Love fostered courage.
Stretching up on the tips of my toes, I braced myself, gripped his wrists tighter and leaned in, kissing him softly. He stiffened and then tried to pull back, but I followed, the whole time my stomach twisting and fluttering like a hundred hummingbirds had taken flight.
“You’re wrong,” I told him, settling back on my feet. “You’re so wrong about so much, Seth.”
Thick lashes lowered, shielding those extraordinary eyes that held a wealth of secrets. I lowered his hands and started walking backward, toward his bedroom. I didn’t let myself think of what I was doing, what I was about to initiate.
“You deserve me,” I told him, and he didn’t argue. He appeared to be struck silent. “I’ve told you that before, in this very room. I wasn’t lying then. Nothing has changed. You deserve me.”
He flinched once more. “Josie, I—”
I silenced him with a kiss and I threw everything I was feeling into it, every ounce of love and hope and all the hurt I felt when he’d pushed me away and all the ache his words created now. I kissed him like I would never do it again.
“You’re worthy of love.” My pulse was all over the place as I pushed him back and down on the edge of the bed. “You’re more than worthy of my love.”
Seth watched me with bright eyes as I placed a knee on either side of him and climbed into his lap. I lowered myself down and I felt him, hard and straining against the rough material of his tactical pants.
Letting go of his wrists, I took a deep breath and grabbed the hem of my soiled shirt. I pulled it off over my head before I lost the courage. Seth’s chest rose with a sharp inhale as I let the material fall to the side.
He said nothing, but his hands landed on my hips. I took that as a positive sign.
Fingers trembling, I reached behind and unhooked my bra. I held my breath as the straps slipped down my arms and then fell to the floor. Wasn’t like he hadn’t seen all of this before, but I was never the initiator and I’d never felt more vulnerable in my life. My newfound courage would falter if he pushed me away now.
Seth didn’t move for several moments, and then his eyes closed. My heart skipped a beat. He lowered his head, pressing his cheek against my breast. The slight stubble along his jaw abraded the sensitive skin, causing me to shiver.
“You . . . you are truly a goddess,” he said, his hands sliding off my hips to my lower back. “Sometimes I’m not entirely convinced you’re real.”
My lips parted on a soft inhale. “I’m real.”
“You feel like a dream.” He turned his head slightly, nuzzling the hollow between my breasts. “Like I’m going to wake up one day and realize none of this was ever real.”
I cupped the back of his head, threading my fingers through the short strands of his hair as I lowered my chin, kissing the top of his head. I didn’t trust myself to speak then because I was afraid I’d start crying and that would really deter where I was trying to go with all of this.
“Or that this,” he continued, lifting his head and looking up at me, “will turn into a nightmare and you will end up hating me with every fiber of your being.”
“Never,” I promised, sliding my hand to his cheek.
His eyes glowed. “And you can be so sure of that, Josie?”
Instead of answering, I found one of his hands and brought it to my breast. My heart pounded so fast that I feared demigods could have heart attacks.
Seth’s gaze dropped to his hand, and when I let go, he didn’t. He drew his thumb over the tip, eliciting a gasp from me. “What are we doing?”
I thought it was pretty obvious. “I want you.”
He groaned as if he were in pain. “Not as badly as I want you.”
I shivered at his words. “Then have me.”
A long moment of silence passed between us, and I had no idea which way he was going to go with this. Sex wasn’t a cure-all. I’d progressed enough in my psychology studies to know that, and hey, I had some common sense, but it was the most . . . perfect way for me to show just how much I did love him.
Seth’s gaze lowered, a moment passed, and he said, “I can do this.”
I didn’t really understand what he meant and I didn’t get the chance to ask either, because he stood suddenly, lifting me into the air like I weighed nothing and I sure as hell weighed something. Gasping, I held onto his shoulders and wrapped my legs around his hips as he turned around so my back was to the bed.
One hand fisted my hair and he dragged my head down so our mouths were lined up. “Are you sure?”
It was crazy. We’d barely talked for weeks and when we did, we’d argued. I didn’t think my first time would be like this. Maybe after dinner or a movie or after snuggling, but none of that mattered to me. Seth mattered to me. Proving to him that love was a gift which he was worthy of mattered to me.
I closed my eyes. “I’ve never been more sure.”
Seth had me.
One second he was holding me and then he was kissing me, his tongue tangling with mine, and there was no slow build-up. Our teeth gnashed together, but I didn’t care. He let go of my hair and both hands gripped my hips. He lifted me away from him and in a split second my back hit the bed.
And he was on me.
It was rather impressive how quickly he got my pants off, even when they’d gotten hung up around my sneakers. My panties came next and then his boots and pants. He stepped away long enough to grab a condom out of the nightstand, tossing it on the bed beside us.
Seth stood at the end of the bed, his erection jutting out, so thick and hard that for a moment I felt a nugget of trepidation. This . . . this might be a wee bit painful.