She desperately tried to remember why she couldn’t let this happen. But at this moment, being in his arms seemed like everything she’d ever wanted. She could no more resist him than she could resist life itself.

Maybe she’d been wrong all this time, she thought in a daze. Maybe fairy tales really could come true…

Letting her smaller body slide down against his, he set her down on her feet. She felt the hardness of his desire for her.

He drew her arms over her head, pulling off her long-sleeved shirt. As if from a distance, she watched it fall to the floor, her heart pounding. He towered over her, so powerful and certain, as his hands caressed down her back to unhook the clasp of her bra. She heard his low hiss of appreciation as her breasts sprung free and her bra fell to the floor. Awed, he cupped one of her breasts in his hand.

“So beautiful,” he whispered. “I’ve been wanting to do this all night.”

Lowering his head, he pulled her taut red nipple into his wet, hot mouth.

Pleasure spiraled through her, making her gasp as he suckled her. Caressing her breasts with his hands, he pulled away, kneeling before her. His large hands moved to her waist, then her hips as he slowly pulled off her black leggings, peeling the flimsy fabric down her thighs, to her knees, to her ankles. He lifted one of her feet, then the other, and the leggings disappeared completely, leaving her standing before him wearing only her white cotton panties. Still on his knees, he briefly pressed his head against her belly, closing his eyes.

Then he exhaled, running his hands up her half-naked backside. Moving his head, he ran the scratchy edge of his jaw against her hip, sliding down toward the crux between her legs, along the edge of her underwear. Sensation rushed through her. She watched the flickering firelight against his back, felt the bedroom’s soft rug between her toes. She felt the heat of his breath against her skin.

After pulling her panties to the floor, he slowly lowered his head between her thighs.

And he tasted her.

Gripping his shoulders, she gave a loud gasp as spirals of pleasure twisted through her. As the wet roughness of his tongue slowly worked against her most sensitive core, the pleasure was too much, spinning out of control. She knew she should pull him away, make him stop, but not now…not yet!

Her head fell back in ecstasy, long hair tumbling down her shoulders as she held her breath. Her nipples were tight, her whole body tense, coiling with hot, building need.

“Sweet,” he whispered against her skin. “So sweet.”

Gently, he pushed her back on the bed. Eyes squeezed shut, she heard him remove the remainder of his clothes. She felt the mattress shift beneath her, and then the weight of his hard-muscled body naked over hers. She felt the hard length of him pressing against her thigh. She was lost. Lost.

He slowly moved down the length of her, kissing and caressing her skin. Then he lowered his head back between her legs.

Her shaking hands held the comforter beneath her tightly as he licked her. Spreading her wide, he pushed the tip of his tongue a single inch inside her. She was overwhelmed by intense pleasure buffeting her like hurricane-force winds. Using his lips and tongue, he drew her gently into the deep, warm pleasure of his mouth. It was too much. Her fingers twisted in his short dark hair, but he would not move away. He would not release her. A low cry built in the back of her throat as he held her down, encouraging her to surrender to the pleasure.

She exploded in a cry she didn’t recognize as her own, as she soared and shattered into a thousand chiming prisms of her body and soul.

With a growl, he rose on the bed, leaning to take a condom from his nightstand. Drawing it down in a single skilled movement over the huge, hard erection jutting from his body, he positioned himself between her legs.

Distracted from the aftershocks of her climax, she felt the hot slide of his muscular body against hers as he spread her legs wide and pushed deep inside her.

Pain shot through her. She gasped, gripping her nails into his shoulders.

He froze, his face a picture of shock. “You were…a virgin?”

She nodded, then closed her eyes, turning her head away.

“How could you be?” His voice was low, almost angry.

How could she explain? That she’d been waiting for true love, for a knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet? That even at eighteen, when she’d agreed to marry Braden, part of her had known he wouldn’t be that man?