Chapter 73

As Emily got ready, she began to come down from the emotional high of that afternoon. How could he love her when their relationship has been completely based on phone calls? Ok, so yes, there was definitely a physical connection. That was apparent every time he touched her. But physical connections certainly did not equal love. And why was it that she had let herself believe she felt the same way about him? It was crazy and it made no sense at all!

Any doubts she had, however, disappeared when she saw AJ. The man never ceased to amaze her with his sexiness. He was wearing dark jeans with a black, sleeveless t-shirt that was defiantly made for him as it hugged all his muscles perfectly.

“You look great!” she said as she finished putting in her earrings.

“Thanks.” He said, coming up behind her and putting his arms around her waist. “You look pretty hot yourself.” he whispered in her ear. “Is this one of those new outfits I heard all about?”

Emily smiled. “Yes. I’m glad you like it!”

“Oh, I like it alright! I can’t wait to see what else you bought!”

“All in good time, AJ. All in good time.” She promised.

“Do you want to take my car this time?” he offered.

Emily blushed. “Would you mind driving mine? I don’t want to make her jealous on her second night home!”

AJ chuckled. “Your car’s better than my rental anyway.”

AJ opened the car door for Emily and helped her in, always the perfect gentleman whenever they went out together.

“Where are we going, anyway?” she asked as he hoped into the driver’s seat.

“We are going to go out for burgers and fries.” He answered.

“And then what?”

“And then, we’re going dancing.”

“Cool. So what’d you get me for my birthday?” She thought it was at least worth a try.

AJ glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, trying to conceal his grin. “Isn’t it enough that I came here to be with you?”

Emily saw his bluff. “No.”

AJ sighed. “Women.” He muttered. “Never satisfied.”

“AJ, your inability to satisfy a woman sounds more like a personal problem.”

Luckily, they were stopped at a red light. Otherwise, AJ would have had to pull the car over.

He turned his head to look at her. “Believe me, honey. When I get done with you, you’ll be completely satisfied. In fact, you’ll be so satisfied you’ll realize that you never before knew the true definition of satisfaction that is AJ.”

Emily bit her lip, partially to keep from laughing and partially because she knew he absolutely meant it and she couldn’t wait to find out.

She cleared her throat. “So, is that like, a hint at what my birthday present it?”

AJ’s response was to simply look at her and wink.

At the restaurant, AJ and Emily were seated in a fairly secluded booth. AJ managed to talk her into sharing dessert and they ordered the brownie sundae. Emily wasn’t positive but she swore she saw a look of inspiration cross AJ’s face when he watched her take a bite of whipped cream. Emily got nervous when she saw a crowd of teenagers standing near her car and she insisted AJ hand her the keys so she could hit the lock button on the remote, causing the horn to honk sending a message to stay the hell away!

After dinner, as promised, AJ took her dancing. AJ led her into the club and tried to pull her out on the dance floor when she froze

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“I uh…well, I can’t dance!” she said.

“You told me you danced in competitions!” he said, puzzled.

“Yeah, in Ballroom! I don’t know how to do this bump-n-grind stuff you kids are doing these days! It’s a far cry from the fox trot.”

AJ smiled and wrapped an arm around her waist, guiding her out onto the floor. “It’s really not all that different, I promise. If you can do Latin dancing, then you can move your hips and if you can move your hips, then you can, as you call it, ‘bump-n-grind’.”

Emily was skeptical but decided to follow his lead and give it the old college try (which in her college days certainly didn’t mean trying all that hard, it meant drinking lots of beer in the keg races at the frat parties).

AJ put his hands on her hips and guided her to the beat, his own hips following. Emily could immediately tell the man loved to dance. Not just by how good he was at it, but by even in the dark club lights, the way his face lit up. He was doing it again. Looking at her intensely through those deep brown eyes. He smiled at her as he pulled her a little closer to his body.

Emily felt like she was having an out of body experience. Surely this was exactly like the scene in Dirty Dancing where Johnny first dances with Baby, you know, after she ‘carried the watermelon’. She had always loved that movie. Now she understood why Baby was so attracted to Johnny in the first place.

“See? You’re doing great!” AJ said.

Emily smiled. Ok, so he was right. She could do it. As she began to get more comfortable with the movement, he pulled her closer so that their pelvises were touching as they danced. So that’s why the call it dirty dancing! She thought to herself. AJ hardly ever took his eyes from hers while they danced. Between all the dancing, the heat, and his intense gaze, Emily felt the physical connection between them had just skyrocketed. After a few songs, she had definitely relaxed and felt much more comfortable dancing. She found that her background in more formal dancing actually was paying off, though she would have never dreamed that to be true a few hours ago.

AJ leaned down and whispered into her ear. “Damn woman, for someone who claims she can’t dance, you sure are heating the place up! Or maybe it’s just me you’re heating up….”

“It’s not just you, believe me.” She muttered, wiping the sweat from her brow.

Emily and AJ danced at the club for a few hours, their hot and sweaty bodies pressed up against each other as they danced.

“Are you ready to head out?” AJ asked.

“Yeah, whenever you’re ready.” Emily answered.

AJ nodded and guided her through the crowded club to the exit. The air outside felt cool compared to the hot, stale air inside.

“So, are you a fan of clubbing now?” he asked.

Emily smiled. “Oh, I suppose that all depends on who I’m dancing with.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he smiled.

Emily cleared her throat. “It means most guys can’t dance. You obviously are a very good dancer and I would spend many hours in a club with you if you’re going to dance with me like that.”

“Dance with you like what?” AJ goaded.

“Let me put it this way. Three years without sex would not have been nearly so bad if I could have had a guy to dance with me that way every few weeks.”

AJ laughed and threw his arm over her shoulders as they walked back to her car.

Chapter 74

Emily got the feeling AJ was in a bit of a hurry to get home. Not that she minded of course. He helped her out of the car and walked her up the front walk. From the looks of things, Leighanne had already gone to bed and Brian and Baylee were still camped out in the back. AJ walked her up to the door of her room.

“Do you want to come in?” she asked.

AJ didn’t answer; he just grabbed her hand and pulled her inside, kicking the door shut behind them. As soon as he heard the click of the door, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Emily was stunned for a moment. He had never kissed her like that before. Usually his kisses started off gently, as if waiting for permission. This time, he was kissing her like his life depended on it.

AJ had Emily backed up against the wall before she finally snapped out of it. She wrapped her arms around his neck and began kissing him back with the same intensity. AJ groaned softly as he parted her lips with his tongue. He pressed himself against her and ran his hands all over her back.

Emily was breathless when he broke his lips from hers and she was almost certain that her legs wouldn’t have held her if it hadn’t been for his arms around her, supporting her. He trailed kisses along her neck, working his way to that special spot just below her ear that he had found the night of their first official date during his last visit. She gasped as he paid special attention there, eventually working his way back to her mouth.

As he kissed her, AJ let his hands wander underneath the back of her shirt. Her skin felt incredibly soft and warm and it only heightened his desires to touch her all over. He put his hands on the small of her back and pulled her against him before he picked her up, not breaking his kiss, and carried her over to the bed. He gently laid her down on her back as he took position on top of her. Not once during the move did his lips leave her body.

Emily let her hands wander over AJ’s back, rubbing lightly up and down his spine. His lips wandered away from hers as he trailed kisses down her neck and down along the edge of her v-neck. When he came back up to her lips, Emily was beginning to feel a bit feisty and maneuvered so that he flipped over onto his back and she was now on top of him. AJ moaned in a mix of surprise and pleasure as she went on her own search around his neck and ears.

“Ah, so you’re an ear man.” She whispered as he shivered when she nibbled on his ear. His response was to pull her head back to his lips and kiss her even harder. He slid his hands under the back of her shirt again, loving the feel of her skin beneath his hands.

He was about to take off her shirt when sheer willpower took over. He didn’t want it like this. He wanted it to be special and perfect.

“What’s wrong?” Emily asked, catching her breath.

AJ sat up, resting his head in his hands as he caught his own breath.

“Absolutely nothing is wrong.” He answered.

“Why did you….I mean I thought you wanted to…” Emily started.

“Believe me, I do want to. I haven’t wanted to this badly in a long time. But I want it to be perfect for you. Now isn’t the right time.” He tried to explain.

“It felt pretty perfect to me.” She tried to reason with him. It had, after all, been three years and AJ had just woken the beast within her.

“Trust me, it felt really great for me too, but I want our first time together to be really intimate and spectacular. I don’t want it to be a rushed quickie. I promise, you won’t be disappointed you waited.”

Emily sighed. “So, just tell me one thing. Was this a preview of my birthday present?”

AJ laughed. “Yeah, I guess I’ll give you that hint.”

“And a damn good preview it was.” She said.

“I promise you, Em. If tonight is any indication of how good it’ll be between us, when you do get your present we’ll both be so ready for it we’ll be like a couple of horny teenagers.”

“You know, I didn’t have sex until I was 21. So really, you don’t want me to go back to my horny teenage years.” Emily teased.

AJ grinned. “Oh? Well, so maybe I’ll torture you a little bit by reminding you what it was like when you were a teenager and not being able to do it!”

Emily blushed. “AJ, I’d say just about anything you do to me will drive me wild, you don’t have to try that hard.”

“Ah, the anticipation is killing you, isn’t it?”

“Please. Like it’s not doing the same to you.” She said.

“I never said it wasn’t.”

“I am sure in for one hell of a birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a birthday so much before. This could be interesting!”

AJ and Emily were quiet for a moment, both trying to calm their bodies down while at the same time, dreaming about her birthday in just 3 more nights. AJ grabbed her feet and started massaging them, snapping Emily out of her dirty mind.

“God, that feels so good. My feet are killing me after all that dancing!” she groaned.

“Are you dancing feet out of shape?” AJ teased.

“No, someone’s dog ate my left dance shoe. They were really cute, too. Black strappy heels, they looked like regular shoes except for the suede on the bottom and the steel support inside the sole. Now I’m back to suffering in regular shoes!”

“Tyke ate your shoe?” AJ laughed.

“Yes. It wasn’t funny. I swear that dog hates me! He’s always barking and nipping at me all the time.”

“Tyke does that to everyone. He’s just a little high strung is all.”

“AJ, about what you said today at the waterfalls.” Emily started.

“You don’t have to say anything, Emily. I just wanted you to know.” AJ said.

“I know. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I mean, I’m not saying I don’t feel the same way, but I mean come one, we haven’t even spent that much time together. Our relationship is completely over the phone! How can you be so sure that you love a person that you never even see?”

“Because we’ve had nothing to do but talk. We weren’t going out, we didn’t have the physical stuff interfering, though Lord knows I wish we had on more than one occasion, all we had was conversation. The stuff that relationships are based on and that most people never even get around to doing much of anymore. And it’s not like we talk about stupid stuff. We do talk about meaningful things. My rehab, your family, your past, well, most of it….”

“You mean because I never told you about having a son?” Emily said, feeling incredibly guilty.

“Well, yeah, I guess you threw me pretty well with that one. I guess I sort of thought I knew everything major that happened to you.” AJ admitted.

“I know. I’m so sorry. I didn’t really want to keep it from you exactly. I just wasn’t sure how to bring something like that up. It’s not like it’s easy to talk about.”

“I’d like you to someday. Talk about it, that is.” He said softly.

“I think I’d like that too.”

“Are there any other big bombshells I don’t know?” he asked.

Emily laughed. “I swear, now you’re completely in the know.”

“Good. Now. Back to your question. You’ll have to excuse me, I’m about to get sappy. The reason I know I love you is that you’re the first person I think about when I wake up and I fall asleep every night thinking about you. Hearing your voice cheers me up even when I’m having the worst day. It’s the way you send me cookies and brownies every week and the way my heart melts every time I get them. It’s the way you care about Baylee so much and in the way you genuinely care about me. You ask me about my day, stuff that might bore you to hear about, you like to hear about anyway. I can’t get you out of my head! There’s this little girl that lives next door to me who’s so spoiled. Sometimes when she’s out in her yard I can hear her tantrums and I think to myself, ‘Man, Emily could really teach that girl a lesson with the naughty stool.’ I feel so comfortable with you. You let me be AJ. I can tell you anything without having to worry about what you’ll think. I love you for having been through so much these last few years and for having the courage to keep going. To start your life over. You’re beautiful and sexy and wonderful and if that doesn’t answer your question, I can keep going.”

Emily was looking down the entire time he spoke, but as he finished, she looked up and met his gaze and that’s when she really believed him. He was looking at her through those big brown eyes of his and she knew he meant everything he said. He was right. He loved every part of her. The person she was now and of the person she’d been before. He loved all of it.

“I think I like it when you get sappy. You should do it more often.” She said.

AJ smiled. “If you need me to tell you that every day, I will. Because I really do mean it.”

“I know.” She said. “And I want to, you know, say it back to you, but I really need to do it in my own timing. You’re right. I don’t really want to say it because you said it first. I want to wait for the right moment. It’s kind of overwhelming, actually. I spent so much time trying to fight off my feelings for you that all of the sudden I had to wake up and realize that they were still there the whole time.”

AJ lay down on his side next to Emily, resting on his elbow. “Yeah, well, I am irresistible. It’s about time you figured that out!”

Emily laughed and flung her pillow at him.

“Can I stay with you tonight?” he asked.

“That’d be nice.”

Emily and AJ got up to get changed for bed. Emily wasn’t really sure what to wear. She had bought some nice silky nightgowns from Victoria’s Secret but she wasn’t sure tonight was a good night to wear them, fearing it might just push AJ over the edge. On the other hand, it might just push AJ over the edge……

When AJ came back from his room, he was wearing nothing but a pair of green boxers. Emily laughed at him as he ran across the hall into her room, locking the door behind him.

AJ leaned against the door, watching Emily pull down the blankets on her bed.

“Good God woman, are you trying to drive me insane?” he said.

“What do you mean?” she asked, trying to hide her smile.

“You know what I mean. This silky pink nightgown you’ve got on. Is that new?”

“Yes. Do you like it?”

“I’d like it a whole lot more crumpled up on the floor next to your bed…” he muttered.

Emily laughed. “Consider this a preview of my birthday!”

Chapter 75

AJ woke up the next morning forgetting where he was and with the eerie feeling that he was being watched. He slowly opened his eyes and was startled to find Emily lying on her side, watching him sleep.

“Good morning!” she laughed.

“What time is it?” he grumbled.

“Almost ten.”

“Really? I can’t believe I slept so late!”

“Consider yourself lucky. I was woken up to the sounds of Baylee throwing a fit outside. He apparently didn’t want to take the tent down and go inside despite the fact that it was starting to rain.” Emily said.

“Wow. I didn’t hear a thing!”

“Well, I’m trained to wake up at the sound of Baylee and I can’t seem to turn it off.”

“Is it still raining?” AJ said, trying to peek through the blinds.

“No, it stopped awhile ago. The sun’s out again.”

“Cool.” He mumbled. “What do you want to do today?”

“I kind of feel like being lazy, actually.” She admitted. “Why don’t we go eat some breakfast and watch a movie?”


AJ threw on a t-shirt and Emily put on her robe before they went downstairs. Baylee was lying sleepily on the couch watching cartoons. Brian looked equally as sleepy as he sat at the table with Leighanne drinking a giant mug of coffee.

“Morning. Late night, Brian?” Emily asked.

Brian smiled. “He really meant it when he said he wanted to stay up late.”

“Brian has a hard time saying no.” Leighanne said. “So he’s in charge of tantrum control since Baylee is exhausted and cranky.”

“Can I get you some coffee?” AJ offered to Emily.

“That’d be great, thanks. Cereal?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’ll have whatever you’re having.” He answered.

“Cocoa puffs it is!” Emily said.

Brian flashed her a giddy look as Emily sat down next to him. Clearly, Leighanne had managed to find the time to tell him all about the conversation they had the night before. “Did you have a good night?”

“Of course!” Emily answered.

“You should have been there, man.” AJ said. “I had to teach this little lady how to get down in the club. It seems she’s not hip on the bump-n-grind.”

Emily kicked him under the table.

“Really?” Brian laughed. “I’ll just bet that was amusing.”

“Actually, she’s quite good.” AJ winked at her.

“What are you guys doing today?” Leighanne asked.

“Emily wants to be lazy.” AJ answered.

“We’re watching a movie. After that, I don’t know what.” Emily said, rolling her eyes at AJ.

“Do you think you could watch Baylee this evening?” Leighanne asked. “Brian and I could really use a night out together.”

“Of course!” Emily said. “It’s my job; you don’t even have to ask!”

Leighanne smiled. “Thank you so much! I’m sure you’ll be able to get him to go to sleep fairly early tonight. Don’t let AJ keep him up all night.”

“Believe me, Baylee’s not the one I’m interested in keeping up all night.” AJ muttered loud enough so only Emily could hear him.

“Tomorrow we thought it’d be fun to take a trip to the pumpkin patch with Baylee. You guys are welcome to join us.” Leighanne said.

“I love the pumpkin patch!!” Emily said, about as excited as a young school girl.

AJ laughed. “I guess we’re going.”

Leighanne smiled. “I don’t want to excite you too much, but we’re also going to pick apples and go on a hay ride and if you’re good, I’ll let you go into the giant corn maze before we leave!”

“I’ll be good, I promise.” Emily laughed.

AJ and Emily retreated down into the basement to watch their movie.

“How about Pirates of the Caribbean?” AJ suggested.

“Works for me. I always liked Jack Sparrow.” Emily said.

They were about half way through the movie when Emily sat up. “Oh my God! I totally get it!”

“What?” AJ asked, very confused.

“You and Jack Sparrow. You could be one in the same! No wonder I like you, I always had a crush on Jack Sparrow. Apparently, I’m a sucker for the bad guys. At least, the sexy ones.”

AJ looked even more confused. “You think I’m like Jack? You’re crazy!”

“No I’m not! Look, you both have had crazy hair styles, you both are very protective about your hats, you both have tattoos and earrings, you both really enjoy your rum and you both have that crazy, humorous personality! You both even have that sexy, raspy kind of voice!”

AJ sat up. “Oh my God! I’m Jack Sparrow!”

“You should be a pirate for Halloween.” Emily said.

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"Never Gone" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.


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