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Books: Volume Eight
“Heard Inez made some cobbler,” Carlos said casually. “Got my eye on it before the young bucks dog it.”
Damali hesitated and eyed both men. “Inez and Mike are washing dishes in the kitchen,” she said with emphasis. “Besides, how can you still be packing your gut like that after all you ate at dinner?” She laughed and shook her head.
Carlos smiled and glanced at Jose, whose expression remain unreadable. He took a deep breath as though considering how to circle back around to attempt the diversion again when Damali didn’t move off the porch step.
“I didn’t say I was going to eat it right now,” Carlos teased, standing with a long stretch. “I’m just setting up a perimeter to protect my section in the pan, is all a brother is trying to say. You know how greedy they are, D. So, you can be slow if you wanna, but I’m taking up a post in the dining room at the Bid Whist table—feel me?”
Damali laughed. “Yeah, okay, brother. Just so long as you don’t go busting into the kitchen unannounced.”
“Hey, I’m smooth” he said opening his arms wide.
“Yeah, right, and I suppose my job is to watch you to make sure that five minutes into the game, you don’t come strolling back out of the house with a plate.”
“I wouldn’t dawg Mike like that.”
Damali put her hands on her hips. “Keep your voice down. You are soooo—oh!” She shook her head. “And don’t you be teasing Inez, either, with your signifying self.” She pointed at him and then towards Jose. “Both of y’all ain’t nothing but the devil, and you know she’s all sensitive. All right?”
“Girl, please. I ain’t in that man’s business, if he’s in there trying to rap. Marlene’s gonna squash any attempt any ole way. Been there,” Carlos added with a wink. “I won’t say nothin’ to Inez, but I might have to casually remind Mike how he did me—”
“Don’t you dare,” Damali said, laughing hard. “You’ll get your ass kicked if you mess with Mike. Big brother is a little edgy, if you haven’t noticed.”
Carlos sighed, a broad smile remaining on his face as he closed his eyes. “I remember… all battle amped, feining, and Mike put a shoulder cannon in my face.” He opened his arms wide again. “It’s a man thing, baby—wasn’t just ‘cause I had a little vamp in me. But, truth be tol’, right though here, Mike is showing signs of going werewolf on your girl. Hombre’s practically got hair growing on the backs of his knuckles, but that ain’t my business.”
“Shut up, man, and leave my big brother alone,” Damali said laughing.
She made a quick lunge for Carlos that sent him jogging out of her reach, and laughed harder when she made another grab for him but he did a zigzag move that left her grasping air.
“Oh, so it’s like that, huh?”
“I’m so smooth I can get into that kitchen, get a plate, and be out without nobody seeing me. Just like you can’t catch me now.” He gave her a sly grin as they squared off, and each time one of her muscles tensed for a sudden burst toward him, he spun just out of her reach, making them both laugh.
“I’m watching you,” she said, pointing at him. “Say one word in there to either one of them, and it’s on.”
Carlos shrugged, baiting her with a smile as he nimbly passed Jose and bound up the steps. “Later, holmes. Every man for himself.”
“Go for what you know,” Jose said without smiling, feeling relief wash over him as Damali let her breath out hard and took the steps behind Carlos two at a time.
Now the wait.
It had been real cool of Carlos to divert Damali like he had, but it still stung watching them play like that. Although he couldn’t deny that this was the way things were supposed to be, the wait for Juanita to finally remember only made it worse.
Jose glanced at the house and then stared out into the darkness beyond the border of porch lights. He knew how it would go. A few minutes of awkward silence would fall between the two female combatants as they passed each other, then they would turn their attention in opposite directions to anyone near them—as long as they weren’t in sight range of the other female they couldn’t stand. The whole thing was ridiculous, although he understood it too well.
He closed his eyes, raking his hair back. A few times Damali and Juanita had silently squared off when neither woman would give ground to pass each other within the tight confines of the house. Marlene had to step between them and act like she needed one or the other for something to break it up. The tension was too thick.
It didn’t matter if it was a seat near Carlos, which is why the brother had taken to eating standing up on the porch, it was so bad. Or when moving through the house to pass each other, the entire team held its collective breath in hopes that neither woman would accidentally bump the other. The bullshit was a powder keg. Something as seemingly innocent as reaching for a TV remote, changing a CD on the stereo, or the slightest comment or movement was potentially volatile. He hated living like this.
What was worse was living here, of all places, knowing that Juanita’s memory hadn’t fully returned the way the elders had promised. His had. Marlene said be patient, he was the one tied to this house and this land, so naturally the vibration would affect him first. Yeah, it was logical, and Mar’s metaphysical explanations made sense… but it still didn’t take the edge off. Months of waiting for Juanita to see him was wearing him out.
Jose leaned forward on his knees and sighed hard. To his utter surprise, Juanita came out of the house within minutes. Her expression was easy and her eyes gentle, as she plopped down beside him on the step with a smile.
“Where’s Rider?’ she asked in a cheerful tone.
Suspicious that her mood was so dramatically different, he hesitated and looked off in the distance. She never came out of the house smiling after passing Damali and Carlos. What was up with that?
“You know how Rider is right now,” Jose finally said in a quiet voice without looking at her. He kept his eyes on the darkness. “He took a solo walk with a cigarette and a new bottle… and a gun.” Jose glanced at Juanita. “I keep waiting to hear the shot.”
Her smile faded as her eyes strained to see beyond the porch lights into the darkness. “He went out there by himself, and you let him?”
“Yeah. The man’s got a death wish and isn’t afraid of getting nicked any more. But you know how Rider is when he gets his mind made up—no arguing with him, so I’m here on point. Got his back. He just needs some space to work it out.”
“We should go find him,” she urged, standing.
“He’s all right,” Jose said, his tone distant and his gaze unwavering on the darkened terrain. “He’s about fifty feet out beyond the lights, lying down by a tree, sleeping it off right now. I’ll go get him before I go back inside.”
She stared at him, incredulous, but didn’t sit. “How in the world do you know all of that?”
Jose smiled, pride beginning to ease its way through his system. “Low scent of alcohol, near ground level, means he sat down and opened the bottle. Dinner scent is in it, too, so I know it’s not just the opened bottle that’s sitting low. No more cigarette smoke, but no brush fire, means he’s probably asleep. No blood or entrails carnage scent means he’s alive.”
She sat down slowly, eyes wide as she stared at him. “Wow…”
Although she’d been in classes for what felt like a long time, still, seeing any of the senior Guardians display their talent was amazing. They each did it so subtly with such casual grace that it seemed as effortless as breathing. Jose’s explanation had been nonchalant, as though normal people could make those types of assessments every day. But to her mind, the way the more senior team members used their gifts, most times without even being aware that they were doing so, was much like watching a person absently tapping their foot, or a nervous habit like chewing on the end of a pencil deep in thought.
Satisfied with Jose’s answer, they sat on the steps enjoying the blanket of quiet that had fallen over them. Crickets and small night sounds blended in with the bursts of noise and laughter coming from the house. Oddly, that was soothing. As long as people were in good spirits, it meant danger was far off. Happy voices filtering through the screens provided the necessary sense of security she needed. She was well aware that, if something crazy was lurking, the seniors would be on it. She was glad to be outside with one of them.
Juanita’s gaze traveled as she lost herself in calming thoughts. Bugs and moths fluttered near the lights. The quiet between her and Jose wasn’t strained tonight. That was good. It allowed her to think without the ever-present, defensive mental wall around her emotions. Without that barricade it was easier to remember… and she so wanted to remember for his sake and hers.
But up to this point, her memory was more like watching snatches of a movie without the textures or feelings to go with it. She could recall specific incidents when cued after a moment, but couldn’t tie into the depths of the feelings. And in all honesty, she’d shied away from Jose because of that. He made her think, challenged her memory and she didn’t want to remember those cues, those incidents, and the past… perhaps out of some crazy, misguided loyalty to Carlos, who had clearly moved on. It felt like she was being split in two within her mind, and Carlos’s patterning over the past was so thoroughly pervasive that, it was hard to get beyond it to even breathe sometimes.
However, Rider’s words haunted her as Damali’s laughter filtered onto the porch with Carlos’s. Inez’s embarrassed expression when she’d fled the kitchen, mumbled something about being tired from cooking for everybody, and needed to lie down, entered her head. Big Mike had stomped out the back door to so-called guard the rear of the house. Obviously there had been a fight, or something had gone down, between two people who were as close as one could get to hooking up. Yeah, Rider was right. There was a lot going on in the house and she’d been blind to most of it.
Juanita glimpsed Jose. “Your nose seems better at night,” she offered, trying to reopen a conversation with him on a neutral subject.
He nodded but still didn’t look at her. “I’ve finally accepted the vamp part in me. My whole bio-rhythm is nocturnal, so I guess the nose is part of that package.”
“Well, maybe that’s a good thing, given what you do.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” he muttered, chucking his toothpick into the walkway with a hard pitch. He hated small talk, and this was the most Juanita had voluntarily said to him on her own in months. It had always been him trying to connect, trying to draw her out of her shell, trying to get her to give the past a chance to take root in the present. He was done with that bullshit, and didn’t feel like it tonight. Why he’d hoped that she would come out to sit with him, he didn’t know.
“You sound like you’re not sure if it’s a good thing,” she said after a nervous pause.
The tone of her voice made him finally look at her.
“I’m not,” he replied, no judgment in his response. “It makes things easier, like tracking, but other things harder sometimes, depending on your point of view.”
She tilted her head and her lovely brows knit in curiosity. He refused to allow the fact that there was finally something about him that she wanted to know to affect him. Her curiosity wouldn’t last, just like her good mood probably wouldn’t. At best, whatever he had to say would just be reference material for her ongoing training lessons as an interesting, generic observation. But it wasn’t about him. It never was any more. If she needed to know about the complex olfactory physiology of male vamps, she had the master in the house and could ask Rivera. Fuck it.
“How is it easier?” she said with care, shifting to sit closer to him, and leaning in with undivided attention. “I would think it would be harder. You know… picking up so much that it overwhelms your nose—like smelling too many things going on at once.”
Jose let his breath out hard and leaned back on his hands as he stared at her. “Initially, as soon as the sun goes down, it bludgeons my senses. Sometimes it gives me a headache… then the scents separate out, the darker it gets. Becomes vamp intense.”
“Damn, was it always like that?”
He shook his head. “No. I got stronger after…” His voice trailed off and he pushed himself forward, leaning his forearms on his knees, and looking away from her at nothing. “My line-brother took a high rank in the vamp empire for a while and it pulled whatever else was latent to the front. That’s all.”
“When Carlos turned?”
Jose let out a breath of annoyance. “Yeah,” he muttered, knowing that this was where her interest came from.
“You said it pulled everything forward… like what? You don’t have the blood thing messing with you, do you?”
He just stared at her for a moment, trying to decide whether he should answer her or just get up and go find Rider. Her eyes were searching his, though, with a bit of fear flickering in them. He wasn’t sure if he should have been offended or a bit pleased. Plus her scent was working his nerves. Baby powder, a light coating of floral deodorant, aloe body lotion, Dove soap, a hint of dinner, a top note of perspiration, and a bottom note of feminine musk. He stood and went to perch himself on the porch rail.
“I dunno. Like, I can separate scents out better like I said. But noooo, I don’t have a blood Jones, okay.”
“Sorry,” she whispered, turning her body so she could face him.
He glanced away from her, keeping Rider’s position on nasal lock to be sure his older Guardian brother was still all right. Then it slowly occurred to him that, perhaps part of her resistance to being alone with him might have been fear-based. Why else would she have asked about the blood, and after seeing Rider’s ugly turn on the church floor—her constant questions about his whereabouts made sense. Not to mention, her first encounter since the veil of forgetfulness had been placed on her, was breeched right in the heat of battle during an ambulance run.
He softened his voice. “Yeah, well, it’s cool. If you hadn’t asked, how would you know?”
“I didn’t mean to be insensitive,” she said quietly. “I just…”
“It’s cool,” he said as he relaxed his defenses. “Here’s the deal,” he added, running his fingers through his hair. “At night, my nose is a razor. I get more energy. Seem to see and hear a little better, too.” He shrugged and looked off in the direction where Rider was passed out. “Stuff like that.”
“That’s deep, Jose… really pretty cool, if you think about it.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he said after a moment, refusing to ever admit to her that his libido also went off the meter at midnight. Nor could he explain to her that that was the reason Rider drank himself into a stupor to cope before said hour. Once the sun went down, it was all over. At least he hadn’t been nicked outright like Rider, but had his demon neatly tucked away within his DNA. “Like anything, it has its good points and its burdens,” he finally said to end the uncomfortable discussion.
“But that is sooo cool, as a gift,” she said in an awed whisper.
He snatched a twig off the bushes by the stair rail and chewed the end. “It’s aw’ight.”
“So, how’s it a burden? Like, the headaches, are they bad… do they make you nauseous sometimes?”
He glanced at her for a moment and then looked away annoyed. “You remember anything?”
She felt her cheeks get warm. Sure she remembered that between them, but hadn’t felt it or hadn’t been fiening for that with him. That had been the primary reason she’d been avoiding him, because she wasn’t ready to go there with him, wasn’t sure if she ever would or could with Carlos in the house, and didn’t want to play games with Jose about it. But the last thing she ever expected was for Jose to just flat out challenge her about her memory. Rather than immediately answer, she picked at the nap in her jeans, struggling to respond.
“Cool,” Jose said, and jumped down off the rail.
“I remember,” she said in a quiet voice that stopped him as he passed her on the steps.
“ But,” he said, his tone hardened. “I got it. No problem.”
“It’s not like that,” she said as gently as possible, looking into his eyes and standing.
How could she get through to him, to make him know that she felt his pain, understood it? She also didn’t want him to be a second choice option, a by-default lover, or someone she hooked up with to try to make Carlos notice she existed in the house. Jose deserved better than that.
“Then, how is it?” Jose said, his tone low and even, hurt shimmering in his eyes.
She placed her hand in the center of his chest. The powder blue fabric of his t-shirt was damp. Her fingertips rested lightly against it like a person about to read Braille.
“I want to remember through my pores,” she said quietly. “I get images in short snap shots, like pictures, then they’re gone… and I don’t know why.”
She felt him tense as though to move away. “No don’t,” she whispered, spreading her fingers out and addressing his chest. “Rider said some profound things to me.”
Jose hesitated, but didn’t speak. She knew he wouldn’t ask.
“You’ve been nice to me, gentle, have always been there to help me when I lagged behind in the exercises, or didn’t get a lesson concept. You have done everything right, Jose. I don’t blame you for being mad… you’ve been patient.”
“It’s cool,” he said flatly, but his tone had mellowed.
She closed her eyes. “No. It isn’t.” She let out a weary sigh. “If we were just two people out in the normal world, and the chemistry didn’t immediately click, then, yeah, it would be cool. But not here, not under these circumstances, and not with what we had before.”
Juanita opened her eyes and slowly stared up at him. He was so handsome… Had beautiful brown eyes, intense. A full, kissable mouth that normally turned up at the corners to give way to a fantastic smile. Jose was a peaceful soul, a listening ear, had a shock of thick, dark hair… a mid-range, melodic voice, and toned body, smooth toffee hued skin… what was wrong with her?
He covered her hand where it rested on his chest and gave her a sad smile. “If the chemistry ain’t there, then it ain’t there,” he murmured, and then kissed the center of her palm as he lifted it away from him to return it. “Sometimes the past just dies on the vine, especially when something else grows there to replace it. I’m cool. No static. My bad.”
“No,” she whispered, shaking her head and stepping closer. “My bad.” She stared at her hand and then looked back up at him. A tremor of memory flitted across her palm. “In all this time, you never did that.” He had only kissed her cheek, too. It was always a quick hello or goodbye type of thing during the day, nothing more or intrusive, but tonight she felt it in her palm.
For a moment he didn’t say anything. He glanced at her upturned palm. “Like you would have let me.”
She gazed up at him briefly, but then down at her palm again. “I felt it.”
“Felt what?” he said going down the steps and walking in the direction he knew Rider would be. He didn’t need this insanity in his life.
Juanita ran down the steps and jogged to catch up with him at the end of the walkway. “Wait!”
“I gotta tell you something.”
He sighed and turned around. “What?”
She neared him, taking bold steps forward. Without asking his permission, she reached out and gingerly ran the pads of her thumbs across his mouth and gently cradled his face. “Make me remember.”
He shook his head no. “I’m done with it, ‘Nita.”
“No,” she whispered, staring at him intently. “It’s in your mouth… in the kiss. All I did was run my fingers across your lips, and…”
“What?” He cocked his head to the side, disbelieving and becoming more annoyed as pure arousal took hold of him. “Stop playing with me, aw’ight.”
“Step into the dark,” she whispered. “Remember what they told us?”
Stunned, he just stared at her. Hell yeah, he remembered, but it had been delivered as a riddle that he had yet to figure out.
“When that which is within comes to the fore. When the full moon calls the coyote and the demon is ash. When the sun draws your blood brother to dance with ancient spirits. Only when you step into the darkness without fear, and a light within burns brighter than that, will you taste your memory. It is on your lips, the Thunderbird. Then it will fill your mouths and lungs to breathe new life again, and you will be home once more.”
He’d listened to her quiet recitation, mesmerized by the way her unpainted mouth moved in the semi-darkness. Her voice was like velvet coating his insides. But he didn’t want to be attracted to her like that, didn’t want to feel the need she produced, or what any other woman produced, for that matter. He always got burned, and was so over it. He didn’t want to be made vulnerable any longer, and no old shaman’s riddle was gonna take him there.
“Juanita,” he said, less forcefully than he’d intended, “what has that got to do with anything? The junk they told us—”
“Jose,” she said, cutting him off and placing both hands against his chest. “You just told me on the steps that your vamp talents have come to the fore, since your blood brother—”
“I’m not talking about Carlos out here, so if you want more info on hombre, you’re gonna have to ask him your—”
“He was the one that went to ash.”
Jose shrugged away from her and went more deeply into the brush to pick up Rider’s trail.
“It’s a full moon out tonight, and for a minute, Carlos went to the other side to dance with the ancient spirits.”
She heard Jose stop walking. She also heard a faint, low, pounding of ancestral, Native American drums. Then the voices blended into the Tom Toms in a soft hum. “Can’t you hear it?” she said, her voice becoming shrill as she whirred around in the darkness.
Jose came in close to her. “It’s all right. I can’t hear anything, but there’s no sulfur present, and Rider is knocked out. You should go back to the house, get Dan and Bobby to help me lug his—”
She spun around as slow-floating, transparent figures moved amongst the trees in full ceremonial dress then disappeared. “Didn’t you see them!” She whispered between her teeth and clung to Jose, panic sweeping through her.
“’Nita, chill. It’s just—”
“It’s my gift,” she whispered. “Marlene said so. I can see the other side… spirits.”
He hugged her to him and unsheathed a bowie knife from its leather harness at his waist. “You getting a bad vibe? I need to haul Rider’s ass outta here, then. Run to the house, open a red alert, and—”
“I can’t leave him, ‘Nita. You can’t be afraid to run across the clearing. Just do it! Go get reinforcements!”
She took several deep breaths and held her ground. “I’m not afraid. They aren’t here to hurt us. They’re part of the ancestors’ promise.” Her hand rested on his arm, pressing it down until he relaxed his grip on the blade. “We both stepped into the darkness without fear. A light within burned brighter than the fear—you were willing to stay out here with Rider, not knowing what it was that was out here with us.”
He studied her face as the clouds passed and allowed the full moon to wash blue-white luminance across it. Yes, he remembered, how beautiful she was… what her silky, shoulder-length, brunette hair felt like in his hands, what it smelled like… herbal fantasia. Yes, he remembered the tea splashed with cream skin that set his palms on fire, how could he forget? God knew he remembered her mouth, how soft that was, and the way her breath hitched when he deepened a kiss. And her eyes now glistened with a shared memory, too… those huge, doe-brown eyes of hers that had been blind to him for so long. He slowly sheathed his Bowie knife, giving into her pull.
“The Thunderbird is on your lips… make me remember, Jose. Make me breathe new life again so we can be home. I’m so tired of being alone. I haven’t been with him in years, or no other man for that matter. He didn’t want me, doesn’t want me like that, and—”
“I ain’t no replacement part for him—or some fool to be used. Don’t play me, ‘Nita.”
His gaze burned her and she swallowed hard.
“I know and I won’t,” she whispered. “I’m not trying to make him jealous by using you, I wouldn’t do that, I swear… I just need to remember you. Don’t send me away tonight, even though I’ve hurt you by taking so long to wake up. Aren’t you tired of being alone?”
Perhaps it was the vamp in him, or the overriding male imperative, he wasn’t sure. But the offer was too sweet to refuse, her mouth too much of a magnet to resist. She may have seen ancient spirits, but he sure didn’t—so if they were watching, it wasn’t bothering his psyche in the least. She filled his arms in the darkness, and that had tugged at something deep and resonating within his DNA.
His hands cradled her face, half afraid that he was dreaming. His mouth swept hers in a soft brush, half afraid to commit beyond that, just in case she pulled away. He continued to hold her face with trembling hands, a plea in his soul, knowing that his mind might snap if she got him all worked up and then exercised her prerogative and changed her decision. He couldn’t go there, not with her.
But rather than draw back from the intensity, she deepened the kiss and fully embraced him, pressing her petite frame against him. Urgency replaced all trepidation as she traced his spine, and then loosed her arms to run her fingers through his hair. He fought a moan, still not willing to totally give himself over to possible bitter disappointment. If she walked away from him, he vowed to a least walk with his pride.
“I remember,” she said breathlessly against his neck, rubbing her breasts the length of his torso. The straps of her turquoise blue tank top had begun to fall as she moved. “Make me remember it all.”
Speech failed him. He had rehearsed a series of cool comeback lines that were ready and waiting for her in case she ever played with his mind like this, but instead what he was going to say came out garbled in the moan he’d been holding back. He couldn’t help it, but his hands found her hair the moment her mouth found his sweet spot. She sucked the side of his neck until tears dampened his lashes. Jesus, she remembered… her hair was raw silk, her mouth, unbelievable.
His attitude got summarily dismissed; her nipples were pressed hard against his, gentle friction driving him crazy. There was no fear in the dark; his boy was passed out cold, yards away on the other side of a huge tree—was she game? If so, what did that mean? If not, what did that mean? What did any of this mean, what did any of this matter… her tight, round behind was searing his palms through her jeans and burning a hole in his mind. Her shirt had hiked up and her skin dragged another moan into her mouth from deep within his throat. The sweet scent of her was locked in his head, his lungs, and covered his palate.
She swooned against him as he nipped her neck. He could feel her pulse against his lips and instinctively followed it with a trail of kisses down her throat, over her collar bone, and was rewarded when she lifted her tank top for him. For a moment, he simply laid his cheek against her bare breasts, knowing that was a clear yes. Good… God…
The scent of her there made him close his eyes. Deep, feminine cleavage perfumed with baby powder, lotion, perspiration, and want. Her hands were shaking as they pet his hair and his lips drew in the tight, brown pebbles, his tongue dancing across them in a flicker. Oh, hell yeah, he remembered everything she liked. He let his palms lift her heavy lopes with care as he nursed away years of hurt and frustration until her voice pierced the night.
Make her remember—no problem. The Thunderbird was on his lips—as soon as her jeans were down, it would be between her legs. Some things went beyond memory, damn straight—that was pure DNA.
The button fastening to her jeans opened with a flip of his thumb. Her zipper ripped the quiet. He slid down her body slowly, his mouth never leaving her skin as he knelt, drawing her pale yellow thong and jeans down with him. Her flip flops came away with the pants as she stepped out of them breathing hard. He inhaled sharply, his nose pressed to her silken mound as a whimper escaped her. Oh, shit, he remembered; his hair was in her fist and the Thunderbird was on his lips… her leg draped over his shoulder until her body swayed and her knee buckled. The pulse from her femoral artery thudded in his ear; the salty sweet scent of blood thrummed in his nose; her bud begged for more attention and he complied with gentle ministrations. He refused to relent until she convulsed hard and remembered him by name.
He caught her when her legs gave out from under her, and he brought her limp body to his chest, savoring her wet scent as he unfastened his jeans. She looked down at him; he stared up at her breathing hard. There was a problem; they both knew what it was.
She leaned forward and kissed him hard. “I’m on the pill.”
He closed his eyes and shuddered as she sheathed him. The wet sensation arched his back and made his fingers grip her thighs leaving white marks beneath them. It had been so long… years. She felt so good… da butter. Her movements were quick and hard and deep like he needed… compasion. Por Dios don’t let Rider wake up for ten more minutes, por favor!
“Papi,” she said sobbing, moving, barely unable to stutter the apology. “You were my first, will always be that.”
Her words and her body stripped his mind of all that had gone on before. The night dredged his core, deepened his voice, strengthened his limbs, and in moments, she was beneath him. Words filled his head, took over his throat, and made his back work harder. His sight cut through the shadows, his breaths became syncopated with hers.
“Remember I was your first.”
“Who loved you best?”
“ Por Dios, you!”
“Whose territory is this?”
“Then what’s my damned name?” His voice was a thick rumble, his body long stroking, his eyes on her, holding her hair in one fist, the other hand gripping her ass.
She was battling for air, her sobs and moans colliding.
He yanked her head back as she arched and he bit her throat hard.
The release swept through him, made him throw his head back and holler at the moon, still pumping. For a moment, he couldn’t move when the last shudder ebbed. All he could do was stare down at her in disbelief, sweat running off his face. He nodded and briefly kissed the bridge of her nose then mouth, gulping deep inhales.“Yeah,” he said, and collapsed against her. “I thought so. Always remember that.”