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What's in the Box?

a 'Breathe for Me' bonus scene

It’s four years on since Xander and Chelsea first met during that fateful fire alarm… are they still playing with fiery, playful fantasies?

read this free bonus scene and find out

Chapter One

She would never tire of watching him. Tall and graceful,  he moved so effortlessly yet at the same time gave the impression of agility, speed, strength. Chelsea sank a little lower into her seat as he walked towards her. Yeah, he still had the ability to turn her bones to goo. He had that easy, heartbreaker, confident smile on his face and his gaze was trained on her as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. And he did. Because his smile sharpened. Good thing the man had stamina too.

He’d gone to rescue Logan who’d turned total grump because Min was away on a business trip. Logan was now grimly stalking back alongside Xander, glaring at the pavement as if he were trying to burn holes in it. Chelsea bit back her smile. Seeing former playboy Logan so in love, so lonely when Min was away? It was sweet. She and Min had been working together for a few years now. Chelsea had finished her urban design qualification and one of her pop-ups had grown into a permanent indoor plant place. It had taken off mostly thanks to Min’s savvy social media marketing. Min herself had become so successful she was away for a series of conferences giving talks on upscaling boutique businesses.

Both men were now in gym gear. Xander had promised to help Logan kill some time banging weights around after they met Chelsea for coffee. Logan needed to burn off frustration, Xander was just keeping up the fitness.

As she watched them near she caught a flash of movement in the the corner of her eye Chelsea—something small and fast and headed towards them.

Xander moved so quickly Chelsea didn’t have time to grasp what was going on. All she knew was that next breath Xander was swinging a boy up in his arms while simultaneously stopping a skateboard from screaming into the path of an oncoming nonagenarian.

Chelsea blinked and mentally replayed the moment slow-mo style. The boy—about nine years old; on a skateboard; moving a touch too fast; overcorrected a touch too late; loss of surface contact; almost a collision… until?

In the next second Xander had the boy back on his own feet and a hand on his shoulders to steady him. That’s when the kid’s face crumpled—the moment after, when he realised what could have happened. Scraped skin, broken bones and a pile-up with an old man leaning on a walking stick.

Yeah, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

But Xander flashed that smile at him and from the distance Chelsea could hear the reassurance in his tone. ‘That was close but it didn’t happen, bud. Next time you’ll know to adjust a little sooner.’

The boy slowly nodded and the crumpled concern smoothed out. ‘How did you move so fast? You’re strong…’

Yeah, now he was looking up at Xander like he was a hero.

Chelsea knew that feeling very well.

‘Practice,’ Xander nodded. ‘But you’re okay, bud. We’re all okay. Get back on and give it another go.’

‘Practice.’ The boy echoed.

Xander nodded.

Just like that Chelsea’s ovaries exploded. Ovaries that up ‘til now she wasn’t sure she even had. But this second they were making themselves known.

Xander Lawson would make a wonderful father and according to her suddenly bubbling ovaries that status should happen asap. Yep. Red Alert—her biological clock was in fact a bomb and it had just detonated.

Impregnate me now.

Chelsea ran her thumb against the bands on her finger, absorbing the intensity of the sudden yearning. A couple years ago Xander had slid a wedding band on her hand—adding it to the sapphire and diamond engagement ring he’d given her. Sometimes she still wore Tom’s diamond as well, but not always. She kept it in the special box that Xander had given her that fitted all three rings perfectly. She’d thought she could never love again after Tom died. She’d thought she wasn’t worthy somehow. In truth, she’d been too scared. The pain of loss had left her terrified. But Xander Lawson deserved love. All the love she could give him and more.

She wanted to give him so much more.

She knew he wanted kids but he’d assured her he was in no rush. He’d never wanted to rush her. He’d bided his time—teasing her, being there for her, making it a game—making it easy for her. And impossible for her not to fall in love with him. He’d not let her deny what was so very true between them. But he’d understood her caution and always considered her needs. She wanted to do the same for him.

She wanted to carry his baby. Suddenly she yearned to hold his baby. She hoped their babies would have his eyes because the love that could shine from them—

‘Something on your mind, Chelsea?’ Logan’s soft drawl startled her.

She hadn’t realised he’d arrived at her table already, she was still watching Xander as he said something else to that young boy.

She shook her head and blinked away the visions of Xander looking down at a little bundle. ‘How are you coping?’

‘I’m not.’ Logan glowered.

‘I know. But it’s worth it.’ She grinned at him. ‘You’re proud of her.’

That got a reluctant, resigned smile. ‘I should have gone with her.’

Xander finally joined them and Chelsea’s mind wandered as the guys smack-talked each other about their upcoming gym visit. She couldn’t help thinking over how Xander had dealt so easily with that young boy. Calm, kind, strong and quick. He was a good man who would raise more good men…

‘What’s up?’ he said to her softly when Logan went up to order another coffee.

‘Nothing.’

‘Not nothing. You’re very quiet. Which means you’re over-thinking something.’ He cocked his head and studied her with those gorgeous blue eyes. ‘Although you’re also smiling, so perhaps this isn’t a bad thing you’re over-thinking.’

‘I’m not over-thinking. Just thinking.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘Happy thoughts?’

She shrugged.

‘Hot thoughts?’ His voice dropped.

She smothered a laugh. He was annoyingly perceptive. They still played. Every so often each surprised the other with a scenario that spiced up the bedroom for fun. She liked to surprise him. She’d really surprise him this afternoon. She stood, her mind suddenly spinning into overdrive. ‘I need to run a few errands. I’ll be a while. See you at home after. She glanced past him to where Logan was impatiently waiting to be served. ‘You need to entertain him anyway. He looks bereft.’

And she had plans to enact. It was time.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Xander watched Chelsea go with curiosity and longing. It always made him wonder when she went a little quiet and the sparkles in her eyes just then made him want to follow her. Immediately.

Only he couldn’t. Logan needed attention. He sighed. He could be patient for his friend. And he had Chelsea to return home to. Anyway, judging by the sudden intensity of her distraction, she might be out for a while.

Two hours later he and Logan had done legs, arms, core…trash talked each other’s game, debated the upcoming season. But beneath it all he was endlessly wondering about Chelsea. What had she been thinking about? What were those errands she was suddenly in such a hurry to do?

She’d had a faraway dreamy look in her eyes and her cheeks had been a little flushed and his mouth was watering just at the memory of her beauty.

‘This isn’t working. Let’s go.’ Logan interrupted his train of thought. ‘Wanna go for a run with me?’

‘Mmm?’ No, not at all. ‘Yeah. Sure. Of course.’

Because Min was away and Logan was climbing the walls with frustration and loneliness. The guy had already been for a run before meeting Xander, followed by the heavy workout at the gym they’d just done. Yet apparently he still had excess energy to burn. But Xander understood the gravity of the situation because a few weeks ago Chelsea had gone away for work and it had been hell. So, he’d be here for his friend.

They ran a Central Park trail, then went for a cool drink at a stand, then Xander couldn’t take it anymore. ‘Surely it’s time to head home, Logan.’

‘I can’t bear to be in the apartment when Min’s away.’ Logan muttered.

‘Come to mine. Chelsea had errands to run, she won’t be back yet.’ He didn’t think so anyway.

But when he unlocked their apartment, there was music playing. Not music, more like birdsong and trickling water—like they were in some fairy dell.

‘Is that Xander Lawson?’

It was a smoky call that hit Xander’s muscles—hard.

‘Logan is with me!’ he immediately called out in warning.

What?!

Yeah, that was definite panic in Chelsea’s voice.

‘He’s what?’ she called.

Xander turned to Logan. A devilish smile was slowly spreading across the dude’s face.

‘She wasn’t expecting me to be with you,’ Logan drawled softly.

‘I’ll—err—I’ll just be a few minutes.’ Chelsea called—still a little high-pitched and breathless.

Xander glanced back in the direction of her voice, every muscle now aching to get to her.

‘She really wasn’t expecting me.’ Logan smirked. ‘She was waiting for you. Alone.’

Xander met Logan’s eyes.

‘Don’t worry, I know what you need me to do.’ Logan sighed. He jerked his head towards a box on the counter that Xan hadn’t noticed. ‘It’s so cute the way you two still play games with each other. Even after all this time.’

Huh. Yeah. Xander hoped Chelsea would still be dressing up for him when she was in her eighties—he loved their never-ending supply of fun, silly, sexy as hell costumes. Her black cat costume was still a favorite.

But he wasn’t going to take any teasing from Logan of all people. ‘As if you and Min don’t have your own little… rituals.’

Logan’s eyes darkened but then he frowned. ‘I cannot believe she’s still away.’ He stomped back to the door. ‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.’

Which gave them all the leeway in the world, of course.

‘I’m going to phone Min.’ That frown muted Logan’s amusement. ‘It’s time she came home.’

Min had been away for almost two weeks already and there were three more days to go. Logan had totally evolved into a one-woman guy. Xander never would’ve thought he’d live to see it. Xander almost felt sorry for him. Almost. Instead he grinned and patted the grump on the shoulder patronisingly as he passed. ‘Seeya later.’

‘Jerk.’ Logan muttered.

‘You’re just jealous.’ Xander slammed the door shut, turned and leaned back against it, his friend instantly forgotten.

He wanted to see what she had planned. Because she totally had plans.

‘Chelsea?’ He waited for a beat. ‘It’s only me now. Logan had to leave.’

Birdsong. Chimes. Where was this fantasy heading? Not that it mattered, he already knew it would be awesome.

‘Oh?’ Definite relief. ‘Why did he leave so quickly?’

But Xander heard the smile in her voice bloom. Heard the tease he loved so much. ‘Oh I dunno… just a vibe he got.’

‘A vibe? I heard he does like his toys.’

‘Chelsea?’ Xander allowed a thread of steel into his voice. ‘What’s in this box on the counter?’

‘I’d leave that alone if I were you.’ A thread of steel came right back at him.

Okay, so now he was even more intrigued.

He heard the slight uneven tempo of her footsteps and braced. Finally, she appeared. And he was very glad Logan had left already.

She’d transformed from the casual city woman look of jeans and little white tee from earlier. In their place? A lace-edged green slip that fell to mid-thigh—silk and so light it was almost see-through and it gave her an ethereal look. Her feet were bare. Her toenails and her fingernails were painted gold. Her lips were also slicked gold and her cheekbones highlighted with a dusting of the same. Her hair was partially up in some complicated plait.

‘Who are you and what have you done with Chelsea?’ He could barely breathe.

‘I’ve been summoning a goddess.’

You’re a goddess.’

Ethereal yes, but earthy as hell too. Hot, strong female, ready for her mate.

A smile of pleasure. A lift of her chin. But she shook her head slightly. ‘No, I’m a nymph.’

He knew that look in her eyes and it meant only good things for him. His heart filled to bursting in seconds. Moments like these he knew he was the luckiest man in the world. She loved him. And she was about to show him the way she loved best.

‘A nymph.’ He nodded. ‘And what does this nymph want?’

And yeah, it wasn’t only his heart that filled to bursting in seconds.

Her smile turned secretive. ‘Something only you have to give.’

‘Oh?’ He swallowed. ‘Have I missed six months somehow and it’s my birthday already?’

She took a step towards him. ‘Do you think that box contains a present for you?’

‘I think you’re the present, whatever’s in the box is just bonus.’

‘Perhaps.’

He let her take her time. Tried not to rush. But all he wanted to do was pull her to him.

‘You helped that little boy this morning.’

He paused, his brain taking a few seconds long to work out what she meant.

‘The one on the skateboard,’ she reminded him with a smile.

‘Oh. Yeah.’ He drew in a steadying breath. But he was hard as iron now. And it was starting to hurt. He needed to get out of his clothes. ‘Heroes need rewarding? Is that what this is?’

‘Oh no. This isn’t for you.’ She sauntered towards him, far too slowly for his needs. ‘This is for me. I’m a greedy, entitled nymph and I want only the best seed.’

‘The best seed?’ His brain went laser sharp. But his heart stopped.

‘Yes.’ Her voice was so husky.

‘You want me for my seed, is that what you’re saying?’ He held his breath.

‘I want your baby, yes. I want your babies.’

‘How many?’ He coughed to clear the frogs clogging his throat.

‘At least a couple.’

‘Three, for the chaos factor.’ He pushed. Because fuck yes he wanted babies. With her.

He’d been waiting for this—and now? Oh she’d made it better than anything. She always did.

Her lashes lowered, hiding the gleam in her eyes.

‘You’re my hapless male. I’m keeping you here.’

He laughed delightedly. ‘The wedding band wasn’t enough for you?’

‘You’re my captive until I have conceived.’

His mouth dried. ‘How’re you gonna keep me captive?’

‘How does one get to a man? Through his stomach, of course.’

She walked to the table where that box sat.

‘Stomach?’ he muttered. Well, he was famished. But that hunger was purely for her. ‘I’m thinking—’

‘Fertility foods.’ She batted her eyelashes at him.

‘Fer…’ He couldn’t even finish the word. He peered into the box—absolute delight filling him. She was so sweet—his ethereal, earthy woman. Was she planning to summon some fertility goddess?

‘Supplies for your imprisonment,’ she explained, oh-so-not-very seriously. ‘Sustenance.’

There were berries. There was whipped cream. Chocolate sauce. And Chelsea wasn’t the only one with plans now.

‘Oysters.’ He shot her a look over the container. ‘You’ve gotten confused with aphrodisiacs. I don’t think we need those.’

She snorted. ‘Apparently they help with your swimmers.’

‘My swimmers?’

‘And they help with stamina,’ she added loftily.

‘You’re suggesting I need help with stamina?’ He asked ever-so-softly and stared her out. ‘Those are fighting words, my nymph.’

She smiled and it took everything not to yank her up onto that counter and just plunge home and prove just how fierce his stamina was.

Only he’d totally fail because he was so hot for her she’d break him in seconds. And this was so sweet.

‘You need to follow me to the fountain.’ She actually walked away from him.

‘Fountain?’

And as she had him so completely by the balls, he followed. The bathroom door was closed and she turned to see if he was with her.

Of course he was.

‘So your birth control?’ He sounded like he’d swallowed a bunch of razors.

‘Gone.’ A flash of vulnerability then, a break in the fantasy. ‘Is that okay?’

‘Fantastic.’

‘Are you sure?”

‘Totally. Want to get you pregnant. Now.’

‘I won’t even be fertile yet.’ She laughed. ‘It’ll take—’

‘Shhh,’ he growled. ‘Let’s run with the fantasy.’ He lifted his tee, eager to get out of everything and on with the hot, hot, hot—

‘Do not remove your clothes.’ Bossy nymph was back. ‘That’s my pleasure. I will prepare you.’

‘Uh. Okay.’ Prepare sounded good. Sounded like a whole lot of pleasure for him.

He watched the tremble in her fingers as she reached for the door handle. She was as hot for him as he was for her. And yeah, this was going to be fun.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Chelsea’s heart thundered. He was onboard—so delightfully on board.  

‘Take me, I’m ready,’ he muttered. ‘Yours. Take whatever you want.’

The guy was a girl’s best-ever dream. Hot and hard and with a rabid look in his eye that let her know she was gonna get the pounding of her life.

She opened the bathroom door.

‘Hell, Chels…’ ’ He gazed around the bathroom, taking in the lush plants she’d placed there in a mad rush in the last hour. ‘How did you have time to do all this and get yourself so…’

Their apartment was always filled with greenery but this was next level even for her. And the water feature she’d added to the end of the bathtub? It was so cute and cleverly made a small fountain of water that then returned to the bath. Candles lit the space she’d darkened with a heavy curtain. It was her seduction.

‘I can work magic when necessary,’ she said.

‘Oh my goddess, you sure can.’

She lifted the hem of his tee and he raised his arms to help her. His shorts were straining and she chuckled as she knelt to tug them down his strong legs. She stayed on her knees, looking up at him with a smile. Naked? He was a god. And he was hers.

She bent. He inhaled sharply as she licked, then took him into her mouth.

‘You’re gonna suck my seed from me?’ He put out a hand to the wall to balance. ‘Because I don’t think that’s gonna—’ He broke off with a groan as she pulled hard and then released him.

‘Just warming you up,’ she teased. ‘I’ll milk you dry when you’re inside me.’

‘Stop, stop, sweetheart.’ He hissed. ‘I’m so hot I’m gonna blow—’

She smiled as she stood, pleased with the way he was panting. A sheen of sweat slicked his body—not from the run. She liked to see him straining to retain control.

‘Get in the bath,’ she ordered huskily.

His expression softened. ‘Will you be joining me?’

She loved that he was still so gentle with her—even when he’d helped her overcome her water fears, the sensorial memories and heartache that she’d connected with it. She was scarred—everyone was—but she was healed. And she was able to play, to live, to love.

‘And lose my gold leaf?’ She shook her head. ‘That’s for you to take from me.’

‘Gold leaf.’ He brushed his lips against her cheekbone. ‘Is that what this is?’

‘Edible, yes.’

‘So I can lick it off you.’ He growled. ‘Because I don’t wanna eat that chocolate, I wanna eat you.’

‘Why not eat it all?’

‘All together?’

‘In a bit, yes.’ She teased. ‘But for now, bath.’

With a glint in his eye he ‘obediently’ climbed into the deep tub. The water was steaming and scented with a few drops of sandalwood oil. She knelt beside him and took up a washcloth to torment him with. She glided long strokes down his limbs, loving it as he tipped his head back to rest and allowed her absolute access.

‘Chelsea…’

Her slip was wet in patches now from where she leaned over the edge of the tub to reach certain parts of him that she couldn’t resist. She saw his gaze fixate on her breasts.

He moved suddenly, sitting up to catch her shoulder and bent his mouth to her—sucking her tight nipple through the silk. She groaned and his grip tightened.

‘Does that please you, my nymph?’

The bath water splashed and she knew her time in charge was coming to an end.

‘Orgasms aid conception,’ she whispered.

‘Oh?’ He nuzzled her and slipped his hand between her thighs. Neither cared that water was splashing from the tub, all over her and the floor. ‘Nymph needs to be hot and wet, so she’s ripe?’

‘I… maybe…yesssssss.’ She shuddered, his fingers were so wicked.

She abandoned all pretence and let him take the lead completely. He kissed her—long and lush—as he rubbed her just the way she liked and she came quick and hard.

Which was problematic. Because now she was the hungry one and he was the one making the moves.

He rose out of the bath and scooped her into his arms. His skin was hot and slippery but he held her close and tight and strode to the bedroom.

‘Naughty nymph. Beguiling a man. Taking him prisoner. She should be careful of what she wishes.’ He tossed her into the middle of the bed, apparently not giving a damn that she was saturating the linen. He shoved up her sodden silk slip, exposing her to his gaze. ‘Spread.’

She parted her legs the second before he bent.

The man feasted.

Until she was writhing so much, he had to pin her down. Until she was begging so loud the neighbours next door could probably hear. But he deliberately stopped and held her next orgasm out of reach like the tease he always was.

‘No. Next time you’re coming with me.’ He told her firmly. Again. Then again. Until she was ready to kill him.

But when he finally dropped his weight on top of her, she wriggled in delight.

‘Wrap around me, nymph. Lock me inside.’

He was one very bossy prisoner. But she adored him for it and so she curled her legs around his hips, sighing as he pushed deep, filling her to capacity and then some.

He closed his eyes and groaned. ‘So fucking good, Chels…’

‘I know.’

It was so good. Always so good. And this time? He lifted up to smile down at her, knowing. She saw the anticipation, the pleasure fill his features, felt it as he surged more powerfully into her.

‘Give me everything, Xander.’

‘Always.’ He flexed.

And then she couldn’t speak at all.

She was so ecstatic it was insane. It was fast and deep and he kept thrusting as she kept coming. Until she begged for him to come too—to fill her up. ‘You said with you, Xander…’

She arched and clenched on him tightly as his shout shattered everything.

She loved it when he lost himself inside her. When he shuddered in her arms. When they rode the waves of pleasure together like this… for eternity.

And eventually the raggedness of his breathing slowly eased.

She stroked the side of his neck with the tips of her fingers. ‘I’m taking your seed every night.’

‘Please, please do.’

The fantasy had ebbed, leaving her with the gorgeous reality of being here now, entwined with him. Loving him. Needing him. Wanting everything with him—and best of all, working together with him to go for it. Three children? She really wanted that with him.

‘You must be hungry now,’ she murmured.

Sliding out from beneath him she padded out to the kitchen and picked up the box.

‘I can’t really keep you here until I’m pregnant,’ she admitted ruefully as she returned. ‘It might take…’

‘Yeah, I know. Meanwhile we practice, though, right?’ He took the box from her before rummaging inside to pull out the chocolate sauce. ‘Lie down beside me, I’m going to use you as my very pretty snack plate.’

‘Use me?’ she teased.

But his expression turned serious. ‘Love you.’

She lay down beside him, watching as he deliberated between his choices. She’d known he’d enjoy this play. And she loved him for it. So much.

‘Kiss me,’ she breathed.

His gaze met hers and he smiled and bent over her.

The kiss was hot and sweet. She was so grateful for love. For life. For second chances. And for him. Always for him.

He kissed her again. Made love to her again. Made his vows again.

‘You are such a delight. My delight. My love.’ He held her tightly in his arms.

‘Yours,’ she agreed, so greedy. So content. ‘All yours. Always yours.’

Copyright, Natalie Anderson, 2022.

No copying/sharing without written permission from the author.

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