Until he groaned harshly.
And capitulated to the ferocity of her caress with a force all his own.
Then there was only the sound of his deep ragged breathing.
Slowly she knelt back and lifted her face to see into his.
‘I lose myself in you,’ he said raspily, with utter relief evident in his lax body.
‘And that’s a good thing?’
‘What is it you’re escaping from?’ she asked.
She was a temporary release—she got that. And that was good, because anything longer and she’d fall too hard.
Swiftly he reached down and used his impressive strength to lift her into his arms. He sat her sideways across his lap.
‘Being alone tonight,’ he added, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her close against his chest.
She rested her head on his shoulder. ‘I thought you valued your independence?’ He was Mr Holiday Fling after all.
‘Mostly I do. But tonight…’
She lifted her head to see into his eyes, but he’d turned his face away. She cupped his roughened jaw and turned his face back towards hers. His skin was dampened with sweat—but she wasn’t sure if that was because of her, or because of whatever nightmare it was he was locked into.
‘I’m meeting my birth father for the first time tomorrow.’ He expelled a harsh breath. ‘He doesn’t know I’m coming. He thinks it’s a business meeting. Mum and Dad don’t know that’s why I’ve come to Australia. No one knows.’
Shocked, she tried to keep her own breathing even. ‘Why don’t they know?’
‘I’m not sure if he knows I ever existed, and from what I’ve read he might not be that interested.’
Her heart broke for him. No wonder he was so edgy. ‘What makes you say that?’
‘All reports suggest he’s ruthless.’
‘Not everyone is as their PR might make them seem… we both know that.’
‘I know. But there are…’ He hesitated. ‘Other things.’
She waited, watching. Willing him to keep talking—because she suspected he needed to. And she wanted to listen.
‘My adoptive parents always denied they knew anything about him. Not even his name,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Whenever I asked they denied it. Then they changed the subject.’
‘You think they lied to you?’
‘Not lied. Just… didn’t tell me. Not even their suspicions. After a while I stopped asking and decided to find out for myself.’ His breathing picked up again. ‘I hate it that they held it back from me. I know they probably thought they were protecting me, but not knowing is worse. I need to know.’
And right now he didn’t. But it was clear he had some pretty scary suspicions.
‘You’re worried you’ll upset them?’ she asked. ‘Is that why you’ve not told them?’
Her heart broke again. ‘So… Tomorrow?’
‘Yeah,’ he half grunted.
‘No wonder you can’t sleep.’ Who could sleep the night before something so momentous? No one human could. ‘Is this related to that phone call you took when we first met in the hotel?’
No wonder he’d sounded so gruff. No wonder he’d wanted frivolous, frisky company these last couple of days. Who wouldn’t?
And no wonder he’d been so restless the whole time they’d been together.
She looked into his eyes. Even in the weak starlight she could see that stark expression had returned.
One need she could fulfil for him. Physical. And just for tonight emotional.
She could care for him so easily. She liked him. It would be the tiniest step to open up to a deeper emotion. And she took it, not caring about any future cost to herself. His need for connection was greater than her need for protection.
‘Let me distract you,’ she said. ‘I can help you escape…’
Together they could escape everything for just a few more hours.
She knew he wanted it—could feel him hard again beneath her butt.
‘Are you sure?’ he asked.
She half laughed as she slipped off his lap and turned to face him. Bending down, she kissed him, then drew back. In the starlight she sought out another condom from the stash that had been on the table that morning. She handed it to him. ‘Let’s pretend there’s only tonight. Only now.’
But it was no pretence, really. Because for them that was all there would ever be.
When he was ready she straddled him, her knees either side of his hips, keeping herself balanced by holding on to his broad shoulders. The position rendered her so exposed to him. His hand on her spine pushed her forward, sealing her chest to his. He threaded his fingers through her hair, holding her head so he could see her.