She and Cadeon just didn't fit. She wasn't from his world and made no secret that she had no interest in joining it....
"Our papers were well received," Tim said. "Very much so. I just wish you could be here."
Holly experienced a flare of annoyance that he'd enjoyed all the accolades. She was the stronger mathematician, and they both knew it.
She stilled. Where had that come from? She'd never felt so tetchy with him before. Here was yet another example of her transitioning into something she'd rather not be.
"I miss you," he said, making her feel even guiltier for getting irritated.
"I miss you, too," she said. At her words, Cadeon sat, then immediately stood, pacing again.
"Are you still working on your code?" Tim asked. "I didn't see anything uploaded." They shared an online account to backup their work and religiously uploaded every night.
"I'm starting back first thing tomorrow."
"The sooner you get it done - "
"I know, I know. The sooner I'm a doc." He was always so incredibly supportive, pushing her to reach her dreams.
In a lower voice, he said, "I can't wait to see you again, sweetheart."
Sweetheart. Why had she never noticed before that Tim often called her that endearment? "I know. I can't wait either."
Cade slammed into the bathroom, exiting short moments later looking like he'd splashed his face with water. "Hang up," he bit out before she could mute the phone.
"Who was that?" Tim said.
"A...cousin of mine."
"I didn't know you had any cousins."
"Me neither, not until recently. Finding branches of my family that I'd had no idea about." When Cadeon began striding toward her, she hurriedly said, "But I have to go now. Call you later?"
"Yes, of course. Be safe - "
Cadeon snatched the phone from her, braving her outraged slaps. "Holly's kissing cousin here," he said. "Sorry, Todd, the chit's going to have to ring you back in a week or two."
When he hung up on Tim, she snapped, "How dare you! All you're supposed to do is keep me safe - that's what you're getting paid for. Explain to me what kind of danger there was in talking to him!"
"No danger," he said, looming over her until they were toe to toe.
They were both breathing heavily. He was so imposing, seeming to take up the very air she needed, making it hard to concentrate.
"Maybe I've watched the two of you together enough to know you'd be throwing away all your passion on him."
"That's not your place to say! Nïx told me you've been hired to transport me to the sorcerer - nothing more, and nothing less."
He looped his arm around her waist, holding her even when she beat her fists against his rock-hard chest. "That might be true, but it doesn't mean I can't let you know when you're making a mistake."
"Fine. Your opinion is noted," she said, keeping up her fruitless efforts to get away. "Now let me go!"
"I don't think you're getting the picture. Maybe I need to demonstrate what it's supposed to be like with a male."
Before she could react, he'd cupped her face and bent down, slanting his mouth over hers. The heat of his lips sent shivers radiating through her, stunning her. She was too shocked to move, to breathe....
His tongue teased between her lips, coaxing her to open her mouth and accept his kiss. The sensations were unfamiliar, pleasing.
After a moment, she...did.
He used his tongue to stroke against hers so sensuously, quelling her need to get free. She found her fists loosening, her palms resting docilely on his chest.
Holly never would have suspected the rough mercenary's kiss would be so erotic, so languid and hot. She couldn't stop herself from giving a tentative kiss back. He groaned against her mouth, so she did it again, getting caught up.
When she squeezed the muscles of his chest in fascination, he pressed her back against the wall with his body. Deepening the kiss, he effortlessly stoked her arousal to a fever pitch.
He broke away, but only to trail his lips along her neck. "That's it, pet," he rasped with a lick against her skin. "Let me kiss you. I'll do it till your toes curl."
They already were. And her ni**les throbbed. She felt herself growing wet between her legs, aching to be touched there -
Without warning, he spread the top of her robe wide to her waist, revealing the black cami she wore. When he brazenly pinched her ni**les through the silk, she nearly came out of her skin, jerking with a cry that turned to another moan.
"Silk's the only thing that should ever cover br**sts this beautiful." His palms settled around her sides, his thumbs lazily brushing over her hardening ni**les again and again until she was arching to his touch. She bit her bottom lip hard, struggling to keep from moaning.
"Sensitive halfling. I could make you come so quick. Do you want me to?" he asked, settling back into the kiss. As he licked her tongue so wickedly, she realized she did. So much.
Too fast...losing control. She couldn't stop kissing him. Oh, God, I'm losing it. Why couldn't she stop kissing him?
Already, she battled overwhelming impulses to sink her claws into his body, to force him closer so he couldn't get away from her.
She was about to tell him that he could do anything he wanted when he pressed his erection against her, slowly thrusting.
Even as the rational side of her brain was reasoning that his size simply couldn't be right, the other side of her mind was filled with disturbing images.
She saw herself tearing off his jeans to get to the swollen shaft he rocked against her. Then, when he was lying back on the bed, she'd guide his erection inside her body, impaling herself on it as she squeezed the rippling muscles of his chest....
When her hands dropped, claws poised to rip off his jeans, fear coursed through her. These urges weren't her own. Her eyes went wide and she broke away, shoving at his shoulders. "Stop...no!"
He pulled back, his chest heaving, his horns straightening. He looked dangerous and wicked and tempting.
"I figured you'd stop me." His lips curled in a smile that robbed her of breath. "But I got further than I thought I would."
Flinging herself away from him, she demanded, "What is this?" Her thoughts were scrambled, her body screaming for relief. "Why would you want to get far with me at all? What is the purpose?"
"I made a run at you."
She yanked her robe closed up to her neck. "A run? Why? Because you wanted to teach me a lesson, or because you're attracted to me?"