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It was different than the kiss they’d shared in her hotel room in New Orleans. He’d been Cade then. Attractive, attracted, but not hers. And she’d been trying to distract him.
But this, this was Gage. His mouth was hot and hungry on hers, with an edgy demand that hadn’t been present a decade before. He’d been unflaggingly careful then. Cautious and considerate of her inexperience.
Even now, he pulled on depths of patience she simply didn’t have. When he tried to gentle the kiss, to slow things down, she nipped and goaded, eroding his control, wanting him desperate and unthinking. For this one night, she needed to give in to the fire.
He staggered a little as she hitched herself up, wrapping her legs around his waist. Then he righted himself, hands gripping her hips and shifting her until she pressed firmly against the bulge of his erection. Purring approval, she took her lips on a sprinting journey over his face, tasting each corner of that gorgeous mouth, feeling the scrape of stubble.
Fire hummed just beneath her skin, rising, straining toward his touch. No more distance. Impatient, she stripped off her shirt, one of those sleeveless tanks with a built in bra. His eyes went dark. Desperate to feel his flesh against her, Embry went after his t-shirt. Backing her into a wall for leverage, he tugged it off. Then he leaned away and looked his fill.
Embry knew her skin was flushed, both with desire and flame. She all but vibrated with it.
“You’re so damned beautiful,” he muttered.
The wall pressed cool against her fevered back. The longer he stared, drinking her in, the more her brain threatened to engage, reminding her of what the Council would do to him and to her if they found out what she’d done. Give me tonight. It would be enough. It would have to be. “Touch me,” she whispered.
He needed no second invitation.
Capturing her mouth, he circled them across the room, hands stroking, igniting. He turned so that he took the brunt of the impact as they tumbled onto the bed. But just like in a sparring match, he was fluid, loose, swarming over her body, stripping the remaining layers, maddeningly elusive when she would have taken control. Her pulse beat thick and fast in her throat, surging yet again when he pressed his lips just there as he covered her with the glorious weight of his body.
Impatient and unbearably aroused, she bowed up, rolling until she rose over him. She used her hands and mouth to taste and take, until she memorized every line of his body and gorged herself on his flavor. His lips burned a trail of brands down her throat, between her breasts. Skin grew slick with sweat. Frantic, they rolled again, until they were joined heat to heat, bodies moving to the pulsing rhythm of the flame that grew inside her. Faster, higher, hotter, until the fire spun out of control, bursting free of her skin to engulf them both.
Passion banked, skin cooled. Logic returned with a brutal swiftness that left her cold.
What have I done?
She’d promised herself she wouldn’t go here. They had no future beyond this mission. She knew that. Gage didn’t, and this was just going to feed into his expectations that they would pursue this. Assuming they both survived. He was in love with her, for God’s sake.
Why did you have to tell me? I might have resisted if not for that.
She curled into his warmth, knowing that after tonight, she’d never feel it again.
Gage made a small groan.
Embry cracked a cautious eye and took in their surroundings.
There were no scorch marks on the furniture, no lingering flames on the bedclothes to douse. She hadn’t actually set the room on fire. Just the two of them. His heart thudded slow and reassuring beneath her hand, and with it she felt the pulse of something else, hot and bright. As if some of her fire were lodged just there inside him.
Well wasn’t that interesting?
Gage ran his hand in a lazy stroke down her back. “You’re tensing up again.”
“I’m worried about tomorrow.” It wasn’t a lie.
“If that wasn’t wiped out of your mind for at least another ten minutes, we didn’t do something right.” He rolled, half pinning her with his body as he traced nipping kisses down the column of her throat. “Give me a few minutes, and I can do better. Though it seems like it might be sensible to have a fire extinguisher handy the next time we make love, just in case.”
Because he expected playful, Embry assumed an expression of mock offense and shoved him to his back. “Are you impugning my control, Dempsey?”
He grinned. “Well now, I was always really good at making you lose it.”
Frowning, Embry lifted his hands, rubbing her thumb over the smooth white scars. “I would never burn you on purpose.”
He tugged her down to his chest and kissed her softly. “I didn’t mean it like that.” He studied one hand thoughtfully. “I figure I did it to myself. Ran right at you while you were going nova.”
“I wasn’t going nova. I was trying to protect you.”
Embry thought back, wondering how to describe what had been sheer instinct at the time. “I was trying to wrap you in light. They couldn’t have taken you if they couldn’t get you to shadow. It’s the same principle the military is using to keep my father captive.”
His face turned distant, and she knew he was remembering. “So . . . when I touched you it messed something up.”
“I don’t know exactly what happened. It . . . changed the focus somehow. And what I was trying to wrap around you was redirected at you instead, and I thought…” She trailed off, settling her head against his chest and taking comfort in the steady tha-thump, tha-thump.
“You thought what?”
“I thought I’d killed you,” she whispered.
Embry swallowed. “When you touched me there was an explosion. It threw you across the dojo, into the wall. You just . . . lay there. And then Matthias said . . . ”
“What did Matthias say?” Gage’s voice was soft, but beneath her, his body was rigid.
“He said that I’d completed their mission for them.”
His rage was its own kind of heat. “That son of a bitch let you go all these years thinking—”
“I’ll kill him.” The words were short, sharp, as if they were bones snapping in his hands.
Embry propped herself up and stroked the hard lines of his face. “It won’t change anything.”
“He deserves to pay for what he did to you,” he growled.
“Maybe so. But I’ve thought about this a lot the last week. Matthias is senior. If he said you were dead, his men had no reason to question it. It’s probably the only way he was able to get away with wiping your memory and dumping you in Vegas. If that’s the price I had to pay for you to live, so be it. I’d pay it again in a heartbeat.”
Some of the tension leeched out of his face. “You deserve some happily ever after to make up for all this shit.”
And you deserve honesty that I just can’t give you, she thought. Lowering her lips to his, she murmured, “We have right now. Tonight. I suggest we make the most of it.”