A sigh rippled out of her, as she found sweet relief from the unremitting pressure of the millions of minds in the vicinity, the billions of thoughts pressing down on her. When Max shifted his embrace to cup the back of her head, she shuddered.
He froze. “Sophie?”
“All I feel is you,” she whispered against his body, the warmth of him making her want to rub her face against him, rub her skin against him until he was a part of her. “Just you.”
“More?” A husky question.
Bending his head, he touched his lips to her temple, one of his arms moving up to curve around her shoulders, his fingers tangling in her hair. She expected him to speak, but what he did instead was drop a line of kisses along her cheekbone and down over her jaw. Shivering from the sensation, from the near-painful pleasure of the contact, she stood on tiptoe, trying to get closer. A raw male chuckle.
And then Max kissed her.
This was no brush, no teasing taste. He took her mouth with the contained intensity she could feel thrumming beneath her fingers, his muscles taut, his entire body held barely in check. And she realized he was savagely angry, a tiger no longer on the leash.
His tongue swept against hers, buckling her knees. She gripped his shoulders, tried to hang on, drowning in the dark, masculine taste of him. Her heart was a rapid beat within her rib cage, her mind a place of splintering chaos. The only anchor, the only reality, was Max. His shoulder muscles shifting beneath her grasp, he moved one arm down to clamp over her lower back, his hand scrunching up the material of the shirt.
Air brushed the backs of her thighs, and she remembered she was standing in front of a mirror. But the thought was gone in the next instant as he tugged at her hair to angle her head for a deeper, hotly sexual kiss. Wet and open and demanding, it was the most intimate contact of her life. Her chest grew tight, so tight.
“Breathe.” A harsh order as Max broke the kiss.
Sucking in a gasping breath, she pressed her mouth back to his. Kissing was . . . wild and exhilarating and so shockingly intimate, she wasn’t sure she could handle what came afterward. But she would. “No.” The protest was rasped out as he broke the kiss a second time and gripped her arms, holding her hands from him.
A red flush rode his high cheekbones, and his voice, when he spoke, trembled with the force of emotion, “You’re not thinking straight.”
“I can’t be alone, Max.” She tried to close the gap between them, but he was too strong. “I want you.”
“You had one hell of a psychic shock today,” he said, refusing to budge. “I’m not about to let you cause further damage by overloading your—”
“Stop it,” she snapped out in spite of the fact that her skin was all but crawling with need, and had the satisfaction of seeing his eyes narrow. “I’m not a child you have to protect. I know what I want.”
Max hissed out a breath. “Your shields—”
“I don’t know what’s happening with my shields,” she said, blunt in her need, “but I know that right now, I’m an enigma to those in the PsyNet. This is my chance. If that shield fails tomorrow, if my mind is torn open, so be it—but don’t you dare deny us this because you think you’re protecting me. Don’t you dare.”
Max’s fingers flexed on her wrists, but he didn’t pull her forward. “What about me?” he asked, anger a vibrating thread in his voice.
She was taken aback by the question, by the glittering emotion in his eyes. “Max—”
“What the f**k do you think it’ll do to me to love you, then watch as your mind breaks?” Veins stood out along his arms, as if he was having to hold himself in vicious check to keep from shaking her.
Sophia’s expression shifted from one emotion to the next with lightning speed, but Max had anticipated her, held her tight when she tried to tug herself out of his grasp.
“No,” he said, “you don’t get to be a coward and back away now.”
Her eyes blazed with fire. “I’m not being a coward. You’re right—it was selfish of me to ask this of you.”
“So you’ll walk away? Just put it to one corner of your Psy mind and forget we ever touched?”
A tremble of her lower lip that she tried to hide from him. “Yes. I’m Psy.” Rote words, her face turned to the side. “I’ve learned to compartmentalize.”
“Liar.” And then he kissed again, unable to stop, whatever remaining barriers he had shredded by her nearness, her scent, her presence, the f**king way she was trying so hard to fight the painful depth of her need because she didn’t want to hurt him.
Her mouth opened under his even as she tried to pull away her wrists. He held her in place for a second before releasing her. Instead of pushing at him as he’d half expected, she wrapped her arms around his neck and met him stroke for stroke, lick for lick. Groaning, he bunched up the shirt she was wearing with one hand, reaching down to cup her bu**ocks with the other.
Sophia moaned into his mouth, and he somehow found the presence of mind to lift his head, to ask, “Is this hurting you?”
“No.” Pulling him back down, she used the skills she’d just learned to drive him insane.
He felt his fingers digging into her soft flesh, made himself soften his hold. Her response was to scrape her teeth over his jaw, along his neck. His hands clenched again, his eyes flicking to the mirror at her back. The raw eroticism of the image was beyond anything he’d dared imagine. Her skin was delicately flushed, a creamy softness against his rougher, darker hands.