Home > Talon (Ashes & Embers #4)(16)

Talon (Ashes & Embers #4)(16)
Author: Carian Cole

"Do you think I liked hearing that you don't like the way I look? I have feelings too. I may joke and be sarcastic a lot, but I still was hoping that whoever I ended up with wouldn't be repulsed by me."

Her hands clutch the scarf that's still draped around my neck. "I'm sorry." Her voice is soft, almost inaudible. "And I'm not repulsed by you."

"You could prove it by giving me a kiss. Maybe." I move my hand to her chin and gently lift her head up. "You might actually like it."

"Close your eyes," she says. "I can't do it if you're looking at me like that."

"Are you twelve? Stop stalling and put your lips on me like you own me."

I close my eyes and wait. A few seconds go by and I feel her go up on her tiptoes. Her lips touch mine quickly, then they're gone.

My eyes fly open. "What the hell was that?"

"A kiss."

I laugh in her face. "That was not a kiss."

"Yeah, it was. Don't laugh at me."

"That was supposed to prove to me that you're not repulsed by me? If anything that proves you are."

"Talon, I am not. Not at all. I'm just kinda…shy, I guess. And not used to kissing on demand." Her eyes lower again, like she's afraid to make eye contact with me for too long.

And then it hits me. It's not that she's not attracted to me. It’s that she's too attracted to me and it's freaking her out. She's a jittery, nervous mess around me.

This changes everything.

This, I can have even more fun with.

* * *

"So, what do you want to do now?" I ask her as we're strolling back to the guesthouse after having dinner with Gram.

"Hmmm…" She ponders. "Anything?"

"Sure. If you wanna go someplace, I'll take you."

"Do you promise not to laugh at me?"

"No, I'll probably laugh at you, but I'll still do whatever you want to do."

"Fair enough. I want to cuddle on the couch, watch a movie, and eat popcorn."

I stop walking. "That's what you want to do?"

Shrugging a little, she grabs my hand and tugs me to keep walking. "Yeah. It's actually something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but it sucks to watch movies alone."

"Ya know what? That's something I haven’t done since I was in high school. So you're on."

"Are you kidding me?"

I open the front door of the guesthouse and let her go in before me. "Nope, I can honestly say I haven't hung out on the couch and watched a movie with a chick since I was about sixteen."

"Wow. What did you do with your exes then?"

The past ten years flash through my brain, and none of it seems like something I should share with my new wife if I plan to keep her. "You really don't want to hear all that, babe."

"Yeah, no. I don't want to hear gory details, but I'm really curious. How did you spend your time?"

I head into the kitchen to see if I can find some microwaveable popcorn. Gram keeps this place pretty stocked since there is usually someone staying here several days per month. "Um…drink, sometimes some recreational drugs, went to some clubs, and sex. That's about it."

She opens a cabinet and pulls out a box. "Look! Popcorn!"


"And that stuff really doesn't sound like much fun. No offense."

"It was at the time, but I guess I outgrew it and started to want more. Which is why I signed up to do this."

"This with me?"

"This with whoever who ended up to be you."

"Is it disappointing? So far?" she asks, opening up the popcorn box and taking a pack out.

"Disappointing is not the word I would I use. Would you?"

"Not exactly."

She heats up the popcorn in the microwave while I hunt for a bowl. "I think my Gram is right, though. We should stop focusing on what we were expecting and didn't get and just focus on us."

"You're right. She's right. If we keep dwelling on it, we're going to waste the time we have together causing damage and not getting to know each other."

The microwave beeps and I take out the puffed-up bag and dump it in the bowl, afraid she might burn herself if she does it. She grabs the bowl and skips to the living room with the cat chasing her.

"Come on! We have to find a movie before it gets cold!"

I follow her to the couch, enjoying seeing this happier side of her. I guess I'll have to be sure to give her popcorn more often if this is the effect it has on her.

"Here." She hands me the remote control. "I'm not good with all those buttons, so you find us a movie."

I lean back and bring up the movie guide on the TV. "Is porn okay?" I ask casually.

She throws a piece of popcorn at me and I catch it in my mouth. "No porn, mister. And nice catch."

"Thanks. I have lots of oral talents to show you."

"I'll keep that in mind. How about a good comedy or a mystery?"

I pick a movie from the on demand service and hit play, then kick off my shoes to get comfortable while she's sitting on the other end of the L-shaped couch with a throw blanket over her.

"What?" she asks, catching me looking at her. "Popcorn?" She holds the bowl out to me.

"No, you said you wanted to cuddle on the couch."

"I did. And I am."

"You can't cuddle yourself."

She blinks at me, midchew.

"Get over here, then." I snap my fingers and motion for her to come closer.


"Get over here and do it right."

She scoots over until she's about a foot away from me. "Better?" she asks.

I pull her closer. "Stop acting like I'm contagious or something."

"Sorry. I didn't know if you wanted me on top of you."

Raising an eyebrow at her, I reach into the bowl and take a handful of popcorn. "I can't wait to get you on top of me, baby. Anytime you're ready, just hop on."

"Everything with you goes back to sex. You're like that Kevin Bacon movie game."

"No idea what that is, babe. I'm just trying to enjoy a movie with a chick properly."

A smile lights up her face. "Am I really your first real movie date?"

"You are. You're my first wife too. I see why you wanted to skip the dating part of a relationship. You're not very good at it from what I can see."

"Look who's talking."

I put the popcorn bowl on the coffee table and stretch my legs out across the couch, pulling her so she's half lying on top of me. She rests her head on my chest and turns so she can still watch the movie, and after a few minutes, her hand slowly creeps from my wrist up to my bicep. "I guess these don't wash off?" she muses, tracing my tattoos.


"They're kinda cool close up. There's so much more detail than I noticed before." Her hand travels farther, pushing the fabric of my T-shirt up so she can inspect my shoulder, and I like how it feels to have her touching me so softly, her fingertips delicately gliding over the designs.

"Thanks. I saw you have that little one on your shoulder. What is that, a comma?"

"It's a semicolon."

"It's cute."

Her hand stops moving. "It's not supposed to be cute."


Her body tenses up and a sad quietness overcomes her that's thick like fog. Her eyes stay on the TV, but I can tell she's not really watching it and is somewhere else in her mind. I'm assuming it's got something to do with that tiny mark gracing her shoulder. I can fully respect that, though. Lots of ink has a special meaning to people that may also be attached to not-so-good memories, like the one I have on my leg of a tiny teddy bear in memory of my five-year-old niece who passed away. I like knowing it’s there, but I don’t want to tell people what it means to me because it dredges up too many sad memories.

I relax into the couch and wrap my arm around her, slowly rubbing her back as we watch the movie. She snuggles deeper into me, pulling the blanket up over us, while the cat sleeps on the top of the couch above our heads. The feeling of closeness is so foreign to me, having a woman's body entwined with mine, touching but not touching, fully clothed but still so warm and close. It feels nice, to know she’s not waiting for me to start doing a sexual performance on her based on rumors she’s heard about me. I can just relax and touch her however I want, with no expectations. It’s equally as nice that she seems content just lying in my arms and doesn’t feel like she has to prove something to me by gobbling on my dick.

I could possibly like this.

Chapter 14


"Hey…" His voice rouses me awake and I blink, hearing the thump, thump of his heart beneath my head resting against his muscular chest. As I sit up, his hand slowly slides down to the small of my back and rests there.

"You kinda did the whole movie thing wrong," he teases. "It helps if your eyes stay open."

Eek. So embarrassing. "I'm so sorry I fell asleep."

"It's okay. I may have dozed off a little too."

"I haven't been sleeping well the past few weeks. Worried and excited about the wedding and all."

He yawns and stretches his arms out. "I guess we should go to bed. I told the Realtor we'd meet her at eight."

"Yikes. I'm not good at mornings."

"Yeah, me neither. We'll get coffee. You drink coffee?"

"Yes. With soy."

"Hmm. I'll let you order your own 'cuz I'm bound to screw that up the first few times."

While he brings the popcorn bowl to the kitchen, I fold up the blanket, apprehension buzzing through me about getting into bed with him. Lying with him on the couch during the movie was really nice, but moving into an actual bed is freaking me out a little.

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