“Hmm.” He kissed her neck again, sucking harder at the soft skin, oddly pleased by the resulting red mark.

Chest rising and falling in a rapid rhythm, her breaths hot pants that made something slumberous and primal in him stretch awake, she rubbed her face against the side of his. “I can feel your hunger.” It was an intimate whisper, his empathic lover attuned to his body and his senses. “What do you need?”

Driven by the craving to claim her skin to skin, he lifted his head and said, “I want you spread out beneath me, and then I want to feast on every inch of you.”

Ivy shivered. “Naked?”

The strange painful-beautiful emotion he’d finally recognized as tenderness twisted inside him. “I can wait.”

Eyes luminous, she reached for the bottom of her sweater. “Remember that night I stripped for you?”

“I’ll never forget it.” It was an erotic film he played in his head whenever things became too dark, too hard. Soft curves and lush skin, a shy, coaxing smile, she made him remember there were better things in the world.

Today, her smile held sinful play. “I wanted your hands all over me.” Then she drew the fabric of the sweater over her abdomen in preparation for tugging it off. “You can feast on me any time you please.”

His mind hazed, his hands fisting at his sides. “Wait. Stop.”

Chapter 50

IVY FROZE WITH the sweater bunched below her br**sts. “No?”

“I have to fill the bathtub with water.”

Blinking, she went to part her lips as if to ask a question, but he couldn’t wait. He strode to the bathroom and turned on the cold faucet at full blast.

Ivy appeared in the doorway a few seconds later, frown lines marring her forehead. She snapped her fingers the next instant. “It’s to help you control your ’porting in some way.”

He loved her mind as much as every other part of her. “Yes.” Not sure he’d remember to turn off the faucet once she bared herself, he waited with bone-grinding patience for the tub to fill. And as he did, he suddenly thought of the one thing they’d never discussed. “Ivy, if we share biological—”

“I took care of it,” she said, cheeks red. “While we were still back at the compound.”

The feeling deep inside him, he identified it as a smile of unalloyed delight. “Way back then?”

“Oh shush.” Laughing admonishment. “I asked Sascha’s advice, and she arranged for the DarkRiver healer to drop by since the healer also has medical training, plus she’s made it a point to learn about Psy physiology, so . . . ”

Vasic remembered the healer coming in; at the time, he’d thought she was simply being welcoming to the Es. “She brought baked goods.”

“Yes.” A sweet smile that cut him off at the knees. “I knew I was thinking much too far ahead, but . . . I was hopeful.”

“Ivy.” Clenching his fists, he stared at the wall. “I won’t last if you look at me that way.”

Soft, sensual laughter. “The bath’s about to overflow.”


Walking Ivy backward into the bedroom, he stopped by the bed. “We may travel,” he told her, “but I’ve programmed a repeating loop in my head that should only take us to the desert and back.” He’d done it yesterday, before the outbreak. “No snow.”

“I’d go anywhere with you.”

Tracing her smile with a fingertip, he kissed her, his hand in her hair. I really like kissing you, Ivy. The intimacy, the wet, the way her breath became shorter and shorter the longer he did it. I think I’m developing preferences when it comes to tactile contact.

So am I. She splayed her hands on his chest, nails lightly scratching as she ran them down and over the ridges of his abdomen to his navel. Where she began to trace the fine line of hair that led into the partly open fly of his jeans. The touch made him clench his abdominal muscles, break the kiss to look down at the slender gold of her hand against him, air hot on his skin as she inhaled and exhaled in the same jagged rhythm.

As if aware of how the visual affected him, she stroked up with a finger . . . back down. When she reached for the zipper tab, however, he braceleted her wrist with one hand and pulled her away. “After.” The idea of her fingers wrapped around his penis made his spine lock, his thighs taut.

Kissing her again, he ran his thumb over the pulse in her wrist before releasing her hand. Then he reached for the bottom of her sweater. She raised her arms, and the fine blue wool was on the floor seconds later. Her bra was a delicate creation of pale yellow lace. Fascinated by the way it cupped the creamy mounds of her br**sts while appearing so fragile, he traced the scalloped edges, dipped his finger underneath just a fraction.

One of her hands rose to grip his wrist, but it wasn’t a hold that asked him to stop.

“From the township by the settlement?” he asked, and continued to touch.

Fingers tightening on his wrist, she nodded. “The humans didn’t see anything wrong with selling it to a Psy.” Her voice was husky on her next question. “Do you like it?”

“Yes.” He decided he’d buy her more. “It appears I have a distinct preference for visual stimulus.” Kissing her collarbone, he said, “I still intend to watch you touch your own body in front of me, but not today. Today I want to be the one doing the touching.”

Ivy shivered again, then pressed an unexpected, wet kiss to his chest before reaching back to unhook the bra. Cupping his hand over the ball of her shoulder, he turned her slowly. Her hands dropped as she granted his silent request. First, he swept her hair to one side to bare her nape, the exposed skin making him want to taste. So he did.

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