He needed a little more time to compose himself. More time to quell the fire coursing through him, threatening to overwhelm him.
He shook his head. How could her touch give him such strength, and yet at the same time make him so incredibly weak?
Grace had just finished making canned soup and sandwiches when Julian joined her in the kitchen.
“Yes,” he said, sitting down at the table.
Grace circled her spoon around her bowl while she watched him eat. The fading sunlight caught in his hair, highlighting it. He sat perfectly straight up in the chair and every time he moved, a surge of desire tore through her. She could watch him all day and never grow tired of it.
Worse, what she really wanted to do was get up, go over to him, and sit in his lap. Then run her hands through those golden waves as she kissed the daylights out of him.
Stop it! If she didn’t get hold of herself, she would succumb to that urge!
“You know,” she said hesitantly. “I’ve been thinking. What if you did stay here? Would it be so bad to live in my time?”
The look he gave her quelled her. “We’ve already had this discussion. I don’t belong here. I don’t understand your world, your customs. I feel awkward and I hate that.”
Grace cleared her throat. Fine, she wouldn’t mention it again.
Sighing, she picked up her sandwich and ate it, even though what she really wanted to do was argue.
After they finished dinner, Julian helped her clean the kitchen.
“You want me to read to you?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said, but she could tell there was something wrong. He was guarded with her, almost cold.
She hadn’t seen him like this since he’d first appeared.
Grace went upstairs and got her new copy of Peter Pan, then came back downstairs. Julian was already on the floor, piling the cushions for them.
She took her seat, lying perpendicular to him and propping her head against the side of his stomach. After turning to the first page, she began to read.
Julian listened to Grace’s smooth, lilting voice, all the while staring at her. As she read the words, he watched her eyes dance across the page.
He’d promised himself he wouldn’t touch her, but against his will, he found himself reaching to stroke her hair. The contact of it against his skin made him burn, made his groin tighten even more as he ached to possess her.
While the silken sable strands of her hair caressed his fingers, he let her voice take him far away from here. To a place that was so comforting, it almost felt like the elusive home he had searched eternity for.
A place where only the two of them existed. There were no gods here, no curses.
And it felt wonderful.
Grace arched a brow as she felt Julian’s hand leave her hair and reach for the top button on her shirt. She held her breath in hopeful expectation, yet she also hesitated.
“What are you-”
“Keep reading,” he said as he worked the button through the hole.
Her body growing hot, she read the next paragraph. He undid the next button.
She read another paragraph as his hand moved to the next button down. His actions were making her crazy as her breath quickened, her heart pounded.
She looked over to see the hungry look in his eyes. “What is this? A strip reading session? I read a paragraph, you open a button?”
He answered her question by running his warm hand over her bra, cupping her breast gently in his palm. Grace moaned in pleasure as he massaged her through the satin. The warmth of his hand on her skin sent chills up her arms.
“Read,” he commanded again.
“Oh, yeah, like I can do that while you’re…”
He released the front catch on her bra, then cupped her breast tenderly in his hand.
“Read to me, Grace. Please.”
As if that were possible!
But the underlying plea in his tone tugged at her heart. Forcing herself, she turned her attention to the book as Julian glided his hand over her bare skin.
His touch was so soothing, so gentle. Sublime. This wasn’t the fiery caress he used to seduce and inflame her, it was something else entirely. It went beyond the depth of her flesh. It went all the way to her heart.
After a time, she grew used to the small circles he drew around her br**sts and ni**les, down her belly. She lost herself to the moment, to the feeling of closeness she shared with him.
By the time she finished the book, it was almost ten. Julian ran the backs of his knuckles across her hardened nipple as she set the book aside.
“You have such beautiful br**sts.”
“I’m glad you think so.” She heard his stomach rumble under her ear. “Sounds like you’re hungry.”
“What I’m hungry for, food won’t sate.”
Her face flooded with heat.
He ran his hand from her belly button, up to her throat, then down the line of her jaw to her hair. He traced the outline of her lips with his thumb.
“How odd,” he said. “It’s your kiss that sends me over the brink.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He dropped his hand back to her stomach. “I love the way your skin feels against me. The softness of your flesh under my hand,” he said quietly. “But it’s only when our lips touch that I feel my sanity slipping. Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know.”
The phone rang.
Julian cursed. “I really hate those things.”
“I’m beginning to, too.”
He moved his hand away from her so she could rise.
Grace captured his hand and moved it back to her br**sts. “Let it ring.”
He smiled at that, then dipped his head toward hers. Their lips were so close, she could feel his breath on her face. Suddenly, he pulled back sharply.
She saw the agony, the longing in his eyes an instant before he closed them, and clenched his teeth as if struggling to restrain himself.
“Go answer your phone,” he whispered, releasing her.
Grace stood on shaky legs and crossed the room to her cordless phone as she clutched her shirt closed over her br**sts.
Julian listened to her talk, his heart heavy as he fought down the fire tearing through him.
The last thing he wanted was to leave this haven. He’d never enjoyed much of anything in his life until he’d met Grace. Now, he was covetous of every second of her time.
“Hang on, let me ask.” Grace came back to his side. “Selena and Bill want to know if we want to go out with them Saturday?”
“It’s up to you,” he said, hoping she would decline.
She smiled and put the phone back to her ear. “That sounds great, Selena. It’ll be a lot of fun… Okay, see you then.”
She set the phone aside. “I’m going to take a quick shower before bed. Okay?”
Julian nodded. He watched her walk up the stairs. More than ever before, he wished himself mortal again.
He would give anything to be able to follow her up the stairs, lay her down on the bed, and bury himself deep inside her body.
Closing his eyes, he swore he could feel the wet heat of her surrounding him.
He clenched his fist in his hair. How many more days could he stand the torture?
And yet, he wanted to fight it. He refused to surrender his sanity even one second sooner than the Fates decreed.
Grace felt Julian’s presence. Turning around, she saw him outside the shower, completely nak*d.
Her gaze feasted on every inch of that golden body, but it was his warm, charming smile that absolutely stole her heart and made her breathless.
Without a word, he stepped inside.
“You know,” he said with a casualness that astounded her. “I found something interesting this morning.”
She watched the water fall over him, slicking his hair back until it fell in short, wet ringlets about his face.
“Did you?” she asked, resisting her impulse to reach up and capture one of those locks between her fingertips. Or better yet, her teeth.
“Mmm,” he said, running his hand up the long cord of the shower until he took the shower head from its cradle. He turned the dial to a soft massage. “Turn around.”
Grace hesitated before she obeyed.
Julian ran his gaze over her sleek, wet back. In all his life, he’d never seen a woman more inviting.
She was everything he’d ever dreamed of having and yet he dared not hope. Dared not dream.
He lowered his gaze down her voluptuous curves. Her legs were slightly parted as she stood. An image of spreading them wider and plunging himself into her tore through him.
Struggling to breathe, he aimed the shower head at her shoulders.
“That feels so good,” she whispered.
Julian couldn’t speak. He clenched his jaw to keep himself from yielding to his body’s ravenous demand for hers. His need to touch her was so profound that it made a mockery of the one he felt for food and water while trapped in the book.
Grace turned to him, her face glowing. She reached around him and picked up the washcloth and soaped it. Julian didn’t move as she bathed him. Her hands slid over his chest and abdomen, firing his hunger for her even more.
He held his breath in eager anticipation as her hand moved lower and lower.
Grace bit her lip as she touched the rigid muscles of his stomach. She looked up to watch Julian watch her. His eyes were half-closed, and he appeared to be savoring every stroke of her hands on his skin.
Wanting to please him, she ran the cloth over the coffee-colored curls at the center of his body. He sucked his breath in sharply as she reached between his legs to cup him gently in her hand. She smiled again as she felt a shudder run through him.
The look of pleasure on his face delighted her. Her heart pounding, she moved her hand up to gently massage his swollen shaft.
She heard the shower head hit the side of the tub an instant before he enveloped her in his arms and buried his lips against her neck.
Grace trembled from the sensations as their wet bodies entwined. The love she felt for him swelled through her, begging for a miracle that would let them have a life together.
In that instant, she wished she could feel him inside her. Feel him take possession of her body the way he had her heart.
As his lips tortured her with pleasure, he brought his thigh up between her legs. The tiny hairs on his leg teased her in a way that melted her will.
Feverishly, Grace rubbed herself against his wet, sleek thigh, relishing the feel of his strong muscles contracting between her legs as he continued to suckle her throat. Oh, how she loved this man. How she longed to hear him tell her that she meant as much to him as he did to her.
He ran his hands over her back, then her front.
His gaze scorched her as he lowered her to the bottom of the tub.
“What are you…” Her words ended in a gasp as he plunged his tongue into her ear.
She felt his arm flex as he reached for the shower head and brought it back to pummel her body with its pulsating heat. He moved it in slow, sensuous circles over her br**sts, her stomach. On fire from the stimulation of the water and his body, she struggled to breathe.
Julian shook all over in desperate need. He wanted to please her in a way he’d never wanted to please anyone. He longed to see her writhing beneath him. Hear her screaming out her release.
Nudging her thighs farther apart, he moved the shower head to spray between her legs.
Grace choked as an indescribable pleasure ripped through her. “Julian?” she gasped as her body quivered from the feel of his fingers inside her, filling her, teasing her while the water heightened his moves.
Never, never had she experienced anything like it. He rotated his wrist, circling the pulsating water around her until she couldn’t stand it.
When her cli**x came a second later, she screamed from it.
Julian smiled while he held his body rigidly still to keep from filling her. Even so, he wasn’t through with her. He would never be through with her.
With his hands, his tongue, and the shower, he brought her to cli**x five more times.
“Please, Julian,” she begged after the last one. “Have mercy. I can’t take any more.”
Deciding he had tortured the two of them enough, Julian reached behind him and turned off the water.
Grace couldn’t move. Any sensation, no matter how small, rocked her. She watched him stand up between her legs, staring at her with a hint of a smile on his face.
“You’ve killed me,” she breathed. “Now you have to hide the body.”
He laughed at that. He stepped out of the tub, then reached over and picked her up.
She savored the feel of his bare skin against hers as he carried her to the bed, then dried her off with the towel.
Slowly, carefully, he used the terry cloth in a way she was sure no one had ever meant for terry cloth to be used. He slid it sensuously over her arms, her br**sts, then down her stomach in slow, torturous swirls.
“Open your legs for me, Grace.”
Her will gone, she obeyed.
Grace moaned at the feel of the cloth stroking the tender, throbbing flesh between her thighs. Then the cloth was gone, replaced by his fingers.
“Julian, please. I don’t think I can do it again.”
He didn’t listen. Neither did her body. To her amazement, she came again.
Julian leaned over her then and whispered in her ear, “I could make you do that all night.”