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MacKenzie's mission (Chapter Seven)

They could have eaten sawdust for all the attention she paid to their meal. All she remembered afterward was that the restaurant was cool and dim, and the dry wine had a crisp, pleasant bite to it. He sat across from her, big and masculine, and with that dangerous glitter in his blue-diamond eyes. He was thinking about the coming night, too, and his sexual intent was plain for her to see. He meant for her to know what he was thinking; he made his possessiveness obvious in the way he looked at her, his gaze lingering on her breasts, his voice low and deep with the gentling, persuasive note of seduction.

They lingered over the meal, and the waiting abraded her nerves like coarsely woven wool. Her clothing irritated her, her breasts ached. She blurted out, "Why are we waiting?"

He had been leisurely studying her erect nipples thrusting against her bodice, and his gaze slowly lifted to her face, scorching her with blue fire. "For you to settle down and relax," he murmured. "For night to fall, so you can have complete darkness, if it would make you feel more secure."

"I don't care." She stood up, her face as fierce and proud as a Valkyrie, her hair as pale as that of those virgin warriors. "You'll have to find some other way to relax me."

Slowly he stood, too, his face hard with the force of his surging lust. Silence strained between them as he paid the bill and they went back out to the truck. The heat was still almost suffocating, the sun a huge red ball low on the horizon, bathing everything with a crimson glow. His fierce, ancient bloodlines were obvious in the primal light falling across the stark lines of his face, giving the lie to the facade of civilization he wore in the form of a white dress shirt and black slacks. He should have been wearing buckskin pants and moccasins, his torso bare, his thick black hair falling free to those wide, powerful shoulders.

She remembered her terror of the morning, that he could be hurt or killed during a flight, and knew she would try never to tell him.

He checked them in at one of the Hilton hotels and, still silently, they rode the elevator upward, with the bellboy carrying their two small bags.

He had taken a one-bedroom suite, and the bellboy performed his customary routine, carrying the bags into the bedroom, showing them how to operate things they already knew how to operate, busily drawing open the curtains to let in the fierce red light of sundown. Joe pressed a five-dollar bill into his hand, and the bellhop took off.

She was still standing in the bedroom, her feet rooted to the carpet while she very determinedly did not stare at the king-size bed, and she listened to Joe lock and chain the door. He walked into the bedroom and very calmly pulled the curtains again, plunging the room into a gloom relieved only by what light spilled through the open doorway. The very air felt charged with tension. He opened his black leather bag and took out a box of condoms, placing it on the bedside table.

"A whole box?" she asked in a husky voice that didn't sound like her own.

He came to stand behind her and deftly undid her dress. As it loosened and fell off her shoulders he said, "I'll go down to the gift shop and buy some more when we run out."

She was suddenly trembling madly, for she had worn only her panties under the dress. No bra, no slip, no hosiery. As the dress pooled around her ankles she was left standing all but naked in front of him, her breasts tight, her nipples thrusting forward in aching need. He lifted her in his arms, and her shoes were left behind on the floor, caught in the froth of material.

He placed one knee on the bed as he lowered her to the surface, then remained kneeling that way while he swiftly, efficiently stripped her panties down her legs. Until that moment she hadn't realized how desperately she had needed that small scrap of protection, or how exposed and vulnerable she would feel without them. She made an incoherent sound of protest as she tried to sit up, for she was naked while he was still completely dressed, but the glitter in his eyes as he stretched her out on her back made her stop struggling.

Joe paused, taking the time to study her naked form and savor the primal satisfaction of the moment when she finally lay bare before him, her tender body exposed and his for the taking. He could already see the signs of arousal in her, manifested in the way her nipples had flushed darker and tightened into buds, and in the way her slim thighs, instinctively pressed together to guard the exquisitely sensitive flesh between them, quivered and flexed in a subtle message. Pale curls, only a shade or two darker than her hair, decorated her mound; a small, fleeting smile tugged at his mouth for a second as he remembered that he hadn't thought her hair color was natural. According to the evidence of his eyes, it indisputably was her own. Those blond curls were so tempting that suddenly just looking wasn't enough.

He put his hand on her breast, gently kneading, cupping, his rough thumb circling her nipple and making it draw even tighter. She caught her breath, which made her breast swell even more fully into his palm. With the same calm assurance he stroked his other hand down her abdomen to slip it between her legs, pressing his fingers hard against the soft folds of her womanhood. Lightning shimmered through her, lifting her hips from the bed in an automatic seeking of more. If his thumb had felt rough on her nipple, it felt even more so now as it rasped across flesh so sensitive she quivered wildly at the slightest touch.

It was unbearable and she suddenly fought away from him, rising to her knees on the bed, her breasts heaving with the force of her breathing. Joe stood up and began unbuttoning his shirt

His powerful torso was bared as he stripped out of the garment, his skin bronzed, soft black hair matting his chest in a neat diamond and running in a silky line down the center of his stomach. His own nipples were small, dark and tight He kicked his shoes off. Lean fingers unbuckled his belt, unzipped his fly, hooked in the waistbands of both trousers and undershorts and pushed them down. His eyes never left her slim, nude body as he bent to remove them. When he straightened, he was as naked as she.

The strength evident in his masculine body was almost frightening. He could overwhelm her without effort if he chose. Iron-hard muscles ridged his flat belly, corded his rib cage and long thighs. His male length rose thick and full from his groin, visibly throbbing with the force of his lust. Despite the responding heat of her own blood, beating through her veins in rhythm with the throbbing in her loins, she began to have serious doubts about the possibility of this. She made a soft, panicked sound.

"Shh, sweetheart," he murmured softly. "Don't be nervous." His hard hands closed gently on her shoulders, and somehow she found herself lying on her back again, and he was lying beside her, the heat of his big body searing and enveloping her as he folded her close to him. His nakedness was overwhelming, the strength of his sexuality no longer masked either by clothing or the boundaries enforced by society. He continued to soothe her with low whispers that might not even have been words, while his hands stroked slow fire over her.

Caroline clung to him, unsure of herself in this dramatically intensified situation. She had thought he had led her into sensual territory before, but now she found that she had only been loitering in the doorway. If it hadn't been for the pleasure, she would have bolted. But the pleasure… ah, it was slow and insidious and mind numbing, gently seducing her into relaxing her tight muscles; then, when her resistance was gone, it abruptly turned into a thundering storm that crashed through her nerves and muscles. Her slender body quivered with it, drawing tight as a bowstring again, but this time from a different cause, and he was too instinctive a male animal not to immediately sense that difference. His hands moved over her with a sure and shattering purpose, no longer to calm, but to intensify her arousal.

His mouth drew her nipples into wet beads of sensual torment, punished by sharp little bites and soothed by his tongue. She writhed sinuously in his arms, her hips lifting and rolling in an ancient rhythm that called to him as surely as a drumbeat. Once again his fingers delved between the soft feminine folds and found her moist and swollen, aching for his touch; her thighs opened unconsciously to give him greater freedom, an opportunity he immediately exploited. He carefully penetrated her with one long finger, and a wild little sound burst from her throat as she surged upward against his hand. He lingered over her, drunk with the scent of her warm, aroused body, the silkiness of her skin. He would have crushed her against him if he could have absorbed her into himself, so violent was the urge to meld their two bodies together.

His probing touch taught him both the height of her excitement and the strength of her virginity, and his stomach muscles tightened with almost unbearable anticipation. He couldn't wait much longer, but he wanted her so hot that she would willingly accept the pain of his penetration in order to take the deeper pleasure of their joining. She was so tight he didn't know if he could stand it, but he would go mad if he didn't thrust himself into her sweet depths.

She was arching nearer and nearer to climax as his sensual torment continued, her head thrashing on the bed in a tangle of blond hair, her hands clutching at him with desperate strength. She moaned and sank her nails into his chest. "Now." Her voice was hoarse. "Now now now now!"

He couldn't stand it any longer himself. He spread her thighs wide and mounted her, his hard weight pressing her into the mattress as his rigid length pushed against the soft heat of her intimate flesh and felt it begin to yield beneath the pressure. Then the exquisite feel of nakedness brought him to his senses, and he drew back from her, from the maddening closeness of penetration. He reached for the box on the bedside table, extracting one of the small foil packets and tearing it open with his teeth.

"No," Caroline said fiercely, pushing his hand away. "Not this time, not the first time. I want to feel you, only you."

Her passion-dark eyes glared up at him; her slim, heated body called to him with a primitive message. She was wild and pagan, even more the Valkyrie now when she lay naked, her thighs open to accept the male intrusion that would end her maidenhood. She challenged his domination, demanded his body and seed in this most ancient celebration of fertility.

Joe braced himself on his arms above her, his face savage as he brought his hips back to hers. He was experienced sexually where she wasn't, knew the wild risk they were taking, but this one time, this first time he, too, wanted her without anything between them.

Caroline went still at the first blunt probing.

Their eyes met and held. A tiny muscle in his cheek twitched as he increased the pressure. Pain threatened for her, became a reality, but she didn't try to push him away. She wanted this, hungered for his possession with a violence that made the pain as nothing. He didn't take it easy with her. His penetration was inexorable: invading, stretching, forcing her soft sheath to accept and hold his turgid length. She arched wildly, unable to take any more, and by her own action found that she could. He gave a harsh sound of pleasure.

"Yes," he muttered tightly. "That's right, sweetheart, you can take me. Come on. More. Do it again." The exquisite feel of her was mind shattering, like hot silk, tight and wet and incredibly soft.

Driven by some frantic need she did, and suddenly he was seated in her to the hilt, the solidness of his possession making hot tears spring to her eyes. The stretched, too-full sensation was unbearable, yet she bore it because the only alternative was to stop, and that was impossible. She was impelled by a need too instinctive for caution, too fierce to slow. The hard planes of his chest crushed her breasts; his hands slid under her and gripped her buttocks with bruising force as he lifted her into his thrusts, and sharp pleasure exploded through her. She clung to him, sobbing and gasping and half screaming.

Grinding his teeth, he fought his own climax and rode her hard, intensifying her spasms of release. Gradually she stopped shaking and the frantic tension eased from her muscles, letting her relax in his arms. A soft, almost purring note sounded in her throat. "Joe," she whispered, just his name, and the lazy pleasure in her voice almost sent him over the edge.

"Now," he said gutturally, rising to his knees. It was his turn, and his need was so savage he could barely control it. He hooked his arms under her legs and leaned forward, bracing himself on his hands with her legs forced high and wide, draped over his arms. She was completely vulnerable to him like that, totally unable to limit the depth of his thrusts, and he took full advantage of it. He drove into her hard and deep, his powerful shoulders hunched with the effort as he hammered into her, and the pleasure hit him just as it had her, without warning, slamming into him like a runaway train. He jerked convulsively under the force of it, a harsh cry ripping from his throat. The spasms went on and on, emptying him into the hot depths of the woman beneath him. When it finally did end, he sank heavily onto her, his chest heaving as his tortured lungs fought for air. His heart was thudding frantically in his chest, and he was so weak he couldn't roll away from her. He'd never felt like this even when pulling Gs, and certainly never from having sex.

He dozed. She should have protested his heavy weight, but instead she cradled him close, loving the feel of his big body crushing her into the mattress. She could barely move, barely breathe, and it was heaven. She ached all over, but especially between her legs, where his heavy manhood still nestled within her, yet she was filled with a sense of contentment that permeated every cell of her body and all but negated the discomfort. Her eyes drifted shut. She had wanted it just the way it had been-raw and forceful. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if he had lost that damnable control of his. It had given a little, but still it had held, whereas she had been helpless in the grip of a wild passion that had known no limits.

"Caroline." His mouth settled over hers just as he said her name, and drowsily she realized that she must have slept, because she hadn't felt him move, but now he was braced on his elbows, her head cradled in his palms. Without pause she responded, her mouth opening and molding itself to his.

A little while later he forced himself to stop kissing her and gently disengaged their bodies. She remained limply sprawled on the bed while he went into the bathroom and came out a moment later with a wet washcloth. She thought she should be embarrassed at the intimate way he cleaned her, but it was beyond her. She yawned like a sleepy cat and curled onto her side when he had finished. "Did I bleed?" she asked, her voice holding only an absentminded curiosity.

"Only a little." He caressed her buttocks possessively, filled with fierce satisfaction that she had given herself to him so completely. She hadn't held anything back, hadn't let discomfort or fear of the unknown prevent her from hurling herself headlong into the situation. He'd never been wanted like that before, had never wanted anyone like that before, with no reservations or restraints, no boundaries. Any other woman would have been frightened by the savagery of his possession, but Caroline had reveled in it. He'd never been so savage before, had never allowed himself to give in to the fierceness of his sexual needs. His rampant sexuality had always been held under ruthless control, yet now he had not only given in to it, he had done so without protection. He might have made her pregnant with that one irresponsible act.

He should have been furious and disgusted with himself, but somehow he wasn't. The utter pleasure of it had been too strong to allow room for regrets. A dangerous image formed in his mind, a picture of Caroline swollen with his child, and to his surprise he began to be aroused again.

She was asleep. He carried the washcloth back to the bathroom and returned to turn back the covers and tuck her between the cool sheets. She murmured softly; then, when he slipped in beside her, she cuddled against him, automatically seeking the comfort of his warmth. He cradled her head on his shoulder, his free arm wrapped possessively around her hips to hold her close. He went to sleep almost as easily as she had.

When he awakened later, his acute sense of time told him that he'd been asleep for about two hours. He was achingly aroused, and by the time he had caressed her awake, she was, too. This time he forced himself to use protection, though for the first time he bitterly resented the thin barrier between their complete intimacy. She gasped a little when he entered her, her tender flesh sore from the first tune, but again she wouldn't let him be gentle, even if he had wanted to be. There would be time for gentleness later, for now there was only the flood tide of desire, demanding release. They writhed and surged together in the darkness, the only sound the roughness of their breathing and the creaking of the bed beneath them.

They slept again. He awakened three more times during the night and had her. He wondered when the urgency would lessen.

It was after eight the next morning when he opened his eyes to find the bright morning sun trying valiantly to pierce the heavy curtains. The room was dim, the air conditioning quietly humming, the air pleasantly cool. His body ached from the unbridled activities of the night

Caroline lay curled on her side, facing away from him, and for a moment he admired the delicate line of her spine. How could such a soft, delicately made body have withstood the demands he had made on it?

The bed was a wreck. The covers were all pulled loose and twisted, and mostly on the floor. At some point during the night Caroline had pulled one corner of the bedspread up to hug to her breasts. Even the fitted bottom sheet had come loose. One pillow was stuffed under the headboard. He had a distinct memory of there having been three pillows, but he had no idea where the other two were. He also had a distinct memory of having placed one under her hips during one of their ravenous encounters. He yawned, wondering if she would want to remake the bed before the hotel maids could see it. He didn't see much point in remaking it at all.

He was hungry and gently shook her awake. "What do you want for breakfast, sweetheart? I'll call room service, then we can take a bath while we're waiting."

She opened one eye. "Coffee," she murmured.

"What else?"

She sighed. "Food." The eye closed.

He chuckled. "Can you narrow it down a little?"

She thought about it. "Nothing green," she finally mumbled into the mattress. "I can't eat green in the mornings."

Stunned by the idea, he shuddered with revulsion. Come to think of it, he couldn't eat anything green in the mornings, either.

He ordered pecan waffles and bacon for both of them, with coffee and orange juice. The impersonal voice on the other end of the line informed him that it would be forty-five minutes to an hour before his order arrived, which was fine with him. He hung up the phone and shook Caroline awake again.

"Do you want a shower or a tub bath?"

"Tub. Can't sit down in a shower."

He went into the bathroom and turned on the faucets of the playground-size bathtub. Despite the size of the thing, the water level rose quickly. He returned to the bedroom and lifted Caroline in his arms. Her own arms curled trustingly around his neck. "Are you very sore?" he asked with concern.

"Not too sore, if that's what you're asking." She rubbed her cheek against his shoulder. "It's just that I can't walk."

He stepped into the tub with her still in his arms and carefully lowered himself into the warm water, then reclined against the back of the tub with her between his legs, her back to his chest. She sighed with pleasure as the warm water began soaking the stiffness from her legs and easing the discomfort between them.

She would have expected to be embarrassed by the intimacy that had passed between them during the night, as well as uneasy with their nudity, but she didn't feel any of that. She felt bone-deep contentment, a sense of lightness and completion that she'd never before known existed. He was her man, she was his woman; how could she be embarrassed with him?

He bathed her, lathering his hands with the fragrant soap and gently sliding them over the tender parts of her body, which somehow seemed to need more attention than the other parts. By the time he finished she was feeling very warm and so was he, if the fullness of his hard male length was any indication. She returned the favor and bathed him, but the imminent arrival of their food prevented him from doing anything to relieve his arousal.

There were two thick, hooded terry bathrobes hanging on the back of the bathroom door, and they put them on a scant two minutes before the brisk knock on the door heralded room service. Joe signed the order slip while the cart was immobilized and the covers removed from the dishes.

The delicious scent of coffee brought her drifting in from the bedroom. Joe's eyes sharpened with the quick resurgence of lust. Even with her face bare of makeup, her hair tousled and her body wrapped in a thick bathrobe, she was more alluring than every other woman he'd had or even seen. The men she worked with might call her the Beauty Queen because of her fastidious attention to her appearance, but her attraction didn't rely on it.

She attacked the food with unselfconscious appetite, and he thought that even the way she ate made him hard. When she was finished she leaned back with a sigh of contentment and smiled at him, a lazy smile that made his blood sizzle.

"What are we going to do today?"

He lifted his black eyebrow. His pale eyes looked as hard and brilliant as diamonds, and there was fire in their depths. "I don't plan on leaving the suite this entire weekend," he said evenly. "Unless we run out of condoms."

Slowly she stood up. "Maybe room service will deliver," she said in a voice that was suddenly tight with need, and then she was in his arms.

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