Shadow game (Chapter Ten)

I need you. Lily woke with a start, her heart pounding with fear, or maybe in anticipation, her eyes straining to pierce the darkness into the corners of her bedroom. The voice was clear and strong. Edgy with hunger. Not a dream this time. Ryland was in the same room with her.

She rolled over and peered under her bed. Laughing at her silliness, Lily lay back against the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. The sound of her voice helped to stifle the disappointment settling in her body. She ached. Inside and out, she ached for him. For Ryland Miller. The silver slash of his eyes. The temptation of his mouth. His body. She dreamt of his body. Of holding him close, of his hands and mouth touching her, tasting her. Of the feel of his skin. She woke burning and alone. Hollow and empty and moody.

After she had left him with Jeff Hollister, she had returned to her father's secret laboratory, wanting to read more of his journals. Lily feared doing anything that might harm Hollister but Ryland had been adamant that they not bring in medical help. She worked most of the morning and into the afternoon, falling into bed just before five. Obviously she had slept into the night.

She was not going to search Ryland out. Thinking about him interfered with her ability to concentrate on helping him. It was far more important to find answers. She had supplied him with a safe refuge and plenty of food. Getting involved with him any further could jeopardize everything, she told herself firmly. The best way to help Ryland Miller and the others was to find out everything she could about how her father had managed to open their brains to the waves of energy.

Lily shoved a hand through her thick mass of hair tumbling around her face. She could never live up to the erotic dream they'd shared. It was easy enough to be completely uninhibited in a dream, but she had no idea how to behave with a flesh-and-blood man expecting a siren. Why had she ever shared that dream with him? She blushed a vivid scarlet, groaned, and hid her face in her hands.

"Think of something else, Lily. For heaven's sake, you're a grown woman. It's imperative to find the answers. Stop thinking about him!" Lily tried to be firm with herself, forcing her mind to consider other things besides raw, hot men. Man. She sighed. "Okay, Lily, focus here. Colonel Higgens is bound to eventually become suspicious of you. Sooner or later he'll find a way to penetrate security. Arly only thinks he's a miracle worker."

Lily threw back the covers and padded across the room to the tiled bathroom on bare feet. She wore only a long shirt. Ryland's shirt. It still held his scent, enfolding her in his presence like an embrace. She had stolen it, a pathetic impulse she was slightly ashamed of, but eternally grateful she had acted on. It had been left in the laboratory along with his other clothes, ready to be sent out to the laundry. She couldn't believe she had been reduced to stealing a shirt. It was more than pathetic, it was truly wretched.

Taking her time as she washed her face, using the opportunity to give herself a stern lecture, she peered at her face in the mirror. "You don't want him anyway, Lily, you want to be loved for who you are, not because you have great chemistry." Her eyes were too large for her face. She was too pale. Drooping. Why hadn't she been born model thin and gorgeous? With a perpetual tan?

Great chemistry works for me. The voice slipped into her mind. Slid over her body like a physical touch.

Lily stiffened, her fingers curling around the edges of the sink. Using the mirror she searched the room carefully. It was one thing to dream of him, quite another to face him alone and vulnerable in the privacy of her rooms. The connection was too strong between them. She didn't trust it… or him. "Are you here in the room with me? Because you'd better not be. You have a designated area of safety and my private rooms are not included." She asked the question aloud, wanted him to answer aloud. It was far too intimate an exchange with him in her mind. Her thoughts. Her fantasies. The color wasn't just in her face anymore, it was creeping up her entire body.

I like your fantasies. Ryland's voice purred. Like a great contented cat. Purred so that it vibrated through her body, set her on fire.

He couldn't be in her room. He'd better not be in her room. Her heart was pounding with a mixture of fear and excitement. She wanted to see him, but dreaded being alone with him. And she was wearing his shirt… It was possible she wanted him so much she was imagining things. She closed her eyes. Imagination had already gotten her in trouble once; she wasn't about to allow it to happen again.

Hands whispered up her thighs, pushing aside the long tails of her shirt, slid over the curve of her hips, framed her rib cage, and moved up higher to cup the weight of her breasts in rough palms. Lily's eyes flew open to stare at his face above her own. Real. Ryland crowded close to her. His body, hard and hot, pressed against her back. His hands, beneath the thin material of her shirt, were possessive, his thumbs stroking her nipples into taut peaks.

Ryland watched her face in the mirror. Fear blossoming. The shock. The pleasure. He slowly bent his head so that his lips skimmed her neck. "Don't worry, Lily, I know you. I know what you want. I know what you need right now. I need it too. The rest will come later."

Desire was a hot heat spiraling through her body, every nerve ending alive. Lily gasped, her fingers tightening around the edge of the sink. She should have been screaming a protest; instead she stood very still absorbing the feel of his hands on her body. "Are you crazy? How did you find me? You shouldn't be here, Ryland." She wanted him more than life itself. But she wasn't what he thought. She could never match the erotic fantasy they had woven together.

Ryland's teeth scraped gently over her neck, sent fire racing over her skin. "Did you think anything could keep me away from you?" His hands were possessive around her breasts. "Don't be afraid, Lily. Anything we do is going to be perfect between us."

She couldn't help the thrill of excitement that raced through her, even if her mind taunted her with her lack of actual experience. Their eyes met in the mirror. She could see his hunger. Stark and raw. There were lines etched into his face that hadn't been there before. There were shadows and a certain edge to the sensual cut of his mouth.

Lily drew in her breath to tell him it was wrong, they didn't love one another, it was a chemical reaction, anything to drive him away, but he drew her closer to him, fit her body snugly against his. She could feel the hard bulge pressed against her, evidence of his body's urgent demands. She felt as if she belonged to him. With him. No longer Lily but a part of Ryland. As if there would be no Lily without him.

"It's been hell without you, Lily. I can't explain it any other way. With you, I can function. I can control what's happening to me."

"You aren't controlling yourself now." She wasn't entirely certain she wanted him in control. One hand was sliding lightly over her stomach, his fingers moving in a massaging caress impossible to ignore. She closed her eyes against the sensation and unexpectedly tears burned behind her lashes.

Immediately his hand stopped moving. His breath hitched in his throat. "Don't do that. Don't hurt like that." His hands reluctantly left the refuge of her body. He turned her into the shelter of his chest, his arms enfolding her close. His body was protective, his hands tender as they stroked her silky hair. "I know you're confused right now. I know you don't think what's between us is real or that emotion plays a part in it, but you're wrong, Lily. I think of you all the time, how you are, what you're feeling. I love the sound of your voice, your smile. It isn't just sex."

"It isn't that." Lily turned her head to rest it over the precise spot where his heart beat so steadily. It was happening all over again. Each time she was near him she could deny him nothing. She couldn't look at him. She wasn't certain she could ever look at him again. "I don't want you to be disappointed."

Ryland stood very still. It was the last thing he expected. Lily was the epitome of confidence. She was beautiful and perfect and her mouth was a total sin. "Lily, honey, look at me."

Mutely she shook her head. Ryland stroked her hair, crushed the thick strands in his fist. He bent his head, inhaled her fragrance. Inhaled her scent. Lily. His Lily. "It would be an impossibility for me to be disappointed in you."

She pushed away from his warmth, from his solid body. "You shouldn't be here. And I don't want to talk about this." It was too humiliating. She was already making a complete fool of herself. Lily thought to put distance between them, but they were in the confines of the bathroom and her back was up against the sink. Ryland was a large man, his broad shoulders filling the room, his body blocking the doorway. She faced him, shaking her head, her blue eyes sad. "You're going to be expecting me to be like…" She frowned, waved her hand around, settled on one word. "Her." Your hot little fantasy woman that can do everything. Anything. She blushed a vivid scarlet again, hoping the darkness would cover what was an appalling shade on her.

He reached out, laced his fingers through hers, and tugged until she reluctantly followed him into her darkened bedroom. "I think we need to have a little talk, Lily."

Her heart jumped wildly. She allowed him to pull her toward the wide armchair beside the tall lamp. It was utterly ridiculous how helpless he could make her feel with just the velvet tone of his voice. Her body went into meltdown and she couldn't think clearly.

He seated himself comfortably, tugged on her hand until she fell against him. He settled her on his lap, all too aware she wore nothing beneath the shirt. His shirt. It pleased him that she wore his shirt. "I don't think a little talk is going to help, Ryland. I can't be that woman in our dream. I've never really been with a man. It was all imagination and reading."

"I want to read the books you've been reading." His hands seemed to have a mind of their own, sliding over her bare thighs, long, gentle strokes to feel the petal soft skin of her. He had always known her skin would feel as it did. It was impossible to keep his hands off of her.

His hands followed the path of her thigh, slid around to cup her bare bottom, massaging and stroking until she thought she might go out of her mind.

"Ryland, it won't be the same as it was in the dream." She felt as if she were pleading with him, but she didn't know if it was for him to believe her, or persuade her.

"I hope not. I want it to be real. I want to be deep inside your body. I want your hands really touching my skin. It isn't going to matter that you're not experienced, Lily. It only matters that we want to please one another, enjoy one another."

She hated herself for being such a coward. They would be spectacular together and then he would walk away and leave her. "Do you think you're making this any easier for either of us?" Lily leapt up as if his touch were burning her. It was burning her. Her breath was coming in ragged gasps. She paced across the hardwood floor, back and forth, confused and slightly disoriented. "And what do you think is going to happen if we… if I let you…" She glanced at him from under long lashes. "Afterward…"

His legs were stretched out comfortably and he was watching her, his gaze moving slowly, hotly over her body. Devouring every inch of her. At once she was aware of her naked body moving restlessly beneath the shirt. Her breasts ached and her body felt heavy, throbbed for release. For him. "Afterward, I hope to start all over again. And again. And again. It will never be enough for me."

Lily shook her head and backed away from him. "We both know you'll have to leave me eventually. It will be that much harder when you go."

He rose in one fluid movement, stalking her right across the bedroom floor. Lily backpedaled hastily to elude him. "It can't get much harder than it already is, Lily." His voice found its way into her bloodstream, creating a molten river. He reached out with his incredible speed and shackled her wrist with his fingers.

At once she went very still, her stomach somersaulting. She ached for him. If she closed her eyes to block out the sight of him, it wouldn't matter. He was already deep inside of her. And which would be worse? Having him and watching him walk away from her? Or never having him and feeling empty for the rest of her life? She would rather have the memory of a real experience than a dream.

"Lily?" His voice was velvet soft like the night itself. The fingers wrapped so loosely around her wrist like a bracelet suddenly tightened, brought her up short. "Lily, what am I feeling right now?"

She forced her gaze to meet his. Allowed herself to absorb his raw emotions. Desire. It was hard-edged. Dangerous. Primal. The force of his hunger for her body shook her. He didn't flinch away from the knowledge in her eyes.

"How can you think there's separation from your body and your mind and heart? I need you. Want you. Every square inch of you, Lily. Is that such a terrifying thing? Are you so afraid of me? Of being with me?"

Was there a note of hurt in his voice? He always sounded so in command, in control, yet there was a curious vulnerability in him when he was with her. She continued to look up at him, unable to break away from his mesmerizing gaze. From the stark desire she saw there.

Ryland moved then, slowly lowering his head to hers. Inch by slow inch. All the while holding her captive with the power of his glittering eyes. Her pulse, beneath the pad of his thumb, raced wildly. His lips moved against hers. Gently. Skimming. Barely touching. "You've forgotten to breathe." His breath was warm on her skin, on her mouth, breathing for her, sharing the very air in his lungs.

His lips were soft. Velvet soft. Heat curled in her stomach, pooled into a sweet ache. Ryland leaned closer, his lips rubbing over hers, teasing at the corners of her mouth, small little nibbles. An enticement. A temptation. His tongue traced the line of her lips, a gentle persistence completely at odds with the tremor of intense hunger that ran beneath the surface of his body.

His hands were gentle, tender even, as one curled around the nape of her neck to hold her still. The other followed the line of her back, the curve of her hips to rest possessively on her bottom.

A flame shot through her bloodstream, wild and hot and all at once out of control. The sensation was shocking when he was so gentle, coaxing her response rather than demanding it. Lily felt weak with wanting him, tired of fighting the attraction between them. The temptation of heat and fire stole her good sense. Her mouth moved under his, her lips soft and pliant and welcoming.

His mouth hardened, became hot and dangerous, compelling her to open for him, her dark sorcerer claiming his rights. At once she was swept into another world, one of pure feeling, of colors and sensations. Tongues of fire raced along her skin. Every nerve ending came alive. Her blood was thick and hot with need. Her body craving, craving, until her arms crept around his neck and her body molded itself to his.

Her breasts ached, her body throbbed. His hands cupped her bottom, lifting, pressing her against the thick evidence of his arousal, rubbing her close until the friction was almost too much to bear.

Ryland groaned, a sound of stark need. "I'm losing my sanity, Lily. I burn for you, day and night." The words were whispered against her open mouth. "It's not comfortable or pleasant, it hurts like hell. Put me out of my misery, honey. Help me, Lily. I can't think with wanting you."

"Want" was such an insipid word. How could he explain to her what it was like for him? Day and night thinking of her, dreaming of her, a drug in his bloodstream, a craving that couldn't be sated. His body was always hot and unmercifully hard. There were no words adequate enough, intense enough, to describe the nights of sweat-soaked sheets and days with his jeans stretched so damned tight over his hard body he thought he might never be able to take another step without pain again.

His hands on her bare bottom cupped her firm muscles, began a slow, intimate massage, deliberately, wickedly enticing her.

Lily couldn't breathe with wanting him. His mouth fastened to hers, devouring her, the gentle coaxing manner lost in the inferno building between them. She let her body answer for her, without words, giving consent with her hands, sliding possessively over his body, while her tongue dueled with his.

Ryland groaned softly, low in his throat, somewhere between a growl and a purr. Lily was trembling beneath his hands. He didn't want her to be afraid or nervous, not even for a moment. "I dreamt of this moment, Lily." He lifted her easily, casually, his mouth roaming her face and throat as he carried her to the bed. "So many times, I dreamt of this."

Lily could feel the coolness of the sheet against her back as he pressed her into the mattress. His hands were strong, determined, possessive even as they roamed over her body. His face was etched with deep emotion, his eyes burning. He swept away the shirt, dropping it carelessly on the floor. She heard him gasp, the hitch in his breath, the husky sound in his throat. His palms trailed over her skin slowly from her shoulders, over the swell of her breasts, along her narrow rib cage to her tucked-in waist and the flat expanse of her stomach. "It's amazing how soft your skin feels."

His touch was exquisitely gentle, completely at odds with the terrible hunger burning in his eyes. He bent his head slowly to her breast. His breath reached her skin first. Warm. Moist. His lips were soft.

Lily jumped under his seeking mouth, all at once so sensitive even the brush of his hair was erotic against her skin.

Ryland was determined to go slow, stay in control, hold his terrible hunger for Lily under some sort of rein. The last thing he wanted to do was frighten her. There was plenty of time for wild cravings-right here, right now, it was all about pleasing Lily.

Go slow. Go slow. The words beat like a litany in his head. His fingers trembled as they stroked her breasts. Worshiped her. He closed his mouth around the soft mound, a tight wet bond, his tongue dancing over her taut nipple as he suckled.

Lily cried out, arched into him, craving his touch, needing more. Always more. "Take your clothes off, Ryland," she pleaded, "I want to touch you, look at you." Her voice, hungry with urgency, hungry for him, shook him. She had known the moment she laid eyes on him that she wanted him and she had immediately begun to educate herself, learning as much as she could about sexual appetites, wanting to know how to please him. Nothing she read or watched had prepared her for what she was feeling.

She had thought she would be embarrassed and afraid to be naked in front of him, but instead she reveled in the way he looked at her. The way he touched her. The way his gaze burned over her so possessively.

Ryland lifted his head, studied her cloudy eyes, her soft mouth swollen from his ravaging kisses. "I'm trying to be gentle, honey." He attempted to explain, but the words were trapped in his heart. His hands were already pulling off his clothes, flinging them aside. His heart beat like thunder. He had fantasized this moment so often, his body in a continual state of arousal for so long, he feared anything he said could never describe how he felt about her. There were no words. She was a fever in his blood, a craving, obsession, she was his heart and soul. How could he say that to her? "I swear I won't hurt you." He meant ever. Not with his body and not with his mind.

Lily stared up at him, lying in the darkness, mesmerized by the dark passion etched deeply into his face. He took her breath away. Every muscle in her body was weak with wanting him, every cell on fire for his touch. She should have been afraid of his craving, the intensity of his terrible hunger, but within her body, in the shadowy corners of her soul, she found her own secret desires.

There was no ice running in her veins, there was molten lava. Deep inside of her stirred a volcano, hot and thick and ready to erupt, swirling to the surface to meet his every demand. Eagerly. Wantonly. She reached for him. "I'm a woman, Ryland, not a porcelain doll. I know exactly what I want."

Their mouths fused together, electric and hot. Her hands moved over him, needing to feel every muscle, just as he needed to explore her body. He kept to his plan, using slow torture to arouse her to a frightening pitch. He suckled her lush breasts, his tongue teasing, his teeth scraping gently, his mouth hot and moist. He traced her ribs, the flat of her stomach. The curve of her hip, every hollow. He wanted every one of Lily's secrets. He wouldn't take anything less.

"Ryland, please," Lily's body was so sensitive she was afraid she was going to cry with wanting him. She was aching and heavy and beyond reason.

"Look at me, baby," he said softly, directing her gaze to the heavy erection. "I'm a big man and I'll be damned if I'll hurt you, even a little."

His finger stroked into her damp heat and she nearly rose off the mattress. "You're torturing me," she said, but she couldn't stop herself from pushing against his hand, desperately seeking relief.

Ryland encouraged her to thrust against his hand as he slowly pushed his finger into her tight channel. She was hot and slick but far too tight to take his thick arousal. It was obvious she hadn't been with anyone else and the idea that he was her only, that he would be the one teaching her was even more exciting. Lily was passionate, abandoned, willing to do what came naturally to her.

"I'm going to stretch you a little more, honey; just relax for me. You trust me, don't you, Lily?" He withdrew one finger, slowly inserting two, watching her expression closely for signs of discomfort as he pushed deeper into her body.

The sensation was so pleasurable it was alarming. Lily fought for breath, fought for control where there was none. She never wanted Ryland to stop. He thrust deeper, the friction electric, shocking in its intensity. He was doing things deep inside her, stroking and teasing and making her crazy so she couldn't lie still. Her hips surged against his hands wantonly.

"This shouldn't hurt, Lily, I'll make it good for you," he whispered, pushing her thighs apart, settling his weight there. "Look at us, honey. We belong together." Ryland took his erection in his hand, pressed the engorged head to her moist entrance.

He was far thicker than she had anticipated and he stretched her body, slowly, pushing his way through her hot folds, forcing her tight muscles to allow him entrance. She cried out as he went deeper, stopped at the thin, almost nonexistent barrier, then deeper still in a harder thrust, filling her to such a fullness she burned and throbbed and unexpectedly plummeted over the edge.

Neither expected the reaction, the waves of enchantment rippling through her, spreading like a tidal wave. Her body gripped and suckled at his, so tightly he was gritting his teeth, the pleasure so intense it bordered on pain. Her orgasm bathed him in hot heat, so that he slipped in another couple of inches.

Lily looked up at his face and his male beauty took her breath away. She wanted everything with him, too. She trusted him inexplicably. And she wanted every moment with him. "I want to be your every erotic fantasy." The words came out of nowhere. Said into the night. "Teach me how to please you, Ryland."

The honesty in her voice shook him, ripped his heart right out of his body. He withdrew, pushed deep again slowly, feeling his way, wanting it right. Wanting it perfect for her. His hands tightened on her hips as he began a slow, steady rhythm. He urged her body to move with his. "Everything, honey. We'll have it all. I want to know your body better than you know it. I want every square inch of you to belong to me."

He caught her hips in his hands, holding her firmly, tilting her body while he went deeper still, wanting her to take all of him. Lily gasped as the heat engulfed her, as he filled her completely. Ryland began to move again, long slow thrusts, deep and perfect.

She cried out again, low, in her throat, as he changed speed, driving harder, faster. "We're just getting started, Lily," he promised. "This is just to take the edge off." He let himself go, his hips surging deep into her tight channel over and over, taking them higher than he ever thought possible. His head roared and his body clenched and burned, but he didn't want the ecstasy to ever end.

When his orgasm came, it was explosive, ripping through his body with gut-wrenching force, shaking him, nearly taking off the top of his head. Her body was so responsive to his, following his every lead, he had never experienced anything remotely like it. He was staggered by the intensity of pleasure she had given him. And he had given back to her.

Ryland collapsed beside her, holding her in his arms, his face buried against the softness of her breast, his body still deep in hers. He had known he wanted her, that it was for all time, but he hadn't realized what was between them. A priceless gift, a treasure beyond his dreams. She was wrapped so tight inside of him, he knew it was more than his body and mind. More than his heart. She was entrenched in his soul.

"I thought it was painful for women their first time," she said. "I expected it to be so different. You having all the fun and me being disappointed."

"Did you?" He was smiling, joy spreading through him. That was the Lily he knew, analyzing her data. "I guess you were thinking about some other man making love to you." Deliberately he drew her breast into the heat of his mouth, knowing each time he sucked strongly or lapped with his tongue, the shock waves rippled deep inside of her, doubling her enjoyment.

Lily closed her eyes, pleasure washing through her. "Is it always like this? I read all those manuals but…" Her voice hitched as his tongue swirled.

"Manuals?" Ryland lifted his head, grinning at her in the darkness. "That's so you, Lily, reading a book to experience life. If you were wanting to know something why didn't you just ask me?"

Her fingers found the silk of his hair, tunneled, and held. "I might have been embarrassed. It isn't easy to talk to someone of experience about intimate matters."

She was frowning, he knew that she was. Everything about her made him smile. Her tone was so scientific, yet he could feel her body trembling, the little aftershocks still rocking her. "We've always talked about everything, honey. I didn't exactly make it a secret that I wanted you. You could have told me you were inexperienced. I might have toned down our very erotic dream."

"I liked your dreams. The visuals were astounding, much better than the lifeless manual. I wasn't actually certain it was physically possible to do the things the books talked about."

He cleared his throat. "Where exactly did you get these books?"

"Off the internet. They have very explicit information and people willing to answer all of your questions."

He groaned aloud. "I'll bet they do. I think I'd like to see these books of yours. I was a little concerned you might tell me you were really watching Arly's movies."

She laughed wickedly. "I'm not certain he has any movies but if he does, he's probably putting some sort of security device on them to keep me away."

"You have a mean streak in you." Ryland leaned down to nip at her enticing breast. "You smell so damned good, Lily." His body was still locked with hers. He could feel every ripple in her muscles. He discovered just breathing on her taut nipples caused an answering contraction in her deepest core. She bathed him in liquid heat and sent pleasure coursing through his body. "I noticed that immediately, how wonderful you smelled."

She rubbed her face against his throat. "I love the way you feel." And the way he cared about his men. And the way he loved his mother. And the way one unruly curl fell across his forehead no matter how he slicked it back. It was appalling how much she loved about him. She couldn't help running her hands over his back to feel the defined muscles there. "I used to wonder about miracles."

"Miracles?" He echoed the word, shaken by the naked emotion in her voice. She turned him inside out with a tone.

"Well, yeah. Miracles. What could be considered a true miracle, that sort of thing. It's an interesting puzzle that so many people around the world have a form of worship and belief. But actually…" She trailed kisses along his throat, over his jaw to tease the corner of his mouth.

Rather boldly for a woman of no experience, but his body reacted, growing hard when it should have been impossible. Ryland kissed her because he couldn't stop himself from tasting her. From just fusing them together and wanting to remain that way, locked with her in a private world of heat and passion. His hands moved over her body, memorizing every line, every hollow. The texture of her skin. The way she reacted, her muscles contracting around him and her breath leaving her lungs in a rush of pleasure.

She was his miracle. In the midst of a hell he had helped to create, he had found her. Lily's lush body was paradise. Her smile, the sound of her voice. Even the way she moved and could look so haughty with her tempting mouth and cool blue eyes. He raised his head to look down at her.

"Lily, from now on, if you have any questions on sex, ask me." He caught her waist as he rolled onto his back, not wanting to break contact, wanting to stay buried in the tightness of her hot, slick body.

Lily gasped as she found herself sitting up, astride him, his body deep within hers. Her hair fell in a tousled cloud around her, the silken strands teasing her sensitized skin. It was impossible to be embarrassed when he was obviously enjoying the sight and feel of her body. His hands came up to cup her generous breasts, his fingers stroking and caressing.

Lily closed her eyes and gave herself up to the sheer pleasure of experimenting. She moved her hips, slid over his body, tightened her muscles. She felt him deep inside her, growing, thickening, responding to her movements. She began a slow ride, arching back to give him a good view of her breasts swaying in temptation. It was an amazing feeling to just indulge herself in every sensation. She moved slowly at first, judging his reaction, getting used to taking the lead. Then she became bolder, trailing her fingers along his muscles, swirling fingernails over his flat belly and teasing dark curls of hair. She experimented, tightening muscles as she rose up, as she slid along the length of him, moving faster and harder until she had to open her eyes and see the naked passion on his face.

She loved his rough, weathered features. The dark shadow along his jaw. The brilliance of his silver eyes. He took her breath away and sent her body into meltdown. She reveled in his watching her, touching her. The way his gaze was so hot, so intense, electrified her, brought her body to a life of its own.

Ryland couldn't take his gaze off of her. Lily's body was flushed with the fever of passion. Her breasts moved invitingly with every surge of her hips. She rode him hard, incredibly uninhibited, showing her enjoyment of his body with her every touch, every gesture. Her eyes clouded over, her breath hitching. A soft sound escaped her throat. At once he caught her hips in his hands, holding her while he took over the pace, surging into her, guiding her movements so her body fisted around his. Velvet soft, fiery hot, a liquid flame wrapped tightly around him.

Lily threw her head back, cried out his name, a gasp of wonderment, of awe, while her body rippled with strength and life around his, driving him over the edge with her.

"You're unbelievable," she whispered, bending to kiss him. The action tightened her muscles around him, mashed her soft breasts into his chest.

Ryland was amazed at how masculine the simple action made him feel. And he was really amazed at how bereft he felt when she slid her body from his and lay beside him. He longed to stay deep inside of her, filling her, joined with her, sharing the same skin with her. "Oh, we're just getting started, Lily. There are all kinds of ways to make love and to enjoy one another. I've got plans."

She looked at him suspiciously. "What kinds of plans?"

He took her hand, brought it to his lips, and used his tongue to lap sensuously around her finger before drawing it into the moist beat of his mouth. Her eyes widened at the way her body reacted when he sucked on her finger, and used his tongue shamelessly in a simulated mating.

Lily blushed a vivid scarlet, but her body burned hot and wild, a reckless promise of pleasure. "My brain already melted, Ryland, it's too late." Her voice was breathless with wanting whatever they could share together, but she was exhausted and she knew it.

He found the down comforter on the floor where it had fallen and drew it up to cover them both before wrapping his arms firmly around her. "We have time, Lily, I'm not going anywhere. Go to sleep, honey, you need your rest."