They made it to the kitchen before they dived at each other. Pressed against the back door, she let her system rage under his hands.
Oh, to be touched again, stroked by hard hands so foreign and familiar. The wild and wicked freedom of it gushed into her, flooded away questions, worries, doubts. To be wanted like this again, devoured by desperation. To have her own needs matched by equally insatiable ones. She pulled his tattered shirt aside and filled her own hands with hot, smooth flesh. She bit at him, craving the taste. Fueling herself on it, she whispered half-crazed demands as they stumbled out of the kitchen. Something fell, a musical tinkle of glass, as they bumped a table in the hall. Little shards of what had been a crystal faerie's wings were crushed to glittery dust under his feet. She couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Her lips skimmed over the wounds on his shoulder. Neither of them noticed when the marks faded away. "Touch me. Don't stop touching me. "
He'd have cheerfully died first.
He filled his hands with her - curves, slender lines, felt his own primitive thrill when she quivered against him. His blood surged, a primal beat, when her breath caught, then released on a moan. He slid his hands up her legs, groaning at the glorious length of them, at the heat that gathered around the witch mark that rode high on her thigh. With no thought of finesse, he tugged impatiently at the thin barrier of silk.
"I have to - " And plunged his fingers into her. "Oh, God. Sweet God. " His face was buried in her hair when she erupted. "Again, again, again. " Savagery took over so that he fixed his teeth on her throat, driving her while her body bucked and shuddered.
Impossibly hot, wonderfully wet, gloriously soft. He found her mouth again, swallowed her sobbing breaths.
They dragged each other up the stairs. With fast and urgent fingers, he fumbled with, tore at the tiny buttons that ranged down the back of her dress. Snapped threads, exposed flesh.
"I need to see you. To see you. "
The dress slithered to the floor and was left behind. At the top of the steps, he started to pull her to the right.
"No, no. " Nearly sobbing with desperation, she dragged at the button of his jeans. "This way now. "
She circled him to the left, shivering when he snapped open the clasp of her bra. When he filled his hands with her breasts. Soon his mouth, hot and hungry, replaced his hands.
"Let me. Just let me. " Half mad with her, he pulled her arms over her head. Feasted. Mia let her head fall back and relished the helpless and heavy sensation of being ravished. Alive - she was so brutally alive. Even as her heart raged against his greedy mouth, her body wept for more. When he gripped her hips, her arms locked around him in taut, possessive ropes. The bed was steps away, but it might have been miles. His eyes, pure green, burned into the dark smoke of hers. For an instant it seemed the world went still.
"Yes," she said. "Yes. "
Then he drove himself into her.
They took each other where they stood, and took hard and fast. The race through pleasure, toward bliss, stole breath and reason as they mated with a kind of willful violence. Her nails scored his back, his fingers dug bruises on her skin, and still they pushed each other for more. Their mouths met, a wild and frenzied feeding, and their bodies plunged relentlessly.
The climax raked her like claws. One long swipe that sliced through her system and laid her bare. Helpless against it, she surrendered. And felt him plunge after her. Sweaty, weak, quivering, they held each other up. They swayed there, slick, bruised flesh to flesh. Lowering his forehead to hers, Sam struggled to draw in air. His body felt as if it had fallen off a mountain and landed in a pool of hot, melted gold.
"I'm a little dizzy," she managed.
"Me, too. Let's see if we can get to the bed. "
They stumbled through the haze and fell on Mia's ancient four-poster together. Lying flat on their backs, they both stared, dazed, at the ceiling.
It wasn't, he realized, precisely the sexual reunion he'd envisioned for them. His fantasy had involved seduction, sophistication, and a great deal more finesse on his part.
"I was in a little bit of a hurry," he told her.
"No problem. "
"You know the weight I mentioned you'd put on?"
"Hmmm. " The sound was a low warning.
"It really works for me. " He shifted his hand just enough to skim the side of her breast. "I mean, it really works. "
"You filled out a bit yourself. "
He let himself float, studied the mural on her ceiling. In the night sky, stars glowed and faeries flew. "You moved your bedroom. "
"Good thing I didn't follow the impulse to climb up the trellis the other night. "
Because the image brought her back to nights he'd done just that, she sighed. It had been a long time, a very long time, since her body had felt so loose, so used . It made her want to curl up like a cat and purr.
She would have done so once with him. Once they would have turned to each other and, tangled together, would have slept like kittens after a romp.
Those days were over, she thought. But as romps went, they'd done very, very well. "I have to get back to work," she said.
"So do I. "
They turned their heads, looked at each other, and grinned. "Do you know the beauty of owning your own business?" she asked him.
"Yeah. " He rolled over until his mouth hovered a breath from hers. "Nobody can dock our pay. "
But that didn't mean you got off scot-free.
When Mia strolled back into the bookstore, Lulu took one look at her and knew. "You did it with him. "
"Lulu!" Hissing, Mia scanned the area for customers.
"If you think it's not going to show, and people aren't going to gab about it, then sex gave you instant brain damage. "
"Be that as it may, I'm not going to stand here and discuss it at the cash register. " With her head high, she started toward the stairs and was immediately waylaid by Gladys Macey.
"Hello, there, Mia. Don't you look pretty today?"
"Hello, Mrs. Macey. " Mia angled her head to read the titles of the books Gladys had picked up. "You'll have to let me know what you think of that one. " She tapped a finger against a current bestseller. "I haven't read it yet. "
"I'll be sure to do that. I heard you had dinner over at the hotel. " Gladys beamed into Mia's face. "Sam Logan's making some changes over there, I'm told. The food as good as ever?"
"Yes, I enjoyed it. "
Then Mia looked over her shoulder at Lulu. Considering Lulu's voice and Gladys's ears, there was no doubt the opening comment had been heard and digested.
"Would you like to know if Sam and I had sex?" she asked pleasantly.
"Now, honey. " Gladys gave Mia a motherly pat. "Don't get all dandered up. Besides, it's hard to look at you and not see right off you've got a nice, healthy glow about you. He's a handsome boy. "
"Troublemaker," Lulu muttered under her breath, and proved that Gladys's ears were well tuned.
"Oh, now, Lu, that boy never caused any more trouble than any of the others around here, and less than some. "
"The others didn't come sniffing around my girl. "
"Well, they certainly did. " Gladys shook her head, calling back to Lulu as if Mia was invisible - or deaf.
"There wasn't a boy on the island who didn't sniff around her. Fact is, Sam was the only one who had her sniffing back. I always thought they made a pretty couple. "
"Excuse me. " Mia held up a finger. "I'd like to remind both of you that the boy and the girl who did the sniffing are now full-grown adults. "
"But you still make a pretty couple," Gladys insisted.
Giving up, Mia leaned over, brushed her lips over Gladys's cheek. "You have a sweet heart. "
And a wagging tongue, she thought as she walked up to her office. Word would spread like a rash over the island that Sam Logan and Mia Devlin were at it again.
Since she didn't know how she felt about that, but could do nothing to circumvent it, Mia put the matter in a corner of her mind and went back to work on her proposal.
By four, ignoring the stares, she sailed across the street and into the hotel, where she dropped the envelope containing her proposal at the lobby desk, with a request that it be delivered to Mr. Logan as soon as possible. Then she sailed out again.
To make up for the time she'd lost, she closed herself in the stockroom and concentrated on business. She organized, rearranged, and put together a list of inventory that needed replenishing. The solstice always brought a flood of tourists to the island. It paid to be ready for them. Armed with the stock list, she rose. Then quickly sat again as a wave of dizziness swamped her. Foolish, she berated herself. Careless. She'd had nothing but a half a muffin all day. She got to her feet, thinking she'd pick up a bowl of soup in the cafe. And an image swam into her brain. Evan Remington stood by a barred window, smiling. And his eyes were as empty as a doll's. But he turned his head, slowly, so slowly, and those eyes began to glow red and filled with something that wasn't human.