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|Ecstasy(Shadowdwellers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
She tried to tell herself this was all unexpected. She wanted to believe it was completely uninvited. But, neither was true. As if to provide empirical proof of that fact, her breasts were burning with that same wicked sensation from the last time he had held her like this, her nipples puckering into painfully tight points of anticipation as his fingers continued to drift down over her clavicle and then into the V in her blouse that gave him access to her breastbone.
“Are you afraid?” he asked her, his roughened bass writhing through her like an intimate caress.
“I’m a-always afraid,” she managed with a hard swallow. “Of everything.”
“Fear is healthy, jei li. It tells you when you are getting deeper into trouble. It warns you to be careful.” She felt his moist lips nuzzle into the side of her neck just beneath the ear he whispered his wisdom into.
“I n-need to be careful n-now?” she stammered, her lips and tongue going suddenly numb and clumsy as he teased her pulse with the sexy slide of his tongue. At the same time, his fingers slipped beneath her blouse and chemise, caressing a flirtatious path over the rise of her breast.
“Oh, yes. Yes, jei li, yes.”
Trace was left-handed. Had she had time to realize the small detail, she might not have been so taken off guard when, instead of the obvious taunting hand beneath her blouse, the other just beneath her right breast was the one to come cup her fully. His thumb flicked against her nipple, sending a shockingly raw response deep into the center of her already laboring body. Ashla had never felt anything like his electrifying touches in her whole life. Each minute motion as he toyed with her sent jolts of unexpected pleasure pounding into her in rhythm to her heartbeats. Then his opposite hand fulfilled its teasing promise inside her blouse, slipping over her warm skin and finding the bare nerves of her waiting nipple. He stroked over her, shaping and curving his callused fingers around her as he fondled his way to familiarity with her contours and warmth. Every touch was exponential, the arousal he was stirring up climbing to a wild pace inside of her. She couldn’t keep quiet or still, her entire body arching into his hands and back against him at the same time. Her hands reached to grasp his forearms and wrists, soon becoming a part of his caresses against her.
Trace was quite through with working in increments. He’d had enough torture, and then again not nearly enough. He was hardly gentle as he slid one hand free of her blouse and suddenly cupped her directly between her legs. He used his bold grasp to draw her back tightly against him, settling the soft, sweet curve of her ass against his raging erection. He unintentionally took hold of her with his teeth when his mouth opened over her neck to release the deep groan of pleasure that rumbled up out of him as he rubbed himself against her. He couldn’t hope to count the numerous fantasies he’d had about holding her like this; nor could he have ever expected how far the reality would surpass those mere speculations. If he hadn’t been loath to break the erotic contact, it might well have brought him straight to his knees.
“Aiya,” he hissed against her. “You burn like sunrise.”
Ashla gasped as the fingers of the hand cupping her pubic bone burrowed into her a little snugger through the material of her skirt and underpants. He growled low and with unmistakable menace, like a beast guarding his best morsel of food. Or perhaps like one readying to devour that morsel.
“On your knees, jei li,” he demanded suddenly, no warning or hint of asking for her permission whatsoever.
“Obey me,” he said, lowering himself to his knee and forcing her compliance. “Trust me,” he coaxed her then, his sensual plucking at her nipple sending her into wild shivers. It was only then that she realized that by forcing her to her knees, Trace had made her brace her legs hard apart. The position opened her up to his exploring touch, a fact he exploited instantly. His fingertips ran the seam he could feel under her skirt, tracing it completely along the inside crease of her thigh. He felt her heart pounding right through her back, felt the way she trembled in response and anticipation.
She was so passive, so pliant; and somehow it felt incredible to feel her succumb to his strength and his aggression, to feel the growing damp heat beneath his fingertips that broadcast her rising arousal.
“Unbutton your blouse, sweetness. I need to see you,” he said, his voice as rough as sandpaper. “There you go…yes, perfect,” he praised her as she raised quivering fingers to do as he bid her. Each encouragement he spoke spurred her from one button to two…to three. He didn’t stop until she reached the waistband of her skirt. “Good. Very good, jei li. Such pretty things you wear, honey, but all I want is to see you without them.”
“But the…” Ashla turned her face away against his left shoulder, her anxious fingers curling around the metal that embraced his arm beneath the black silk of his shirt. “I’m not healed,” she murmured.
“Don’t.” He followed the barked word with a physical jog of her body. “Do not try to tell me what I will like and dislike about you. These are things a man can discover for himself.” He released her sweetly swollen breast at last and began to push aside the fabric of her blouse. He grasped the satiny material of her chemise for a moment of reflected frustration, and the sound he made warned her he was on the verge of literally tearing through the obstacle. She quickly took his hand into both of hers and slid it beneath the bottom hem. This allowed him the temporary pleasure of bare, warm skin while Ashla wriggled to shed everything from the waist up that was in his way.
She had never done anything so bold in all of her life. Oh, she was a bundle of nerves from head to toe, there was no doubting that. Even when she had stripped to show him her wounds, she had not been entertaining a single second of sexual implication or invitation.
Intent made all the difference in the world.
Ashla was riddled with doubt about dozens of points of logic, and each made her question the wisdom in extending even the slightest trust to him. But on the other hand, there was the bald surety she felt from a point of instinct inside of her she had never tapped in all of her life. It was as though she were watching parts of herself being born at last, coming to life in his hands as they shaped her skin and body with a thorough fascination she’d never experienced before. In fact, Trace had shown more power in his desires for her in the past ten minutes than most had shown her even at the point of their climax. It was a potent sort of drug, to be wanted so strongly. So potent that she dreaded doing anything that might disturb the marvelous feeling.
Trace was absently rubbing himself against her, trying to relieve the molten ache kept cruelly confined behind the fly of his jeans. The provocative motion made his thoughts come in sharp bursts of desire. He wanted her hands on him. Her pretty little mouth. He stared down at her pale breasts and their pastel pink nipples and hastily added them to the list. The thought alone made him throb with painful longing.
“I could come just thinking about all the things I want to do to you,” he confessed to her hotly against her near ear. “And when I think of bringing you to orgasm…” He shuddered at her back and groaned with his self-created imagery.
But Ashla didn’t share his pleasure, and it was harshly obvious in an instant. He could almost feel her skin turning chilled under his touch as she stiffened in his embrace.
“What is it, jei li?” he demanded. He snared her chin in his fingers and kept her from shaking her head in negation. He discarded the question, and made it a demand. “Tell me why that scares you so much.”
“Because I can’t. I can’t…do that.”
“Speak plainly to me, Ashla. Do not be a child about this. Be a woman who demands her lover knows her needs. Speak to me!”
“I can’t h-have an orgasm!” She swallowed hard and gasped for breath as color burned bright in her face. “I never could,” she finished on a whisper.
Trace couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Suddenly, he was disgusted by the selfish ineptitude of human men. No Shadowdweller male would be let loose on the female population without knowing what to do to best please a woman. The same was true for females knowing how best to please a man. Trace had studied sex from inception of his adolescence until his tutors had deemed him ready. At times, they had been some of the hardest learned lessons of his entire education. The methods to teach control alone had bordered on cruelty. But they had been worth every moment of painful denial and every act of discipline he’d borne. He had left each of his women deeply satisfied, always proud of his performance and grateful to his teachers.
A society that would do otherwise was beyond foreign to him—it was barbaric.
And Ashla’s feelings of devastating inadequacy were the perfect example of why. That she was near to tears with her embarrassment, not to mention her frustration and disappointment, made him utterly furious. It was enough to severely rattle his own self-righteousness, to force him to realize he had been less than an exemplary lover as he had fallen on her with haste and selfish need. Trace rubbed his face against her hair and breathed deeply for a moment as he gathered control and a few more moments of clear thinking.
I can’t do this. Not like this.
He couldn’t possibly do justice by her while swept up in the maelstrom of euphoria. Euphoria was all about seeking and gratifying his own pleasure. It was a deep touch of madness that plunged the sufferer into their own world, deeper and deeper until nothing outside of themselves mattered any longer. He was in the earliest stages of this condition and he was already behaving out of character and without honor or consideration. If he stayed long enough to try and make love to Ashla, he would only end up being another disappointment to her…and by then he probably wouldn’t even care.
Take her anyway, a part of him was already whispering in heated countermand. Sink into her deep and hard and let yourself explode. The rest will take care of itself!
Trace groaned at the mere thought of it, and growled in frustration at himself in the same breath. What made it worse was that he was having his damned epiphany right after she had made her horribly painful confession. What was he going to say? I have to go, but it’s okay…it’s not you, it’s me? He would never make her believe he wasn’t leaving her because he thought she was frigid or malfunctioning.
Basically, no matter which way he turned it, he had just royally fucked himself.
He thought she was a freak.
Yes, of course he did, Ashla thought. He was a beautiful, healthy specimen of manhood, and clearly had the sex drive to match. He had probably never made a misstep in bed in his life, and no doubt had made several dozen beauty queens beg him for return performances.
She had never had sex with the same man twice. Not that she hadn’t wanted to, because she had constantly hoped that practice would improve things for her, but what choice had she had when they had smiled at her and told pretty lies to her just before disappearing from her life for good? She had been left with little more than bitterness and the angry feeling that she had somehow been cheated. However, in time, it had become too steady a pattern for her to keep blaming everyone else. She knew that she was the problem.
So she might as well let him know what he was in for from the start.
It was the quietest and stillest he had been all day, and Ashla closed her eyes in an effort to steel herself against whatever was going to come next. It didn’t feel very promising when he stood them both up straight and put an inch of distance between them for the first time since this had all started. She swallowed so hard it hurt, and she struggled to blink back the starting burn of tears.
I can hold on until he leaves, she swore to herself. I can hold on just that long.
“Ashla, step forward,” he said gruffly.
She automatically did as he asked, not realizing that she made him smile because of it. She drew her arms up to cover her breasts, but his hands curling around her biceps prevented her from it.
“I meant several steps, jei li,” he murmured into her hair.
Nervous and confused, her emotions in a wild uproar, she obeyed once again. Through chattering teeth, she managed to ask the most ridiculous question of all time.
“What does jei li mean?”
His hand at her back kept her moving as he countered with, “What does it sound like it means? I don’t believe there is an exact translation for it.”
“Um, I don’t know. Maybe…‘sweetheart’?”
“That would be close,” he agreed. “However, that term lacks the level of respectful affection that jei li requires. In your culture, ‘sweetheart’ can be used in a derogatory as well as with affection. In mine, jei li is reserved for affection only. To use it in an insult would be horribly taboo. It is one of those things that could find you with your tongue cut down the center of its length by morning.”
“Oh my God!” she cried, torn between horror and a fascination for a culture that would take the mere usage of a word so seriously. She pressed her hand to the wall for balance and tried to look at him over her shoulder. That was when he placed a hand on her, making her face the wall once more, which actually made her realize for the first time that she was standing in front of a wall to begin with.
Now he fitted himself back against her and slid both of his warm, strong hands down from her shoulders all the way to her wrists and back again.
“Place your palms flat on the wall, jei li,” he said softly to her.
“Don’t question me,” he gently scolded her, a warning rumble of sound vibrating against the side of her neck. “Just do as I ask.”
Ashla’s heart tripped over its own beat as she raised her trembling hands to obey him. Her palms were damp already as she pressed them to the thick, textured wallpaper before her.