Copyright © 2011 Tina Donahue
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Undetected, Nikoli Zorr watched the woman sleep.
His heartbeat continued to quicken, sending waves of warmth through his body. He whispered her name.
A surge of pleasure weakened Nikoli’s limbs, awakening desire controlled for too long, giving him a taste of what it was like to be nothing more than a man. A creature of touch, taste, sight, sound, passion. Heat built in his groin. Desire flooded his thoughts.
Behind him and to each side, monitors hummed, their lights blinking in response, reminders of his duty.
Too easily, Nikoli ignored his responsibility and dared to whisper her first name again, testing the feel of it on his lips, embracing the sound, his attention riveted to the scene the portal between their dimensions revealed.
Pearly morning light seeped past her bedroom’s filmy curtains. A steady rain greeted another Seattle morning, the water flowing in uneven ridges down the window’s glass.
Regina’s dark lashes rested on her smooth cheeks. Her plush lips, tinted a soft rose, were parted slightly, her lovely features untroubled.
Nikoli sensed she wasn’t dreaming. He knew she had no idea of the danger she faced tonight.
His chest tightened at the horror of what today would bring to her if he didn’t intervene. Events Sazaar had put into motion weeks before when she’d crossed over to Regina’s side—a realm forbidden to all on E2. Searching for passion…for love…Sazaar had found Andris and a lingering death instead.
Before fear and anger got the better of him at what Sazaar had done, Nikoli suppressed his emotions just as he’d been trained to do throughout his life. Only yearning for Regina remained. He couldn’t help himself. He didn’t want to.
He regarded her lush mouth, the inviting temptation of her lips, the delicate sweep of her cheek, slender brows, her auburn hair brushed away from her cheek, the ends spilling over her snowy pillow and the side of the mattress. His lids slid down to narrow slits. He craved her as he had nothing else in his life. No, it hadn’t been a life but an existence. And now he realized what he’d missed, wanting her more than food, water, safety or honor.
Wanting her to be with him.
Images unwound in Nikoli’s mind of Regina straddling his body, draping her torso over his, the firm tips of her nipples brushing his chest, her reddish locks sweeping past his shoulders. In his thoughts, he saw her face above his, her smile welcoming, seductive, her passion free and reckless as she edged closer, teasing the seam of his lips with her tongue, spearing the hot, wet tip into his mouth, filling it, exploring.
A sound he’d never made before escaped Nikoli’s throat. He focused on the picture his thoughts created, building upon the scene. He could almost feel the intense heat of her body, a place of delight and refuge where he could—
A sudden, steady wail cut through the space between their dimensions, chasing the scenes from his mind. Her alarm clock continued to shriek, the noise subdued on this side by the portal’s barrier.
Eyes still closed, Regina flung her arm to the clock, her fingers fumbling blindly to shut off the noise. Nikoli smiled at her muffled oath. He watched as she threw back the covers and left the bed.
On tiptoes, arms lifted above her, she stretched, her movements supple and sinuous. Nikoli swallowed. He stared at her dark green nightgown, the hem fluttering above her satiny thighs. Raindrops zigzagged down the window, creating faint shadows on her pale skin.
He pulled his attention from them, watching the ends of Regina’s hair dangling past her shoulders.
Without thinking, Nikoli reached out, his hand seeking the glossy strands, his fingers touching nothing but sterile air. Air hissed through his teeth.
Arms lowered, Regina slipped the nightgown’s narrow straps past her shoulders. The silky fabric slid over the gentle swell of her breasts, catching briefly on her nipples before drifting to her waist.
Partially bared, she turned her face to the window, the dreary day.
Focused on her ripe flesh, Nikoli told himself he should turn away, knowing he would not. He feasted on her beauty, the succulent contours of her breasts, full and weighty, large enough to fill a man’s hands. His. He regarded the curve of her belly, the lavish flare of her hips.
Regina wiggled them, encouraging her nightgown to fall past her thighs and pool at her feet. Stepping out of the garment, she grabbed her hair in both hands, twisting then lifting the locks from her shoulders.
Nikoli’s mouth went dry. He forced down a swallow as he regarded the delicate curls between her legs, slightly darker than her other hair. Her belly rippled each time she inhaled. After a brief yawn, she turned and padded toward the bath.
Unwilling to bear even more separation between them, Nikoli stepped closer to the gateway.
With his movement, Regina stopped, releasing her hair. The strands swished left and right, exposing then hiding her shoulders. Turned to the side, she glanced at the window. The ashy light caressed her features, revealing her confusion.
She’d felt him. She still did.
Nikoli waited for Regina’s next move.
A second ticked by. Then another. And another.
She lowered her face, glancing at the hardwood floor.
Again, he stepped closer.
She went completely still, then turned facing the portal that Nikoli knew was invisible from her side. There, Regina would see nothing more than the wall of her bedroom, the pictures she’d hung.
Here, the gateway resembled a wall of glass, allowing him to watch her without restriction. To see what he should not, to want what he wasn’t allowed to have. Didn’t matter. No rule could stop the longing coursing through him, followed by insatiable lust.
Color rose to her cheeks. Desire transformed her features.
“I feel it too,” he murmured.
Regina’s lids fluttered as though she’d heard him, a matter Nikoli knew was impossible. She stepped closer and stared. Not seeing anything untoward, she studied either side of him.
“I’m here,” he whispered.
His words drew her nearer.
In her green eyes—the color of a stormy sea—he saw loneliness as great as his. Behind it was the hope for something more, something thrilling and comforting. The touch of a hand, the promise in a glance, the solace of a caress.
Her emotions didn’t last. She frowned in confusion.
“You’ll know me tonight,” he said, a pledge he would keep no matter the consequences.
Once more, Regina’s expression changed, frustrated need replacing her bewilderment. Again, she moved toward the bath, pausing twice to glance over her shoulder.
She parted her lips on a brief sigh. He treasured the gentle sound, imagining the warmth of her breath skipping across his cheek, the fragrant musk of her body as he held her to him.
Tonight. The word reverberated in his mind.
Into the bath she went. The portal adjusted immediately, like the lens of a camera, moving closer, zooming in on the new room.
She flicked on the wall switch. Antique light fixtures above the sink bathed the snug space in a gauzy golden glow. The illumination transformed her ivory skin into a shade resembling ripe wheat. Her cheeks continued to pink up.
Bypassing the claw-footed tub, she entered the more modern glass-enclosed shower, turning her front then her back to the water’s flow. The pulsating spray had hardened her nipples. Water beaded on her chest and ran in unruly streams down her torso and belly.
Again Nikoli reached out as though to touch, to experience, a riot of pleasurable sensations jolting him. He watched the silvery beads journeying to her navel. Water circled the small depression, then moved lower, trapped in the dark auburn curls between her legs. His mind imagined their springiness on his tongue, the taste of her hidden lips beneath.
She stepped to the right, facing him.
It was nearly more than he could bear.
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