Instantly she felt Rhys at her back, his soothing hands running over her trembling limbs.

His voice was at her ear, velvety with amused chiding. “Cariad, you’re not supposed to pull away. It won’t hurt. I promise. Turn over.”

Helen didn’t move, stunned by the anguished rush of pleasure that had begun to overwhelm her. It had nearly stopped her heart.

Pushing aside the tangled disorder of her hair, Rhys kissed the nape of her neck. “Is this the kind of wife you’ll be? It’s too soon for you to begin disobeying me.”

Her lips felt swollen as she managed to reply. “We’re not married yet.”

“No, and we won’t be until I manage to compromise you properly.” His hand went to her bare bottom, kneading gently. “Turn over, Helen.”

An approving sound, very nearly a purr, left his throat as she obeyed. He looked down at her with eyes as bright as the reflection of stars in a midnight ocean. So brutally handsome, like one of the volatile gods of mythology, wreaking havoc on hapless mortal maidens at a whim.

And he was hers.

“I want to know what you feel like,” she surprised herself by whispering.

His breath caught, his lashes lowering as she reached down the sleek muscled terrain of his body. Her trembling hand curved around the thick, erect length of him. The skin beneath her fingers was thin and astonishingly satiny, slipping easily over the hard shaft. She gripped him lightly, discovering fever-hot flesh, dense in texture, full of mysterious pulses. Daring to caress him lower down, she trundled the loose, cool weights in the cup of her palm, and he responded with an inarticulate sound. He wasn’t breathing well. For once he seemed as overwhelmed by her as she had always been by him.

In the next moment, she found herself dominated by a large expanse of amorous naked male. He covered her chest and shoulders with voracious kisses, his hands cupping her breasts high while he fastened his mouth over the tips. With a quiet grunt, he grasped a handful of her chemise and tugged until the hem was around her waist. He settled over her, and she felt the stunning texture of naked flesh, hardness pressing against soft, furry, shivery heat.

He kissed her, ravishing her mouth, moving to her breasts, then lower. The tangled chemise was in his way, and he gripped it in both hands, rending it in half as if it were made of paper lace. With a savage flick of his arm, the ruined chemise sailed through the air in a ghostlike arc. He slid downward and she felt him lick across her navel. The slithery tickle drew a protracted groan from her. Indecent kisses wandered to the edge of damp curls and into the hollows of her inner thighs.

His arms slid beneath her legs, pushing upward until her knees hooked over his shoulders. The tip of his tongue separated the furled petals and traced an erotic pattern around the tender bud, and she whimpered in confusion. Turning ruthless, he sucked the full center of her into his mouth and licked at every throb and pulse, teasing and teasing until she felt a low, hot pressure inside. A loss of control was approaching, something powerful and frightening. The more she tried to contain it, hold it back, the stronger it grew, until finally she was wracked with violent spasms of pleasure. She stiffened, every muscle tightening and releasing, quivers running out to her fingers and toes. Eventually the sensations quieted until she was limp with exhaustion. Her sex had become so sensitive that even the gentlest stroke was painful.

With an incoherent protest, Helen pushed at his head, his shoulders, but he was rock-solid, impossible to budge. His tongue trailed lower, searching wetly until it pushed into the trembling entrance of her body. Opening her eyes, she stared at the dark shape of his head silhouetted against dancing firelight.

“Please,” she faltered, although she wasn’t quite certain what she was asking for.

Both of his hands went to her sex, spreading it softly, his thumbs caressing over the little bud with alternating flicks. To her shame and astonishment, her body squeezed intimately at every inward surge of his tongue, as if to capture and hold it there.

Before she had even realized it, another tide of release rolled up to her. She dug her heels into the mattress, her hips lifting high and tight as wave after wave of heat went through her. He drew out the feeling, shaping it with delicate whisks and cat licks, feeding on her pleasure.

Panting and disoriented, Helen collapsed back onto the bed. She made no move to resist as Rhys rose over her. Something smooth and stiff nudged into the wetness between her thighs. He reached down, circling the head of his sex against her, pushing harder. It began to burn, and she recoiled instinctively, but the pressure was steady and insistent. A weak moan escaped her as her flesh stretched and pulsed around him in jabs of fire. More of him, impossibly more, until finally his hips met hers, and she was utterly filled. There was too much of him inside her, and no way to escape the piercing ache.

Taking her head in his hands, Rhys stared down at her, his gaze not quite focused. “I’m sorry to cause you pain, little dove.” His voice was uneven. “Try to open to me.”

She lay still, willing herself to relax. As Rhys continued to hold her, his lips pressing to her shoulder, then drifting to her throat, she felt the stabbing discomfort ease a little.

“Aye,” he whispered. “That’s the way.”

A flash of embarrassment assailed her as she realized he had felt the slight loosening of those small, private muscles. She lifted her arms, her hands coming to rest on the powerful surface of his back. To her surprise, his muscles turned to steel. Intrigued by his reaction to the light touch, she trailed her fingers gently from his shoulders down to his waist, letting the oval tips of her nails scratch delicately at the small of his back.

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