Hard to Love Page 17

Her body went rigid. “You’re an asshole, you know that?” She stood and paced in front of the couch, seeming to draw strength from her anger—an anger that was currently being directed at me. “If you needed money for Lily, all you had to do was ask.”

“Out of the question.” I shook my head. I didn’t take handouts. Plain and simple. It was a promise I made myself when I took custody of Lily rather than having her end up in foster care. I would take full responsibility for her. End of story.

Alexa spun towards me, her hands landing on her hips. “The fact that you could betray me that way—by sleeping with another woman rather than put your macho ego aside and ask for the money…” She wiped away the tears that had escaped the corners of her eyes. “I can’t forgive that…I can’t get over it. I’m sorry.”

“I am, too.” I stood and kissed her forehead, before disappearing through the front door.

Fuck! The curse ripped through my chest as I peeled out of her complex. I slammed my hand against my dash, cursing as I accelerated toward home.

After driving around aimlessly until I got my heart rate under control, I was surprised to see an hour had passed. Being with her today, watching her break down, I knew there was no way in fuck I could walk away and forget her. I’d wanted to hold her, wipe away her tears, kiss away her sobs. But she wasn’t mine anymore. And that realization was like a punch to the gut. Fuck it. I was not giving her up this easily.

Just the thought of going back home without her, back to my empty life, and waking up to an empty bed every morning… No. I wouldn’t settle. Not this time. I wanted to see her lift Lily onto her hip again, make her giggle the way she had before. Maybe I wasn’t worthy of her love, but I was just selfish enough to try.

I made a quick phone call, asking Sophia if she wouldn’t mind staying with Lily a little longer. Hell, what I was about to do could take five minutes or all night if I had my way. I told Lily I loved her and to listen to Sophia.

“Love you, Caden!” her little voice rang in my ear.

“Love you too, baby girl.” Lily’s faith in me calmed me more than a little bit, and I pulled a U-turn, anxious to get back to Lex.

I knocked at the door I had fled from just over an hour ago, but this time, my nerves were crackling. She’d made it clear she was no longer interested, but her tears told me there was more to it. She was still hurting, so maybe I still had a chance.

“Go away, Kenz!” Alexa’s muffled voice called from inside. “Vodka won’t fix me this time.”

I knocked again. “It’s Cade.”

The door flew open. “Cade?” She swayed on her feet and I reached out to steady her, gripping her upper arms. I couldn’t seem to stop touching her, even though she practically winced each time I did so.

“Whoa. I’ve got you.” I needed to get my shit together, to find the right words to make her understand. But I’d never been good at romantic speeches, and I doubted that was going to change now. I’d just have to find a way, without words, to show her.

The sweet scent of her skin and her hazy blue eyes sent a streak of desire straight down my spine.


Chapter 22


“Cade? What are you doing here?” I stepped back, out of his grasp. “I called MacKenzie after you left and thought it was her coming to…come over.” I’d been about to say cheer me up, but doing so would have implied I was a complete wreck. I didn’t want to give him that kind of power over me.

“Can I come in?”

My brain had apparently taken a leave of absence, because I stepped back, allowing him to enter. His musky scent washed over me, and I wanted nothing more than to bury my face in his neck and inhale. No, Alexa. No. Crap, maybe the three vodka shots I’d slammed in quick succession after he’d left hadn’t been such a good idea. My hands were already shaking and I was struggling to remain upright.

I retreated into the kitchen and downed one more shot for good measure, before Cade entered the kitchen behind me. He recapped the bottle of vodka and placed it back inside the freezer.

“Enough,” he said roughly, his warm breath brushing over the back of my neck.

I leaned back against the kitchen island, his looming presence holding me captive. “Why’d you come back?” I’d been hoping to sound suspicious, hardened, but instead my voice gave away my desperate and intoxicated state. Damn.

“Are you drunk?” He reached out and toyed with a lock of my hair. “I was only gone an hour.” His hand brushed my cheek, lingering for just a moment.

I lifted my chin and smirked up at him. “No comment.” He’d soon realize what a mess I was, regardless. Seeing him with Sara and thinking he had moved on… God, it had crushed me. Even finding out that he wasn’t the baby’s father hadn’t eased my mind. It wasn’t as though he was asking for me back…was he? And what would I say if he did?

I needed to be strong. And in my buzzed state, with Cade’s masculine deliciousness standing in my kitchen, it was going to take a friggin’ miracle.

I placed my hands on my hips. “Why are you here, Cade?”

His gaze collided with mine. “You.”

My throat tightened and I gripped the counter for support. Cade said nothing further and made no move toward me. He just continued watching me, his eyes growing dark with desire. The anticipation sent my heartbeat thudding erratically in my chest.

Surely he knew this wasn’t fair. It would be beyond unfair to seduce me right now, when I was vulnerable and needy for his touch. I wanted so much more, but even before I processed it, I knew I would freely and willingly give him anything he wanted. Even knowing that my heart would surely shrivel up and disintegrate once and for all when he left me this time around.

He stepped in closer, as if testing the waters, and when I made no move to stop him, and in fact angled my body toward his, he closed the rest of the distance between us and hauled me up against him.

I sagged in relief. I’d missed this. The hard planes of his chest, his firm thighs pressing against mine in that familiar way. I’d missed him and at this point, I was desperate enough to take whatever I could get. My heart jumped into action, pounding against my ribs and my brain warred with my body. Could I handle the consequences of another night with Cade? He leaned down and planted a tender kiss on my jaw, just below my earlobe.

My heart said no, while my body screamed yes. Maybe if I purposely, knowingly chose this, if I was using him this time around… the loss wouldn’t hurt as much. I steeled my nerves to take what I needed from him…one last time. I needed to be the one in control.

I captured his mouth in a crushing kiss, parting his lips with my tongue and eagerly swirling my tongue with his.

His hands came up to cup my jaw, tilting my head to deepen the kiss. While his hands tangled in my hair and caressed my cheek, I didn’t allow myself to feel the tenderness of the moment, and instead took charge, unbuttoning his jeans and working my hand inside. His cock stiffened under my none-too-gentle ministrations and once he was fully hard, I broke away from the kiss and dropped to my knees in front of him.

Cade chuckled, bringing his hand down to pet my hair, smoothing it back from my face. “Damn, baby, you in a hurry?”

But his laughter died on his lips when my mouth crested around his swollen head, pulling him deep inside.

“Oh, fuck.”

Pride swelled within me and I put every ounce of energy I had into the performance. My mind replayed the images from his videos, and I mimicked the moves I’d seen—licking his balls and sucking one of them into my mouth. Cade flinched and pulled back. “You don’t like it?” I asked, looking up at him with wide eyes.

His eyes blazed down at mine. “It’s…okay.” He seemed to struggle for the right words. He stroked my hair back from my face, while trying to read my expression. “I like you sucking on my cock better, that’s all.”

“Oh. But in your last video…” I stopped, snapping my mouth closed.

Realization crossed his features, and it seemed we were both remembering the way he pulled himself free from the girl’s mouth and directed her to his balls. He stroked his thumb along my jaw. “That was just for the camera, baby. It was acting. My cock is yours, and there was something that didn’t feel right about her doing that. My last memories were of you sucking me deep into your throat, and I didn’t want anyone else’s lips around me right then. I know that probably sounds stupid to you, considering… But it’s the truth.”

I took a deep breath. It didn’t matter what he said at this point, I reminded myself. He couldn’t make this right. I needed to be strong. “Kay. Got it.” I returned to my task, gripping him firmly with both hands as I stroked and suckled at the same time, forcing all thoughts away from my mind.

“Damn, cupcake.” His knees trembled, and his hands wound their way into my hair, lifting it from my face and arranging it in a ponytail behind my head.

With one hand still planted in my hair, he gripped his shaft in his other hand and pulled himself free from my mouth. “I don’t want to come yet,” he said through gritted teeth. “Let me take care of you.”

He grabbed my upper arms, pulling me to my feet, and planted a series of sweet kisses on my mouth.

“No. I need you inside me. Now.” He read the insistence in my eyes.

“Okay.” He pulled the hem of my sweater dress up and I lifted my arms, suddenly standing before him in just my bra and panties.

I reached around to unclasp my bra ditching it and then quickly removed my panties. I wasn’t sure why, but I needed to be in control. Not bothering to remove Cade’s shirt, I pulled him in toward me, my back pressed against the counter. His eyes held a trace of hesitation, but I pulled his lips to mine. “Take me.”

He lifted me onto the counter and rubbed at the lips of my swollen sex. “Are you wet enough, sweetheart? I don’t want to hurt you.”

He needed to cut it out with this nice guy shit. We both knew he wasn’t. This was exactly why my heart was in shreds.

Finding that I was already soaking wet—damn hormones—he rolled on a condom taken from his wallet. I wrapped my legs around his waist and dug my heels into his ass, urging him forward. Seconds later I felt his cock nudging at my entrance. Yes, this was what I needed, just to forget about everything else and lose myself in the sensations. A wave of desire raced through my belly.

He inched forward, slipping inside me slowly. Achingly slowly.

I arched my back, lying against the cool hard counter, and squeezed my eyes closed. “Harder. Fuck me harder.”

Cade’s movements picked up, if only infinitesimally, and his fingertips grazed my breasts. “Alexa? Look at me.”

I opened one eye. “Just do it Cade. You’re not going to break me.”

His hands moved to my hips to pull me forward against his pelvis. I watched his movements for a moment before letting my eyes drift closed again. I rocked my hips against his, despite the pleasure-pain combo gripping my insides from the fullness. I let out heavy pants, pushing my hips forward in time to meet his thrusts, cutting into his ass with my fingernails.

“Stop, Lex, stop. This isn’t revenge sex.” He pulled away from me, his cock, warm and wet, resting against my belly. “What are you doing?” He took my shoulders, gently shaking them until I met his gaze.

I sat up on the counter, tears welling in my eyes. What the hell was I doing? This wasn’t me. I wasn’t a goddess in the bedroom—or kitchen, as it were—I was inexperienced and clumsy. I was only doing this because my feelings for him terrified me. I loved him. I fucking loved him. I sucked in my bottom lip, refusing to cry. “I’m not a porn star. I know I’m not like the other women you’ve been with…”

He released a frustrated breath, and clenched his fists at his sides. “That’s what you thought this was? That I wanted rough sex with you…because of my past…” He yanked up his boxers and jeans. “Fuck.” The curse ripped through his chest in a low growl. His hands were trembling and the look in his eyes was unlike anything I’d ever seen.

I pulled in a shaky breath.

Cade scooped me up from the counter, easily lifting me in his arms, and cradled me against his chest as he stalked from the kitchen. He kicked open the door to my bedroom and tossed me in the center of the bed, where I landed with a soft thud.

He crawled towards me, leaning in close to my ear, his voice low and laced with anger. “If you want me to fuck you hard, I will. But not because you think it’s what I want. I want you. Just you, Alexa. Your soft curves, your lack of experience, your tight pussy that’s only ever been mine. That night with you, despite what I might have said, we made love, and it was the best sex of my life.” He sat back on his heels, giving me a chance to process his words. “And more than that, it wasn’t just sex that we shared that night.” He rubbed his hands over his hair. “Christ, cupcake. I’m in love with you.”

Chapter 23


Alexa’s stunned reaction to those five little words wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Her wide blue eyes stayed locked on mine for several seconds before they pinched closed. She shook her head. “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.”

I cupped her cheeks, and she opened her eyes. “I meant every word. I love you.” A smile blossomed on her lips and I leaned forward to kiss her. “If I have to sacrifice to give you everything you want, if I have to change who I am, whatever I have to do—tell me. It’s done. I can’t believe I thought I could live without you.”

She looked down, a rosy blush staining her cheeks. “Cade,” she whispered softly, gripping handfuls of the sheets in her little palms.

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