Putting my post up early since I’ll be out of town. Click on the author links starting Saturday. Have a great weekend! For those of you just checking, I’d love to meet you in Lexington, Kentucky this Saturday for a book signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Check the bottom of my home page for details. Also, check beneath this post for the winner of Shiloh Walker’s book in the Friday book giveaway!
Vic started into wakefulness, surprised to see the gray light of dawn peeking around the blinds in his bedroom. It gratified him that he’d slept for a good majority of the night. The reason for his profound sleep was enfolded snugly in his arms at the moment.
He’d never really had to convince Niall with words to sleep in his bed that night. After they’d finally left her new condominium, exhausted and completely happy from their multiple rounds of phenomenal lovemaking, they’d ducked into a Thai restaurant for dinner. Vic had guessed from Niall’s heavy eyelids after she’d drank a glass of wine and devoured almost her entire portion of chicken pad thai that she wouldn’t be long for the waking world. So he’d suggested they watch a DVD together at his place and sure enough, within forty-five minutes he had an armful of soft, warm, sleeping woman.
Presently he nuzzled the hair at her nape and inhaled her scent. Maybe it was the dampness he found at her neck or maybe it had been the sensation of the tremors that periodically shook her body that had awakened him in the first place. Or perhaps the primitive part of his brain recognized the scent that mixed with the residual fresh, floral scent of Niall’s perfume.
It was the smell of fear.
His fingers skimmed along her neck and back. Sweat soaked through her t-shirt. She moaned in her sleep. The sound pained Vic on some deep, indefinable level.
“Niall. Wake up. Wake up, baby,” he murmured as he stroked her sides and pressed his lips against a flushed cheek. She whimpered, the noise reminding him of a trapped animal, both mournful and panicked at once.
He couldn’t stand it.
She jumped in his arms.
“You were dreaming,” he muttered close to her ear. He continued to rub her body along the length of her thigh to her ribs, attempting to soothe her. She moved restlessly in his arms and finally sat up. For a few seconds she just sat at the edge of his bed as her breathing slowed, her face shadowed by the dim light and her huddled posture. Neither of them spoke when she finally rose and went to the bathroom.
She returned to the bedside hesitantly a minute later. “I’m sorry for waking you,” she said in her low, smoky voice that seemed perfectly suited to the muted, gray light of dawn.
“I slept better last night than I have in weeks. You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” Vic told her when she perched on the edge of his bed. He wanted to reach out and pull her back into his arms. He wanted to keep her safe from whatever plagued her dreams. But something in her tense posture made him wary about touching her.
“Maybe I should just go,” she whispered.
He saw her head fall forward, sensed her uncertainty…her vulnerability.
“I’m all sweaty,” she murmured shakily.
“So we’ll take a shower in a little bit,” Vic stated with more ease than he actually felt. His jaw clenched when she still didn’t move. This dawn encounter with Niall struck him as heavy…threatening even, although why that should be he couldn’t say. The eerie mist of dreams must be clinging to him as well.
“I’m leaving for Manhattan later today,” he heard her whisper.
“You told me that you’re not taking off until four o’clock. There’s plenty of time. Niall?”
“Come here,” he said softly.
It was only after she’d slid back into bed and was fast in his arms that he finally exhaled the burning air in his lungs.
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