“What are you about?” He sat up, sending Blackbeard to the end of the bed.

Her neck felt strangely light without it. She began to panic, pulse racing as her palms became sweaty. The last time she’d taken it off for him, he’d hurt her. But that was before she knew about what drove him. About the evil that tried to posses him. “Hold still.” Before she could change her mind, she fastened it around his neck and looked into his green eyes.

Stunned, Sasha could only stare back.

“There,” she said, giving the cross a pat and him a kiss on the jaw before she scooted down and turned on her side to face him. She propped a hand under the side of her head. “This will protect you.”

“Thank you.” He wished like hell he could give it back; he didn’t deserve something so precious to her. “How long should I wear this?”

“It’s yours to keep.” She traced the outline of the cross with the tip of her finger.

“Are you sure? I’ve never seen you without it.”

She nodded. “The first Poppy Holland gave it to her husband to keep him safe when he had to sail back to the Old World. The one time he took it off, he got sick and died.”

He grimaced. Perhaps that was what he should do. Take the damned thing off and wait for death. “Do you have any stories about any Poppy Holland that end happily?”

“No,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.

“Surprising, that.” He gazed up at the ceiling for a moment. “Hold on—you said husband. Holland women are allowed to marry?”

“Who said we weren’t?”

Sasha raised his brows.

She pursed her lips. “Maybe it’s because no one’s been man enough to take the Holland name as his own since Marcus.”

“I see,” he said, even though he didn’t at all. Why the hell did it matter who had what last name?

“There’s always been a Poppy Holland in Holland Springs and there always will be. No matter how much she wants things to be different,” she said flatly, her body tensing.

“Come here, love,” he murmured, drawing her down to him and refusing to let her shut him out. “What’s the criteria for being the newest Poppy?”

“Be the first-born daughter.” Rose snuggled against him, her bare br**sts pressed against his skin.

“So Summer has to come back—not just for Ivy, but because it’s tradition in Holland Springs?” He idly played with the curls in her hair. Curls that not so long ago had draped his thighs as her clever mouth did things that made him groan and fist the bed covers.

“Summer doesn’t give a damn about tradition, not that it matters.”

“Maybe that will change.”

“It won’t.” She flicked her tongue against one of his nipple rings. “Let’s have some wine.”

It sounded like a fine idea to him, but he didn’t relish the thought of leaving her very delectable body to venture downstairs. She leaned across his body, surprising the hell out him when she came back with two glasses filled with red liquid.

“You can toast.”

He twisted his head around, eyes widening when he saw the dusty bottle sitting on the bedside table. “How in the holy hell did that get into my room?”

“Magic,” Rose said, her breath hot against his skin as she nibbled a path along his shoulder.

He jerked his head back, his body rising to her silent invitation. Jesus, his neck would be suffering from whiplash tomorrow morning. “Wicked woman,” he said with a smile. He didn’t give a damn how the bottle of wine or glasses came to be in his room. She bit his nipple and he groaned. “Have mercy.” Especially when she did that.

She tipped the glass to his lips and he drank deeply, then she did the same.

“I need you inside of me,” she said, her voice low and seductive as the wine worked its way through his body, fueling his desire for her.

Plucking the wine glasses from her hands, he set them to the side and rolled her on her back. Rose parted her legs and her hands drifted down, covering his c**k with a condom.

“Magic,” she whispered again in answer to his obviously astonished face.

The necklace pulled tight as their mouths fused and he thrust inside of her, the snug fit nearly his undoing. “Sweet Jesus.” He lifted her leg over his arm and thrust again, closing the eyes to the pleasure and her throaty moans.

“Sasha.” She pulled him to her, the taste of wine on her tongue intoxicating.

Again and again he moved, deeper and deeper. Out of control as she met each thrust, her fingers digging in his back and shoulders. Acute lust and desire swept through him as her lush body welcomed his. He licked her ni**les, smiling in complete male satisfaction as they hardened.

But it wasn’t enough. He sat back on his thighs, taking Rose with him. “Hold on to me.”

Finding a rhythm that seemed to please her, he listened as she chanted his name. It sounded like a prayer, a plea. An incantation.

He couldn’t speak, could barely think as she wrapped herself around him. Plump hips rocked upon him and his mouth watered. She was so damn soft in all the right places, so sweetly perfect for him that he wanted to devour her. To taste every inch of her creamy skin until it was firmly branded on his tongue. His soul.

Rose tightened around his c**k and cried out.

He cursed, guttural and long as his own orgasm swept over him in erotic waves. Panting, he let his head fall back, reveling in the small kisses she pressed to his throat.

“So sleepy,” she whispered.

He couldn’t have agreed more, but he was too damn tired to say the words. He stretched out on the bed, keeping himself inside of her and closed his eyes. “I’ll clean…in a minute.”

Rose’s fingertips lightly touched his mouth. “Hush.”

Smiling against them, he exhaled and let sleep claim him.

Chapter Seventeen

Sasha woke to a pounding in his head. He rubbed the heel of his hand in his eye, trying to clear the fog from his brain. He’d only had a mouthful of wine last night, but the pounding intensified. Apparently, homebrews were extremely powerful. Jesus. He’d never touch the stuff again.

Grabbing a pillow, he pressed it over his face. “Make it stop.”

Rose stirred beside him. “What in the world?”

“Hangover,” he said to the pillow. “The pounding won’t go away.”

“Maybe if I answer the door it would.”

He turned his head, looking at her from beneath his pillow. “That some kind of witchy remedy?”

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