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His gaze was as hungry as his words were polite. This man was such a study in self-control. Stella suddenly wanted to break it, to make him lose his fist-tight grip on his emotions, to lose himself in her.

She flicked open the button. “I’m finished talking.”

Chapter Twenty-Five

“Are you sure?” Mac couldn’t believe he asked the question. The woman of his dreams was getting naked in his bedroom and he was practically telling her she should reconsider her decision. He was a moron.

“I’m sure.” Stella shook out her hair. It fell around her shoulders in a dark, tousled wave. Hairpins dropped to the floor.

“You’re positive I’m not just a distraction?” Damn his conscience. And ego.

In the past, he wouldn’t have cared. He would have been happy to provide the release of her pent-up frustration. If she hadn’t wanted to see him again, he wouldn’t have cared.

But this was Stella, literally the woman of his dreams. The first woman he craved conversation with as much as sex.

Who would have thought that would ever happen? Not him.

It was a freaking miracle.

And yet it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t satisfied being with her simply because his body ached for her. This thing between them had to be equal. He wanted Stella to need him just as much as he needed her. If he was going to let himself be vulnerable, to give her power over him, then she had to do the same.

He wanted her pulse to thud in her ears like a bass drum. Her blood to rush as hot as lava through her veins. For every cell in her body to yearn for him. He wanted to be the man she chose above all others.

She opened the second button on her blouse.

Enough with the biology lesson, Mac. Woman getting naked here.

Mesmerized, Mac stared as she flicked a third button, then a fourth. The fabric parted, revealing the swell of her breasts. He licked his lips, dying for a taste of that smooth skin.

Button number five.

White satin and lace. That’s what she’d been hiding under that up-tight, mannish blouse. All. Day. Long. Hell, she probably wore sexy, feminine silk against her skin all the time.

Any blood remaining in Mac’s brain flowed south with the power of the Amazon.

She stood for a minute, letting him look. Breasts swelled over white lace. Flat abs tempted him to lick his way . . .

She moved on to her cuffs, seemingly content to continue her striptease, but Mac couldn’t wait any longer. He was going to implode if he didn’t get his hands on her. In two steps, he was standing in front of her, their bodies inches apart. The animal in him wanted to strip off her pants, hoist her legs around his waist, and take her against the wall right that second.

Finesse.

He wasn’t one of the beasts he studied in the jungle, but his desire for Stella stripped him raw. Still, the woman deserved a little consideration.

“Let me help.” He slid the cotton off her shoulders, putting his lips to the creamy white skin of her collarbone. She arched back, her head lolling to the side as he brushed his lips up the side of her neck.

A taste of her wasn’t enough. The need to explore every inch of her roared through him. He tugged the shirt sleeves to her elbows, his mouth hungry.

She groaned as his lips cruised down to the swell of her breast. He traced the lace edge of her bra with his tongue. Her full-body shudder sent a knee-buckling wave of anticipation rushing through his blood.

“I can’t move.” She wiggled, trying to free her arms, but they were trapped by the sleeves of her blouse.

Mac gathered the fabric tighter. “I know. I kind of like it.”

That sexy, skeptical brow shot upward.

“I can have my way with you.” He gave her earlobe a playful, gentle nip.

Irritation wrinkled her brow. “You can have your way with me because I want you to have your way with me.”

“I know.” Mac laughed, tugged the sleeves behind her, and held them against the small of her back with one hand. With the other, he stroked her waist, his fingers playing across her abdomen. “Just give me a minute or so to indulge myself. My hidden caveman has needs.”

“Hidden? You don’t hide him very well.” Her eyes darkened as he flicked open the front clasp of her bra.

“Trust me,” he said.

Her head tilted. “I do.”

Her statement, and the sight of her bare skin, nearly brought him to his knees. In fact, it did. He dropped to one knee in front of her.

He let his gaze roam over her, suddenly in no rush at all, taking in each lovely curve. “You’re perfect.”

Her blush spread to the pale skin of her breasts. “You’re a tease.”

“Me?” He laughed. “I just want to look at you for a minute. Indulge me.”

“It’s been a minute.” She tugged at her sleeves.

“Don’t rush me.” Grinning, he closed his mouth over a nipple.

She stopped struggling. Her head fell back. Her body relaxed, and a sweet moan purred from her throat.

He lifted his head to watch pleasure drift lazily over her face. “See?”

“I see.” She smiled down at him. Her voice shifted into a command. “More.”

“Yes, ma’am. You’re hot when you’re bossy.” He cruised across her chest and down her belly, letting her response guide his attentions. Nibbling, kissing, tasting. His tongue delved into her belly button and just below the waistband of her slacks. He wanted more. Much more.

“Mac.” Her tone sharpened, but her eyes begged. “Please.”

He released her sleeves and undid the button of her slacks. The silky fabric slid off her hips and pooled at her feet. But she made no effort to slide her hands free.

Hot damn.

Her panties were white and lacy and covered just enough to stir his imagination—and whet his appetite. He leaned forward to kiss her through the lace. He caught a hint of her taste through the fabric. Sweetness. Utter sweetness. She was more addictive than any drug, and he had to have more. He’d never have enough.

He hooked his thumbs in the fabric over her hips and drew them down her legs.

Rocking back, he took a long look. “God, you’re beautiful.”

“Why am I naked, and you’re still dressed?”

“Because I love to look at you.” He slid a hand down her long, long leg. Wrapping a hand around her ankle, he lifted her foot, kissed it, and drew off her panties and slacks. She stood in front of him, wearing only her white shirt drawn down around her biceps and her bra hanging open.

He’d never seen anything so lovely.

He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to her core. The taste of her on his lips wasn’t enough. His tongue delved in. And her body went taut as a bow.

She pulled her arms free of her sleeves. A button popped. Fabric ripped. Then her hands were on his head, her fingers twined in his hair, her moans driving him faster.

“Now.” She tugged on his hair.

Mac climbed to his feet. Unlike him, she didn’t take her time.

Thank God.

She grabbed his shirt by the hem and ripped it over his head. Her eyes cooled as she touched the edge of his bandage. “Oh, lord. I didn’t think. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t.” He slipped a hand between her legs and watched her face heat again. Better. The truth was, he couldn’t care less about his stitches.

“I’ll be gentle.” Tossing his shirt over her shoulder, she attacked the button of his pants. She had them down to his knees in two seconds. When her hand curled around him, he almost lost it.

“Hold on.” He reached for his pocket. “There’s a condom in the back of my wallet.”

“Already got one.” She held a foil packet in her other hand. Where did she get that? Ripping it open, she covered him.

“I like a woman who knows what she wants.”

“I want you.” She pushed him backward onto the bed. “Now.”

Mac bounced on the mattress, kicking off his pants as she climbed on top of him.

“I’ve been very patient.” She straddled his thighs, careful not to touch his bandage.

His hand stroked up her arm and wrapped around a lock of her hair. Her eyes. Yeah. He could stare at those all day, too. And the focused, hungry look on her face. “You have, and I appreciate it.”

“You’d better let me do all the work.” In one smooth motion, she rose and took him into her body. Goddamn. She was tight and wet and hot. Buried inside her, he decided this moment could go on for the rest of his life.

But she moved. His hands slid down to her hips, his fingers grasping to slow her down.

“Easy.”

“Need. To. Move.” Her head tipped back, her expression total bliss. Her breasts thrust forward. Mac reached up and cupped one, his thumb stroking her nipple.

On one hand, he was dying to make this last as long as possible. On the other, the thought that he’d driven her senseless almost ended the moment. His senses sharpened, and his heartbeat echoed from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Every molecule in his body was tuned, as if his nervous system was cranked into overdrive.

She moved faster. Pleasure spiraled though him. He wrapped his arms around her and flipped them over. Tugging her legs up around his waist, he took control. Slow, even, long thrusts that made him forget they were two bodies instead of one.

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