Authors: Julie Ann Walker
That little voice was cut clean off when he turned back to her and lifted a hand, gently cupping her jaw and rubbing a callused thumb against her bottom lip. Her mouth opened over a catching breath. Inside the vacuum-silence of the safe room, the sound seemed to
His beard stretched over a smile that was undeniably male and blatantly triumphant, as if she had unwittingly answered a question she hadn’t even known he’d asked. He bent close then, his hot breath whispering against her lips. “Harper?”
Okay, and this time she recognized his inquiry for exactly what it was. And despite all reason, despite all rationale, despite the fact that she knew this was a bad idea, she couldn’t bring herself to deny him. Because he stood there towering above her, a warrior, a real-life hero, and she wanted nothing more than to be his spoils, her body the reward for the battle he’d fought and won today. Which was why the words that tumbled from her lips were, “Yes, Michael.
If it wouldn’t have ruined the mood, Michael would have busted out his happy dance. Because not only did Harper’s quick acquiescence tell him he’d been right all along—they
made a connection—but it also gave him free rein to continue to hold her in his arms.
Which, if you asked him, was exactly where she belonged.
In the time he’d known her, he’d come to like her like no other. I mean, seriously? What red-blooded male wouldn’t? Her appeal was so damned endearingly obvious that a man would have to be blind and deaf not to appreciate her sass, her loyalty and integrity, and her particular brand of homespun Southern wit. And then, as if all that weren’t enough, there’d been the night of the party, when she’d dealt him the mother of all winning hands and blown his freakin’ mind in the sack.
Truly, he’d never met a woman so abandoned, so willing to take pleasure and give it with equal fervor, equal relish. And when he woke up beside her the morning after—
she hustled him out the door to catch his transport plane and
she started dancing around his repeated calls—he’d begun to believe that perhaps
was far too tepid a word for the feelings she fired in him. Which had both terrified and intrigued him in equal parts.
And speaking of terrified…
Even though command had assured him she’d made it into the safe room before the TTP could catch her—something about heat sensors and an indication that the door had been locked from within; unfortunately, there were no cameras in the room to make absolutely sure—he hadn’t been able to draw a full breath until right this second. When he could feel her against him and know she was safe and whole. That she was…
Fuckin’ A. Is that what I want?
He looked inside himself, searched through his feelings one-by-one like a dealer counting suits, and decided, yeah. That’s exactly what he wanted.
was exactly what he wanted and—
“Michael?” She tilted her head, her auburn brows pinching together over her deep blue eyes.
eyes…that matched the rest of her. And if he’d stop with the introspection, he’d probably get a chance to appreciate the rest of her just like the
—Bran…that guy sure had a way with words—was oh-so-blatantly insisting he do.
“Sorry.” He shook his head. “My mind drifted there for a bit. But it’s back on track now.”
And to prove his point, he dipped his chin, pressing his lips to hers and drinking in her sweet exhalation. He loved how she did that. How every time he kissed her it was like she’d been holding her breath since the la
With his heart thudding in his chest, sending all his blood south, he opened his mouth, flicking out his tongue to taste her.
Wild cherry Tic Tacs and Harper…
“Mmm,” she hummed, sliding her tongue out to meet his, eager to explore the inside of his mouth, burying her hands in his hair to angle his head and more fully align their lips.
And he loved how she did that, too. How she seemed to go from zero to sixty in five seconds flat. Just…
Hungry and horny and trying to gobble him up. It made him feel ten feet tall and bulletproof…or maybe that was just his dick.
“Harper.” He pulled his mouth from hers. This was on the edge of getting out of control. And considering how flighty she’d been after their last encounter, he didn’t want to give her any reason not to come back to him for a third time. And a fourth time. And a fifth time, and a sixth… You get the point. “Slow, angel. We have… Oh, hell yeah. That feels good.”
She’d used the desertion of his mouth as an opportunity to kiss the side of his neck, running her tongue along the super-sensitive raised ridge of flesh that was an old scar. His testicles pulled up so high and tight against his body, she might as well have been sucking on the head of him.
“Where did you get this?” she whispered, her breath hot and wet against his skin, reminding him of another part of her that he knew from experience was even hotter, even wetter.
“In an altercation with a hunting knife in a cave near the Khyber Pass,” he told her. “The hunting knife nearly
She pulled back, searching his eyes, her brow puckered. “How can you joke about something like that?”
Sweet woman. Sweet, clueless woman. “Because in this business, it’s either laugh or cry. And I’ve always preferred the former.”
He sealed their lips to shut her up. Now
was the one threatening to ruin the mood. Some guys liked to work out their demons in the bedroom, use sex as a weapon to fight the terrible memories that plagued them. But not him. He preferred to keep those two things
War was war, terrible and soul-sucking and brutal. And sex was sex, delicious and mind-blowing and
“And never the twain shall meet.”
At least as far as he was concerned.
And then she did it. She sighed into his mouth like it’d been years since he last kissed her instead of mere seconds, and he was totally done. Wrecked. Lost in all things Harper Searcy…
• • •
The low growl at the back of Michael’s throat seemed to reverberate in the achy spot between Harper’s legs, making her keenly aware of its hollow emptiness. And when his beard rasped her cheeks, she was reminded of how deliciously scratchy his face had been against the inside of her thighs…when he’d licked and sucked her to completion.
Had she really thought once would be enough with this man? Had she seriously contemplated letting her head rule her hormones and saying
to another go-around? What was she? Crazy?
. Crazy w—
“Jesus, woman,” he whispered into her mouth when she pulled his shirttail from the waistband of his cargo pants. “I love the way you taste.”
“Mmm,” she hummed between kisses. “You taste pretty good yourself, sailor.” And he did. The inside of his mouth was a combination of Kill Cliff—the sweet energy drink the SEALs swigged by the gallon—hot desert air, and heroism.
In case you were wondering, heroism had a flavor. And it went by the name of Michael “Mad Dog”
Once again the word whispered through her overheated brain. And she realized that for right now, for this one small moment, he wasn’t just any warrior, he was
Fumbling with the buttons on his shirt, she continued to devour his mouth, sucking, licking, laving, moaning when he met her caress for caress. She pulled back when she could spread the two halves wide. And there it was…
The miles upon miles of his hot, hard, tanned flesh.
Her hands smoothed over the crinkly hair that grew in the space between his bulging pectoral muscles and flat brown nipples, following it as it narrowed into a thin line down his flat belly before disappearing inside his pants. His corrugated stomach muscles flexed and quivered under her fingertips, and she delighted at the sight, could have gone on rubbing her palms over him forever. But there was something else she needed to get her hands on. Right now…
Reaching down, she palmed him through his fatigues. And though she was expecting it, she was still surprised by what a delicious, ridiculous handful he was. It was a good thing she already knew they would fit, or else she might have hesitated.
“Uh-uh. No dice.” He manacled her wrist, forcing her to look up at him in question. A muscle ticked in his jaw, making his beard twitch.
“Why?” she whispered, leaning forward to drag her tongue over one delicious nipple. She grinned when it instantly beaded against her lips.
“Because I’m too amped up. I could go off before I’m inside you. And that would be a crying shame. Not to mention the fact that since I pride myself on being a gentleman”—he gently pulled her hand away from the hard throb of his manhood—“it’s ladies first.”
She knew he spoke the truth.
Her fingers lamented the loss of his pulsing shaft, but he didn’t give her much time to mourn. He grabbed the bottom hem of her wet top and yanked it over her head. Her bra hit the floor next, instantly unfastened by his nimble fingers. And then he was cupping her. Weighing her. His rough thumbs brushing over her distended nipples until her pleasure bordered on pain. Her womb pulsed in that age-old rhythm of arousal, making her toes curl inside her kitten heels, sending her head into another spin, causing her legs to become Jell-O.
Catching her bottom lip between her teeth, she gave her legs a pep talk that began and ended with
don’t fail me now.
Then she watched his eyes darken with passion as he closely monitored the changes his caresses made to her body, as he eagerly observed her nipples puckering so tightly the areolas nearly disappeared.
“Table or cot?” he husked, hungrily licking his lips.
She didn’t need him to clarify. She knew exactly what he was asking. “Table. Quickly.”
One downward jerk of his chin was all the answer he gave before grabbing her waist and pulling her to him. When the tips of her breasts grazed the hot skin of his chest, she gasped, feeling burned, branded. Then his wonderful, knowledgeable mouth reclaimed hers in a kiss that had her sighing with pleasure.
She didn’t realize he had moved, that he’d spun her and nudged her toward the table, until the backs of her thighs hit the edge. With a strength that amazed her, he lifted her onto the flat wooden surface and reached down to pull her skirt up to her thighs. She kicked out of her shoes, feverishly returning his kisses, running her hands over his chest, brushing her fingers over his little nipples, listening avidly to the sounds of approval growling low in his throat.
Her veins had turned to rivers of fire, her heart a furnace that burned in her chest. But the place between her legs flamed the hottest. And when he skated his callused palms up the outside of her thighs, hooking his fingers into the waistband of her panties, she stilled in
The little scrap of black silk she hadn’t given a passing thought to when she’d put it on that morning was whipped off her legs in one smooth, sexy move. Then he backed up, her panties clutched in his big hand, letting his eyes run over her breasts as they bobbed with each panting breath. Over her legs that were spread in invitation. Over her center that was swollen and damp with need for him.
“You’re so fucking beautiful, Harper,” he rasped, his gaze fierce.
For a moment, she thought about calling
. After all, it was her turn, right? And the truth of the matter was, she’d never considered herself beautiful—not with her flyaway mass of curly red hair and her pale skin that required she maintain a daily SPF regimen. As a teenager, she would have sold her soul for sleek, blond tresses and smooth, tan skin. But if Michael looked at her now and saw something beautiful, then she was glad she hadn’t made a deal with the devil way back when. And when she bit her lip, searching his face, reading the blatant hunger in his eyes and the way the skin on his high cheekbones was stretched tight, flushed with desire, she had to admit she
“Michael.” She reached for him, beckoning him closer. “Make love to me.”
He didn’t hesitate to come to her, pushing his gear toward the opposite end of the table as he gently laid her back, bathing her neck and chest with kisses. When his lips closed over the beaded peak of her right breast, sucking the bud into his hot mouth, the hard pleasure rushed down an invisible line of nerve endings to explode between her legs. She knew he was preparing her, softening her, loosening her. Readying her to receive him. And she loved every second of it.
“Yes.” She buried her fingers in his hair. It was almost enough. Just having his lips on her was almost enough…but not quite. And she was suddenly so achy that the only thought was relief. “Touch me, Michael. Please. I need to feel your—Oh! Yes!”
He cupped her in the palm of his hand, his heated skin suffusing her quivering flesh in luscious fire. Then his thick fingers smoothed up her channel, spreading her silkiness around the little button of nerves he seemed to know how to play like no other. Back and forth. Back and forth. The callused pads of his first two fingers thrummed the delicate nubbin. She lifted her legs to plant her bare heels on the edge of the table, opening herself wider, pressing herself closer.
“How do you want me to make you come this first time, Harper?” he growled against her breast.
Oh, the possibilities were endless. He’d taught her that. But right now all she wanted was him. All of him.
“I want to come with you in me,” she rasped, her body so heavy, so achy, she figured she’d go off the minute he pressed home.
And that seemed to be the answer he was hoping for, because he pushed back and attacked the buttons of his
• • •
If there was a world record for dropping trou, Michael had just beaten it. Because Harper was hot as hell, soft as satin, and wet as rain. But more importantly, she was
The cool air inside the panic room rushed over the turgid length of him when he pushed his fatigues down to his knees, eliciting a shiver. Or maybe the goose bumps were a direct result of having Harper spread out before him on the table like a lovely, feminine feast. And if he weren’t such a gentleman, always eager to grant a lady’s wishes, he
feast. Just kiss and lick and lave every wanton inch of her. He hadn’t been bullshitting her when he told her she was beautiful. With her boisterous mass of hair, big expressive eyes, and milky skin dotted by the occasional sprinkling of freckles—on her shoulders, across her pert nose—she was everything a man could want. Lush and lovely. Wild and womanly.
But she had requested he put himself inside her. And who was he to argue?
Grabbing the base of his dick, he angled himself toward her swollen, pink entrance, then hesitated when he realized he’d almost forgotten about protection. With a curse of frustration, he bent to shove a hand into the hip pocket of his pants that were bunched around his ankles. Finding a condom among her wadded up panties and the two spent shells that had somehow wormed their way into his fatigues during the battle—the fog of war was a weird thing, and even weirder things tended to happen when a guy was in the middle of it—he straightened and ripped the foil packet open with his teeth.