With every inch of skin he uncovered, there was another kiss. Places that had never been sensitive before responded to his slightest touch, to the brush of his lips followed by his fingertips grazing the new spot he'd marked. Until finally, he slid the robe all the way off her arms.
He'd seen her in fairly skimpy pajamas before, but though there'd been attraction between them a week ago, it hadn't been this red hot. And neither of them had had any intention of acting on it. But oh, were they ever acting on it now as Liam slowly ran his fingertips down over the straps of her top.
"Just take it off, already!"
"All this time, I thought you were so patient," he said, a heated chuckle underlying his words.
"In case you didn't hear me earlier," she said in a far more petulant tone than she could believe was coming out of her mouth, "I said I want you." She waited until his gaze met hers. "Really, really, really want."
That won her a kiss, one that seared them both. With the few brain cells she had left, she tried to wriggle out of the rest of her clothes. But Liam's hands were there before she could.
"Not yet." He ran kisses over every inch of her newly bared skin, then said, "Lift your arms for me, sweetheart."
She was so bowled over by the endearment that she actually froze. Maybe she should have let it slip by, should have silently locked it away in her heart for cold winter nights, but how could she? "You called me sweetheart."
"Arms up," he said again, and as she did as he asked, she knew he was uncomfortable with what he'd just said. But she still needed him to know, "No one's ever said that to me before. I liked it. Say it again. Please."
For a long moment, she thought he might ignore her request. But then he lowered his mouth back to hers, and the word came against her lips so softly that she might not have heard it if she hadn't been able to feel it too.
And when he kissed her again, Christie realized she wasn't in danger of falling anymore. Because despite every warning he'd given her--and despite every warning she'd given herself--she'd already gone and done it.
Liam wasn't a man who spouted poetry to the women he bedded. Sex had always been about taking care of physical needs. Sex had never been about laughter, or teasing. Definitely not about emotion.
And yet, Christie was drawing all three from him.
He knew what he should be doing, knew what was smart. Pulling away from her. Telling her he was sorry he'd come to her tonight. Saying this was a mistake.
The problem was, his brain was no longer in charge. Although, if that were the only problem, he might still have been able to dig into his self-control and leave before things went any further. Only, something else was leading tonight with Christie. Not simply a body that desired her.
But a heart he didn't have the first clue how to control.
How could he when what he saw in her eyes humbled him? Pleasure. Freedom. Joy. And so much emotion it made his chest clench with longing.
Longing to be worthy of her.
So when she reached for him again, he vowed to give her as much ecstasy, as much bliss, as she could bear. He kissed his way down her body, from her forehead, to her cheekbones, to the sensitive curve where her jaw met her neck. He tasted the hollow of her collarbone, then her shoulder and upper arm, then a spot on her inner elbow that made her shiver, then down to her hand so that he could kiss each fingertip one at a time. And then he did it all over again on her other side, leaving no part of her unearthed, untasted, unadorned.
Because every inch of her was a miracle. One that he'd never thought to deserve.
She was begging, pleading, by the time he found the swells of her breasts with his tongue. She arched into him, and it was an invitation he couldn't deny as he cupped her sweet flesh in his hand and took first one taut peak between his lips, and then the other. Over and over, until her hands were threaded in his hair. Until she was tugging him even closer. Until she was begging him again--to take more, to take everything.
He'd never wanted anyone this much, never knew desire could be so sharp, so overwhelming, so goddamned good. And still, his need for her continued to peak, to grow bigger and bigger with every kiss he ran down from her breasts to her rib cage and then her stomach. Her muscles quivered just beneath her skin as he devoured her, but she wasn't the only one shaking. He was too, his hands nowhere close to steady as he tried to memorize her every curve and hollow.
He wanted to go slowly, to wring every ounce of pleasure from her before morning, but when he gripped her hips and she lifted herself into his mouth, there was nothing in the world that could have stopped him from taking more.
She was so damned hot. So damned sweet. And so beautifully unashamed of her sensuality as she rocked against him to drive his tongue deeper against her sex, into her core.
Nothing had ever been this good before. Nothing had ever come anywhere close to being as beautiful as the scent, the sounds, the feel of Christie as her climax took her over. For the rest of his life, he'd be replaying the way she called out his name, her voice drenched not only with pleasure, but also with rich, heady emotion.
When she finally stilled beneath him, he ran kisses back up her body, over the curves that he wanted to keep exploring--in the water, on the beach, in the woods, in the shower, in his own bed. Anywhere and everywhere he could have her.
When he was finally levered back over her again, she cupped his jaw and kissed him. And kissed him. And kissed him. Until everything inside his brain had turned to mush, so that the next thing he knew she had reversed their positions and was lying on top of him.
The one word fell from her lips like nectar, and he had to drink from her lips again as she made surprisingly short work of his clothes and putting on protection. And then, in one seamless move, she was taking all of him inside of her, right where he longed to be.
Wrapped up in Christie, in her sweetness, in her warmth. And in deeper, truer pleasure--and peace--than he'd ever thought possible, as their bodies moved together as one.
Many times throughout the early-morning hours, Liam had wanted to wake Christie and make love to her again. But he hadn't had the heart to disturb her when he knew how badly she needed the rest. And the truth was that it had been a revelation just how much he'd enjoyed holding her in the dark, feeling her breathe deeply and evenly against him as he finally let himself relax for a few hours. Only now that the sun was rising over the lake was she slowly waking in his arms.
Her hips were pressed to his front as they both lay on their sides. She was using one of his arms as a pillow behind her head, but his other hand was free. Free to roam slowly, gently, over her bare curves.
The little hitches he could hear in her breath as she came fully awake and arched so that her hips were pressed even closer to his, took him from aroused to desperate for her within seconds.
Thankfully, he wasn't the only one with no self-control, because when he slid his hand from her breasts down to the vee between her legs, she opened for him on a soft moan. She was so hot, so ready, so perfectly made for pleasure, that he'd only barely stroked over her sex when she was coming apart for him with a shudder and his name on her lips.
After putting on protection, he lowered his lips to the bare curve of her neck at the same time that he came into her. And just like the night before, as they moved together so that pleasure peaked, then jumped higher still as they found release together, it was as though they were made for each other.
Only for each other.
They lay panting in each other's arms when she said, "Good m
orning." Her first words of the day were husky. Lazy with fulfilled pleasure.
But he could hear the uncertainty in them too.
He couldn't give her the words she needed to push that uncertainty away, but he could kiss her again, just the two of them safe beneath the sheets even as the rest of the world waited outside her door. A world full of people who would eventually find out about the two of them, no matter how hard they tried to hide what was between them.
If he'd had any control around her, Liam would have felt confident in his ability to keep his feelings for Christie to himself. But given that he couldn't so much as look at her without wanting to touch her, kiss her--or keep from smiling whenever she was near--he knew there'd be talk. Questions.
This morning, the easiest thing would be to pull her back into his arms and make that flush of desire spread all the way across her skin. And it was tempting, so damned tempting, to do just that. But for all the pleasure it would bring, he'd learned long ago that the longer one waited to have a difficult conversation, the more difficult it was to have it. Until the day came when they could no longer talk at all.
That was why he forced himself to say, "I've never been with anyone from town before. But as soon as people see us together, there's no way we'll be able to hide our relationship." Because he was utterly incapable of pretending she hadn't rocked his world.
She reacted as though his statement were a bucket of icy water poured over them both--and he understood why. Reality had never been harder to face than after their night of perfect pleasure. Her muscles immediately went from loose to stiff, and she scooted from his arms, pulling the sheet over her naked skin.
Did she have any idea how tempting she looked sitting there, her silky hair tumbling across her shoulders, her mouth rosy from his kisses, her eyes big and so green there was no emerald that could outshine them?