“But you’re a redhead with a tan, Eric. Someone rare and special. There’s no one else like you in the world and I can’t believe I have you all to myself right now.”She could feel him at the entrance of her body. She desperately wanted to flex her hips up and take him inside of her. But he was staring down at her with such tenderness that it was almost alarming.
“Sofia…” he said, and something in his tone made her breath catch in her throat.
Then he began to thrust into her and she knew that no matter how much he made her laugh or how good he made her feel, this was about so much more than just a little bit of fun.
He went slow, filling her inch by inch. Her body spasmed around his. Oh, it had been so long. And he felt so good that she wanted to cry with the relief.
He was breathing hard, his face buried against her neck and she thought he was shaking. For a long moment, they lay like that, joined but quiet in the intimacy of it all.
He said her name again softly. “Sofia.”
“Yes,” she whispered. It didn’t really matter what the question was, after all. He was here with her and they were together and the answer was yes. Maybe it always would be.
He flexed his hips and she rose to meet him and together, they found a rhythm. Sofia wondered dimly if she should be doing more, trying harder. But there was something so freeing about laying back and letting him take care of everything. She didn’t have to give and give and give, dammit, until there was nothing left for her. She could be selfish and greedy and take everything he had because right now, he was all hers.
“Tell me what you need, babe,” Eric grunted, his breathing harsh. “Let me give it to you.”
She needed so much—more than a night or even a weekend. She needed to make up for all the time she’d lost just getting by. She was tired of survival. She wanted to live.
She was finally going to. “Let’s… Here. Lean back.”
Eric did as she asked, sitting on his heels without pulling free of her body. “You feel so good,” she told him, shifting her legs so that they were tucked up against him instead of locked behind his back.
Eric didn’t immediately fall into a rhythm again. Instead, he sat back and looked at how she had arranged herself. “How about this?” Then, instead of tucking her knee under his arm—a position that worked well for her before—he instead tucked his arm behind her knee, lifting her leg over his shoulder. But just the one.
She felt her body tighten around him with this new angle and sucked in a quick breath. “Yeah,” she said, adjusting to the different sensations. He felt larger, harder—and she felt closer to someone else than she’d been in so long. “Yeah, let’s try that.”
This time, his pace wasn’t slow or measured. He wasn’t taking his time, not anymore. This time, he buried himself inside of her over and over again and it couldn’t have been more than a minute before her body tightened and the orgasm blazed through her. She cried out, “Eric!” And then she lost the ability to speak at all.
He didn’t give her the chance to catch her breath. He didn’t give her the time to come back down to earth from that beautiful orgasm. Instead, he drove her relentlessly, pushing her from that high peak to one even higher. This time, when she came, she thrashed against the bed, grabbed onto his shoulders and held tight. The cords of his neck stood out as he roared and then collapsed on her.
Stepping out of the bedroom, she modulated her pace even though another harsher knock came from the door. When she pulled it open and saw Gray standing there, her heart did that weird stutter thing again. His Lion was there; burning away at the backs of his eyes, branding her visually as he was about to claim her physically.
A part of her longed to retreat, to step back as prey has always done to predator, but this was her mate. Created expressly for her.
She’d always found it ironic that in a culture obsessed with female superiority that the mate bond had to be triggered by the males. Her time to claim him would come after he’d already secured the ties between them, and it was the part of her that recognized her time would come that stood firm at the door.
For a handful of seconds, they stared at each other. Leylines of flash fire connecting their gazes as the heat around them ratcheted up and up. And then, he pounced. Out of nowhere, his muscles tensed, and the five steps separating them were no more. He was there, dragging her against his chest, his hands coming around to splay against her back and press her deeper into his hold.
A moan escaped her the instant his cock brushed her belly. The hard rod reminded her of what was to come, and she longed for it, even as she longed for the claiming to be slow.
All thoughts disappeared the instant his mouth reached for hers. The battle between them, one that would undoubtedly travel along the journey of life as each sought to define themselves, was intense. Immense. As his tongue fucked hers, and she fought back, parry for parry, thrust for thrust, it hit her that she’d met a man who was her equal.
The thought made her knees shaky, and she was grateful for his tight hold on her. He pulled back slightly, his tongue coming to lap around her lips, little teasing flicks that had her throat aching with the need to fall back, to just let him do as he wanted, and then, he nipped. His sharp teeth raking against the tenderized morsels of her lips. A moan fell from them at the teasing taunt, and she dug her nails deep into his shoulders, needing for him to share the slight pain, the desperate knowledge of what it felt like to need this much with the creature who was made for her.
The thought triggered tears and Julia was not a crybaby. But the notion that a lifetime of desperate and hopeless seeking was forever over was too immense not to hit her right in the tear ducts. A soothing sound escaped him. Low clucking noises that were half cat and half concerned male. His lips followed the trails of salty moisture as they curled over her cheeks, and he supped from them. Drank from liquid emotion.
The trace of his tongue, of his mouth, against the velvety smoothness of her jaw made her melt. The intense heat he stirred in her scorched away the tears the instant he lowered his head farther enough to rake his teeth against her throat. When the sharp points of his canines dragged against the tender flesh, a moan of longing escaped her, and this time, her head fell back in supplication. His Lion was out once more, because they were no ordinary fangs.
The tips were sharp enough to score thin flesh, and score they did, because soon, she could feel the heat as droplets of blood were purged from her by his taunting. Each and every time he moved against her throat, she felt on the brink of coming. A shifter’s throat was its most vulnerable point, and baring it to anyone, was the height of trust. As was exposing the back of the neck, where their scruff was located. The right pinch in the right area, and boom, all strength and starch could disappear in an instant.
At that second, Gray had access to both of her Achilles’ heels. His hands had come up to support her head, and his teeth were at her throat. He could immobilize her in a heartbeat, kill her seconds later, and yet, she handed him the trust like she’d never have done to anyone else.
As soon as the thought crossed her mind, almost as though they were in sync, he struck. Those razor-sharp teeth slipped through her skin like a knife through lemon meringue pie. She could feel blood gushing from the wound, could feel her cells struggle to deal with the damage and start trying to repair it, but more than that, she felt like his.
As his saliva merged with her blood, every single piece of her, from the strands of her hair, to her fingernails, to the platelets coursing around her veins, and the DNA that made up the core of her…all of it received his brand. All of it was marked by him.
She shuddered, astounded by the power of the moment, amazed at how she could feel her very makeup being altered as she became his.
Then, he pulled away, and Julia looked at him. She saw the bloody maw, the scarlet-stained teeth, the ferocious hunger in his eyes, and rather than flinch away, she raised her hands, cupped his cheeks, and pulled him in for the kill.
As their lips clashed once more, her mouth loaded with the taste of her own lifeblood, he pushed her forward until the backs of her knees collided with the bed. Surprised at the support, she fell back and landed on the plush coverings. He was on top of her immediately. His hands came out to pull the knot of the towel she wore free, and then she was bared to him. Exposed. All of her flaws, and there were many, out there for the world, and more specifically, her mate to see.
She shuddered, a part of her longing to cover up again, but then he was there, blanketing her, and his cock was pike hard against her thigh. This time, the shudder was of relief. He felt it and pulled away, his head tilting to the side in a distinctly feline way. But before she could say a word or he could ask anything, his attention was caught by something else. From the angle of his stare, she knew it was the bite at her throat, and as he studied his handiwork, he began to strip off. Pulling his shirt from his trousers, ripping the buttons free in his haste to be naked. His hands then went to work on his fly, and within seconds, his cock was free, bouncing out from between the zipper.
Julia had no time to appreciate his muscled chest, or his beautiful face. She had no time to appreciate how lucky she was, or even to thank Lea for her gift. Because the next move his hands made, was to take her legs and to start spreading them wide. The instant they were parted, he settled between them and his throbbing cock pressed against the tender folds of her sex.
That very first touch had him crying out and her whimpering. She was already wet, had been since their first kiss out in the hallway of Lia’s building, but this was like nothing else. She was drenched with need for him. Her body, her cat, so utterly prepared to be taken by this strong male, that she couldn’t have given him any more of an invitation. And he was eager to accept it.
His shaft pulsed against her, a teasing vibration that made her eyes flutter shut. They flickered open milliseconds later when he barked, “Look at me, Julia. You’re mine, and I’m yours.” His voice was gruff and raw, crude and filled with male need. It singed her nerves, set them afire and branded her once more with his taunt. “Say it. Tell me you’re mine.”
She cried out, then whimpered as he dragged the tip of his dick up and over her clit, making her mouth work with the ecstasy of that simple touch. “I’m y-yours,” she gasped, then roared as to her stuttered words, he plunged in deep, reclaiming her so intrinsically, that no part of her could ever be mistaken as anything but his.
His roar matched hers. The sounds bellowed to the ceiling, entwined around one another, curled into the sound waves as he began to fuck her in earnest.
Hips rearing back and forth, he took her, made her his. Filled her so deeply she didn’t know where he began and she ended.
Julia longed to shut her eyes, to be allowed to revel in these luxurious sensations, but her gaze was entrapped by his, and his Lion was there. Watching her, the predator still there, doing some reveling of his own at finally having claimed his prey.
She’d never felt weaker or more submissive than she did at that moment. Yet, she’d never felt stronger, or more powerful.
The dueling emotions could have been overwhelming, and hell, they were, but she had too much going on to worry about it.
His chest pressed into hers, flattening her breasts against his hard pecs. She could feel the thud-thud of his heart as it banged against her, and she shivered at the sensation of the hairs of his chest rubbing against her nipples.
She’d never been taken with so little finesse, but she’d never felt like the world was about to implode either.
The primal needs coursing through them both were so atavistically crude, the modern woman in her could have been embarrassed, but her Lioness reveled in it. She rejoiced in the claiming, and the instant another roar burst from Gray’s lungs as his cock burst, drenching her womb in his seed, the Lioness caved in to let the woman experience the cacophonous supernova of an orgasm with a mate.
Colors exploded behind her eyes in a kaleidoscope of flashing rainbows. Her ears were bleached with a white noise so intrinsic, she could hear nothing but the rush of blood through her veins and through Gray’s. Her skin was so sensitive, she could feel each unique bead of sweat as it escaped her pores. The air bled with Gray’s pheromones, and the weight on her tongue was a heavy presence, but a delicious one as well. It filled her nostrils, overloading her overworked senses with all of him.
So aware was she at that moment, the experience was almost out of body. The pleasure she drowned in cascaded over her, filling her lungs, suffocating her with its power.
And then, Gray collapsed against her. His heaving breaths, his sweaty skin, his weight, and his scent all-encompassing her and finally, finally, grounding her enough to let her fly free.