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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“What?” she demanded, whirling around.
Very slowly, Jacob stepped closer to her, herding her backward into the door before resting first one palm, and then the other, flat against the door on either side of her shoulders. Then, in purposeful increments, he leaned his body closer to hers. By the time he had made full and secure eye contact with her, the barest of spaces separated their bodies. He was bathing her in the dangerous heat of his potent body, and her heart was pounding in double-time.
“Bella,” he began slowly, her name rumbling out of his throat as if it were a rough purr, “you mistake me. Do not ever, ever make the error of thinking that I do not want you, little flower.” He leaned even closer, his chest moving so near that she had to turn her head. His husky tone fell to a whisper as he engaged her ear, bathing her neck with a hot exhalation of unsteady breath. “On the contrary. If I pull away from you, you must know that it is because I want you so badly that when you say things like you just did, I am so plagued by my reactions that I am fearful of losing control.
“Bella, there is no safe haven inside me when it comes to this consuming desire to take you as my mate. My sense of morality has abandoned me as well. Even my safest, surest thoughts have joined in the clamor burning through my body as it demands yours. Do you understand? Mistake me not, little flower. I do want you. So badly it hurts. It hurt me too, as it hurt you, that day in the library.”
“If so much of you is feeling the way you say,” she said quietly, “then why are you ignoring it still? Especially now, knowing the prophecy and all?”
He pulled back slightly.
“I do not want you coming to me in a headlong rush because ancient scribbles, whose truths and purposes are merely theory at this point, dictate to you how you should feel about me. How few hours has it been since you told me how much I terrify you? You are frightened still, despite what you say. I can feel it and read it in your thoughts. Consider how that makes me feel!
“You are an innocent, Isabella. You cannot even say the word sex, and you blush when I say it.” Jacob inclined his head with a purposeful glance, making her cover her telltale cheeks with her hands. “However much your body responds to mine, and believe me, it does so in beautiful magnitude, your mind is not yet truly made up. I will not force that decision on you. Not mentally or emotionally, and certainly not physically.” His dark pupils searched her face so thoroughly she felt as if she couldn’t possibly have a single secret left. “But do not mistake my need to put distance between us as anything but what it is, merely an effort to keep myself under control until such time as you do make up your mind, of your own free will, prophecy or no.”
“But, Jacob,” she said, her hand coming up to toy with the open lapel of his shirt, “when we were in the library, and before that, even, we didn’t know there was a prophecy.”
So simple. So logical. So true. Jacob’s hands curled into fists against the door, his longing and emotions straining at the very ends of their overtaut tethers. His senses clamored for her input. Even the warmth of her scent filling his nostrils couldn’t begin to soothe the cravings of those other senses left destitute.
Jacob clenched his teeth for a brief, tight moment.
“Isabella, you must be careful what you say to me,” he warned her roughly. “I am holding on to my control by the thinnest of threads. Understand, the consequences of that control snapping will be something you cannot take back, cannot change. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I do. And I want you to understand something as well,” she countered quickly. “I may be a virgin, but that’s only because no one got my attention long enough to change it, not because it’s so all-fired important to me. I admit, I have always hoped I would have a special first experience, but when I think about it, I can’t help but decide that I already have. Jacob, I could never have dreamed up the way you make me feel. I have never felt so much like a woman as I have when you have put your hands on me, when you have touched your mouth to me.
“No one has ever seen me with the passion that you do,” she breathed with silky intensity, her sensual whisper driving over his every last nerve like eager fingertips slipping up his spine. “It’s such an amazing feeling, to be craved like that. Some women have sex all their lives and never feel that. So, my innocence is now just a matter of physicality. Emotionally, I became very much a woman in your arms the very first night we were together.”
Jacob sighed, an indulgent exhalation of breath that stirred her hair against her cheek.
“The naпvetй in that statement alone serves to remind me of how innocent you truly are, Bella.”
The blunt putdown, whether intentional or not, had Bella resisting the urge to slap him. His condescension was really beginning to irritate her. Inexperienced she might be, but at least she knew she had stumbled on something extraordinary with him. Different worlds, even so much as being species apart, and yet she understood this was a precious connection. An opportunity.
Even though it intimidated her, even though it was clearly cloaked in danger and good reasons to feel more than a little fear, she wasn’t about to let it flutter away like a fickle butterfly. Perhaps the whole of her life had been a lead-in to this encounter with Jacob and all the rapid changes that were accompanying him. Perhaps, all along, her hunger for knowledge had been a subconscious search for Jacob and his people. Maybe there was such a thing as destiny, and maybe he was hers. Isabella knew there was only one way to find out and that it was a discovery she craved beyond reason.
“Fine. I understand,” she said with a little shrug, turning her head slightly so he couldn’t see her eyes. “If it’s really that important to you, I’ll go have sex with a human male first. Then I’ll know what I’m talking about before I broach the matter with you again.”
Jacob felt the statement the same way he had felt the blast of Elijah’s intervention the first night he had touched her. It slammed into him with breathtaking brutality, destroying his sense of direction and balance. Rage surged through him, turning his eyes into glistening black voids. The idea of another man touching that precious skin, kissing her sweet, delicious mouth, was more than he could stand. What she was suggesting this time was too much. Beyond too much.
“Over my dead body… over my obliterated soul will I ever allow such a thing.” The declaration was a cross between a growl and a soft roar. Bella could see him shaking from head to toe, could feel it vibrating through the door behind her. In all of an instant, the cool, sophisticated Jacob disappeared and a possessive beast reared its head in his place.
Now that’s more like it, Isabella mused, with a mental smile.
“But”—she blinked her wide eyes up at him in all innocence—“you just said—”
“I said forget it, Isabella!” the Enforcer exploded, the pressure of his hands on the door at her back making the wood pop and creak ominously. “No one is going to touch you, do you understand?”
Isabella thrust her fists onto her hips, her delicate jaw thrusting out stubbornly.
“Well I’m not going to stay a virgin for the rest of my life, Jacob!” she declared in frustration. “Eventually someone is going to have to touch me, because I have no intentions of being a nun! Especially not now that I know what it can feel like to be wanted by a man and to want him in return. And since you think I’m too fragile for you, it will have to be someone else!”
Isabella suddenly found her head enveloped in those enormous hands of his, her eyes forced to meet his, compelled to see the fire of jealousy she had stirred up in his black gaze. His emotions buffeted her like a wildly breaking wave; his sudden, desperate covetousness and gripping fear battered her psyche like a million piercing daggers. The idea of another man touching her ripped at his insides, physically and spiritually, the cruelty and poison of it stamping his soul like a tattoo. In all of a heartbeat she regretted her game. She had never meant to hurt him, only to motivate him past his conflicts.
Jacob knew he had no justification for feeling this way, especially in light of the hastily sketched rules of conduct he was trying to force on himself and her. Yet a savage need to sear her to his side, body and soul, was strangling him brutally. He would kill anyone who even thought about touching her. In that moment he swore it to himself, and with his desperation-charred eyes, he swore it to her.
“Never,” he rasped, the word falling from him on hot, rapid breaths. “Do you hear me, Bella? Never will any other man be allowed to touch you.”
“Then that leaves only two choices,” she reminded him, just as breathless as he was with his incensed feelings battering at her from all sides. “You, or nobody.” She took in a deep, steadying breath, forcing herself to push away his influence in her mind so she could purposely lower her voice and shift her body into her next whispered words. This, she decided, would be her apology for her selfishness, for her taunting ways. She would no longer do this just because she craved it so desperately, she would do this because he did. Despite all his battling for his self-preservation, he refused to take into account how much he truly needed her. And for the first time, Isabella was truly understanding how much that really was.
“Frankly, Jacob,” she said softly, her eyes leading his to glance down the inviting length of her body, “I think it would be such a shame to waste a body like mine, so soft, so eager to know what lovemaking feels like and so responsive to the way you touch it. It would be a crime to waste it on celibacy. Don’t you agree?”
On a distant level, Jacob knew she was trying to manipulate him, but the awareness of it did not make her ploy any less effective. Arousal boiled through him in volcanic punishment, burning him from blood to bones until he was locked and rigid with it.
“You tempt me on purpose without knowing what you are toying with,” he accused tightly, his eyes once again drawn down over the lush curves of the body she had spoken of, the body she was now rubbing ever so lightly against the hard contours of his. “Why would you do such a foolish thing?”
“Perhaps because it’s my destiny to be your undoing, Jacob,” she murmured softly, her fingers reaching up to trace his sensuous mouth with a slow, searching touch. “Or perhaps it’s yours to be mine. I don’t know. All I know is that I want to be with you more than I ever thought I would ever want anything in my life.”
Jacob’s breath came faster, his mouth warming under her exploring touch, his pupils dilating before her eyes. He let go of her, his hands pressing to the door behind her once more. Isabella was aware of his fingers digging into the wood, aware that his internal struggles were not yet over. It touched her that he was so worried for her. It made her want to be with him even more. She knew he’d never treat her lightly, wouldn’t consider being with her a casual act. It radiated from every pore in his body.
“I could never find anything about you light or casual,” Jacob said fiercely, not even realizing in the intensity of the moment that he had actually heard the words in his head, in her voice. “But you are right, I am worried. And believe me when I say it is with good cause. Do you remember the first time I kissed you? Within the span of a quick breath I was out of control. I was acting solely on instinct, the animal in my blood at the surface; the civilized man vanished without even putting up a fight. If Elijah had not interrupted us, I would have been brutal to your body, inconsiderate and unthinking of your innocence. I would have hurt you, only the urge to mate paramount in my thoughts. Isabella, you do not want that. I do not want that for you. You deserve so much more.”
“More? As in the more you were giving me the second time we kissed, in the library?” she asked soothingly. “There was no animal then, Jacob. At least, not in control. The way you touched me, the way you made me feel”—her hands drifted in a slow, purposeful caress down the length of his neck, her eyes trained on the travel of her own fingertips—“and the way you stopped. Those were the acts of a caring and concerned lover.” Her fingers dipped into the hollow at the base of his throat, then slid into the warm, open neck of his shirt. “You were attentive, you made me feel so wanted. Jacob, I want to feel that again.”
“You forget,” he said hoarsely, his eyes falling on her bare shoulder under the gaping collar of her blouse. “You are now revising history.”
“No, Jacob, I’m not. I know what that was… I’m not a fool. I’ve felt that part of you more than at just those times.” She reached to brush tender lips across his jaw and ear as she whispered softly to him. “I feel it in the hunger of your eyes when you look at me. I feel it when your breath draws deep as you take my scent deeply into you. Yes,” she assured him when he stiffened in her hold, “I was aware. I’ve always been aware. I’ve heard every growl of that beast you leash so tightly. I have felt his rough urgency in your elegant hands, his bite in the scrape of your teeth. Jacob, I’ve learned the depths at which that beast lives, and it no longer frightens me. In the library, I never feared you for the beast in you. My only hesitation came from fear of the woman in me, of how to deal with my own inexperience. But then you, fiend that you feel you are, found the way to guide me past that. It was natural, Jacob, and it was right. We were right.”
Jacob swallowed hard past the surge of hope and desire clutching his chest and throat. She was touching his mind on purpose, forcing him to see and feel all the truth in her beliefs. She had such unshakable faith in him and in the way she felt about what was happening between them.
“You do not know the power you have,” he uttered in a voice like rough sandpaper. “You are so beautiful.” He reached to cup her face in his hand. “So soft and so warm.” His fingers fanned out against her skin, sliding silkily over her cheek, chin, and throat. He inhaled through his nose, a long, purposeful breath. “And that. Your scent. It drives me mad.”