Julie responded equally to all three. Raising her hand she laid it on his cheek. Without taking his eyes from hers, he turned his face into her hand and slid his lips back and forth against her sensitive palm. "Touch me."

Her heart beginning to pound ferociously, she trailed her fingertips down his hard cheek, over the thick cords of his neck, to his shoulder, then lower along the rigid planes of his chest. His skin felt like satin over granite, and when she leaned forward and kissed his chest, his muscles contracted reflexively. Heady with her newfound power, she kissed his small nipples, then trailed a long kiss downward toward his waist. A half-laugh, half-groan escaped him, and he abruptly rolled her onto her back, pinning her hands beside her head, his body half covering hers. His tongue plunged into her mouth, tangling with hers, plunging and retreating in blatant imitation of what he wanted to do to her with his body, and the fire that had been building inside Julie exploded into flames. She pulled her wrists from his hands, wound her arms around him, and turned into his arms, returning his drugging kisses, stroking his shoulders and back, moaning with joy as his mouth touched her breasts. So lost was she in the desire he was skillfully building in her that she scarcely noticed when his hand reached down between her thighs until his fingers began to explore her intimately. Clenching her eyes closed, she fought back waves of embarrassment and let herself yield to the exquisite pleasure his knowledgeable fingers were giving her.

Fighting back his rampaging desire, Zack watched the reactions flicker across her lovely face as her body submitted to the unfamiliar, intimate stroking of his fingers. Each sound she made, each restless movement of her head, each time she quivered at his touch, filled him with poignant tenderness. Each second became crystallized in his mind, as bright as a diamond. Beneath his fingers, she was opening for him, wet and warm, and he was desperate to bury himself in her. Instead he held back, and bending his head, he kissed her long and thoroughly while he slid his finger deeply into her. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and shivered, and the convulsive movement reminded him poignantly of her earlier words to him. "Shivering is good," he whispered, increasing the depth of his exploration. "Shivering is very, very good." Around his fingers, she seemed unusually narrow and extremely tight, and he had an awful feeling that he was built too large for her, that she wouldn't be able to take his erection without being torn or hurt.

Her hands were moving over him, gaining courage, and his breath caught when she finally brushed her fingers over his rigid arousal and then took him in her hand. The moment her fingers wrapped around him, her eyes flew open in shock, riveting on his face. If the situation weren't so dire and so urgent, Zack would have chuckled at the expression in her eyes. But he was in no mood to laugh or feel flattered that he'd obviously "impressed" her with his size. In the firelight, she looked at him as if she were waiting for something—a decision from him, a movement, and all the while her fingers were driving him crazy, until he was on the verge of exploding in her hand. Her other hand lifted to his jaw, soothing away the tension, and the words she whispered to him made him melt. "You were worth waiting twenty-six years for, Mr. Benedict."

Zack lost control of his breathing. With his palms on either side of her flushed face, he bent his head to kiss her, only this time the word he whispered was hoarse with awed reverence. "Christ…"

With blood pounding in his ears and foreboding weighing him down, Zack cased himself on top of her and between her legs, probing at the entrance of her body, easing his way slowly into her tight, wet passage, expelling his breath at the exquisite sensation as her body expanded to take him in, her wet warmth clasping him. When he encountered the fragile barrier, he lifted her slim hips, held his breath, and lunged.

Her body stiffened with the brief pain, but before he could react, her arms were around him and she was opening for him like a flower … welcoming him, sheathing him. Fighting to control the orgasm that was threatening to erupt, Zack moved slowly within her, but when she began moving with him, clutching him to her, his restraint broke along with his desire to prolong the act. Seizing her mouth in a plundering kiss, he drove into her, forcing her faster and faster to the peak, driving her toward it, reveling in her muffled cry as she dug her nails into his back and began to shudder convulsively beneath him. Lifting her hips higher and tighter to him, he plunged harder, driven by some uncontrollable need to be as deep within her as possible when he came. He exploded inside her with a force that tore a low groan from him, and still he kept moving, as if she could somehow empty him of the bitterness of his past and the bleakness of his future. The second climax erupted in a jolt of sensation that screamed down his nerve endings, shook his entire body, and left him weak. Spent.

In a state of boneless exhaustion, he collapsed on top of her and shifted onto his side, still joined with her. Breathless from exertion, Zack held her in his arms, stroking her spine, trying not to think, clinging to the fading euphoria as he fought to hold reality at bay, but after a few minutes, it was no use. Now that his passion was finally spent, there was no barrier between his brain and his conscience, and as he stared into the fire, he began to see all his actions and motives of the past three days in the light of glaring truth:

The truth was that he had taken a defenseless woman as a hostage at gunpoint; he had blackmailed her into believing he would let her go if she took him to Colorado; he had threatened her with physical violence if she tried to escape, and when she defied him anyway, he forced her to kiss him in front of a witness, so that now the national press was crucifying her by intimating she was an accomplice. The truth was that he'd begun thinking about having sex with her the same day he'd taken her captive, and he'd been campaigning for it using every means he had at hand from intimidation to kindness to flirtation. The sickening truth was that he'd just managed to achieve his final, loathsome goal: He'd seduced the virginal daughter of a minister, a lovely, spirited, innocent human being who'd repaid all his cruelties and injustices by saving his life today. Seduced was much too polite a word for what he'd just done, Zack decided with sick disgust as his gaze shifted to the carpet. He'd taken her right here on the damned floor, not even in a bed! His conscience clawed at him with renewed vengeance for using her too roughly, for forcing her to take two climaxes from him, for burying himself all the way inside of her instead of using a little decent restraint. The fact that she hadn't cried out or struggled or given any sign of being either hurt or humiliated did nothing to assuage his guilt. She didn't know she was entitled to more that what she'd gotten, but he did. He'd been promiscuous as hell as a teenager, as an adult he'd had more sexual flings than he could begin to count. The entire responsibility for the mess he'd made of Julie's entire life and now, her first encounter with sex, was solely and exclusively his. And that was looking at the matter optimistically—without considering the possibility of pregnancy! It didn't take a genius to figure out that the daughter of a minister probably wouldn't consider having an abortion, so she'd either have to bear the public shame of having a baby out of wedlock, moving to another city and doing it there, or foisting his child off on her almost-fiancé to father.


Tags: Judith McNaught Second Opportunities Billionaire Romance
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