“I mean”—she motioned around the kitchen and out into the living room with her spoon—“no personal effects, no photographs. No mess.”


And yet: “I’m pretty neat, though. Just ask my brother. He and I lived together for years.”

She stirred the milk around, the spoon seeking soggy flakes that refused to be corralled. “So this is the house you want me to rent, huh.”

“You do like it. You said so yourself.”

“And I already know how to take my clothes off in the bedroom.”

Trez felt a shot of lust go through him. That sight of her backside, her spine, her shoulders… with the tease that as soon as she turned around, he was going to get to see her breasts? He’d been on the verge of coming.

Except then the groceries arrived. Man, if he never heard another knock in his fucking life, it would be too soon.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she tilted her bowl and got more serious about navigating the end of the cereal. “I mean, I can—”

“I really want to have sex with you.”

Her eyes flipped to his, and instantly, the chemistry was back—and he welcomed the influx of arousal. He was not lying; he did want to be inside of her. But there was another piece to it. He needed the doubts and the fears and the grief that were simmering just below his surface to shut the fuck up. He didn’t want to think about his argument with iAm. He didn’t want to think about her in that club of idiots last night, some asshat with a gun and a hard-on for a woman who didn’t want him shooting shit up because his ego got kicked in the hey-nannies. And he didn’t want to think his female was so reckless as to fly-be-free from a second-story window.

And there were other things. Things he really, really couldn’t bear looking at.

The sex, however, would eclipse all that glare.

And sometimes shade was needed when the heat was on.

“Well, then,” she said as she got up and took her bowl to the sink. “Maybe we need to try again?”

Trez exhaled long and slow, and focused on those black slacks of hers, the white shirt, the hair that was so thick and curly and shiny as it ran down her shoulders.

“Yes,” he said with a growl. “Let’s do that.”

And so help him God, if anyone—or anything—interrupted them this time, he was going to solve that problem with a fist. Or maybe a crowbar.

Trez’s body got up out of the chair and went to her as if called, and the tension that had clawed into him left as if it had never been. As she reached for him, he reached for her, their mouths finding each other’s, the kiss as natural and easy as everything else had been bumpy and uneven only moments before. Licking into her, he savored the feel of her breasts against his chest, her hips under his hands, her mouth moving with his own. She was all that he needed, all that he knew, and he wanted to be here again. He wanted to never leave here.

This was his female. She was Selena, back unto him. No matter what iAm thought or said, or how crazy it was, or all the impossibles and the doubts, Trez only needed this connection to prove the reality that his heart already knew for sure.

Just as he started to pull her shirt out from her waistband, he noticed the window over the sink. With no shutters down, they were liable to flash the entire neighborhood—if not right here, then because he was about a second and a half away from laying her out on the table in front of that slider and putting his tongue in all kinds of places other than her mouth.

“Upstairs?” he said against her lips. “Before I—”

“Yes,” she moaned.

Breaking off the kiss, he took her hand and all but ran up the staircase. And as soon as they got to the top landing, he shut the stairwell’s door and killed the lights with his mind—and then he drew her over to the warm, flickering glow of the fireplace. Their mouths met again, and he eased her down on the soft rug, taking his time with the descent.

Or, rather, forcing himself to.

He wanted to tear her pants off with his fangs. Rip her panties down her thighs. Mount her like a beast. Then he wanted to flip her over and take her from behind. And after that? He wanted every position physically possible, all over the bedroom floor, the bed, the bathroom—

“Oh, shit.” He whipped his head around toward a cold draft that he hadn’t paid any attention to. “Sorry, let me go close that.”

Vampires could manipulate a lot of things with their minds, but not in a house that had been secured by Vishous. The Brother would have coppered the hell out of those puppies so that no one could use their mental powers to get in if the illusion shutters were up.

His female tugged at his shirt. “I’ll will it down—”

“It’s manual operation only.” He kissed her lips quick. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“You do not have to worry about that. Trust me.”

Springing to his feet, Trez tore off like there was a drowning victim in the damn tub. And as he slammed the sill back in place, all he could think of was getting back—

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror that ran across the wall above the two sinks. He stopped dead, even though he’d rather have just kept the fuck going—and not only because his female was waiting for him.

His eyes were too wide. His face was flushed and sallow at the same time. His breathing was way too heavy.

Trez hated everything about himself in that moment. And the only thing he despised more was his life. iAm was right. He was out of control, careening into something he didn’t have the emotional capacity for—

It’s fine, he mouthed to the image directly across from himself. I’m fine. We’re fine. It’s all fine.

With a resolve born of desperation, he looked away. Then he strode away. Reentering the bedroom, he—

Okay. Stopping dead again. But at least this time it was for a good reason.

A fine reason. A reaaaaally fucking fine one.

“I thought I would try this one more time,” his female drawled from over in front of the fire.

She was lying exactly where he had left her, on that rug, before the hearth—but she had taken off her clothes. All of them. And she was sprawled with the kind of abandon that made a male lose track of time: Her head was back, her hair spilling out around her, her neck a graceful line from her perfect chin to her collarbones… and her breasts were caressed by the firelight, the nipples peaked and pink, the swells creamy and full.

Trez licked his lips. And kept on looking. Her stomach was a gentle drift to her hips, and the cleft of her sex was nestled in thighs he was desperate to part. Her legs were long and graceful—and given the way they churned?

If her scent wasn’t already making it clear she was ready to receive him, then the anticipation in the way they rubbed together was a big damn tip.

“You should only ever wear firelight,” he groaned as his hand went to his throbbing arousal.


As exposed as Therese was, as naked and vulnerable as she was, she felt nothing but free. There was no embarrassment, no anxiousness, no concern that she was less than perfect or anything less than what Trez would want. And that was when she knew how deeply she trusted him.

When he started forward, she put her hand up. “Wait.”

He stopped on a dime. And to reward him, she sensuously rolled over onto her stomach. Laying her head down on her arm, she moved one of her legs up the other… then pivoted her hips, flashing her ass toward him.

“Fuck…” he breathed.

“I thought you should see the back, too.”

“Just as good as the front, let me tell you.”

“Perhaps you’d like to join me? And I’m not only talking about the horizontal.”

Trez took the hint, yanking his silk shirt out of the waistband of his pressed slacks. Then, even though it was no doubt expensive, he tore the halves apart, buttons flying free and twinkling like falling stars. Holy… crap. Yes, what was underneath totally did not disappoint. He had a hard, ribbed stomach, and a hard, heavy set of pecs, and a hard, wide shoulder span. Oh, and talk about firelight. His dark skin was smooth across the expanse of all his muscles, and the illumination moved restlessly over the ridges and hollows of his torso. He had no tattoos that she could see, but he had scarifications across his chest and abdomen—she didn’t recognize what they symbolized, but she assumed it was a Shadow tradition.

And he was a fighter. That was absolutely in his background somewhere, somehow.

Before she could get to begging, Trez’s fingers went to his belt, and deftly worked the gold H buckle loose. With a slow, sexy show, he pulled the leather strap out of the loops and tossed it aside. Then he freed the button and unzipped his zipper.

When he released his hold, the pants went down in a rush—

Commando. Very commando. Totally and completely… commando.

As Therese focused on his erection, its incredible length and girth would have been intimidating if she hadn’t known that its fit was perfect for her. In her.

Trez laughed with a guttural sound as he kicked off his loafers and stepped out of those pants. “You keep looking at me like that and I’m going to lose it right now.”

“Then lose it. I want to watch.”

“You do?”

Therese scooted back and patted the rug next to her. “Come. Here.”

His smile was volcanic, his lids lowering to half-mast as his palm gripped his shaft. With a hiss, his fangs clamped down on his lower lip, and as he walked forward, he stroked himself in a lazy way that was anything but lazy.

Lowering himself to the floor, he put his head by hers, his long legs stretching out. “Am I doing this right?” he drawled.

His hand went up and down, pausing at the head, squeezing. And as she watched him, she let her fingertips tickle her nipples.

“I think you need to do it faster.”

“Really?” He leaned in and brushed her lips with his own. “Like this?”

As he stroked himself with more speed, she felt her body melt into the faux fur beneath her. In contrast to their first coupling, this privacy—well, now that the groceries had been delivered—and all the delicious time ahead of them took the edge off her greed. They had the rest of the night.