Michio reached out and slid his hand into her hair, letting his fingers run through the long strands. “I'd forgotten how lush your hair is.”
The intimate gesture surprised her. “Unruly. That’s why I keep it up.”
“Talon soldiers never have long hair. You’ll have to hide it under your hat.”
Toemeka reached up to braid it, unsettled by his closeness. She wished he’d stop looking at her with such warmth in those beautiful emerald eyes.
He touched her arm and heat radiated between them. “Leave your hair down for now. I like it that way. Do you remember when I asked about your relationship with Erling and you said you had a special bond with him? What did you mean?” Michio’s voice was husky and seductive.
“We’re close friends.”
“I noticed you have separate bedrooms.”
“You break into my apartment, then check out my sleeping arrangements with Erling. You’re awfully nosy.”
“I only mention it because I want to be certain about your relationship with Erling. You’ve been rather evasive.”
“I’m just not interested.”
“Really?” He drew her to him.
She pushed her hands against his chest. “Don’t.”
“Aren’t you curious? Surely you don’t intend to deny the attraction between us.”
“I don’t deny it. It’s . . . I . . . I just broke up with someone and I don’t want to get involved again until this war is over. As a Coalition agent, my life is in constant danger and I have no control over where I’ll get sent next. Getting emotionally evolved with you would be too hard. We don’t even know if we’ll both survive tonight’s mission.” She stopped, realizing she was babbling.
A stab of sadness pierced her heart. She’d chosen a life that made it difficult to have a committed relationship. Maybe that was why she’d put up with Jake for so long.
“So you’re afraid to explore what’s between us. I didn’t think you were afraid of anything.” His hand burned against her back.
“I’m not afraid. I just don’t think this is a good idea. Can’t we keep this platonic?” Even as she said it she knew it wouldn’t satisfy either of them.
“What I feel for you isn’t friendship.”
“My ex-boyfriend Jake hurt me pretty badly.” Michio’s mouth was inches from hers and his warm breath touched her lips. “He cheated on me.”
“I’m not like Jake.”
“I know and I think that worries me even more. I never had the connection with Jake that I have with you. Getting involved with you would be . . .” she paused and searched for the right word, “. . . risky.”
“Risk is good. It makes you feel alive.” His mouth settled over hers as he pulled her flush against his muscular body. She hesitated a moment, then slid her arms around him and returned his kiss. A man like Michio was rare and she liked the way he kissed. He tasted good, like drinking water from a pure mountain stream. His scent was sandalwood ─ intoxicating. The kiss deepened and intensified. She knew she should hold back, but he was too tempting.
When he finally lifted his head, his eyes were lit with desire. “I didn’t expect such a warm response after your protests. Your kiss reveals a lot.”
“So does yours.” She grinned. “You’re right; risk does make one feel alive.”
“Maybe we’re moving too fast.”
“Do you want to slow down?”
“No. You’re a beautiful woman, Toemeka. Not just physically. You have a loving warmth about you.” Their lips met again. Toemeka let the emotions between them build, confused by the intensity of her response. She trusted him in a way she’d never trusted Jake. The kiss awakened strong feelings within her. His aroused body pressed against hers, and his hands moved sensually along her back and sides. She tightened her arms around his muscular back, liquid fire flowing through her. When he finally released her, she was flushed and overwhelmed by the sensations coursing through her.
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