He muttered a curse and clasped her to him, kissing her thickly, cupping her buttocks and pushing his knee between her thighs. She ground down on him, her heat warming him, driving stinging currents of anticipation through his blood. He pressed his knee to the bed and held her there, suspended, hovering over her.

She stroked him, her fingertips sliding over the damp velvet tip of him.

"I want to taste you."

Every muscle he owned clenched. "No."

She smiled at the harshness of his voice and knew he was as volatile as she was.

Bryce thought he'd lose any ounce of restraint right there and pried her hand loose. Then she kissed him again, her lips, her tongue, her body rocking against his in sweet torture. Just the thought of being inside her, of feeling the velvet softness of her grip him was more than any man could handle. He ground his teeth and his shoulders tensed as he waited for a fraction of the rushing desire to recede.

He smoothed his hand up her side, enfolded her breast, then bent to draw her nipple into the heat of his mouth. He played and suckled, laved and tugged.

By the time he lifted his head, she was laboring for her next breath.

Cool blue eyes stared back at her. He hooked his hand behind her knee and spread her wider, his own thighs shifting between.

"Get ready for change, Ciara," he growled and she felt the challenge of his words prick her like needles.

He was laying more than his body before her, giving more than the physical. And Ciara knew that though she was temporary, her feelings for this man were not. She wanted more than she had a right to take, yet she answered him by cupping his face and kissing him thickly, licking the line of his lips before pushing her tongue inside.

Bryce moaned like a man in agony.

"Then change me," she whispered softly, closing her fingers over his arousal. He tensed in reaction, and she stroked the tip of him against her softness. He cursed softly and she felt his body tremble.

Bryce slammed his eyes shut and let her toy with him. "I wouldn't dream of denying you."

With a heave he pushed her to the center of the grand bed, then crawled closer. She sat up, pushing him back on his haunches, then climbed onto his lap. His arms closed around her, his arousal thick and tight between them, the impatience of passion stretching their nerves taut. Her gaze locked with his, she enfolded him, guided him. A near violent shudder wracked him and pulsed into her. His throat worked and he gripped her hips. She inched closer, and in nearly painful increments, he slowly filled her.

"Ciara, sweet mercy." Bryce swallowed, trying to catch his breath and failing. He had never felt so exposed, barren, and smoothing her hair back off her face, he saw the same vulnerability in her dark eyes.

They were still, his body buried in hers. One, wrapped tight and strong. And he knew no other moment would equal this.

He flexed inside her.

"Oh Bryce," she whispered, her voice fracturing.

"Yes, I know, I know," he whispered and touched his lips to hers, gently worrying her mouth and struggling not to blurt out what was swelling inside his chest. She was the only one for him, he thought. And in the morning, he would be certain that she knew it. The realization stunned him and he buried his face in the bend of her throat. "Darlin'," he rasped. "I need you."

"Me, too." She didn't want to examine the feelings rushing through her and reveled in their closeness, his hands molding the curve of her spine, then settling on her hips. His mouth traced an imaginary path down her throat, her chest and she leaned back, offering herself to him.

In the middle of a kiss, he gave her hips motion. They went slow, measured, and Ciara felt every inch of him leave her, then fill her again.

Ice-blue eyes flared and darkened with each stroke. Blood hummed in her veins and she wrapped her arms around his neck, her forehead pressed to his. He pumped, never leaving her completely. As if to do so would break the spell.

She wanted to capture and hold the magic, and when her body cried out, he soothed it. Her soul ached and he held it tenderly. She was alone, had chosen to be, but he'd surrounded her with more than she ever dreamed, tempting her to rejoin the living. She wanted forever, but could have only a fraction of time. Her eyes burned, her emotions tattered and needy, and she kissed him hungrily, thrusting harder, reaching for more than the sweet oblivion he could give her.

"I can feel you pulsing," he whispered, the friction nearly unbearable and he pulled her legs up around his hips and laid her on the bed. With his arms locked, his body braced, he plunged thickly and withdrew, the tender cadence of their loving releasing to the primal need to claim. Her, him, each other. Her body rose to greet him, welcome him, and he thrust, finding the perfect match he'd lost years before.

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