Bound By Marriage(9)

By: Nalini Singh


“Mmm.”

Her senses melted under the sound of blatant male appreciation. And the surrender was so sudden and total that something slumbering inside of her jerked to full wakefulness. This wasn’t right, wasn’t how it should be.

She’d prepared herself for going to bed with Gabriel, had told herself she’d bear the experience, though it would hurt to sleep with a man she didn’t love.

Yet here she was, coming apart in his arms. It confused her, made her want to pull away. But the fact was that her last-ditch effort to regain control stood no chance of success, she was so completely out of her league.

Under her dress, Gabe curved one hand around her ribs to lightly brush the side of a lace-covered breast, destroying all thoughts of rebellion. Her sharp cry made him chuckle. It was a very sexual sound. Even she understood that tone, the tone of a man who knew he had a woman in the palm of his hands. Tonight he was the master and she very much the novice.

The thought sparked a new burst of defiance. She might not be able to stop herself from going under but she refused to give in completely. Thrusting her hands into his hair, she tugged and made him raise his head. “Why do I have to be the one who’s undressed first?” Her voice was husky, her words uttered on a gasp, but at least she’d gotten them out.

“Here I am. Unbutton the shirt.” It was both an order and a dare. He didn’t think she’d do it.

So she did.

Tanned male skin appeared bare inches from her lips—pure temptation that locked up her throat and shot arrows of need to her most private core. She’d made a bad miscalculation. However she had no intention of backing down. Mouth dry, she continued down his chest and stomach, pulling the shirt from his pants to finish the job.

When he kissed her again, her hands were still between their bodies and it was inevitable that she’d flatten them on his chest. The shock of skin to skin contact made her tremble. There was nothing soft about Gabriel. The man was built like a lean, beautiful machine and the womanly heart of her could only appreciate him.

When he slid the hand from her hair along her shoulders, she instinctively understood the silent request. Dropping her hands from his chest, she let him pull the dress down her arms. To her surprise, he stopped with the neckline just above her breasts and let go. Her hand shot up in a responsive movement, clutching the satin to her chest.

His eyes glittered with passion, unshielded in a way she’d never before seen.

“Do it for me, Jess.”

There was nothing else she could do, not with the fury of passion between them.

Her body had triumphed over her mind, taken over everything she’d ever known about her own needs and desires. Unable to hold the power of that gaze, she looked away…and released the dress. It slid off her body like cool water.

Silence.

She found the courage to look up.

Green eyes clashed with her own and time stopped.

“Beautiful.” He broke the connection to run those eyes down the corset-like teddy, to the point where the lace tops of her stockings met the bare skin of her upper thighs. Then he retraced his journey, leaving her scarcely able to breathe. And that was before he shrugged off his shirt.

She bit back a whimper but not soon enough.

“If you want to touch, do it.” His hands went to her waist and stroked down to close over the curves of her bottom with boldness that made it very, very clear he considered her his in the most basic sense.

Hands fisted against his chest, she fought the urge to lean closer to taste him.

His skin was beautiful, healthy and golden brown, radiating power. A second later, he used that strength to pick her up and drop her lightly on the bed.

Then never taking his eyes off her, he sat down on the edge to remove his socks.

The muscled temptation of his back laid waste to her final defenses. She was about to reach out to touch when he stood. His hands went to his belt.

Fingers grasping the sheets, she watched mesmerized as he unbuckled the belt and pulled it out of the loops. It fell to the carpeted floor with a dull metallic sound. But she could hardly hear anything, her attention fixated on his fingers as they undid the top button of his pants.

Then he pulled down the zipper.

Cheeks ablaze, she closed her eyes and felt—more than heard—his low chuckle as he got rid of the pants and climbed into bed beside her. Throwing one leg over her lower body, he put a hand on her stomach. “I’m not naked…yet.” It was a scandalous whisper in her ear.

Opening her eyes, she found his lips a thought away from hers, his eyes holding no amusement despite that chuckle. The hand on her stomach slid lower.

“Stay with me,” he ordered when she would have turned her head.

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