hearts of fire Page 20

Something in his chest that he had long thought dead stirred, stretched, and then flowed through his body like some strange, wonderful magic. After all this time, it was like rediscovering a tiny piece of Heaven. Even he wasn’t fool enough to let that go. Not tonight.

Gazing into Dru’s eyes, he said one word, the only word that mattered.


Chapter Fourteen

Dru had been sure that there was nothing left in the world that might truly surprise her.

Tonight, she was so glad to have been wrong. Meresin, a virgin…it made so much sense, even though the revelation created more questions than it answered. She’d leave those for another time, though. What mattered now was the fact that he wanted her to be his first. His only, a fierce voice hissed from the darkness of her thoughts. She tried to push it away, even as it sparked the kind of possessiveness she’d sworn off long ago. There were so many unknowns right now. It was dangerous to want someone this much when you had eternity. You never knew what might arrive to tear you apart.

But she wasn’t fool enough to turn away from finally, finally coming together.

She considered how best to begin, suddenly plagued with an acute case of the butterflies. What if this was the only chance they got? It needed to be perfect. It needed to be—

“The fact that you’re trying to plan this out while I’m watching you is a little disturbing.”

“Hmm, what?” she startled at the silken sound of his voice and found him watching her with bemused exasperation. “Oh. Well I just…I mean, now it doesn’t seem right to just rip off your clothes and go for it.”

“Why not?”

She couldn’t decide whether he was serious. Or maybe she was just having a hard time thinking because she was still pressed up against him, which always felt even better than she remembered, though she tended to remember the sensation as incredible to begin with.

Dru’s cheeks flushed. “I don’t know. We’re in a crummy inn in Purgatory. There isn’t even any ambiance. No candles. No sexy music. No lingerie.”

She gasped when Meresin growled and hauled her up against him. He was as hard as a rock.

“Do I look like I need any of those things?” he asked. “I told you because I didn’t want you to be disappointed. Not because I wanted you to go hunting for an Enigma album to play.”

She laughed, a little breathlessly. He was right. She was overthinking it. “Why Enigma?” she asked, toying with the soft hair at the back of his neck.

“Because hearing it makes me think about taking your clothes off. With my teeth.”

It took her long seconds to formulate a coherent reply, while he slid one hand down to cup her backside and squeeze.

“I thought you were new at this,” she said.

“Only at doing it. Not at thinking about it.” Having his hand on her ass was making it difficult to think. She shifted, savoring the feel of his hard length against her lower belly. He made a soft noise in the back of his throat that told her he liked that, too.



“I’m not going to be disappointed,” she said, and then rose up just enough to trail kisses along his jawline. “I want to keep the light on. I want to see you.”

“Mmm.” Since he apparently wasn’t interested in words anymore, she kissed a path to his mouth. She saw only a flicker of hot violet before she pressed her lips to his. So soft, impossibly soft and sweet. Then he angled his head, slid his hand into her hair, and plunged.

Dru barely managed a gasp as Meresin turned the tables on her, taking control when she least expected it. He crushed her to him, sweeping his tongue into her mouth to taste her so thoroughly that she couldn’t think, could do nothing but melt against him. He kissed like a man possessed, stoking a fire at her core that amazed her with its heat. She clung to him, meeting every stroke of his tongue with one of her own. She pressed her h*ps into him, wanting to be closer. She was already slick and swollen with need, and it took restraint she wasn’t aware she had not to push him down on the bed and throw herself on top of him. It needed to be better than that. Slower. Which would be easier if her libido would quit screaming fast, hard, and now.

Instead, she let her hands roam restlessly over his chest, his back, and the ass she’d admired more times than she could count as he was walking away from her. Some part of her still couldn’t quite believe this was happening. It scared her, how badly she wanted it. How badly she wanted him.

Her only consolation was that she could feel the same tension in him, and that his pounding heart was keeping time with hers.

He broke the kiss on a groan and pulled his shirt over his head, throwing it across the room. Dru followed his lead, feeling very self-satisfied at the way his lips were swollen from her kisses. The satisfaction gave way quickly to heated fascination, though, when she ran her hands over the contours of his bare chest. She loved how tall and lean he was, muscular without being bulky. His muscles jumped when she traced them with her fingertips. He slipped her bra straps down while she touched him.

“This,” he said roughly, “needs to come off.”

Though she hated to take her hands off him, Dru obliged, stepping back just enough so that she could reach around to unclasp the hooks at the back. It occurred to her as she slipped it off that this wasn’t just Meresin’s first time taking a woman to bed—it was his first time for all of this. That was driven home when she dropped the bra to the floor, and his gaze fastened on her bare br**sts. Though she hadn’t thought it possible, her already hard ni**les pebbled even more tightly. He looked like he wanted to devour her.

She wanted to let him.

Though it was difficult not to put her hands back on him, she waited, sensing that he needed to be able to set the pace here. She was rewarded when he reached out to slide one of his hands up her bare waist, then slowly, reverently cupped one of her br**sts. She’d imagined those big, long-fingered hands on her countless times…but nothing compared to the reality of his touch. She sighed and arched into his hand, which began to rub and knead. His thumb brushed her nipple once, then again, sending tiny sparks of pleasure sizzling right to her core. She could hear the way his breath went harsh and shallow.

“You’re perfect,” he rasped. She might have replied if he hadn’t then brought his other hand up to lavish attention on her neglected breast. As it was, all she could do was make a sound that was more like a purr. Her head fell back as he toyed with her.

“That feels so good,” she murmured. And it did, though the pressure between her legs was slowly becoming unbearable. She undid the button and zipper on her shorts, then took one of his hands in both of hers. Her eyes locked with his, and though he continued his slow torment of her with the one hand, he let her guide the other downward, slipping his fingers beneath the thin scrap of silk she wore under her shorts.

He might be inexperienced, but he understood exactly what to do. He slid a finger between her swollen folds and stroked her hidden nub once, then twice. Dru’s legs nearly went out from beneath her.

“Like this?” he asked.

She gripped his shoulders and tried to answer him, but the ability to speak deserted her when he crooked his finger again. She moaned, first with pleasure, then with frustration when he removed his hand completely. She was so close to cl**ax she was shivering.

“On the bed,” he said, his voice shaking.

She gracelessly half tripped, half fell onto the mattress, but there was nothing to be done for it. She stripped off her shorts and panties as best she could and tossed them aside, then propped herself on her elbows and watched Meresin fumble off his jeans. It made her feel better, knowing that he was just as affected as she was. The fabric at the front of his boxer briefs was strained tight by the jut of his erection, and it took him a moment to get them off. As the last scrap of clothing that separated them vanished, she drank in the sight of him.

She’d always known he was beautiful. But like this, bare before her, he was perfection itself. Her gaze trailed over him, from his broad shoulders to his slim h*ps and muscular legs, every inch of alabaster skin flawless. His c*ck was as big as the rest of him suggested it would be, and Dru inhaled sharply, imagining how it would be to have him inside her. She was suddenly desperate to have him, but even now, he took his time. For the moment, she let him…but she swore to herself that if they were lucky enough to get more than this once, all bets were off.

He crawled onto the bed, and she parted her legs for him so he could kneel between them. Every place his eyes touched grew hot—and his eyes were all over her.

“Perfect,” he murmured again. He slid his hands up and over her legs, then spread them wider. His fingers dipped between her legs again to toy with her clit. Dru gasped and shuddered, arching her back, pressing into his touch.

“I want to see you come,” he said, and his throaty growl, coupled with the relentless stroke of his talented fingers, was all it took this time to push her over the edge. She surged against him with a cry as she came apart, h*ps moving in time to the waves of her orgasm. She fell back on the bed, lost in a haze of need that only increased as the last of her cl**ax ebbed. She opened her eyes to see Meresin watching her with something like wonder as he knelt before her.

She didn’t want to wait anymore.

“Please,” she said. “Now.”

That was all it took to spur him into action. He slid over her, graceful as a jungle cat, and Dru moaned at the sensation of having him against her, skin on skin. He kissed her, deep, hungry kisses that told her how much he’d loved watching her, how much more he wanted. Then Meresin rose up on his elbows, shifted his hips, and sank into her for the first time.

The intensity in his eyes was nearly enough to make Dru come again. His head fell back, eyes closing in complete ecstasy. His moan rippled through his chest and into her. And it did feel incredible—he filled her completely, stretching her tight around hard, throbbing heat. She drew up her knees on either side of his hips, taking him even deeper. She skimmed her hands down his back to his hips, loving the way it made him shiver.

“You feel so good,” he groaned. “So tight.”

There weren’t words for how good it was to hold him close. All she could do was show him. “Move in me, baby. Like that. Ah—”

He moved slowly at first, long, smooth thrusts that she met with gentle lifts of her h*ps and gasps of pleasure. Then he quickened the pace, thrusting harder and faster as the need took him. She dug her nails into his hips, unable to hold back anymore. She saw the flash of his fangs and arched into him, hotter than she’d ever been. This was what she’d been longing for, what she’d been terrified of—what she’d never found.

He was her match, she realized, in every way. No one had ever made her feel like this, and no one would again. It wasn’t just the blood bond. It was like finding a piece of herself she hadn’t even known was missing. Even at his worst, Meresin had been working his way into her heart.

His muscles flexed as his thrusts grew wilder, and she knew he was almost there. She tightened around him, slick with desire. The bed creaked with the rhythm of their lovemaking, the sound joining their gasps and moans. She wanted all of him. She wanted more, to mark him as hers. The instinct was overwhelming as pleasure swelled, tightened, rushing toward her peak.

Meresin’s eyes were blurry with passion when she bared her teeth, tangled her fingers in his hair, and pulled roughly to bare his neck. A single remaining shred of sanity made her hesitate, until she heard his broken groan as he thrust hard into her.

“Yes. Do it. Bite me.”

She sank her teeth into him, her mouth filling with dark and decadent ambrosia as he came hard, crying out as he thrust deeply and poured himself into her. That was all it took to send her back over the edge and into a shattering orgasm. She tore her mouth from his neck and gasped his name as the bliss consumed her, clinging to him as the pleasure threatened to break her apart.

They clung to each other as the waves of pleasure ebbed, slowly subsiding enough to allow them to move again. She made a soft sound of unhappiness when he withdrew, but he quickly gathered her back against him, her back pressed against his chest, and buried his face in her hair. She smiled lazily and wrapped her arms around his, perfectly content for the first time she could remember.

Mine. You’re mine.

“Was it good?” she murmured, meaning to tease him.

“It was everything,” he replied, breathing the words against her hair. Then his body went heavy and loose as he fell asleep. Typical guy. Dru smiled to herself, glad she wasn’t tired. She wanted to enjoy every second she got to be curled against him, every second she didn’t need to worry about what the daylight would bring.

Because while Meresin might have given her a precious gift, he’d taken something in return, something she would never get back, never give to anyone else. It was his to hold, his to break.

He had her heart.

And she had him. For now.

Dru stroked his hand absently and focused on the deep, even sound of his breathing, hoping that Uriel was wrong—that even the most broken fallen angel could give her something more than just regret.

Chapter Fifteen

Meresin had been right about the daylight in Purgatory.

Dru stepped out the front door of the inn as Meresin was placating the innkeeper with another soulstone. Apparently, the walls were thin, and several guests had decided to be traumatized by the fact that anyone was ha**ng s*x. Though Dru had a feeling that the “several guests” were really just the owner looking for a way to milk them for more coin.

She surveyed her surroundings as the door swung shut behind her, newly curious about this place now that it wasn’t just inky black and terrifying. In the false daylight it was dishwater gray and mildly discomfiting, which turned out to be a pretty major improvement. The cluster of rickety buildings appeared worse in the light, with their peeling paint and battered siding. The ocean appeared much more sludgy now that she could see it, and though there was still no wind, the waves continued to hit the shore with a burbling, gooey sound. Beyond the makeshift town, there was a long, flat plain, and further in the distance, mountains that jutted out of the ground in jagged spikes. She didn’t see any snow on the tops. It shouldn’t have surprised her, but it wasn’t until that moment that she realized this place didn’t have weather. There were no clouds, and the gray orb in the sky that glowed faintly could have been pasted onto the bland expanse above. The air still smelled and tasted oddly metallic, and the temperature, if you could really say there was one, was neither hot nor cold. The only vaguely interesting feature Dru could see as she scanned the landscape was a whitish mist that roiled across the ground off in the direction of the mountains. It was unsettling.