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A really fucking important place, granted.

When the first wave was over, Axe eased her down from him until her feet caught her weight and she was standing on her own.

Smoothing her wet hair back, he cradled her face in his palms. “Hey,” he whispered as he kissed her in a much more civilized way. “So I’m glad you came—I mean … you know … are here to … shit. I’m just happy to see you.”

“Me, too.”

Her smile was a little shy, and he loved the contrast between how hot she was and how demure she could be.

As he went after her again, he took his time with the kisses, lingering at her mouth, plying her with his lips, licking at her with his tongue. The steam boiling up around them was like a soft summer breeze, the winter’s cold breath—like any other reality aside from the two of them—locked out of this sacred space.

Her breasts were just as perfect as he remembered, and as he lowered himself to his knees, he came up right at her nipples, sucking at them as he kneaded her ass … and then dipped his hands between her legs.

She cried out his name as he touched her, her fingers dragging through his wet hair as that warm spray continued to fall all around them.

When he put one of her legs up onto his shoulder, she fell back into the corner of the shower, gasping and going on a shiver as he nuzzled his way into her sex. With a pumping growl, he lapped at her, teasing her, penetrating her with his tongue, and she ended up bracing her palms against the walls, holding herself upright thanks to the tension he was creating in her.

Axe was in heaven.

And he didn’t intend to return to earth anytime soon.

As Elise looked down past her breasts and her stomach, it was an erotic shock to see the huge male crammed into the bottom of the shower stall, his hot eyes staring up at her, his tongue licking free of her core, flashing pink before he went back in again—

Another orgasm racked her body and she ground down on his mouth, working herself against him.

In response, he came at her with even greater intensity.

He was possessed and possessing her … and the erotic pleasure was almost too much for her to handle, the sensations ricocheting through her body, her brain sizzling, her senses on fire.

She didn’t want him to stop.

And he didn’t.

Sometime later, much later, after he put her up on his hips again and they had more crazy, wild sex, the water started to go cold and that was when they got out together. Axe only had one towel and he attended to her first, drying her off with gentle hands—and as he cared for her body, his face showed a tenderness that all those tattoos and piercings seemed to suggest he would never show to anyone.

“Come on,” he said, “let’s go down by the fire before you have to leave. We need to make sure your hair is dry so you don’t get pneumonia.”

He made a quick pass over his own body with the totally damp terry cloth and then he told her to wait and left her in the bath. A moment later, he came back with a clean blanket and wrapped her up.

Scooping her into his heavy arms, Axe carried her down the stairs as if she weighed nothing, and as he set her before the fire, she saw that he had restocked it first so that she would be warm.

“I wish you didn’t have to go,” he said as he stretched out next to her on the blankets.

Okay, wow … he was so very naked. Really, very naked … and even though they had just hooked up in twelve hundred different ways, all she wanted to do was ogle the way his sex lay on his thick thigh muscle.

“I’m not,” she heard herself say.

“Excuse me?”

Shifting her eyes to his, Elise shook her head. “I left my phone at Peyton’s. He’s going to take care of it if my father calls me—and my sire is thrilled about where I supposedly am and what I’m doing, trust me. He thinks we’re planning Paradise’s birthday party.”

When Axe grew silent, unease rippled through her. “Unless you want me to—”

Axe kissed her into silence. “I don’t want you ever to go.”

Well … didn’t that warm her even more than the fire did. Too bad the admission didn’t seem to strike the same chord in him.

As his eyes went to the fire and his jaw got hard, she touched his face. Ran her fingertips down the tattoos on his neck. Traced over his shoulder.

Trying to recapture the mood, she whispered, “I can’t believe I met someone like you.”

“A degenerate?”

“Hardly.”

His face got a faraway look to it. “Don’t try to make a hero out of me, Elise. I’m anything but.”

“You’ve always been good to me.”

He sat up, and disappeared even as he stayed right where he was.

“Axe, why do you find it so hard to believe the good in yourself? I mean … Peyton told me what you did for the Brother Rhage. You saved his—”

“Don’t go there.” He put his face in his hands. “Elise. Please stop.”

As she laid her hand on his shoulder, he flinched away, and that hurt. But she gave him his space.

“Help me understand why, Axe. And I’ll leave it alone.”

He was quiet for so long, she became convinced he was going to ask her to leave. But then he cleared his throat.

“So you know that my father was working at an aristocrat’s house on the night of the raids. I told you that.” He paused. “Actually, let me go back earlier. You remember that kitchen you liked so much when you came in here?”

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