Quil and Claire, now twenty-seven, are getting married. The darkest days are past. Perhaps further danger looms, but all on their minds now is the wedding. In the series For Her.
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11. Chapter 11
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It is the first time I had see her naked since she was ten years old, and then I was more worried about the bruises than anything else.
Now she wasn’t a terrified child. She’s a woman, standing confidant and sure, right in front of me. Obviously, I was expected to do something. Unfortunately, the only thing I could recall how to do was stand and stare.
She muttered some form of expletive and walked over to me. “Quil, what’s wrong? Do you not want to do this?”
“I want it more than I’ve ever wanted anything else.”
I looked down at the floor. I couldn’t admit it.
“Are you scared?”
I looked further down. My, it’s a very pretty rug. Inches thick, luxurious…
“That’s it. You’re scared? Quil…” She shook her head. “That’s kind of sweet.”
“I’m worried I’ll hurt you. I could… Claire, if you get nervous… I might phase… I could get so angry, remembering him and what he did to you and I could hurt you.”
A potential concern. Troubling. Not crippling, like my real fear.
“Don’t lie to me.”
Claire knows me too well.
“You’re going to think it’s silly.”
“If I promise not to laugh, will you tell me?”
I sighed. “Of course.”
“I promise not to laugh.”
“I’m afraid I won’t… I’ve never done this before.”
Her mouth hung open a little bit. She seemed almost sad. It was a puzzling emotion. “Quil… do you really think this makes a difference? What happens now isn’t going to change that I love you, and that you love me. Let’s try it, all right?”
I finally found the strength to walk to her, placing one hand on her waist, kissing her gently. She smiled against my lips, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, then inching her hands down. The buttons of my shirt were undone.
Her hands felt like ice on my bare skin, but they left a burning trail behind them. I smiled and picked her up, hitching her legs around my waist and putting her down on the bed.
For a moment, I just looked at her… so beautiful. It was truly incredible. That of all the women in the world, this was the one I was meant for… the one that was mine. None of us were sure whether imprinting was destiny or chance, but either Lady Luck or the Fates had been most kind to me.
“I love you,” I murmured, for the thousandth time that day.
“I love you too,” she answered, and I could hear the strength and surety burning in the words, burning into my heart.
I circled the hair around her head, gently twirling it around one finger. Her black hair was beautiful on the thick white sheets, but not so much as her smile. My other hand traced gently down her jaw, over her soft lips which pressed a kiss on my passing fingers, and down her neck.
She smiled wider.
I moved my hand over her collarbone.
She didn’t flinch, or recoil, or show any sign of fear. I traced her breast with one hand.
This time the smile was mine.
Her skin was very soft, all over her stomach and hips. I bent my head to her stomach. She froze.
I moved away. Like that very first kiss, there was no choice. I would never be the cause of her pain.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just need a minute.” And then she burst into tears.
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