Dying to Please by Linda Howard

  He swore and slid down her body, removing temptation from her reach. “Damn, you can't give up, can you?” he muttered. “I said not yet.”

  “Sadist.” She couldn't lie still; desire rode her like an unbearable itch, an implacable hunger. Her body moved under him, dancing its need, calling to him with her open thighs and the hot scent of her body.

  “More like a masochist.” He kissed his way down her throat, over the slope of her breast, then clamped his mouth over one tight nipple and strongly sucked at it. Electricity arced from breast to loins, bowing her upward; he slipped his left arm around her hips and held her in that position as he moved to her other breast.

  He wasn't being gentle with her. The pressure of his mouth verged on pain, but it wasn't quite there, teetering on that exquisite edge between pain and pleasure. Just as it began to tilt over the edge, he moved, sliding down her torso, kissing and nipping. His tongue probed her shallow navel, and a surprised cry burst from her throat, her body arching again. God, he was going to make her come just by kissing her navel. But then he was gone from there, too, his mouth sliding lower as he smoothed his free hand over her hips and abdomen, before slipping it between her legs.

  Yes. There. That was what she wanted, almost. She squirmed against his hand, but he just held it there, covering her with his palm, letting her feel the heat and strength. Her hips lifted, riding a wave of painful anticipation. She wanted his fingers inside her, she wanted his mouth on her.

  “Do it,” she gritted, pushing herself against his hand. “Please!”

  He gave a low, raw laugh, his head pressed against her inner thigh and his breath hot on her flesh. With his thumb he probed her, dragging it up the closed folds of her labia and opening them so he could see all of her. She panted, her head tossing back and forth on the mat as he circled her clitoris, teasing it to fullness. Just when she thought she'd scream in frustration, he closed his mouth on her and his tongue began circling and flicking as he dragged his thumb down and pressed it deep inside.

  Desperately she grabbed the pipe behind her and held on. Spots swam in front of her eyes and her entire body bucked as she came. She heard her own hoarse cries, but they sounded distant, as if someone else made them. For a long, magic moment nothing existed but her body and the firestorm of sensation as her inner contractions peaked, then slowly began to ebb. Her thighs had been clenched around his head but now her legs fell limply open.

  He was licking her.

  At first the leisurely caresses were soothing. She made a little humming sound of pleasure as his tongue probed her entrance. But the probing and licking continued, and the glorious lassitude began to fade, replaced by a familiar heat and tension. “What are you waiting for?” she gasped, twisting a little.

  “I want you ready again.” Gently he blew on her, his breath cool on her overheated flesh.

  “I am ready!” The need had rebuilt so fast she was breathless.

  “Not quite,” he murmured, gently catching her clitoris between his teeth, then torturing her with lightning flicks of his tongue. She groaned under the lash of pleasure, but as good as this felt, she wanted more. She wanted him inside her. Now.

  “Just a little closer,” he crooned, slipping his thumb inside her again. Then he replaced his hand with his mouth and he kissed her, deeply, his tongue probing, while his wet thumb moved farther down and pushed into her in a bold, shocking thrust that made stars explode in her head. She came again, convulsing, screaming, trying to fight him because the sensations were too sharp to be borne. He held her down, drawing out the moment, holding her at the peak.

  Finally she collapsed, trembling, her ears ringing as she struggled to find some measure of control.

  “Damn it,” he said, slow and deep, as he moved up her limp body. “There's no way in hell I can wait until you're ready again.”

  She didn't care. She was beyond caring, beyond even opening her eyes as he positioned himself between her legs and guided his penis to her wet entrance, then began sinking into her.

  Oh God oh God. Sarah pressed her head hard against the mat, forcing herself to breathe deeply. He was big enough that his penetration wasn't easy; if she hadn't been so wet from two climaxes, so utterly relaxed, taking him would have been painful. As it was, though, their fit was perfect, so perfect that tears sprang to her eyes. She was tight around him; he was deep within her. He pushed one more time and he was there, touching a place inside her that, impossibly, rekindled the heat of desire. She hadn't thought she could climax again, but as he began to thrust she realized differently. The heat inside her began to grow, became hunger, lifting her body to him.

  He held her legs wide and hammered into her, driven now by his own blind urgency. Every inward stroke forced her closer and closer to that moment when the tension would become too much, when the heat was scalding and nerve endings couldn't endure any more. He thrust harder and harder, their loins slapping together, and she was almost there, almost there, almost . . .

  He came, his powerful body bowing and bucking, shuddering, pumping. Hoarse, rough cries tore from his throat as he gripped her hips and pulled her groin tight against him. Then, slowly, he collapsed on top of her.

  A small, wild sound vibrated in her throat. Almost . . . there.

  She needed him to move, needed him deeper. Frantically she tugged at the handcuffs. “Take them off,” she panted.

  “Wha—” He didn't lift his head. His entire body was shaking, a fine tremor from muscles taxed to the limit.

  “The handcuffs.” She could barely speak; her voice was guttural. She surged upward, seeking the final touch that would send her over the edge. He was still hard, still inside her, but she needed him deeper, wanted him deeper. “Take them off.”

  “God,” he gasped. “Give me a minute.”

  “Now!” she shrieked, maddened by the completion that lurked just out of her grasp. She fought the cuffs like a madwoman. “Take them off!”

  “All right, just hold still!” He subdued her, holding her down as he got the key from under the edge of the mat where he'd stashed it. He stretched higher on her body as he reached for the cuffs, forcing his penis deeper, and something very close to a howl erupted from her throat. Alarmed, afraid he'd injured her, he hastily unlocked the handcuffs and started to draw back from her.

  Sarah lunged upward, locking her legs around his in a vise as she grabbed his ass and pulled him in tighter, as deep as she could take him. There, right there—ah! Her hips pumped as she pistoned herself on him, and she felt the peak coming closer . . . closer . . . She screamed, caught in an orgasm more intense than the others, so intense she couldn't breathe, couldn't think, couldn't see. She heard him make an inhuman sound; then he was thrusting hard, groaning, his arms locked around her as he began coming again.

  She either passed out or slept; she wasn't certain which. Slowly she became aware of the whisper of cool air on her damp skin, of the mat sticking to her naked body, of the man sprawled so heavily on top of her. His heaving breaths had slowed to a more normal pace, telling her that at least a few minutes had passed. The sticky moisture of his semen had seeped out of her to pool uncomfortably beneath her bare bottom.

  Was he asleep? She managed to lift her arm and touch his shoulder. He stirred and turned his head so his face pressed into the curve of her neck. “God,” he muttered, his voice muffled. “That's the first time I've ever come twice with one hard-on. It damn near killed me.”

  That was such a guy thing to say that she smiled. She would have laughed if she'd had the energy, but the fact was, she was damn near dead herself.

  Slowly, every movement an effort, he levered himself off her and collapsed by her side. He lay on his back with his arm covering his eyes, breathing deeply. After a minute he cursed. “Please tell me you're on the pill.”

  “I'm on the pill,” she parroted obediently.

  He groaned, long and heartfelt. “Fuck.”

  This time she did laugh, though it was a little weak. “No, I real
ly am on the pill.”

  He lifted his arm enough to peer at her with one eye. “You are?”

  “I am.”

  “You wouldn't joke with a poor, crippled wreck of a man?”

  “I would, but not about this.”

  “Thank God.” He tried to sit up, wavered, then fell back. “I'll get up in a minute.”

  Bully for him. Sarah knew for a fact her legs wouldn't support her. “Are you sure about that?”

  “No,” he admitted, and closed his eyes.


  CAHILL LAY HEAVILY ON HER, HIS BIG BODY TREMBLING IN the aftermath of orgasm. They were in his bed, the room cool and dark around them. Sarah had no idea what time it was; she could have lifted her head to peer at the digital alarm clock on the bedside table, but she didn't have the energy. Nor did the time matter; what mattered was the shattering realization that she was in trouble.

  She couldn't say she hadn't known what she was doing. She had walked into the situation with her eyes open, knowing that she was already way too vulnerable to him, too close to falling in love, and that making love with him would only increase her vulnerability.

  She had known, and she'd done it anyway.

  It wasn't the sex—though God knows the word that best described it was too: too hot, too raunchy, too powerful. This wasn't just sex, this was mating . . . at least on her part. And that was the problem.

  She hadn't wanted to love him. She'd thought—hoped—that she could keep that core part of herself separate, and inviolate. She'd failed miserably, or maybe spectacularly, because she hadn't been prepared for the inescapable fact that on every level he was her match. Not just physically, but emotionally, even in their personalities, they came together as equals. She might never in her lifetime find another man who matched her as well as Cahill did, and if this didn't work out, it was going to hurt her for a long, long time.

  Her arms were still looped around his neck, her legs still hugged him close. Since the moment they had come upstairs and fallen into bed, and that had to be hours ago, she didn't think they had been out of physical contact with each other for more than five minutes, total. They had cuddled and stroked and kissed, dozed in a tangle of legs and arms, and made love with an almost savage hunger. This wasn't just the result of sexual deprivation, though it had been a long time for her; nor was it that first fascination with a new love. This was different. This was more.

  As they rested, their heartbeats had slowed, become synchronized. Cahill nuzzled her neck, then gently pulled out of her body and fell on his side. “God, I'm hungry.”

  Just like that he banished her malaise, and she sputtered with laughter. “You're supposed to say something romantic and loverlike, Cahill. What happened to, at least, ‘That was great'?”

  He yawned and stretched. “It fell by the wayside somewhere around the fourth time.” Reaching out one long arm, he switched on the bedside lamp and propped up on one elbow, looking down at her with a sleepy, sated gaze. “If you listen hard, I think you'll hear a chocolate chip cookie calling you, too.”

  “Chocolate chip? Why didn't you say so?” She scrambled out of bed and headed toward the bathroom. “I'll meet you in the kitchen.”

  “Do you like 'em hot or cold?” he called as he pulled on a pair of black boxers.


  “Hot it is.”

  She entered the kitchen just as he was pouring two glasses of milk. The microwave dinged, and he removed a plate piled high with chocolate chip cookies.

  “I borrowed a T-shirt,” she said as she sat down. “I hope you don't mind.” The shirt came almost to mid-thigh, covering all the important parts.

  He eyed her. “It looks better on you than it does on me.” He sat down across from her, and put the plate between them. “Dig in.”

  She did. The cookies were warm and soft, the chocolate chips melted just enough to be gooey, the way she preferred. Midway through the second one she asked, “What time is it?”

  “Almost four.”

  She groaned. “It's almost dawn and we haven't had any sleep. Or much, anyway.”

  “What difference does it make? It's Saturday. We can sleep as long as we like.”

  “No, I can't. I need to go home.”


  She stared at the cookie, at the crumbs that fell when she pinched off a bite. “Do you mean other than that's where my birth control pills are?”

  He watched her over the rim of the glass as he downed a healthy slug of milk. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “Other than that. Not that the pills aren't important.”

  “You know the saying: Miss one and you're an idiot. Miss two, and you're a mommy.” She took a deep breath. She had been honest with herself, and he deserved no less. “And I need to regroup.”

  “Regroup from what?”

  “From this. You. Sex. This is . . . this is—”

  “—pretty powerful stuff,” he said, completing the sentence. “For me, too. So why is it making you run?”

  “I'm not running, just retreating a little.” She circled the top of her glass with her finger, then looked up at him, sitting there watching her with his cop's eyes, his jaw darkened with a day's growth of beard. “I think this is more powerful stuff to me than it is to you, and that's a big risk for me to take.”

  “You aren't in this alone, Sarah. You can't talk degrees of feeling like you're comparing thermometers.”

  “I can when I'm the one registering the high number.”

  “You don't know that for certain.”

  She blinked at him as he continued eating a cookie. “What are you saying?”

  “Is this confession time?” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Shit, I'm no good at this kind of talk at any time, much less at four in the morning. Okay, here it is: I don't know exactly what we have, but I know we have something. I know I don't want you to leave. I know I want you in a way I've never wanted anyone else, and I know you're not a woman who plays games. This isn't a game to me, either. You can pull back from me because you're afraid of taking a risk, or we can see where this goes.”

  She stared at him, feeling the quiet unfurling of happiness inside, like a flower blooming. She had expected him to retreat when she confessed to being emotionally involved. She hadn't said the “L” word, but she might as well have; he couldn't have missed her meaning. Not that the basic situation had changed—he hadn't said the “L” word, either. But he hadn't got that uncomfortable expression guys got when a woman started clinging and all they really wanted was to get the hell away from her.

  Cahill had been burned; she, on the other hand, was relatively free of scars. Maybe the fact that this was uncharted territory for her was why she was frightened she'd get hurt. If Cahill could risk it, then so could she.

  “All right,” she said calmly. “So now what happens?”

  “I suggest we finish our milk and cookies, and go back to bed.”

  “And then what?”

  The look he gave her was faintly exasperated. “Are you going to write this down in an appointment book or something?”

  “I'm big on organization. Humor me.”

  “All right. I know you have your job to do. I have mine. Some days I won't have much free time, some days you won't. Unless you want to move in with me—No?” he asked when she shook her head. “I didn't think so. Not yet, anyway. But failing that, then we continue as we have this week, together in our free time. We probably won't get much cosmic bowling done—”

  “But I so enjoyed it,” she murmured, earning an appreciative grin from him.

  “—but I can promise I'll do my best to keep you entertained. How does that sound?”

  “Hmm, I don't know. What do you have in mind?”

  “Well, for starters I thought I'd fuck your brains out. Then, as an encore, I thought I'd fuck your brains out.”

  “Just what I like,” she said. “Variety.”

  He set the plate of cookies on the counter and put the empty milk glasses in the si
nk. “If it's variety you want,” he said, turning to pull her to her feet, “what do you think about the table?”

  Her heart began hammering at the expression on his face, that heavy-lidded, intent look that meant he was aroused. “It's a very nice table.”

  “Glad you like it,” he said, and lifted her onto it.

  They spent the weekend together. She insisted on spending some time at the Judge's house, working on the packing and inventory, so he helped her. Because the house wasn't hers, she didn't feel free to invite him to stay the night, so she packed a few clothes and toiletries and drove herself back to his house with him, where they spent the rest of the day in bed. Sunday was pretty much a rerun of Saturday, to her delight. She put her worries on hold and let things between them develop as they would. What else could she do, other than run? Caution was in her nature, but running wasn't.

  Early Monday morning, she drove back home and determinedly set to work. Barbara called at ten, pulling her from the chore of folding and packing more towels and washcloths than a small army could use.

  “I've talked to a realtor,” Barbara said. “He'll be there sometime today to put up a sign, so don't be surprised if you see someone in the front yard. Actually, I've already had a couple of people call me here at home—you know, acquaintances who know someone who's looking for a house in Mountain Brook, so maybe it won't be a problem to sell.”

  “I don't think it will,” Sarah replied, thinking that she might not have a full month here after all.

  “I'm flying in this weekend to help you pack up Daddy's clothes and personal things.” Her voice wobbled a little. “I'm not looking forward to it, but I need to do it. This still doesn't seem real, and maybe . . . maybe putting his things away will help.”

  “Do you want me to pick you up at the airport?”

  “No, I'll rent a car so I can come and go without bothering you. And would you book a room at the Wynfrey for me? I don't think I can stay in the house.”

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