Burning wood crackled in the bonfire as they looked at each other. He heard the burble of the creek, the soft drop of snow falling from pine trees, the wind blowing through the valley.
The fire glowed in her expressive dark eyes, even as the other side of her dark hair was laced silver by moonlight. Silver and gold, he thought. Why did Ruby continually remind him of a princess from a fairy tale? A sexy fairy tale that ended with them naked in each other’s arms. She obliterated his every thought except need…
Ares cupped both sides of her face, beneath her jawline. Her skin, chilled by the cold air, warmed beneath his hands. He felt her tremble as her delectable, cherry-red lips parted, as if in invitation.
Lowering his mouth to hers, he kissed her.
Sweet, so sweet. Her lips were satin soft, and tasted like sugar. They tasted like heaven. He felt her shiver. Her lips caused a delicious fire to roar though him, building higher and higher, until his body was blazing from within.
Then, reaching her hands around his shoulders, she started to kiss him back.
The fire inside him exploded. With a low growl, he pulled her hard against him, forgetting all the others milling around them, forgetting everything else in the world but the taste of her sweet lips and feel of her curvaceous body against his.
As if from a distance, he heard the low shouts, lazy applause, yelled encouragements and commentary from the people around them.
“Get a room,” someone hooted.
“I thought he was her cousin,” someone else said.
“Who is he?”
“Oh, my God, is that…Ares Kourakis?”
The last words broke the spell, and as a branch snapped loudly in the fire, he felt Ruby stiffen in his arms. But he wouldn’t release her.
Tangling his hands in her hair, Ares murmured, “Let’s get out of here. Come home with me.”
Her face looked stricken, almost dazed, as she glanced around at her friends. Licking her lips, she whispered, “I—I shouldn’t.”
“Just for one drink.”
“I told you. I don’t drink.”
He grasped at straws. “We haven’t eaten anything all night. You must be hungry. Let me make you dinner.”
Growing up with a house full of servants, Ares had never cooked in his life. But he wasn’t going to admit that now. “I’ll make you something amazing.”
The edges of her lips curved upward. “How amazing?”
He looked her straight in the eye. “The best you’ve ever had.”
Her eyes widened at his obvious implication. Glancing right and left self-consciously, she said in a low voice, “I can’t.”
His dark eyebrows lifted. “I took you for the kind of girl who doesn’t care what other people think. Only about her own pleasure.”
She choked a laugh. “What made you think that?”
He held her gaze. “When was the last time you put yourself first?”
“Tonight. Being here with you.”
“And before that?”
She paused. “It’s been a while.”
Pulling her more tightly into his arms, he looked down at her, relishing the feel of her against him in the cold night. “You can have anything you desire.” He stroked his fingertips slowly against her cheek. “All you have to do is say yes.”
Ruby’s pink cheeks turned redder still. She said unsteadily, “You’re just saying that trying to get what you want.”
“Of course I am,” he said frankly. “I want you, Ruby. I haven’t tried to hide it. Or the fact that I’m selfish and ruthless…”
Lowering his head to hers, he kissed her until she was left shivering in his arms and clinging to him for balance.
“Stop,” she breathed when he pulled away, again to more hooting from her friends. “I’ll come.”
Triumph filled him. “You will?”
She looked at him helplessly. “For dinner. Nothing more.”
But that was a lie, and he knew it. The way she’d kissed him, she had to know full well that food would barely be an appetizer on their sensual menu. But if her pride needed that ridiculous self-deception, he’d be the last man to argue the point.
As she gathered her gloves and said a quiet thank-you to her friends, he watched her hungrily. He could still feel her mouth against his. Still taste her lips. Waiting was agony. Every moment they weren’t naked felt like eternity.