Falling in deeper, p.16
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       Falling in Deeper, p.16
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         Part #11 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black

  the railing. She sat, pulling her knees to her chest, and glanced out over the sultry heat of the swamp, just this side of bearable before noon. What the hell was she going to do?

  Normally, when doubts or insecurities began eating away at her composure, she called Axel. But not only was he in England living his new life, she’d left everything behind. Everyone. If she didn’t have any intention of returning to Dallas, she couldn’t lean on those friends anymore. It didn’t even matter where she’d set her phone, because she wasn’t calling them. She had to stand on her own two feet.

  Make a decision. Carry it out. Stop being afraid.

  Before she could listen to her own advice, she turned and found Stone in the portal, watching her.

  Freshly showered and shirtless, he gleamed, his skin bronzed and tight over all those rough-carved, ink-covered muscles. He wore jeans. His feet were bare. At the sight of him, a thrill zipped through her.

  “You good?” he asked. “When I couldn’t find you, I worried. I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

  Not because she was a responsibility to him but because she mattered.

  His words touched her way more than she wanted.

  She couldn’t stop herself from running to him, throwing herself in his arms, feeling his strength, his warmth, his caring. In her head, Lily realized she should be putting distance between them. In her heart, she feared that was no longer possible.

  Her stomach twisted with nerves as she reached Stone and flung herself against him. He grunted and stumbled a step back as he absorbed her impact. Then he planted, held firm. His arms closed around her, enclosing her tight against his chest.

  “Baby?” he murmured in her ear, his voice low with concern.

  Lily didn’t know how to answer him. She just clung tighter. “Tell me it’s all right.”

  “Don’t worry. We’re doing everything we can to locate Canton and put a stop to him. No one has seen or heard from him lately. I talked to Jack last night. But whatever the asshole does next, I don’t want you to worry. I’ll take care of you.”

  Shaking her head, she looked up, drinking in the sincerity of his dark eyes. Yeah, she should probably be worried about her personal safety. Truth was, out here she felt a million miles away from danger. And as crazy as it might seem, she trusted Stone to keep her safe.

  “I know. I have no doubt you’re calling in favors and doing everything you can. It’s more than you should have to do.” Especially because she’d likely end up leaving to start a new life soon.

  “Protecting you is my first and only priority now.”

  “I believe you, but that’s not what I meant.” Suddenly she couldn’t quite look him in the eye. She felt a flush crawl up her face. “Are we all right after last night? I left you hanging without . . .”

  “Finishing me off?” He smiled dryly. “I’m fine. I’m more than fine because I got to see you in pleasure. Like I said, great spank-bank material.” He winked.

  “You don’t have to sugarcoat it.” She dared to touch his cheek, trailing a finger down the hard, slashing plane, feeling the remnants of dark stubble. “I know I’m not easy to be with. Last night if you’d been with another woman, you would have had sex with her and—”

  “I’m not fifteen anymore, so my life goal is no longer to get laid. C’mon.” He took her hand. “It’s barely nine a.m., but if we don’t find the air-conditioned comfort, I’m pretty sure we’ll roast out here soon.”

  He was probably right, and she allowed him to lead her inside. Once he shut the door behind them, he sat her at the kitchen table and poured them both fresh cups of coffee before he took the chair beside her. He stared as if he was working hard to figure her out.

  Lily didn’t think it was that difficult. His unwavering attention unnerved her a bit. “Where’s your shirt?”

  Not that she was complaining he’d gone without one.

  “I don’t have any luggage. I found a few extra toiletries and a fresh toothbrush, but this is day three wearing these pants. I figure by tomorrow they’ll be dirty enough for me to justify spending the day naked.” He winked.

  The thought that he’d spend the whole day without a stitch on made her feel tingly, fluttery—alive. The sight of his bare shoulders with the intricate ink distracted her. What would having all that power under her hands and body, intently focused on pleasure, do to her? What would it be like to feel as if she had become one with him? God, she wanted to know.

  She screwed up her courage and met his gaze. “Maybe sex isn’t your life goal anymore, but . . . it’s kind of mine right now. I want to do more of what we did last night. I’m feeling things I’m not used to, things I’ve never felt. Things I think normal women experience. If we try again, maybe I’ll respond like I should.”

  “Baby, I’m all for that, but however you respond is how you’re supposed to,” he argued.

  “No, I need to be like other women.”

  “I’m not interested in them.” Stone scowled. “Listen to me. There’s no ‘normal.’” When she sent him a skeptical stare, he went on. “You like Thorpe, right? Think he’s a good guy?”

  The question surprised her. “Yeah, the best. I mean, he pisses some people off by being a hard-ass, especially when he’s right—which is most of the time. But nearly everyone likes him. Even if they don’t, they respect him.”

  “Right. But by most of society’s standards, he’s a freak. Legally he fucks another man’s wife, and her husband not only lets him but participates. Together, he and Sean tie her up and spank her and . . . who knows what else? Do you think less of him for not being ‘normal’?”

  She pondered that. “No. Thorpe does what’s right for him. And Callie and Sean, of course. That’s just them.” She sighed. “I get it. You’re telling me that however I behave, sexually speaking, that’s just me.”

  “Pretty much. Our experiences all shape us, right? Mine were pretty common. Look, I don’t have anything traumatic in my past, except the shit I brought on myself. I can only imagine what you went through watching your friend be brutalized and killed. Has it contributed to the way you react to sex? The way you react to me? Yeah. Does that make it bad or wrong? No. You cope however you need to. I’ll play along and just be happy to touch you.”

  Lily caught her breath. She’d hoped he would say something like that. It went hand in hand with pretty much every other answer he’d ever given her—kind, understanding, accommodating. Lily almost pinched herself because she kept thinking he must be too good to be true. Why on earth had she been avoiding him all summer long? Yeah, her fears. The ones she was determined to overcome now.

  Heart racing like a jet engine, she stood and held out her hand. “Will you come touch me now? Will you let me try to give you more?”

  Stone zeroed in on her hand; then his gaze zoomed up to her face. He stood so fast that his chair scraped across the old hardwood. A glance down proved he was already erect. “You sure?”

  She nodded. “You were my first thought this morning. I fixated on you in the shower. I pondered you when I sat outside, when—”

  “Baby, I fixated on you in the shower, too,” he assured her with a sly grin.

  Lily knew he meant to lighten the mood and smiled. “Yes, but I wasn’t touching myself.”

  “That’s a shame. But the day is young. And maybe that means I get to watch again.”

  “Actually, I was hoping you would touch me instead. And that we could . . . have sex. Or try.”

  His face softened. “You don’t have to hope. We’ll try whatever you want. You’ll find I’m a persistent bastard. I have no doubt we’ll get there.”

  When she smiled at him, he whooped loudly and scooped her up in his arms.

  “Stone!” she protested, holding in a giggle.

  Everything about being with him felt so different. She and Axel had never laughed when they’d decided to be intimate. He always asked her questions, kept track of her mental and emotional state. Depending on her answers, h
e’d try something different. She would respond. Or not. Then the process started all over. When they’d been together, she’d sometimes felt as if they were engaged in a medical exam, not sex.

  Being with Stone was more like being in the middle of a parade—always something new and bright and amazing every time she took a breath.

  “Hold on, baby. We’re gonna take our crazy chemistry out for a test drive.” He strode to the bedroom, laid her across the bed, then set his phone on the nightstand. “One minute.” He dashed back up the hall, leaving her frowning in his wake. Where was he going? When he returned, he gripped a box in his hand, which he plopped next to his cell.

  Condoms.

  “You on birth control?” he asked.

  She shook her head. She hadn’t been sexually active enough to bother. But as an adult, she’d always been careful.

  “Then it’s a good thing Jack is prepared. I found these yesterday when I first checked out the playroom. Sex might not be my goal but I sure as hell want it, so I remembered where to find them.” He swayed closer with a grin. “Can’t help it if I’m an optimist.”

  Just like last night, his obvious desire for her was both a balm and a turn-on. “You have a lot to be optimistic about. I’m feeling strong. I want this.”

  He sauntered to the side of the bed and shucked his pants, leaving himself clad in only his briefs. They outlined his rigid cock, which looked a little intimidating now that she was paying attention. Without thinking, she trailed her fingers down the valley that bisected his washboard abs and disappeared into his waistband. This man clearly believed in a good workout and had massive amounts of core strength.

  As she fondled him, he sucked in a breath. “Touching me like that could be dangerous. You nervous?”

  “Excited,” she corrected. Anticipation jumped inside her, revving her heart. But mostly the desire to feel him everywhere, touching her, filling her, did that. “You?”

  “Both. Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to this, baby. But I want it to be a good experience for you, not a scary one.”

  Lily knew that, and it was one of the things she most liked about Stone. “Me, too. I’m hoping we’ll both be satisfied this time.”

  “You’re overdressed,” he pointed out. “Can I help you fix that?”

  A warm flush swept through her body and heated her cheeks. But nerves crept in, too. Would he like what he saw? Would he ask questions? “In a minute. First, I want to explore.”

  Lily sat on her knees, balancing on the mattress. She hovered so close it made her breathless. She reached out, skimmed his shoulder with the tips of her fingers.

  His steely muscles lay just under his soft skin. Just touching him made her blood churn. Her breathing wasn’t quite steady. With his perceptive dark gaze, he studied her every move. No doubt he saw her pulse pounding. She placed her palm on his chest, over his heart. It raced, too. She smiled.

  “You get to me,” he assured.

  “That makes me feel better. I shouldn’t be the only one affected.”

  He shook his head. “You’re not, but you really are overdressed for the occasion. Let me look at you, baby.”

  “Last night was all about me.” She deflected. “Let me make right now about you.”

  A big smile broke across his face. “How can I say no to that?”

  Now that she had such an expanse of man spread out for her taking, Lily almost couldn’t decide where to start. She caressed her way up his chest, encompassed his massive shoulders, her fingers trembling as they skated over his skin. Axel had been ripped and masculine, too. But Stone affected her in a way she couldn’t explain. And she didn’t want to sit around dissecting it. She merely wanted to enjoy.

  Leaning closer, Lily pressed her lips to the hard stretch of his pectorals just below his collarbone. She followed the trail of ink there before flitting up to his neck. He swallowed. The muscles of his throat worked. His Adam’s apple bobbed. His jaw tightened as she pressed more gossamer kisses along the hard line.

  Finally, she feathered her lips just below his ear. “Just touching you turns me on.”

  Lily could hear the trembling of her own voice. No way he’d miss that.

  “Baby, when I touch you, I get so fucking excited.” He caressed her arm, his palm, warm and arousing, drifting down her back to rest on her hip. “The second I put a hand on you, I just want to feel you everywhere.”

  She might have disputed that or chided him for overstating his arousal but when she caressed her way down the wide expanse of his chest, her fingers grazed his male nipple. It puckered tight. She felt a fine shudder roll through him.

  His palm trekked lower until he cupped her ass.

  “Baby, I need to get these clothes off you and—”

  “You’re being impatient,” she chided with a sassy wink.

  The truth was, she wished the room were darker. Why hadn’t she waited to start this until the sun had set? Sex would be more romantic in the moonlight. And he wouldn’t be able to see the rest of her body.

  “I was impatient to be inside you the moment I laid eyes on you,” he admitted.

  Lily really had no idea why but she wasn’t going to argue. She was, however, going to distract him.

  Letting her fingers drift down his torso, she brushed her body against his, then retreated a step, looking his way with a bat of her lashes. Being this near him was such a thrill.

  She wet her suddenly dry lips with a swipe of her tongue. “Kiss me?”

  He groaned. “You’re teasing me.”

  “A little.”

  “A lot. There will be consequences, Lily.”

  If it involved sensual torment and pleasure, yes. Despite her nerves and worries, she was game. “Kiss me.”

  Stone slid his fingers into her hair and tilted her head precisely where he wanted it. Then he dove into her mouth. She knew better than to expect a mere brush of his lips over hers or a peck. He went for total possession, fingers tangling in her tresses, lips nudging hers apart as his tongue swept deep and demanded her response. Melting against him, she glided her fingers up his arm, drifted a barely there touch up the side of his neck, all while opening wide and surrendering to his kiss.

  In retaliation, he climbed onto the mattress and flattened her to the bed. The weight of him pressed in on her, startling her and inciting a curl of fear. Lily forced herself to breathe through it and ignore her apprehension. She did her best to give in to him.

  I’m clothed. My legs are free. I’m fine. This is Stone.

  She concentrated on his musky scent, the hard rasp of his stubble, his urgent moan as she closed her eyes and slowly drowned in his kiss, opening her senses to him. He wasn’t hurting or forcing her, just making her dizzy and tingly. How did he do that by merely melding his mouth to hers?

  When he rolled between her thighs and pressed against her female flesh already dampening and softening for him, he gripped her hips. His chest eclipsed hers. He buried his face into the crook of her neck. His hot, heavy breaths heated her skin. Biting her lip, Lily tried to find a little wiggle room or daylight.

  None.

  Stone thrust, shoving his unyielding cock roughly against her mound. Suddenly, she couldn’t move. Couldn’t take a breath. She felt too pinned, too confined. Even with clothing separating them, his touch overwhelmed. Panic rose. She tried to breathe past it and keep calm. God, she didn’t want to stop him because she was a head case. Despite her snap judgment of him when they’d first met, he was a good guy.

  Last night, he’d been such a giving lover. He could say that her hesitation and fear didn’t matter, but Lily knew better. They were never going to make it if she couldn’t give back to him sexually in any sort of reciprocal way.

  Wrapping her thigh around his hips, she gave him a shove and urged him to roll to his back. He complied, breaking their kiss, then settled her on top as she straddled his hips.

  The relief she felt was instant.

  “Oh, you look pretty up there.” He c
lasped her hips with firm fingers, gyrating her down on his iron-hard erection. “I’m going to enjoy watching you ride me.”

  That’s exactly what she wanted. She laid her palms flat on his bulging pectorals, sighing at the way he tensed, flexed, and rippled under her hands. “I want to do that. Right now.”

  When she reached for the waistband of his briefs, he grabbed her wrists. “You’re nowhere near ready. What’s going on? You’re in a big hurry to get on with it.”

  She hadn’t fooled him at all. Lily sighed and closed her eyes.
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