Cupped within his hand, the soft weight of her breast fitted as perfectly as though it had been created for his hold alone, and the erotic sensitivity of her nipple as it responded to his caress was responsive in that way only to his touch. The arch of her body inviting the possession of his was aroused only by and for him, as though they had been made for one another and only one another.

How could such a delicate touch have the power to drain from him the resistance of a lifetime? How could it seem to offer sanctuary and comfort? How could it possibly have the power to transform him from a man to whom emotions were the enemy to a man who craved…? A man who craved what?


Ilios moved restlessly against his own thoughts, against his own weakness in allowing himself this unfamiliar need to give the essence of himself into the safekeeping of another. He cupped Lizzie’s face so that he could kiss her. Kissing her and feeling her response to him re-established his role as the one in charge of what was happening. And his was the responsibility for them both, Ilios warned himself—a responsibility he had already neglected once.

Beneath Ilios’s kiss Lizzie breathed a sigh of delight. It was impossible not to let her hand follow its own inclinations and drift down the lean length of his body, past the flat male curve of his hip, and then come to rest at the base of his spine. The pressure of Ilios’s mouth on her own increased, his arms tightening around her as he half rolled her beneath him. Eagerly Lizzie parted her lips, her tongue caressing his, her fingertips stroking the shallow hollow where his spine ended.

Was it her love for Ilios that made the intimacy they were now sharing so heart-achingly intense? Lizzie wondered emotionally. It must be; there could be no other explanation, surely, for the sense of deep intimacy and connection she felt towards him.

She moaned softly with delight as Ilios moved over her, answering the pressure of her growing need. The pleasure from his hands spreading her thighs and his lips tasting her sex took from her both the ability and the will to do anything other than give herself over to him as he moved up her body, his flesh gleaming in the moonlight, erect and taut. Lizzie reached out towards it, encircling the swollen head of his sex, engrossed in the sensation of possessing him.

What had been pleasure had now become a fierce beating urgency—a primeval drive strong enough to crush all obstacles in its way.

How could the pleasure of another’s touch be so intense that it invaded every part of him, making his nerve-endings cry out within him under its onslaught? He wanted Lizzie to go on caressing him as she was for ever. He wanted her to stroke and know every bit of him. He wanted—As if a sheer drop had appeared out of nowhere in a misty landscape Ilios’s thoughts skidded to a halt as he recognised the danger he was facing. He could not, would not allow himself to feel like this. It went against everything he had worked for and planned for. It must not happen. It had to be destroyed.

Abruptly Ilios forced himself to release Lizzie, pulling back from her, leaving her without a backward look or a word of explanation.

Ilios had gone. She was alone in the bed that had so recently been such a wonderful place of intimacy and shared desire but which was now a place of harsh reality and emptiness.

Curled up against her pain, Lizzie tensed her jaw against the agonised cry of despair burning her throat. What had she expected? That the impossible would happen and Ilios would declare his love for her? She was twenty-seven, not seventeen, and surely what had happened to her young sister had shown her the damage that could be done when a woman was foolish enough to believe that her love for a man had the power to change him, somehow conjure from him a reciprocal love for her.

Ilios did not love her. He had made that plain in the way that he had recoiled from her, rejecting her with that look of furious disbelief that had told her more clearly than any words that he not only didn’t love her, but he actively wished she was not there.

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