Author:Amanda Dick

He glanced down at her braces and she saw he had loosened the strap and his hand rested on her thigh. She imagined she could feel it on her skin, warm and gentle as she knew it was.


He reassured her in a way she had both become used to and looked forward to. He kissed her, snaking his hand around the back of her head to draw her closer. She closed her eyes, her hand floating up to latch onto his arm, grounding her, chasing away the insecurities that threatened to ruin the moment. Then he released her, caressing her hair as they drew apart. The tenderness in his expression calmed her, showing her the possibilities.


“What’s next?” he asked huskily, and she almost forgot what he meant.


Her trembling fingers found their way to the second strap across her leg and pulled it open. He followed her lead, talking quietly, offering reassurance.


“These ones next?” he asked, indicating the straps across her shins.


She nodded, wishing they could skip all this and go back to when they were lying on the bed, fully clothed, when she felt more confident.


They unfastened the final straps at the same time. She pulled the straps out of the way and eased her leg out of the brace. Jack watched closely, then followed her example. Her heart nearly burst at the tenderness in his movements, his face a picture of concentration as he gently eased her leg out of the brace and lay it down on the bed. She watched his hands as he worked, her gaze travelling up his strong forearms and biceps and along the smooth shoulders, remembering how it felt to be held by him. His chest, smattered lightly with chestnut-coloured hair, seemed to gleam in the soft light that shone through from the hallway. She hadn’t suggested he turn the light on because she didn’t want him to see too much of her own body, but now she realised that in her vanity, she had cheated herself out of seeing his.


“Can you turn the bedside light on?” she asked, before she lost her nerve.


His eyes seemed to sparkle with mischief, even in the dim light, but he smiled and obliged, murmuring “Thank God.”


As light flooded the room, she momentarily regretted her decision, but when he crawled back to her side again, his chest was mere inches from her and she felt instantly comfortable again. She smiled, reaching up to touch it, loving the shiver beneath her fingertips when she did.


He slid down beside her again, smiling crookedly as his hand captured hers. “Ah. And here was I thinking the light was for my benefit.”


She smiled up at him and he pulled her close. He was firm and solid against her as his lips pulled her under again. Her senses dipped and soared alternately, leaving her breathless. When they drew apart, he indicated the braces lying next to her on the bed with a nod.


“Is it okay if I put those on the floor?”


She nodded dumbly, not even really hearing the words, just the sentiment behind them.


I need to get closer to you.


As he picked up the brace closest to him, she opened her mouth to warn him about the lock but it was too late. He yelped in pain, diving off the bed and taking the brace down with him, disappearing in a heap on the floor. Before she could stop it, laughter bubbled up inside of her and she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth. Powerless to stop, she hunched forward, giggling uncontrollably, watching gleefully as Jack jumped up from where he had landed on the floor, furiously shaking the brace loose and giving it a filthy look as it clattered to the ground.


“Son of a bitch!”


The sight of him in his boxers, beautifully-shaped chest gleaming, his good hand clamped tight over his wrist as he belted out a stream of obscenities, did not help her.


“Are you okay?” she finally managed to spit out, still giggling, but trying valiantly to stop.


He shot her a dirty look, pacing backwards and forwards in front of the bed. After a few moments, the obscenities died down.


“Freakin’ health hazard,” he muttered under his breath, plopping down beside her on the bed, shaking and flexing his hand.


“Let me see,” she grinned, finally able to control the laughter as she reached over to grab his shoulder and pull him around towards her.


He turned obligingly, displaying a pathetic, wounded expression that any five-year-old would’ve been proud of. She cleared her throat, wiping the smile off her face as she reached for his hand. Inspecting his reddened finger, she was willing to bet it hurt like hell, but there was no way she was going to let that ruin the mood.


She raised his finger to her lips and kissed it, looking up at him through lowered lashes.




“Yeah… a little.”