Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 25

Republisher’s Note: We find Spaulding Executive Danny Santos taking care of Michelle Bauer.

Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 25

It’s still dark when I begin to stir. It takes me only a second to remember where I am and why. Danny is now laying on his back, and my head is on his chest, as his left arm holds me tightly to him. He feels me moving in his arms, and turns to face me.

“How are you?” he asks in a whisper.

“I think I’m all right,” I answer. “What time is it?”

He glances over me toward the clock on the night stand. “Looks like it’s 4:30 in the morning.”

“We slept for a while, didn’t we?” I say jokingly.

“Best I’ve slept in a long time,” he answers, pulling my body to his again. “You?”

“I slept great,” I answer honestly. “Do you think there are any ‘Andy Griffith’ reruns on TV this morning?” I ask, remembering the last time we were in his bed together.

He shakes his head “no”, as he places gentle kisses along my forehead. “I don’t feel like watching TV,” he whispers. “Is this beautiful head feeling better?” he asks continuing his trail of kisses.

“Much better,” I say. “Thanks.”

His kisses don’t stop on my forehead, and I feel his hot breath move along my check toward my ear. He holds me to him, and I wrap my arm around his strong shoulders, purposefully putting off the conversation I know is coming. His mouth moves back toward my lips, and I pull my face from his and say with a smile, “I have ‘morning breath’, Danny.”

He just laughs at me and says, “So do I,” before his mouth finds mine. I welcome him in, allowing him full access to the inside of my mouth. His hands don’t wander across my body. Instead, he simply keeps me pressed close to him, as if he wants to keep me there forever. Our kiss doesn’t end quickly, and in the dark morning hours, my heart is more “his” than it has ever been. I wonder to myself when I’ll be able to tell him. I wonder if he’ll ever feel the same.

The deepness of the kiss begins to give way to soft, feathery kisses, and when Danny looks up at me, the smile that crosses his face stirs something inside me that I’ve never felt before. Before I even have a chance to ask myself what it is, I know instinctively. This is what it feels like to be in love – truly, madly in love.

“Thanks, Danny,” I say, bringing my hand to his face, running my thumb along his soft lips.

“For what?” he asks, kissing my thumb.

I start to sit up slightly, but he pulls me back into his embrace, and I gladly let him. “Thank you for coming to my rescue. And thank you for taking care of me last night.”

“Where else would I be when you need me, Michelle?” he asks, and my heart nearly comes out of my chest.

I cannot think of any words to answer him. I want to scream “I love you, Danny Santos”, but I know that if I have any hope of making him love me, I can’t scare him off. Instead of saying anything, I just look at him, and hope that somehow, some way, he can see into my heart, and feel what I’m feeling.

He reaches up and runs his fingers through my hair, and I realize how very much I love the sensation of his hands in my hair. “I’m sorry about yesterday, Michelle. About the way that I acted at the courthouse. I was such a jerk to you.”

I silence him by gently placing my fingers on his lips. “You’re forgiven, Danny. And let me say I’m sorry, too. I didn’t mean to be so demanding.”

“And I didn’t mean to be obstinate,” he says.

I giggle slightly, and he laughs as well. I place my lips on his again, and say, “Well, I guess we’re even.”

“You’re beautiful in the morning,” he says, backing away slightly to look at me. “Do you know that?”

I’m slightly embarrassed when I think about what I must look like. “Beautiful isn’t exactly the word I’d use,” I say.

“Michelle Bauer,” he begins, “this is the third time I’ve woken up with you, and I swear you’re more beautiful now than I’ve ever seen you.”

“You look pretty good in the morning yourself,” I say, running my hand through his dark curls, loving the way his hair feels between my fingers.

“This feels so good, Michelle,” he says, pulling me closer to him, keeping my body pressed to his.

“Danny, I think you need to tell me what happened in Atlanta,” I say gently, looking in his eyes. “Whatever it was, you can tell me.”

He sighs deeply, burying his face in the hair on the top of my head. “Now Michelle?” he asks.

I prop my head up on my elbow and look down into the face of the man who has captured my heart and say, “Please, Danny, trust me enough to tell me.”

He turns onto his side to face me, and props his head on his elbow until we are face to face. “I ran in to an old girlfriend in Atlanta,” he says, and I feel my blood turn to ice.

Gathering all my fortitude, I say very calmly, “Go on.”

“Her name is Audrey, and she works for an attorney whose office is in the same building as the Spaulding offices. One morning, we ran into each other.”

“She must’ve really meant a lot to you, to affect you so much,” I say, my heart breaking at the thought of another woman in his life.

“No, Michelle,” he counters. “That’s just it. She didn’t mean much to me at all.”

I’m confused and frightened, not knowing how to interpret what he just said.

“You see,” he continues, “I knew Audrey several years ago. It was right after I graduated from college. When I finished school, I didn’t want to go to work for my mother, for obvious reasons. So, I gave her the song and dance about needing to ‘find myself’ and needing to be on my own for a while, when the truth was that I just wanted to get the hell away from her, and from my brother. She bought it, and I went to New York for a year. I worked for a stock broker, who was an old friend of my father’s. It was a legitimate business. And that’s when I met Audrey.”

I say nothing. I’m paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.

“I never lied to her, or told her things that weren’t true,” Danny goes on. “I never told her that I loved her or that I wanted to marry her or anything like that. But, I let it go on. I let it go on for months, know that every day she was getting more and more emotionally attached to me. After a while, it became obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to put my mother off forever, and I knew I’d have to come back to Springfield and try to find some other way out from under her demands. One day, not long before I left New York, I was in my car, driving to meet Audrey, and it occurred to me just how insignificant she was to me, and how little I was going to miss her when I left town.”

I’m still speechless. I don’t know whether to be relieved that he wasn’t in love with this woman, or angry that he treated her so flippantly.

“So that night, I ended things with her,” he says. “And it wasn’t pretty, Michelle. I hurt her, a lot, and she didn’t deserve it. Audrey was a terrific girl. She still is, and I walked all over her like she was nothing. I promised myself that I’d never do that to anyone again. My solution was to have a string of insignificant women in my life, and I wasn’t exactly a perfect gentleman. That turned out to be just as bad as stringing Audrey along.”

“Did she say something to you in Atlanta, Danny?” I ask. “Was she angry with you?”

“No, she wasn’t angry,” he answers. “She’s doing great. She’s married and expecting a baby. She was glad to see me. She ask about my life and I told her about my mother, and my new job. And I told her about you. She was happy for me. Despite everything I did to her, she was happy for me.”

“O.K., Danny,” I say. “Now tell me what this has to do with me.”

“Obviously, whatever is happening between us is not at all insignificant,” he says. “And I just don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t want to disappoint you. I told you before I left for Atlanta that the way you see me – the way you think of me – is something that I don’t deserve. I look back at my track record, and I know that if I do something to hurt you that I’ll never forgive myself. I’d die if I hurt you, Michelle.”

“Danny, the only mistake you could make is not being honest with me,” I reply, lovingly stoking his face. “Don’t you see? Now that you’ve told me what happened in Atlanta, I understand what’s been going on with you. I understand why you seemed distant, and why you were abrupt with me at your office. I even understand why you felt like you needed to make that ‘grand gesture’ at the courthouse yesterday.”

“But Michelle, I’m a first class jerk,” he says. “I’m the kind of guy that mothers warn their daughters about. All I’ve ever been is a player.”

“Well, let me ask you this,” I reply. “Did you ever have an honest conversation with Audrey, the way you’re having with me?”

“No,” he answers.

“Why not?” I ask.

“I don’t know, really,” he replies. “I guess I just didn’t care enough about her to.”

“So what is making you do it now?” I ask. “Why are you being honest with me?”

He smiles and reaches out to touch my cheek. “Because I care about you. I care about you very much.”

“All right, then,” I continue. “Then don’t keep bringing up your past mistakes. It’s who you are now that matters, and it’s the man laying next to me in this bed that I care about.”

“Michelle, you’ve been in love before,” he says. “And I haven’t. I don’t know how to be anything but an ass with women.”

I laugh slightly at him. “I told you, Jesse and I were kids. And what I felt for him was real, but it wasn’t love, at least not the kind that lasts forever. As for you being an ass, I’ve experienced a little of that first hand,” I say smiling. “But I’ve also experienced the real, genuine you, and I promise you, that you know how to be loving, gentle, compassionate, and tender to me.”

“I want to be all those things to you, Michelle,” he says, pulling me to him again. “I want to be all that and more.”

“Me too,” I answer, enjoying the feel of his chest against my face. “I want to be those things for you.”

We hold each other for a long moment, knowing that we’ve reached a new level. When I look up at him, it takes all my self-restraint not to get lost in his eyes. “I really need to go home,” I say.

“No way,” he says, holding me tight against him. “It’s only 5:30 a.m.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Which means that Rick’s still asleep. If I can get home before he wakes up, I won’t have to tell him why I was out all night.”

I realize that I sound like a teenager who’s broken her curfew, so I clarify myself. “Not that I think I owe him a play by play of my every moment. There are just some things that I don’t want to discuss with him.”

“O.K., Michelle,” he says. “I’ll take you to your car, so that you can go home. But there’s something else we need to discuss first.”

“What?” I question.

“You need to find a new gym,” he says with a smile.

As I lean in to kiss him again, I answer, “Whatever you say, Danny.”

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