Nightshine, p.16
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       Nightshine, p.16

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
Page 16


  “You can’t leave us,” he whispered again into her ear. “We’re a family. We have to go together. ”

  Chapter 7

  Charlotte’s distrust had been difficult enough for Samuel to manage, but her brisk decision to go to bed with him was nothing short of utterly confounding.

  “I don’t wish to upset you,” he said as she led him across the deck to the hot tub. “But I believe the stress of our situation has affected your judgment. ”

  “Alas, mío, you believe wrong. ” She knelt down to unfasten the cover and glanced up at him. “Will you get the other side, please?”

  Automatically he walked around and bent to pick up the edge of the canvas cover, folding it back onto itself before he shifted it away from the Jacuzzi. The water inside the tub was clean and clear and, when Charlotte pressed a button on the tub’s console, began to bubble rapidly.

  “I don’t think we’ll need the heat. ” She slipped her legs over the edge and lowered herself into the tub until the water reached her waist. “Nice and cool. For now, anyway. Get in. ”

  He tried not to look at how her sarong soaked up the water. “I should go and collect something for us to eat. You must be hungry. ”

  “You can’t be shy. ” She held out her hand. “Come on. I won’t bite. Unless you want me to. ”

  Samuel sat down on the edge of the tub, intent only on persuading her out of it. He didn’t expect her to pull him into the water, or to wrap herself around him as soon as he planted his feet.

  “There,” she said, linking her hands behind his neck. “Feels good, doesn’t it?”

  “It feels amazingly good. ” So did she, and he gave himself a moment to enjoy the sensation of her voluptuous body pressed to his. “You’ve a generous soul, Charlotte, and I am beyond flattered, but—”

  “You are gorgeous, but you talk too much. ” She leaned close to kiss his cheek, and whispered, “There’s a man hiding in the brush about thirty yards off the deck to your right. Don’t turn your head when you look. ”

  Samuel spotted the shadowy figure at once. “I see. ”

  “The sun will set in a few minutes, and then I’ll be able to do my thing,” she said. “The closer he is, the easier it’ll be for me to read him. So let’s give him a reason to stay there, all right?”

  Taske should have felt relieved, but he was too furious with himself and their captor. “I could go and have a few words with him. ”

  “He could be armed, and I don’t have any more blood to spare. ” She drew him back to the wide bench seat under the water, reversing their positions and pushing him down so that his back was to the man watching them. “Take off my top,” she murmured, “and throw it on the deck. ”

  Taske did as she directed, his anger making him tear the lacy fabric in the process. “Forgive me. ”

  “No, that’s good. Very convincing. ” As she straddled him, she brought her face close to his, keeping their lips only a whisper apart, but looked to the left of him. “He’s moving closer,” she breathed against his mouth. “Now pretend I’m a skinny little heiress and tell me how much you want me. ”

  “Why would I do that?” He put his hands on either side of her waist, both to steady her and to keep her from rubbing against the erection straining under his shorts.

  Her smile tightened. “With how I look I know it’s a stretch, but try. ”

  “I meant, why would I pretend you were someone else?” He threaded his fingers through her thick hair as he looked all over her face. “Seeing you, I understand why some men invaded countries and defeated armies and conquered emperors to have one woman. Helen of Troy must have been as strong and fierce and desirable as you. ”

  “Oh, she was?” Her expression turned ironic. “In all the movies I’ve seen about Troy, Helen is a gorgeous little blonde. ”

  “Helen’s legend was born in the Mediterranean,” he told her. “Even today, most of the natives of that region are black haired and have dark complexions. In the art of her era, Helen is portrayed as a statuesque brunette. It was only much later that artists began painting her as a petite woman with fair hair and white skin. ”

  She seemed amused. “That’s what most men want. ”

  “Most men are fools,” he assured her.

  She ran her hands over his shoulders. “At least guys never have to worry about it. The bigger, the better. ”

  “On the contrary. ” It infuriated him to think the men in her past had made her feel unattractive. “Despite the strapping heroic figures that regularly grace the covers of romance novels, in reality most women find men built like me quite intimidating. ”

  “Then most women are idiots, mío. ” She glanced past him and said in a louder voice, “I’m glad you don’t mind my size. Even big girls like me need love. ”

  He knew she was only playing to their voyeur, but the fact that she considered herself unattractive infuriated him. “How could I mind having you in my arms? Since the first moment I saw you, I’ve thought of little else. ” He stroked his hand down her arm. “Seeing you makes me believe in things I know to be impossible. Answered prayers. Granted wishes. ” He traced the outline of her lips with his fingertips. “Wildest dreams. ”

  “Keep talking like that, mío,” she said, her voice shaking a little, “and you’ll break my heart. ”

  He dragged her hand from his shoulder to his chest, pressing it over the heavy throb beneath his skin. “Then you can have mine, mía. ”

  She closed her eyes as she took in a sharp breath, and Taske brought her parted lips to his. He felt her jerk beneath his kiss, but she didn’t pull back, and then she was opening for him, her mouth sweet and hot. Suddenly he didn’t care about the man watching them or what he thought. Putting on a show didn’t matter, and merely tasting Charlotte wasn’t enough. Taske wanted more, he needed more, and she gave it to him, caressing him with her lips and gliding her tongue against his.

  Far too soon she tugged her mouth free of his, and Taske saw she was frowning. “Charlotte, what is it?”

  “Nothing. ” She closed her eyes briefly before she murmured, “I’m not getting anything from him. ”

  Although the sun no longer appeared in the reflection on the glass wall of the villa, Taske could see some light on the horizon. “Give it a few minutes. ”

  “Let me try something. ” She rested her hand against his neck. “Think of your favorite color. ”

  “Done. ” Taske watched her eyes widen as she brought her fingers to her lips, and knew she had heard his thoughts. “What is it?”

  “ ‘Kissed by a Rose’ is the name of a song,” she told him, “not a color. ”

  The blush that darkened her cheeks, he decided, would be his second-favorite color. “But that’s what your mouth feels like. ”

  She looked as if she meant to argue, and then she glanced to the right and sighed. “Looks like our voyeur took off. ”

  “Did you pick up any thoughts from him?”

  “Not one,” she said. “I don’t understand it. I can read anyone, but that man . . . Sam, it was like he wasn’t even there. ”

  “But you’re certain that he’s gone. ” When she nodded, he cradled her face between his hands. “Kiss me again, Charlotte. ”

  She bit her lower lip. “He’s gone. Show’s over. ”

  “I know. ” He pressed his thumb against her mouth, taking the place of her lip between the edges of her teeth. “Kiss me again anyway. ”

  “You don’t understand. I don’t just read someone’s thoughts. ” She drew in an uneven breath. “I also get the emotions. ”

  “Then you know how I feel about you. ” He was glad; he didn’t want to hide how much he wanted her anymore.

  “It’s more than that. ” She swallowed. “I feel what you feel, Sam. The physical sensations that go with the emotions. And right now, you’re very . . . ” Her eyelashes swept down as she shuddered. “Hot and bothered. ”<
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  “See how this feels,” he said, bringing her mouth to his.

  As Taske kissed her again, she groaned and plastered herself against him. Always in the past he had been forced to hold back, to temper his hunger along with his strength for fear of taking too much too fast. But nothing about Charlotte was flimsy or fragile, and she responded with equal passion, demanding as much as he wanted from her.

  How long they kissed, Taske didn’t know or care; he couldn’t think beyond the fusion of their mouths and bodies. The strip of fabric binding her breasts floated away, and he pulled her in to feel the luxurious weight on his chest. The soft vise of her thighs settled her sex against him, and there she rocked gently, working with tormenting friction against the swollen ache of his shaft. His muscles bunched as he lifted her, lust blinding him as he suckled at one breast and then the other, scoring her with the edge of his teeth.

  He released her when he felt her snarl her fists in his hair, but by that moment reason had vanished. All he could think of was putting his mouth on her.

  “Sam. ”

  He brought her down so he could feel his name on her lips. “I’m here. ” He dropped one hand beneath the water to clasp the top of her leg, gripping the taut muscle and smiling as she trembled with reaction. “Whatever you want, whatever you need, Charlotte, let me give it to you. Please. ”

  “Samuel. ” She panted against his mouth, her body shuddering as he followed the curve of her inner thigh up to the soft, full flower of her sex. “I don’t know if . . . ” She trailed off with a groan as he used his fingers to stroke her. “God, that feels . . . Oh, that’s good. ”

  He took his hand from her, but only long enough to release the front of his shorts. He splayed his hand across her bottom, urging her closer so he could settle her against his shaft. “There you are. ” It had been so long, too long, and the feel of her silkiness on him was almost too much. He clenched his teeth as he ignored the burning ache in his balls. “Look at me. ”
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