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Caleb & Lori’s Bonus Epilogue

A secluded cabin, a fire in the hearth, and a little black box...

Caleb

I squat down and blow on the small teepee of kindling, my breath feeding the flames that crackle and spit. I place a bigger log over them and wait for it to catch. Behind me in the tiny kitchen, Lori finishes putting away the groceries, then settles on the couch behind me. 

I rock back on my heels, watching the fire glow for a moment longer, then, satisfied at my handiwork, rise and join her. 

She’s brought us each a beer and when I reach for mine, my fingers shake. We tap the necks and take a drink. 

“At least your fire is warming this place up,” Lori says, suppressing a shiver. 

“It’s small enough, shouldn’t take long,” I say, and wrap my arm across her shoulders. 

She lifts her face to me for a slow, sensual kiss, then gives me a playful look. “So, I saw snowshoes and cross-country skis in the hallway, is that your big surprise?” 

My gut flips upside down. I shift on the couch, making the little box in my pocket dig into my thigh. 

The fire pops in the hearth, sending up a spray of sparks. Ask her. 

“One of many,” I say then set Lori’s beer on the oversized coffee table and I pull her onto my lap. 

“Two whole days together,” she says, running her fingers through my hair. “No distractions. We can sleep late. We can have coffee in bed.”

“I like the sounds of that,” I say, and pull her to me for a kiss. 

“I brought you a birthday present,” she says, leaning back and giving me a shy smile. 

“You’ve already given me everything I want,” I say, and caress the side of her gorgeous face. 

Her eyes soften. “I love you.” 

“I love you too.” We kiss again, my tongue flicking hungrily against hers. I know I should just come out and ask her already, but I haven’t been alone with her in weeks, and after the visit to her family in Berkeley and Christmas with my crazy family, I want to savor these forty-eight hours alone. 

Plus, what if this is too soon? I know that I love her with my whole heart. That is never going to change, even if we’re apart. Even if we have to wait to make it official. But I’m nervous. She might say no. 

“I’ll make you a deal,” I say as I knead the crease of her thighs. “Show me your surprise first.” 

She gazes down at me, her eyes blazing with heat. “I think I’m going to let you find it.” 

I raise an eyebrow. “Is that a challenge, Lori Grant?” 

Her smile brightens the room. “Maybe.” 

I poke her sides and she squeals, her hips wriggling on my lap in a way that’s making me ache. “Hmmm…is it something you’re wearing?” I ask.

She shakes her head, making her long, dark hair shine in the firelight. 

I tap my lips, pretending to think as I scan the room. “Is it something you brought?”

She squints. “Sort of?” 

I poke her ribs again and she jumps, her thighs squeezing my hips. Inside my jeans, my cock gives a painful throb. 

We packed together, and I don’t remember seeing her add anything new. Unless she snuck it in later. “Give me a hint, please?” 

She rolls her hips into mine. “It’s somewhere on my body.” 

My eyes widen. “You got a tattoo?”

Her laughter erupts from her lips, making her eyes sparkle. “No, silly.” 

I tug off her thick sweater and inspect her arms and stomach, trace her collarbones, and then, because I can’t help it, caress over her taut nipples tenting the fabric of her creamy white bra. “It’s not this, is it?” I ask of the sexy lace framing her perfect tits. 

“I guess it’s sort of new, yeah, but that’s not it.” 

“The suspense is killing me, baby,” I say, cupping her ass and tugging her even closer, which makes her thigh roll over the hard box in my pocket. Thankfully, she doesn’t notice it. I’m in no state right now to say the words I’ve practiced in the mirror a hundred times. In fact, I’m about ready to give up on her surprise and fold her over this couch. 

“You’re getting warmer,” she says, giving her hips another slow grind. 

I tug her down for another kiss that quickly goes from playful to downright aggressive, with my fingers working the button and waistband of her jeans. She climbs off me so I can slide her pants down, revealing a matching white lace thong. 

“Fuck,” I groan, pressing my lips to her belly and caressing her bare ass. While she steps out of her jeans, I kiss along the top of her panties. “Have you been wearing these all day?”

She runs her fingers through my hair. “Uh huh.”

“I guess I’m glad I didn’t know, or I would’ve pulled over at the first forest service road and taken them off with my teeth.” As I say this, I take a little nip of her skin, right at her hip where the fabric thins. 

Her thighs give a little tremor, and the scent of her arousal filters through my senses. Hot blood pumps through my veins, sparking a hunger from deep inside me, one that never seems to be satisfied. 

I peel her panties down, kissing each inch of exposed skin as I go, until the fabric falls to the floor and I’m staring at the newly trimmed patch of curls above her plump and very bare pussy. 

“Oh, Lori,” I manage. “Oh, baby.” I gaze up at her and our eyes lock. 

She gives me that shy smile that sends a pulse of blood to my cock. “Do you like it?” she asks. 

I plant a kiss above her soft curls and swirl my thumbs against her wet folds. I scoot lower and wrap my lips around her, savoring her silky soft skin and her raw, sweet taste. “Fuck yeah, but I love this pussy no matter how trimmed. The question is…” I swirl my tongue around her clit. She inhales a sharp breath while her fingers tighten in my hair “…do you like it.” 

I settle her on the edge of the coffee table and get on my knees, ripping off my sweater before I press her thighs open and kiss my way up to her heat. Each flick of my tongue and glide of my lips makes her shudder. Fuck, she’s so soft and wet and ready for me. I lift her thighs over my shoulders and guide her back so she’s flat on the hard wood, completely exposed. I glide two fingers inside her, curling against the place that drives her wild, and work her clit with alternating swirls of my tongue and the edge of my teeth. Her hips arch to me, her calves pressing into my shoulder blades. I lick and tease as the heart of her clenches tight around my fingers. Her soft cries trigger something powerful and so real inside me that I feel utterly lost, and free. 

“Yes,” Lori says between pants. 

“Yes, what, doll?” I ask, tugging her limp frame back to where we started with her straddling my lap on the couch. 

She eyes me with a hazy, sultry gaze. “I like it.” 

I kiss her, our lips tugging and teasing in a slow, sensual embrace. She presses the heel of her hand on my erection and gives me a firm rub that curls my toes inside my thick socks. Then her fingers bump into the box inside my pocket. 

“What the heck is in there?” Lori asks, giving me a playful frown. “It’s been poking me all night.” 

Then her eyes widen. 

Shit. 

It’s time to man up. I love her. I want this. I want this to be the start of our forever. There. Why is that so hard to say? 

I slide the box out of my pocket. It’s black velvet with a tiny gold hinge. 

Lori goes completely still. “Caleb?” she asks in a quiet voice. She looks up with an apprehensive gaze. 

The blood coursing through my veins blasts into my temples, making a dull throb. I caress the side of her face and lock eyes with her. “I love you, Lori. I want to love you for the rest of my life.” 

My nose tingles with the rising tide of emotion I can’t hold back any longer. Not after everything we’ve been through, after the promises we’ve made and the dreams we’ve shared. 

After opening the box, I tug the ring free. 

Lori gasps. 

The diamond glitters in the firelight, catching all the colors in the room. Time seems to slow as I take her delicate hand in mine. Our eyes lock and a tear trickles down her beautiful face. 

“Will you marry me?” I ask. 

Her eyes fill with so much joy. “Yes! Oh my God, yes. Caleb, I love you so much.” 

Gently, I slide it onto her left ring finger. 

“It’s beautiful,” she says, breathless. “Caleb, I love it.” 

I wipe the tears from her cheeks. “I know we need to wait for you to finish school, and I know we’ll be apart sometimes, but I want this,” I say. “I want to know you’re mine forever.”

“I’m yours,” she says, kissing me, her lips trembling. Her hips roll against me, her thighs squeezing my sides. I caress her silken folds with my thumbs, savoring the plush softness and the needy little gasp she makes when I circle her clit. 

I shift her to tug down my jeans and boxers, kicking them off the rest of the way. She wraps her delicate fingers around me and strokes, squeezing hard over my tip. 

I inhale a tight breath, trying to hold everything together. We kiss again, our fingers exploring, teasing, until I can’t stand it another second and lift her hips so I’m poised right where she needs me. 

“No fair. Your surprise is better,” she whispers, her body quivering. 

“I’m glad you think so,” I say and slowly sink into her tight heat. 

Her eyes clench shut and she grips my shoulders. “Oh, Caleb, promise me you’ll never stop.” 

I lift her hips and ease her down on me again, filling her slowly, connecting to the deepest part of her. “Morning, noon, and night, baby,” I say and she laughs. 

“I mean it,” she says, her eyes locking with mine in a serious gaze. “It won’t always be perfect, just…don’t stop.” 

“I don’t need perfect,” I say, sliding her bra down so I can caress her soft, lush breasts. “I just need you.” 

We move together in a slow, sensual rhythm, while I stroke and tease all of her favorite places until she’s urging me deeper and squeezing me so tight. 

“Caleb!” she cries, her body pulsing around me. I grip her hips and bring our bodies together again, hard and deep, my own release breaking free. When it’s over, I wrap my arms around her and hold her for a long time, my cheek resting over her rapidly beating heart. 

“I’m the luckiest man alive,” I say with a sigh. 

She leans back so she can kiss me, her lips locking tenderly with mine. Then she smiles. “We’re lucky together.” 

I take her face in my hands and kiss her again as a bright joy settles inside my heart. I have everything I ever dreamed of, and this is only the beginning.