The place seemed so silent as she strode down the hallway. As she started to pass Vincent’s room a muffled, almost strangled sound made her pause. Then she heard it again and it was definitely coming from his room.

A wave of anxiety swelled through her. After what had happened only hours ago, she was feeling edgy. The door had been left cracked open a few inches so she nudged it and stepped inside.

This room had more of a beach theme than nautical. A salvaged piece of driftwood had been treated and was displayed above the bed, holding a collection of sea coral. And Vincent was curled up on his side in the middle of the queen sized bed under the display. With his back to her, he looked tense, all his muscles pulled tight. The moonlight spilled in from the glass doors, illuminating his toned, powerful body.

When he let out another strangled moan she hurried to his side. Kneeling on the edge of the bed, she gently touched his shoulder in the hopes of pulling him out of whatever was going on inside his head. She hated the thought of him being in any kind of anguish, even while asleep. His skin was warm under her fingertips.

At her touch, he stilled and she let out a small sigh of relief. She started to get off the bed, but nearly had a heart attack when Vincent shot up in bed. Yelping, she tried to move back, but he was fast and in seconds had her pinned underneath him.

Breathing hard, with his hands on her shoulders in a tight grip, he stared at her with those pale eyes. But he wasn’t really seeing her. It was almost as if he was looking through her.

“Vincent, are you awake?” she whispered.

At her voice, he seemed to shake out of whatever was going on. Blinking, he shook his head as if clearing away the vision of something. He stared down at her in confusion. “Jordan, what are you…?” He looked at his hands, then down at their bodies where he was splayed over her, and back up to her face.

“I think you were having a bad dream or something. I was just checking on you.” She kept her voice low.

“Did I hurt you?” he asked as he loosened his fingers from her shoulders, but didn’t take them off completely. Instead, he gently caressed his hands down her bare arms.

“No, I was worried. Do you want to talk about it?” Knowing him, she doubted it.

Shaking his head, he pushed up and rolled off her. Immediately she missed the feel of his muscular body covering hers, but she didn’t have time to dwell on it. As he lay back against the pillows, he practically dragged her over him so that she was half-laying on his chest.

She knew she should probably leave the room and definitely not get all physically tangled up with him, but her body wouldn’t listen. Nope, she liked being gathered in Vincent’s arms. She laid her cheek against his chest and when he linked his fingers through hers and placed their hands over his stomach, she knew she wasn’t going anywhere tonight. His breathing was slightly erratic and she could hear the jagged beat of his heart as he came down from whatever internal adrenaline rush he’d had.

“Sorry if I woke you up. It…I think the fire bomb from earlier must have triggered a memory. I was having a dream about an op that didn’t turn out so well.” His voice was ragged as he spoke and she could hear the pain in his voice. Vincent had never talked much about his time in the Navy and she’d always respected his privacy.

But she still wanted to be there for him. “You can tell me about it if you want.”

“I know, I just can’t. Classified stuff.” Now there was sadness laced through his words.

Which made her heart ache knowing how much he had to keep bottled up inside. Since he wouldn’t be able to tell her anything about past operations, she didn’t push. Instead she said, “Tell me a good memory. Funny or happy.”

He was silent for a long moment, his breathing slowly evening out. She wondered if he’d speak, but eventually he did. “Right around the time I turned thirteen, I had a growth spurt and thought I was pretty hot shit.” He chuckled lightly, the sound wrapping around her like a warm embrace. She loved to hear him laugh. “I was playing ball with some of the older guys in my neighborhood one evening and my mom came out to tell me it was dinner time. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I mouthed off to her. This was before my dad died, but he was out of town, and I knew she was dealing with my sisters’ boy drama—they were all teenagers at the same time—and I thought I could get away with being a little punk. She didn’t say anything that night but the next morning when she took me to school she didn’t change out of her pajamas and she had on some hideous slippers with pink horses on them. I think she snagged them from one of my sisters—who, incidentally, had all gotten rides to school with their friends that morning. Traitors,” he muttered.

“But she wasn’t done. Oh no, not my mama. She put on a housecoat I’m pretty sure belonged to my grandmother, a shower cap, and told me to get in the van. When I asked her what she was doing she said that if I was going to act as if she embarrassed me, she’d give me a reason to be embarrassed. She also said that if I couldn’t respect my own mother in front of my friends that she clearly wasn’t raising me right and was going to make some changes.”

Jordan laughed against his chest, unable to contain her howl of amusement. When she looked into Vincent’s face, his lips were quirked up at the corners. “So what happened?” she asked.

He shook his head, but he was smiling. “She took me to school, and stubborn little ass that I was, I didn’t think she’d actually go through with getting out of the car, but that woman has no fear. As she started to get out I apologized—profusely—and begged forgiveness. She told me if I ever mouthed off to her in front of anyone again, I couldn’t even imagine what she’d do. That’s the day I realized that my mother is smarter and scarier than I’ll ever be.”

Jordan grinned up at him. “She sounds like a trip.”

“That, she is. My sister Zoe still hasn’t learned her lesson where my mom is concerned, but that’s probably because she’s just as scary as my mom.”

“I’d love to meet them.” The words slipped out before she could rein in her big mouth. She inwardly cringed and tried to think of a way to backpedal what she’d said.

“I’d like that too.” Now there was no amusement on his face. Just a raw intensity that stole her breath.

She had no idea what to make of that comment. Absolutely. No. Clue.

“Over the past few years, there have been other women in my life.” His abrupt change in topic was like a knife in her chest.

She so did not need to hear any of this. Even if it was true, she didn’t want to hear the fucking words. Jordan started to get up, but he held her firm, his grip around her tightening. “Why the hell are you telling me this?” she snarled, not bothering to hide her hurt.

“Because I don’t want anything between us. There might have been others in my life, but no one meant anything to me. I never got over you. When you left, it was like you took part of me with you.”

Tears burned her eyes. She didn’t want to hear this either. Didn’t want him to tell her how much she’d hurt him, even if she had. She could feel her emotions spiraling out of control and didn’t want to break down in front of him. Blinking the wetness away, she kept her gaze on his. In the moonlight, his beautiful pale eyes seemed even brighter against his dark skin. “You can’t know how sorry I am,” she whispered.

“I’m not telling you because I want an apology. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get over you leaving, but after last night, I’m not living without you, Jordan. I…can’t. And I don’t want to.”

She could hear the truth in his voice, but she also knew he could be saying this now and mean it, but what happened later? What happened when he couldn’t get over what she’d done? Just a few hours ago he hadn’t been sure what the hell he wanted and now he was so positive? No freaking way. She tried to tell herself to get the hell out of his room, to get far away from him before they crossed a line and she got her heart shattered. Walking away had nearly killed her.

If he walked out on her after this, she didn’t know that she’d survive the heartbreak.

Before she could form a response or force herself to leave the room, he kissed her. Maybe he’d sensed her hesitation, she wasn’t sure, but he moved lightning fast, crushing his lips over hers in a heated, hungry kiss—devouring her mouth. It was the only way she could describe what he was doing to her. Like he was trying to completely possess her.

He shifted in an impressively quick move so that his body was on top of hers, pinning her to the bed once again. This time he was fully awake and aware of what he was doing. And she loved the feel of him on her more than anything. As his mouth and tongue teased hers, he slid one of his hands through her hair until he was cupping her head in a dominating grip that was so familiar it made her chest ache.

She wasn’t about to stop what was happening between them. Even if it would be better for her in the end, she needed to be with him again, needed to experience everything Vincent had to offer. When he rolled his hips against hers, his hard length pressing against the juncture between her thighs, she moaned into his mouth. She hated that her pajama pants and his boxers were in the way when all she wanted was to feel him sliding deep inside her.

It had been too damn long since she’d taken real pleasure and she wanted it so badly. But only from him. Only from Vincent.

Her hands skated over his taut shoulders then down his bare chest. The feel of all that raw power under her fingertips made her entire body shudder and tighten in awareness. It was hard not to be aware of this man. Of everything he made her feel and want.

“Fuck yeah, touch me everywhere, baby,” he whispered as he tore his mouth from hers. He feathered kisses along her jaw in a slow, sensuous path that made her inner walls tighten with unfulfilled need.

Following his directive, she slid one of her hands under the waistband of his boxers and fisted his cock. No teasing right now. He pulsed in her hand as she stroked him once. The way he groaned against her ear and shuddered gave her a feeling of such power that she’d only ever experienced with him.