I’d asked her to move in with me over a month ago and she said no. She said she was still working on trying to do the right thing without thinking about it and she wanted to keep working on her relationship with her mom. Plus, Brite hadn’t quite gotten over almost losing her so the bearded giant wasn’t exactly ready to let his little girl go yet. I’d given her a key to my loft and told her she was always welcome and luckily she spent more nights than not in my bed. But apparently, a couple of days ago she had come home early after a meeting with the D.A.’s office and found her mom and dad in a fairly compromising situation on the kitchen table.
Avett laughed it off and told them she was glad they couldn’t keep their hands off each other but the run-in had finally convinced her to move in with me, which meant I got to put her in a compromising position on our kitchen table … twice.
She wiggled loose and we both let out a moan as our bodies separated. She was glossy from head to toe, covered in all kinds of sex and good times, and all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around her and tumble her back underneath me on the bed.
She lifted her hands up and tried unsuccessfully to unstick her hair from her still-oiled-up chest and made a face at me as I licked my lips. “Lofts don’t really offer much in the way of hiding places, but luckily you’ve avoided the kitchen like the plague since that disastrous dinner incident.”
She made her way over to where the fridge was and I saw her wiggle and shake, her naked backside making my tired dick take notice. She let out a triumphant sound and came back towards the bed with something as big as she was wrapped in brown paper covering her almost completely up. She hefted the burden onto the mattress and pushed it towards me with a mischievous grin.
“Merry Christmas, Quaid.”
I grabbed the edge of the giant package and started to carefully peel the corner back as I picked at the tape holding it shut. She watched me with wide eyes and the longer I took with the wrapping, the more impatient she became. By the time I had one side of the tape free and opened, she had her arms crossed over her bare breasts and was tapping her foot impatiently. The fierce look was ruined by her lack of clothing but I didn’t tell her that. Instead, I took hold of the big flap I’d worked free and ripped the front of the packaging off with a quick jerk of my arm.
I blinked and lost the ability to breathe when the image waiting for me on the massive canvas was revealed. The bed sank down a little as Avett crawled back up next to me. She reached out and touched the eagle on my chest as I traced the identical image that was staring up at me from the painting in my hands.
“Remember I told you that I knew the guy that did your tattoo? Well, he and his business partner have branched out and are doing all kinds of things beyond tattoos. Custom artwork happens to be one of those things. I thought you could hang it in your new office. That way you can have a little bit of wild Quaid around even when you have to be civilized Quaid.”
I couldn’t look away from the painting and I couldn’t get my heart to stop beating her name over and over again. No one had ever done anything as thoughtful or as personal as this for me. No one understood me the way Avett did, which proved even more how right she was for me.
She reached out and peeled more of the wrapping away and I whispered, “Those are my mountains.”
She nodded and reached up to pull on the ends of her hair. “I wanted to you to be able to have your favorite place with you even when you were having a bad day.”
I let out a deep breath and moved the big painting to the side of the bed so that I could pull her to me. I arranged her so that she was straddling me and lowered my forehead so that it was resting on the center of her chest. She smelled sugary and decadent. I wanted to eat her up all over again, but it was the steady and sure beat of her heart that made me tell her, “The mountains used to be my favorite place. Now that’s anywhere you are.”
She hummed in appreciation and scraped her fingers over the short sides of my hair. “Well, you shouldn’t have too many bad days anyway now that you’re working for yourself.”
Instead of taking any of the numerous offers that had come at me fast and furiously when I walked away from the firm, I decided that I had worked too hard for other people and all the wrong reasons for far too long. The only person I wanted to impress and to prove myself to was currently wrapped around me and I knew there was nothing I could do that would make her love me any less so I decided it was time to jump again and go into private practice. I already had more clients and more inquiries than I knew what to do with and I wasn’t even officially back in business until after the first of the year. I was planning on being more selective and more discriminating in who I invested my time and legal knowledge into. I still believed everyone deserved the best defense possible, but now I wanted to give it to the people that really needed it. There would be no more putting bad people back on the street simply because they waved a wad of cash in my face and were guaranteed to get their names in the press.
I’d wanted some time to settle into life without the smoke and mirrors, and I’d wanted time to spend with Avett before she started school and went to work for Asa. I was being selfish with my time and my talent, but at least I knew I was doing it for something that mattered, something that was beyond value.
“I got you something for Christmas, too, but it’s too big to hide in the loft.”
She jerked back and looked at me with her brows puckered and her mouth set into that pout I couldn’t resist. “I told you not to spend a lot of money on me, Quaid. You better not have bought me a car or something else that’s going to make me fight with you on our first Christmas together.”
I shook my head against her soft skin and chuckled. My little hurricane was full of fire and independence, something she never let me forget. I could love her and support her but she wouldn’t let me coddle her or indulge her. She insisted that was part of us doing this relationship right. There were times when I wanted to spoil her for her simply being so unconcerned with material things but then she would remind me that I gave her my heart and the real me and that was worth more than any trinket she insisted she would lose or break anyway.
“It’s not a car … exactly. Let’s take a shower and clean up and I’ll take you by the bar so you can check it out before we head over to your parents’ house for dinner.”
She was still looking at me through narrowed eyes but she didn’t offer even a peep of protest when I scooped her up and started walking towards the bathroom. If we were taking a shower together, that meant we were going to have to get very dirty before we got clean, so it was a good thing her parents wouldn’t mind if we were running a little bit late.