pulling her back against him, his hand cupping the back of her head, Eric swayed her gently.  “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“I can’t help it,” she whispered, knowing that she couldn’t tell him that there was something to be afraid of, wishing with all of her heart that she could tell him all of the truth.

“Then I’ll just have to make the fear go away,” he told her gently.

Resting her hand against his neck, curling her fingers around the back, she felt his pulse against her skin and closed her eyes.  “I do love you, Eric.”

“I know.  I love you too.”  He stepped back and held out his hand.  “Let me show you how much.”

Opening her eyes and looking down at his hand then back up into his warm brown eyes, she reached out a shaky hand, placing it in his.  “I would like that,” she started, her voice dropping as she finished, “very much.”




In the dim light of the moon filtering in through windows, Eric slowly undressed her, waiting patiently as she undressed him, before gently laying her back against the pillows.  “I’d almost forgotten how beautiful you are in the moonlight,” he whispered as he caressed her, his eyes never leaving hers.

“Flatterer,” she murmured as she drew her hand up his arm, her fingers skimming along the edge of the hair at the nape of his neck.

He smiled and shook his head slightly.  “Not flattery, Sweetheart,” he told her as he leaned down, his teeth gently nipping at her ear.  “Truth.”

Stephanie’s breath caught when his tongue brushed lightly over the spot just behind her ear that he knew drove her crazy.  “Oh god, Eric,” she managed to moan as she held him closer.

Eric felt her body shifting restlessly beneath him and felt his own body growing more aroused with each brush of her soft skin against his.  Cupping a breast, he tweaked the taut nipple earning a gasp from her as she arched up into him.  “Soft touch tonight,” he murmured against her neck.

“It’s been a long time,” she whispered as she let her hands caress down his back.

Moving so that he could look into her eyes, he felt himself drowning in the blue depths.  “So you’ve wanted me as much as I’ve wanted you?”

“So much,” she answered softly.  “I wake and reach for you, to snuggle against you like I always do when I wake up in the middle of the night.  When I find nothing but cool sheets, I find myself rolling over and crying because I know I did this to myself.  I know that I can come to you, but,” she shook her head.

“But you don’t want to seem like you’re begging,” he guessed.

She nodded.  “So many nights I’ve picked up the phone to call you.  Even when,” she stopped and bit her lip, not wanting to upset him.

“Even when, what, Sweetheart?” he asked as he draped his body over hers, his head resting on his hand as he looked down at her. 

Not looking at him, she finished what she’d started to tell him.  “Even when I was living with Mass,” she told him quietly.

His eyes darkening at the mention of Massimo, and the time she lived with him, he moved his hand along her collar bone to her shoulder, back and forth.  “You could have called me, Stephanie.  It wouldn’t have mattered if it was the middle of the night.  I wasn’t sleeping well without you, anyway.”

Gazing up at him, she felt her heart swell.  “No more talk,” she told him, her hand moving to cup his head, bringing it down so that his lips were almost touching hers.  “Kiss me,” she breathed.

Pulling from the kiss a few moments later, he traced her lips with his finger, watching as her eyes darkened, feeling her warm breath puff out against his skin.  Moving his kisses across her face, he made a slow trail down her neck to her breasts, taking a sensitive peak into his mouth and suckling, his hand gently kneading the other breast.

Stephanie moaned as she held him to her, slightly arching her back, pushing herself closer to him.  She felt herself begin to tremble, her skin tingling, as his mouth and hands worked their magic on her body.  Eyes snapping open when she felt his hand moving lower, she stared at him then whimpered when he touched her.

“Easy,” he whispered as he gently continued the intimate caress.

Letting her hands fall to the bed, Stephanie gripped the sheets and turned her head into her pillow when he increased the pressure.  “Oh god,” she gasped, her legs drawing up around him.

Eric felt her muscles clenching with each stroke of his finger, her thighs trembling as she drew closer and closer to her orgasm.  “Let go, Stephanie,” he encouraged.  “Let go.”

Back arching, she cried out as her climax washed over her, bright lights swirling in front of her closed eyes.  “Oh…oh Eric,” she whimpered as she crashed, her legs falling back to the bed, her body relaxing.

Moving into the cradle of her thighs, Eric pressed tender kisses to her forehead, eyes, nose, then lips.  Smiling when she whimpered as a small tremor of pleasure washed over her, he kissed her neck, his lips gently tugging at the delicate skin, reveling in the soft mewling sounds she was making in the back of her throat.  “God that’s sexy,” he whispered against her ear.

Opening her eyes, Stephanie stared up at him.  “Going to give me more than that?” she asked, moving her hips, brushing their lower bodies against the other, provoking him.

“Touch me,” he whispered, his gaze steadily holding hers.

Moving her hand down between them, she lingered a moment on his chest, her fingers gently drawing circles around first one flat nipple then the other, making him moan her name.  Moving lower, she touched him gently, tracing the length of him before wrapping her hand around him.  “Like this?” she asked, her voice breathy and low.

“Oh god, yes,” he growled low, his body jerking when she gently moved her hand up and down.

“I want more,” she whispered, guiding him to her, moving her hand to grasp his arm when he thrust forward, easily sliding inside her, their bodies joined intimately for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

“This?” he asked, his breath hot against her ear.

Nodding her head, she moaned when he pulled back, thrusting forward again, filling her as only he had ever been able to do.  “Yes.  Yes.  More,” she panted as she moved her hands up and down his back, her legs draping over his as she began to move her hips in counterpoint to his thrusts.

“Stephanie,” he said her name like a prayer as he picked up the familiar rhythm.  “I’ve missed you,” he whispered as he leaned his forehead against hers, his lips gently kissing hers.  “God how I’ve missed you.”

“No more than I missed you,” she told him before moving her hand up to cup his face.  “Hold me and give me everything.”

Kissing her, stealing the breath from her lungs, he did as she asked, wrapping his arms around her, giving himself to her, and taking everything she had in return.




Curled against his warm body, Stephanie held Eric’s hand, her thumb playing with his ring.  She could feel his heart beating just a little too fast against her cheek and smiled when she heard him take a deep breath trying to calm it.  “Steady and strong,” she whispered.  “Just like always.”

“Beating just for you,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

“How sweet,” she sighed.

“Now if it would just slow down a bit,” he murmured then squeezed her.  “Something that won’t happen as long as you’re pressed against me, soft and warm.”

“I can move if you’d like,” she told him as she started to roll away.

“Don’t you dare,” he growled.  “You stay right where you are.”  He wrapped his arm tighter around her, drawing her back into the same spot she’d been in.

Snuggling back into just the right spot, she kissed his chest.  “Gladly.  I want to fall asleep here.  I’m more comfortable and warm than I’ve been,”

“Since you left,” he finished.  “So am I.”

“Eric?” she whispered after a few moments of just lying and enjoying being in his arms.

“What is it, Sweet girl?”

She smiled at the nickname.  “How much longer would you have waited for me?”

Using his finger, he gently tipped her face up to look at him.  “I’d wait forever, Sweet girl.  I know you aren’t ready to come home, it’s alright.  I told you I’ll court you, I meant it.  I’m going to romance you back into our life together.”  Cupping her cheek, he held her gaze.  “It’s you I want.  As long as you continue to tell me to come in, I’ll be here.  Just promise you won’t change your mind.  Promise me that I really have already won.”

Lifting her hand to cover his, she squeezed it and reassured him.  “I promise.  You have won.  I just need time to go back.”

“And I’ll give you that time.  As much of it as you want.”

She smiled.  “I think I’ve found my new favorite two words.”

“Oh?” he asked.  “And what would they be?”

“Come in,” she whispered.  “Come in.”