It took Noah a decade to finally confront his feelings for Raven, but it was worth it. Their explosive affair proves that reality is far better than fantasy. Unfortunately, Noah can only run from his past for so long …
Noah was still on the balcony, facing away from her and back tense. He’d thrown on a tee and sweat pants after their nap, but his feet were bare and it was freezing. Snow was in the forecast for later tonight. He seemed oblivious to the cold.
After disconnecting, he stared at the screen as if debating whether to shuck the thing twenty floors below. Bracing his hands on the railing, he leaned into them and ducked his head. His shoulders and forearms knotted with his grip.
Worry rose in her throat. Without hesitation, she crossed the room and opened the door wearing nothing but his T-shirt. Folding her arms against the biting wind, she stepped next to him, bouncing from foot to foot. “What’s wrong?”
He closed his eyes and shook his head. Straightening, he swallowed and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Nothing.” He drew in a breath. “Come on. You’re going to freeze out here.”
Too cold to confront him, she led the way. Inside the condo, he stopped near the fireplace, gaze distant. Lost was not a good look on him, and hell if she could remember seeing it more than once. The night his parents died, the same expression had haunted his face. He had no other family and besides the guys who worked for him, not many close friends. It had always been just the two of them really, in a little bubble. What could possibly have him down-shifting that quick?
“You’re scaring me. What’s going on?”
He snapped to attention and shook his head. “Nothing. Just business.” His gaze seemed to take her in for the first time since before their nap. “I…I know you want to know the details of my past, want to know why I insist on security. But not now, baby. Just know that…” He briefly closed his eyes and ground his jaw. “They’ve killed people, Raven.”
The hair on her arms stood. “What?”
He nodded, gaze distant, and then he sucked in a breath as if washing away what he’d said. “How about I introduce you to my shower so we can warm up?”
Her head jerked in whiplash. She opened her mouth and quickly closed it again. Okay, he was done talking. If he wanted her to know more, he’d tell her. Later. Her belly twisted in warning but, slowly, she nodded.
They stripped and stepped under the multiple showerheads, spraying from every direction. The man had a fabulous bathroom. She turned to tilt her head under the spray when she found him staring at the tile, jaw working a grind. Gone was the distance. Though he was lost in thought, anger was humming just under the surface.
“Maybe I should go home tonight. You obviously have something to work out.”
His hands fisted at his sides, a hard, dangerous edge in his eyes. And she realized it wasn’t anger she sensed, but rage. Seething. Building. He did not like her plan, nor would he look her in the eye. His steely glare was pinned to the wall over her shoulder.
Having never seen him like this, she paused. Noah could be intense at times, but she’d come to realize over the past couple days that when he was like that, it was the artist in him snapping pictures in his mind. Assessing the lighting. Lining up a shot. It was his passion, and now she understood what had always been niggling doubt before.
But this wasn’t one of those times. The severity of him was shocking. He didn’t want to talk, so there was no sense in pressuring him. There had to be other means to vent.
“What do you normally do to work off your frustration?”
Not one tense muscle moved, not even to look at her. Except his semi-hard erection. That part of him thickened, stood at attention. “I punch something in the gym. Or find another continent to take photographs. Or…”
He seemed beyond the gym right now, and she didn’t think hopping a plane would be quick enough an escape. Her heart started to pound. She knew better than to fear him. He’d never strike out in anger, but damn if her skin wasn’t flushing hot. Bottled rage and tension and alpha sexiness. With no outlet other than… “Or what?”
His gaze slowly slid to hers, and hell if he didn’t look point-five seconds from snapping. “Or I fuck mindlessly.”
Her girly parts clenched. Hard. “I vote for option three.”
He flinched, barely perceptible. She’d shocked him. When he spoke, his voice was menacingly low and tight. “I’m not in a safe frame of mind to do that.”
“You said mindlessly.”
Sucking in a harsh, ragged breath, he closed his eyes. “Not doing this with you. I can’t. You couldn’t handle—”
“Try me.” She wanted to give him what he needed. As one of the only people in his comfort zone, she didn’t know what had set him off, but she wanted to fix it. Had a sinking suspicion she might be the only one who could.
His blazing eyes opened and pinned her in place. He made a motion toward her and came up short, hands fisting. Holding back. He studied her, long and steady. After too many moments, he must’ve seen the determination and honesty in her, because he let out the breath he’d been holding.
“Safeword,” he ground out.
“I need to know if I’m pushing you too far. Give me a safeword.”
Shaking her head, she looked heavenward, wracking her brain. The tiles in his bathroom were a mossy-green color. “Sage.”
She didn’t even have time to blink before he was on her, pinning her between the shower wall and his hard body, water raining down over them. His mouth crushed hers, seeking entry. She opened and his tongue stroked hers, rough and demanding. Power radiated off him in waves, and it was damn hot.
He cupped her breasts with callused hands, slick with water. There was no finesse or coaxing from him, just need. He broke away to press open-mouthed kisses to her shoulder. She tilted her head for better access, shivering at the sensation. Electricity shot down her body and up again. Her own desire amped, needing him inside her.
She wrapped one leg around his hip, putting his hard length between her slick folds. He growled and thrust, hitting her clit, rubbing against her aching heat. Grabbing her ass, he spread her cheeks and ran a finger down her crease to where she throbbed, shoving a finger deep and curling it inside her.
“Fuck, you’re so wet.”
His hands left her and she whimpered at the loss. Spinning her around, he pressed her face first against the tile and molded his front to her back. Her breasts crushed against the wall, his erection between her cheeks. She arched back, urging more.
“What’s your safeword, Raven?”
“Sage,” she panted, unable to stand the insanity anymore. Her palms flattened on the wet tile, fingers curling.
His voice rasped her ear. “Use the word if you need it, baby.”
And then he pushed inside with one firm thrust, filling her like she’d never been before. Relief released the knot in her chest. She cried his name, begged for more.
He grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her head back, closing his mouth on her throat. One arm banded around her, fingers pinching her nipple, the other was between her legs, stroking with the pad of his thumb. Strong thighs smashed into hers from behind as his hips pistoned faster. The tip of him nailed her deep, again and again, rioting her sensitive flesh with maddening, sweet strokes.
Incoherent words tore from his mouth, mumbled against her skin. “Too hard…never…been like…can’t go…back.” His arms tightened as if he feared she’d leave. Or maybe reason was beyond them now.
He stole her breath and she loved it. Her core clenched, nerves tingling and muscles stiffening on the cusp of orgasm. The explosion took her by surprise and her hands slipped.
But he had her. Never let her fall and never eased the punishing thrusts through her quaking. She may have screamed his name a time or twenty, because he was all there was in the moment and everything she ever dared to wish for.
Worry ticked in the back of her mind, but she shoved it aside. Somehow he’d unraveled her fears and pushed her past where she ever thought she could go. It had never been like this before. Intense, connected. Freeing.
He went rigid, clutching her hair in his fist and mouth wide on her neck. “Fuck, Raven.” Spilling hot seed inside her, he jerked. Shuddered. Stilled.
Panting, he pulled out, stumbled backward and collapsed onto the stone bench with her in his lap. Grabbing her legs, he swung them around so she was curled up sideways on his thighs. His large hand rested on the back of her head, urging her cheek to his chest and held it there. The other arm circled her back in a vice. His chest rose and fell in rapid tangents as they both struggled for air.
“Not what I expected,” he whispered, as if to himself.
His head hit the shower wall, but she didn’t look up for fear of what she’d see on his face. This time was different. Something cracked inside him, inside her. A release of demons or an acknowledgement of them. She didn’t know, but the change was an entity.
He stroked her wet hair. “Wasn’t expecting this, Raven.”
She closed her eyes, certain she knew the feeling.