For Love or Legacy
Page 25

 Ruth Cardello

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For Nicole.
Later that day, Nicole stepped out of her shoes as she entered their penthouse. Stephan closed the door behind him and swept her up into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and couldn’t stop smiling.
He nuzzled her cheek and said, “We’re finally alone and we’ve resolved all of our issues. Do you know what this means?”
His kisses tickled her neck. She knew exactly what it meant, but she decided to have a little fun. “You want me to cook again?”
He tossed her down on the couch and shed his jacket. He shook his head, a predatory smile spreading across his face.
“You’ve recorded a program that you’d like to watch together?” she asked impishly.
He loosened his tie and threw it on the floor behind him. Without taking his eyes off her, he slowly, deliberately began to unbutton his shirt. Nicole’s mouth dried and her stomach quivered. He dropped his shirt behind him, standing tall and proud, fully aware of the effect his muscled torso was having on her blood pressure.
Nicole gripped the cushion beneath her. God, he was beautiful.
Slowly, so slowly that she wanted to jump up and do it for him, Stephan undid his leather belt and unbuttoned the top of his trousers. With a flick of the zipper, he slid his pants down and stepped out of them. His dark blue boxers did little to conceal his excitement.
Nicole’s body clenched and shivered in response to every move Stephan made. He walked toward where she sat and leaned in, kneeling beside her on the couch, his warm breath hot against her ear. She shivered again, but didn’t move. Ever so softly, he purred, “Step One: The Shake Up. Would you say that I have your full attention now?”
Nicole pulled back with a surprised laugh. “You know about that, too?”
“Don’t tell the women, but the men have always known.” He looped a finger beneath the strap of her dress and moved it aside, exposing a bare shoulder to his eager lips. “My father warned me about the notorious bikini scenario, but I never thought I’d actually experience it.”
He tasted her collar-bone, making it difficult for Nicole to focus on what he was saying, but as the image of that day replayed in her head, she swatted him playfully. “You could have said something.”
“And miss the fun? How would I know what to warn our sons about?” He slid her other strap down and gave that shoulder equal attention.
Nicole closed her eyes and threw her head back in pleasure. One strong, confident hand lifted her, while the other expertly slipped beneath her dress and removed her panties. Her eyes flew open and met his.
God, he was hot.
He pulled the dress up and over her head in a single move and laid her down on the couch naked and exposed. He ran one light finger across her lips, down her neck, through the valley between her small breasts, down her stomach. He whispered, “Tell me what you like.”
Barely able to breath, Nicole admitted, “I don’t really know.”
He stopped and she feared she’d ruined the moment. Self-recriminations were just finding their voice, when he said, “Then that’s where we’ll start.”
He rolled onto the couch with her so they lay face to face. He laid one hand on her hip and said, “Kiss me.”
Nicole closed the short distance between their mouths and quickly forgot why she’d been embarrassed. His lips caressed and worshipped. His tongue teased and suggested. She met his moves with her own and together they explored the passion that they’d both tried so long to deny.
His mouth moved down her neck and Nicole’s body sprung to life wherever he kissed. His hands were firm, but gentle. Just when she thought she couldn’t take anymore, he would pause and wait, giving her time to counter with her own explorations.
She removed his boxers impatiently and reveled in the hard excitement that pulsed in her hand. She encircled and stroked, awed at how his body jerked with pleasure at her touch. His uninhibited desire for her gave her the confidence to let herself go and enjoy. Simply enjoy.
His hand found her wet center. His thumb settled on her clitoris and rubbed a rhythm she felt clear down to her toes. One magical finger slid inside of her, working in union with his other finger to drive all coherent thought out of her mind. When she was writhing beneath him, jutting against his hand, begging him not to stop, he replaced his hand with his mouth. The heat of climax spread through her, leaving her a shuddering mass at his mercy.
His smile promised that instead of being the end, this was merely the beginning.
Gently, he rolled her onto her stomach and pushed her hair aside, drawing a path with one hand, and following that path with his lips. He caressed each inch of her, lovingly, passionately, until the last thing she wanted was to be facing away from him. And still, his hands stroked her. Bringing every corner of her alive for him.
When she could take no more, she rolled over, sending both of them onto the floor. He broke her fall easily. His strong arms raised her above his excitement, holding her poised and ready as his tip jerked beneath her, waiting to be taken within her. “Show me what you like, Nicole.”
Nicole lowered herself on him, savoring how he filled her. She moved tentatively at first like a dancer who had never taken the lead. Testing. Clenching when she discovered the secret to her own pleasure and loving how he met her move for move.
With Stephan she was free – even here. Free to be who she’d always wanted to be. And she let herself go to fully enjoy the rhythm they found together. Their shared orgasm left them spent and still connected, hugging each other while their breathing slowly returned to normal.
Nicole raised her head slightly and kissed Stephan softly on the mouth. She said, “You can put all of that on the list of what I like.”
He smiled against her lips and said, “I’m going to enjoy adding to that list.”
Nicole flexed her inner muscles around him and felt him harden within her. “Me, too.” She said, “Me, too.”
He cupped her bare ass with his hands and began to move her hips in a circular motion, taking them both to a place where communication did not require any words.
The next day, Nicole and Stephan returned to their morning ritual of having breakfast together. The beauty of it brought a shine of emotion to Nicole’s eyes. Beyond their passion, beyond the depth of their love for each other, they were also friends, and that was what gave Nicole the strength to believe that they could make it.
Stephan took a bite of his toast and asked as casually as if he were inquiring about the weather, “What do you think about buying a house in California and living there part of the year?”
“I would love that,” Nicole gushed. “Are you considering making documentaries again?”
Stephan nodded. “Mark gave me the hard sell while I was there and he made some good points. I could also take it a step further than making movies, and challenge a few of my competitors to go green. I hate to say that your brother has set another example for me, but his substantial investment in scholarship funds, both here and in China, set the stage for large companies to follow suit. There are countless major corporations out there now looking for high profile causes. I could spotlight those causes for them.”
“Speaking of my brother…” Nicole wasn’t quite sure how Stephan would respond to her idea, but it was something she desperately wanted to make happen. “I’d like to invite Dominic and Abby to dinner this Sunday with your family.”
Stephan squeezed her hand gently, “Your brother might not love my family as much as you do.”
“He will,” Nicole said simply.
“When did you become so optimistic?” Stephan asked with a pleased smile.
“Since I started believing in happy endings.”
Stephan cocked one eyebrow at her, not yet understanding what she was talking about.
“All the major holidays will be here before we know it. I never really celebrated them before and this year I want everyone to be together. That’s only going to happen if they get to know each other. If you called Dominic and invited him, he would come.” He still looked doubtful, so she added a heartfelt “Pleeeeease.”
Stephan scratched his chin in serious consideration, then said, “Maybe you should ask me again while wearing that little red bikini.”
Nicole laughed and threw a napkin at him. “You’re an ass.”
He grinned and said, “Yes, but I’m an ass who is going to call your brother because I love you.”
Nicole walked around the small table, sat in Stephan’s lap and gave him the kind of kiss that makes a man late for work.
A few hours later, Stephan left, and Nicole made some phone calls before texting Jeff to pick her up for the drive to her father’s house.
She flew past Jeff in a rush and slid into the limo. She was late and she was never late. It was impossible not to blush every few minutes when she thought about why.
Bubbling over with happiness, Nicole spontaneously pressed the button to lower the partition between the front and back seat and said, "Jeff, you were so right about everything! I'm glad I waited to have sex with Stephan. Last night was everything I've always dreamt of, and I have to thank you for that."
Not sure exactly what response she expected, Nicole went from pink to bright red when Jeff’s father, Arnold, peered back at her from the driver’s seat. "I got home last night, Miss Corisi," he said in his most professional tone.
Nicole scrambled to organize her thoughts and spoke before she had completed the process. "Oh. Well, tell Jeff I said thank you."
Arnold stared back at her in the rearview mirror and said nothing.
"Or not.” Nicole buried her face in one hand and fought back a smile. Poor Arnold. “This is the kind of moment we can probably pretend didn't happen, right?"
Arnold started the engine. "Yes, Miss Corisi,” he said, sounding a bit relieved. "Do you want to go directly to the house?"
"No, I promised Maddy and Abby that I would pick them up on the way. They are going to help me sort my father's belongings." She gave him their addresses.
"That's nice that you don't have to do it alone," Arnold said, breaking his near twenty-year rule of keeping their exchanges completely impersonal.
Reflecting on his comment, Nicole’s smile spread from ear to ear. Even if it made him uncomfortable, she had to tell him how much better her life had gotten while he’d been gone. Her voice was thick with gratitude. "I'm not alone anymore, Arnold. I have a family now."
Arnold looked away, but she saw in the mirror that his eyes were misty. "That's good, Nicole."
A flash of inspiration hit Nicole. "You know what else is good?"
He looked back at her before pulling into traffic.
"A raise. A big, fat raise that will let you take your wife on a trip every year."
He said, “You don’t have to do that, Nicole.”
No, I don’t have to, but I want to. She teased, “Oh, you’ll earn it, Arnold. Wait till you meet Stephan’s nephews.”
“Hellions?” he asked with a pleased smile.
“And fast.”
Arnold surprised her more by saying, “You deserve to be happy, Nicole.”