Chapter 34

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He slid his hand across my ribcage, trailing over satin and down my back

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He slid his hand across my ribcage, trailing over satin and down my back. His eyes lit with control, or desire. It was like all his hard work in the night had been worth it, because now he could claim his prize.

"Won't it hurt you?" I asked. "Your chest?"

"Believe it or not, Kimber, I won't be making love to you with my chest."

I didn't have a second to pore over his choice of words, of what they could mean, before he cupped my ass with his hand. I let out a small gasp, smiling a little in surprise, or maybe satisfaction.

"You're so beautiful," Tommy whispered. "Has anyone told you how beautiful you are?"

My eyelids fluttered. "Nobody who mattered. Until now."

I trembled a little as I leaned into him. I still wasn't sure how things had come to this — at what point I'd gone from despising this man, from wanting him dead and to deliver his head to my father myself, to wanting him to claim me completely. It was like being away from Tommy caused me physical pain. A strange aching sensation in my gut. And now he was here, I wanted nothing more than to be close to him. No matter how my skin moulded against his own, how tightly he held me and pulled me to him, it wasn't enough to satisfy the aching.

He lifted my chin and peered into my eyes. For once, I didn't rush to conceal my thoughts. I let him in completely. His own were just as unguarded. For the first time, I saw every emotion in his gaze. Worry. Fear. Vulnerability. Steel. Passion. And something gentler, something so tender it was as though my mind washed over it, unable to comprehend it.

He tilted his head, closing his eyes and leaning in to kiss me. His lips were warm and soft against my own, a small groan escaping my lips as I tasted him once more. Somehow he seemed to get sweeter each time, still whiskey and cigarettes, but also brandy snaps and Irish cream. It was dizzying, roaring in my ears.

He murmured my name in my ear. "You have no idea how badly I want you."

"I'm yours," was all I said.

"You're behaving for once." He slipped the strap of my dress down my arm and kissed my bare shoulder. "Good girl."

"Don't tempt me Shelby," I tried to say, but it ended in a soft gasp as he worked his lips up my neck, gently biting the softest spot.

With a low, possessive growl, he slipped my dress down to my ribs, exposing my breasts completely. But I was greedy, no longer content to just receive. I acted on my desperate need to run my own hands across him — the thick muscles of his arms, his abdomen, his chest. I was careful not to touch his gunshot wound. I traced the tattoo on his chest with my index finger, surprised when his skin quivered beneath my touch. I trailed my fingers instinctively downward, coming to a hesitant stop at the waistband of his underwear.

Tommy's eyes rolled back in his head.

"Do you like this?" I asked softly.

I considered it a testament to my ability when all he could do was nod in response. My confidence flickered and grew. I tried not to overthink. I acted on pure impulse, responding to his reactions.

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