So she'd taken off her top. His response: a sharp intake of breath. Which told her he either liked the view-or was merely surprised by her daring.

Talk to him; don't let him get away! "I'm going to make you so glad you've come to me, darling," she said, but she could hear herself slurring. You've got one shot at this, one shot at a future worth having!

Strike fast and hard? She would seduce him yet. When she piled her hair atop her head and arched her back in invitation, he gave a not-so-subtle growl. A growl of appreciation? Or frustration that he couldn't have what he wanted?

She fretted her bottom lip, letting down her hair. But as soon as the locks concealed her br**sts, she felt two wisps of air as he swiftly swept her hair back over her shoulders.

When she could feel him staring once more, Bettina couldn't suppress a buzzed sense of accomplishment.

This was actually happening. Caspion. Here in her bedroom. Admiring her br**sts. He was finally looking at her-because he wanted her!

Cas was going to be hers tonight, and then he'd understand what she'd always known. She was his as well. Their fates would intertwine. There'd be no tournament for the "unchaste" Bettina.

She was giddy-and drunk, but mainly giddy. She imagined walking hand in hand with Caspion the Tracker, announcing their betrothal to all.

Yet he still hadn't caressed her or kissed her. With another spike of alarm, she rose, swaying until his callused hands gripped her shoulders to steady her. Ah, contact!

A lifetime of swordplay had roughened his palms. Because my Cas is a warrior, none finer, none braver. . . .

She laid her hands on his chest, lids growing heavy at the feel of his mighty body. But this was just a tease; she needed to trace his skin, to explore him.

She reached for his coat, working it over his bulging shoulder muscles. He shrugged from it, and she heard it land over the foot of the bed.

For years, she'd been beset with curiosity about sex, about the masculine form. Yet she'd never touched a male before. Would nights of fantasizing at last come to fruition?

When she attempted the top button on his shirt, her normally agile fingers were clumsy. She made a sound of frustration. "I'm impatient to touch you-"

The material of his shirt disappeared with a single rip, joining his coat.

"Thank you. I-I just need to feel you for the first time." Bettina worked with metal every day, engraving, forging, casting. To check for the slightest imperfections, she would often close her eyes and trace her sensitive fingertips over her work, as if seeing with them.

Now she smoothed the pads of her fingers over Cas's naked torso, holding her breath . . .

The reality was so much better than fantasy! "My gods, I love your body."

Her words made him groan. Light grazes over the hard planes of his pec muscles made them tense for her, made his heart thud louder. And oh, how his flat ni**les hardened. When she dragged her forefingers across them, he hissed between his teeth.

She dipped her hands, savoring each rise and fall of his rigid stomach muscles as they contracted. His body was honed like unyielding iron, his skin flawless.

Initially he'd felt cool, but now he ran hot as a forge.

Any shyness she might have felt disappeared. Every caress deepened her desire, until even her br**sts felt heavy. His scent washed over her-normally pleasing, it had now grown intoxicating.

Inside, she felt like molten gold . . . smoldering, awaiting a chance to be made whole.

Her ni**les stiffened so much they ached, and he must have noticed; his hands tightened on her shoulders, as if he didn't trust himself to touch any other part of her body.

He was such a ruthless demon warrior, and yet he was being patient with her, letting her explore him.

Was he too patient? He should've thrown her to the bed by now! Why wasn't he kissing her?

Maybe he was reconsidering this.

Take him over the finish line, Bettina!

Dazed bewilderment.

Trehan could only stare, riveted by his Bride's pert br**sts and taut ni**les, savoring her every stroke upon his skin. How long he'd gone without a single touch!

This creature belongs to me, he told himself again. To me alone-

The sorceress grasped his hands, pulling them down to her soft br**sts.

The contact roused him from his enthrallment. With a strangled groan, he covered her flesh with his palms, molding it.

Why did other vampires always warn of obstacles inherent in mating with an otherlander? Trehan's mate was demanding that he stroke her br**sts, the ones she'd been eager for him to see.

When he gave them a reverent squeeze, she moaned low. Her reaction made him shudder, a sensual haze clouding his mind once more.

And then she swept her hands down his torso, lower . . . lower toward that aching, engorged part of him. As she grazed her nails along his waist just above his sword belt, his throbbing shaft strained for her touch.

Finally, he found his voice. "You are so lovely."

She briefly stilled at his words, tilting her head. His lust-addled brain determined two things: she truly didn't want him to talk; nothing could interrupt this blooding.

So he resolved to say no more, determined to do whatever it took to come inside her. At the thought of pinning down her writhing body to spend deep within it, need surged within him, as if a dam had been breached.

He clasped her upper arms, tracing them into her bed. She gasped as he positioned himself over her, but then she whispered, "Yes, yes."

Chapter 5

Her hair spread out behind her, a backdrop of shining waves. Her scent was drugging. She arched her back, drawing all his attention back to her br**sts, to those jutting ni**les. Did they throb as badly as his shaft? Were those stiffened peaks driving her mad?

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