Emma rolled over again and groaned as the larger burn scar on her arm brushed against the blanket. Pain or perhaps only the memory of pain shot through her and her head throbbed. It had been a couple of months, and she wasn’t certain sometimes if the tiny cuts and burns still hurt, or if she just thought they hurt because they had hurt for so long.
It was a process, she knew that, and she was improving. Her mother constantly talked about how thin she was now, but she had even gained back a pound or two of what she had lost that first week when she was too nauseated to eat.
She pulled her long blonde hair back but let it go again when she didn’t see an elastic band on the nightstand. She stood too quickly and it took a moment for the dizziness to subside.
It reminded her, as everything did lately, of her ongoing nightmare, of the men who had drugged her, the feeling of being dizzy and nauseated and just plain itchy in her own skin. And because of the street drugs, the doctors hadn’t dared to give her anything for the pain in case of an accidental overdose.
She didn’t even drink alcohol unless it came in the form of a dessert trifle, for heaven’s sake, but how she had suffered, coming down off a drug high.
The phone rang and she grabbed it without looking at the display.
“Oh, hi Mom. What? No, I was awake.”
Man. If she had any sense, she would have just let it go to voicemail. She really didn’t want to talk to her mother again tonight.
“No, Mom, I’m okay,” Emma insisted. She wanted to shake the phone, to just tell her mom to stop asking if she was okay, to say anything to end the call. “You’ll be late Thursday? Oh, no, that’s fine. Talk to you later, then. Bye. Yes, bye”
Emma hung up the receiver on a surge of relief so strong she actually felt dizzy. Her mom cared, and she meant well, but she was driving Emma nuts calling three and four times a day.
Emma hated all the calls because her mom’s questions kept forcing her to say that she was okay over and over, when she really wasn’t okay. She didn’t know when she would be okay again, when she would just be Emma again and not have nightmares and sudden episodes of sweat and shaking terror.
She moved her head and grimaced. Her hair smelled like flowers from her shampoo, but she still thought she could detect the scent of blood sometimes. She had spent hours in the shower in the past few weeks.
She sighed and rose to sit on the edge of the bed. She tried to shove the emotion back, to think, but her memory was a little fuzzy on details.
Surely she had imagined the gorgeous man with the chiseled features who had stroked her cheek so softly. He was the one good thing about that night, but he couldn’t be real.
No man who looked like that would take a second look at Emma Wetherall.
But her hand stole up to her cheek and she pressed the softness hard against her teeth. She might have been flying high on waves of pain and hallucinogens, but her imagination wasn’t quite that good. Maybe she would never see him again, but the man was real. And he had smelled wonderful, better than any man had a right to smell in the middle of a crisis.
The tenderness of his touch had soothed her, and his deep, accented voice settled into her soul like a miracle. In spite of her pain, she had known bone deep that she was safe the moment she was in his arms.
Emma walked over to the window and stared out between the heavy curtains.
From her window, she could see the street and the green side hedge and just a corner of the driveway, the purple twilight lit by the glow of streetlights. The city still hadn’t replaced the light at the corner, so the line of twinkling artificial stars had a visible gap of darkness.
She didn't know what she was looking for, but when a tall figure of a man detached from the black shadows and stepped onto the dimly lit path, she pressed a hand to her chest to cover her suddenly pounding heart.
It was the man who had cut her free.
“I knew it.”
She couldn't see his face, could barely make out the shape of him in the darkness, but she knew. It was him.
Several times in the past weeks, she had been certain she had felt him there with her in the night. She had never caught even a glimpse of him until tonight, but like the tingle of a limb awakening, she had felt his presence.
It didn't make any sense, and it made her feel silly, but she couldn't deny the strength of the awareness. She didn’t know his name, but she recognized him on a level that was deeper than black hair and eyes as blue as the ocean.
She normally didn't believe in any hocus pocus like that, but she knew him. She would know him anywhere, and it didn't matter what he looked like or how short or tall he was. The fact that he was a tall, gorgeous specimen of manhood was more intimidating to her than if he had been just some regular guy with a crooked tooth or a bald patch, but it didn't change anything. They were connected, and had been somehow before they had even met.
Watching intently out the window, Emma felt the connection between them even now, when she was utterly alone in her bedroom.
She gave her head a shake, but the impression lingered. She knew beyond question that if she opened the window and called, he would come to her. No matter what, he would come.
But she didn’t even know his name.
In the darkness, doubt crept in. Maybe he didn’t know her name either, and it was all just in her head. But no, she was sure, even through the drug haze of the night that he had whispered her name as the ambulance doors had closed between them, separating them.
Emma sighed at her own folly, but her traitorous heart insisted. That look on his face, as though she belonged to him, as though her pain had hurt him, too, and nothing in the world could keep them apart now that he had found her.
"What do you want, pretty girl?" His voice was husky and sent shivers through her.
"I want your hands and your mouth. I want everything," her voice failed and she cleared her throat, but it still came out more air than voice. "I want you. I want you to want me."
One strong arm wrapped around her waist and he kissed her eyes shut.
"You have me. You already have all the best of me."
"I want your body," she said, and opened her eyes in time to see a look of vivid triumph cross his hard features.
"You may have that as well, pretty girl."
He held her loosely, pressing tender little kisses on her face.
"Emma, I am not a poet, but I can say honestly that I love you. This feeling that ties me to you is so strong, it couldn't be anything else."
She had the wild urge to laugh. The little frown on his face said almost more than his words. He seemed so baffled.
"You're adorable," was all she could say.
Kuhr pulled her to his chest and one hand snaked down her back to smack her bottom.
"I am not adorable. Warriors are not adorable."
Emma stifled a giggle.
"What can I call you, then? Cute?"
"Have some respect, woman. You cannot call me cute, especially if we are socializing with other Cadre members and their mates. I would never hear the end of it."
"But there are no other people here," she said and ducked her head to lick his throat and nip at the stubble on his chin. "It's just you and me, mate, and I should be able to call you adorable if that's what I feel." Her hand skimmed down his ridged belly to grasp him gently.
His gasp gratified her.
"The word certainly doesn't…diminish you." He was growing longer by the second under her exploratory touch, his flesh firm and resilient.
She unzipped him and sank to her knees.
"When my mate has her hands on me, there is no force in the universe that could 'diminish' the strength of my feelings." He pushed upward with his hips and his cock slid against her damp palm, the heavy denim between them rasping across her skin. She tightened her fingers experimentally and enjoyed his responding groan.
She gathered her courage and pulled him free of his fabric confinement, marveling at the strength of his desire for her.
"I'm so glad to hear that." Her tongue swirled around the head. "It is always a good thing when woman is in need and a man rises to the occasion."
He pulled in a hard breath and sweat beaded on his body.
"I need more." His voice was hoarse.
She blew a warm breath over him and pressed sucking kisses over and around the velvet knob.
"You'll get it. Just wait for it."
His chest heaved on a breath.
"No more waiting."
"I thought you were the same man who told me that I could set the pace."
"Your touch has burned a hole through my good intentions."
"It will be worth the wait," she coaxed, and hummed in happiness as she slid her whole mouth over and down.
She was just finding her rhythm when he pulled her up and away with a resounding pop.
Before she could utter a single protest, his mouth was on hers, his hands fumbling with the fastening of her jeans.
She was stripped to the skin in a matter of seconds, but he was still almost fully clothed. It was deeply erotic, being naked in the wilderness while only his rampant cock was exposed through the unzipped fly of his jeans.
“Emma,” he said, and her name was accompanied by his hands turning and positioning her body over a fallen tree. “Emma, say yes. Let me.”
She pushed back into his touch as one finger swirled and dipped into her creamy heat from behind. He slid his wet finger down and circled her throbbing clit.
“Yes. Any way you want.” She sighed as he parted her wet flesh.
“Every way there is,” he said, and his breath warmed her feminine folds before he sank his tongue in for a long intimate kiss that had her gasping. Caught between the scrape of the rough bark and the swift motions of his smooth silky tongue, she writhed in blazing erotic joy.
“Kuhr, hurry,” she said. She was flying so high, she didn’t want to lose the brilliant sensation.
“No,” he said, and his refusal was muffled by the tender folds where his mouth was buried. He licked deep and sucked her flesh like a favorite candy.
It was glorious and maddening and she wanted it to go on forever, but it wasn’t quite enough. She wanted him inside her, buried to the hilt and stretching her.
He was holding her on a razor edge of pleasure, never giving enough to catapult her over. The delicate flicking of his tongue did wonderful things to her nervous system, but it wasn’t what she needed. She needed more.
“And more is what you shall have.”
She panted his name on every breath by the time he stood again and fitted his hard penis to her moist opening. Her hot core gripped at his broad crest, but it still wasn’t enough. She ached deep inside where only he could reach.