She looked up at him for a long moment without saying anything. Finally, she broke the eye contact and frowned into his chest. “I don’t know. If this stalker doesn’t leave me alone, I don’t know what else to do except leave town.”
She raised her head again.
“I am not going to let anything happen to you.” He wanted to tell her that it was his duty to protect her, both because she’d made it so with her offering of stone and because Merrow had charged him with keeping her safe, but he didn’t want her to think that he was with her out of obligation. Because he wasn’t. Not completely. “I like you. I want you around.”
A half smile curved her sweet mouth. “I like you, too.”
He bent his head, closing the gap between them and capturing her mouth with his. The kiss was sweet and hot and broke the last bit of tension between them. She clung to him, kissing him back with the kind of enthusiasm that confirmed she was feeling the same things he was.
The last remaining dregs of doubt about her disappeared.
Her hands slid up his body to wrap around his neck, her fingers leaving trails of heat on his skin. The sensation of who she was, her fae powers of control, still lingered in her fiery touch, but they faded to the background with the knowledge that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.
Their pasts be damned, he needed this woman in his life. She was the puzzle piece he’d been missing, and he hadn’t even been aware of it. Everything seemed more complete with her around. His house, which had always just been a sound investment and a place to sleep, now felt like a home.
He wanted her. All of her. But it was too soon, and she needed to feel safe with him, not like he was one more aggressor to be fended off.
He broke the kiss gently, but kept his forehead against hers. “We should probably eat our dessert, huh?”
A soft, pleasurable sigh left her still-parted lips. “Is that why you stopped kissing me?”
“No. I don’t want you to feel pressured. With everything else going on right now, this should be a safe place for you.”
She leaned back to look at him, her eyes sparking with a light he hadn’t seen in them before. Her fingers coasted slowly down the center of his body, bumping easily over the buttons on his shirt. “I feel very safe when I’m around you, but right now? Safe isn’t exactly what I’m in the mood for.”
“You…uh…” Words escaped his short-circuiting brain, which had reverted to a very primal state that understood touch more than anything else.
She pointed toward the far end of the house as she started for the door. “I assume your bedroom’s back that way?”
“You’re a grown man. I’m a grown woman. That makes us consenting adults, right?”
“Good soldier.” She winked at him. “Don’t forget the dessert.”
Willa stretched, luxuriating in the afterglow Nick had left her with. Holy stars, the man was beyond words. She was still tired but also deliriously happy. And for a guy who was such a guy, he had good taste in sheets. Nice thread count, whatever it was. She stretched a hand out to touch him, but the bed beside her was empty.
She leaned on one elbow and raised her head. The pillowcase stuck to a missed spot of frosting on her cheek. She laughed, rolling her lips in to keep the noise to a minimum. She peeled the pillowcase off and sat up. Nick wasn’t in the room, but she could hear sounds in the kitchen.
And she smelled coffee. Oh, he was a keeper.
She wrapped up in the sheet, which was sticking to her in other places, and traipsed out to the kitchen.
“There you go, little man.” Nick was feeding Jasper.
Her heart did a weird little fluttering thing, and an overwhelming wave of emotion made her temporarily light-headed.
Nick was shirtless and wearing only a pair of cut-off khaki sweat pants that clung to his backside with commendable effort. He was almost too gorgeous to take in. He turned in the midst of her admiring him and smiled. His dog tags glinted in the light. On either side, two old-fashioned sparrow tattoos decorated each pec, a very different style of ink than the Army Ranger shield on his right forearm. She didn’t normally go for the tatted-up type, but on him, they worked. “Morning. Hey, I hope you don’t mind. I fed Jasper.”
“That was really sweet of you.” Really, really sweet. Oh man, she was crazy about this guy.
Nick laughed. “It was more about self-preservation. He got bitey.”
“I’m sorry about that.” She frowned at her cat, who was now wolfing down food like it was his last meal. “Jasper, you’re a guest. Act like it.”
Nick snickered. “You were a little bitey yourself last night.”
She felt her face go red even as Nick laughed.
He grabbed her and hugged her, kissing the side of her neck. “I like teasing you. You go the cutest shade of pink.”
She punched him playfully. “Watch out, I might bite you again.”
“Promises, promises.” He nibbled his way to the tip of her ear, making her melt. The points of her ears were very sensitive. “Mmm…lemon.”
She sighed as she felt heat build in the lower half of her body. She pushed him away with a little laugh. It was that or end up back in bed, and they had a meeting with the sheriff. “Are you as sticky as I am?”
“Yes. Pretty sure I’m going to have to run those sheets through an extra wash cycle.”