Behind Raine, the bed dipped. As she lay on her side, an arm slipped around her waist. Moist breath on her neck, stubble grazing her nape, and a familiar, woodsy scent drew her up through the layers of consciousness. She woke to the feel of a hard male body, warm and naked, spooning her against him.
Liam. Raine was intimately familiar with his touch. His musk—like the man himself—was a seduction. Alluring. Everything about him flirted with her senses, tempted and drew her in. Hammer felt completely different. Sharp, aggressive, darkly masculine. Unyielding.
Liam pressed his ready erection against her backside as he filled his hands with her breasts and groaned. “I didn’t mean to wake you…”
“I’m glad you did.” She lifted her heavy lids, expecting to see Hammer lying next to her, where he’d been before he’d stripped her down and tucked her in. Instead, she only saw the glowing numbers of the clock, noting that it wasn’t even ten thirty. “I guess I drifted off. Where did Hammer go?”
“He’s got a club to run, remember?” Liam pulled her to him, clutching her close. “I missed you.”
She snuggled back against him. After his odd mood in the car this morning and his stinging refusal to touch her, having him here was an unexpected but reassuring surprise.
“I missed you, too.”
“You feel good,” he breathed in her ear.
As he spoke, the scent of Scotch hit her nose. He’d been drinking?
She turned in his arms. “Is everything all right?”
His grave expression took her aback. His dark eyes burned. “I need you to kiss me, Raine.”
She met his stare, unblinking. Usually, he held her and pressed his lips to hers if the urge moved him. But now, the gravity in his voice said he needed her—and he didn’t often admit that aloud. Was he feeling guilty about his rebuff this morning? Maybe, but this felt like more, like him reaching out for her love.
The woman in her responded. Maybe she should still be angry or hurt, but Liam had been her rock since their first day together. She sensed that now he needed her to be his. She ached to know why, but it wasn’t the time to interrogate him.
Raine cupped his face. “Always.”
She laid her lips over his in a soft caress, testing her welcome and his hunger. He tensed as she leaned in, then breathed through the initial brush of her mouth. He grabbed her hips, kissed her in return, but he didn’t move or make a sound through the achingly gentle press of lips. His fingers tightened on her. Long and slow, he inhaled as if drinking her in. Raine wondered what troubled him.
She pulled back enough to search his face. “Liam?”
“My sweet love,” he whispered against her lips, then rolled her to her back and covered her body with his own. He tasted of the tart, smoky Scotch he’d consumed—and of desperation.
Clutching her nape, he held her still for his pleasure and delved into her mouth as if he could fuse them together. He didn’t test or apologize with this kiss. As he crushed her mouth beneath his, he claimed her, screaming “mine” without saying a word at all.
Raine jolted. From the moment Liam had taken her into his arms as a lost girl aching to feel like a woman, he’d cradled her in his sure hands, always steady and strong, beside her, supporting her, helping her grow, and never asking for anything in return—until now.
Carnal and thorough, he ate at her mouth. She felt his trembling, tasted his longing. He wasn’t asking her for help. Obviously, he had no intention of telling her what upset him. But in that moment, it didn’t matter.
Flowing around and under Liam, Raine opened and gave him everything. She had a million questions, but they didn’t matter now, when everything about his demeanor told her that she’d become his life preserver in a raging sea. He entreated her by laving his tongue against hers again and again. He held her tight.
Time slid by, endless and meaningless, until he robbed her of breath and she turned restless in her own skin, until the ache to have him deep took over and she clung, spread her legs beneath him, and moaned for his next touch.