Authors: Cynthia Sax
To my dear, wonderful hubby for a lifetime of Cinderella moments, to Megan Schumann for being the best darn publicist a writer could have, and to Mike T. and the rest of the Avon Impulse copyediting team for ensuring there has been continuity throughout the serial. You rock!
ALLOUSED HANDS BRUSH
my hair to the side. Equally rough fingertips graze my neck. Hawke’s knowing touch coaxes me out of my deep sleep.
“It’s too early.” I cling to my pillow. It can’t be morning already.
He nibbles on my shoulder, his stubble blazing a trail across my skin. The scent of leather, engine grease, and aroused man surrounds me.
“Go away.” I shrug, trying to dislodge him.
His chest shakes against my back, the damn man laughing at me. “Is that any way to talk to the man you love?” He mouths my earlobe.
“No.” I stiffen. Shit. He’s right. In the movies, the girl the hero falls in love with is always perky in the mornings, rainbows and flowers coming out of her tight ass. I force a smile and roll onto my back. “Good morning.” I gaze into Hawke’s sparkling blue eyes, his countenance more intriguing than any male model’s.
“Is it a good morning?” His voice lilts with humor.
“Yes,” I lie, reaching upward, cupping his square chin. There’s nothing good about mornings. I drift my fingernails over the short brown hair on his cheeks, stroking back and forth, back and forth, savoring the contrast of coarse stubble and soft skin.
Hawke chuckles, the sound low and deep. “You’re a terrible liar, love.”
He turns his head, nips playfully at my fingertips. I pull them away and glare at him. Then I remember I’m supposed to be Suzy Sunshine and twist my frown into a fake smile.
He laughs louder. “You’re not a morning person.”
“I could be a morning person,” I insist, trying for chipper, achieving insecure. “I can be the woman you want, Hawke.” My hands return to his rugged face. I’ll change, become a lover worthy of him, of forever.
Hawke nuzzles his cheeks into my palms. “You
the woman I want.” His eyelashes lower, his expression blissful. “You’re perfect for me.” His hard cock presses against my right thigh, reinforcing his words. He wants me, grumpiness and all.
“You’re wealthy,” I whisper, unable to say these words loudly, part of me wondering if I dreamed last night’s revelations, if he hadn’t truly founded the Organization, a very successful security company, didn’t own the multimillion-dollar condo we’re living in. “Go public with that information, and you can have any woman you want.”
“We’re wealthy,” Hawke corrects and I blink. This sounds as though he believes I’m also wealthy, and I’m not. I’m one big, strong military man away from homelessness. “I have the woman I want.” There is no doubt in his voice. “Going public would put everyone around me in danger.”
He touches the barbed wire tattoo encircling his right bicep. This ink is a visible reminder of his best friend’s death, a casualty in a bombing targeting a wealthy businessman.
“It also wouldn’t make a difference.” Hawke flexes his muscles. “If wealth bought love, you’d be lying naked in Nicolas’s bed right now, not mine.” His eyes flare with a breathtaking possessiveness. “He’d be inside you, not me.”
God, he knows the right things to say. I rub my thighs together, my pussy moistening. “You’re not inside me.”
“That’ll change soon.” Hawke extracts a condom package from the plastic fishbowl positioned on his makeshift nightstand. His furnishings are pitiful. In this small way, he needs me. The man has no clue how to spend his money.
“Good.” I cup my small breasts, squeezing, offering them to him. “Because I need you.” When he touches me, we merge into one, and my doubts disappear. I belong with him as I’ve never belonged anywhere else.
“You’re torturing me, love.” Hawke rips the package open and rolls the condom on his rigid cock, his gaze fixed on my nude form.
I spread my thighs, showing him my pink pussy lips and my empty entrance. “Is it you I’m torturing, or me?” I pinch my nipples, teasing both of us, adding a twinge of pain to my pleasure. “Your bite mark has faded.”
“We can’t have that.” Hawke’s eyes gleam as he kneels between my legs. “I want everyone to know you’re mine.” He catches one of my wrists, pulls me upright, places my fingers on his latex-covered shaft.
“I’m yours.” I run my hands up and down his length, savoring the feel of him, his heat, scent, everything. “And you’re mine.”
Hawke rocks into my palms, the tattooed wings over his collarbone rippling, his abs defined, his muscles undulating. He’s powerful and strong and, in this moment, he belongs to me.
I don’t know if he loves me, if he will ever care for me that much or say those precious words and mean them, but I do know how to please him sexually, what he likes and needs.
His desires match mine. I meet and hold his gaze as I guide him toward my entrance. His broad tip stretches me open, my slick pussy easing the exquisite tightness. Hawke pushes me backward into the mattress, as he claims my body. I moan, tilting my hips toward him, and his eyes darken to a brilliant blue, his lips flattening.
“You slay me, sweetheart.” Hawke presses his base against my feminine folds, bracing his physique above mine. “Every fuckin’ time.” He gazes down at me, lust and reverence and something more warming his expression. “Nothing feels as good as your hot little pussy around my hard cock.”
We fit perfectly, custom-made for each other. “I want you all the time,” I admit. He’s a high I can’t get enough of, like finding the perfect pair of designer shoes in a department store’s bargain bin, and even a daily hit of his loving isn’t enough. I need him several times a day. “You touch me and I lose control.”
I wrap my legs around his waist, linking my ankles over his clenched ass cheeks. He sinks deeper and both of us groan, the pleasure divine.
“It scares me sometimes,” I confess, having never experienced anything like this.
“You can lose control with me, Belinda.” Hawke rocks, the leisurely shallow slide in and out, in and out, coaxing our passions higher, feeding the flames inside me. I hold on to his shoulders, moving with him. “I’ll keep you safe.”
“Yes.” I rise up to meet Hawke’s thrusts, urging him to take me harder, faster. My former marine will protect me from others and from myself. The dog tags clink between my breasts, their weight reassuring me that he won’t ever leave me, not voluntarily.
Hawke drags his mouth along my neck, the combination of lips and stubble sending a sexy shiver down my spine. I grasp his nape, directing him toward my right breast, my nipples aching for his touch.
He circles my curves with the flat of his tongue, spiraling toward my sensitive flesh, winding want around me tighter and tighter until I’m certain I’ll go mad with eagerness.
“Hawke.” I arch, pushing my breast into his mouth.
He drives his hips forward, pinning my ass to the mattress, punishing me for my impatience. Hawke’s gaze meets mine, his eyes glittering with intent. He extends his tongue and I tense, holding my breath.
Hawke flicks my nipple, a fleeting pang of pleasure shoots through me, and I cry out, writhing under him, needing more. The aggravating man chuckles, his lips vibrating against me as he pistons in and out of me, riding my body hard.
“Please,” I beg, past the point of pride, threading my fingertips through his short hair, splaying my fingers over his scarred scalp.
Hawke covers my right nipple with his lips and sucks to the rhythm of his cock’s movement, making my entire body pulse to the same primitive tempo, a drumming of desire rushing through my veins.
I undulate, trapped between the bed and my massive man, my arms and legs surrounding him. Moisture splatters my thighs, seeping between his balls. Perspiration coats our skin. The musky scent of sex hangs heavily on the air, filling my lungs with each ragged breath.
When I think I can’t take more, my right nipple throbbing with bliss, Hawke switches to my left, laving the hollow between my breasts, learning my body with a gratifying thoroughness. I carve my fingernails into his skull and he hisses, his thrusts intensifying, shaking the bed.
He’s ruthless with my nipple, catching the pinkness between lip-covered teeth and pulling, the hurt escalating my arousal. I retaliate by slamming my hips against his, squeezing his cock with my inner muscles.
Hawke growls, the animalistic sound crazing me. We battle for sexual supremacy, nipping at exposed skin, crashing into each other. My pussy constricts around him, and I dangle on the edge of release.
He knows what I need, damn him. I rake my fingernails down his back, his muscles rippling under my palms. “Bite me.” My voice is unrecognizable, warped by my wanting.
“Behave.” Hawke drives into me with all of his tremendous strength, smacking my clit, and I shriek with delight, reveling in his dominance.
I don’t have to ask twice. He curls his lips, baring his teeth, his expression feral, his eyes savage and wild. I squirm, quivering with anticipation. He’ll make me his now, mark me, give me the pain I need. My body grows taut as I wait and wait and wait.
He thrusts deep and bites down on my nipple, hard enough to bruise my skin. I scream his name, fling myself upward, clenching down on his cock with everything I have, forcing his release.
Hawke throws back his head and bellows, pushing farther into me. The bed skitters across the hardwood floor, the headboard slams against the wall, and a shower of white plaster rains down on us.
My world spins yet I remain stationary, anchored by my big man. He’s all I know, feel, smell. Aftershocks sweep over me. He keeps me safe, thrusting once, twice more, and then collapsing on top of me, pushing the air from my lungs.
I slap his back, unable to speak.
“Fuck.” Hawke rolls, taking me with him. His chest heaves under me, his cock remaining inside my pussy, the connection between us strong and true.
“Fuck,” I murmur. There’s no other word to describe how I feel. My nipple aches, his ownership tattooed on my skin. My arms and legs are limp. My brain is purged of all worries.
Hawke sweeps my hair away from my face, stroking his palms over the long brown strands, his breathing leveling, his heart beating under my ear. We lie, entwined, linked, one.
I wish we could stay like this and not face the harsh world. “No one can know you’re wealthy?” I swirl my fingertips over his skin, tracing his tattoos, his scars, the indents around his muscles.
“We’re wealthy.” Hawke presses his lips against my forehead. “And no one will ask. They’ll assume, as you did, that we’re comfortable.”
I won’t have to lie but I also can’t share the good news, ease my mom’s worries, belong to Cyndi’s world, redeem myself or Hawke in the eyes of Chicago society. Tara, my high school nemesis, will continue to believe I’m living with a minimum-wage-earning security guard. She’ll sneer at him behind his back, put him down, and I can’t correct her misconception. I’ll have to bite my lip and stay silent.
I don’t know if I can do this but, for Hawke, I’ll try.
“I see.” I sigh.
“You don’t see.” Hawke hugs me closer to his hard body. “I won’t risk your safety, love. You mean too much to me.”
I lift my head and gaze at him. “You risk your safety every day.”
His lips flatten. “I won’t be taking any more assignments.”
Not taking any more assignments will keep him alive, ensure he doesn’t leave me, and I shouldn’t say anything. I should keep my mouth shut and safeguard our future.
Shit. I have to say something. “Did you make this decision because of me? Because I know protecting others makes you happy. I’ve accepted this about you.” I pat his chest. “It’s part of who you are, and I’ll deal with it. I’ll worry, but I’ll deal.”
“I did make this decision because of you,” Hawke admits, and I tense. “No one else had the balls to relay how the team interpreted my actions. They thought I led the high-profile assignments because they weren’t qualified, Belinda.” He says this as though he can’t believe it. “They’re the best damn security professionals on the planet, and I made them doubt themselves.”
“You didn’t do that intentionally.” I stroke his bare skin, trying to comfort him. “You didn’t know—”
“Exactly.” He nods. “I didn’t know, but now, thanks to you, I do. They can lead the assignments. I’ll focus on intelligence, keeping our team and our clients safe, and on other management issues.”
“Are you okay with that?” I need to be certain. I don’t want him to change who he is, to sacrifice his sense of purpose for me.
“I prefer this.” Hawke’s lips hitch into that lopsided smile I adore, and a weight I’ve been carrying around with me lifts. He’ll be safe, busy but out of harm’s way. “Dawg’s thrilled. He no longer has to give orders while I’m out in the field. I didn’t realize how much he hated making those decisions.”
“Dawg would do anything for you.” I kiss the tattoo on Hawke’s left pec, tasting salt and man. “Any of your people would.”
“You would.” His eyes glow. “You wore that awful waitress uniform and tried to sell your pretty things to be with me.”
I say nothing because it’s the truth. I’d do anything for my former marine, even give up my dreams of belonging, of being worthy, of gaining the respect of high school classmates and Cyndi’s friends.
Would he do the same for me? Does he care for me that much?