Full Circle by Erin – Chapter 6

Republisher’s Note: Danny is on trial for his crimes during the annulment separation. Michelle is helping by pretending to be his happily wedded wife. Meanwhile they’ve made a bet on who will climb into who’s bed first, with them staying married as the prize.

Full Circle by Erin – Chapter 6

The jury is still deliberating.

Ben says we should have a verdict by tomorrow morning.

I sit on the bed, trying to read a book, but my mind keeps drifting.

Danny is sitting out on the balcony. I’ve been trying to resist going out there, telling myself he needs his space, but now I put my book down and pad on bare feet out to where he sits.


He looks up, surprised to see me.


Well, so far this conversation is off to a great start.

I cross in front of him and lean back against the railing. “So, what are you thinking about so seriously out here.”

He gives a sharp laugh. “You actually have to ask?”

I laugh ruefully, but my heart isn’t in it. “OK, OK, stupid question.”

Silence falls again as Danny contemplates the skyline and I contemplate him.

Then I say softly, “Can I ask another stupid question?”

He looks at me, amused. “Shoot.”

“Why did you do it? Why did you steal that stuff? It’s not like you needed it and even if you did, couldn’t you have gotten Dietz or somebody like that to do it for you?”

Danny sigh and rubs his temples. “I don’t know, Michelle. It’s…it’s complicated.”

I look straight at him. “The hell it is.”

His eyes fly to mine, angry and more than a little wary. “Michelle, don’t give me this. I’m tired, I’m on edge-”

“You’re lying.”

Danny rises from his chair. “I’m going inside. You can go to hell.”

He storms back into the suite. I stare at his retreating form for a minute and then mutter, “Oh, no. You’re not getting away that easy.”

I follow him and grab his arm. “Dammit, Danny, I asked you a question. Why did you let yourself do something so stupid?”

Danny tries to pull his arm from my grasp, but I’m not budging.

“Come on, Michelle,” he says, not meeting my eyes, “Why do you care? I’m just a dumb thug anyway, right?”

I want to slap him for that. But I don’t. I just glare and say, “No, you’re not. You’re smart and you’re daring, but you’re not dumb and this little stunt was dumb.”

He’s caught now. I see it in his eyes.

I reach up and touch his face. “Tell me the truth, Danny. I want to hear you say it.”

His eyes grow wary again. “You wanna hear me say what?”

I step closer to him, so close that our knees bump together. “I want to hear you say you did all of this because of me.”

He tries to laugh, but the sound is strangled in his throat.

I won’t be denied. I slide my hands up his chest, around his neck, and lock my fingers behind his head. “I am the reason, aren’t I?”

My voice doesn’t sound like mine. It’s deep and husky, smoky and smooth. No, this isn’t the voice of Michelle Bauer.

This is Michelle Santos. He makes me another woman. No other man has ever done that and I’m not about to let this one go without a fight.

“You missed me, didn’t you?”

He doesn’t answer, but his hands move to rest gently on my waist.

“I missed you, Danny,” I say and the hands tighten. “Granted, I didn’t go out and steal from anyone over it…” I say, a smile creeping over my face. “But I still know that kind of hurt. Tell me you hurt for me, Danny. Please. I need you to tell me that.”

Danny’s hands push up my sweater slightly so that they can rest on my bare skin. “I missed you, Michelle,” he says in a jagged voice.

“Did you ache without me?” I whisper, my lips against his jaw.

He pulls me even closer. “Yes,” he whispers. “Oh, God, yes.”

I pull back slightly to look in his eyes. “Good. Because I did too. I didn’t even realize I loved you until you were gone.”

He goes very still and I am briefly afraid that I shouldn’t have told him.

His eyes are so dark now, blazing, and he seems to study my face for an eternity before saying, “You love me?”

I nod, feeling almost drugged by the look in his eyes.

“Say it again,” he says fiercely.

“I love you, Danny.”

He pushes my hair off my face and murmurs, “I can’t believe I’m hearing you say that.”

I laugh softly. “Would you mind returning the favor? I feel kinda alone out here.”

He places a soft kiss on my forehead. “I love you, Michelle. Always have, always will. I love you so much that I lost my mind when you left.”

Tears of happiness are tugging at my heart as I press my face into his shoulder. He loves me.

Danny pulls back all of the sudden, and I look at him, confused.

“I love you,” he says again, “but it doesn’t change anything.”

I blink. “Excuse me?”

He turns away from me and I can hear the pain in his voice. “I don’t have…I don’t have room for you right now, Michelle. If this trial doesn’t go our way, I can’t live knowing you’re waiting for me out there, knowing I’m dragging you down. I hate that I have to live the way I do, Michelle. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to subject you to it, too.”

Had he hauled off and smacked me, I couldn’t have been anymore shocked. Then the shock gives way to anger and the anger paves a smooth path for rage.

“Fine,” I say in a trembling voice, “You wanna be the martyr, well, you just go ahead. Sir Daniel the Noble, huh? Doesn’t want his innocent ‘Bauer Bride’ sullied by the Santos name. Fine. But let me tell you one thing: I have lived on a pedestal my whole life. With my dad, my brother, Bill, even Jesse. I thought it was different with you. I thought that with you, I could actually be me, Michelle, not some sort of ideal. So if you want the ideal, you can have her. But I warn you, she’s a pretty frosty bed companion.”

I spin on my heel and walk, head high, into the bathroom. Once inside, I turn on the faucets to drown out the sounds of my weeping. Damn him!

After several long moments, my sobbing subside a little and I slip out of my jeans and sweater and back into Danny’s shirt. I’ve gotten so used to wearing the thing now, all my seductive negligees are gathering dust.

I splash some cold water on my face, take a deep breath, and step back into the bedroom.

The lights are out, but I can see that Danny’s in the bed. On shaky legs, I make my way to my side of the bed. I slide between the sheets, careful to keep even my toes from brushing him.

Tears are welling up in my eyes as we lay in the silent, still darkness. I force myself to hold them in. The last thing I want to do is cry in front of him.

I don’t flinch when his fingers reach out to stroke my hair, but I don’t lean into him either.

“I’m sorry,” he finally whispers.

I roll over to my back, still not looking at him.

“Does that change anything?”

Silence, then, roughly, “No.”

The tears spill down my cheeks, but I don’t make a sound.

“Michelle,” says, propping himself up on one elbow to look at me. “I do love you. You know that. But I can’t…I can’t let you ruin your life because of me.”

I laugh, but there’s no joy in the sound as I wipe away my tears and say, “Great. Someone else who knows what’s best for me. Just what I need.”

He sighs and lays back down. “I guess we’re not going to get anywhere with this.”

“I don’t see how, Danny.”

We fall back into quiet.

“Is our bet still on?”

I turn and look at him, surprised. The bet was the last thing on my mind.

“You better believe it.” I reply with more confidence than I feel.

Danny looks at me, a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes curving his lips. “So what, no seduction attempt tonight?”

I rub my eyes. “I’m not in the mood.”

Danny laughs and wraps a strand of my hair around his fingers. “Neither am I.”

I try to roll away from him, but he catches my shoulders and turns me more fully towards him.

“I have a question.”

I have absolutely no idea where he’s going with this, but now I’m curious. “What’s that?”

“Our bet…it has to be sex, right?”

Now I’m really confused. “Excuse me?”

“If we don’t actually have sex, then no one wins or loses, right?”

“I…I guess…” I say hesitantly.

“Then if I were, for example, to do this-” he leans down and gives me a lingering kiss, his fingers moving up and down my throat. “I wouldn’t win or lose the bet, right?’

“Right,” I say on a breathy sigh, “And if I were to do this-” Placing both hands on his chest, I push him onto his back and lay on top of him. I put my lips on his and let my tongue slide between his teeth. “Now, ” I say pulling back, “that wouldn’t make me the victor or the loser.”

“You’re absolutely right,” he says in a light tone, but his breath is coming harder and faster. He rolls me back onto my back and begins to unbutton my ( his actually ) shirt. “Another example we might use is this,” he says as he parts the shirt and runs his hands over my breasts.

“Wonderful example,” I manage to gasp out.

“I am inclined to agree.”

With his help, I slide the shirt off my arms and then run my hands along his bare chest. “But what about this?” I ask innocently as I begin to kiss his neck. I move down, pressing kisses against the hard wall of his chest, moving down to explore his stomach muscles with my tongue and teeth.

He groans and pulls me up by the shoulders. “No, that doesn’t infringe upon the bet either,” he says hoarsely. “And neither does this.”

I’m not prepared for the jolt of pleasure that shoots through my and his lips take possession of my breasts.

I run my fingers through his dark hair and let him roll me beneath him again. His hands move down my stomach and I arch myself against him in a way that, while somewhat foreign to me, seems completely natural.

We’re not playing a game anymore.

He cups his fingers around the back of my knee and brings my leg up against his side. His hand slide back over my thigh and his fingers gently brush the waist of my underwear. He stops, looks at me for some sign of resistance. When he finds none, he lowers his lips to mine as his hand slides inside the last piece of material I’m wearing. The moan that escapes my lips seems to echo in my head. He keeps his lips pressed to mine while those agile fingers do things to me that I never thought were possible. The ache inside me intensifies and I press myself higher and higher against him, wanting to get as close as I possibly can.

Fireworks are beginning to go off behind my eyelids and I clutch his shoulders, his name a pagan chant on my lips.

Then, suddenly, he stops. My body cries out in protest, longing to fling itself into the abyss it was so near, and I open confused eyes to find him staring at me intently.


“Tell me now,” he whispers against my lips. “I need to hear you say it when you feel like you’re about to die from wanting me. Tell me now.”

There is no hesitation as I say on a soft cry, “I love you, Danny. I love you.”

He smiles and kisses me again, possessively, roughly, and I welcome it.

I cry out again as the sparkling explosion tears through me. He holds me tightly, his lips never leaving mine as I slowly begin to come back down to the world of the living.

My eyes flutter open and I ease the death grip I have on him.

For some strange reason, I am suddenly embarrassed.

“I…I never knew it could…I mean, I have, but…”

Danny chuckles softly and rolls onto his back, keeping me in his arms.

“Shhh…I don’t need an explanation.”

I snuggle against him, drowsy now, a satisfied smile on my face.



“I think I like it when nobody wins or loses.”

The last sound I hear before sleep claims me is my husband’s laugh.


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