I want to give you a sneak peek of DELIRIOUS, but there are *SPOILERS* if you haven't read DANGEROUS and DEVIOUS yet. DANGEROUS is currently only 99 cents, so if you haven't already met Stone And Dara, what are you waiting for?
One Year Anniversary of Stone and Dara’s Engagement
As we lay on a soft blanket in the moonlight, I gazed at Stone’s profile as he admired the thousands of stars that had been sprinkled in the night sky like glitter in a puddle of ink. Our fingers entwined as he reached for me, and I found the warmth of his hand comforting. At one time, I would have thought it impossible for me to love anyone as much as I had loved Granny, but as I watched him, I knew that our romance would be one of the greatest love stories ever lived. My heart filled with emotion so potent, it was tangible, and I could feel it as it pumped through my body, a feeling of euphoria more addictive than any I’d ever experienced.
I had asked him once to make love to me in a moment of weakness, and he had refused. It was after Granny’s death, and when the darkness of that difficult time released me from its tendrils, I loved him even more. On the surface, Stone could seem self-absorbed, but I’d seen the other side of him, the side that was usually locked away, the side that would put my needs, even when I couldn’t see them myself, above his own desires.
I’d thought about that night many times during the last few months.
I wanted Stone. I wanted him more than I’d ever wanted anything. I squeezed his hand, and he turned toward me, propping himself up on his elbow. Smoothing an errant strand of hair from my face, he whispered, “Happy anniversary, babe.”
“Happy anniversary,” I whispered. My heart thumped in my chest, and it amazed me that as long as we’d been together, he still had this effect on me.
He watched me silently, soothing me with his touch.
My gaze flitted to the willow tree behind him, silhouetted in the moonlight, and I thought about the first time we’d come here. I loved that tree, and as I watched its dangling branches sway in the gentle breeze, I knew that was where I wanted to be married.
Cupping my cheek, he kissed me tenderly as if I were his most prized possession and I required the gentlest of care. It was one of my favorite things about Stone, the way he always made me feel safe, cherished, loved.
Overwhelmed with the need to touch him, I lifted my fingers to his recently shaven face, admiring the smoothness of his skin, the contours of his cheek.
“Stone,” I whispered.
The darkness cast shadows on his face, but I knew he was watching me, waiting for me to finish. Bringing my hand to his lips, he brushed a kiss into my palm.
I swallowed, reluctant to continue.
“What is it, Dara?” he asked softly, and I could detect a hint of worry in his voice at my hesitation.
“Will you make love to me?”
Damn. She had no idea how much I wanted to. But I knew Dara. And the one thing I wanted more than making love to her was to marry her, have a family with her. She was my forever, and I didn’t want to screw it up.
“I will,” I whispered, “if you marry me.”
“I’m going to marry you, Stone, just as soon as we graduate from college.”
“I can’t make love to you until you marry me.” That was something I never thought I’d hear myself say, and I had to grit my teeth to make sure I didn’t take it back. She pursed her lips together, and the corners of her mouth tilted down in a frown.
“You’ve made love to plenty of other girls,” she said, her tone carrying a hint of aggravation. “We’ve been engaged for a year. You don’t want me?”
“Hell, Dara. You have no idea how badly I want you, but you’re not those other girls. You mean something to me. You mean everything to me. And I’ve screwed up too much shit in my life. I will not take that chance with you.”
“Please,” she whispered. “Just once.”
I laughed, slightly amused because she had no idea what making love to her would do to me. “There’s no such thing as just once. Once we start having sex, everything changes. And what if you get pregnant?”
“We can use protection.”
“I won’t risk it. I won’t risk having something happen that you’re not ready for. If you’re not ready to marry me, then you’re not ready to make love to me.”
She nodded slightly, placing her palm against my chest. “I know you’re right. I don’t want you to be, but I know you are.”
I touched my lips to hers because I understood. I’d wanted her since the first day that she came to work at the bookstore and teased me with those pink sparkly lips. Damn, I’d wanted her then, and I’d wanted her nonstop ever since. But I knew Dara as well as I knew myself, and she was the one person that I could push aside my own temptations for. I had to do what was best for her because I was terrified that if I did what was best for me, I’d lose her forever. Part of me thought that perhaps I was insane for not taking her up on her offer, but I was focusing on our future. I may not be getting instant gratification, but I was playing this game for keeps. And nothing was more important to me than winning the heart of Dara Golding forever.
“Here, I have something for you.”
I sat up and rummaged through my backpack, pulling out a thin box wrapped in shiny white paper and topped off with a dainty, pink bow. Handing her the gift, I pulled a flashlight out of my backpack and turned it on.
She sat up, her plea to make love momentarily forgotten.
“What is it?”
“Open it and find out.”
She carefully removed the bow and unwrapped the box. Lifting the gift from the soft, black velvet interior of the box, Dara dangled the silver heart pendant from her fingertips.
“Look at the heart,” I instructed her.
I shined the light on the pendant, so that she could read the inscription. “Stone and Dara,” she said softly.
“Now flip it over.”
She obeyed and read the inscription on the back, “Delirious.”
“That’s how you make me feel, Dara.” She looked at me, and I cupped her cheek in my palm, the emotion of all the things I felt for her rushing to the surface. “I want you to wear this necklace, and when you do, I want you to be able to reach up and feel the shape of the heart, to know how much I love you. I want you to feel the smooth surface with your fingertips and imagine me caressing your skin. I want you to feel the weight of it against your chest and imagine my palm resting over your heart, feeling its erratic beat from my nearness. I want you to remember Stone and Dara because from now on, it’s you and me, for as long as I live. I want you to remember the word delirious and to know that no matter where I may be, I’m thinking of you because you’re my world, and I’m so in love with you that I am delirious.”
I took the necklace from her, and she held up her hair while I fastened it around her neck.
Lunging toward me, she wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “It’s perfect, and I’ll never take it off. I love you, Stone.”
“I love you, too, baby. And I promise you that one day, after I’ve made you my wife, I’m going to make slow, intense love to you.”
She leaned back and looked in my eyes, fingering the pendant. “That seems so far away.”
I grabbed her, and she squealed as I lay back on the blanket and pulled her on top of me. “Then we’ll have to make up for it on our honeymoon. Until then, I can think of other ways to have fun.”
And I kissed her in the moonlight, my hands roaming her body as I reveled in my delirium.