His skin hurt with need for her, but he didn’t close the distance between them, uncertain of Ivy’s temper. “What do you want me to promise?”

Fingers still on his jaw, she pressed down. “That you will never again attempt to drive me away because you think I’d be better off without you.” A hard, fast kiss that was a punch right to the gut. “That will never be true. I wake up excited to see you, Vasic. I dream of you. Your voice, your mind, your hands. I love every part of you. I imagine a future with you!” Face flushed and body tensed, she sounded angrier and angrier with each word. “Don’t you dare try to tell me you’re not worth it! Don’t you dare!”

Vasic didn’t have the will to repudiate her. He’d used it all up. If she didn’t want to heed his warning, then he was going to be selfish and make his claim, accept hers. “I promise.” It was a vow.

Chest heaving, Ivy stared at him, the suspicion on her face making something twist deep inside him, the strange emotion at once gentle and fierce. “Wait for me in your bedroom,” he said, taking what he needed because Ivy had said he could have it. Have her.

Ivy had fought for his right to have her.

She never denied him, never punished him by withholding the touch he craved—her touch—and he planned to take terrible advantage. Now and always. “I need to make sure everything is secure before I join you.” The mattress on his bed was hard, would discomfort her. “I want you under me, na**d and aroused and mine.”

Ivy’s cheeks went a hot peach. Running a hand down his chest, she scowled. “I’m still mad at you . . . but don’t take long.”

Vasic didn’t, but he was thorough nonetheless as he completed a security sweep of the floor after pulling on a pair of jeans and boots. Then, apartment door bolted behind him, he walked into Ivy’s room. Kicking off his boots by the side of her bed, he just looked at her for a minute. She’d changed out of her earlier clothes into the flannel pants she liked and that lacy, strappy top that didn’t cover much at all. The upper curves of her br**sts were visible to his gaze, her ni**les peaking below the fabric he could tear with a single tug, it was so ridiculously flimsy.

Ivy rubbed her feet on the sheet. “Why are you looking at me that way?”

“I’m thinking how easy it would be to tear off your clothes.” It would leave her bared to the skin, the cream and gold of her open to his touch.

She shivered, and he’d had enough of looking. Getting into bed, he came over her and placed his gauntleted arm above her head, then gripped her jaw as she’d done his. “Open your mouth,” he said. “I want to taste you.”

Ivy’s fingers clenched on his nape. “Vasic.” Her lips parted.

Not hesitating, he placed his own over hers and indulged as he’d never indulged before Ivy. Her body was soft and silky underneath the hard weight of his, her taste lush, her welcome unhidden. He wanted more, took more, controlling the kiss with his grip on her jaw. Ivy didn’t seem to mind, her free hand rising to wrap over his shoulder from behind as she held him to her.

The voluntary dissonance trip wire in his mind sparked a warning, but it was only a yellow alert, a reminder of the power he had to control. Ignoring it, he continued to keep Ivy trapped below his body as he smashed the rules of Silence to rubble and kissed her in unrestrained demand. Ivy wasn’t very good at being angry with him—she gave him the wetness, the raw intimacy that he craved with a wild generosity that only made him hungrier.

Humans and changelings had hobbies, he thought in one corner of his mind. This would be his.

“Sex can’t be a hobby,” Ivy gasped, tiny nails digging into his flesh in a bite that made him want to demand more, and he realized he’d telepathed the words to her.

“Why not?” He reinitiated the kiss, having had nowhere near enough. It’s a physical act. All physical acts require practice if an individual wants to improve. And Vasic intended to become an expert at making Ivy utter those small, soft, intrinsically female sounds that went straight to his already painfully erect penis.

“I don’t think you need to improve.” Ivy moaned when he slid his mouth down from her jaw to her neck and nipped at her, her body moving restlessly beneath his. “God . . . How . . . Where . . .”

I had to think about something good while I was on the street. I thought about what I wanted to do to you. The second the words were out, he wished he could recall them, not wanting the ugliness of the past hours in their bed.

But Ivy wrapped a leg around his waist, and said, “Excellent use of your time,” and it was all right.

Sucking on the pulse in her neck because the rapid tattoo of it fascinated him, he felt her stiff little ni**les rub against his chest. He wanted to suck on those, too, wanted to lick and bite and taste every na**d inch of her, wanted to drown his parched soul in the pleasure that was Ivy Jane.

His Ivy Jane.

• • •

IVY was melting in Vasic’s arms, her need at a keening pitch, the weight of his body pinning her down in a delicious prison . . . which was probably why it took her several seconds to realize she was no longer in bed. In fact, she was no longer in her bedroom. Breath ragged as their lips parted, she whispered, “I can feel sand underneath me.”

Vasic ran the pad of his thumb over her lower lip. “We’re in the desert,” he said, and dipped his head again.

When he licked his tongue over hers, she licked back. She had no idea if they were doing this “right,” but oh, it felt goooood. Sex was the best hobby, she decided, as Vasic began to lave his tongue over her collarbone after nudging aside the strap of her camisole. “I want to do that.” She tugged at the raw silk of his hair.

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