from Almost Paradise
© 2016 by Olivia Cunning
Eric paused in the formal dining room’s doorway and gazed at the adorable woman sitting in one of twelve matching Elizabethan high-backed chairs surrounding the highly polished mahogany table. Her blond and purple hair was mussed from sleep, and one bare leg was tucked up into the tattered, baggy recesses of a faded UCLA sweatshirt, but she fit there. In his home. In his life. She fit. She was his everything. His Rebekah.
Unable to resist her allure for another moment, Eric approached her chair and leaned over the back. He slid his palms over Rebekah’s lower belly, pressed his cheek against her head, and closed his eyes, taking a moment to inhale her scent and bask in her warmth—she was so alive beneath his hands, so vibrant. Days ago when she’d thought her cancer had come back, Eric had thought he might lose her. And though they’d said forever vows soon after their fears had been vanquished, he still had a hard time grasping that this perfect woman was his, that he’d found someone to love and to love him. Later today they were going to the tattoo parlor to get additional vows etched into their skin. Not that he’d ever forget what he’d pledged in her church before her family and his friends. He’d meant every word. He knew millions of men had recited those same words to their special woman, but Eric would honor Rebekah, love her, cherish her, in sickness if it came to that and in health for as long as he lived. The vows they were getting tattooed as part of sleeves from shoulder to wrist were unique, but the ones he’d spoken were just as heartfelt, no matter how canned they’d become over the years.
“Breakfast is ready,” he murmured, remembering why he’d sought her company in the first place.
“What did you put in my scrambled eggs this time?” she asked, craning her neck to look at him. A spark of mischief danced in her pretty blue eyes and a grin teased the corner of her mouth.
“Anise and paprika.”
She bit her lip. “Can’t even imagine what that’s going to taste like.”
But he knew she’d try them. It touched him that she’d risk her taste buds to make him happy. Not even Jace—the most amenable of his bandmates—would sample Eric’s culinary experiments.
The laptop Rebekah had been using clicked shut, and she covered the backs of his hands with her palms to press them into more firmly into her belly.
He shifted his gaze to stare at the lid of the computer, wondering why she’d hidden what she was doing. “Watching a little porn this morning?”
“Who needs porn when married to you?” She laughed when his hands moved up her body to cup her breasts. “Case in point.”
“If you weren’t so damned irresistible, I might be able to keep my hands off you. Or get through at least part of my day without a stiffy.”
“Those stiffies only make me want to be more irresistible to you,” she said and slid her hands up his arms.
“Not possible.” He turned his head to kiss her temple, but the idea that she might be hiding something from him wouldn’t leave his thoughts. “So what were you doing on my computer?”
“You’re not going to be one of those husbands who checks my browsing history and secretly reads my emails, are you?”
Maybe. “You wouldn’t like that?”
“Would you like it?”
He shrugged. “I don’t have anything to hide.” Did she?
“I happen to be planning a big surprise for you,” she said, “and I’d appreciate that it stay a surprise. So no peeking.”
Eric’s heart skipped a beat. He remembered the last time Rebekah had surprised him. She’d made his birthday one of the most special days of his life, topped only by the first time they’d had sex and by his wedding day. It wasn’t a coincidence that all the favorite days of his life centered on Rebekah. She was his everything.
He grinned and lifted his eyebrows at her. “A surprise?”
“Well, less of one now since I had to say something to keep you from snooping.” She elbowed him in the ribs.
He released her to rub at his side, and she slipped from her chair, scooping the laptop off the table and holding it securely to her chest.
“I wouldn’t have snooped.” Maybe. “So what kind of surprise?”
“A honeymoon surprise.” She offered him a mischievous smile and practically skipped into the kitchen toward the plate of eggs on the counter.
Honeymoon? Hell, yeah. He liked the sound of that. That would involve lots of sex and cocktails on the beach and more sex. He trailed after her. “So where are we going? Aruba? Jamaica?”
Her laugh interrupted him. “We’re not going to Kokomo.”
He brightened as another paradise occurred to him. “Hawaii?”
“No. No tropical islands.”
He scrunched one brow at her. “Then where?”
“Maine.” She beamed as if it were her dream vacation destination.
“Maine? The state?” His tone was almost as flat as his interest in going to Maine.
“Eventually. We’ll start here and drive across the entire United States to Bangor.”
He shook his head in confusion. “What’s in Bangor?”
“Aw, come on—you don’t want to bang her in Bangor?” She shimmied her shoulders and winked at him.
He snorted. This was why he married her. Well, her twisted sense of humor was one of thousands of reasons. “Of course I want to bang her—er, you—in Bangor. I want to bang you in every town on the planet. But you don’t seriously want to drive that far, do you? We’re on the road constantly when we tour with the band. Aren’t you sick of it?”
“I love traveling with Sinners, but we never get to see anything when we’re on the road. We’re too busy working. There are a whole lot of stops I want to make between here and there that we’d never get to see while we’re on tour. I’ve been marking them on my super-secret map.”
“It’s winter up there right now,” Eric said. As far as he was concerned, Maine in December was not for thin-blooded southern Californians such as himself.
“Exactly! Don’t you want to do donuts in the snow with the top down?”
Drive his classic Corvette in the snow? Uh, he was thinking no. “I’d rather eat donuts in the sand with your top down.”
The excited smile dropped from her face. “Fine. If you don’t like my surprise, forget it.”
His heart sank. Disappointing her crushed him. He took the laptop from her hands and set it on the kitchen counter before wrapping her in his arms. “We’ll go anywhere you want to go,” he said, pressing a kiss to her head. “I can’t wait to see where you take me.”
She snuggled into his chest and tightened her arms around his waist. “Too easy,” she said with a giggle.
Somehow, Eric felt he’d been had.