‘There’s nothing between us.’ She nearly had to gasp the words out.

‘Your body begs to differ.’

‘Ten years ago you shoved me away as if I disgusted you.’

‘Ten years ago you were a child. What was I supposed to do?’

She turned to face him, her breast brushing his arm. ‘Don’t pretend you felt anything for me then.’

‘The point is what I feel for you now. And what you feel for me. It’s real, bella, what is between us. Why shouldn’t we enjoy it?’

He could see the indecision in her fractured gaze, the desire as well as the doubt. All she needed was the tiniest bit of incentive, the merest push to tumble her into temptation…and he was more than willing to give it.

‘Stop worrying so much,’ he murmured as he dropped his head so his lips were a fraction away from hers. He could hear her breaths, uneven and ragged. ‘What are you afraid of?’ he added, his lips very nearly brushing hers.

‘This,’ she whispered, and then Cristiano kissed her.

CHAPTER FIVE

IT FELT AS achingly wonderful as she could ever have imagined. Better. Far better. Sweet and dark at the same time, and so very intense. Cristiano was entirely in control, commanding her response. Demanding it.

Laurel’s head fell back as Cristiano’s lips moved on hers and he deepened the kiss, his tongue plundering the soft depths of her mouth, taking ownership, sending pulses of pleasure through her whole body.

It was just a kiss, yet it felt life-changing. Soul-shattering. He put his hand on her waist, his fingers splaying over the dip of her hip, his palm burning her through the thin silk of her skirt, another brand. In this moment he owned her and they both knew it.

Laurel couldn’t have broken that kiss even if she’d wanted to, which, to her own shame, she did not. She craved his touch, the explosion of sensation inside her an excitement that was impossible to contain or deny, licking through her veins, making her stand on tiptoe to give him greater access, to reach more of him.

Cristiano pulled her to him, fitting her body intimately to his so need roared through her veins and heat flared deeper and hotter.

He kissed his way from her mouth to her neck, his tongue teasing circles against her fevered skin; his hands stroking her hips, her thighs, making everything inside her coil so tightly. She felt as if she was about to explode, as if she needed to break apart. She arched against him, unable to help herself, her mind a haze of need as she craved the kind of release she’d never experienced with a man before.

Cristiano growled low in his throat and he skimmed his fingers underneath her skirt, running the tips along her inner thigh, teasing the sensitive skin before his thumb nudged the edge of her underwear and then slipped beneath, making her gasp at the shock of the tender invasion.

For a few blissful seconds Laurel couldn’t even think. She’d never been touched so intimately, so knowingly. And with such expertise. Cristiano knew exactly how a few lazy strokes sent her spinning, all her muscles clenching, her nails digging into his shoulders, everything in her straining as she fought for both control and release. She couldn’t have both—there was a battle raging inside her, and she didn’t know which side she wanted to win.

Her eyes fluttered open and through the daze of desire she caught sight of her own reflection on the mirrored wall—her flushed face, her swollen lips, her half-lidded eyes, her arched hips. But as for Cristiano—he didn’t look half as affected as she did. His expression was shuttered, his lips slightly pursed as he continued to touch her in such an intimate way. He looked almost clinical, dispassionate, a scientist conducting an experiment with guaranteed results. He was working her body. Manipulating her.

With a cry Laurel jerked out of his arms. Cristiano’s startled gaze clashed with hers and his eyes narrowed.

‘What…?’

‘Don’t,’ she said raggedly. Her body pulsed with unfulfilled desire—and shame. She’d fallen right into his arms. Into his trap. ‘Don’t,’ she said again, and stumbled into the bedroom, slamming the door in his face.

She flipped the lock, letting out a shuddering breath, her body still pulsing with pleasure—and frustration. Pushing her tangled hair away from her face, she paced the room that was just as sumptuous as Cristiano’s own. What on earth was she going to do now?

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