“Where is your favorite lake?” I whispered as he pulled my hair, tugging me closer to him.
His eyes lit up, remembering something I couldn’t see, but then they clouded, and he shook his head. “I-I don’t remember.”
“Was it somewhere hot all year round, or did you ice skate on the lake in winter?”
His face grew darker, his forehead knotting with stress. “I-I don’t know. I—” He squeezed his eyes shut. “Why don’t I know? It’s-it’s...nothing is straight in my head. It’s all jumbled and—” His eyes shot wide, flickering with horror. “Where is everyone? I...I had a family. Wes and—” He tapped his temple as if trying to dislodge more. “God, what were their names? Who are you?”
Worry replaced the softness of before, making me backpedal. “I’m your friend, remember? Don’t worry about anything else. Just focus on us, that’s all.” Cupping his cheek, I ran my thumb over the soft skin above his scruff. “I’m Gem, and you’re Kas, and everything is okay now that we’re together.”
He exhaled hard.
It was as if the evil trying to snatch him back receded, leaving him empty and quiet. Entirely willing to let me protect him. “Okay. I’ll just focus on you.” Swaying forward, he bumped his forehead against mine. “I really, really like you, Gem.” His chin moved, and his mouth fastened over mine.
I froze for the third time.
He sucked in a breath.
Our eyes stayed locked as if he was as shocked as me that he’d kissed me.
I waited for him to pull away. To act shy and blush again.
Instead, his lips moved over mine, hesitantly and softly. His eyes drifted closed, and he pulled me closer with the lock of my hair.
Pull away, Gem.
I fell into him.
I parted my lips and trembled as the tip of his tongue tasted me.
As far as kisses went, this was the sweetest I’d ever had. Sweeter than my first stumbling when I was fourteen. Sweeter than my ex-boyfriend or any other kiss with Kas before.
This man had kissed me full of violence and aggression. It’d been messy and barbaric and resorted to us rolling around in the mud like beasts.
This was delicate and exquisite, full of innocent passion and everlasting care.
He moaned under his breath as I touched his tongue with mine. A tiny lick of welcome.
His fingers moved from my hair to my cheek, his palm burning me as he deepened the kiss. Our mouths parted in unison, our tongues connecting in a dance. His heartbeat drummed in his fingertips, soaking through my cheek to my own drumming pulse.
His head tilted to the other side, the choreography between us unhurried and indulgent. Deepening then retreating, kissing and learning.
Our breathing synchronized as everything inside me went heavy.
Inhale and lick.
Exhale and kiss.
His lips and tongue were hypnotic.
The connection between us tangled tighter.
The strain of the past few days melted as his tongue continued tasting me, claiming me. Our breathing turned harsher, bodies no longer content with just a simple kiss, no matter how precious.
My nipples ached. My core clenched.
His moan turned to a harsher groan as he reached for me.
Passion overflowed, demanding we finish whatever magic we’d started.
His right arm looped around my waist, and I bowed into him. His left arm swooped around my shoulders and—
He cried out, his mouth slipping from mine.
The moment instantly shattered.
The spell around us vanished as he winced and cradled his broken arm. Giving me a sheepish shrug, he murmured, “My arm...it’s killing me.”
For a second, I felt as disorientated as he must feel when his mind played tricks on him. Shaking my head, I inhaled fresh air and slipped into my role of nurse. “Here, let me.”
Nodding gratefully, he gingerly placed his arm on my lap, and we both gritted our teeth against the remaining need between us.
I dared not make eye contact with him, focusing instead on my task.
Grabbing the slim stake I’d brought from the garden, I wiped off any obvious dirt then placed it along his broken arm. “Keep that there.” Reaching sideways to my medical station, I gathered up the sliced pieces of cloth that I’d prepared while he’d been in and out of sleep.
I’d been diligent in my nursing duties.
I’d scavenged the house for any and all medical equipment. My little doctor’s pharmaceutical box beside his carpet bed had already been very useful in treating him when he was sleeping.
Hopefully, in another few days, he would snap out of his concussion-induced complications, remember who I was, who he was, and could be trusted to stay awake, eat, and survive while I went to get help.
Every time I woke from a fretful nap, I’d ask myself if today was the day I could leave. And each day, he woke even more twisted than before, trapping me inside this place, unable to leave.
And now, he’d gone and kissed me.