Earth Bound by Christine Feehan


  "You feel hot." She lifted her gaze to his again. "You know how people use that term, 'velvet over steel'? That's what you feel like."

  She could kill him so easily and she didn't even know it. She had all the power between them. In her soft hands and perfect mouth. In her forest green eyes and her feminine curves. But mostly in the way she saw him. She looked into him and she saw the man he should always have been. The man he was when he was with her.

  She swallowed hard and let go of him to smear two pearly droplets over his ultrasensitive head, watching him shudder with the fire racing through his body.

  20

  GAVRIIL reached out and bunched Lexi's hair in his hand. He gave her long ponytail a tug. "You've put it up again, all this glorious hair. It needs to come down." He pulled the little wrap right out of her hair and then used both hands to mess it up, letting the silken mass tumble free.

  "What are you doing?"

  He grinned at her, his blue eyes alive with sensual mischief. "Maybe we should wash those sweats as well. I think little Lyutyj got a spot of dirt on them. Why don't you strip right here? I can help you."

  "How thoughtful of you, Gavriil," Lexi said.

  She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue, hesitating only for a moment. He knew how difficult it was for her to be spontaneous when it came to making love, but she pulled the soft sweatshirt over her head. Her eyes held shy anticipation and raw courage. For him. She was always willing to step out of her comfort zone for him.

  He knew few men would understand what it had cost her to wrap her fist around his cock and hold him, just for a moment. To touch him so intimately, but he knew how difficult it was and that she'd done it for him, to show him she loved him and that she would always try for him.

  The strange thing was, he knew it really didn't matter to him whether or not she ever got to the point where she could wrap her mouth around him. What mattered was that she loved him enough to try baby steps.

  Lexi wasn't wearing a bra and her soft curves thrusting toward him were very tempting. She had high, perfectly formed breasts and a narrow rib cage that went into her tucked-in waist. Her hips flared in a shapely feminine curve that drove him nearly as crazy as her breasts. She had a beautiful body. He couldn't imagine a man forcing her to bind her chest, telling her she was ugly because she'd developed.

  He reached out with gentle fingers, shaping her breasts, massaging and cupping them in his palms. He couldn't resist tugging her nipples and rolling them between his fingers just to hear her gasp and see the dazed look come into her eyes.

  "I'm pretty crazy about you, Lexi Thompson," he confided.

  She smiled up at him, unknowingly pushing closer into his hands. "That's a good thing, Gavriil Prakenskii, because I'm finding that I can't do without you."

  He hooked his thumbs in her sweatpants and crouched low to pull them to her ankles. She placed her hands on his arms as she stepped out of them, trembling a little bit. She looked around her helplessly, and he realized that he'd switched on the light when he'd come into the laundry room. She didn't like the brighter lights on when she was naked and about to make love with him. Very casually he stood up, reaching out and flicking the switch off.

  The room wasn't totally dark, but she blinked up at him. "Thank you."

  "I like looking at you," he said.

  "I know you do. I like looking back, it's just that . . ." She trailed off with a little sigh. "I still hate the scars on my back and butt."

  He smiled at her. "Silly woman, when I'm facing you I can't see them."

  "I know that." She shivered under his focused gaze, little goose-bumps rising on her skin. "But I know they're there, and I want to feel beautiful when I'm standing naked in front of you."

  He lifted his palm to cup the side of her face, to rub strands of silky hair between his fingers. "Clearly I'm going to have to do a better job of explaining to you how beautiful and perfect you are to me."

  She shook her head, a slow smile stealing into her eyes. "You do a fantastic job. I just have to get to a place where I believe you."

  He threw her clothes in the washer with his and started the machine. Water began pouring into the basket. His hand shifted around to the nape of her neck to draw her closer to him, his thumb lifting her face to his.

  "I need to kiss you. Sometimes I just need to kiss you. I dream about kissing you. Waking or sleeping, I dream about it, but there are times, like now, when kissing you is essential to my well-being."

  Her eyebrow shot up and a small smile teased her soft mouth. "Aren't you being just a tiny bit overdramatic? Needing kisses for your well-being?"

  "My mental health."

  She laughed softly and the music of it played in the pit of his stomach and spread like wildfire to his groin.

  "Don't you be laughing at me, woman, when I'm confiding my deepest secrets to you." He bent his head slowly to hers, watching her eyes go wide with desire. For him. There was nothing like the feeling he got, that rush through his bloodstream, when he knew she wanted him the same way he wanted her.

  He kissed her gently, tenderly, pouring his heart and soul into it. He'd upset her with his orders, but he'd kept her from doing something she would regret. He wouldn't give the deaths a second thought, but he'd think often on how he'd gotten her angry with him. He knew it was bound to happen, but he would also analyze each time and try to figure out a better way of handling things.

  Her mouth was still shy beneath his, but so responsive, kissing him, following his lead, giving him her heart in the way she did. He kissed her over and over until neither could breathe and they had to come up for air.

  They smiled at each other like a couple of fools, but he'd never been so happy. He caught her around the waist and lifted her to set her on the very edge of the appliance. "All that work tonight made me hungrier than ever."

  Lexi burst out laughing again. "Seriously, Gavriil? On a washing machine?"

  "Why not? It might feel good when it starts vibrating."

  "Because it's cold on my butt, you crazy man."

  Her laughter was contagious. She made his life fun.

  "You're such a complainer." He yanked a towel from the dryer, folded it in half and arched an eyebrow at her. "Lift up, this should work."

  "You aren't kidding, are you?" Obediently she lifted her bottom so he could slide the towel under her.

  "When the machine starts vibrating and the towel starts slipping, don't blame me," he teased.

  Lexi stared down at him with her cool green eyes. He knew he would be lost there forever--and he wanted to be. Once, she'd told him he was safe with her. She'd offered to guard him while he slept and she'd meant it. She had given him so much more than she even realized.

  Lexi thought she needed him, but it was the other way around. Unrelenting darkness had been his world. He hadn't been able to see the light let alone find his way to it. She had shone the bright light on him and opened him up. She really was his sun.

  She stroked her hand down the side of his face. "What is it, Gavriil?"

  "I didn't expect to love you so damn much," he said. "I didn't even know this kind of emotion was possible, let alone that I could feel it."

  He hadn't known a woman could change a man inside. She made life worth living. More, she'd made him a believer in humanity.

  Her smile was soft, a gentle reflection of who she was inside. He tipped her backward by placing a hand on the flat of her stomach and forcing her to stretch out. Wedging himself between her thighs he bent his head to her breasts, swirling his tongue around her nipples and teasing with the edge of his teeth.

  He kissed a trail down to her navel and dipped his tongue, swirling it around and then nipping at her belly. The washing machine suddenly went silent. Her gaze jumped to his. The machine beneath her began to shake. She burst out laughing. That sound was pure music.

  Gavriil had seduced women and allowed them to seduce him. The sex act, while enjoyable, had always been sober, a following of a s
tep-by-step manual. Being with Lexi was spontaneous and fun, a magical journey he could never predict.

  He found himself laughing along with her, teasing her by blowing raspberries over her skin and nipping his way down her tummy to the vee of curls at the junction of her legs.

  Lexi clutched the edges of the washing machine, her laughter stroking at his body like fingers. He loved that sweet music. The joy in her. The joy it brought to him. Who knew sex could be both emotional and fun. Sweet and sexy. Just plain sensual.

  He tipped her back farther by pulling both legs over his shoulders. "I have to say, sladkaya moya, you look good enough to eat."

  "You're so crazy," she said. "On the washing machine? I think we've unbalanced the load or something. It's shaking me all over the place."

  Gavriil grinned at her. "That's me shaking you up."

  He dipped his head to that hot, sweet center, swiping his tongue through soft folds to get to the honey he knew was waiting there.

  Her laughter turned to ragged gasps and little pants. He feasted, taking his time, enjoying the way her hips bucked and her hands fisted in his hair. He especially enjoyed the cries rising to a crescendo as he used his tongue and mouth and teeth to drive her up hard and fast.

  The machine switched cycles again, and he pulled her legs back down, toed a blue plastic crate to him and stood on it. With one arm he dragged her even closer so that he could press the head of his cock into her slick, hot entrance.

  "Really? You're really going to do this on the washing machine? I'm going to fall." But her voice was husky and her eyes had that soft dazed look. She was flushed from head to toe.

  "You'll never fall, Lexi, because I'm always here to catch you," he said, and thrust deep into her body.

  Her eyes went wide with shock. Her mouth formed a perfect O. The air rushed from her lungs and her body clamped down around his like a vise. He could feel the vibrations of the machine running through her body to his. It was crazy, just as she'd said. Sexy. Unexpectedly so.

  He plunged into her again and again while the washing machine rocked and her body rolled. Her little pants turned to a glorious symphony of chanting his name, gasping and pleading. He didn't want the moment to ever stop. He couldn't quite bring himself to slow down, the friction was too intense, her body tight and scorching hot. As he surged deep and withdrew, her muscles squeezed and dragged at him, sending streaks of fire racing to every cell in his body.

  She threw back her head, her long hair flying around them like a cape. A small cry escaped and her body clamped down on his in a vicious orgasm, shocking them both with the intensity of it. There was no ripple of warning, just a series of ferocious waves that seized him and took him along.

  There was no holding back for either of them. The tidal wave swept them up, tossing them into a cauldron of tumbling pleasure that had each clutching hard at the other as an anchor.

  The ripples went on and on, so that they clung together, while the washing machine went into its spin cycle, adding to the concoction of sensations pouring through and over their bodies.

  "We really might not survive if this gets any better," Lexi whispered, her green eyes drifting over his face.

  Gavriil saw the trace of possession there and his cock wanted to come alive all over again while his heart pounded and his mind raced. He loved this woman with every fiber of his being. Every cell in his body.

  As if reading his mind, Lexi wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tight. "I'm so in love with you, Gavriil, I don't know what I'd do if I lost you," she confessed in a soft voice--so soft it was barely audible.

  Above her head, Gavriil closed his eyes and just held on to her sweet confession. Love really was pain sometimes. Physical. Emotional. Beautiful. His eyes burned and his throat was clogged and the man he'd been for so many long empty years reached for the woman who had changed his life forever. Everything in him belonged to her.

  "I love you too, Lexi." Those five words seemed so inadequate to describe the intensity of his feelings for her.

  He knew they had a long way to go. They both had been broken and reformed and they would have to find their way, but he'd never been more certain of anything in his life as he was that Lexi and he belonged to each other--belonged together.

  "Gavriil?" Lexi lifted her head and looked at him again.

  He knew he'd be forever lost in her eyes. "Tell me."

  "I've been rethinking the whole marriage thing. Especially if I get pregnant. It's not as if I'm using birth control." She blushed. "I never thought I'd ever have sex, let alone have a chance of getting pregnant. I have to admit, it did occur to me that having your baby would be absolutely a gift. I should have told you I wasn't on birth control."

  "It never occurred to me that you were on birth control," Gavriil admitted. "A man like me thinks of these things before he ever touches a woman. It's very necessary in my career to protect myself as well as my partner. I want you to have my baby. I'll admit, when I worried that you would leave me, I hoped you'd be pregnant and not want to go."

  Lexi shook her head. "I want you, Gavriil. You make me feel alive and happy and very, very safe. I would have been terrified of bringing a child into the world with anyone else, but with you, I know absolutely, no one will ever have the chance to harm us."

  He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her from the washing machine. "I don't think I'm ever going to mind washing clothes again," he said.

  He kissed her again and again, making a thorough job of it. He had a lifetime, he knew, but still, he didn't think he'd ever get enough.

  Keep reading for a special preview of

  DARK CRIME

  by Christine Feehan

  From the Edge of Darkness anthology, available August 2015 from Jove Books

  BLAZE McGuire pulled her waist-length red hair into a high ponytail at the back of her head, contemplating the fact that she was going to die tonight--and it was of her own choosing. She was going to war with the Hallahan brothers and their mobster boss. They didn't know it yet, but they would be walking right into hell. They thought they were going to have everything their own way, but they were wrong. Very wrong. She was a woman. She was young. They dismissed her as no threat to them. And in that they were making a very, very big mistake.

  Her hair wasn't just red hair, it was red. Her hair had been that vivid, insane color of red since the day she was born. Hence the name her father had given her, staring down at his newborn daughter who was already giving the doctors hell for dragging her out of her safe little world, kicking and screaming into the cold light, her hair blazing along with her lungs--and that should have given them a clue what they were buying when they murdered her father.

  Most people didn't know when they were going to die, she mused as she rigged the explosives on the door to blow, the charge precise, sending anyone in front of it outward, a little blowback into her beloved bar, hopefully leaving it intact. Still, if the charge didn't kill them all before they got inside, she would give up the bar's interior in order to take the battle to them. Tonight, the four Hallahan brothers were going to come for her, and she would take as many of them with her as possible.

  Sean McGuire had been a good man. A good neighbor. An even better father. The bar was successful because he had a reputation for being honest and he was a good listener; he genuinely cared about his customers, his neighbors and especially his daughter.

  He knew everyone by name. He laughed with them. He attended funerals when they lost someone. He got them home at night safe if they drank too much. He cut off the ones who were spending too much and needed to be home with their families. He was just a good man. A good man some mobsters had pulled out of the bar and beaten to death because he wouldn't sign his establishment--the one that had been in the family for two, now three generations--over to them.

  Sean had also served in the Marines and he knew his way around weapons, especially the making of bombs. He was a specialist in the field, so much so that he had ac
tually helped out the local bomb squad the three times they'd gotten calls, because what he knew about explosives, few others did. And what he knew, he taught his daughter.

  Blaze had been given an unusual education and she'd loved every minute of it. Her father made it clear he loved her and was always proud of her and he'd always been patient with her, but he believed in teaching his daughter everything he would have taught his son. He was patient, but he didn't make it easy because she was a girl. She was required to do everything--and learn everything he knew about defense and offense. She'd soaked up the training.

  It had always been the two of them, Sean and Blaze, after her mother left. Truthfully, she remembered her mother as a disconnected woman who was never happy--when she could remember her, and that wasn't often. Her mother left when she was four. They'd never done one single thing together. Not one. She couldn't even recall her mother holding her. It had always been her father.

  Sean had been a boxer, a mixed martial arts cage fighter, and he enjoyed the lifestyle. He had always insisted his daughter work out with him. She had--since the time she was two. She grew up boxing with her father. Learning martial arts. Street fighting. She learned to fall properly and she knew all about joints and pressure points. More, Sean hadn't neglected teaching her how to shoot or how to use a knife. He certainly hadn't neglected her training when it came to explosives.

  Later, when she was ten, Emeline Masters came into their lives. Emeline lived mostly on the street, shuffled from one home to another, but mostly on the street. Emeline became a family member and spent a great deal of time crawling in Blaze's bedroom window from the fire escape and sleeping inside with her. Sean pretended he didn't know. Emeline, thankfully, was away from all of this and in Europe where Sean had sent her to protect her. Blaze had called her, of course, but told her to stay where no one could harm her.

  Blaze smiled grimly to herself as she laid out a grid pattern on the floor of the bar and then paused to glance out the window, looking down the street. This had once been a good, decent neighborhood, a place she had called home for twenty-four years. She'd grown up in the apartment over the bar. It was a big building, right on the corner, prime property. The building and three others on either side had been in their family for generations. Her family had taken good care of them and never sold, not even when property values had soared.

 
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