[Bookstrand Fantasy Romance, M/F, HEA]
Benji has lived alone on his family farm for years. His wife passed away years ago, leaving only his best friend, Charlie the quarter horse, as his companion.
Lexi is on the run from her abusive father. With no destination in mind, she takes off in the middle of a heavy snowstorm, landing right in the middle of an apple orchard. Benji finds the lost angel sleeping beneath one of his prized apple trees and takes her home. With no clothes, shoes, or shawl, how will she ever survive in the world?
Benji is confused by such a free-spirited soul. But once she's there, he knows he can't ever let her go. He can't go back to his life of silence with no sunshine there to share it with. Can he convince Lexi to stay and be a part of his future? Or will she run away?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
Benji allowed himself to get lost in thought as they trekked home. He knew it would take them a few hours, but that was the price of living where he did. It was a price that was worth paying. His house had been in his family for generations, and unlike the town’s houses, was built of logs. The apple orchard that surrounded his land made it even more appealing, and he really couldn’t ever imagine living anywhere else.
Benji finally sat up, peering through the flurries that seemed heavier than before. The wind had died down some, giving the night some light to see by. Footprints hiked across the snow-covered path, heading in the direction of the apple trees. Benji halted Charlie and clamored down from his perch. The snow was deep, but Benji had seen much worse. He leaned over the tracks, discovering them to be made from the small foot of a person. A child or a young woman was Benji’s guess.
Benji climbed on Charlie once again, nudging him in the directions of the tracks. He sighed to himself. He was cold and tired. He really wanted to go in and start the fire that he knew was close enough to almost touch. Instead, he trekked down the steep hill, heading after whatever had managed to end up on his farm. He sighed to himself as the snow sunk into his clothes, chilling his legs and chattering his teeth.
* * * *
Lexi struggled through the snow, looking for a place to rest out of the blizzard that seemed to never end. The rags on her feet were frozen, and she had to stop every little bit to wring them out. Sadly, it was the only protection her feet had from the snow. Tears ran down her face as she realized she was completely lost. She spotted a tree, as she tried to wipe the tears from her cheeks. She clambered over to it, falling in the snow, soaking her shift even more.
She was no longer cold, which scared her more than anything else. Shouldn’t she be cold? Maybe after being cold so long, the body became confused and thought it was warm. She pushed as far under the tree as she could go, exhausted from her ordeal. Snow still fell, but the winter branches slightly protected her from it. Silently, she let her tears fall like the snow that surrounded her in a blanket of loneliness. Her heart pounded in the silence, a sickening sound that echoed inside her head.
Finally, her tears flowed to a stop. She curled up, bringing her legs as close as she could to her body. She tucked her arms close to her body using them as a pillow for just a moment. If only she had left at a better time. If only she had brought more clothes. But she had been afraid. Terrified. She didn’t take anything but her nightgown when she ran. A grown woman running from her father, she berated herself. Exhausted, she yawned back the rock that stuck in her throat. She closed her eyes, resting for just a moment.
* * * *
Benji stared in wonder at the angelic creature that lay on his lounger in his home. He had found the young woman out in his apple trees in nothing but a flimsy nightgown. He had brought her home, wrapping her up in a few quilts. It had taken quite a bit of time to get the room warm, but the fire was roaring with life now. Once he had gotten her slightly warmer, he had slowly added more wood until he had the fire burning hot. Now, it was scorching.
He’d let the little angelic creature sleep, instead choosing to start the wood-burning stove in the barn. Charlie, Bessie, and the pigs all seemed grateful for the heat. The stove fought off the chill that howled through the gentle hills that fed the mountains. Benji hurried through caring for his animals so that he could return to her side in case she needed anything.
He imagined the poor thing would be frightened when she woke up in a strange place. He could understand that. He doubted he would like waking up in a different place and with a strange person he didn’t know. Benji hurried through the storm, which seemed to roar louder with every passing hour. He finally made it into his cabin, appreciative of the warmth of the glowing fire that crackled in the stillness of the night.
He radioed in, asking if anyone was missing a person, but they told him no. He reported his found guest to Kota, swearing that the barely-clothed, hundred-pound woman wasn’t going to be a threat. Kota had seemed more amused that Benji had found a young woman wandering around in nothing more than her nightclothes than anything else. Leave it to Kota to find that amusing.
Finally, Benji settled into his other chair and pulled one of his prized books from the basket beside it. He read for a bit, allowing the words to distract him from his eventful evening. His eyes shuttered closed after a few chapters, and he fell into a deep sleep.
Benji swished through the door at that moment, looking like a knight from her childhood stories. The sun glowed around him, casting his silhouette in a golden haze. His brown eyes gave off an amber glisten that rocked her to her soul. Butterflies formed in her stomach at the sight that seemed to spread across her body, tingling. He crossed the distance, with long, confidant strides. Her breath caught in her throat, sending bolts of lightning up her spine.
He leaned down, stopping inches from her face, his lips quirked in a devious smile. She had never had a man look at her that way before, like she meant everything to him. His smile said it all as he wrapped her in the tightest embrace. His lips captured hers gently, and her stomach knotted into a tight ball of electric energy. He explored her lips, licking and nipping at them gently, as the kiss became more passionate. She parted her lips in a soft sigh, allowing her new husband access to her mouth, which he promptly took advantage of.
Her legs trembled as his tongue swiped against hers slowly, pulling desire from somewhere Lexi had never known before. She vibrated with the feeling, allowing it to build inside her until she knew someday she would capture this moment on paper. His hands slowly worked her jacket off without her even realizing what he was doing. Red deepened her cheeks as he broke the kiss, gasping for air. She panted slightly, felling the hardness of his chest with her fingertips.
* * * *
Benji looked down at Lexi with a sense of love deep in his chest. He had never seen anything quite as beautiful as the precious jewel he held in his arms. Her face was flushed with passion that stained her skin from her neck upwards in a ruby pattern that he could only describe as Lexi. He smiled, and he felt his eyes soften at the sight of his newfound bride.
He helped loosen her clothes, his eyes never leaving hers. She had stopped breathing, and warmth swept through his chest. Her clothes slowly slid away, leaving her underclothes bare for him to see. He took off his shirt. Her fingers grasped the material, sliding against his bare skin as they went. Benji felt himself throb at the feeling in a rhythm that seemed to beat with her fingers. He captured her lips in a rough kiss. His shirt dropped to the floor, and her fingers danced through his hair in a rough grasp that surprised him.
His hands found their way beneath the flimsy material of her shift, finding the softest skin he had ever felt. He caressed her sides while dancing his tongue along with hers. He broke the kiss for just a moment as he slid the shift over her head, removing the last piece of clothing form his wandering hands. As soon as her skin was completely exposed, he pressed passionate kisses down her jawline to her neck
He trailed his mouth down, capturing her nipple, gently sucking. The moan that escaped Lexi’s mouth almost made Benji lose control, as he groaned from somewhere deep within his throat. He slid his fingers between her curls, exploring the soft flesh. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as she parted her legs slightly to give him better access.
She moaned as he dipped his fingers inside her, finding her more than ready for exploration. Benji groaned at her tightness, letting her nipple fall form his mouth in pleasure. She panted as he pulled his fingers from her body, before pushing them back inside her soft flesh. He throbbed in rhythm to her pants, as fire licked his skin.
Desire spread from the base of his spine, rolling across his skin in liquid fire. His face flushed as he explored her depths. His breath quickened as he pressed his forehead to the bare skin of her shoulder. He pulled his finger from her before shedding himself of his pants, leaving his body bare for her to see. He picked her up, which pulled a laughing squeal from her lips.
He kissed her passionately before trapping his new bride against the wall with a few strides. He slowly entered her, never breaking the kiss as she moaned, an animalistic sound that pleased him. He slowly pulled himself out of her and gently pushed back inside. He groaned as he pushed inside her again, finding a rhythm that filled the room with their unified moans.
Benji felt the pressure building in the base of his spine, letting him know he wouldn’t last much longer. He struggled to breathe and slow his rhythm, but Lexi had found enough leverage to push her body against his in passion-driven need. Benji gasped against her skin. “If you don’t slow down, sweetheart…”
Lexi didn’t seem to hear him or to care as she moved her body against his faster, chasing after her own orgasm. Benji’s control snapped as he pounded against her, begging for the release that threatened to overflow his thoughts. He gasped for air, pushing his body to the extreme as the need in his spine exploded, filling his body with pleasurable release.
He caught her lips in a kiss as she exploded along with him, riding the waves of the orgasm to its fullest. Benji stayed buried inside her. They both floated in pleasure for what seemed like hours. Slowly, his breath returned, and the clouds in his mind cleared, giving room to thought.
“I love you,” Benji whispered as he kissed along her jaw. “Every single part of you."
Lexi smiled, looking quite content against his wall in his arms. “I love you, too.”
Lexi awoke in the morning to find her husband draped over her. It was the most perfect feeling in the world. She smiled to herself. Every bit of stress she went through with the wedding planning had been worth it. She was grateful to have finally found her place in the world. She knew it was with Benji. She felt it in her heart and soul.