Tied (Page 52)

“You’re gonna love the house, it’s even better than mine.”

“Can we go now?” I ask excitedly. I can’t wait to step inside the beautiful little house pictured in the book.

He flashes me his adorable smirk. “That was my plan, sugar.” His smiling lips linger over mine.

This time, I’m not nervous at all when I get on the back of the bike with him. I wrap my arms and my legs tight around him, my body pressed against his. He reaches down and squeezes my hand on his waist, and we ride off into the blue horizon, way up into the beautiful White Mountains, past farms with cows grazing and sparkling waterfalls, to the most perfect cottage nestled at the edge of the forest. As we pull into the stone driveway, I’m so giddy to get closer that I almost jump off the bike before Ty pulls in front of the walkway leading to the front door.

When we’re safely off the motorcycle, he grabs my hand and stands beside me as I breathlessly take it all in. I’m overwhelmed by the perfect sense of home that overcomes me. The cottage is nothing short of whimsical, with a tin roof, arched wooden door, stone siding, and a small balcony on the second floor. I’m glad to see there is also a small barn a few hundred feet away, which I am sure will be Ty’s workshop. The property is blanketed in lush grass, huge trees offering lots of shade, flowers in rainbows of color (even my smiling flowers!), wooden bird houses, and bird baths…and the old garden bench from Ty’s yard. The fact that he moved the bench where we spent hours sharing all our hopes, dreams, and sorrows with each other brings tears to my eyes. This seemingly simple act shows me he values our memories and our journey just as much as I do.

“Ty…” I shake my head slowly, still in disbelief. “It’s beautiful.”

“It’s old, but it’s solid as a rock. The plumbing and electric is new. And the kitchen and bathrooms have been updated, but they kept its charm. You ready to go in? Do you want to go in alone first? There’s a basement in this one. But it’s empty except for some old bottles and tools, and there’s a doorway to get out.”

I wait for the flash of fear to come, bracing myself for the cold chill that will creep up my spine and spider out to my limbs…but it doesn’t come. I feel nothing but peace and comfort here, surrounded by all the things I wished were real as a little girl…and now are real.

“No.” I say, as my thumb lightly runs over the band of my engagement ring. Its smoothness grounds me, becoming my new security blanket—my own symbol of love, safety, and belonging with a person and place. “I want us to go in together.” My stomach does a quick flip-flop when he turns and winks at me, and we approach the front door to our home together, side by side.

“What about your little house?” I ask as he digs in his pocket and pulls out a key. Knowing how much his house means to him, I’m worried he will miss it if he forces himself to leave just to get this new home for us.

“We’ll keep it. Tanner is going to stay there while he figures things out. I’d like to keep it in our family. Who knows, we might want a place to escape to on weekends if we have kids someday.”

Oh my…he’s talking children…A vision of little shaggy-haired, blue-eyed blond toddlers running through the grass with Poppy and Boomer stamps itself across my internal wish list for life.

His hand hesitates on the doorknob as he eyes me from behind the shock of hair that’s fallen across his face. “You okay with a kid or two? With someone like me?”

“Only with you,” I whisper, afraid if I say the words too loud, some evil life force will hear and come snatch it all away from me as punishment for escaping the bad man.

A wistful glint sparkles in his eye. “I’m gonna hold you to that.” The key clicks in the lock, and he pushes the door open, motioning for me to enter first. As I do, Poppy and Boomer come running to us, their nails clicking on the slate floor like little tap dancers.

I kneel down and let them jump on me for cheek kisses. “Do you guys love your new home?” I ask. Boomer does his crazy fox squeal and wiggle, and Poppy wags his tail wildly with approval.

“I think they like it,” I say, standing to gaze around the small foyer we’re standing in.

“We can go furniture shopping tomorrow, and pick up your things.” He leads me to a living room with windows overlooking the front yard and a fireplace on the far wall, similar to the one at his house. I nod, unable to muster up words to describe the happiness I feel. We tour the small dining room and kitchen and a room that could be a bedroom or office, with glass doors leading to the back patio. Everything about the cottage is so incredibly charming with its earth-tone paint and wood and stone accents that Ty informs me were harvested from the property. I can feel the love that was put into years of making this such a unique home, and I vow to continue to love it just as much for the rest of my life. As we walk through each room, I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

The very best part of this house, though, is the second floor, which has a bathroom, small guest bedroom, and a master bedroom that Tyler has turned into the most romantic room imaginable with his bed perfectly positioned under the new skylight so we can watch the clouds and stars while we snuggle beneath it. Above the bed he’s hung an elaborate dream catcher to capture our bad dreams and cherish the good ones. Photos of his Christmas trees, Poppy, and Boomer are hung on the walls in vintage wooden frames. An entire wall is an actual bookshelf…waiting to be filled with books and statues. Scented wax warmers are placed on the nightstands, glowing with dim light and permeating the air with the sweet scent of vanilla. And finally, the very best part that steals my breath, dried smiling flowers sprinkled on and around the bed and our folded magic blanket. He watches me nervously, waiting for me react, but I’m suspended in disbelief, unable to find words, because none of them come close to describing the extreme love and gratitude coursing through me.

He understands me. Cares for me. We share the same pain and hope. I’ve witnessed him going from a man of no words or smiles, who yawned at my arrival, to a man who has healed me with words and caresses, blesses me with the most handsome, sexy smile ever, and has now given us a home that promises a lifetime of special moments and memories.

After moments of silence that really isn’t silence at all, but a space of time filled with a deep exchange of emotions that are better felt than spoken, he pulls me into his arms and covers my mouth with his, once again pulling me into that mesmerizing place where I can’t think but can only feel. And as his mouth possesses mine, and his hand slips to the back of my neck to clench a handful of my hair, tugging gently as his kisses deepen, I feel so much. I slide my hands up the back of his shirt, needing to feel his skin, the warmth and solidity of him. A faint moan sounds in my throat when his tongue sweeps fervently over mine, and his hand roves down over the curve of my hip to cup my ass, pulling my body hard against his, letting me feel him pressing against me through our clothes. The hardness of him ignites an army of electric tingles that flow from the center of my thighs and disperse in all directions—to my breasts, to the tips of my fingers, to my toes—every cell aching for more of him and the sensual static he creates.

So this is desire…feeling I may just die if we can’t possess every inch of each other.

His hands move to cradle my face, and our kisses subside to barely-there, feathery touches. His eyes are deep and alluring as a midnight ocean, locked onto mine as he continues to render me powerless with his lips. Weak and wobbly, I lean my body further into his.

“I love you…” he whispers against my lips.

“I love you…I love this house.” I let out a dreamy sigh. “I love us.”

He tilts my head back and kisses my throat, sucking lightly before moving his lips up to brush his nose across my ear. “I’m fuckin’ wild for you. I’ll build you a castle up in the clouds to make you happy.”

“No…I never want to leave here.” I turn my head to catch his lips, and he kisses me hungrily, backing me up until my legs hit the edge of the bed. Gently, he pushes me back onto the bed, amongst the dried flowers that I’ll gather up later and put in a box with the notes he’s given me. I want to save every souvenir of our life together that I possibly can.

I circle my arms around his neck as he gently falls on top of me, and I welcome the careful weight of him. His thick hardness between my legs sends quivers through my thighs, and when he grinds himself against me, my insides scream, yes, more.

Feather told me, during one of our late-night ice cream chats on the couch, that someday my mind, body, and heart would all come together with the right guy, and I’d want him like crazy in every way possible—regardless of the things that had been done to me. Oh boy, was she right.

I lift his shirt and he quickly pulls it off—his skin is like sizzling velvet under my tentative touch. He dives into my neck, devouring the sensitive spot near my collarbone. His hair falls across my face and neck—soft and smelling of coconut and tobacco, the sweet, masculine scents tangled together in such a perfect representation of him.

He removes my shirt and bra, his lips and fingertips trailing up and down my arms, then down between my breasts, teeth grazing here, tongue caressing there, coaxing each inch out of its coma of sensation. My body awakens under his patient, sensual touch as numbness recedes into the shadows of the past and a deep yearning takes its place, here to stay.