EXCERPT - NELLE

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The change in him came in slow increments. The harsh look he'd pinned me with melted away. He squeezed his eyes shut but when they flashed open, they blazed with lust.

My heart stuttered.

My blood thrummed.

The thing inside of me stirred.

A hot wind, at odds to the storm sweeping in, ruffled his hair, made his cowlick dance across his forehead.

I couldn't hold his intense stare, my gaze dipping to his mouth and that was even worse.

His tongue darted out to wet his lower lip before a flash of sharp white teeth tugged his lip into a mouth curling up at the corners.

I couldn't tear my eyes from his stupidly beautiful mouth, watched as his lips parted as he said, "I think right this moment, you want me to kiss you again." His hand snapped out and ensnared the vulnerable spot around my throat.

"Holy shit, Crowther," I gasped, every nerve-end sparking.

Even if he hadn't fixed me in place there was no way I could have moved away. Wanted to move away.

A rough finger-pad tapped the blade of my collarbone. "I think I'm under your skin and I've been there since we met and you can't get me out of your head. I've taken up residence there. And you want me, little bird. Badly."

For a long moment I could only gape at him, feel his fingers stroking my skin.

Get it together Wychthorn!

I snorted, eyes narrowing, shaking my head from side to side, a deliberate slow movement. "Uh-uh nope."

Shit, he was right though. Fuck it.

He smiled, as if he didn't believe me.

I needed to shove him away. But my body didn't respond. My mind did, my body didn't. It hummed, heat swirling between us.

How could he know that?

"Gods, your ego. I feel nothing for you." Even I was impressed with how coldly I delivered the words.

His laughter rumbled against me. He canted forward, gaze dipping to my mouth. "I can taste your lies. They taste sweet, like honey," he said softly.

His hand cupped my chin, tilting my head upward. My eyes startled wide as his thumb brushed over my lower lip, back and forth in lazy strokes, the roughness of his thumb-pad tugging at my soft lip.

I stopped breathing. What is he doing?

As he slowly traced a line along my jaw, every single insignificant part of me shuddered awake as if I'd been roused from a deep sleep.

He closed the gap, settling into the space between my thighs, his lips so close.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit—

Sage paced back and forth, conflicted between wanting to protect me or to leave me be. Gods, I knew exactly how he felt, I was torn between wanting to push Graysen away or pull him closer.

I can't, I can't, I can't—

I slid my hand between us, pressing my fingertips against his mouth. "Don't," I whispered, leaning back.

I couldn't. I couldn't let him kiss me.

His lips brushed my fingertips widening into a smirk.

"Don't—what?"

"Don't kiss me."

"You want to be kissed."

No.

Yes.

"Not by you."

"Such a liar, little bird."

His tongue darted out licking the tip of my middle-finger. I let out a gasp, instantly wishing I'd bit it back the moment dark intent glittered in his onyx eyes. My reflection in those black eyes mirrored his desire.

I can't want him, he's my enemy!

I moaned, softly, as those lips parted and he sucked my finger into his mouth. "H-holy Hells-gate."

We breathed one another's air, staring at one another. It was too much, his tongue sensually sliding around my finger, my body desperate for more.

My lips parted on a sigh and my eyes fluttered shut.

Anticipation, exhilaration, thrummed through me.

He let my finger free—making a wet popping noise—and I found myself grasping his shoulder tightly, nails digging into his hard muscles. My focus was entirely on his rough hand brushing down my neck, skin prickling in response. Even with my eyes closed, all I could see was his face, black eyes shining with desire. There was nothing but my senses, overwhelmed as my body ignited under the caress, the warmth of his breath kissing my lips, his masculine scent, the whispering sound of fabric as he moved closer, the feel of his hard body leaning into mine.

I gasped, shuddering, as something silky brushed against my jawline—his hair I realised—and he pressed into the sensitive hollow at the base of my throat. It didn't feel like a fingertip. It was his mouth, a lick of his hot, wet tongue.

His words scorched my flesh. "That doesn't feel like nothing to me, little bird."

Cool air swirled between us as he pulled away.

My eyes flashed open, widening to see a smirk of triumph on his face.



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