Bound By Marriage(8)

By: Nalini Singh

She blushed despite having coached herself to be calm and sensible about the whole thing. What she hadn’t factored in was the sheer impact of Gabriel Dumont.

And tonight, he was concentrating solely on her.

Her breath grew jagged and she found it difficult to focus—her vision had constricted until the only thing she could see was her new husband. Reaching her, he put his hands on her waist, that smile segueing into an expression that was darker, more sexual. Her body responded to the change with a melting warmth that shocked her into an instant of clarity.

She raised her own hands and put them against his chest with some vague idea of holding him off. She realized her mistake immediately—the flimsy barrier would do nothing to keep him at bay, not when her body was all too willing. And as the heat of him scorched her through the fine cotton of his shirt, she found herself craving more rather than less.

Leaving one hand on her waist, he began to pull out the pins in her hair with the other. “I like your curls, Jess.” Stark masculine approval.

“It’s become a lot more auburn since I was young.” She didn’t know why she’d made that inane comment. As if he cared that she’d been a real carrot-top until fate had taken pity on her. Even after having lost weight, she considered her hair her one glory…and Gabriel liked it. That shouldn’t have mattered, but it did.

“Hmm.” He continued to unravel the piled mass, dropping the pins to the floor.

“I don’t want you to cut it.” She made a non-committal noise and he smiled, a gleam in his eye. “You wouldn’t hack it off just to spite me, would you?”

The childish thought had, in fact, passed through her head a second before, but she wasn’t going to admit that. Especially when she didn’t understand it herself—it simply seemed to be wrong to enjoy any aspect of this marriage that had been meant to be the coldest of transactions. “Are the pins all out?”

He thrust both hands through the waves. “Looks like it.” Prosaic words but his fingers were playing along the back of her nape, teasing the already sensitive spot.

She wanted to sigh and beg for more.

What was she thinking? Panic at her complete inability to remain strong against this man shot through her bloodstream, giving her courage a frantic boost.

“Gabe, you don’t have to go slow. Let’s get this over with.” It was a willful attempt to provoke him. An angry Gabriel would be far easier to resist than this temptingly seductive male with his ability to ignite things in her that should have been dead to him.

But his only reaction was to shake his head. “Oh, no, Jess. You don’t get to reduce this to nothing more than a quick, meaningless bang.”

Embarrassment flooded her. But he wasn’t finished. “I’m going to pleasure you, my darling wife. It’s my job as your husband.”

She was sure he was taunting her. “Stop playing games.”

Moving so swiftly that she had no chance to step away, he scooped her up in his arms. “I’m absolutely serious. I want my wife screaming for me.”

Her skin went taut at the utter resolve in those green eyes. She could find no words with which to respond as he carried her to the master bedroom and set her on her feet by the bed. The sexual charge between them was electric.

Caught in its surge, she didn’t have the will to drop her arms from his neck as he wrapped his own around her back and began to slide down the zipper, slow and careful. Every nerve in her body was already stretched to the limit—the leisurely descent threatened to make them snap. Taking a shuddering breath, she closed her eyes in an effort to regain her balance.

His lips followed her into the darkness, sweeping her under. Gabriel kissed like the man he was—confident, possessive and fully in control. One of his hands rose to tangle in her hair, tugging back her head to facilitate his taking of her mouth, while the other slipped inside the now open zipper to lie flat on the naked skin of her upper back.

She moaned, captured by the undercurrent of hunger that lay every sweep of his tongue, every press of his lips. Escape was a word she no longer remembered and addiction was a very real possibility.

When he did set her free, it was only so he could kiss his way across her jaw and down her neck. She tipped her head, cooperating without conscious thought.

Nothing she’d ever done had prepared her for this assault on her senses, this layering of pleasure upon pleasure.

Gabriel’s hand was rough against her skin, the hand of a man who worked the land. But on her neck, his lips were almost velvet soft—a seductive contrast.

She lost her breath as he closed his teeth over a pulse point, then released with exquisite deliberation, scraping those same strong teeth along the sensitive flesh.