“It’s okay,” he whispered against the corner of my lip. “This is about you. Yeah, this is totally about you.” He sounded surprised by his own words, and when he spoke again, his voice was hoarse as he pressed his forehead against mine. “You undo me. You have no idea how you undo me.”
Before I could process what that meant, his hand started to move and his wrist twisted and the cells in my body tightened to an almost painful point. I couldn’t control it. My body moved of its own accord, my back arching. A rush of sensations hit me all at once. That edge I’d been teetering on? I toppled right over as those cells seemed to scrabble out in every direction. Roth knew the moment to kiss me, his lips silencing the sounds I would be embarrassed over later.
He held me through it. Hours passed while I slowly pieced myself back together. Maybe it was only minutes. It didn’t matter. My heart thundered. I felt glorious. Alive. Better than after tasting a soul.
Our eyes met, and I smiled a little. Something fractured in his gaze as his fingers trailed over my cheek. “What I would give...”
Roth didn’t finish the thought, and my brain was still too fuzzy to figure out his meaning. He pressed his lips to my flushed forehead and slowly rolled over onto his back. I followed him, not as graceful. My leg ended up tangled with his.
Roth held up a hand, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “I need a minute.”
I opened my mouth and then clamped it shut. Flushing, I started to pull back, but his arm snaked around my waist, holding me in place.
“Okay. Maybe I need more than a minute.” His voice was tight and strained, thick.
I may have be inexperienced, but I wasn’t completely naive. “Why...why did you stop?”
“I don’t know.” He gave a short laugh. “I really don’t know, but it’s all right. Yeah, it’ll be all right.”
I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment and then I let myself relax against his side, taking comfort in the steady rise and fall of his chest. I felt his hand smooth over my cheek, tucking my hair back behind my ear. My breath hitched in my throat, and when I opened my eyes, he was staring at me in a way I didn’t understand.
Unable to hold his gaze, mine flitted down over his bare chest and stomach. The detail on the dragon was as amazing as Bambi. Iridescent blue and green scales glimmered in the natural light streaming through the window, its body rippling over the dips and hard planes of his stomach. As Roth breathed, it seemed like the dragon took a breath. The dragon’s eyes matched Roth’s, a beautiful golden hue that glowed within.
“If you keep staring down there like that, it’s not going to be all right.”
I flushed and hastily averted my gaze, but it didn’t stay away long. Rising up on my elbow, it took everything for me not to touch it. “The tattoo—does it come off you like Bambi?”
“Only when I’m very, very angry.” Roth lifted his arms above his head and his back bowed, causing the dragon tattoo to stretch along with him. “And even then, I don’t let him off unless there’s no other option.”
“Does he have a name?”
Roth arched a brow. “Thumper.”
I laughed out loud. “What is it with you and Disney names?”
“I like the name.” He sat up quickly and pressed a kiss to the back of my shoulder, and then he settled back down, curving an arm around my waist. His hand landed on my hip with astonishing ease. “You can touch it if you want.”
Following the outline of the wing, I thought it would be rough or at least raised from the skin, but it was as smooth as the rest of Roth. I skimmed over the belly of the dragon and drifted down to where the tail disappeared under the waist of Roth’s jeans.
He sucked in a deep breath. “All right, maybe the touching thing is a bad idea.”
I jerked my hand back and peeked at him. He was staring at the ceiling, a muscle feathering along his jaw. “Sorry.”
One side of his lips tipped up. “You...you surprised me. I figured you’d be wearing white.”
“What?” Then it struck me. My bra was red. I smacked him on the chest. “I’m not a purity princess, for crying out loud.”
“No. No, you’re definitely not.” He rolled onto his side, facing me. A funny smile played on his lips. Roth suddenly looked young and...completely at ease. “You’re actually a wild little thing.”
I shook my head. “I’m not sure about that.”
“You have no idea.” His voice was rough and he tugged me down so I was lying half on his chest. He wrapped his fingers around my chin and brought my lips to his. The answer was in a slow-burning deep kiss that tripped up my heart. His hand slid off my chin to the nape of my neck, holding me to him as the kisses left me breathless and dazed.
Then he lifted up and all the sensual laziness was gone from his beautiful face. My pulse jumped and a cold chill snaked its way down my spine.
Roth took a deep breath. “It’s time.”
We’d left a little before midnight, parking several blocks away from the monument. A Porsche like Roth’s would draw too much attention, and I was already worried that we’d stumble across a Warden. They’d be out hunting demons...demons like Roth.
Starting off on Constitution Avenue, I wasn’t surprised by the amount of foot traffic for this time of night. Most were humans barhopping, but mixed in among them were a few with no souls. One Fiend, her wine-colored hair pulled up in a high ponytail, was hailing a cab, which struck me as odd. Beside her was a human male, and I wondered if he knew what he was standing next to.
As we got closer to the National Mall, the full moon was high in the sky, fat and bloated. Roth took my hand in his and I glanced at him. “What? Are you scared again?”
“Ha. Actually, I’m making us invisible.”
“What?” I glanced down at myself, expecting to see through my leg. “I don’t feel invisible.”
“And what does invisible feel like, Layla?” Amusement colored his tone.
I made a face at him.
Roth smirked. “The National Mall closed about half an hour ago. The last thing we need is a park ranger getting all up in our business.”
He had a good point. “We’re invisible now?”
Sending me a quick grin, he pulled me right in front of two young men who were loitering alongside the street. Under the street lamps, the ends of their cigarettes flared red as they inhaled. We walked right in front of them, so close I could see the tiny stud in the one guy’s nose. They didn’t even blink when Roth flipped them off. No reaction whatsoever. To them, we weren’t there.
Farther down the street, I finally found my voice. “That is so cool.”
We crossed the wide street and the tops of the sandstone museums peeked through the starry night sky. “Do you do the invisible thing often?”
“Would you if you could do it?” he asked.
“Probably,” I admitted, trying to ignore how warm his hand felt in mine.
Tight knots formed in my stomach as the Washington Monument came into view. Having no idea what was going to happen, I was expecting some kind of Indiana Jones booby traps lying in wait.
When we made it to the Lincoln Memorial, the moon was behind a thick cloud and the reflecting pool was vast and dark, still as always. Trees lined the pool, and the wet, musty smell of the Potomac teased my nose.