Landry hadn’t been teasing when he’d said he liked kissing. It was sweet and tender—something he hadn’t associated with sex until long after he’d moved out on his own. He liked the textures and the tastes and the intimacy. Incredible intimacy, more than the act of sex itself.
He especially liked kissing Alia, his tongue stroking over hers, the soft sounds she made in her throat, the huskier sounds he made. He liked the feel of her lips and the touch of her hands and the heat from her body...but not enough to spend the very next quarter hour kissing and nothing more. That would have to wait for next time, after he’d satisfied this need for her. In a day, a week, a year, another lifetime.
Lightning lit the room, brilliant enough to glow against his eyelids, and a breath later thunder rattled the old house. Immediately both repeated, thunder still rolling while lightning zagged across the sky. They were in the heart of the storm, their breathing ragged, her hands roaming, his body straining.
Blindly he found a condom on the nightstand and ripped open the package as he edged her toward the bed. His arms around her, he tumbled her onto the mattress, and they fell together, a laugh escaping her.
As he began to put on the condom, she slid her hands from his back to his groin, pushing his own hands away. She fumbled, teased, stroked, until he couldn’t breathe or hold himself steady, until every muscle in his body trembled. “You’re not helping,” he choked out, and she laughed again.
“You want me to stop?” She was trying to duplicate the innocence that was in her voice in her expression, but she looked entirely too wicked.
“Oh, hell, no.”
Sweat was beaded on his forehead before she finally slid the condom into place. He eased her onto her back, then shifted over her. His arms still trembled, heat still pumped through him in place of blood, need still clawed inside him, but he held himself motionless and stared down at her, memorizing everything about her.
He wanted her more than air, but that was nothing new. He’d wanted other women the same way. The new thing, the different thing, was that he needed her. Needed to feel her, touch her, kiss her, hold her, protect her, be protected by her. Needed her in a way he’d never needed anyone, in a way he couldn’t imagine ever needing anyone.
Her eyes darkened with passion—not just lust, but more—and gently she touched her fingers to his mouth. Twisting his head, he kissed them, then slowly slid deep inside her, and it was like finding the place where he belonged, the woman he belonged with. It was like finding home.
And he was welcomed.
* * *
Alia lay on her side, facing the windows, Landry’s body curved against her, her back to his front. The storm continued to rage, as if the system had liked what it had seen in the city and settled in for a while. High winds buffeted the windowpanes and rain thundered against the roof, the intensity of both energizing her.
Truth was, great sex did that all on its own. The storm was just icing on the cake.
The thought of cake—or, hell, just icing—made her stomach rumble. Landry’s drowsy chuckle vibrated through her. “Are you really thinking of food at a time like this?”
“I always think of food. Well, almost always.” Sighing with more pleasure than she remembered feeling in ages, she snuggled back even tighter against him. “Though there were a few moments there where food was the last thing on my mind.”
“Next time that’ll be my goal. To make you forget about it completely.”
Next time. How had she never before noticed the loveliness of those two words side-by-side?
“What time do you usually get to bed?” she asked, in the mood for the smallest of small talk, so her body didn’t have to reassign a single cell from enjoying the pure satisfaction still trembling through her.
“Three-thirty. Maybe four.” He nuzzled her hair. “I take it you’re not getting up at five to run if the storm doesn’t pass.”
“I like to run, but I’m no fool. Getting struck by lightning seems a really bad way to start the day.” A pause filled with a yawn. “What time do you get up?”
“Ten. Eleven. Sometimes noon. Depends on how well I sleep.”
“Do you usually sleep well?”
He was silent for a time. She might have thought he’d drifted off in the middle of her question except his breathing was too unsteady and shallow for sleep. At last, he said, “Pretty much. Before...” His shrug rippled through her.
Before. When life had been a living hell, and even when it wasn’t, when he’d been learning to deal with it and put it in the past. As much as a past like his could be kept there.
“How about Mary Ellen?” she asked quietly. So much for enjoying pure satisfaction, but the question had popped out on its own, and darkness, relatively speaking, seemed as good a time to ask as any. “Does she have trouble sleeping?”