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Sela blinked and stared. That tone had never come out of Marcus Hughes's mouth before. She'd warned Tyler about his possessive streak. She meant overprotective, but with that thought, suddenly she understood. She grinned slowly and held out her arm. "Pinch me."
"Pinch me, I said. I'm making sure I'm awake."
Marcus peered at her for a long moment before he obliged her request, none too gently. "You gonna let me in on the masochism craze?"
Sela grinned wider. "Maybe when I'm finished basking."
"All right, all right." She tried to stifle her grin as she stepped around the remaining equipment and brushed past him, heading for the bed. "I'm just enjoying your jealous streak."
"Jealous?" He snorted. "You've got things all mixed up."
"Do I? You're awfully defensive for a guy who doesn't care. And what about all the protest over my cover story idea? You sure didn't wait to brag about your wife to Tyler."
"Establishing," Marcus argued gruffly. "Establishing our relationship, not bragging. I don't brag."
"But you do get grabby." Sela sat, still amused. "Not that I mind. You know I like your hands on me."
Not exactly a fair tactic, she admitted to herself, but she meant it. The unplanned reunion with Tyler had shattered his usual stoic front. If she didn't act now, when he hadn't put it back together, she might not get another chance. They were both adults, consenting and unattached. Skirting around the attraction simmering between them just frustrated her. Distracted her, and with Tyler here, more than ever, she admired the view.
Marcus liked things tidy. He liked to make an impression when he entered aroom. He didn't want to be seen as just another thug who happened to leave the streets behind. He had to be proud of his body--he'd turned it into to a powerful machine--but he didn't rely on muscles. He didn't go for casual, jeans and t-shirts. He wore slacks with creases down the front and polo shirts, even when he relaxed. He could dress down, and did for jobs, but the real Marcus Hughes was a class act.
God, she had it bad.
"You're staring." He bent over the camera again.
"I'm waiting for you to argue." Sela stretched out on her side, one hand propping up her head. "Tell me to stop or something."
The corner of his mouth quirked up faintly. "Would you listen?"
"That's not the point." She smoothed the other hand absently over the patterned bedspread. "You're changing up the rules if you don't argue with me."
Now he looked at her. His gaze wandered, taking in every inch of her from head to painted toenails and back. He cocked an eyebrow. "I thought that was what you wanted. Changing things up. My hands on you."
Marcus Hughes didn't tease. Sela wasn't sure he knew the meaning of the word. Moments like this, when he acknowledged what they felt and said, didn't come often. She pushed up on her elbow. "You know I do."
It got hard to breathe when Marcus moved. Not away like normal, putting distance between them so he could build up his defenses again. Not this time. He moved toward her, crossing to the bed in three long strides. He put a knee down, making the mattress tilt, and Sela scrambled to keep her eyes on him. She rolled forward, catching her weight on her free hand. They were so close now. Her pulse hiccoughed in her throat.
He reached over her, bracing his hands on either side. His shirt skimmed her shoulder, a feather-light caress that sent shivers racing down her spine. He'd undone the top couple of buttons on his shirt, revealing a dark patch of smooth skin. Her fingers itched to touch it.
"We go here, there's no turning back," he rumbled. "Can't undo it. That's not who I am."
Sela laughed, mostly breath and little sound. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
"Nah. Just saying." Then he kissed her, and the technicalities between warning and statement didn't matter anymore.
She didn't mean to make that soft, needy sound of relief when their lips touched. As with all of the kisses they'd shared, this one started gentle, testing, like somehow they might get it wrong. Caution faded before the heat that followed. Sela licked his bottom lip and Marcus took advantage of the opening, thrusting his tongue deep to claim her mouth. Owned. Possessed.
She wound her arms around his neck and rolled to her back, not willing to let go, not wanting him to pull away. He moved with her, shifted his weight so that he ended up braced over her. His arms didn't tremble. He felt rock solid and steady while she thought she might fly apart.
They'd been here before, though, and Sela wanted more. They'd gotten hot and heavy and caught up in one another. Every time, something managed to pull them apart. Not now, not this time. Do something, she willed him. Touch me.
She might as well have spoken the command aloud. Their mouths parted and while Sela gasped for air, Marcus shifted his weight again. He worked one hand beneath the edge of her shirt and stroked his thumb against her ribs, then slid it to her breast, tracing the outer swell. His fingers left a memory trail of heat in their wake. Her nipples tightened in anticipation, and she caught her bottom lip in her teeth.
But his hand stopped there, his thumb passing back and forth against the same swath of skin.
"Please," she murmured, lifting a hand to brush her fingers in turn over the furrow between his brows. "Don't think, just feel. Let's just be us and see where it goes. You're here, I'm here. I want you and," she lifted her hips, bumping up against the obvious ridge of his erection, "you want me too. Please, Marcus. No turning back. It'll be so good."