Cope looked at her, always ensorcelled by how effortlessly beautiful she was. Hair tucked behind an ear, her face nearly devoid of makeup. Her eyes lit up at his attention.
“How was the tea and cookies?” He snagged a corn muffin, thinking of Ella naked.
“It was good. Erin looks much better this week, don’t you think?”
“She’s not as swollen. Todd and Ben seem calmer too.”
“Ben says he’ll see you tomorrow. He asked about the house. I told them about the wainscoting. They’re all excited to see it.”
“You all talked about me?” He sounded surprised.
She looked up and laughed. “Of course we did. We’re women; that’s what we do. You’ve certainly been around women long enough to know this, Andrew Copeland. By the by, Rennie informed me Irene was a great name for a baby girl just in case we were trying to make one. She says if Erin doesn’t use it for her baby, we’re welcome to it. Your mother seemed pleased by this information.”
“Wow. Rennie’s on her game today.” He tried not to laugh but failed.
“She also told me you’re the cutest boy she knows and that you have great hair. Naturally, we all agreed with this because, hello, you’re very pretty, and your hair is one of your finest attributes. Other than your ass. We did not speak about that, however. Your mother seemed relieved by that part.”
He cringed. “Great.” And then he realized what else she’d said. “Ben asked about the house? Out of the blue?”
“I brought it up. I admit I bragged on you a bit.” She ducked her head, blushing. “But he followed up with questions. They all did. I think everyone is excited to see what you’ve done with the place.”
“You all talked about me?”
“Duh. We established this what, three minutes ago? I really do like your mother. She said you used to write her poetry when you were growing up.”
“You told them about the poetry?”
Her eyes widened, and she shook her head. “No. I wouldn’t do that. Not that it’s anything to be embarrassed about,” she added quickly. “It’s something that’s ours. Intimate. I wouldn’t do that.”
Of course she wouldn’t. Christ. “I’m sorry, Red. I didn’t mean to accuse you like that.”
“I’m feeling my way along here, Andrew. I don’t . . . this isn’t something I do. I’m sorry if I broke some rule about not talking about you to your family. In the future, if there’s something you don’t want me to bring up, you should say so.”
She got up and went into the kitchen.
What the hell was he doing? He liked that she’d spent time with his mother. Liked that she was already close with his sister-in-law and brother too. They all seemed to like her as much as he did. Though right then they might have been preferable to her than the dumb-ass way he was acting.
He followed, pulling her into his arms from behind. “I’m sorry. Really. I don’t know why I reacted that way.”
She turned to him, and the look in her eyes sliced through him. Was this how the ex had been?
“Shall I tell you why I think you acted that way?”
“After I kiss you.” He slid a thumb over her bottom lip. “If that’s okay with you?”
She nodded, and he took her mouth, her taste settling in, calming, soothing, clearing up all the static. She was home.
“That’s so much better. Now, do enlighten me on why you think I reacted like a cock.”
She smirked, and they both felt better. “You’re afraid of showing the best part of yourself and having them reject it. You’re Cope, the pretty boy. Cope, the easygoing brother who always shows up to help someone move, the guy who flirts with everything with a vagina and breasts. That’s easy. Who can hate that guy? So you fucked around with women you didn’t really even like. It was easier that way to walk away and keep it all about sex. And who can say anything about it? You’re charmingly up-front, and these women can’t seem to get enough of it.
“But you’re so much more than that. You’re a man who can make art from wood. A man who can take pen and paper and draw the heart of a woman.” She sifted her fingers through his hair. “It’s easy to be Cope. But it’s intimate to be Andrew. You’re exposing yourself in a way that could be terribly painful if people don’t react the way they should.”
“What do you know about that?” He didn’t say it to be hostile, but it rankled that she saw him so clearly, even as it brought him to his knees to be known so well.
“I know that I lived on autopilot for years. I got up; I survived the day. I slept and got up to start over. I know that it’s the people closest to you who can do the most damage. I know that love and trust go hand in hand. I also know that your brother, your mother, your sister-in-law and your friends love you. I know I’d never do anything on purpose that would bring you pain. Not ever.”
He hugged her. “Are you saying my heart is safe with you?”
“I like it that you hang out with my family. I like that we’re all part of the same group of friends. Obviously I don’t want that stuff I told you about my dad to get shared with my mother, but Ben already knows. I ended up telling him after he pestered me relentlessly about it.”
She sent him a raised brow. “You can’t avoid it forever.”
“I can start with not wanting to talk about it now.”
She snorted. “You’re lucky you have such nice hair,” she muttered.
“I am?” He kissed her neck, and she didn’t push him away. “Even when I’m a total asshole?”
She laughed. “Andrew Copeland, you’re a pissy butthead sometimes, yes. But you’re not an asshole. Believe me.”
“Even if I say I’d really love to have sex with you right now? And it’s my turn.”
She laughed again. “You always say it’s your turn.” She tipped her head back, allowing him access to her neck.
“Do I? I should be disciplined, don’t you think?”
“Sure. No sex for you. That’ll teach you.”
“Hmpf. I vote no.”
He danced her toward the bed, pulling at her sweater and T-shirt as he did.
“You’re still my favorite Copeland. Just in case you were wondering.”
He straddled her body after he’d peeled her clothes off. “This is good to know. Because I’m the only Copeland who gets to look at these every day.” He dipped down to swipe his tongue over first the right nipple and then the left.
“Erin would probably frown on me showing my breasts to Ben, yes. Though I haven’t consulted with her on this point. However, hers are so gargantuan right now, I’m not sure it’s much of a fair comparison.”
God, she was pretty. Running his hands all over her body, he marveled in her, the shape and feel of her body—curves, sharp lines and muscle—against him, beneath him. She looked up at him the whole time, those sexy green eyes half-lidded, burning for him. That secret self only he saw, opened up like a flower.
The change when she let her sensual self take over was incredible. Her movements slowed down, her voice lowered, she even smelled warm, like honey, sticky-sweet. She was only this way with him. She didn’t need to hold back, and she knew it.
That she knew he was different and opened up made him feel like a rock star. Made him feel worthy in ways he’d never imagined before.
He moved, sitting and helping her onto his lap. Laughing, she helped get pillows behind his back, and before he knew it, she had him suited up and was sliding herself down over his cock, her body settling around him, driving him mad with the heat, the tight caress of her flesh against his.
“I’m pretty sure it’s actually my turn,” she murmured as she rose and fell over him.
“Whichever. Whatever. You’re on me, I’m in you, that’s what matters.”
She managed to open her eyes to meet his gaze, that connection clicking into place all the way down to her toes.
She was helpless against him in a way that left her far more vulnerable than she’d ever been with Bill. Andrew Copeland was her heart. Just how this had come to be, even when it had happened, she wasn’t sure. But it was there. He lived inside her, past all those walls she’d erected to keep herself safe.
“Waltzed right in and made yourself at home.” She smirked.
He felt so good inside her she simply let herself feel what he did. Filling her up more than physically.
She arched, offering as much of herself to him as she could. He touched her like she was fine and precious, like he couldn’tnot touch her. No one had ever made her feel so cherished and sexually irresistible.
“I did? I’m a scoundrel that way.” He nuzzled her neck, licking up to her earlobe, which he took between his teeth until she squeaked with pleasure, and he chuckled.
“I’m so easy when you touch me.” She laughed as he took two handfuls of breasts and hauled her closer.
“Thank God for it. I like you being easy for me.”
Climax slammed into her as he slipped his hand down to her pussy, finding her clit ready and slick, needing to be touched. She held on tight, trying to breathe, falling in deep as he played the rhythm of her body.
“Hope you realize I’m one of those guests who just won’t leave,” he mumbled sometime later, their bodies tangled in the mess of sheets, underwear and blankets.
“I’m sorry we fought.”
She rested her head on his shoulder, idly playing with one of his nipple rings. “Do you never have fights with your other women?”
“That part about the women before. About how I didn’t like them.” He took a deep breath. “Cut pretty close to the bone.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you, but I see you, Andrew. I know you. I can’t lie about how exceptional I think you are, and I can’t lie about what I see in you.”
He shook his head. “None of them were what you are. This is new for me. Not how I feel about you, I’ve wanted you a very long time. But dealing with your feelings and remembering I want you to be around tomorrow.” He snorted. “Takes getting used to. Though I want to, which is also new.”
What girl didn’t want to hear that from a man like Andrew Copeland? She knew part of why it thrilled her so much was, hello, he was hot and had been the freewheeling sexy boy with a thousand women fawning over him. But she believed him when he told her how he felt about her. However improbable it was, she had been different. What they had was different than what he’d been before with those other women.
Another part of her realized it was actually true. She’d seen him with various women over the years, and she’d lay odds that none of them had seen the inside of his house much less gotten an “I love you” from his lips.
“I don’t want to hurt you. I’m not good at this. What if I fuck it up?”
“You’re going to hurt me.” She licked over the hard muscle of his pecs. “This is inevitable, because no one can hurt you like someone who’s close to you. We’ll fight. You’re a pushy, bossy man, though you like to play laid-back. I know you, Andrew; you’re not laid-back about important things. And that’s where we’re going to tangle. Because I don’t know how to be a girlfriend, and you don’t know how to have one.”
He snorted as he stroked over the hollow just below her ear, sending shivers through her. “Least you’ve finally been able to call yourself my girlfriend. This is progress.”
“But we’re not what I was with Bill. Don’t think I don’t understand this.”
She shifted to look at his face better. “Hot damn, you’re pretty.” She kissed that mouth of his, meaning to be quick, but with him, she never knew if it would be a sweet pause or a fast-moving wildfire.
He groaned, opening his mouth, sliding his arms around her, holding her body to his as he took over, devouring her with such self-assured sexuality she nearly melted on the spot. Parts of her were significantly wetter than before, so maybe that’s where she was melting.
“What’s making you smile?”
“I made up a horrible joke in my head. But I can totally laugh at it that way. Saves embarrassment of saying it out loud.”
“Come on, I promise to laugh at all your jokes. It’s part of the boyfriend job. Though you can’t tell anyone this, I’m new at it too.”
“Never say,” she murmured as she sat up. “Andrew, I simply must tell you that you have the most beautifully male body I’ve ever seen. You’re, god, you make my mouth water.”
He blushed and she smiled down at him, surprised and touched by how sweet and shy he actually was when it came to the big, important stuff.
“Flattery will get you just about anywhere with me, Red. Then again, all you have to do is ask, and it’s yours. I’m putty in your hands.”
Reaching down between them, she grasped his cock, giving it a friendly squeeze. “I promise to be gentle.”
And she was. Mostly.