Before I could exhale, releasing the end of my self-conditioning ritual, Kiona’s luscious, thick lips pressed firmly against mine, and every last ounce of restraint I had collapsed out from under me.

Chapter 16


Cole’s warm lips were suddenly magnetic to the touch – I didn’t want to keep mine off of them. There was a crushing need in the way that he reciprocated my kiss, and I leaned forwards and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. He pulled back just a sliver, but I crossed the distance, kissing him again openly, passionately. The energy between us was just too addictive. I had felt it with a light brush, here and there – whether he touched me or I, him – and my lips were lightning rods to his awesome, crackling power.

Then he held my cheeks in his palms, pushing back onto mine until our lips couldn’t stand the thought of parting.

I honestly don’t know what came over me. It didn’t have anything to do with the money – despite chasing opportunities, I wasn’t that kind of woman, and life would have been hell of a lot easier if I’d just slept my way into the right industries for the cash.

Maybe it was the wine, but it just felt right. I could pretend to love him, but the passion I saw in his eyes was more than pretend. I found myself more receptive to him. Sure, in a few weeks all of this would be over, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun…

It was more than that, though. There had been sadness in his eyes when he spoke. He might not have even known it was there. But the way he looked when he discussed everything – it was the same look that he had in the car. He was hiding something important – like an open wound, or some great burden on his shoulders.

And as soon as I understood that, as it clicked together while he spoke to me, the compulsion to make everything better filled me. We’re both broken people, but maybe together, we could be something more.

We soon smiled into our kisses, aware of the divider between us, but before he could pull away I pressed my lips against his again. We crossed around the edge of the counter, suddenly enveloping ourselves in one another more properly.

Without the barrier, we pressed together, our lips eagerly, desperately closing the distance. Cole dug his needful fingers into my meticulously straightened hair, his palms sliding up against my cheekbones and engulfing my temples. I tugged at his bottom lip with my teeth gently, inviting more of him into my mouth. His tongue snaked in, sliding against mine. I clenched into the back of his head, as we tasted of each other.


As stoic and emotionless as Cole Andrews had been, despite some small smiles and a laugh here or there, it was reassuring to feel the pressure of his need against my leg. That was when it was finally confirmed to me that there was flesh and blood, sinews full of vitality and need, connecting this impenetrable man of stone.

“I should…we can’t…” He murmured incoherently.

I smiled into our kissing. “We can…”

“You don’t have to do this…”

“It’s okay…”

He opened his eyes, staring deep into my soul with the aches of cautious, barely restrained pleasure. I nodded, slipping my tongue against his again, quietly gasping with pleasure as his teeth held it in place and tugged lightly.

I became aware now that we were moving across the penthouse, although I couldn’t grasp my bearings of where. All that mattered was the powerful energy between us – and how much I craved the might of his touch.

There’s no telling how much time passed, but I was soon tossed down to the most comfortable bed I’ve ever touched – a large, majestic king mattress, wrapped in luxurious bedding in a dim, spacious bedroom. At our presence, the lighting slowly adjusted to a warm, soothing level, shrouding us in enough light to see but enough darkness to conceal. Within that darkness, our passion intensified – as if our crushing need swelled to fill the shadows.

Cole was kneeling beside me on the bed – I was ripping at his belt, eager to withdraw the massive weapon inside. He pushed me back down into the mass of pillows and took over, lifting my dress when I tried to bounce back up. He helped me out of it, casting it to the other side of the bed as he descended upon my body, peppering my skin with his lips.

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