“Yes, Sunshine?” He ran a gentle hand through my hair.
His touch stilled, and he stiffened.
“Please.” I licked my lips. “Forget about Josh or…whatever else may be on your mind. If you want me, kiss me. I know what we said on your birthday, and I’m sorry for going back on my word, but I need…” You. “I need this.”
Alex closed his eyes, his expression pained. “You have no idea what you’re asking me.”
“Yes, I do.” I pressed a hand against his abdomen, feeling it tremble beneath my touch. “Unless you don’t want to.”
He left out a half-laugh, half-groan. “Does this feel like I don’t want to?” He grasped my hand and pulled it down until it rested on the most masculine part of him. My breath stuttered at his sheer heat and size—obvious even under his swim trunks—and I curled my fingers around the thick rod, fascinated by the power I held in my palm.
A low growl rumbled out of Alex’s chest. “What did I say about staying out of trouble, Sunshine? Keep doing that, and you’ll be in a world of trouble.”
“Maybe I like trouble.” I tightened my grip, and he hissed out a curse. “Maybe I want to stay there.”
“I’m beginning to think you’re the trouble I need to stay away from,” he muttered. He pinned my wrist to my side, and a jolt of excitement flashed through me. “But we can’t. You just—” He gestured toward the pool with his free hand.
“I just what? Had a panic attack? I get those all the time when I’m near water. If that bothers you, we’re in a hotel. We can find a room.” It seemed like I’d recovered all the boldness I’d lost after kissing Alex on his birthday.
His mouth tilted up. “When did you get so feisty?”
“When I got sick of everyone treating me like I’m a fragile flower who’ll break if someone breathes on me the wrong way. Just because I have a phobia over one specific thing doesn’t mean I’ll freak out in other areas of my life.” I paused, then added, “Madeline told me. About what you—what you like in bed.”
His expression darkened. The air turned ominous, and my heart gave an anxious thud.
“What, exactly, did she tell you?” His voice lowered to a dangerous decibel.
“She told me—” I gulped. “She told me you only do it from behind. That you don’t like kissing or face-to-face contact during sex. That you…”
“That I what?” Alex asked silkily.
“That you like choking and calling women names. In bed.” The danger in the air thickened until I could almost taste it, and my bravado faltered. Maybe baiting the tiger wasn’t the best idea…
“Yet you’re still here, asking me to kiss you.” His grip on my wrist turned to iron. “Why is that, Sunshine?”
He hadn’t denied it, which meant it must be true.
My heart raced.
“Maybe—” I wet my lips with my tongue, conscious of his eyes tracking the movement the way a lion would a gazelle. “I like those things too.”
Flames burned away the ice pools in his eyes until the heat seared me to my core. I couldn’t believe I’d ever thought him cold. In that moment, he was a supernova waiting to erupt and swallow me whole.
And I’d love every second.
Alex released me and stood, no trace of the patient, soothing man from earlier tonight in sight. In its place was something hungry and depraved that caused me to tremble with lust.
“Get up,” he said, his voice soft but so commanding I obeyed without thinking. “You’re about to find out what happens when you invite yourself into the lion’s den.”