Authors: Kimberly Dean
His voice had taken on an edge. It was one she’d heard before, but not tonight. Her eyebrows drew together when he swept a blanket off of the floor and came toward her. She tried to back away, but he caught her and pulled her across the sheets. She struggled when he wrapped the blanket around her and plucked her up into his arms. “No,” she said. “It’s suffocating me.”
“You’ll want it soon enough.”
“What do you mean? What are you doing?” She clutched at his shoulders when he carried her out of the bedroom. She looked around in confusion when he took her down the hallway and headed straight for the front door of her apartment. What was he thinking? “We can’t leave! I’m not dressed. Neither are you!”
“It’s four o’clock in the morning, babe. Everyone else is asleep.” He juggled her into a more secure position and grabbed her keys as he walked by the kitchen table.
Was he out of his mind? It was winter. She might be baking, but she’d seen the crystal stillness outside her window. She knew what it meant. It was freezing out there. He didn’t have a shirt on and all she had was a blanket. This was crazy. “Let me put some clothes on first! I don’t want to go to the hospital
,” she hissed.
His jaw remained firm.
“We’re not going to the hospital. At least not yet.”
Security conscious even in the middle of the night, he locked her apartment door and started down the hallway. Delia looked around nervously. It was late, but she had neighbors. Mrs. Sneed, in particular, liked to keep close tabs on her. They were being quiet, but knowing the old lady, she’d wake up and want to know what was going on.
Delia would like to know that herself. She pushed the blanket away from her face and neck. Between it and his body heat, she was about ready to pass out. She shook her head to stay alert. “Tell me where we’re going.”
He jabbed the down button for the elevator. “The doctor had one more idea.”
She kicked the blanket until at least her feet were bare. Another idea? Finally! “Anything,” she said. “The heat’s driving me mad.”
His arms tightened protectively. “Be careful what you wish for.”
She glanced at him sharply, and his profile wavered. She waited, but he refused to return her look. It made her nervous enough to flinch when the elevator dinged, and the door slid open. “Tell me,” she said.
He carried her onto the elevator and used his elbow to hit the button for the ground floor. A muscle worked in his jaw as he leaned back against the elevator wall. She almost thought he wasn’t going to answer until he started talking.
“If I took you to the hospital now, they’d put you in an ice bath,” he said quietly. “Your temperature had come down three degrees, but now it’s back up. It’s been too high for too long.”
An ice bath? Uneasiness settled in the pit of her stomach.
His dark gaze finally locked onto hers. “The hospital staff could take care of you, but they wouldn’t let me help you. Not the way that you need.”
Her eyes widened when his meaning became clear. The fever had reduced her to her most primal needs. Together, they’d only found one way to slake them. If he wasn’t there… Even if they did let him in the room with her… She couldn’t have the whole world seeing her like that!
The bell rang, and the elevator door opened. His hands tightened on her, but he didn’t move. “It’s your choice,” he said gruffly. “The hospital or me?”
She knew what he intended to do, and it wasn’t a choice at all.
Still, he’d said he’d take care of her, and that’s exactly what he’d done all night. He’d nursed her, showing a gentle side she hadn’t known he had. He’d coerced her into taking her pills, betraying the assertive side she knew all too well. He’d held her, he’d bathed her, and he’d made love to her. She had to trust him in this. “You,” she whispered.
A soft sound escaped from the back of his throat, but his eyes darkened. His face hardened in determination, and he strode out into the main lobby like a man on a mission.
Delia braced herself as they neared the plate glass windows. It looked like a postcard outside. Puffy white snow clung to tree limbs. Moonlight reflected off the layer of powder that blanketed the earth. Everything looked so pretty and inviting.
She knew better.
She knew how the wind could whistle, the snow could bite, and the air could pinch. She cringed even though her body was scorching. It just might be too much. “What’s the temperature out there?” she whispered.
His lips brushed against her temple. “You don’t want to know.”
He wouldn’t tell her, and that could only mean one thing. It was going to hurt. Second thoughts assailed her. “I don’t know about this.”
He stood poised in front of the door that led to the apartment complex courtyard. “We have to do it, Delia. You’ve been running a high-grade temperature for hours. Your body’s going to start turning on itself.”
His voice became strained, and he cuddled her closer. “We can’t mess with this piece of wonder.”
Her heart pounded against her chest, and she felt his thudding against her side. She’d never heard him so serious. It scared her, but not as much as going to the hospital and having to do this without him. She needed his steadfastness. She needed his support. She needed him.
She summoned what little strength she had. “What do I have to do?”
“Just hold on to me.”
Done. She was already holding him so tightly her fingernails had left half-moon indentations on his shoulders. She heard the door open. Scared, she pressed her face against his neck. The cold night air swept through her hair. It felt good yet dreadful at the same time.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, sharing her heat with him. Why hadn’t he gotten dressed? He didn’t need to come out here like this. He wasn’t proving anything to her. “You stupid he-man. You’re going to get sick, too.”
“Then you can return the favor.”
Snow scrunched under his feet. Fear swamped her when he stopped walking. He’d carried her to a shadowed area beneath a tree in the courtyard. Watching her intently, he let her feet drop into the mound of snow.
Delia gasped from the pain. It felt like she’d just stepped on a bunch of little daggers. “Aiiieee!”
“I’m sorry, baby,” he said gruffly. His callused hands shook as he cupped her face. “I hate doing this to you.”
“Then don’t,” she said through clenched teeth. The pain was sharper than she’d prepared herself for. Her entire body began to quake. He was right about the blanket. She clung to it, wrapping it around her as tightly as it would go. What had they been thinking? “I don’t want to do this. It isn’t going to work.”
“Try to remember it’s for your own good.”
“Don’t say that.” Her feet danced awkwardly in and out of the icy snow. Puddles were forming around her toes, but the prickle was just as sharp. “Things that are good for you taste bad, make you uncomfortable…or
. This hurts!”
“I know, but it will only be for a little while. I swear. Just focus on me.”
She shook her head. “I can’t. Take me back inside.”
“Try to hold on.”
“It’s too cold. Give me the keys.”
She held out her hand. He could be a taskmaster, but he wasn’t cruel.
“No!” A shuttered look came over his face. “Goddamnit, if you want me to be the bad guy, I will.”
She gasped when he suddenly fisted his hand in the blanket between her breasts and yanked it off of her. Without ceremony, he dropped it behind him, leaving her naked to the elements and anybody who might be looking out a window into the courtyard.
“Hey!” she yelped. “Give that back to me!”
“Later.” He stepped in front of her to block her way when she tried to reach for it. “We do this first.”
She looked at him in shock. He stared right back.
Delia didn’t know what to do. The night air brushed her body intimately. It scraped against her nipples and prodded between her legs. Heat and shivers alternately racked her. The contrast was too much.
She needed that blanket!
She tried to go around him, but he was quick. Every way she turned, he was there. As a last ditch effort, she lunged at him. Breathing hard, she climbed him and wrapped her legs around his waist to get her throbbing feet out of the snow. “Enough,” she said firmly. “I’ve changed my mind.”
She felt tears press at her eyes. He’d given her everything she’d wanted tonight. Why couldn’t he give her this?
His cool hands swept down her back and encircled her hips. He was going to push her away. She prepared to fight him—but then his head dipped. The kiss he planted on her lips was hard and tumultuous.
Passion tore through Delia, diverting all other thoughts.
“Don’t let go,” he growled when he came up for air.
Her eyes widened in panic, but then he was kissing her again. The skyline tilted behind his shoulders, and her arms and legs constricted around him. He didn’t drop her, and he didn’t let her go. Holding her as if she were the most precious thing in the world, he went down into the snow bank with her.
And pinned her there.
Delia shrieked when the cold hit her back, her neck, and the curves of her bottom. The snow felt like needles piercing her sensitive skin. She lurched upright, but his heavy weight bore down on her, trapping her. His lips came down hard again, swallowing her gasps and pleas.
She tore her mouth away and writhed in distress. She tried to dislodge him, but his strength more than doubled hers. Those muscled arms that had held her so tenderly all night were now holding her down. “It hurts,” she sobbed.
Tears streamed down her cheeks, but his face remained set in stone.
“Just a few more minutes, hot stuff,” he said in a ragged voice. “Come on, now. Do this for me.”
She could finally see what lurked in his dark eyes. Concern. Anguish. And resolve.
His head dipped, but this time his mouth caught her breast. He sucked her nipple deep. The heat of his mouth was at such odds with the cold underneath her, Delia was stunned motionless. His mouth tugged insistently, suckling and nipping. She closed her eyes and moaned. The sensations were too intense. Her body wasn’t built to withstand this dual assault.
“Oh, I can’t do this. Not now.”
“You can and you will. Stay with me, baby.”
His kiss drifted lower and skimmed across her belly. His tongue dipped into her belly button, and her lungs heaved. He’d made love to her all night, but not like this. He was dominating her, making her respond, forcing her to pay more attention to him than the cold. His teeth raked across her skin, low on her abdomen, and her body jolted.
She couldn’t fight him and the fever at the same time. She had to submit to one.
“Look at me,” he ordered.
Her eyelids felt heavy as she strained to open them. He’d leveraged himself up onto his knees to straddle her. She looked up at him, bleary-eyed. He looked like a dark devil as he loomed over her. She didn’t understand the edge to his voice until he scooped up two handfuls of snow from beside her.
“We’ve got to get you cooled down one way or the other,” he said, his voice almost fierce.
Before she could comprehend what he meant, he turned his palms and ground the crisp white crystals onto her breasts. The chill flayed her.
“Ah!” Her back arched, and her cry rent the air. She tore at his hands, but he cupped her tenaciously as the snow melted into icy water. Streams ran over her body, seeking crevices and finding them. She lurched, but he kept fondling her aggressively, working the cold into the very tips of her nipples.
“Stop!” she gasped.
His mouth came down hot on her belly, and his tongue was wicked. He licked up the excess water, causing heat bolts to shoot through her system, but the ice stream had started to run through her veins. “It’s too much,” she whined.
He’d gone too far.
Her fingers threaded through his hair and bit into his scalp. He was trying to help. Her frantic brain comprehended that much, but it didn’t stop her from fighting him. She squirmed in the melting snow, trying to buck him off, roll him over, or just
One hand left her breast, and she thought she’d been given a reprieve. All conscious thought left her, though, when he scooped up another handful of snow. He braced his other hand against her breastbone to keep her from moving. Her heart thudded against his palm. Their gazes locked, hers showing trepidation, his lit with a combination of regret and desire.
“Open your legs,” he demanded. One denim-covered knee pressed insistently between her thighs.
“No!” she gasped. She couldn’t take that. Not there!
She clawed at him, trying to find a way to make him stop. He wouldn’t. She could see it in his eyes. She whimpered when the pressure increased and her thighs gave way. Before she could recover, both his knees were inside hers, spreading her wide.
Suddenly, he moved up over her. Delia flinched, but then he was kissing her with white-hot intensity. It clashed with the glacial shock that tore through her system when he shoved the handful of snow against her pussy.