Saving forever, p.32
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       Saving Forever, p.32

         Part #3 of The Ever Trilogy series by Jasinda Wilder

  "For me, too." He held up his hand between us so I could see the faint tremor. "See?"

  I took his hand and kissed his palm, nudged into his touch. His eyes closed as I kissed his hand again, and then leaned in to taste his mouth. The kiss blossomed, swiftly turning to hungry devouring starvation. It was exactly what I needed, to forget my nerves at being naked with him. I wanted to be bare with him, to feel him. My nerves were over silly things, things I knew he didn't care about. I was being silly, and I knew it.

  The kiss unfurled, and this time neither of us would stop it. I felt his hand slide down my bare back, and I felt him groan in his chest as he caressed my ass, cupping and kneading, exploring both cheeks and my thighs just below, up to my back and to my hips, touching me all over, kissing me until I was lost in the taste of his mouth and the stroke of his tongue against mine.

  I sought his skin with my hands, tracing the muscles of his shoulders, the strong straight line of his spine, and I didn't deny myself the pleasure of tugging his underwear over his erection and letting it fall to the ground. I didn't take him in my hand yet, though, no, not yet. I pressed our bodies together, murmuring a moan as the hard hot thickness of his cock pressed against my torso. Instead, I lifted up on my toes to bring the kiss to him, cupping the cool firmness of his taut backside, exploring and caressing. At that moment, he was mine.

  God, god, the way our bodies fit together was magic, pure fantasy. And we were still standing up together, as yet unconnected in that most intimate way.

  Now, finally, I slid my palm between our tight-pressed bodies. Carter widened the space between us, allowed me room. The kiss ended, and he stared down at me as I slowly curled my fist around his cock. He sighed and groaned as my fingers sheathed his thick length.

  I pulled my eyes from his to look at him. "God, Carter." I glanced back up at him, my heart pattering. I slid my fist down, and back up. "Goddamn."

  He was actually blushing. "What?"

  I stroked him again, slowly, an intentional gesture. "All this." I smiled up at him, bit my lip. "Take to me bed. Please?"

  He bent and took me in his arms, my head on his shoulder and my legs draping down over his arm. He set me on the side of the bed, leaned down and kissed me, and then stepped away.

  "Let me look at you first. Can I?"

  I summoned all my courage, all my desire to please him. I shifted to the center of the bed, drew up one knee, laid one arm over my head, on the pillows, the other resting on my hip. I turned slightly toward him, letting him see me. All of me. Stretch marks and all.

  My own eyes weren't idle while he perused my body. He was glorious. There was no other word. In swim trunks he was sexy and handsome. Naked? Stunning. His muscles were cut into his body as if by a sculptor's blade, and his cock stood huge and long and straight against his belly, straining, bobbing as he breathed. I lay still for him, my breath coming hard and deep.

  "Eden, god. Do you know what you look like?"

  I shook my head. " me?"

  "Like..." He shook his head, rested his knee on the bed beside me. "I don't have the words. I can't even make sense. That's how gorgeous you are. So sexy you've taken my words and my ability to think straight."

  "Keep talking like that, I might just eventually believe you." I reached up to touch his cheek. "Especially when you look at me like that."

  He smiled at me, nudging into my hand. I loved how he did that, as if my touch was the sweetest thing.

  Carter eased onto the bed beside me, my palm on his face, and he leaned into me, slowly, kissed me as he had the very first time, with tenderness and exquisite thoroughness. I heard harmony in the distance, music soft and faint and providing a touch of mood. His body was long and lean beside me, his flesh hot, his hands rough-callused and roaming my body. He touched my ribs, my hips, my thighs. I sighed into his kiss as his hand moved up to cup my breast. Our foreheads touched as he watched his hand caress my breasts with reverence. One, and then the other. Exploring their fullness, thumb brushing across my nipple, tracing the undersides.

  "God, Ever. You have the most perfect tits I've ever seen."

  I could only grin. "I'm glad you like them."

  "I want--"

  "Don't tell me," I cut him off, "Show me."

  He cupped one of my boobs and slid down to kiss the sloped mound of skin, his lips nearing my areolae. "I love this." He traced a finger around the dark circle. "And I really love this." He took my thick, erect, sensitive nipple between his finger and thumb. "I've spent more time than I'd like to admit wanting to do this. Wondering what your tits looked like bare for me."

  "Do they live up to the expectation?"

  "More. Fuck, so much more." He flicked a nipple with his tongue.

  "So much more," I said, reaching down to grasp his thick cock in my fist. "That's exactly how I feel. You might have to go slow at first. I'm not sure I can take all this." I stroked his length as emphasis... and just because I loved stroking him. Feeling the ridges and ripples of his veins, feeling the soft springiness of the broad head, the rough curl of hair at the base. I delicately cupped his balls, explored them as well, and then back up. "I could touch you for hours and not get enough."

  He huffed a laugh. "I'd be fine with that."

  "But not tonight. I need to feel you inside me."

  Carter's lips left my boobs, and he gazed at me. "I'm not done looking at you yet."

  I frowned. "You've seen all there is to see, I'm pretty sure."

  "Not quite yet." He traced his fingers down my thigh to my knee, pressed my knee to one side.

  Oh. He wanted to see all of me. Even that? I couldn't be that pretty, I didn't think. I'd done stretches and muscle flexes and all the things I could think of to get my girly bits tight again, but I wasn't too sure I'd been as successful as I'd like. God. Oh, god. I couldn't deny him, wouldn't. So I let my leg fall aside, slid my heel away. Parted my legs for him, so he could see what there was to see.

  I opened my mouth to say I wasn't sure what, but he shook his head. "I know you're going to say something about how you don't look how you used to, or how you'd like to. Save it, sweetness. I know you're self-conscious. And I know how much courage it took to let me look at you like this. So...thank you. Now just let me show you how beautiful you are to me."

  He kissed my thigh, farther in. I grabbed his head, threaded my fingers into his hair. "Please, Carter. Not yet. Not that, not yet." I was close to tears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I just...not yet."

  He slid up my body and cupped my face, kissed me until I forgot what I was upset about. His hand caressed my ribs, my tits, brought the fire of need burning hot with gentle, insistent thrumming of my nipples. Heat built between my legs, pressure building in my core as his mouth plundered mine and his hands paid homage to my breasts.

  I threaded my fingers through his and dragged our hands together down my body, between my thighs, and I delved our joined fingers into my cleft. He gasped into the kiss and leaned away to watch. His fingers curled into me, and I withdrew my hand, lifted my hips up into his touch in a silent urging. I wanted him, needed him. Needed this. His touch. Him, inside me. I needed to feel him explode in me. Needed to come apart around him. But it all started with his touch, there, on my aching clit.

  He didn't hesitate. He circled my erect, sensitive nub, gave it slight and gentle flicks with his finger, delved in deep to search inside me, two fingers sweeping in, curling, finding that place that made me arch and ache and whimper, and he rubbed his fingertip along it. Retreated, coated my clit with my own juices and rubbed me in slow circles. I moaned, lifted off the bed, into his hand.

  "God...Jesus fuck, Carter. You touch me perfectly. God, five seconds and I'm...oh, shit...I'm already close."

  "Good," he murmured. "I've been close since the moment you took my pants off and touched me."

  I gripped him, matching the slow circles of my clit with long plunging strokes of his cock. He quickened his circles as I began to push into his touch, ur
ging him, needing more. And he gave me more. So much more. He brought me there, never hurrying, never touching too hard. Just right. Exactly what I needed, how I needed it.

  I was on the edge, aching. But I stopped him. "You. I...I need you. I don't want to come without you."

  He hovered over me. "Before we...before we do this." He leaned on his elbow, his face inches from mine. His eyes were sky-blue and impassioned. "I love you, Eden. I don't want you to hear it from me after, or during. In the moment. I want you to hear it now."

  "You always know what I need to hear." I held onto his ass, just because I liked the way it felt. "How do you always know?"

  "I don't. I just say what I need you to hear. So you know me."

  "I know you." I kissed him quickly, a swift peck, a flick of tongue. "I know you, and I love you."

  He smiled, and bent down to kiss me, not as I had kissed him, quickly, but deeply, with ravening hunger. His knees went between mine, and I pulled him toward me by his butt. Dug my fingers into the muscle, my eyes closed, my mouth locked to his.

  But again, moments before I had him where I needed him, he paused. "Are you--"

  I interrupted him. "Yes. I'm protected."

  "But we should use one anyway."

  I groaned. "Yes. I don't want to, though. I want to feel you bare."

  "Me, too. But..."

  I nodded. "Yeah."

  He slid off me, went into the bathroom, and rummaged in a cabinet under the sink. Brought out an unopened box of condoms. I watched him rip open a packet, and then took the rubber from him, met his eyes as I rolled it down around him. His jaw clenched, and his muscles tensed at my touch.

  I lay back on the pillows, reached for him. He settled over me, about to say something. I shushed him with two fingers over his mouth. "No more talking. Put your cock in me. Please, Carter. I need to feel you inside me. I'll go crazy if I don't get that right now."

  One hand a fist beside my ear, the other cupping my hip, he slid against me. I reached between us, gripped his cock in my hand and brought his tip to the entrance of my pussy. Our eyes met, and I licked my lips, and then he shifted forward at the same time that I lifted up.

  Slowly, perfectly, he penetrated me. He slid deep. He filled me. I arched up and cried out, a wordless sound of raw pleasure. He buried his face in my tits and moaned, back arched and flattening as he glided into me until I was full of him and panting at the aching burn of the way he stretched me.

  I held him in place, needing a moment to get used to him. He waited, flush to me, breathing hard, muscles tensed. I had a feeling he needed a moment as much as I did.

  I held his head against my breast, pushed him slightly to the side, lifted my tit to his mouth. He gave me what I wanted, the wet pressure of his mouth, suckling hard. When the tugging heat was too much, I clawed my hand on his ass and pulled at him, wrapped my legs around him, and pulled.

  "Move with me, Carter."

  He lifted up to meet my eyes. He pulled back and thrust deep, and I had to force my eyes open, needing to see his expression as he moved inside me. It wasn't a rhythm we set, then, it was a mutual heartbeat. It was union. He thrust, and I met him, he pulled away, and I crushed against him. We gasped and we cried out each other's names.

  He leaned in to kiss me, breathed. "Come with me, Eden. Come with me, love."

  I clutched his shoulders with all my strength and whimpered. "Now. Now. Yes, Carter, now. Please come now."

  Together, we shattered.




  the cadence of life


  It's been over three years since I've written you a letter. Three years. So much has happened in those years. The art gallery, Cadence turning two, Eden and Carter's wedding. A thousand day-to-day memories. You, putting on that lotion. Cadence taking her first steps. Laughing as I swing her over my head. You and me, in our bed, in the starlight.

  I've drawn you so many times. You don't even know. Someday I'll show you my stash of 2 a.m. sketchpads. There's a dozen of them, all full of you, naked in our bed. You have this thing you do. After we've made love and we fall asleep, you get hot. You kick off the blanket, and you put one leg under the sheet, the other above it. You lie on your stomach, one arm beneath the pillow, the other curled beside your cheek. I wake up to pee, and there you are. Like that, so, so beautiful. And I just have to draw you.

  It's been three years, and I hope I've proved that I love you, and only you. But I need to keep proving it. I need the rest of our lives to prove it. To make sure, absolutely sure, that you know. Maybe by the time we're ninety you'll really understand how deeply and madly I love you. How thankful to whatever there is, or isn't, out there that you came back to me.

  You came back, Ever. I thought I'd lost you, twice. And you came back.

  I'll never be able to pay that debt. It is a debt, you know. I owe you my very soul. And I'll spend every moment of my existence loving you to repay that debt.


  Forever and always and after forever,


  I read the letter out loud, with the surf crashing beside us. It was an hour before sunset on a beach on St. John. Ever was dressed in a simple, elegant knee-length dress, strapless, white. Her black hair fluttered in the wind.

  At her side stood Cadence, two and a half, her amber eyes wide, going from me to Ever and back. "Mommy?" She only had once voice: loud. "Daddy crying? Daddy sad?"

  Ever knelt and kissed Cadence's cheek. "He's happy, baby." She whispered in her ear, a loud stage-whisper. "But I bet if you gave him a hug, it would make him even happier."

  Cadence trotted over to me, jumped at me with the kind of complete abandon only a child is capable of. I lifted her, clutched her to me. Her little arms went around my neck. A sloppy kiss made my cheek wet, and my eyes wetter. I choked back the emotion as I held my little girl. My wife stood in front of me. She held a piece of paper, and she read from it.

  "Cade. My Cade. I think I loved you from the first time I saw you standing there at Interlochen. You were so tall, and so handsome, and I wanted you to like me. But life brought us other people, and other places, and I learned then how much I would love you, when you finally found me. I remember our first kiss like it was yesterday. I was painting."

  Cadence wiggled, and I let her down. She scampered off, getting her toes wet and the hem of her dress. I watched her, and I listened to Ever.

  "You knocked on my door, and you kissed me. Lady Antebellum was playing. You kissed me, and I knew then that I'd never love anyone more. I never could, and I never will." She stopped, breathed. "Cade, baby. My love. My one true love. You and I have been through so much together. We faced death together, and we came through it. We both learned to walk and use our hands all over again. We even had to learn to love each other, and forgive each other, and to forgive ourselves. We've learned how to be parents, and how to be lovers while being parents. And that's quite a trick, let me tell you. And through it all, you've been so devoted to me, and to Cadence. You've spent every moment trying to prove yourself." She paused, took my hand, and recited the rest from memory. "And now, Caden, you have to listen to me. You have to know. I don't doubt you. I've never, ever, doubted you. Not for a moment. You don't have anything to prove. You're mine, and I'm yours, and that's all there is."

  I took her hands as she folded the letter and handed it off. "I love you, Ever. You and only you. Forever."

  She leaned in, kissed me, and backed away. "I love you, Cade. Forever, and after forever."

  There weren't many people on the beach with us. Eden and Carter. Ever's and my business partners in the art gallery in Birmingham, Lance and Irena. Carter's brothers and parents. They all clapped as Ever and I kissed again. It was a kind of vow renewal, a second wedding. The first had been so small, with just Eden there. Now we had so people in our lives----friends, family. Loved ones. A life. And we wanted to make public our commitment to each other. Also, it was a good ex
cuse to go to the Caribbean on the honeymoon we'd never had.

  I noticed Eden watching Cadence as the ceremony ended and the party began. Eden had cut her hair to chin length, and let it go back to black. It made her look totally different, in a good way. She was happy, I knew. That was all that mattered. Carter's family vineyard was quickly becoming one of the most successful wineries on the Michigan peninsula, and was gaining recognition on a national level. Eden had finished her degree and taught private lessons while she finished her master's in education. Her plan was to teach at Interlochen. She'd also recorded her solo suite and was selling it independently on iTunes and other avenues, including a music video she'd made and put up on YouTube.

  She seemed happy but more than that, at peace. As I was. Ever and I had made friends with another artist couple, and together we'd opened a gallery, displaying our own artwork and that of other local talents, scouted by all four of us. It gave us all an outlet for our art, and a chance to interact with artists, as well as providing a surprising amount of income.

  None of us had forgotten what had happened. It was a couple of months before Ever and I saw Eden again, but with time we all grew close once more. There was always awkwardness between Eden and me, but it was bearable. The important thing, really, was that Ever and Eden were close. They talked on the phone all the time, and Skyped every once in a while. And of course, Ever, Cadence, and I spent a week or two during the summer up in Traverse City.

  It took time for Ever to totally trust me, and for me to accept that it was okay to move on, to be happy. And I knew Carter and Eden had had their own difficulties. The decision to have children or not, mainly. They'd gotten married a year ago, in a quiet ceremony on the beach where they'd met.

  My presence at that wedding had been odd, and slightly tense, but we'd gotten through it. We'd all faced the discomfort, pushed through it.

  That was really the lesson in it all, though, wasn't it? Sometimes, all you can do is push through. Make mistakes and accept them. You can't always make the right decision. Sometimes there isn't one. Sometimes there's just everything getting all fucked up, and the only thing you can do is go through it and pick up the pieces on the other side.

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