Ch. 21 A New Deal

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***Russell***

Russell's cracking wall finally crumbled. He owed it to her to accept the deal. Not because of money lost on the coupon or because he had booked a hotel in the volcano park, but because she deserved his honesty. And he honestly wanted to spend this night wrapping her in his arms, moving her body against his and pretending the emptiness inside him could disappear by sharing this fabricated world. If one night was what she wanted——that was what he would give her. He could not resist any longer.

"This is the deal you propose? You want all of me for one night?" Without waiting for her answer, he reached for her, drawing her face near to kiss those moist lips. The kiss was hesitant at first, but grew in strength and urgency as her hands sought his neck and shoulders. Desire to take her surged through him.

"Yes," she whispered.

He pulled her flush against his body, her breasts soft on his chest. He picked her up to change positions and place her back to the boulder. Her legs straddled his some, but it was not enough. He lifted one thigh up to hook it around his leg, holding her captive. Kissing first her neck and then lower on her collarbones, nibbling and sucking lightly so as to not mar her perfect pearl skin, then down to graze her breasts.

Heat rose through his body, clouding his mind and making it impossible to think. Somewhere a voice was telling him that this was too risky, on many levels; at least he should take her to some place private. But the blood burning through his veins drowned out all reason.

Keeping her leg on his, he pressed his hips between her open thighs. Her jean skirt was hiked high around her waist. He cupped her breasts through the bra, bringing the peaked nipples in their lacy confines to his searching mouth. This elicited a moan from her throat and she ground her hips through the layers of cotton that separated their bodies.

Too many layers, Russell thought. Beth must have had the same thought; her fingers were working the buttons on his shirt, undoing them as fast as her trembling digits allowed. He yanked it off and positioned it on the rough stone behind her. Beth ran her fingers over his chest, thrilling every nerve ending. Under his lips, her mouth tasted of mint from her tea and although he knew she had not had any, he could have sworn there was rum and sugar on her tongue. He searched for it, kissing her deeper while fumbling with the belt to his shorts. He finally freed himself from his pants and he drew Beth closer. His body had a mind of its own, finding her tender mound through her cotton panties to press and rub lightly.

"More, Russell," Beth breathed, her hands on his back, in his hair, gripping his shoulders.

He could feel moisture seeping through her panties and he fought to gain control over his body. He wanted nothing more than to rip off her panties, spread her legs a little wider and take her that very second. With a shaking breath, he held his animal instincts in check.

There were still too much clothing separating them. He wanted to see her naked, bare to the moonlight and his eyes. He tugged her open shirt from her shoulders and undid the bra clasp, before pulling her skirt off from where it was bunched above her hips. He froze. Beth took in a sharp breath when she realized he had stopped touching her and was staring.

***Beth***

At that instant, she knew she had been mistaken about Russell's arousal. He stood stock still, simply staring at her exposed breasts and belly lit only by the rising moon. For several heartbeats, the only sound was her ragged breathing and the rhythmic crash of waves on the rocks and sand nearby.

He didn't want her after all. Something about her must be repulsive to him; he was going to reject her again. She opened her mouth to tell him to forget it, she would book a hotel room alone, but his finger on her lips silenced her. She watched, transfixed as he raised his other hand and traced swirling lines across her chest and her heavy breasts. The circling tightened around her puckered nipple and she arched backwards, silently pleading for more. He dipped his head forward for a taste; teeth biting gently, lips caressing and tongue rasping on her inflamed skin. An electric shot whipped through her body to her core, its heat scorching her.

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