Chapter Ten

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When she heard his footsteps, Danielle turned from her perch at the end of the dock, watching as Beckett approached. She hadn't been surprised that he found her—he had a knack for things working in his favor. If he wanted to find her, he would.

And he did, she thought, a familiar thrill sweeping through her just as it always did when he was near.

She wanted to give him everything she had in her, to hold out her heart for him to take, but her mind prevented such an idea from entering the realm of reality. He wasn't the kind of man to give your heart to. He liked the casual, meandering good life, didn't he? And giving your heart to a man like that was bound to cause hurt.

"How's it going in there?" she called out as he approached, breaking the silence.

There was a thick band of tension that served to both connect them and keep them apart. Sensitive to it, she wondered if she'd put it there, if he'd put it there, or if it had always been there and she just hadn't paid attention to it before today.

She was standing with her toes touching the rough end of the simple wooden dock, and as he made his way toward her, the waves he caused made her wobble in her otherwise surefooted stance.

"Fine. Needed some time to think?" he asked.

"Yeah." Her knees bent slightly to ride the waves. "I did."

"You done?"

"I'm an over-thinker, Beckett. It's what I do. Especially when it's important."

"I can see those gears and wheels turning. You have a beautiful mind." He stepped toward her, maneuvered her to face him, and wrapped his arms around her.

While she wanted to wrestle and wrangle down the unknowns in her life, she found herself dissolving into the man's hold. She nuzzled into his neck, closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of him, heard the heartbeat in his chest, letting the rhythm soothe her.

"It's good you think too much," he added, then kissed the top of her head. "It makes up for the fact that I don't usually do much thinking before I jump."

She pressed her lips together in a quiet smile then, hearing the silent beat at the end of his words, quickly blinked her eyes open.

And before she could react to what she realized had been a statement with dual meanings, he launched them both off the dock into the lake.

Breaking through her dense mood, she laughed as she surfaced.

And when she looked over to him, his mischievous gold eyes melted her. The man somehow managed to simultaneously frustrate her, get her body buzzing, and make her feel like she had no defense against the fun world he always seemed to pull her into.

"Beckett Roberts, you're in trouble," she told him, though her face was light with humor. "I don't have any clothes to change into."

"I know." His brows lifted in a dance of conspiracy.

The man knew exactly what he was doing, she thought. Even when all evidence pointed to the contrary.

She was too short for her toes to touch the bottom, but he wasn't, so she reached for him, feeling his firm, muscled shoulders, smelling the clean skin and cool water that washed over him as she wrapped her arms and legs around him, holding on.

Underwater, his hands skimmed along her legs, then cupped firmly against her butt. She was wearing a sundress so the warmth of his fingers freely inched along the edge of her underwear then snuck beneath the thin fabric and reached more skin.

Her body igniting, she found his mouth, feeling his lips, his breath, his tongue, mingle with hers. When the kiss deepened, she let out a soft moan, breath mixing with the sound that hummed heartily from between her lips as his finger slid into her.

Craving the heat, the hard, her heart raced for more as he explored her drenched skin, her slick curves. While her mind wanted to bear down and make sense of things, her body flung all of that away and demanded, raw and impatient, to ride toward that rush that would quiet her mind and let her heart fly.

Water lapped against the wood of the dock as he moved them closer to the old rusted metal ladder.

"Hold on," he told her then climbed up, out of the water.

Pliant and nimble, she latched onto him and didn't let go until he laid her down on the dock. He reached around to the back collar of his shirt then tugged the thing off.

"Hold on again," he told her with a wicked grin.

The man sent nerves alive within her—nerves that quivered with desire—as she latched onto him and held on once again. He lifted her up while he laid his shirt beneath her then set her back down.

"Splinters," he explained, his fingers gripping her underwear and pulling them off, tossing them aside.

"For a man who doesn't think before acting, you're very thoughtful," she told him, reaching for the buttons of his jeans.

"I'm just a man who loves you." When he said the words, their eyes met and they both paused.

Before when he'd said it, it sounded like an idea that had just occurred to him. But now, the words flowed so freely off his tongue, she drowned in that flow, truly overwhelmed by the man, unable to defend herself against the surge of emotion that swamped her.

He dipped down, his mouth met hers with a new kind of possession, and the kiss was both familiar and different, she thought. She appreciated his incredible mouth—the way it moved competently over hers, the way it made her feel—but this was something else. It was like it had the pulse of his heart in it, she decided. And, if she wasn't mistaken, there was a thrust of desperation in there too.

Love, possession, and desperation were not anything she ever would have associated with Beckett, but now, the power of all three were palpable.

And when the hard pulse of the man made his way into her, pushing beyond the chilled skin into the heat, the power of him surged through her.

Her body demanding to feel more and more, she gave way to the need that filled her, dizzied her. When had anything felt so potently intoxicating in all her life?

Nothing, she realized as her fingertips pressed along the muscles of the man. Nothing had ever come close to feeling this exciting, this overwhelming, and this enlivening, as being with Beckett.

The dock creaked as it rode the waves they made. The scents of lake water, of sex, of lazy afternoon barbeque, wafted around them. It was all heady—even the musky vanilla smell of Allegheny Monkey Flowers that bloomed near the edge of the dock made its way into the mix and swirled with their heated sighs.

Emotion, desire, anticipation, it all wound its way through her and pushed her close to the brink. She wanted more, for this feeling to never end. With the love of a man named Beckett, she was a woman who could do anything, she thought as her hips raced, bucked against his.

Her body tightened, craving, clenching around him in fast pulses as she soared, then let go to the swift ripples of sensation that followed.

He held her close, closer than he ever had, as he soared beside her, with her, just as they had over the edge of the dock into the water.

But this time when they soared, they fell together in what felt like an endless pool that reached into the depths of forever.   

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