Then her rebellious years hit. The time when she couldn’t bring herself to leave her family, but kept hoping they would get so angry with her they would ask her to go.
She’d speed-dated a dozen guys in her community and slept with three of them, but the experiences hadn’t been particularly satisfying, more like an exercise regimen that exhausted her body, gave an outlet for frustration, but left her yearning for a shower afterward. She’d carried too much anger and resentment to be focused on the moment or the person, and was horribly unfair to the man on another level.
After that, there wasn’t anyone to date who wasn’t somehow connected to that time.
But that felt so far away right now as she stood with Wade in his studio apartment. Still, he kept his tensed back to her for five thumps of her heart, three slow rises and falls of his broad shoulders. Then he pivoted on his heels to face her.
His eyes crackled with a fire as hot as the flames in the hearth. “Believe me, I noticed you were kissing me back.”
“And it’s something I want to do again.”
One dark eyebrow arched in surprise. “I concur.”
Only he could make such a clipped, military-style response sound totally loaded with sexuality. Her whole body burned with the need to press against him, full-out, no barriers, skin to skin with nothing between them, not even the ghostly shadows of their two very different worlds.
She moved to him or he walked to her. She couldn’t remember who took the first step, and it didn’t seem to matter once her mouth met his. As her arms locked around his neck, his hands cupped her bottom and lifted her against him. Her br**sts flattened to his chest, her nerves flaming to life as she tasted him, aching to devour the moment. She’d lived so much of her life in control of her world, of her body. Right now she didn’t feel in control of a thing. It was all about feeling. Exploring the hard planes of his muscles. Savoring the scent of his freshly washed body. Luxuriating in the knowing caress of his lips shifting to her ear, to her neck, then nudging aside the collar of her shirt to taste her shoulder.
Without lifting his kiss from her body, he backed her away from the bathroom. But not toward the bed as she expected, was prepared for mentally, emotionally—physically. Instead, one step at a time he inched her toward the flickering fireplace, stopping at the bear rug in front of the stone hearth.
She scaled the expanse of his chest with her fingers, only pulling her hands aside long enough for him to peel her T-shirt up and off her body. As her clothes fell away, his sweatpants hit the floor, she couldn’t help but think how they were dancing through a strange echo of how they’d undressed in the cave. Except her hands were on him, his were on her. Intimately. Experiencing all the places they’d only eyed before.
A rustle from across the room pulled her attention briefly away as she glanced over to find… Chewie huffed and curled up in a corner of the kitchen by his water bowl, presenting his back firmly to them. Ignoring or pouting, she didn’t know, but since he seemed settled either way…
Sunny looked back at Wade standing gloriously naked in front of her, bathed by the firelight from the grate and by moonlight from the window overhead. His body was honed and solid. But more than his muscles held her attention. The complete and intense concentration of his deep brown eyes, zeroed in on her, made for heady stuff.
She forced herself to look away from his mesmerizing gaze back to his body. He had a deep tan that spoke of time spent outside of Alaska.
“A month in Guam,” he said, as if reading her mind.
She could picture him on the beach in swim trunks, plunging into the surf, droplets glistening off his skin. She had a sudden deep hunger to walk barefoot on a beach. She had a vague memory of playing on a California shore during a family vacation. Most of all she remembered the sun, so brilliant she had to squint, the beach so very different from the Iowa cornfields were she’d been brought up. Was it her imagination that daylight was so vividly stronger then? Or was she allowing the clouds of their family secret, of her sister’s pain, to darken the already dimmer Alaska days?
As fast as the memory rolled over her she pushed back the tide. She wanted to be part of the here and now. Nothing else.
Cautiously, she sketched her fingertips just shy of where the bullet had grazed him. “Your shoulder?”
“Is fine. I’ve been hurt worse on a fishhook.” He turned his face to kiss her wrist, then nuzzled the throbbing pulse until her heart rate spiked.
Her eyes threatened to flutter closed and she forced herself to think, to speak. “You’re on painkillers. You might hurt yourself without realizing it, or maybe you’re not clear on what you’re doing, what we are doing.”
He cupped her face in his hands. “Believe me, I’m completely clear. I’ve been injured far worse than this, and the one pain shot they gave me back in the chopper has long worn off. In case you haven’t noticed, we aren’t doing anything.” His touch trailed from her face in the lightest of caresses, over her shoulders, and down her arms to clasp her wrists. “Yet.”
Desire thickened the rush in her veins. Why was she arguing against something she wanted so much?
Raising one of her arms upward, he nibbled along her inner arm, upward. He drew her arms around until he pressed her palms to her breasts. “I’ll be careful, God knows, I’ll be careful, because the last thing I want to do is make you turn away.”
Ever so slightly he increased the pressure on her wrists until she touched herself more fully against the ache. Her ni**les hardened against her palms in an unmistakable message of her arousal.
Was he doing it to show her how much she wanted him? She didn’t need the reminder, but it was also tougher to resist when faced with her own obvious need. While she knew the texture of her own body, she’d never touched herself this way in front of a man before and the forbidden air of it, the voyeuristic way he watched her fingers on her skin, ratchetted her bliss to a higher level.
Just as she felt his hands on hers, guiding her touch, she could also see the reflection of their bodies in the skylight windows, with the inky night for a backdrop. She couldn’t miss the way her body curved around his, the way they fit together as if they were made for each other.
Light from the hearth superimposed itself over their bodies sometimes, twisting and flickering, presenting a picture of her going up in flames with him. And God, that was just about right.
Clasping her wrists, he guided her, gently lifting the curve of her breasts, his head dipping as he took one already taut nipple into his mouth. Tasting, tugging, while still steering her hands in a tantalizing massage. He aroused her with his mouth, with the way his pseudo touches directed her hands against her skin.
A low moan slipped from between her lips, the already tight thread of pleasure pulling, increasing until a tingling built between her legs. Moist and achy and needing. Him. Inside.
Arching her back, she pressed herself deeper, more firmly into the sensation of his mouth, her own strokes, letting him know she could take—she wanted—more. His gentleness was admirable, considerate, and not entirely necessary right now. She needed to soak up all she could from the night and this small window of time together.
She freed her hands from his and grabbed his shoulders, angling her hips against his, pressing the thick rigid length of his erection against her stomach. He throbbed a burning imprint on her skin, making her catch her breath with need. She sunk her fingernails into his shoulders and murmured her pleasure, her desires. And bless him, he was an attentive man. He increased the friction of his teeth and tongue from one breast to the other until she writhed to get closer, hooking a leg around his, pressing her core to the raspy length of his leg.
Sunny trailed her fingers down his neck, between his ribs, lower until she reached his six-pack abs and the tip of his erection, hard and sleek against his stomach. Encircling him, she swept down and up, learning the steely feel of him, soon to know him all the more intimately. She stroked the length up, down, and again, her thumb working over the tip, smoothing the moist bead with each caress.
Groaning, he clenched his teeth, his head falling back, his eyes closed tight. A surge of satisfaction pumped through her. She reveled at bringing him even a measure of the pleasure he gave her.
Already, this time with him, the feelings, the sensations, were so much more than anything she’d experienced. And how much more waited for her. Her thumb glided over the swollen head. He growled low in his throat, burying his face into the curve of her neck. Heated breaths grazed her skin, warmed even further her overheated flesh.
And just that fast, her knees gave way to the compounded pleasure. Wade guided her downward, settling her fully onto the bear rug. The fur brushed her hypersensitive nerves with thousands of tantalizing strokes. The silky glide sent her back arching, her arms splaying, as she breathed deeply as if to inhale the moment. The scent of his soap mixed with the smoky outdoors air from the fireplace until it seemed his place and her world blended.
Kissing his shoulder, she urged him to roll to his back. “I know you’re a superhero and all, but popping a stitch would be a serious mood buster.”
“You have a point,” he conceded, finally relenting and allowing her to guide him the rest of the way to recline on the deep brown rug. “Feel free to take over, but no more playing. I’m on the edge and I want to bring you there with me.”
Excitement, anticipation, and a near painful need surged.
She straddled his hips. Her fingers lightly traced the lines of his washboard stomach, grazing the hard line of his arousal again and again until he clamped a hand around her wrist and eased her away. He wasn’t fighting fair. She slid her other hand between them, cupping the weight of him until his jaw flexed from restraint.
Again, he stopped her caress and she started to protest. Then with his other hand, he clapped a condom into her palm.
She recognized an invitation when she saw one.
Hands shaking, Sunny tore the packet in two and sheathed him, lingering at the base until he gripped her waist. Unceremonious. Strong. Certain.
His fingers slid over her stomach, dipping lower until teasing between her legs. His callused fingertips, his circular pressure, had her swaying.
“Okay,” she gasped, “I’m in charge, right?”
“Yes, ma’am, totally in charge.” He slid a finger inside her, then a second, crooking until he found…
“Um…” She gasped, feeling more and more out of control by the second but not in the least interested in telling him to stop the delicious pressure in exactly… the right… spot. She sighed, moaned, rocked to increase the sensation, bringing her so close to completion.
His hand slid away and she gasped, nearly cried out over the loss, but before she could form words, he hooked an arm around her waist. The fire in his eyes echoed the one in the hearth, the one even deeper in her belly. Wade guided her over him until he nudged against her with a muscular grace she’d seen on the mountain, and now she was benefiting all the more.
She was hot and damp and ready for him. So much so, her skin felt tight and itchy, as if she would explode from the need expanding inside her. The whole experience overwhelmed her, so very different from the fumblings from her past that left her achy for more.
He filled her, stretched her—eased her. Muscles bulged in his arms as he lifted and guided her hips. His lean athleticism sent a tingle through her veins. She knew the dedication that came with building a body like that, and a shiver of excitement tingled up her spine.
The rug was silky and sensual under her knees. What would it feel like to stretch out completely here? The thought was almost enticing enough to give it a go, but the promise of stretching out on Wade was even more tempting.
Her hair slithered forward over her shoulders to spill across his chest. He plucked at the sapphire streak in her hair, skimming it between his thumb and forefinger with a slow tug, drawing the hair as taut as the pleasure inside her. Then his hand slid behind her neck, her hair tangled around his fingers as he cupped her head, urging her toward him until she sprawled on top of him, bringing her mouth to his.