Holding her h*ps in place, he pressed his lips to her navel. "Trust me."
She trusted him more than she'd ever trusted any other being. "I need you." It was a dangerous confession, but she had no barriers left.
His hands tightened on her, and then he was moving over her body in a molten wave of kisses, touch and pure heat. She found her lips taken again, even as he reached between them to free himself, shoving his clothing down just enough. It was still too slow - she was rubbing herself against him by then, hungry, so desperately hungry.
"Katya, baby, stop." It was a groan. "I can't hold on if you do that."
She raised her lips to his again, infusing her kiss with every ounce of passion in her. Shuddering, Dev gripped her hard on one hip. "I sure hope you're ready, sweetheart."
"Yes, yes!" Crying out as her body stretched around the hard thrust of his entry, she wrapped both legs around his waist. And then she let him lead.
He took her on a ride that eclipsed anything they'd ever before done. Wild, untamed, and vividly physical, they danced. The last thing Katya remembered was seeing Dev's eyes shimmer gold.
"Shower," Dev said, all but carrying her to the bathroom.
He pressed a kiss to her shoulder. "We're both sweaty - and I need to get some work done."
Holding on to him, she let him turn on the shower. The warm spray washed off the sweat of their lovemaking, and that was all they were capable of then. Dragging her out of the bathroom, Dev rubbed her down before doing the same to himself, while she tried to keep herself upright.
Just when her legs threatened to go out from under her, he dropped the towel and grabbed her. "We do that again," Dev muttered, "and I might not live to tell the tale."
Nuzzling her smiling face into the damp heat of his neck, she let him carry her to bed, lay her down on the tumbled sheets. "I'm so sleepy."
"Yeah, might be a good idea to catch an hour's shut-eye," he said with a yawn. "We didn't get much more than three hours last night."
As he pulled the blanket over them, her lashes fluttered down. Body sated and wrung out, she tried to remember what she had to do. Leave. Yes, she had to do that.
But then Dev put an arm around her waist and pulled her close, and she surrendered to the selfishness in her that wanted another moment, another minute, another hour with him. I'll go once he falls asleep, she promised herself, never realizing that she was sliding into the same dreamless void herself.
Dev felt Katya leave the bed, his senses coming half-awake as he waited for her to return from the bathroom. It took him too long to realize he couldn't hear the tap running, any sounds at all. "Katya?"
He opened his eyes just in time to see her run into the room, the light from the setting sun dancing off the deadly blade in her hand. Snapping to full alertness as she lifted the murderous blade high above her head, he went to roll away, but something stopped him. The angle of the knife, it was wrong - "Katya!"
Blood spurted as she thrust the knife into her own thigh, crashing to the floor with a shattered cry of pain.
He was kneeling beside her almost before he remembered moving, his heart a hammer against his ribs, his entire body taut with adrenaline that had nowhere to go. "God damn it, baby." His words came out harsh, angry, even as he flicked on the light and focused on the wound, trying not to let the sound of her pained breathing distract him from doing what he had to do to help her.
But he couldn't stop the stream of angry words. "What the hell did you think you were doing? You could've hit your femoral artery." He was f**king glad to see that she hadn't. The knife, however, had gone in deep. "If you wanted to die, you should've told me. I'd have done it for you."
He gripped her leg hard, holding her in place as he reached for a nearby bureau, yanking out an old but clean shirt. "Leave it," he snapped when she went to pull out the blade. Her silent tears grated on his every protective instinct. But he was tearing the shirt and using the material to put pressure on the wound - working around the knife embedded in her - even as she sobbed. "It'll heal fast with the proper care, though I've a mind to sew you up myself. The stupidity - "
"Dev." Fingers on his stubbled jaw. Tear-stained eyes met his. "I was trying to kill you."
"So why did the knife end up in your thigh?" Under his touch, her skin was delicate, so easily bruised. "Talk."
A slow blink. "I couldn't drop the knife." She lifted her hand to her mouth as if ashamed.
He gripped her chin. "You call me next time. You f**king scream. You don't stab yourself."
"I couldn - "
"You could," he said, his tone hard. "If you can fight the compulsion enough to stab yourself, then you can fight it enough to let me know something's wrong." Continuing to keep pressure on her thigh with one hand, he used the other to rip away the hand she'd been using to cover up a nosebleed. "How bad?"
"Not so bad." She went to turn her head away but he forced her to face him as he used a strip of fabric to wipe away the blood.
Her cheeks pinkened. "I can do that."
It was the sheer normality of the reaction that convinced him she wasn't lying about the consequences of fighting what had clearly been an implanted suggestion. "It's fine." His voice was still sandpaper raw, and when she flinched, he knew it wasn't from the pain. Putting down the strip of cloth when it became obvious her nose had stopped bleeding, he dropped his head to press a kiss to the top of her knee.
An indrawn breath . . . then gentle feminine fingers in his hair, stroking, calming. He shuddered, felt his hands clench on her thigh, forced himself to loosen his grip. "We need to get you to a medic."