She watched him with heavy-lidded eyes, taking in his clenched jaw and the lock of black hair that fell over his brow. His biceps and pectorals were defined by the effortless hold he had on her. His abdomen flexed as he fucked her, the golden skin glistening with sweat.

"You're beautiful," he gritted out, his rough tone betraying how tightly he restrained himself.

His praise was all she could take, pushing her that last little bit she needed to orgasm again. Lyssa gasped for air as the climax tightened her entire body.

Aidan grunted and fucked through her spasms, flesh slapping against flesh, increasing his pace until she couldn't breathe for the pleasure. She felt him swell, grow impossibly harder, and then he plunged to the hilt and groaned, "Lyssa…"

He ground the root of his cock hard against her pelvis, spurting his cum as deep inside her as he could. He came hard, but silently. His entire body shaking, his jaw locked, his blue eyes burning into her. She felt it, all of it—the jerking of his cock; the hot, thick rush of his semen; the pulse beat of his heart deep inside her. Her eyes grew wet, her vision blurry: As he emptied himself into her, his withheld breath hissed out between his teeth.

"Fuck," he gasped, folding over her. He cupped her face, his thumbs brushing aside her tears, kisses moving across her cheeks. His beloved voice whispering a combination of foreign words and her name. Over and over again.

Aidan gathered her up, tucked her head under his chin, and rolled to drape her limp body over his. Still connected.

His lips pressed ardently against her damp scalp. "I can't believe I'm here, that I'm with you, inside you for real."

"Maybe we're dreaming," she slurred, thinking she must have died and gone to heaven.

"No way," he argued, his arms tightening around her. "Trust me, no dream could ever be as wonderful as this."

* * *

Chapter 8

Aidan's growling stomach broke the silence that wrapped them in a comforting blanket.

"Your turn to be hungry," she teased, her chest pressed to his chest, one arm and leg tossed over his body.

"Did you eat earlier like you promised?" he asked.

"Yep. Sure did. I had a sandwich."

"That's not enough. We both need to eat."

She lifted her head to stare down at him. "I don't eat at this time of night."

"You do when I'm around," he retorted with the arrogant note of command that was innate to him.

She wondered if anyone had every said no to him, and doubted it. She rose from the bed and went to fetch her robe, which hung from a hook on the back of the door. Shrugging into it as she turned around, she paused in mid-rotation, arrested by the sight of Aidan rolling out of her bed. Despite her recent series of toe-curling orgasms, her dry mouth watered.

She'd never in her life seen such golden masculine perfection. She could stare at him for hours, she loved the sight of him so much.

Lyssa grinned like an idiot; she couldn't help it. "You didn't bring a bag with you?"

"For what?"

"Clothes, toothbrush^ razor?"

He shook his head. "Things were a bit… crazy."

"Yeah, the airlines lose my sister's luggage all the time. That's why I only take carry-on bags." She shrugged. "I suppose there are worse things than having naked yumminess wandering around."

"Why don't you stay naked, too?" he suggested with a wink.

"Oh no, don't look at me like that."

"Like what?" he purred, stepping closer.

"Like I'm dinner, and you're hungry."

"I'm starving," he breathed softly, looming over her, the tip of his finger following the line of her collarbone.

"You're dangerous," she whispered, staring at his throat.

His touch burned where it coursed over her skin. "Not to you."

"Oh yeah?" She set her hands on his hips. "Is this where you tell me why you're here?"

"Almost." He kissed the tip of her nose. "Food first."

Lyssa blew out her breath. "All right. Food first." She thought of him wandering around her house naked, and shivered. Oh man, she'd go crazy. "I might have something you can wear."

"If you insist."

She narrowed her eyes, and Aidan stepped back with a laugh, allowing her room to move to the dresser. She felt him watching her, his gaze steady and hot.

Rummaging through her lower drawer, Lyssa searched for the pair of sweatpants her last boyfriend had left behind. They didn't have much in the way of sentimental value and they were way too big, but they made great slob gear, which was why she kept them around.

She straightened and turned, taking a moment to study the man who stood waiting at the foot of her bed. In her room, with its dark blue walls and baby blue comforter, the color intended to soothe her to sleep, Aidan looked both very much at home and very, very attractive. "Here you go."

Lyssa swallowed hard, her gaze riveted while he tugged the gray sweats up and over the delicious package between his legs.

"'You're tempting me to forgo food and just snack on you," he drawled, glancing at her with a wicked smile.

She wrinkled her nose. "Sorry. Why don't you head on down to the kitchen? I need to use the bathroom."

"Okay. I'll see what I can dig up." He cupped her cheek with a large hand and stared at her with heartrending tenderness before heading down the stairs.

When she stepped into the bathroom, her eyes went straight to the soggy puddle of clothes on the floor of her shower and her mind flooded with memories of what they'd done there. How long had she been hoping for a man like him to come into her life?

Her eyes squeezed shut against the sudden flare of white-hot guilt. She did have someone—Chad—a guy who had been more than patient and understanding while she kept a large gulf between them. Lyssa flinched and reached out to grab the lip of her pedestal sink. Christ, how could she have forgotten about Chad?

Curling her hands around the cool porcelain, she looked at herself in the mirror and winced. Kiss-swollen lips, sex-mussed hair, and an overall dazed appearance told her what she hadn't wanted to admit. There had always been a disconnect with Chad. He was a great guy, and he was fun to spend time with. She was comfortable with him and enjoyed his company, but after a month of casual dating she still hadn't slept with him. Was in fact trying to convince herself to have sex with him, when all Aidan had to do was walk in the door and she was ready to go. Not just with lust, but with deep tenderness and longing.

She should have handled things differently, but in the end, it wasn't Aidan who had wedged between her and Chad. The gap had always been there.

When Lyssa came out of the bathroom, the smell of cooking food was wafting up to the second floor. She padded barefoot down the hardwood stairs and found Aidan in the kitchen heating up SpaghettiOs, which he then poured into two bowls and served with bread taken right out of the bag.

They sat at her dining table with plastic bowls and oversized metal spoons, and he offered her a soft smile before beginning to eat.

"You know," he said, around a mouthful of food, "this stuff is better than I thought."

"Yeah? Been a while since you had a meal in a can?"

"It doesn't taste like this where I come from."

"Oh?" She set her elbows on the table. "And where's that?"

"You got any sleeping pills left?" he asked, ignoring her.

"Who says I have sleeping pills?"

He snorted. "Get used to me knowing a lot about you. I don't mean to freak you out, and I promise I'll explain everything this weekend when we have the time to really get into it. Two o'clock in the morning is too late when you've got work in a few hours."

"It's also too late to take a sleeping pill. They make me nonfunctional the next day That's why I stopped taking them."

Gesturing toward her bowl, Aidan ordered, "Eat. Then pill. No arguing."

She stuck her tongue out at him.

"I've got one of those," he drawled softly. "And if you're a good girl, I'll show you more of the things I can do with it."

Shivering, Lyssa grabbed her spoon and ate faster than she had in a long time. He laughed at her, the sound rich and warm, filled with something she couldn't define. Part joy, part freedom, part something else. She was teasing, playing along, enjoying the moment, because tomorrow she would either wake up from the weirdest dream she could ever remember, or this would be all too real and she had some serious things to consider.

"Trust me," he urged softly, setting his hand atop the one she had resting on the table. "You're thinking too hard. Trust your instincts."

He met her gaze squarely, hiding nothing from her. The circumstances themselves led to intimacy. She in her silk robe. He dressed only in low-slung sweats. They ate a casual meal. Had made love with unrestrained passion. Had held each other tenderly in the aftermath. As if they were a long-established couple.

Promise me you won't open the door to anyone.

"Lyssa? Did you hear me?"

She blinked. "Huh?"

Aidan's thumb stroked over her knuckles. "Promise me that you'll come to me with any doubts or concerns. Don't let your imagination run away from you. I know how weird this is, but you have to believe that I only want to keep you safe."

"No one wants to hurt me."

He sighed, and lifted her hand to kiss the back. "Let's go back to bed. We both need to rest up for tomorrow."

I keep the bad guys away.

"You're a soldier," she breathed, surprised at how certain she was about that. It was faint, that connection she felt to him, but it was enough for her to go on. For now.

"I'm tired," he countered, rising to his feet and pulling her up with him. "Where are those pills?"

"Why should I take them?"

"Remember. Hard and fast into sleep. No tossing and turning. I want your mind far away from Nightmares." He paused. "And other nasty things."