“That’s all good, but I need a damn break,” I said and rested my cheek against Claudius’s chest. The steady, rhythmic beating of his heart was comforting in ways I wouldn’t have imagined possible.
“We all do,” he admitted. “I promise you that as soon as this shit is over, we’ll have our own getaway.”
“I can’t leave Falls Creek. It’s—”
“Just a location, Red. You can always come back to it, but you’re overdue for a change. When was the last time you left this town?”
The reality hit me and saddened me at the same time. “I’ve never left it.”
“What?” Claudius leaned away and looked down at me. “How is that possible?”
“I had no reason to leave,” I said, meeting his gaze. “If it weren’t for the situation with the founding families, I would still be on that damned island.”
The incubus made a face. “Then it’s settled. You’re getting out of this town even if I have to throw you over my shoulder to do it. The world has changed, Red. You should see it.”
Sadly, he was right. More than right. Regardless, there was something I needed a lot more than a sightseeing tour. I ran my hand over his chiseled chest, feeling his thick muscles. Shame and desire mingled hot in my throat, nearly rendering me speechless.
In a raspy voice—sounding more like a folk singer with a two-pack-a-day habit—I choked out, “Fine. We’ll go away, but that’s in the future. There’s something you can do for me now.”
Claudius looked down at me with a smile playing about his kissable lips. “And what’s that?”
“Make love to me.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” he said as he lifted me into his arms. “Upstairs?”
The incubus couldn’t climb the steps fast enough for me. Once he reached the second level, he stood in the hall looking from door to door as if he couldn’t decide where to go.
“Your room,” I panted. “Hurry.”
Without further delay, Claudius raced the short distance and barreled into the room. We fell onto the bed as his lips claimed mine. It was a warm and welcoming kiss that was so much appreciated. The incubus made me feel alive in ways that I hadn’t in years. Reality picked a perfect time to mess with my mind.
Suddenly, I pushed him off me and sat up.
“What’s wrong, Red?”
What was wrong with me? I broke off a kiss for what? Contemplation? Worry? It wasn’t Mariah troubling me for a change. I swallowed hard as I attempted to comprehend what was happening with me.
With us—Claudius and me.
His fingers slid down to my wrist and delicately traced the blue-green veins. “Talk to me, Elsbeth.”
“I don’t know. One minute I was…” My eyes flashed to meet his, but my vision blurred. “No one has ever made me feel the way you have.”
His lips moved into a smile. “No one? Not even…”
“Definitely not him nor your father.” I reached up and caressed Claudius’s cheek. “What does this mean?”
For once, I was fucking lost and afraid. I’d made the mistake years earlier thinking that Obadiah Winthrop loved me. I couldn’t let my heart care for someone else if it meant nothing. If I meant nothing to the male beside me.
Claudius turned his head and kissed my palm. “It means…” He kissed my wrist. “Whatever you want it to mean, Red.” He continued placing kisses until he reached my neck, which he nuzzled, sending a delicious shudder through me. “Do you really want to discuss this now?”
“No.” I cupped his face between my hands and captured his lips.
There’d be no end that time. I kissed, sucked, and nibbled at him like a woman who’d been denied the privilege for a thousand years. I stopped worrying about the pending war. I didn’t care about what the next day might bring. All I cared about was being in Claudius’s strong and capable arms.
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