“Lift up,” he tells me, and when I do, he tugs my jeans off with one strong pull.
And then he’s sitting back on his heels and looking at me. Just looking at me. At first it doesn’t bother me, but then it goes on so long that I start to worry that something’s wrong. That the scars bother him more than he let on. That he doesn’t like what he sees.
I fumble for a blanket, try to cover myself, but he strips them all from the bed. Drops them on the floor. “What’d you do that for?” I ask, shivering a little. It’s been almost a year since I’ve done this and I’m anxious, nervous, horny … and determined to actually do it this time.
“You keep trying to hide yourself from me. I don’t like it.”
For some reason, it strikes me that he’s talking about a lot more than the blankets. But that doesn’t make sense, not when this is just a one-night thing. And not when Z himself is the master of disguises.
“Well, you should probably stop staring at me, then. It freaks me out.”
He grins, strews hot, wet, openmouthed kisses across my abdomen. “I like staring at you. You should probably get used to it—I’m planning on doing it a lot.”
I freeze at the words, which sound so much more than casual. Almost like he’s planning on doing this again. Which I might be okay with—if I can get through the next hour without humiliating myself, that is.
If Z notices my sudden stillness, he ignores it. Instead, he trails his tongue along the edge of my panties, licking across my mons slowly, slowly, slowly, until I feel like I might actually lose my mind.
My hands leave his chest and tangle in the cool silk of his hair as I hold him to me. I’m on fire, my body arching for his—aching for his—in a way I’ve never before experienced.
My sex life with Remi was good. I mean, he was a considerate lover who from the very first always took care of me as well as himself. And since he was the one who took my virginity, I never had anyone to compare him to. Which was fine. I was happy with him. Totally satisfied.
Being with Z isn’t like that, though. It isn’t about being happy or satisfied or any of those other words. No, being with Z is like being in the center of a lightning storm. Powerful, overwhelming, electric. And dangerous, so dangerous, without the proper precautions.
I want to take those precautions—thought I did take them, to be honest. But nothing could have prepared me for what it feels like to be loved by Z. To have his hands and mouth and body all over mine.
All. Over. Mine.
“Hey.” He pauses, lifts his head. “Where did you go?”
“I’m right here.”
Somehow, impossibly, his eyes grow even darker. “No, you’re not.”
I think he’s going to say something else, or maybe even leave. I clutch at his shoulders in desperation, knowing that if he leaves me—again—there’s no way I’ll be able to try this a third time.
But I’m wrong. This time Z isn’t going anywhere. Instead of getting up or suggesting we stop, he takes the opposite approach. He strips my panties down my legs in one swift move, then buries his face between my thighs.
I come off the bed at the first touch of his tongue against my clit, and seconds later my legs are over his shoulders and I’m in the throes of my first orgasm in eleven long, terrible months. I clutch at him, hold him to me as it goes on and on and on, thanks to Z and his oh-so-talented tongue.
When it’s finally over—and I once again have control over my brain and my limbs—I sit up with some vague idea of returning the favor. But Z just puts one big hand on my stomach and presses me back down.
“What—” I’m so dazed, so sated, that the words still aren’t forming right in my head.
He just laughs, a low, warm, delicious sound that sends new shivers up my back. And then his mouth is right back on me, his tongue tracing the folds of my sex and dipping inside once, twice, then again and again.
“Z!” I call his name as the maelstrom starts to build again, and he reaches up, twines his fingers with mine. He anchors me, gives me something to hold on to as he takes me right up to the edge of my control and then flings me over a second time.
And a third.
By now, my body isn’t even my own anymore. Z has laid claim to it and he’s determined to do what he promised. To make me feel good as he wrings every ounce of sensation—of pleasure—that he can from me.
“Please,” I whimper, my hands clutching at him as his tongue delves inside me for another long, leisurely lick. “No more. Please no more. I need—”
I cut myself off before I finish the sentence, before I scare us both off with an admission of just how much I need him.
But Z won’t let me hide. He strips away my last barriers—and every ounce of self-protection I have left—as surely as he stripped my clothes away. “What, baby?” he asks, his voice all sex-drugged black magic. “What do you need?”
I don’t want to answer him, don’t want to give him this last piece of myself when I’ve already given him so many. But when he brushes tender kisses across my shoulder and down my breast—kisses that tell me he wants so much more from me than just the good time we agreed to—I can’t stop myself from blurting out the truth.
“You,” I whisper, my body arching against his as he slips two fingers inside me and strokes my G-spot. “I need you, Z.”
“You’ve got me, Ophelia.” He murmurs the words against my breast, in between long, languid licks around my nipple. “I’m not going anywhere.”
For the first time, I wish that that was true. That we could stay right here, hiding from the outside world forever. Or at least until our bodies give out from the pleasure.
Except Z hasn’t taken any pleasure yet. He’s made me come three times and is giving every indication that he wants to go for a fourth, but I’m not having it. Not right now, when I am drowning in the need he created and my own determination to make him feel as good as he’s made me feel.
So I clutch at his hair, tugging at him until his face is level with mine and his hips are between my thighs. “Now,” I tell him. “Please. Right now.”
Except he’s pulling away, straightening up. Leaving me. “No!” I gasp, clutching at him. I’m not ready for this to end, not ready for him to leave me again. Not yet. Please, not yet.
“It’s okay,” he tells me, reaching for his jacket and unzipping a secret pocket on the inside. “I need a condom.”
Right. Because that’s who he is. The guy who carries condoms in his snowboarding jacket. And probably his pants and his wallet and his car, too. I need to remember that no matter how crazy he makes me or how much pleasure he gives me, I’m just one of a crowd.
Which is fine. This isn’t about love or forever or any of those other things. It’s about forgetting.
Then he’s back, kissing me, sliding into me. I kiss him back, try to lose myself in the sensations ripping through me. But it’s too late. Z might be a better lover than Remi—and I feel a little guilty even thinking it—but he doesn’t care about me.
Which was fine the other day, when I didn’t care about him, either. But now … now it’s not so easy. Because he isn’t just some guy looking to win a bet anymore. He’s the guy who’s helped me out nearly every time he’s seen me. The guy who somehow wormed his way under my defenses and made me like him way more than I should.
Z’s voice brings me back. I open my eyes, find his face only inches from my own. His eyes are dark with desire, his jaw clenched against the need to come.
“It’s okay,” I tell him. “I’m good.”
He bends his head, nips at my bottom lip, hard.
“Hey!” I exclaim, bringing my hand up to soothe the hurt. “What was that for?”
He doesn’t answer, but then he doesn’t have to, because already I can feel the heat spreading through me. The pain grounds me, brings me right back to the precipice of desire I’d been balanced on only minutes ago.
Z’s watching me closely, and he must be satisfied because he starts moving again, thrusting into me oh so slowly. I can feel every inch of him stroking through me, and heat starts building inside me, spiraling my own desire up, up, up.
It scares me a little. How easily he can make me want him—and how much. Part of me wants to disconnect again, to take a step back out of sheer self-preservation. But Z’s having none of it. He chooses that moment to lower his mouth to my neck and bite me again.
“Z!” I gasp his name as fire sizzles along my nerve endings, and I clutch at his shoulders. He laves the little hurt with his tongue, even as he slips a hand between us and strokes my clit.
That’s all it takes. I come apart in his arms once more, and this time he comes with me.
This girl is going to be the death of me. It seems stupid to say that, to even think it considering what I’ve done in my life and what I’ll continue to do, but I swear, it’s the truth. What years of snowboarding haven’t managed, Ophelia is going to take care of with just a look. A smile. A touch.
Outside, a strong gust of wind blows, whistling through the trees even as it has the windows rattling in their frames. Ophelia is still asleep, but some part of her must feel it, because she burrows deeper under the covers, snuggling closer to me until her ass is pressed right up against my cock.
I want to slide inside her, to be the first thing she feels when she wakes up. The first thing she sees out of those gorgeous green eyes of hers, eyes that I now know turn a deep, verdant jungle green when she comes. But we made lo—
I freeze before the words are fully formed, force a do-over in my own head. We were together (because saying we f**ked doesn’t fit any better than saying we made love) four times last night. She has to be sore and tired, and I need to be considerate.
But part of me doesn’t give a damn. It’s the same part of me that can’t stand when she slips away from me, when I’m holding her or loving her and she just disappears. Just goes somewhere else in her head. That part of me wants to f**k her again and again and again, until all she feels or smells or tastes is me. Until she understands that I’m not just going to let her slip away. Not now. Not yet.
Just the fact that I’m thinking this way freaks me out. I don’t date. I don’t pine after a girl. I don’t do anything but fuck—and even that is more about letting the pressure out, feeling something even if it’s just for a minute, than it has ever been about the person I’m with. Except last night wasn’t about trying to feel—at least for me. Last night, and this morning, I feel much more than I’ve ever wanted to.
Determined to gain a little distance—or at least a little perspective—I roll away from her, start to climb out of bed. But she follows me, scooting across the bed in her sleep in an effort to keep her body pressed to mine.
It makes me smile, makes me want to wrap myself around her and stay with her until she wakes up. But as she shifts, I catch sight of the livid bruises around her arms. Bruises that Harvey put there. Bruises that he will pay for.
With that thought in mind, I brush a kiss over Ophelia’s hair and climb out of bed. I take a quick shower. Then, wearing nothing but my boxers and the smile I can’t seem to wipe off my face, I follow the signs to the laundry room on the first floor to retrieve my clothes. I really hope nobody took them, because a text about losing my clothes is so not what I want to send to Ash this morning. Already he’s pissed that I wouldn’t upload the footage from the camera and send it to him last night so he could watch it. If I press my luck, he’ll enlist Luc to find a way to get even—probably one that involves cayenne pepper in my underwear. Luc’s practical jokes are legendary.