Her tears were slowing, but it was the cessation of Jaxton’s hand on her back and the tensing of his chest under her fingers that finally brought her out of her fit. Transitioning to survival mode, she tried to calm down her emotions. She strained her ears and listened for signs of danger.
Jaxton’s heartbeat drowned out everything, so she tried to sit up, but Jaxton’s arms were like a steel prison and kept her from moving. “What’s wrong, Jaxton? Did you hear something?”
“What did you mean when you said you’d lost too many people you love and can’t lose me?”
Had she spoken her thoughts aloud?
It was entirely possible.
A vulnerability she couldn’t explain gripped her. She hadn’t meant to say it, but she couldn’t take it back. Plucking at Jaxton’s shirt, she hoped he’d understand her silence and let it go. She could barely admit her feelings to herself and she wasn’t ready to discuss them with the man in question.
But she knew better. Jaxton attacked everything head on. “Kiarra,” he said before leaning back and tilting her head up with her fingers. “Look at me.”
Inhaling a deep breath for courage, Kiarra met his green-gold gaze. There was no fear, no ridicule, only tenderness. “Yes?” she asked.
He stroked the skin just below her lower lip and said, “Tell me what you meant, pet.”
She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the force of his gaze. Words started coming out before she could stop them. “I-I can’t bear the thought of losing you.”
He smiled, never stopping the strum of his thumb against her skin. “And why is that, love?”
Love. Not pet, not Kiarra, he’d said “love.” The endearment gave her the courage to say, “Because I love you.”
He grinned and the transformation knocked the wind out of her lungs. She had trouble focusing on anything but his mouth when he said, “Good, because I’m never letting you go.”
His gaze grew heavy and his mouth descended on hers, the playfulness and tenderness from the other night gone. His tongue demanded access to her mouth and Kiarra opened on a groan, snaking her arms around his chest to clutch his shoulders and press her body against his. Between his near-death and the admission of her feelings, Kiarra needed to feel his hot, naked skin against hers.
Reading her mind, Jaxton rose to his knees, shucked his shirt, and unzipped his black cargo pants. As he shimmied out of them, Kiarra’s hungry gaze darted to his erection, jutting long and hard from his body. She’d have to ask him to go commando more often.
She reached to draw Jaxton down, but he brushed aside her hands to fist the hem of the long black t-shirt she wore and yanked it up over her head. In a flash, her panties were gone too. Jaxton settle his body on top of hers, the weight and heat of his touch sending even more dampness between her legs.
He murmured, “I promise to go slow later,” before ravishing her mouth again while he stroked her between her thighs. Kiarra raised her hips in answer, her sex throbbing, needing him to slake the ache.
He positioned his cock at her entrance and slammed it to the hilt. He gripped her breast hard and Kiarra moaned, raking her nails down his back to cup his ass as he thrust into her, over and over. She raised her hips in time to his, wrapping her legs around his waist to allow him to penetrate deeper.
The pressure built, but remained just out of reach. If only he would touch her, but then his hand was pressing and rubbing against her bundle of nerves, and after a few more hard thrusts, the world shattered and her sex clenched greedily at his cock. She maintained eye contact, wanting to see his face as he came. She watched as Jaxton groaned before he stilled, the cords of his neck visible, and she knew he was spilling inside of her.
He soon lowered down, kissing her gently before lying back on the bed and pulling her close. He flicked the blanket over them, and as she listened to the rapid beat of his heart, she felt him kiss her forehead and nuzzle the top of her head.
Jaxton stroked Kiarra’s hip and drew in another deep breath, savoring the smell of her hair. As her fingers played with the hair on his chest, her words kept echoing inside his head: I love you.
After the whole mess with Garrett and Marzina five years ago, Jaxton had never expected to trust any woman enough to care for her more than his own life. But he’d been wrong; when push came to shove, the thought of Kiarra dying had been unacceptable. It was more than the world needing her because she was a Talent. No, the world needed her heart, her stubbornness, her ability to go against incredible odds.
In other words, the world would be a worse place without her.
He hugged her close, the softness of her breasts against his chest a comfort. There was a lot to be done, many obstacles to tackle in the coming months, but he would be selfish for a little while longer and simply hold the woman he cared about more than his own life.
The words were on the tip of his tongue, but all of the confidence he’d amassed over the years failed him. He was as nervous a teenage boy, aware that a few simple words would forever change his life.
But then he thought about going back to a life devoid of Kiarra’s arguments, her humor, her intelligence, and the picture was bleak and lonely.
It was time to step up, time to fight for what he wanted.
She adjusted her position, tilting her head up toward him, and he tried not to feel smug at her look of contentment. “Hmm?”
He ran his hand up from her hip until he could cup her cheek. “Before reality intrudes, and it’s still just you and me here in this bed, I want to tell you something.”