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hot as sin Page 4


  She stilled on his lap. "Sam?"

  "Baby, I want you so bad," was the only thing he could think to say.

  And then they were kissing again and he was sliding his finger in and out, slowly at first and then faster as she bucked her pelvis against his hand. He rocked his palm against her clitoris, and her breath came out in quick pants accompanied by little moans and whimpers.

  It was all he could do not to lose it behind his zipper. He wanted to blow inside her, not into blue-striped cotton boxers.

  Ripping at the button fly on his jeans, he freed his erection and wrapped Dianna's hand around it. Her eyes flew open again and she stopped moving against him.

  Somehow he managed to say, "I need to be inside you, but only if you want it," and thank God, she nodded and gently started stroking him.

  "I want it, Sam."

  He forgot to be gentle as he shoved her jeans and panties off. And then she was naked from the waist down and he was putting on a condom as fast as he could in the dark. Placing his hands on her slim waist, moving them to cup her perfect ass, he positioned her over his erection.

  Barely breathing, he suddenly realized he couldn't just plunge into her. She was too tight. A virgin, just as he'd suspected.

  "What's wrong?" she whispered.

  "Nothing's wrong. You're perfect."

  "I've never done this before," she admitted with a nervous catch in her voice as she slowly lowered herself back down onto his lap.

  The head of his penis pressed into her folds, and Sam cupped her face to kiss her as he guided his thick shaft into her heat. She gasped against his lips as he filled her.

  "Will you trust me?"

  The "Yes" was barely out of her mouth before he drove into her, all the way to the hilt. She stiffened and he said "Trust me" again against her lips and then they were kissing, softly, sweetly as he found her clit with his thumb and pressed light circles against the hard nub. It didn't take long before he felt her muscles relax around him and a new wave of her arousal coat his shaft.

  Moving as slow as he could manage, he slid out, then back in to her tight passage. Dianna's tall curves were a perfect fit, and she was so innately sensual that a part of him was amazed this was her first time.

  And then, she was crying out and he could feel her inner muscles pulling and pushing against him and he was coming inside her, the sensation so much better than it had ever been with anyone else.

  They held on to each other, panting, until she moved off his lap and sat back down on the passenger seat to pull on her panties and jeans. He tried to think of something to say that would lighten the mood and make her realize that having sex wasn't that big of a deal.

  Instead, he suddenly realized that something had gone wrong. Really wrong.

  The condom had broken, a big gaping hole right in the middle of the latex.

  And the reservoir tip was completely empty.

  Sam couldn't believe it. Dianna's first time making love and the condom had busted. He wasn't sure what was going on in her head right about now, but he had a feeling she wouldn't be too thrilled to find out that she was wet with more than just her own arousal.

  The station tested the men for VD every six months and he'd just gotten back his latest clean report, so he knew he wasn't going to give her anything. And because she was a virgin--or had been a virgin until tonight, anyway--he knew he was safe.

  What were the odds that she would get pregnant? Low, right? One of the older guys on the crew had been trying unsuccessfully to get his wife pregnant for months.

  Before she could see the damage, he quickly removed the busted condom and shoved it into his pocket. Everything would be okay. There was no point in freaking her out for no reason.

  That first incredibly hot date turned into another, then another, until all of Sam's free nights when he wasn't out on a mountain somewhere were spent with Dianna.

  At first, they mostly made love, with small breaks to eat, but it didn't take too long for him to want to be more than a physical part of her life.

  He'd never felt the urge to learn much about the girls he was dating, never wanted to know what they liked to eat for breakfast, never cared about their dreams or aspirations. But even though he refused to look too far into the future, he couldn't deny that the way he felt about Dianna was just plain different.

  During the day she worked part-time at the downtown library along with taking business classes at the local junior college. He teased her about hiding such big brains behind such a knockout body, but he was incredibly proud of her. It wasn't hard to guess why she pushed herself so hard, even though they'd never really talked about it: She didn't want to end up like her mother, getting stuck in a trailer park with a baby at eighteen and no skills or money to fall back on.

  And then, one night, he woke up and realized she wasn't in bed. He found her sitting at his kitchen table poring over paperwork. At first he thought it was homework, but when he got close enough to read the small print, he realized they were state documents.

  "Guardianship forms and instructions? What's all this about?"

  She'd been a virgin, so he knew she couldn't have a kid stashed away somewhere.

  Dianna rubbed a hand over her eyes. "It's a long story."

  "I'm not going anywhere."

  It was an off-the-cuff response, but somehow, in that moment, they both knew he meant far more than he'd originally intended. In the far back of Sam's mind, a warning light began blinking, pictures of his parents' crap-ass marriage flashing before his eyes. But it was easy to shut that door, to tell himself that he and Dianna were merely having a good time together, that they were miles away from ever getting married.

  "I have a sister," she finally said, explaining that her younger sister, April, had been sent away at four. "I won't stop until I get April out of the foster system and home with me."

  Sam knew firsthand how important siblings were. The more your parents dropped the ball, the more you needed a brother or sister to hold things together. Connor was his real family. So he got that even though she hadn't seen her sister in six years, April meant just as much to Dianna.

  He joined the battle that night, wanting to help her try to push through the reams of bureaucratic red tape that stood in her way. And when all she heard from the state was, "You don't have enough money or a job or a real home for your sister," when they claimed April was better off in the foster system living with a "stable" family, he held Dianna as she cried. But it was never long until her tears dried and she was back at it, chipping away at the system with more focus than ever.

  Since becoming a hotshot, people had said again and again how tough he was. But for the first time in twenty years he knew what real strength was; he saw it every time he looked at his girlfriend filling out paperwork or arguing on the phone with a caseworker. She continually surprised him with her resiliency. He hadn't expected such a pretty package to be filled with steely determination.

  All the while, every time they made love again, he pushed the broken condom to the back of his mind. After a few weeks passed, he figured they were out of the danger zone and pretty much forgot about it.

  Until the day she walked into the station with red, puffy eyes. He'd just come in from a wildfire and the adrenaline was still pumping through him when he saw her. His stomach twisted with dread as he instantly guessed what she was going to tell him.

  The secret that he'd been keeping had just come back to bite him in the ass.

  His first thought was that he needed a stiff drink.

  His second that he wasn't ready to be a father.

  He was a twenty-year-old firefighter. He was supposed to be banging everything that moved. And even though he liked being with Dianna, he sure as hell didn't believe in happy families.

  "I need to talk to you, Sam."

  "You're pregnant," he said, his words coming out harder than he'd intended.

  Her eyes widened in surprise and she covered her stomach with both hands. "How'd you know?
"

  He knew telling her about the condom wouldn't have made any difference for whether or not she got pregnant, but at least she wouldn't have been totally caught off guard.

  He was used to being the hero. Not the villain who took the heroine's virginity and knocked her up all at the same time.

  Tamping down on the urge to cut bait and run back into the hills to fight a fire, any fire he could find, he met her gaze.

  "The condom broke."

  She inhaled sharply, her eyes round with disbelief. "When?"

  "The first time."

  "Why didn't you tell me?"

  Jesus, he didn't know what to say to her. Didn't know what to do. Especially since neither of them were ready to get married.

  As it was, they hadn't even officially moved in together. She'd been careful not to leave clothes at his apartment, and he hadn't exactly offered up one of his dresser drawers.

  The truth was, he was more than a little freaked out by how much he enjoyed being with her. By how important she was becoming to him. By the number of times he'd wanted to tell her that he loved her and barely managed to catch himself.

  "I know I should have told you," he admitted, hating how guilty he felt, "but I just didn't think anything was going to come of it."

  She almost looked angry now, the fiercest he'd ever seen her outside of her fight for April.

  "You mean like a baby? You didn't think for one second that I might get pregnant? You didn't think I'd want to know that?"

  He let her rail at him. Sure, it had taken two to tango, and getting pregnant wasn't entirely his fault, but he hadn't exactly played the aftermath well.

  And that was when it hit him: She was going to have a baby.

  He was going to be a father.

  Sam looked at her again, for the first time seeing her as more than the hot woman he was falling for.

  She was going to be the mother of his child.

  In an instant, everything shifted. He knew exactly what he had to do. There was only one option.

  "We're going to get married."

  She took a step away from him, dropping her head so that her blond hair covered her face. But before she could hide her expression from him, he saw pain move across her striking features.

  Shit. He was screwing everything up. Again.

  Instead of showing her that he wasn't going to leave her in a lurch, that he was going to support her and the baby from here on out, he'd just proposed to her in the worst possible way. Like some sort of half-brained caveman.

  Wanting to do it right, he dropped onto one knee on the gravel lot and reached for her hand.

  She shook her head in dismay. "No, Sam, don't."

  "Dianna, I want to marry you. I want to take care of you and our baby. Please let me be there for you."

  She closed her eyes, tried to pull her hand away. "You don't need to do this. I can take care of--"

  "No!"

  The word boomed from his chest before she could finish her sentence. He wasn't going to let her bring up a baby alone in a trailer park, or, God forbid, have an abortion.

  "Listen to me, Dianna. I know this is happening sooner than either of us planned, but," he had to stop and clear his throat, "will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

  "We can't get married just because I'm pregnant. It won't work out. It never does."

  He knew she was thinking about her mother, who had gotten pregnant with her at eighteen. Obviously, her father hadn't stuck around. April's dad hadn't, either.

  "You are not your mother," he told her in a firm voice, hating to see her look so defeated. "The first time I met you, I thought you were like any other beautiful woman. But when I saw how you were hell-bent on getting April back, that was when I knew that you were special. You're tougher than anyone would guess. Dianna, I don't even think you realize how strong you are, how smart you are."

  Her cheeks had gone pink at his praise, but she refused to believe him so easily. "If I'm so smart, then tell me why the stick I peed on today turned blue? All my life I swore this was the one thing that was not going to happen to me." She gestured to the hotshot station with one hand. "Turns out all it took was one hot firefighter to knock me up."

  She laughed, but there was no joy behind it, rather a self-derision that Sam refused to let stick.

  "Okay, so you're pregnant. We can't change that. But we can try and make it work."

  Honestly, he didn't know much about good marriages or about happy families, but he'd faced down enough deadly wildfires to know that he was as stubborn as Dianna.

  "We're going to make it work."

  "You mean like your parents made it work?" Dianna countered, still not ready to give in.

  Until Dianna, Sam had never told anyone that his parents had gotten married when his mother got pregnant with him her freshman year at college--and that twenty years later, his mom and dad could barely stand to be in the same room with each other. But he'd known that Dianna wouldn't judge him.

  It was one of the things he loved about her.

  I love her, he suddenly realized, knowing in his heart that it had been true since the start.

  "We are not my parents," he told her in a firm voice, even though the raw data--a surprise baby and shotgun wedding--sure looked a hell of a lot the same. "And you have to know how much I care for you."

  Her eyes bore into his and he could feel the four-letter word hanging on the tip of his tongue. It was time to bite the bullet and say it already.

  "I love you, Dianna."

  A single tear slid down her cheek. "I've wanted to hear you say it, but not like this." Her voice broke. "Not because you have to."

  He reached for her cold hands and pulled her against him, glad when she didn't fight him, when she let her body relax into his.

  "I've never done anything because I have to. From the moment I saw you, I wanted you. Now you're going to be the mother of my child, and our baby is going to grow up with a father and a mother who loves it. We're going to stay together and be a happy family."

  He didn't know how he knew all of those things, but as he said them, he believed every last one of them.

  He'd thought that Dianna was just a sexy summer fling. But she'd become more than that. Way more.

  "Marry me, Dianna, and I promise you, I'll always be there for you. I'll never leave you. No matter what."

  He knew he'd never forget the way her eyes looked after he'd said that. So green and clear he could almost see through them into her soul.

  No one had ever really cared about her before. No one but him.

  And as she said, "Yes, Sam, I'll marry you," he vowed to never, ever let her down.

  CHAPTER FOUR

  BETWEEN THE long drive to the airport and the flight into Vail, Sam had plenty of time for playbacks of their three-month-long relationship. For ten years, he'd tried to convince himself that he'd forgotten her.

  But the truth was that he hadn't forgotten one single moment.

  Things moved at warp speed after his quick-and-dirty proposal--and her very reluctant acceptance. The next day he'd moved her clothes and books from her mother's trailer to his apartment. Eight weeks later the limo hit her and she miscarried. They postponed their wedding and six weeks later she disappeared, leaving her engagement ring on the kitchen table.

  No warning. No fights. No giving things another shot.

  Just gone.

  And getting over her had been nearly impossible.

  He'd known better than to trust a woman, but in the heat of the "I'm pregnant" moment, he'd actually thought their relationship was going to be the exception, not the rule.

  He hadn't made that same mistake since.

  It didn't matter how pretty or laid-back the girls he dated were about his crazy schedule. Commitment wasn't in the cards for him, simple as that. Although he hadn't exactly turned into a monk, he made damn sure that the women he went out with knew the score. He wasn't looking for anything serious. And he was religious about birth contr
ol, using two methods whenever possible.

  Just after seven p.m., the Vail General Hospital parking lot was pretty well emptied out, apart from a throng of reporters smoking and waiting by the entrance. As he paid the driver, he suddenly wondered if they were here to see Dianna.

  How could he have forgotten that she was famous now, that she had a whole new life that he knew nothing about? They were no longer on the same playing field. She was a star. And he was still just a firefighter.

  But as he moved past the reporters and pushed through the tall glass entry doors into the lobby, none of that mattered. Not when the possibility of Dianna being injured and in pain had his heart racing and his hands sweating. Replaying the past had been nothing more than a convenient way to push away his fears regarding Dianna's current situation.

  Sam hadn't spent much time in church, but it didn't stop him from praying now. Please, God, let her be okay was what he sent up as he headed to the reception desk.

  A young redheaded woman was watching a soap opera on the TV hanging from the far corner of the room. A half-dozen people were slumped tiredly in their seats waiting to be called in to see the next available doctor.

  "I'm looking for Dianna Kelley."

  She stopped watching the TV and gave him her full attention, smiling up at him flirtatiously. "I'll bet you are. I swear, some women have all the luck."

  He frowned. She wouldn't be flirting with him if Dianna was in a coma, would she? Or was this just her regular m.o. with every reasonably good-looking guy without a ring who walked into the hospital?

  "How is she?"

  The woman shrugged. "I don't know. But I heard it was a pretty bad crash. Head-on. That road she was on can be dangerous when it's icy."

  Air whooshed out of his lungs. That wasn't what he wanted to hear. She was supposed to tell him that Dianna was all right, that she was the one in a million who walked away just fine. He'd tended to enough car crash survivors to know how bad her injuries probably were, that she was most likely fighting for her life that very second.

  "I need to see her."

  The woman studied him more carefully, looking at his left hand again. "Are you her husband?"

  "No." Hell, no, he wasn't her husband. That ship had sailed a long time ago.

  "You're not a reporter, are you?"

  "No, I'm a firefighter."

  "Oh, that's so much better," she said with a smile. "We've been given express instructions not to let any more of the reporters past the front desk. They're like vultures. It's kind of creepy," she said with a feigned shiver. "But firemen are always welcome here."