"Why not?"

"Because it pleases me to do nice things for you. Makes me feel . . . good." As he cupped her elbow and started for cover, she thought she heard him mutter, "For once."

Beneath the boughs of the cherry tree, she asked, "So other than holding your hand and looking adoringly at you, what else does matehood entail?" Any weird mating rituals?

He brushed his knuckles over her cheek. "It means that I will protect you and provide for you. I'll give you anything you've ever wanted. I doona have a career, but I've money to spoil you. I crave to."

His words were brimming with his typical confidence. Yet she sensed an underlying . . . nervousness?

He drew in even closer, again looking like he was going to kiss her. The mere idea sent her awakening into overdrive. Her face flushed, her nipples hardening. She stared at his lips, imagining how they would feel on hers, how they'd taste. Up close, she could see the bottom one had the faintest crease in the middle. She wanted to lick it.


"You've pointed out a lot of pros," she said absently. "So what's the downside?"

Chapter Seventeen

Downside? I canna bed you, even though you dearly need me to.

When Chloe had gone soft with desire in the security room, it'd taken every ounce of Will's self-control not to tup her on the desk. Even now the delectable scent of her arousal filled his senses.

"I've got to control myself with you. If my beast rose, I could hurt you." What would be a teeth-clattering rush for a Lorean female would be bone-crushing for Chloe. "You're verra . . . mortal."

"What would make it rise?"

"If you were in danger. Or if I bedded you. That's why I canna take you today. Even though I think you would receive me."

Her cheeks bloomed with color and her gaze darted away: bingo. He nearly groaned with loss. Why can I no' be right?

Earlier, when Chloe had said she'd been completely committed to sports, he'd grown more convinced that she was innocent. He had wanted to howl with satisfaction that he would be the one to introduce her to lovemaking.

Then he'd reminded himself, You doona make love. Doona even know how to.

Now, as then, misgivings swamped him. His plan to give her release, while remaining detached and in control, seemed impossible.

"I don't understand," she said.

"If I get too excited, it surfaces. It takes me over completely."

"What's that like?"

A crutch. "I'm still there, yet everything feels altered. It's kind of like a drug. Though I'd experience pleasure and I'd remember anything that occurred between us, I would have zero control over its actions."


"It'd want to take you hard, Chloe."

Her breath hitched, but she didn't glance away. In fact, he saw interest in her vivid gaze. That look heated his blood, hardening his cock until it throbbed, waking the beast he warned of.

Will leaned down to say at her ear, "It'd want you on your hands and knees as it fucked you from behind."

She bit her lip, almost quelling a soft whimper.

The sound made his shaft pulse. She was getting aroused by his talk? "Ah, lass, you're needful, are you no'?" The wind began to comb the tree, loosing petals like snowfall.

She didn't seem to notice them. "Yes . . . needful."

He laid his hand on her cheek. It shook as he cupped her face. "You doona know how much I want to pleasure you." This was his mate, and from the scent of her, he'd find her nice and wet. But he was too screwed up to see to her?

His gaze narrowed with realization. His beast should be nigh risen now. It roared inside him; it seethed.

It remained caged.

His Instinct spoke, pinging his mind, jolting his body. . . .

-Your female aches. Tend to her.-

The Instinct was infallible. And it was telling him to touch Chloe. "Do you ache?"

She gazed up at him, nodding helplessly.

"What color are my eyes? Are they blue?"

She shook her head. "Flickering a little."

He knew he couldn't claim her, but mayhap it was possible to tend to her. "If I said I'd ease your ache, would you let me? Just that and nothing more?" He captured her hand, raising her wrist to his lips. A grazing kiss across her rapid pulse-point made her gasp. Then he used her arm to draw her closer, so he could run his lips up her neck.

She sighed, "Yes."

This was probably a bad idea, but at that moment, Chloe couldn't recall a single reason why. If he stopped this, she was fairly certain she'd slide-tackle him.

He didn't stop. His lips were hot on her, scorching a line up her neck.

Excitement drummed through her, her dread completely absent, her senses overloaded. She smelled the rain, the blossoms, his heady scent. How could he possibly smell so good?

When his clever tongue flicked rain from her damp skin, she wondered, Why fight this?

She was as eager as she'd been during her first pro soccer game. She hadn't let anything stand in her way that day, just surrendered completely to the thrill, the adrenaline, the driving need to experience everything.

She would do the same with this. Don't be a coward. See where this path leads you.

So far this path was making her question how she'd been living without MacRieve her entire life.

Not living. Simply existing from one game to the next.

He looped an arm around her, dragging her body tight against his, then gently took her earlobe between his teeth. Her knees went weak.

Just as she wondered if he could feel her nipples pressing against his torso, he murmured at her ear, "If this is how you react to a kiss along your neck, I wonder what will happen when I set my mouth to those pretty nipples."

She gasped, as much from his words as from the burst of lust they caused. She couldn't think. How did one answer a statement like that? Her mind cried: With a kiss!

He read her thoughts, kissing across her cheek, the corner of her lips, then fully on her mouth. When she parted her lips in surprise, still so unused to all this, he took the opportunity to flick his tongue between them.

Her hands flew to his shoulders, squeezing with delight. Those muscles moved sinuously beneath her fingertips, giving her a preview of what she'd see if he removed his shirt.

With his palm tenderly cradling the entire back of her head, he eased his tongue into her mouth, carnally sweeping it against hers. When she moaned, he did it again. And again. He was teasing her to distraction.

But then he drew back, gazing down at her with a look of . . . longing?

"Why'd y-you stop?" If her sex drive had been ramping up for weeks, now it was suddenly exploding.

Why wasn't he making more moves? Shouldn't he be trying to feel her boobs or something? Girls in the locker room often described guys with octopus hands.

She wanted MacRieve touching her in eight places at once!

He'd told her he'd ease her ache. She preferred he do it this century. How to initiate this? She struggled for something to say. I need to lick you. No. My hand would be happier in your pants. No!

Maybe he hesitated because he was still afraid of hurting her. "I'm, uh, tougher than I look."

He swallowed audibly. "Ah, my lass, that's good to know."

My lass. In that brogue. Stifled shudder. Near orgasm.

She almost wished she'd been with other guys when she'd had the chance, so she'd know what to do in this situation. There were soccer team fan clubs, guy boosters who made the girls gifts and held parties for them. There'd been some cute ones too. "I've never done anything like this before."

He smiled that bone-melting smile. Wolfish and pleased. "My Chloe's a virgin?"

Her cheeks felt like they were on fire. "Yes. Which means I don't really know the rules of this game."

He grazed the backs of his fingers over her blushing face. "The only rule you need to know is that nothing is out of bounds between us. Nothing."

"Then why are you hesitating?"

"I'm savoring. I've been waiting my whole life-"

She buried her face against his neck, gave his skin a lick.

He bit out, "Verra well, I've savored enough." He grabbed the hem of his shirt, yanking it up and over his head to bare a glorious sight.

Wide shoulders, rock-hard pecs, a drool-worthy eight-pack. Damp, tanned skin. An ink black goody trail disappearing into his jeans.

His bulging jeans. She could see the outline of his thick erection stretching to his right hip.

There'd been pinups in the locker room; this guy made those physique models look like wannabes.

And he desired her. It was stamped on his face, in every line of his magnificent body.

Chloe knew well what it took for a man to have muscles like that, and she wanted to show him how much she appreciated this view of perfection. But she didn't know how.

Luckily, he took charge. He spread his shirt on the clover-covered hill beneath the cherry tree. "Down you go, baby." He easily swooped her up and laid her upon it.

"Can anyone see us?"

He knelt beside her. "I would scent anyone who got close. It's just us." With a pained expression, he adjusted his shaft until it pointed up, the head and a few inches emerging past the waist of his jeans.

She sucked in a breath at the sight, squeezing her thighs together. Her mind momentarily blanked to just one thought: big, too big.

Superhuman? Oh, yeah. The crown was broad and taut, moistened across the slit. Veins swelled just beneath that flaring head. She was desperate to see more, to touch it. To taste it.

She wanted to twirl her tongue around it like a candy cane.

"Off with this." He pulled her shirt from her, tossing it away. "I'm hankering to see those breasts of yours."

She arched her back when he reached for her bra clasp.

Once he'd bared her, he stared with such hunger that her breasts seemed to swell for him, aching for his big rough hands to cover them. At the thought, she whimpered, thrusting them out.

He bit out something in Gaelic that sounded like a curse. His shaft pulsed, more moisture beading the head. Voice hoarse, he said, "You're a vision, love."

She got the impression that he was making an effort to remember to talk to her. What did he usually do in these kinds of situations? Again, she sensed that he was nervous, as if he was trying to remember a thousand things as he went about this.

He peeled her damp jeans off her, lifting her to tug them past her ass, leaving her in black lace panties.

More staring.

"Am I . . ."-she swallowed-"am I what you were hoping for? After all this time?"

His brows were drawn tight. He had to clear his throat before he could say, "Much more than that. And my hopes were sky-fucking-high." His gaze was so fixed on her straining nipples, she could almost feel it. She wanted to ask him to lick her there, to suck on her.

"Is this, um, different from what you normally do with women?" She might've expected a shade more . . . smoothness.

"Verra different. You could say night and day." Then he tensed. "Why would you ask that? You doona like how I am with you?" So much was going on behind his closed expression, but she couldn't decipher any of it.

"You seem a little nervous."

His tension eased. "I've only one day to convince you to stay, remember?"

"That so?" She impatiently arched her back. "The game clock's ticking, MacRieve."

With a groan, he straddled his arms on either side of her waist and lowered his head. He pressed kisses over the mounds of her breasts, circling licks up to her stiff nipples.

Her breaths shallowed. This was so much better than dreams! When his tongue finally dragged over one nipple, she cried out, shivering with bliss. She laced her fingers through his hair, tugging his head closer, earning a harsh growl around a peak.

Yet when his hand slipped into her panties, she tensed. Not because she didn't want his touch-her body was screaming for it-but because this was unfamiliar to her.

"Relax, baby." He nuzzled one breast. "I will no' hurt you." He petted the hair down there. "Have you ever had a man kiss you here . . . ?"

Chapter Eighteen

No. Am I about to?" Chloe asked, her eyes flashing with excitement.

"Oh, aye," Will said, nipping at her breast. With her head slightly raised against the hill's slope, she could look down at him, seeing everything. "I'm goin' tae lick you between your pretty thighs till you scream for me."

His hand shook in her tiny panties as he inched his fingers lower. My mate, just before me, my mouth at her breasts. Lower. Will could scarcely believe it. Lower. The afternoon had taken on a dreamlike quality.

His fingers discovered plump, wet folds. Her cunny was weeping for him. "Gods almighty, woman." He cupped her possessively. Wetness soaked his hand, making his cock pulse. Pre-cum gathered on the head, drawing her heavy-lidded gaze.

As he began to fondle her, she moaned, her eyes locked on his shaft. "Ah, lass, you're looking at my cock like you want tae give it a suck."

Another blush answered him. She bloody did! He shuddered to imagine her reddened lips wrapped around his length.

Control! Must keep control. . . . For her, he could do this. In the future, they'd figure out something; for now, he just wanted to pleasure her. To have this afternoon between them. "I would dearly love tae feel that! And soon I'll let you have your fill of it. But my beast and I are dancing the razor's edge today."

"You're not getting undressed?"

Keep the beast in check. "I canna get too carried away, love." He hooked his forefingers under the sides of her panties, tugging them down . . . revealing a trim thatch of tawny curls that made his mouth water.

When he had her completely unclothed, he gazed with disbelief. Had he called her cute?

Try exquisite.

Her skin was smooth and golden, a fascinating shade against her unusual multicolored eyes and sun-streaked hair. Falling cherry blossoms kissed her flat belly, her breasts, her lips.

She sighed, "I can feel them," as her lids slid shut.

He watched in awe as slick, white petals slipped down her body. One hugged the curve of her left breast.

Her right nipple was capped with a fragile petal, white against swollen-with-need red.

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