Hawke lifted his head, lips swollen and glossy in the candlelight. The intensity in his stare scorched my skin as his gaze caught and held mine. He never looked prouder of himself as his mouth parted and the tip of his tongue glided over his lips. “Honeydew,” he growled. “Just like I said.”
My breath caught, and I shuddered. He didn’t so much move as he prowled up the length of my boneless form. I watched him, unable to look away as the hardness of his body caressed mine, unable to stop the shiver when the rough hairs of his legs tickled sensitive skin.
“Poppy,” he breathed, his lips touching mine. He kissed me, and my skin heated at his flavor, the taste of me and those strangely sharp teeth of his. My senses whirled at the feeling of him settling between my legs, prodding, pressing in just a bit. “Open your eyes.”
They had closed? Yes. They had. I opened them to see that one side of his lips was curved up, but the teasing tilt normally present was gone. He said nothing as he stared down at me, his hips and body still. “What?”
“I want your eyes open,” he said.
He chuckled, and I sucked in a gasp at how the sound felt with him so very close to where I throbbed. “Always so many questions.”
“I think you would be disappointed if I didn’t have any.”
“True,” he murmured, dragging his hand down the length of my neck and then lower. His hand curled around my breast.
“So, why?” I persisted.
“Because I want you to touch me,” he said. “I want you to see what you do to me when you touch me.”
A shiver danced over my skin. “How…how do you want me to touch you?”
“Any way you want, Princess. You can’t do it wrong,” he whispered hoarsely.
Uncurling my fingers from the sheet, I lifted a hand, touching his cheek. His gaze remained latched to mine as I drew my fingers along the curve of his jaw, over his soft lips, and then down his throat. I was still feeling too much for my gift to be remotely functional as I glided the tips of my fingers over his chest. His breaths pushed it against my hand, and I kept exploring, soaking in the feel of the taut, coiled muscles of his lower stomach, and the dusting of hair below his navel and then lower. My fingers brushed silky hardness, and his entire body jerked. I hesitated.
“Please. Don’t stop,” he rasped, jaw clenched as his fingers stilled on my breast. “Dear gods, do not stop.”
I focused on his face as I touched him. There were so many tiny reactions throughout his entire body. His jaw popped, and his lips parted slightly. The lines of his face became sharper, and the tendons in his neck stretched as I curled my hand around him. He kicked his head back, and his large, powerful body trembled. I noted how rapidly his breathing had become as I slid my hand down to where our bodies were almost joined. He gave a full-body shudder then, and I was awed by how much my touch affected him. I tightened my grip, becoming more confident.
“Gods,” he growled.
“Is this okay?”
“Anything you do is more than okay.” His voice had deepened even more. “But especially that. Totally that.”
I laughed softly, and then I did it again, drawing my hand up and down his length. His hips moved then, much like mine had, rolling against my palm, against me. He made a sound, a deep, dark rumble that sent a flush of pleasure through me.
“You see what your touch does to me?” he asked, his hips following my hand.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“It kills me.” His head dropped, and those eyes… They seemed almost luminous as he stared down at me, and then his thick lashes lowered, shielding them from view. “It kills me in a way I don’t think you’ll ever understand.”
My gaze searched his face. “In a…in a good way?”
Hawke’s features softened as he lifted his hand to cup my cheek. “In a way I’ve never felt before.”
He dipped his head, kissing me as he shifted onto his left arm. His hand left my cheek and slid down the length of my body until it was between us. “Are you ready?”
Breath catching, I nodded.
“I want to hear you say it.”
The corners of my lips tugged up. “Yes.”
“Good, because I might have actually died if you weren’t.”
I giggled, surprised by the light sound in such a tense, important moment.
“You think I’m kidding. Little do you know,” he teased, kissing me again before he pushed in just a little bit. He stopped, making that sound again. “Oh, yeah, you’re so ready.”
My entire body flushed and trembled.
Hawke’s gaze lifted to mine once more. “You amaze me.”
“How?” I whispered, confused. I’d done almost nothing while he…he shattered me with the kind of kisses I’d only ever read about.
“You stand before Craven with no fear.” He dragged his lips over mine. “But you blush and shiver when I speak of how slick and wonderful you feel against me.”
I was definitely flushing even more now. “You’re so inappropriate.”
“I’m about to get really inappropriate,” he promised. “But first, it may hurt.”
I knew enough about sex to know that. “I know.”
“Reading dirty books again?”
A flutter started in my stomach and spread. “Possibly.”
He chuckled, but it ended in a groan as he began to move.
There was pressure and a moment when I wasn’t sure how he could go any farther, and then a sudden, sharp sting stole my breath as I squeezed my eyes shut. Fingers digging into his shoulders, I tensed. I knew there’d be some pain, but all the languid warmth turned to chips of ice.
Hawke stilled above me, breathing heavily. “I’m sorry.” His lips touched my nose, the lids of my eyes, my cheeks. “I’m sorry.”
He kissed me again, softly, and then rested his forehead against mine. A shallow breath lifted my chest. That was it. I’d crossed the final, forbidden line. There was no shock of guilt or burst of panic. Truthfully, I’d crossed that line when Hawke had kissed me before knowing who I was, and everything that led to this very moment had slowly erased that barrier until it no longer existed. There’d been no going back since the night at the Red Pearl, and this…this felt too right for it not to be, in some way, destined. I felt like I was supposed to be right here, in this very moment, with Hawke, where it mattered who I was and not what I was. It didn’t matter if the gods found me unworthy because I was worthy of this—of laughter and excitement, of happiness and anticipation, of safety and acceptance, of pleasure and experience, of everything Hawke made me feel. And he was worthy of whatever consequences came from this because this wasn’t just about him. I knew that from the moment I’d asked him to stay.
It was about me.
What I wanted.
I took a deep breath, and the burning lessened. Hawke remained still above me, waiting. Tentatively, I lifted my hips against his. It stung, but not as severely as before. I tried it again. Hawke shuddered, but he didn’t move. Not until my grip on his shoulders loosened, and my breath caught for an entirely different reason. There was a burning friction, but it wasn’t the same. Muscles low in my stomach tightened as a ripple of pleasure skittered through me.
Only then did Hawke move, and he did so carefully, so gently that I felt tears prick my eyes. I closed them as I curled my arms around his neck, letting myself get lost in the madness once more, in the building crescendo of sensations. Some kind of primal instinct took hold, guiding my hips to follow his. We were moving together, the only sound in the room that of my softer sighs and his deeper moans. That exquisite, almost painful coiling sensation returned. My legs lifted of their own accord, curling around his hips. The pressure was building inside me once more, but it was more potent this time.
Hawke worked his arm under my head and curled his hand around my shoulder as the grip of his other hand tightened on my hip. He began to move faster, deeper, his thrusts stronger as he held me in place under him. I held onto him, my mouth blindly finding his as his hand slipped between us. His thumb found that sensitive area, and when his hips churned against mine in tight circles, the tension exploded once more. I cried out as the sensation whipped through me, more intense and biting than before. The release he’d given me earlier somehow felt like nothing compared to this. I was shattering into pieces in the best possible way, and it was only when the last wave seemed to have crested that I became aware of those intense golden eyes fixed to my face as he slipped his hand out from under me. I knew at once he’d been watching the entire time, and a breathy moan left me.
I placed a trembling hand on his cheek. “Hawke,” I whispered, wishing I could put to words what I’d just felt—what I was still feeling.
His features turned stark, and his jaw tensed, and then he…he seemed to lose whatever control he had left. His body pounded against mine, moving us across the bed. Under my hands, his muscles flexed and rolled, and then his head kicked back, and he cried out, shuddering.
He dropped his head to mine, to the sensitive space along the side of my throat. I felt his lips against my thrumming pulse as the roll of his hips slowed. There was a scrape of his teeth that sent a shiver through me, and then the press of his lips.
I didn’t know how long we stayed like that, our damp skin cooling, and our breathing slowing as I threaded my fingers through his hair. His muscles had relaxed, and his weight was on his elbows, but I slowly became aware of the tension in his body. It was the gift, slowly poking through my heady emotions.
Hawke’s lips grazed my cheek and then found mine. He kissed me softly, sweetly. “Don’t forget this.”
I touched his jaw. “I don’t think I ever could.”
“Promise me,” he said, seeming to not hear me as he lifted his head. His gaze snagged with mine. “Promise me you won’t forget this, Poppy. That no matter what happens tomorrow, the next day, next week, you won’t forget this—forget that this was real.”