"You're almost there. Do you know what that does to me?"

She thrust against his arousal. "I have an idea."

He smiled, wrapping one arm around her waist, pressing her tight to his groin even as he pushed two fingers inside her.

Eyes locked and held. Alex plied her rhythmically, loving her darkening eyes, her soft, panting breaths. Loving that she was as bold and wild as he'd imagined and that she let him give her this – see this. She rocked and he pushed, aching to be inside her, feel her wrap and grab him. She covered his hand, flinching, riding. Alex watched her climax, felt it quiver, ripping through her and into him. He kissed her, devouring her cries, and he held her as her body clenched with a near violent explosion. Alex trembled with the power of it, felt her quaking slowly fade until she let out a soft shudder and she sank against him, burying her face in his shoulder.

"What a magnificent thing to see." She made a pained sound. He rubbed her back, pulling the chemise straps up, then tipping her head till she met his gaze. His gaze searched hers. "You have nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing."

"I'm not." She tried leaving his lap, but he held her. "I'm embarrassed."

"Aw, baby, don't be. Please." He brushed his mouth lightly over hers, loving her instant response. "I liked giving you pleasure as much as seeing it." His voice lowered to a dusky pitch. "But the next time, I want to taste that explosion."

She moaned and reddened, pressing her forehead to his. "You just want to see my tattoo."

Only then did he realize he hadn't.

"You gotta let me see." His hand slid beneath her robe and under her chemise.

His touch felt undeniably arousing, yet Madison shook her head, then kissed him softly, loving how his arms slowly wrapped her, squeezed her. Her embarrassment faded to comfort, the intimacy shared crossing another invisible line both tried to avoid. She drew back, her fingertips lingering over his handsome face as the impact of his unselfishness bloomed through her. She slid from his lap and crossed to the deck doors, staring at the glittering black lake, folding her arms over her middle and bracing her shoulder on the frame.

Alex frowned at the solemn look on her face, the way she hugged herself as if she needed protection from him. He wanted her so badly he could taste desire, feel it running through his veins at a hard charge, yet her expression spoke more than she was saying. She was scared. Of him. Of being a fictitious notch on his bedpost, of being discarded. He never expected her to accommodate him after that little bit of pleasure, yet he couldn't predict the future. His own was dangling in the air right now. But it was her forlorn expression that made him feel helpless – and responsible. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt this woman.

Madison sensed him move up behind her, felt the warmth of his body against her, and without pause she leaned into him, laying her head back on his shoulder. His arms wrapped around her, and he buried his face in the curve of her throat, inhaling, his hand smoothing over her stomach, her ribs. Her muscles flexed with new desire, and she reached up, plowing her fingers into his hair.

"You okay?" he asked.

She nodded, unable to voice her confused feelings past the sudden knot in her throat. She reminded herself not to read anything into this intimacy beyond consenting adults having a little fun. Believing every man she dated was the Mr. Right of her life was a ridiculous fantasy. And as wonderful as those moments in his arms were, Alex was certainly no exception to the rule. But the hard truth was that her feelings for him refused to follow the rules.

"Talk to me. What did I do?"

The hurt in his voice felt like a fresh wound. "Nothing, Alexander. It's nothing you've done."

"Well, something's got you down." His lips brushed her ear as he added, "I was hoping I'd put a smile on your face. Was I wrong?"

"No, oh, no." She turned in his arms. "That was wonderful."

His hands on her stilled for a second, his gaze searching hers. "Is that so bad?"

"Yes, when this is temporary, and we are worlds apart."

"No expectations, isn't that what you said?"

She felt duly warned. "Good night, Alexander." She left him, moving to the far side of the bed and sliding beneath the sheets. She didn't look back, lost in her thoughts.

Alex stared at her huddled form for a long moment, hating that she was hurting, when only moments ago she was panting with pleasure, and realizing he was the reason for both. He didn't like feeling like this. It was unfamiliar – but he didn't want to fight it so hard anymore, either.

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