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         Part #3 of Breathless series by Maya Banks

  “Looking forward to it,” she said in a hazy murmur.

  “Me too,” he said before lowering his mouth back to her breasts.

  He lazily toyed with her nipples, alternating between them, licking them into hard points before sucking hard with just enough bite to make her let out the most erotic sounds. She wasn’t a quiet lover. She was extremely vocal, a multitude of sounds slipping from her lips, all sexy as hell, the ultimate sounds of female pleasure.

  He groped for the condom he’d taken out, tore the wrapper and then reached down to roll it on. He winced when his hand made contact with his dick. He was so hard and so close to coming that even his own touch was painful.

  “Are you all right?” she whispered.

  “I will be in just about three seconds,” he murmured back as he slid a finger inside her to gauge her readiness.

  She was still swollen and snug from her orgasm and he broke into a sweat imagining how fucking sweet she was going to feel all closed around his cock, squeezing and milking it for every drop of his release. Shit but he had to get it together or he was going to come in the condom right now.

  Taking deep breaths, he positioned himself over her, nudging her entrance with the head of his dick as he planted his hands on either side of her head.

  “Reach down and guide me in,” he said hoarsely. “Wrap your fingers around me and put me inside you, baby.”

  He caught her reaction to the endearment, approval and delight flashing in her eyes. He tucked that little piece of information away and then closed his eyes when her hand found him.

  Her fingers circled his width, stroking up and down as she positioned him at the mouth of her pussy. Sweat broke out on his forehead and he clamped his lips together in an effort to keep it together.

  “Take me,” she whispered. “You’re there, Ash. Come inside me now.”

  Readily, he pushed in, ensuring that he wasn’t too forceful and that she was able to accommodate him easily. She was damn snug, but she stretched, enveloping him as he thrust deeper and harder this time.

  “Now, move your hands and put them above your head against the headboard,” he said.

  She twitched and pulsed in reaction, her pussy going wetter and hotter around him. Slowly, she did as he directed, lifting her hands and then putting them over her head.

  He reared up and then slid his hands underneath her ass so he could hold her and position her so he could get even deeper inside her. He glanced down, drawn by the sight of his cock sliding in and out of her pussy. Then his hands glided from her ass up her legs until he hooked them behind his back, opening her further so she was completely accessible.

  “How close are you to coming again?” he asked, breathing through his nose as he sought for control.

  “Close,” she whispered. “But I need . . .”

  She bit her lip and broke off, her gaze falling from his.

  “Look at me,” he bit out.

  Her gaze snapped back to his, her eyes wide.

  “What do you need?”

  “Uhm, for you to touch me.” Color flooded her cheeks and suffused her body, making it delectably pink. “I’ve never been able to come from just penetration.”

  He lowered himself, coming to rest on his forearms so his face was just above hers, their mouths precariously close.

  “A lot of women can’t come without clitoral stimulation,” he said gently. “Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Furthermore, even if it was an oddity, you don’t ever hesitate to tell me what you need in bed. Got it? I can’t please you if I don’t know what turns you on and what doesn’t. And I want you to be pleased because that makes me happy.”

  “Got it,” she returned softly.

  “Use your hand,” he said, carefully reaching up to tug one of her hands down between them. “I’m going to go hard, baby. I’m about to explode here. Build up’s been too long. Once I start going, I can’t stop, so you need to make sure you get there with me. If you need a minute, go ahead and start touching yourself now. Just let me know when, okay?”

  She slid her fingers between their bodies, and he could tell when she touched her clitoris. There was an immediate burst of satisfaction in her eyes. They went dreamy and hazy, cloudy with desire.

  “Go now,” she whispered.

  “Be sure, Josie. This isn’t going to last.”

  She nodded, her face already strained with her impending orgasm.

  It was like setting the bloodhounds free.

  He withdrew, enjoying the sensuous slide from her body. Then he slammed forward and began thrusting hard and deep. Faster. Harder. His eyes rolled back in his head. He’d never felt anything so goddamn good in his life.

  A roar began in his ears. His blood thundered through his veins. Josie went dim in front of him and the room faded as agonizing pleasure bloomed, unfurling like a tightly closed bud in the first rays of spring sunshine.

  “Jesus,” he gritted out. “This is going to kill me.”

  “Me too,” she gasped. “Oh God, Ash, don’t stop, please!”

  “The hell that’s happening.”

  He pounded into her, the force of his thrusts shaking the entire bed. Her breasts jiggled enticingly, her nipples so hard and beaded that it looked painful. But then hell, he was banging away at her like some rutting pig.

  Need splintered through him. Razor sharp, his orgasm swelled and boiled low, gathering in his balls and then shooting straight up his cock, exploding outward in a painful spurt. He wasn’t breathing. He was just thrusting, riding the wave. Immersing himself in her warm clasp over and over.

  “Josie,” he whispered, her name nearly a groan.

  “I’m with you, Ash.”

  Her words cut the last thread and he spiraled downward like a snowflake in the wind. Crazy. Fluttering madly. His entire body sizzling like a blown fuse. Hell, he probably had blown a few circuits. His mind was mush. Completely overtaken, sated, satisfied.

  He collapsed down on her, no longer able to keep his weight off her. He lay there, gasping for breath, her body beneath his. For a long moment he remained there, but he knew he was smothering her and he also had to get rid of the damn condom.

  He couldn’t wait to have her bareback. He’d stay inside her all damn night. They’d wake up a sticky, wet mess, but he didn’t give two fucks. He wanted his come in her and on her.

  Levering himself upward, he kissed her forehead and then smoothed the hair from her face before kissing her lips.

  “Was that good for you?” he asked.

  “If it was any better, I’d be dead,” she said ruefully.

  He smiled and then got up just long enough to discard the condom. Then he crawled back into bed, pulling her into the shelter of his body.

  “Think I could go back to sleep for a while,” he murmured.

  “Mmm hmm,” she agreed.

  “Then let’s sleep. I’ll arrange something for us to eat when we wake up.”

  She snuggled deeper into his embrace and then threaded her leg through his so his was looped over hers.

  “Works for me,” she whispered.

  chapter thirteen

  “I want you to wear my collar, Josie,” Ash said in a low voice.

  She turned in his arms, surprised at the blunt declaration. The two were stretched out on Ash’s couch, a lazy morning after their lovemaking and short nap earlier. After they’d woken up again, Ash had brought her breakfast in bed and then he’d taken her into the bathroom where he’d washed every inch of her skin and hair in the shower.

  He’d dried her, brushed out her hair and then wrapped one of his robes around her before taking her into the living room where they’d been on the couch ever since.

  Ash stared intently at her as if gauging her response. His gaze flickered over her face and then back up to hold her eyes.

  “Know you wore Michael’s. Also know it didn’t mean a damn thing. It means something to me, Josie. I want it to mean something to you too.”

  “Okay,”
she whispered.

  “I want to choose it especially for you. I don’t have it yet, but I will. And when I get it, I want you to wear it. Will you do that for me?”

  She nodded, already imagining wearing his jewelry, the knowledge of what it would mean to him alive in her mind.

  “Got a lot of other things to talk about today,” he continued. “A lot we need to work out. I’d rather get it all out today so we can move on, knowing what we need to know. And you’ll know what you need to know.”

  “Okay, Ash. I’m ready.”

  He squeezed her arms, satisfaction brimming in his eyes. “Means a lot for you to trust me. Especially after what happened with that prick. I won’t ever hurt you like that, Josie. You may not know it right now, but you’ll know it soon.”

  “I know you won’t hurt me,” she said, lowering her mouth to his. “I trust you, Ash. I do. I’m not just saying that. You have to know how hard this is for me. But I’m good with my decision. I know it’s the right one. You don’t have to prove that to me.”

  “Yeah, I do,” he refuted. “Every day. I have to show you every day what you’ll mean to me. That’s on me. And we’ll get there. This—you—are important to me. I’m going to make sure you know that at all times.”

  She leaned in, laying her head on his shoulder, her body settling over his. He felt so good. So solid and strong. He didn’t have to work at making her feel safe. She did feel safe. Just being close to him.

  “First thing we need to talk about is medical exams and birth control.”

  She lifted her head back up, one eyebrow raised in question.

  “I don’t want to use condoms. Not with you. I want to be able to come inside you, on you. In order for us to do that, you need to have an alternate method of birth control and we also both need tests so we know we’re both clean, although I’ll tell you now, Josie. Not sure what you did with Michael, but I use condoms. Never haven’t. And it’s been a while for me. Not since . . .”

  He broke off and shook his head. “That will come in a bit.”

  She cocked her head to the side. “What will come?”

  “The circumstance surrounding the last time I had sex with a woman,” Ash said in a serious tone. “I’ll get to that. But right now there are other things we need to get settled.”

  The way he said it made her concerned. Her brow furrowed and he reached up, curling his hand around her nape to pull her down so his lips settled against her forehead.

  “Michael and I used condoms,” she said quietly. “He’s the only man I’ve been with in two years. And I’m already on birth control.”

  “You good with my word or you want a copy of my last medical exam?” he asked.

  She frowned, wondering if this was some kind of a test. If she said she wanted a copy of his medical report, would it seem that she didn’t trust him? Was he asking her if she trusted him this far? But if she didn’t ask for it, if she said his word was good enough, that was taking a huge leap. And her life was too important to take those kinds of risks.

  “I’d like the copy,” she said.

  He nodded, seemingly unbothered by her request.

  “I’ll make sure you get it this afternoon.”

  “What about me?” she asked. “Do you want me to be tested? The last time I saw a doctor was three months ago. Obviously I’ve had sex since then.”

  “I’ll arrange it for this afternoon.”

  Her eyes widened. “I can’t get an appointment with my doctor that quickly.”

  “We’ll use mine. He’ll see you,” Ash said confidently.

  She nodded.

  “Now we need to discuss our arrangement here. At this apartment.”

  “Okay.”

  She hadn’t meant it to sound hesitant. But things seemed much simpler in the abstract. Now that they were actually hashing out specifics, she was nervous and on edge.

  “No way to do this except to be blunt,” Ash said, his voice soothing. “I know you’re nervous, but we’ll talk it out and then deal.”

  She took a deep breath and then nodded.

  “This apartment is not convenient to public transportation. Which is just as well, because I’d prefer having the security of knowing you’re safe when you leave here. Which means that my driver will take me to work in the mornings and pick me up in the afternoons. Between those times he’ll return here and be at your disposal. But, and this is not me being a controlling asshole, I want to know where you go, when you go, and I want to know you’re safe while you’re doing it.

  “Now we need to sort your apartment out and get what you need from there. You’ll move it here, whatever you need. I have an office and extra bedrooms. You can use whatever space you like to paint or draw. I thought the living room might be the best choice simply because you’ll have more light and you’ll have the view of the river.”

  She felt light-headed. Like everything around her was moving at the speed of sound while she stood stock-still, trying to take it all in.

  “I’ll want and need you to be flexible, because when I get home every day, I want you here. Which means that I’ll stay in touch with you and you’ll do the same with me. My schedule varies. Some days I’ll be home early, and those days I’ll let you know. Others I’ll be late. If I travel—and I don’t have immediate travel plans—I’m going to want you with me. Is that something you can deal with?”

  She sucked in a breath and then smiled shakily. “Do I have a choice?”

  He paused a moment. “No. Those are my expectations.”

  “Well, then I suppose I’ll be home when you are,” she said lightly.

  He breathed out, his shoulders dipping slightly in relief. As though he’d expected her to refuse. She wondered what he would have done if she had balked? Tossed her out? Or would he have tried to reach a compromise?

  He’d readily admitted his need of her. He wanted her, no doubt. But how inflexible was he really? She was curious, but she wasn’t ready to push back. Not yet. Not over something she had no real issue with. If and when the time came when he posed something she couldn’t embrace, then she would test the boundaries of their newly forming relationship.

  “Just so I understand your . . . expectations . . . you basically want me here when you are. Or where you are. And you want me to tell you where I’m going and when and where. And you want me to check in with you frequently.”

  It didn’t sound that demanding to her. It sounded reasonable. She didn’t want him worrying about her. Didn’t want to be a distraction for him. If he worried—and it was obvious he did—she wanted to do whatever she could to alleviate that stress.

  “Yes,” he said, his eyes growing more intent. “But, Josie, you need to understand. You make it sound light. It’s not. I will be pissed if you flake. This isn’t an ‘oh sorry I completely forgot to tell you where I was going’ thing and laugh it off. I expect you to tell me everything.”

  “Okay, Ash,” she said quietly. “I get it.”

  He nodded. “Now, there are things you need to know about me. I don’t want this shit coming up later and surprising you or making you feel awkward. It’s better if you know everything from the start so you can deal and it doesn’t become an issue down the road.”

  She lifted an eyebrow. He sounded so serious. Like he was about to drop some earth-shattering bomb on her. She wanted to joke and ask him if he was about to admit to being an ax murderer, but he was too serious and he wouldn’t appreciate her attempt at levity. So she remained silent, waiting for what he had to say.

  He shifted upward, grimaced a moment and then leaned forward so he could shove a cushion between his back and the arm of the sofa. She sat forward so he had room but then he promptly snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her solidly back to him so she was once more nestled against his body.

  “Any serious conversation we have is going to be with you in my arms so I’m touching you,” he said. “Never you across the room from me. That is not going to make me happy. Warning you now
that if you get pissed and we’re having a discussion, you won’t be putting distance between us.”

  She smiled against his chest and nodded. That sounded fine to her. One of the things she had disliked the most about Michael was his aloofness when it came to her. The distance—emotional distance—between them. Michael was more of a sit-down-across-the-room-from-each-other-and-discuss guy. For that matter, the only time he ever touched her was when they were having sex. He wasn’t demonstrative or affectionate. And Ash couldn’t seem to keep his hands off her for two seconds. She liked that. She liked it a lot.

  “Is this going to be a serious discussion?” she asked, no longer able to keep the teasing note from her voice.

  There was no doubt that Ash radiated seriousness today. And it was starting to feel suffocating. She needed to lighten the moment, even if for a brief second. It wasn’t in her nature to take everything so seriously. And Ash was an intense guy. Maybe he’d eventually lighten up around her, or maybe he’d always be this . . . broody . . . when it came to her.

  His hold tightened around her. “Yeah. It’s serious. Everything about me and you is serious. I get that this seems heavy, especially today when we hash it all out. It won’t always be this . . . intense. But today, yeah. Need to get whatever out that has the potential to hurt you, because that I will not allow going forward.”

  Her brow furrowed again and she pushed up so she could see his eyes. So serious and intent. On her. Watching her every reaction.

  “What is it, Ash?” she asked. “What is it you think is going to hurt me?”

  He sighed. “Don’t know if it will or not, but it could. If you don’t understand it from the start. I just don’t want you blindsided. If you’re prepared and you know everything, then it doesn’t have the power to catch you off guard.”

  She reached up to touch his jaw, running her fingertips over the slight stubble. He hadn’t shaved this morning, and the dark blond formed a shadow on his jaw.

  “Then tell me. I’ll understand.”

  He caught her hand and kissed it, pressing his mouth into her palm.

  “Jace Crestwell is my best friend. He and Gabe Hamilton. But Jace . . . We share a bond. Gabe is my best friend, no doubt. But Jace and I have always had a closer friendship. He’s my brother in every sense of the word. I trust him. He has my back and I have his. Always. We used to share everything, and by that I mean women. I’ve had a lot of threesomes over the years with Jace.”

  Her brow crinkled, her eyebrows bunching as she stared into his eyes. And to think she’d been worried that she’d be expected to share him with other women. This she hadn’t expected. She couldn’t imagine as possessive as Ash had been with her so far that he’d want her to have sex with another man while he watched or participated. Furthermore, it wasn’t something she wanted.

  “Is that something . . . I mean, is that what you’ll want to do with me? Share me with another man?”

  “Fuck no.”

  The denial was explosive, the words rushing from his mouth in a puff of air she felt on her chin. Relief hit her hard and she relaxed, waiting for him to continue.

  “I didn’t get it then,” he muttered. “How Jace was with Bethany. I didn’t understand it. But I do now.”

  “You’re losing me,” she said patiently. “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

  “As I said, Jace is my best friend. He’s involved with Bethany. They’re engaged. We’ll see them a lot. I’ll want to share you with them. Their friendship I mean. They’re important to me and you’re important to me. So we’ll spend time with them. And what you need to know is that in the beginning, the first night that Jace and Bethany were together, I was with them.”

  Her eyes widened. “Are you . . . do you still have . . . threesomes . . . with them?”

  Ash shook his head. “Hell no. Jace didn’t want it the first time. I didn’t know it at the time. It’s fucked up and complicated, but what you need to know is that I’ve had sex with Bethany. And you’ll see her. And Jace. And I don’t want it to be awkward for you. It was awkward as hell the first few times we were all together after that night. But we’re cool with it now. Bethany’s cool with it and so is Jace. It’s not something that gets brought up. But it’s there. And I don’t want it to hurt you when you look at her and know that I’ve had sex with her. Because there’s nothing there, Josie. Nothing but deep friendship. Bethany’s a great woman. I think you’ll like her. But she is no threat to you.”

  “I understand,” she said quietly. “I appreciate you telling me. Being up front with me about it. I can see how it would be awkward, especially if I didn’t know and somehow put my foot in my mouth in front of them.”

 
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