Marco nuzzled her cheek. “Does that mean I’m a gift to womankind after all?”
She slapped his chest. “Ego check, Alvarez, ego check.”
He laughed. “Okay, so maybe a gift to Camilla-kind then?”
“A few more rounds like the one we just had, and I may agree with that.”
She looped her arms behind his neck, and leaned her body against his. It took everything he had not to take her again right then and there. But while this particular mission was over, they had other responsibilities to take care of. His years of training and time with DEFEND were ingrained into his very being, and he couldn’t ignore the need to discuss their next moves.
Still, he couldn’t resist holding the woman he loved in his arms for a few more minutes. Marco pulled her close, her scent a comfort.
Cam let out a sigh as she released her legs and lowered them to the ground. “I wish we could stay like this all day, but we need to shower and start planning.”
He nuzzled the top of her head. “I was thinking the same thing.”
Cam chuckled. “What a pair we make. I suppose it’s a good thing we’re both soldiers at heart.”
Marco hugged her tighter. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She raised her head to look him in the eye. “While your words are pretty, your actions in the jungle—when you let me check that car for a bomb—will always mean more to me than you’ll ever know.”
He lifted his hand to trace her cheek. He was so close to telling her about his feelings, but he needed to be careful with Cam. She’d been hurt in the past, and he wasn’t sure if she felt the same way.
Instead, he decided that Camilla Melini needed to get used to compliments, because he was going to be saying them to her for a long time. “You’re smart, resourceful, kind, and unselfish, Camilla, and any man who can’t see that is a fool.”
Cam stared up at Marco, speechless. She instinctively knew that he wasn’t telling her sweet nothings just to please her, but instead, he was telling her how he truly saw her.
Feelings she couldn’t describe filled her chest, and Cam started to realize that anything she’d once felt for Richard Ekstrom paled in comparison to what she was starting to feel for this man in front of her.
Marco was handsome, yes, but not only did she respect his strength and intelligence, he’d opened up to her, telling her about his Elemental Master training and his cousin’s death. By doing that, he’d allowed her to lower her own defenses and confide in him as well.
Just thinking about her life before Marco, she realized how lonely and isolated she’d been. Zalika and Jacek had helped, and maybe reuniting with her sister Kiarra would have eased her isolation a little more. But no matter how much she cared for them, Marco had filled a hole in her heart that she hadn’t realized even existed.
If she were honest with herself, she loved him.
Love. Yes, just admitting it eased her heart a little. She’d already made a partial claim on him by calling him cariño, but that wasn’t enough.
Cam had nearly died twice in just the last few days, reminding her that working for DEFEND was dangerous. She accepted that risk—her work was important—but just the thought of Marco dying without knowing her true feelings didn’t sit well with her.
She needed to tell him.
“Camilla? Are you okay?”
She didn’t know how long she’d been lost in her thoughts, but one thing was clear—she needed to tell him how she felt.
She moved one of her hands from his chest to stroke his cheek. Marco wasn’t a hairy man, but she loved the feel of the slight stubble on his cheek. “I was just thinking about my life before I met you, Marco.”
He grinned. “Bleak? Desolate? Not worth living?”
She slapped him on the chest. “Be serious for a second, Alvarez.”
He put on a mock serious face, and Cam couldn’t help but giggle. Before meeting Marco, she had never giggled.
That was just another reason she loved him.
She got herself under control and said, “The events of the past few weeks have made me realize how fleeting life can be. I believe in DEFEND’s cause of freeing the first-borns, but this work is dangerous. Either one of us could go at any minute.”
Marco’s face was truly serious now. “Don’t think like that, cariño. The two of us together are quite a force to be reckoned with.”