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He was almost completely healed.
The woman, Ariel Kyles, tilted her head slightly to regard the large, naked male still slumbering deeply in her bed.
She must remember that her name was Ariel Kyles, though the words seemed foreign even in her own mind. If anyone ever called her such, she wasn’t sure she’d immediately answer.
She felt like she should be called something else.
She felt like he had called her something else.
Though that couldn’t be true, for a part of her was relatively certain he’d never had occasion to address her directly. They’d only “met” three nights ago, after all. In the middle of a shooting range, where they were designated target practice.
But a significant swathe of her memories told a different story. She felt like she’d known him forever.
She tilted her head the other way, as if trying to puzzle out what she was looking at.
A naked humanoid male.
A vampire, based on everything she knew about Maximus Justus Copernicus. It’d taken her years to track down just his first name, while she was deep under cover infiltrating the networks that involved some of his bloodsucker associates.
She also knew that he was something other as well. A fact only she and one other person knew. Maximus himself probably didn’t even know. Not consciously, in any case.
His Gift of anticipating his enemy’s moves two or three steps in advance didn’t come from his vampire side. They were merely the tip of the iceberg for what he was capable of. All the power and aggression and savagery he kept carefully leashed within him. Never once, in the millennia of his existence, revealing his true self.
But none of those things interested her in the moment. What she fixated on instead was not “vampire” or “other” but naked and male.
Her memories were not the most reliable right now, it was true, but she couldn’t recall the last time she’d ever beheld such overwhelming masculine beauty.
Even more confusing, she seemed to recall that she’d thought him ugly in the recent past. She distinctly remember her reaction of distaste when he’d walked toward her, fresh from a shower.
But beneath the distaste there was also a deep, abiding affection, a sweet joy that burst like a juicy plum within her whenever she gazed upon him.
She moved lithely from her seat at the foot of the bed to crawl over his delectable, naked, male body—Maximus’s body—until she’d caged his torso between her four limbs, crouched above him on her hands and knees.
“Strange,” she murmured softly, careful not to disturb his sleep, “you don’t remind me of a naked mole-rat any more. You look…”
She searched her mind for the right words and licked her lips slowly, as if she was about to savor a scrumptious treat.
“You look extremely edible.”
She bent down to bury her nose in the crook of his neck and inhaled deeply. A loud purr vibrated throughout her entire body.
Ooohh. She liked that word.
She didn’t recall the last time a word like that had passed through her mind.
“Fuck,” she tested it some more on her tongue, scraping her lower lip with her upper teeth as she pushed the syllable out of her mouth.
She lowered herself carefully onto his torso as he lay flat on his back with his arms at his sides, his face turned in profile.
“Humanoids like to do this regularly, don’t they?” she continued with her one-sided conversation, talking out loud to sort through her jumbled thoughts.
“Animals rut. Humans fuck. Why does the act seem so much more appealing when I use a different word to describe it?”
Vaguely, she conjured up memories of brief encounters she’d had with the males of her species. In the public bathroom, the back of a bar, the front seat of an SUV, a darkened corner in a deserted alley.
Never in a bed. Never lasting beyond a few minutes, averaging less than sixty seconds most of the time, just long enough for her and the faceless dick she hooked up with to get off.
Hmm. Those flybys might be better categorized as rutting rather than fucking.
As she looked down at Maximus, she suspected that fucking would be much more involved if it were done with him.
She peered curiously at his features. Strangely, she felt like she’d seen his face countless times, but it was as if she were also looking upon him for the very first time.
For example, she’d never noticed the elegant sweeps of his brows before. How thick and luxurious his lashes were. The fragile skin around his eyes, now shut but not relaxed, his eyeballs rolling restlessly beneath their lids as if he were dreaming disturbing dreams.
She’d never paid attention to the generous width of his mouth, bracketed by faint lines even while at rest. Emphasized by prickly dark stubbles over his upper lip and directly beneath the middle of his lower lip, as well as along his sharply defined jawline.
She leaned closer and licked his mouth with her tongue, then swirled it back in her own mouth to ascertain his flavor.
He tasted different somehow.
She had vivid memories of doing this to him countless times before—licking his face, his neck, his hands. His skin had tasted rather bland before, and the texture of his hairless skin was something she’d had to get used to.
But now, with her human tongue, she tasted something else entirely.
His flavor was bold and spicy, tantalizing and inviting. The texture of his soft lips made her want to keep on licking him.
As if he heard her unspoken desire, his lips parted slightly on a long exhale, blowing warm, moist air onto her face.
She shivered as her muscles rolled with anticipation beneath her skin. He made her feel…things…in this human body. Made her want to do things to him.
Her name was Ariel Kyles.
They were strangers, and yet they were not.
Where she was empty inside before, she was now filled with a ravenous beast who hungered insatiably for Maximus. Her mind might be confused, still sorting itself out, but her instincts were sure.
She knew this male.
She wanted this male.
Taking advantage of his slumber and being thorough, she carefully catalogued more of him with her human eyes.
The strong, long column of his throat. The notch between the wide spread of his collar bones. The thick muscles that padded his chest, dusted lightly with fine, dark hairs, warm and satiny. The flat disks of his nipples, and the deep groove that bisected his middle.
She followed the seam of his torso with an inquisitive finger, down between the ridges of his abdomen, clearly delineated even as he slept, to his shallow navel.
She moved down his body as she continued her exploration, flicking her tongue into his belly button and delighting in the unconscious quiver of his steely muscles in response.
His large, long-fingered hands were loose beside his hips. She splayed one open with her own and pressed her hand to his, palm to palm.
Her hand was dwarfed by his much larger one, the tips of her straightened fingers meeting just his middle knuckles, even though his fingers were not stretched like hers but curled in repose. She entwined their fingers together and studied them for long moments, turning their hands this way and that.
Hands were such ingenious things. They held, they gripped, they caressed, they felt.
Her fingertips were extremely sensitive. She wanted to touch them everywhere on his body. He was so very beautiful and tempting to her human eyes.
Still holding his hand, she meandered lower to examine his groin at close range, staring so intently she became cross-eyed.
This was the part of him that intrigued her the most. The part that declared him unequivocally, proudly, magnificently male.
And he was so very, very naked.
She’d seen it many times before, but never like this. His phallus was erect and pulsing, arching in a gorgeous, ruddy column toward his navel.
She licked her lips again and recalled to mind the way she’d gorged upon him just hours ago. His body had needed the release. Her hands and mouth had clamored to provide it.
It was such a strange thing to do—taking his male member into her mouth, so far down her throat she felt like gagging, and even then, she wanted to swallow more of him. She’d stroked it rhythmically with her hands. She wanted to do it again. Badly.
She wanted to gobble him up and suck him dry. She’d rejoiced in the sounds he made and the way his body moved. The rise and fall of his chest as his breathing became more ragged. The thrust of his hips and the clench of his buttocks as he climbed toward release.
The tangy, wild taste of his seed on her tongue, gushing in hot, milky pulses into her throat.
It was the most delicious cream, and he had so much of it to give.
Hmmm… she was ravenous again.
She rubbed her face slowly, back and forth, in the wiry nest of hair at the juncture between his rock hard thighs, glancing her lips against the root of him, darting her tongue out to lick his scrotum.
Involuntarily, her purr grew louder, as she drugged herself on his essence, the clean, musky, male smell of him, concentrated in a potent aroma around his sex that reached deep inside of her and pulled.
“I want to fuck you,” she rasped low, all but beside herself with a burning, indescribable need.
She’d never felt this way before. Never known what it was to crave. To seethe with sexual yearning.
All of her previous encounters had been about scratching an inconvenient itch. But what she felt now, toward this particular male, was about being filled up. Being stroked and sucked and kissed and licked. Hard and deep and long and everlasting.
Her core muscles clenched convulsively at the very thought, and a liquid heat bloomed within.
Finally, he stirred beneath her, his broad chest inflating on a heavy sigh.
She considered mounting him as he came awake, but she knew that he was not a male to be taken so carelessly, even though his body was more than ready for it.
She felt…something…for him.
She was protective of him. Even from herself.
Besides, if she began now, she’d not finish with him for days. There was so much she wanted to do to his magnificent male body. So much she wanted to do to him with her body. Their bodies.
But the fucking would have to wait.
Without touching him further, she crawled off the bed and rearranged herself on the seat she used before.
Just as he raised his hands to his face and rubbed away the last vestiges of healing sleep and opened his eyes.
“Welcome back, my warrior,” she greeted in a voice that she still had trouble recognizing as her own, with words she could actually say out loud instead of only in her mind.
“We need to talk.”