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- You're bleeding.

I inhaled his words, held them captive in my chest where I heard them reverberate inside my head. Yuri Karamov's whisper resuscitated me back to life. My eyes flew open.

A waft of cold air travel up my shirt as he drew away from me. The place where his lips had once occupied, now belonged to his imprint—a second layer of skin which ached and thawed. A trail of goosebumps made their way down the length of my leg. I shivered.

Yuri was grinning.

How was it possible? How was it possible that time hadn't stopped altogether, that the floor hadn't splintered and swallowed me whole?

My hand came up to my lips. I felt them stretch open beneath my fingers, moving apart like tectonic plates. My voice sounded foreign. Far away, whispered from inside a conch shell.

- I am?

He nodded. His smile was so bright, brighter than the sunlight spilling into the room. I was pulled in like a piece of plastic by his ever so blue irises. I was weak to their ebb, their pull. I washed into him—drowned in the movements of his body. His jeans-clad leg brushed along the length of my inner thigh, his woolly sweater rubbed against my sleeve. Neither of us spoke, yet the room was filled with noise. We shifted, rearranged. His chest pressed up against mine.

Everything came to a standstill except our hearts which beat like an orchestra of dissonant instruments against each other.

Yuri's fingers hovered less than a centimeter from my lower lip. They evoked the stinging to come. I swallowed. His eyes glanced down at my lips before he tilted his head and moved in.

The one prayer ingrained in me: O Lord, have mercy on me a sinner, flashed in neon before my eyes. I wasn't one to pray, at least never with any heartfelt inflection, but then again, my heart had never felt like it was coming apart at the seams before.

I didn't think it was possible for the constricting pain in my chest to worsen. I was wrong. I wasn't prepared for his tongue to dart across my lower lip. I didn't have the time to react. One second he was there, and the next, he was pulling away.

He blanched.

- I'm sorry. He shook his head as if he couldn't believe what he'd just done. A sheepish smile seeped into his expression.

My insides felt gouged out, uprooted, and squashed against the roof of my mouth. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other under my scrutiny. His eyes darted downwards. He was just about to say something when I noticed my hands fist the fabric of his coarse sweater.

My lips crashed into his with a frenzied hunger I had never felt before. If our previous kisses could have been described as timid, lips touching lips, this one was ferocious. Its intensity bordered on pain. Yuri staggered back from the force of my upper body. I wanted him closer, closer than what was physically possible.

The back of his legs hit the chair next to his desk. He jerked in place to steady us. Our lips moved in tandem. It wasn't enough. I wanted to inhale him. I wanted him melting into me. I wanted his skin draped over mine like a fur coat. I opened my mouth.

I wanted...too much.

Aware of the sharp pain shooting through my nose, and face, I was too lost in the overbearing sensation of arousal to do anything to free myself from it. If it meant that I had to stop kissing him, I wasn't sure I wanted to.

I knew something had to give eventually, seeing how tightly strung I was. And something did, only it wasn't what I was expecting. Our teeth collided. Yuri untangled himself from me. Silent laughter rolling off his shoulders. His hand came up to cover his mouth. His face dipped from view.

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