"I like that one," a voice–her voice–said from behind me.
"Do you now?” I asked softly, not bothering to turn. She'd run off the last time, and though I'd searched, the place was packed. And I’d never been the guy to chase after a girl. I wasn't about to start now, no matter how good she tasted.
"It feels like a kindred spirit," she said, coming up next to me. Her head tilted slightly as she studied the painting, the pose so achingly familiar that I almost did a double take.
Damn, I shouldn't have had those drinks. I was usually more careful, but it was the off-season. I couldn't help but feel that I would've recognized her sober.
"You mean because of the wings?" I asked, motioning toward the painting.
She nodded. "It's kind of sad, really," she mused. "They're trapped there inside all that color. They'll never get to fly."
"Maybe they are flying," I said quietly, turning my gaze to her mask-obscured profile. "Maybe we’re the ones trapped by our own assumption that the sky is always blue."
She turned slowly to stare at me, a corner of her mouth tilting upward.
I wasn't sure how long we stood there, silently watching each other, feeling the tension rise between us until it felt as sharp as a knife's edge. “What’s your name?”
“Does it matter?” She tilted her head slightly.
My brow furrowed as I thought about it, my gaze flickering to her empty left hand. She wasn’t married—that was my hard line. “No,” I answered honestly.
"What would you say if I asked you to kiss me even though you don’t know my name?" She took a step closer, closing the distance until there were only inches between us. “A name doesn’t change whatever this pull is between us, does it?”
It didn’t. Whatever this attraction was defied logic. My blood heated, and my gaze dropped her lips. "I guess you'll have to ask if you want to find out."
"Would you kiss me?" she asked, brushing her lips over my chin.
"Would you like to be kissed?" I'd never been asked before. Somehow it was always assumed that I would want to kiss whomever was bold enough to take it. It was a little thing, but her request was hot as hell.
"Yes," she whispered.
Thank you, God. It was on.
I took the back of her neck in one hand and gripped her waist with the other, pulling our bodies flush, letting that sweet angst of anticipation build for just a breath longer—which was about all the self-control I had left.
She lifted her face toward mine, and I kissed her. I kept that one soft, just an introduction of our mouths, but when I drew lightly on her lower lip, she gasped, and I took full advantage. My tongue swept inside her mouth, and I groaned at how sweet she tasted, all citrus and lime.
She gripped handfuls of my shirt as I took her mouth over and over, licking into her, exploring and teasing with swirling strokes that had my pulse skyrocketing.
Don’t lose control.
Control was something I prided myself on just as much as stamina when it came to bringing a woman into my bed—her bed…whatever surface was flat and close by. But that discipline slipped with every thrust of my tongue, every scrape of my teeth, every whimper that rose from the back of her throat.
When she threw her arms around my neck, I sucked that sweet little tongue of hers into my mouth. Her breath caught for a heartbeat, and then she arched, pressing her breasts against my chest as she kissed me like her life depended on it. I was starting to think mine did—she was that addictive, more potent than any alcohol I’d ever tasted.
My nose grazed the bottom of her mask. Who was she under all the sequins and glitter?
“What’s your name?” I asked against her lips, my hand sliding over the curve of her delectable ass.
“Tell me,” I insisted. I had to know, had to see her again. I kissed her slowly, scraping my teeth gently over her lower lip.
“Touch me first. Talk later,” she countered, taking my hand and placing it on her breast.
Holy shit. I could live with that, especially with the weight of her breast filling my hand, the hard lines of her corset scraping my palm only to give way to soft, plump flesh. I wanted this woman naked, spread out like a seven-course meal on a table so I could devour her bite by bite.
I lifted my head long enough to see she’d shut the door to the small gallery. Then I spotted one of the wide, cushioned benches that faced each wall and lifted her by her ass, sinking back into her mouth as I carried her there. Our mouths remained fused, our tongues restless even as I laid her lengthwise on the bench, then rose above her.