Warning: This scene contains content some may find offensive. Please read with caution.
The next twenty four months progressed as Micah planned. Every free moment he spent with Madison. They were together a lot.
She flourished under his tutelage. Leaned on him for everything, sought his advice over mundane things in life, and he took delight in being her champion. Anything to make her happy. Or to put a smile on her face and she pleased him by giving them often.
Micah fixed Bruce’s criminal charges, but took it slow so he could bask in Madison’s presence often. Celeste endured the humiliation the scandal caused, not graciously, but she satisfied him nonetheless. He spent hours at their home going over her father’s case, and he was awed by Madison’s photographic memory and her eagerness to learn. She ingested case law like it was iced tea. Impressive. He’d be proud to call her his.
Almost two years after the indictment was issued against Bruce—four months shy of Madison’s eighteenth birthday—the minor that claimed he molested her came forward to admit she made up the event because she was possessed by something evil. Crazy talk! No one believed her, of course, and she spent the next several years in a state-run psychiatric hospital.
Prior to the ‘possessed’ girl’s confession, the Baptist Association investigated, and was persuaded by an unknown source to allow Bruce to maintain his reverend position under a watchful eye. After the pedophile charges were dropped, they issued an unofficial apology and closed their case.
Talk of Madison and Micah’s friendship swept through the small town like she’d become an overnight rock star. Her peers starved to call her friend, but she called them fair-weather friends and would have nothing to do with them. Bruce worried their relationship would be perceived as romantic in nature and was reticent to allow her to attend social events with him. He’d had to finagle Bruce with coercion, lies, and hollow promises just to be granted permission for Madison to attend their first very public appearance. The press had been there snapping photos and Madison had demonstrated how regal she could be. Handling the politicians with ease, she could’ve convinced them to whip out their checkbooks and write them for ridiculous sums of money. All of this done with her natural charisma. And that’d been her first outing with him. Since then, half the Senate had fallen under her spell.
The only downside, she and Elias got along as fabulously as demons and angels. They fought like college football rivalries—a religion in the south—and his brother teased her unmercifully. Madison didn’t react well to his brand of banter. Even so, Elias would’ve helped him rip the sun from the sky if she’d asked for it.
As their relationship grew, so did Bruce’s very real dislike of him. Not that he strived for her father’s approval. He didn’t ultimately need it.
They requested permission from the school for him to escort Madison to her senior prom. Of course, consent was granted. Mature beyond her years at seventeen and a half, he almost forgot she was still in the blush of youth. As he held her in his arms through the dances, he knew this was where she was intended to be. She caused him to feel when he’d prefer to remain neutral as he set his plan into motion. Emotions complicated his life and endangered his concentration. There is no room for error. But….
Embracing her through the slow dance, he’d nuzzled the side of her head, breathed her in, and held her tighter than allowed. None of the chaperones dared to correct his bad behavior. In that moment, he’d been very aware that Madison had managed to crumble the impenetrable wall encasing his unemotional heart.
“Thank you, Micah,” she’d whispered, startling him out of his thoughts. Her voice was low as if she were hesitant to speak her mind. The music was some slow song he cared nothing about except it allowed him to hold her close.
He leaned back just enough to peer at her. “For what, kitten?”
“For being my friend when I needed one. You’ve changed my life.”
He’d removed a hand from her low back and brushed his knuckles across her cheek. In response, her fingers had curled in the lapels of his tuxedo. “It was life altering for me as well.” She has no idea how life altering.
Madison kissed him and nearly knocked him on his ass with surprise. Nothing sexual about the embrace, a mere merging of lips, but the joy that surged on the heels of his shock rolled along his nerve endings as devastating as a level ten earthquake. She’d seemed just as astonished by her action, gasping as she snatched away quickly, eyes rounded as she met his. Not being a bold woman, he could imagine her amazement by her audacious move.
Micah reacted, burying his hand in her hair and crushing her against him. He hadn’t pushed their relationship further because of her youth. And because he’d needed her to make the first move. Now that she had, he’d be unable to take it slow. “Tell me no.”
“Yes,” she uttered instead.
He sealed their lips together and parted hers without any resistance. She trembled as his tongue entered and tangled with hers. He tried to remind himself she was inexperienced to her innate passions. But she tasted so good and he’d denied his desires too long to coax her gently. Slowly, he realized both of her hands were clenched in his suit jacket like she clung to him for fear of floating away. Only then did he force himself away from the bliss he found in her mouth.
“I’ll want to kiss you often,” he softly uttered against her ear. She had to know this changed everything. Their relationship couldn’t revert back to one of comfortable friendship. Before, he’d been protective of the woman he planned to claim as his wife. With one kiss, irrational thought surfaced and his heart had declared her as his.
Madison nodded. The flush of arousal glazed her eyes and stained her cheeks pink.
It looks good on her.
“Did I frighten you with my passion?” They’d terrified him with how quickly they awoke.
“No.” She licked her lips and met his stare with hesitancy. “I’m surprised by how much I like your kisses.”
Micah had smiled, slow and satisfied. He’d kissed her many times over the next six months. He hadn’t touched her sexually because he must marry her before he took her virginity. The temptation to claim her early was almost too much to tolerate.
He ran his hand through his hair, smiling at what he planned. Tonight was their two year anniversary of when their friendship began, and he wouldn’t allow it to go unnoticed. Too much had altered since that day she’d called him crying. He pressed a finger to the doorbell of Madison’s residence and waited only moments for her to open the door.
“It’s Micah,” she called to her parents, snagged her purse off the table by the door and stepped out to join him. The door shut with a click.
Entertained by her hurriedness, he bit back a grin. “I don’t get to speak with your parents tonight, kitten?”
“No. I want you all to myself. I don’t like it when you’re too busy to chat with me at least once during the day.” Madison whispered as if someone wanted to discover all their secrets. “I missed you.”
He loved her possessiveness. That red dress encasing her to-die-for body was at the top of his love-list too. “How much did you miss me?”
“Not enough to give you the kiss you obviously want. You’re late,” she scolded.
“That’s mean and unfair.”
“Don’t be late then.”
“It wasn’t my fault. I was detained.”
“Then you should’ve called. You’ll learn from this lesson.” He could hear the laughter in her voice even though she managed to hide it from her features. “Where are we going tonight?”
“I get a kiss before I tell.”
“Counselor, you can play fair or—”
He kissed her hard and she melted against him. A tiny groan emerged when he pulled away. With her eyes closed, and face upturned, he laughed at her dreamy expression.
“Cheater.” Her eyes flashed open and she presented him with a mock scowl, but a small smile twitched at the corners of her lips. “You got your kiss, so what are your plans?”
He laced their fingers together and led her toward his car. “It’s a surprise, kitten.”
Her fabricated pout captivated him. “I hate surprises.”
He opened her car door and she poked him in the solar plexus. “I should be able to lie to you once in a while.”
Micah kissed her nose. “Then get better at it, kitten.”
Madison laughed and slid into his black Porsche.
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