His words shocked me. Not because they were so coarse and bold and unexpected, but because instead of feeling used by the things he suggested, I felt special. Instead of feeling dirty, I felt powerful. As if I was somehow the one in control and not this man who was demanding such supplication and submission.

“Jesus, that’s hot,” he said, as I stroked my fingers over my own slick heat. A tremor rocked me, making me moan. I was close—so very close, and all I wanted was to explode in his arms. I wanted more, deeper, harder. And with the low command of his voice in my head, I did as he asked, touching my clit, thrusting my fingers deep inside myself, and fighting the urge to beg him to stop the car and just please, please, please fuck me.

“Jackson,” I moaned, as I felt the tingling begin along my inner thighs. The precursor to the explosion I so desperately craved.

“Not just yet, baby,” he said, then closed his hand over mine, the mere brush of his hand over my inner thigh was almost enough to make me come anyway. “Not until I tell you to.”

“Please,” I murmured, more wild, more needful than I’d ever felt in my life.

“Please, what?”

“Please fuck me.”

“Oh, baby. Believe me, I’m very much looking forward to that. But right now, I think, it’s time.”

“Time?”

“To go inside,” he said. “And so much more.”

I opened my eyes and looked around, surprised to see that we were in the visitor parking area for my apartment building. I’d had no idea that we’d exited the freeway, much less that we’d parked.

Without another word, Jackson leaned toward me, then very slowly buttoned my dress. As he got out of the car, I stayed there, breathing hard and trying to grasp hold of reality. Every bit of reason told me I should race for my door and shut myself inside, locking out Jackson and the world.

But reason didn’t seem to have any bearing on this moment. Instead, I was running on pure emotion, and for the first time in a long time, I trusted that. Craved it. Wanted to just let go and feel the moments flow over me, one after another after another, leading to some wondrous but unknown pinnacle that I’d never reached before.

“Your expression,” Jackson said as he opened the passenger door and reached out his hand to help me out. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

“I’m not,” I said, then laughed at the giddy sound of my voice. “Isn’t it wonderful? I’m not thinking at all.”

“Then what are you doing?” he asked as he pulled me to him.

I hooked my arms around his neck. “I’m feeling,” I said. “Please, Jackson. Make me feel more. Make me feel everything.”

“Sweetheart,” he said, “I’m at your service.”

I laughed, delighted and surprised, when he scooped me up and carried me to my door. I clung to him, my head nestled against his shoulder, trying to figure out what the hell had happened to me.

Me, the woman who was always so careful. Who kept such a tight lock on control, and who never let a man get under her skin.

He was different, somehow, I thought. He could keep me safe. And if my demons ran free, well then maybe he was the man who could slay them.

“Stand there,” he said, putting me down in front of my coffee table. He looked around, then put his foot against the table and gave it a quick shove sideways so that there was nothing between where he’d placed me and the couch. “Good,” he said. “Now wait.”

“Wait—for what?”

But he just shook his head and pressed a finger to his lips. “You asked me to make you feel, Sylvia. And I promise you that I will.”

I almost answered, but the truth was I didn’t know what to say. And he was gone anyway, disappearing into my galley-style kitchen. I stood in my living room, shifting my weight from foot to foot, wondering what he would do if I sat down, but afraid to try it for fear that he would leave. And I really didn’t want him to go.

When he returned, he held two glasses of wine. One he set on the coffee table. The other he held as he sat on the couch.

I glanced sideways at the wine on the table, then raised a brow. He took a sip from his own glass before giving me a single, one-word answer. “After.”

“After what?”

“After you’re naked.” His voice had shifted. It was low. Commanding. And very, very sexy.

I drew in a breath, waiting to feel the icy fingers of the nightmares slither up my back. But there was no chill. There was only warmth and desire and the intensity of his eyes, so powerful it seemed that I didn’t need to strip at all, because he had already seen me bare.


Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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