“It would be nice if it did, though.” I exhaled roughly. “I can handle this, no matter what happens.”
Casteel touched his forehead to mine. “But you have no idea what the weight of that kind of pain is like. I do,” he whispered. “I know what it feels like to kill someone I once loved and respected. That pain is always there.”
Knowing he was talking about Shea, I resisted the urge to take his pain. “It lessened, though, didn’t it?”
“It did. A little with each passing year, and even more so when I found you,” he confided. “And that’s no lie.”
I curled my fingers into his shirt. “And it will lessen for me because I have you.”
He swallowed and then pulled me to his chest, wrapping his arms around me. “I know it’s selfish of me to not want you to bear that pain.”
“You not wanting that is one of the reasons I love you.” I lifted my mouth to his because saying it wasn’t enough.
And that kiss of gratitude and affection quickly turned into something needier, more demanding. The one kiss quickly spun out of control, or maybe that was the thing about kisses. They weren’t meant to be controlled.
I didn’t know how he got me undressed so quickly, but I was completely nude by the time I managed to pull his shirt off over his head. He caged me in, my back flush with the wall and my front against his. My senses nearly shorted out at the feel of his warm, hard skin.
Scraping a fang over the side of my throat, his hands skimmed down, one stopping on my breast and the other gliding between them, lingering where the bolt had entered me. There was no sign of that now, but I knew he would never forget the exact spot of the wound. His hand continued on over the softness of my stomach and the scars, slipping between the vee of my thighs. His fingers spread out, the pads of his fingertips brushing against the very center of me, sending a jolt through my body.
“You know what I’ve been craving?” He captured my lips in a quick, scorching kiss as his other hand teased the aching peak of my breast. “Poppy?”
I swallowed as his hair tickled my cheek. “What?”
“Are you even listening to me?” He nipped at my throat. I shuddered as he said, “Or are you not capable of listening?”
“Totally.” My entire being focused on how his fingers curled around my nipple, how his other hand stroked lazily between my thighs. “I’m totally capable of—” I gasped, clutching his shoulders as he slipped one finger inside me. “Of…of listening.”
He chuckled against my neck as he slowly moved his finger in and out, over and over until I was breathless. “So?” Do you know what I’m craving?”
Truthfully, how quickly he distracted me utterly astonished me. Pleasure curled, stirring something deep. “What?”
“Honeydew,” he whispered against my lips, picking up the pace as he tipped his head down. “I could live on the taste of you. I swear to you.”
My pulse rocketed as his decadent oath wove its way through me. He lifted his head, working another finger inside as his eyes became bright and full of more wicked promises. He watched, soaking in every soft gasp and flutter of my eyelashes as his fingers pumped in and out, his gaze latched on to mine, refusing to allow me to look away, to escape the maddening rush of feelings he created.
Not that I ever wanted to.
A dimple appeared in his right cheek as he brushed his thumb over the sensitive part of me, his eyes alight as I sucked in a shrill breath. He began tracing an idle circle around the tightened bud, coming close to touching it but always straying away at the last moment.
“Cas,” I panted.
“I love the way you say that.” Golden flecks sparked to life, churning. “I love the way you look right now.”
“I know.” My hips moved forward, but he pressed in.
“Stay still,” he ordered gruffly. His thumb made another enticingly close circle. “I’m not finished looking at you. Do you know how beautiful you are? Have I told you that today?” he asked, and I was almost sure he had. “How stunning? With your cheeks flushed and lips swollen? Beautiful.”
How could I not feel that way when I could feel that he believed what he said. I felt like I was burning up inside, catching fire. My hands slipped down his chest. Awed by the way his heart pounded against my palm, I strained against his hold, brushing my lips against his. He leaned into me, his arousal pressing against my hip as he kissed me.
“I have to do something about that craving,” he told me, and that was the only warning I had.
Before I could protest the absence of his hand between my legs, he was kneeling. “I could spend an eternity on my knees before you,” he vowed, his eyes amber jewels.
“That would be painful.”
Casteel pressed his thumb down on the bundle of nerves, and I cried out, my hips arching into his hand. “Never.”
His mouth closed over me, and he did something truly devious with his tongue. I cried out, driven to the edge with his sensual assault. My back arched as far as he’d allow it.
I wanted more.
And I wanted this to be about both of us. Not just me.
Maybe it was everything that had happened and what I could soon face. Maybe it was the heat of his mouth against me. It could’ve simply been the fact that I needed him—needed to remind both of us that no matter how tonight ended, we were alive, we were here, together. And nothing could ever change that.
All of those reasons could have fueled my actions. Given me the strength to take control of my desires, the situation, and of Casteel—and prove that I could handle him at his calmest and at his wildest, his most loving and his most indecent.
I pushed off the wall, clasping the back of his neck. I wasn’t sure if I just surprised him or if I had overpowered him. It didn’t matter. Curling my hand around the back of his neck, I urged him to stand, bringing his mouth to mine. I tasted him on my lips. I tasted me and us. Slipping my hands into his breeches, I undid them as I walked him backward, helping him get rid of them. When his legs hit the bed, I pushed him.
Casteel sat, his brows lifting as he stared up at me. “Poppy,” he breathed.
Placing my hands on his shoulders, I planted my knees on either side of his thighs. “I want you, Casteel.”
He shuddered. “You have me. You will always have me.”
And I did have him as he shifted under me. I lowered myself onto him, the air seizing in my throat as we became one.
Pulse fluttering, I curled my arm around his neck, sinking my fingers into his hair as I dropped my forehead to his, clutching his arm with my other hand. I began to move, rocking against him slowly. I gasped as heat filled my chest and settled between my thighs in a tight, hot ache. My breath touched his lips. “Prove it,” I ordered. “Prove that you’re mine.”
There wasn’t even a moment of hesitation. His mouth crashed onto mine, and the kiss was stunning in its intensity, stealing my breath. My entire body tensed as I lifted myself and brought my body back down, drinking as deeply from his lips as he did from mine. The fine, rough hairs on his chest teased the aching tips of my breasts as I rode him.
“Yours.” Stark need shone through the slits of his eyes. “Now. Forever. Always.”
My fingers tightened around his hair. With each roll of my hips, he reached that spot inside me, the one that sent pleasure bounding through every limb. I moved faster, moaning as I angled my body toward his. I shuddered, letting go of his arm and dragging my hand over his chest. A wildness entered my veins as the friction of the hard length of him ignited a fire. I kissed him greedily, sucking on his lip, his tongue. His hands gripped my hips as he lifted his, meeting my thrusts.