It's a good story, by a good author. Same as Fear the Darkness. You got it off Sherrilyn Kenyon's website, so why are you naming Laurell K. Hamilton as the author??
|Dream Hunter will have Ash's heroine in it...February 2007 is it's release date...I can hardly wait.
Arik wanted to curse in frustration as he watched
Megeara smiling at another man. Why wouldn’t she succumb to his serum? To his pleas?
How could a mere mortal woman be so strong?
As light intruded into his dark chamber once more he let out a tired sigh at the sound of his uncle Wink’s voice. Arik was getting seriously tired of these interruptions when all he wanted was to be with his human target. “What?”
“I’ve been told to retrieve my sleeping serum from you. You seem to be abusing it and making your human ill.”
Arik rolled over to face the older sleep god. Wink’s long brown hair was braided down his back as his light gray eyes danced with mischief. Even though Wink was one of the oldest gods, he had the personality of a thirteen-year-old boy. There was nothing he loved more than to play pranks and tease—two of the very things that had gotten Arik and his brethren cursed.
At one time, they’d been too easily seduced and manipulated by the other gods and had allowed themselves to be used by Wink, Hades, and the others in private jests and wars.
Until the day Zeus had put a stop to it once and for all. Funny how he’d only punished the tools and not the ones who’d wielded them.
But then, Zeus wasn’t known as a god of justice.
“And if I want to keep the serum?”
Wink arched a brow at that, then tsked. “Come now, Arikos, you know the rules.” His face sobered. “You also know what happens to those who don’t cooperate.”
Of course he did. All of his kind knew. His back bore more scars than the sky held stars. There were times when he suspected his grandfather Hypnos, who oversaw their physical punishments, was nothing more than a sadist who could only feel pleasure when he was doling out pain to others.
How cruel was it to send the Skoti in to drain humans of excess or pent-up emotions, then punish them when they didn’t want to leave because they finally experienced something other than pain?
But that was the way of it.
After his “chat” with M’Ordant, Arik had known it would come to this. There was no use in arguing. Wink had been sent to retrieve the Lotus serum they used on humans, and all the bribery on Olympus wouldn’t sway him. Wink was only a pawn who served the sleep gods.
Arik pulled out the small vial and handed it to Wink, who took it with a stoic smile.
“Cheer up, old boy. There are plenty of other dreamers out there for you to play with. Mankind is generous to you that way. They live for their dreams and are possessed of them constantly.”
Yes, but none of those humans held the type of uninhibited, vivid dreams of Megeara. It made Arik long to know what she’d be like outside the dream realm. What she would be like as a human...
Arik watched as Wink withdrew, then left him in the dream chamber to face the darkness alone.
Perhaps this was just punishment after all. A son of the god Morpheus,
Arik had originally been one of the Oneroi. As was customary for such, he’d been assigned humans to watch over and protect against the Skoti who sometimes preyed on them. In those days, he’d spent his life monitoring his subjects, making sure the ones under his protection had normal dreams that would either help them work through their problems or inspire them.
Until that one fateful night.
He’d gone to help one of his assignments who was ill. Because of her sickness, her dreams had become extremely vivid and emotional—so much so that one of the Skoti had latched onto her. Such a thing was common and even tolerated. Skoti fed from human emotions, but so long as they kept it under control and didn’t lead the dreams or interrupt the human’s life, they were allowed to drain humans. It was only when the Skoti began to return repeatedly and took control of the host that they were punished.
Humans held fragile psyches. A returning Skotos could easily turn human minds and either drive them insane or make them homicidal. In the worst case, a Skotos could even kill the human, which was why the Oneroi monitored them. If a Skotos spent too long with their host, then it was the Oneroi’s place to step in and drive them out.
If all else failed, the Oneroi would kill the Skotos.
At one time, Arik’s life had been dedicated to protecting his humans. To feel nothing and to only follow the orders of the elite Oneroi. In his day, he’d vanquished numerous Skoti without understanding or caring why they sought humans the way they did. Why they felt a burning need to risk their lives for their quest.
And then one night...no, one encounter had changed that and brought with it a clarification that still resonated within him.
Born of a human mother and the dream god Phobetor, Solin lived on earth, but at night he ran amok in the dreams of other humans. Completely amoral, he didn’t care what he did to others so long as he enjoyed himself.
For centuries, the Oneroi had been trying to stop and trap Solin. He was one of the few Skoti who’d warranted a death sentence. His voracious appetites
and fighting skills were legendary among the Oneroi who’d been unfortunate
enough to confront him.
And Arik had been one of them. Still young by their years, Arik had thought to take Solin on his own.
Most of the Skoti fled at the approach of an Oneroi. The Oneroi had full backing of the other gods to do whatever they had to do to control the Skoti. Since a Skotos could drain emotions from any human, they normally left without issue and didn’t waste time fighting when they could simply move on to someone else.
But Solin was stronger than most. Bolder. Instead of fleeing as Arik had expected, Solin had turned the human loose on him. By their laws, Arik had been forbidden to hurt the human, and Solin had known it. Arik had tried to pry her away without harm, but the moment her lips had touched his and he’d tasted her lust, something inside him had shattered.
He’d felt pleasure and arousal for the first time in his life.
And when the human had dropped to her knees and taken him into her mouth, he’d known his war in this was lost and his conviction shattered. In one heartbeat, he’d gone Skoti.
He’d been Skoti ever since.
Drifting from one dream to the next, he’d been searching all these centuries
for someone who could raise his emotions to the level of that first night. But no one had come close.
Not until Megeara.
Only she was able to reach through the emptiness inside him and make him see vivid colors again. To make him feel her emotions. After all these centuries,
he finally understood why certain Skoti refused to leave their partners.
Why they were willing to risk death.
Because of Megeara, he wanted to know what the world looked like through her eyes. What it tasted like. Felt like. And her ability to pull herself away from him was starting to seriously piss him off.
But what could he do? Even if he went to earth to be near her, he couldn’t really experience her or her environment.
He wanted her passion. Her life force.
There might be a way to touch her...
Arik paused at the thought. It was true that both the Oneroi and Skoti could take human form in the mortal realm, but because of their curse, they still lacked emotions. So what was the point? They were just as cold and sterile and unable to feel in human form as they were in their own god form.
That wasn’t what he wanted.
No, he wanted to be human. He wanted feelings and emotions so that he could experience her to the fullest extent possible.
Or was it? They were gods, with god powers. Why should such a thing be unattainable?
Your powers aren’t capable of such. Zeus had made sure of that when he punished them for tampering with his dreams.
Then again, Arik’s weren’t. But there were others whose powers made a mockery of his. Gods who could make him human if they willed it.
Zeus would never concede such a thing—he hated the dream gods too much. His children would be too afraid of him to try. But his brothers...
They were a different matter entirely.
And Arik knew which one to barter with.
Hades. The god of the Underworld held no fear of anyone or anything. His powers were more than equal to any of the others’, and best of all, he hated the other gods as much as they hated him. Because of that, Hades was always open to a good bargain, especially if such a bargain would irritate Zeus.
It was at least worth a shot.
With Megeara’s niggling emotions retreating from him, Arik flew from the Vanishing Isle where most of the dream gods resided and descended down, straight into the heart of Hades’ domain. It was dark as night here. Dismal. There were no ivory or gold halls like the ones found on Olympus.
At least not until one visited the Elysian Fields, where good souls were sent to live out their eternity in paradise. Those lucky enough to attain residence there had any- and everything their hearts conceived of. They could even be reincarnated should they choose it.
But the Elysian Fields were only part of a much vaster realm. One that held nothing but misery for those who were damned to it. Especially this time of year. Three months ago the god’s beloved wife, Persephone, had been sent to live with her mother in the upper realm. Until Persephone’s return, Hades would be literally hell to deal with. From the moment she left until her return, he would spend his time torturing all those around him.
A saner god would wait to try to deal with Hades after Persephone’s return, when he was more reasonable, but Arik was desperate. The last thing he wanted was to take a chance on another Skotos finding Megeara.
No, it was now or never.
Besides, Arik had never been a coward. He’d never once retreated from battle or conflict. It was what had made him one of the best of the Oneroi and what had made him one of the deadliest Skoti.
He always took what he wanted. Damned be the consequences. He had eternity to deal with those. What mattered most was the present, and that was what he focused on. Always.
As he flew past Cerberus, the three-headed dog rose up to bark at him. Ignoring it, he dove down into the catacombs made of the skulls and bones of Hades’ enemies. Many of whom had been Titans and ancients who’d had the misfortune of irritating the somber god—they didn’t even warrant Hades torturing them for eternity. He’d relegated them to nothing more than
That alone should be a warning to Arik...
But the brave and the desperate never heeded such.
Arik slowed his flight as he entered the main chamber of Hades’ domain. This was the only room in Hades’ opulent palace that was open to outsiders....
But there was a lot more to his home than this one room.
Arik knew that because no one was immune to the powers of a Dream-Hunter. No one. All gods were vulnerable whenever they rested, which was why they feared the Dream-Hunters so, and it was times such as those that Arik had ventured here to see what Hades kept so secret.
Now Arik faded to invisibility and rose up toward the black ceiling that glittered eerily in the dim light. Hades sat below, alone, on his throne. Made of Titan bones, his black throne had been polished until it gleamed like steel.
Hard and intimidating as the god had intended, it dominated the dais where it sat. Beside it was a much smaller chair. One made of gold and cushioned with pillows the color of blood. It was where Persephone sat whenever she was home with her husband.
Hades stared at her throne with a look of such longing that Arik could almost feel his grief. And it wasn’t until Hades moved that Arik realized the god held a small, delicate fan in his hand. One made of lace and ivory.
Closing his eyes, Hades held it to his nose and gently inhaled the scent.
Then he cursed and tossed the fan back to the throne by his side.
A heartbeat later, he got up to retrieve it and place it more carefully in a small holder on the right arm. Obviously that was where Persephone kept it.
Hades froze and cocked his head as if he was listening for something. “Who dares to enter my hall without summons?”
Arik lowered himself to the floor and materialized. “I do.”
The god turned about slowly and narrowed his amber eyes on Arik. “What brings you here, son of Morpheus?”
There was no need to hide what he wanted. “I would like to bargain
“I wish to be human.”
Hades’ evil laughter rang out in the hollow hall, echoing around them. “You know how to be human, Skotos. Stop eating ambrosia and drinking nectar.”
“That would only make me mortal and I don’t want to die. I want to feel, and for that I need to be a human and not a god.”
Hades approached him slowly until he stood just before Arik. “Feel? Why would anyone in their right mind wish for that? Feelings are for fools.”
Arik glanced to the fan. “Even you?”
Hades bellowed in rage as he flung out his hand and pinned Arik against the wall with his powers. The jagged bones bit into Arik’s back, tearing the fabric of his clothes.
Arik fought the hold, but there was nothing he could do at the moment except bleed.
“For a god who doesn’t wish to die, you speak of things you’d best
The force holding him receded so fast that he barely had time to recover himself before he fell. He hovered over the floor for a heartbeat until he placed his feet on the ground.
Hades raised his brows in surprise. “You’re faster than most.”
“And in my realm, I’m capable of even more feats.”
“What are you saying?”
Arik shrugged. “Only that a god of such power should be careful. Even the great Hades has to sleep sometime.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“I’m only stating a fact.” Arik looked pointedly at Persephone’s throne. “And reminding you, my lord, that there’s nothing worse than allowing a Skotos
to know of a weakness.”
Hades narrowed his eyes before he again broke out into laughter. “It’s been a long time since anyone dared such boldness in my presence. Look around you, Skotos. Do you not see the remains of the people who have pissed me off?”
“My name is Arik and I see everything, including the beauty and comfort of the palace you hide behind this facade of death. But in turn, I would ask you what good does it do to threaten someone who can’t feel fear?”
Hades inclined his head. “Point well taken. So tell me...Arik, what bargain
do you wish to propose?”
“I want to live in the realm of the humans as one of them.”
Hades tsked at his request. “That’s not so easy to attain, dear boy. No Olympus-born god can live on earth for very long.”
“But we can live there for a time. I would go there now, but there would be no point, since I could only witness what’s around me and not experience it. It’s the experience I want.”
“What good is this experience when you’ll only forget it once you return?”
What the god didn’t know was that Arik wouldn’t forget. He’d remember and he wanted that memory. Unlike M’Ordant and many of the others, Arik had no knowledge of true emotions or sensations—they’d been beaten out of him so long ago that he’d completely forgotten what it was like to feel. He wanted to know how much more intense feelings could be when not blocked by the curse.
“Does the why really matter?”
Hades considered that for a moment. Folding his arms over his chest, he frowned at Arik. “For what you want, there would have to be a steep price.”
“I expected nothing less. Just tell me your fee.”
“A soul. A human soul.”
That was easy enough. Taking a human life wouldn’t bother him. They lived finitely anyway and very few of them even bothered to appreciate the beauty that was the human existence. He, however, would savor his brief time as one of them. “Done.”
Hades clucked his tongue at Arik. “Child, how naive of you. You agreed too soon. It’s not just any soul I want.”
“I want the soul of the woman who has compelled you to make a deal with the devil. Surely she must have a magnificent soul for you to come here and barter with me, the most despised of all gods.”
Arik hesitated. Not out of feelings for Megeara but rather because he wasn’t sure he would be through with her by the time he was forced to return. “And if I fail to complete this bargain?”
“It will be you who suffers here in her stead. If you fail to deliver her to me, I will kill you as a man and keep your soul in Tartarus. The pain you’ve felt to date will be nothing when compared to what you’ll suffer then. And before you reconsider, remember that you’ve already agreed to this. There is no going back now. Our bargain is set.”
“How long will you give me?”
“Two weeks and not a day more.”
Arik had no time to even twitch before a strange thick blackness covered him. One moment he was standing in the middle of Hades’ throne room, and in the next he was encircled by wetness.
It was water...
And unlike in dreams, his body was heavy. Leaden. Water poured in through his mouth and nose, causing him to choke as it invaded lungs that weren’t used to really breathing. He tried to swim, but the water was too thick. It seemed to be sucking him down deeper into the sea.
Panic consumed him. There was nothing he could do.
He was going to drown.
“Geary, quick! There’s a body overboard!”
Oh good God, who had Thia attacked now?
Aggravated, Geary looked up from Tory’s notes at Justina’s call. Geary’s second in command was pointing over the side of the boat. As Geary rushed to the side to peer over, she handed the notebook back to Tory. Sure enough, there was someone struggling in the waves. And by the looks of it, he was quickly losing his battle.
“Christof!” Geary shouted for the boat’s captain. “We need...” She paused as the body sank down below the hungry waves.
There wasn’t time.
Her heart pounding from the rush of adrenaline, Geary kicked her shoes off and dove over the side. The coldness of the water stunned her as it covered her completely. Kicking her legs, she swam upward until she broke the surface so that she could look about for him.
Even though the water was clear, Geary had a hard time finding the guy below the surface. She had to keep diving down, then returning for fresh air before she dove back to search for him. Thank God she was a strong swimmer who was trained as a lifeguard and a certified diving instructor. But then, it was expected of her as an underwater recovery expert. She had to be as nimble in water as a fish.
She just wished she’d had time to get her gear before she’d come in after him. If she didn’t find the guy soon, he’d be dead, especially since he hadn’t resurfaced.
Her lungs burned from holding her breath as she dove under the water again. Her ears were buzzing and popping from the pressure as images of him drowning consumed her.
Geary had been twelve years old when Tory’s father had drowned only a few miles from this very spot. Images of her father trying to save Theron’s
life tore through her now as she remembered her father diving for him. Her father pulling Theron out of the water and doing everything he could to resuscitate him.
It’d been awful and the last thing she wanted to do was relive it.
C’mon. Don’t you dare die on me. Where are you? She slowed her speed and turned about as she floated weightlessly in the sea. The light refracted and danced in the blue and green water, highlighting various fish and foliage, but there was no sight of the man she sought.
She frowned at the foreign voice in her head, not understanding the source of it, but she couldn’t help obeying it. Looking down, she spotted him just below her. Even though he was trying to swim, he was sinking fast....
His long black hair danced in the water as bubbles floated around him and he waved his arms and legs to no avail.
Relieved she’d found him but scared it might be too late, she headed for him as fast as she could. She came up behind him, then pulled his large body against hers and kicked them toward the surface.
Good grief! The man was huge and made of solid muscle. With next to no fat on him, he was like an anchor in the water. It took a great deal of effort to get them to the surface.
By the time they broke through, both of them were sputtering and
“Hold on,” she said to him. “I’ve got you.” Even so, she half-expected him to fight against her. Most drowning victims did.
But not him. He went limp against her as if he trusted her completely.
Justina and Teddy were in the water already with a life preserver. Together, they got the man into the harness and had him hauled on board, then they followed suit.
By the time Geary was on board the Simi again, she saw the unknown man lying on the deck, covered with a blanket, while Thia was giving him mouth-to-mouth. Geary couldn’t see the man’s face for Thia.
“Is he dead?” Geary asked, rushing over to them as worry tore at her.
Just as she reached his side, the man coughed up a gallon of seawater. Gasping, he turned quickly to his side and started hacking and wheezing while Thia pounded him on the back to help him clear his lungs. His slick wet skin was completely bronzed and perfect, except for the deep welts that marred his back. The scars were old, but even so they were prominent enough to let Geary know how much they must have hurt when he received them. It reminded her of the way sailors were beaten for punishment back in the old days.
Why would a modern man have such scarring? Who would have beaten him like that and why?
And he wore nothing except a thin pair of long white pants that were plastered against his perfect body...and they showed absolutely everything, right down to his religion and the fact that this man had been rather gifted in a certain department.
He might as well be naked.
“Now there’s a man who doesn’t believe in underwear, huh?” Justina said in a low tone for only Geary’s hearing as she wrung out her hair. “Not that I’m not grateful for it. He has the nicest ass on the planet. No wonder Thia grabbed him for resuscitation. I wouldn’t mind a little mouth-to-mouth action with that body, either.”
While Geary pretty much agreed with those sentiments, she didn’t comment
as Tory draped a blanket around her shoulders.
“Hell of a fish you found there,” Christof said as he brought more blankets
for them. He gave one to Justina and Teddy.
Ignoring him, Geary knelt down beside her catch. The man held himself up with one muscular arm as he continued to breathe in short, sharp gasps. His tangled wet black hair fell over his face, completely obscuring it from her and the others. The tendons of his hands were well defined and beautiful, which made her curious as to what his face would look like.
Would it be as scarred as his back or as pristine and beautiful as the rest of him?
“Are you okay?” she asked in Greek, assuming since they were in the Aegean that he would understand her better in Greek than any other language.
He nodded as he continued to struggle to expel the water from his body. It was almost as if he wasn’t used to his own lungs.
His breathing ragged, he lifted his head to look at her through the strands of his wet black hair. And as soon as their eyes met, Geary gasped and fought the urge to cross herself and spit as she came face-to-face with the intense blue eyes of her dreams.
It couldn’t be....
It wasn’t possible and yet there he was before her in all his almost naked glory. She knew those perfect, sardonic lips. The slash of his dark brows over eyes that were so pale a blue they radiated. She knew that strong jaw, dusted with whiskers. It was one she’d teased with her teeth and tongue for hours
Against all reason, it was him.
Something hot and needful went through her like a sharp needle as she fought the urge to reach out and touch him to make sure he was really here.
Arik couldn’t do anything more than stare at Megeara. She was even more beautiful in reality than she’d been in her dreams. Her deep blue eyes captivated
him as tendrils of her wet blond hair hung down over them. Her pale skin begged for his touch just as her partially opened mouth needed his kiss.
He started toward those lips, then coughed more as he tried to breathe through the stinging pain in his chest. His body shook uncontrollably as he was assaulted by horrifyingly intense sensations and emotions. Even the cries of the birds above him were piercing to his ears—the droning of the ocean. And the heat of the sun on his skin...it was blistering. Never had he felt so out of control. Why wouldn’t his body obey him?
Why the hell couldn’t he stop coughing and shaking?
He half-expected Megeara to pound on his back as her accomplice had done. Instead, Megeara’s touch was gentle as she lightly hit him to help dispel the water from his now human body.
Then she started to gently rub his back in a circle. Chills spread over him as he felt a heat the likes of which were unimaginable. Forget the heat of the sun, this was even more scorching.
No one had ever touched him so gently and he’d never really felt a touch before, especially not against his flesh. All he wanted was to pull her into his arms and taste the taut nipples that were so apparent through her wet
If only his body would obey him.
“I think he’s going into shock,” Megeara said to the others. “Grab more blankets.”
Another woman pulled Megeara away. “Let me look at—”
“No!” he snarled, reaching for Megeara’s hand to keep her by his side. He hadn’t come this far to lose sight of her now.
Megeara covered his hand with hers in a soothing caress. “It’s all right. Stay calm.” She took a blanket from a young woman with glasses, then wrapped it around him.
Arik closed his eyes and savored the fleeting sensation of her hands on his shoulders. The feel of her skin on his...it was electrifying. Hot.
If only he could stop shaking.
Geary wasn’t sure what to do. She exchanged a frown with Althea, who was on board as their physician.
“I need to check him out and make sure he’s okay,” Althea said in English.
Geary agreed. “I know.”
“I’ll be fine in a few minutes,” the unknown man said in perfect, accented English. His voice was so deep and resonant that it literally echoed around them. Those intense, predatorial eyes pierced her. “Just don’t leave me.”
Geary found herself nodding even though the possessive command of that tone made her want to run. It wasn’t in her nature to let anyone tell her what to do, but in his case, there was something unnaturally compelling about him. Alluring.
Honestly, she didn’t want to leave him. And that really did scare her.
Her heart hammering, she used a corner of his blanket to towel dry his hair, then brushed it back from a face that was truly flawless. “It doesn’t matter.”
Wow. He was extremely bilingual. He was also extremely exposed, and the sight of him with those pants clinging to his every asset brought the most wicked images to her mind. In her dreams, she’d twisted that body of his like a pretzel and licked every inch of it.
Okay, so it wasn’t quite that body. In her dreams, there had been no scars. But his body was close enough to the one she was used to to evoke a fervent heat inside her.
Geary brushed a drop of water off his cheek with the blanket. “What happened
He looked away. “I don’t know.”
Thia gave her a wicked grin. “Well, it isn’t every day we fish a nearly naked god out of the sea, now is it? Glad I came back early from my shopping trip. This was definitely worth it.”
The man snapped his head toward her and gave her a fierce scowl. It was obvious her words touched a nerve with him.
“Thia?” Geary said in a steady tone. “Do you mind?”
She rolled her eyes. “Whatever. See if I save his life next time he’s drowning.”
Turning around, she headed belowdecks.
Christof stepped forward. “We should report this to the authorities.”
Even more fury snapped in those pale blue eyes. “No!” His tone was firm and commanding. “No authorities.”
Teddy exchanged a frown with her. “Why? You running from them?”
“No. I just don’t want to be interrogated when I can’t remember
Christof narrowed his eyes on him. “Do you know your name?”
He hesitated. “Arik.”
He looked up at Geary with a confusion that tugged at her heart. “I don’t remember.”
Geary tilted her head, not sure what to think. Something deep inside told her he was lying, but she wasn’t sure about what. “Did you hit your head?”
“He could have amnesia,” Tory said. “If he fell from a boat he might have been run over by it. Or maybe he was beaten and then thrown overboard. Could be pirates.”
“He’s not bruised,” Christof pointed out. “And there hasn’t been a lot of pirate activity here for several hundred years.”
“Yes, but I said could. Weird and unusual things happen all the time. Did you know that there were seventy-five pirate attacks on civilian boats last year alone? Six more were against the U.S. Coast Guard. One group even tried to take over a cruise ship.”
Ignoring Tory’s statistics, Geary dropped the blanket to Arik’s shoulders. “What was the last thing you remember?”
“I... I don’t know.”
A strange, warm feeling came over her as she watched him. The whole moment was so surreal. She couldn’t believe she was looking at...Arikos.
That had been a dream and yet the man before her was an exact copy. A copy named Arik.
Could they possibly...
Don’t be stupid.
It was just some strange coincidence. Maybe some sort of premonition.
Her face flamed red at the thought. Well, not that kind of premonition. She wasn’t about to jump naked into a pool of chocolate with this guy.
“Okay,” she said quietly. “Teddy, take Arik below and find some clothes for him.”
Arik started to protest leaving her, then stopped himself. She was skittish of him. He could sense it. If he pressed her too much, she might bolt and push him away.
That was the last thing he wanted.
No, he must tread carefully in order to gain her trust. He was here, in her realm. And he’d have plenty of time to seduce her shortly. For now it was best to humor her.
He stood up slowly, his eyes never wavering from her gaze. As a wave crashed into the boat, he staggered slightly and almost lost his balance.
Megeara reached out, her hands steadying him.
Arik closed his eyes as heat from her touch seared his every nerve. There was nothing to compare to the sensation of human contact—to the feeling of those delicate hands touching his flesh—and he couldn’t wait to feel them stroking the part of him that was hard for her.
He bent his head low so that he could inhale her sweet, feminine scent of open air and woman misted with a light touch of perfume. It was even more intoxicating than it had been in her dreams, and he wanted to bask in it.
Even more he wanted to smell it on his sheets and flesh. To drink her in for hours on end until he was fully sated and content.
Geary tensed at the feel of Arik’s hot breath against her damp skin. What was it about this stranger that set her entire body on fire?
She forced herself to step away from him even though what she really wanted to do was walk closer to that magnificently muscled body.
His eyes showed his longing as he met her gaze again and he noted her actions. “Don’t be afraid of me, Megeara.” He all but purred in her ear. “I would never hurt you.”
It wasn’t until he’d left that she realized he’d called her by a name no
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