“Pain,” he explains moments later, his arms still wrapping my shoulders, “that becomes pleasure.” His eyes burn into mine. “Lace your fingers again.”

Shaking inside, I nod, afraid to speak, afraid I’ll somehow do something to shut this window he is opening for me. His hands caress a path up my arms and down my shoulders. His path travels downward, over my chest, and he fingers my ni**les, sending a rush of sensation through my body with the delicate, sensual caresses that become rougher and rougher. He tugs the stiff peaks, and this time I squeeze my eyes shut against the bite of tension.

“Look at me,” he orders. “Let me see what you’re feeling.”

I force my lashes to lift and the amber glint in his green eyes is as wicked as his touch. It is not just what Chris does to me that is enticingly erotic, but how he commands and claims me with every action, every reaction.

He pinches my ni**les, tugging roughly at the same time, sending conflicting sensations of pain and pleasure through my body and straight to my sex. I pant with the delicious roughness and arch against his hips, against the thickness of his erection straining against his zipper.

His lips press to my ear, nibbling on the delicate lobe. The gentleness of the touch is a startling contrast to the way he continues to pinch and tug my ni**les, and I can hardly stand the way he is teasing me. I want to reach for him, to touch him, but I am afraid he will stop what he is doing and I cannot bear the idea. I want more, not less, and I am wet and achy and I think . . . oh . . . my sex clenches and I think—no—unbelievably I am almost certain I am going to come.

Seconds before I tumble, his hands leave my br**sts and slide down my arms, holding my hands behind my back, and I know this is no accident. He has intentionally taken me to the edge and pulled me back. I am panting and I want to scream with the pain of needing release and having it denied.

He leans back, putting intolerable distance between our lips, our bodies that makes me want to scream. “Pain that’s about pleasure,” he repeats huskily, “and sometimes, baby, that pain is so intense that it becomes the pleasure.”

I understand. Right now, I understand oh so well. “And clearly you know how to make someone feel just that.” There is accusation in my voice. I can’t help it. He knows what he just did to me. He knows he took me to the edge but not over.

His shift in mood is instant, the game we’ve just played ending abruptly. He reaches behind me and unlaces my fingers, settling my hands on his shoulders. “Yeah, baby. I do. But I have never hurt anyone. And I won’t ever hurt you.”

Guilt over what I’ve made him feel slams into me. “I know that. I know, Chris.”

“You didn’t know that last night.” His voice is tight, strained, the torment I’ve caused him etched in his words, in the tight lines of his face.

“I was scared and confused.”

“And when you feel that way again?”

“I won’t.” I barely contain the urgency to tell him I love him, but I fear I will scare him and he will reject me, maybe reject us. “I won’t.”

He studies me a long moment, his expression impossible to read no matter how hard I search for a clue to what he is thinking. I’m still trying to read him when suddenly his mouth is on mine, and he is kissing me, tasting me, testing my words on his tongue. I cling to him, meet him stroke for stroke, trying to answer him, trying to show him that I am here. I am not going anywhere.

I feel the moment he snaps, the moment he needs to claim and possess, rather than question. He picks me up and carries me to the bed, a man with a mission, and I am that willing mission. He sets me down on the edge of the mattress and reaches up and yanks his shirt over his head. I barely have time to admire him when he’s pulling me forward, spreading my legs. He sinks to his knees and his mouth closes on my cl*t and he suckles and licks. I gasp and fall back against the mattress, my fingers curling around the black comforter. I pant and try to hold back but his fingers are inside me and his tongue tantalizes me in all the right spots. I shatter with ridiculous speed that screams of him owning me. He owns my pleasure. He owns me. It is a terrifying thought because I’m not sure I will ever have that power over him. Not the way he does over me. I scoot up the bed, grappling with my emotions, but he is already undressed and pulling me beneath him, and I am helpless to resist. Of course I am. He owns me. Damn it, he owns me.

My arms wrap his neck, and he comes down on top of me and his weight settles on me. I am suddenly, intensely aware that we have never been like this, in a bed, with him on top of me. We’ve f**ked all kinds of ways, but never in a bed, never in his bed. Awareness rushes over me, the reason I’d been nervous. We are in new territory, the intimacy of this night taking us to a new place.

“I’m going to make love to you now, Sara.”

It is the last thing I expect, and everything I both want and fear. My world is spinning out of control and I’m not sure if it will stop in a place where I will have even footing. “What happened to f**k and get f**ked?”

“Baby, the ways I’m going to f**k you are too many to count, but not tonight. Tonight, I’m going to make love to you.” His lips part mine, his tongue delving deeply, exploring, and the demand of minutes before becomes a sultry, sensual caress. He has torn down every wall I possess and I cannot fight him, or this.

He spreads me wide and settles between my thighs, thick and pulsing, parting me with the promise of finally filling me. I feel him press into me and my arms tighten around his neck. I lift my h*ps and meet him, urge him to go deeper, to give me more, when I know it is him demanding more of me, taking what I try to hold back but cannot.

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