Brand couldn’t believe the beast wasn’t struggling for control. A nearly naked female rested in his arms, and what he wanted most was to protect her. The desperate need to taste her was almost as powerful and had his mouth watering. He had no idea why he’d asked, aside from that it felt like the right thing to do, and she’d shocked him by agreeing.
His throat tightened as her head fell back to bare her throat. Such an effortless movement, and yet the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He watched her for several seconds, enjoying the soft expression on her face.
He pressed his lips where her pulse beat strongest, feeling the blood flow under her skin. She shivered. He whispered against her throat, “I appreciate the offer, but not here.” To gain her trust, he needed to prove to her that the marks on her torso didn’t disgust him.
Shifting her in his arms, he laid her on the plush rug closer to the center of the room. When he pulled the edge of her robe open to expose her right hip further, she tensed. He traced the rune furthest to the right with a delicate touch. The harsh angular scar looked out of place burned into her smooth skin. Leaving a mark that scarred brood flesh was no simple matter; it took persistence and a great deal of time. He trailed his fingers over her skin to the curve of her right hip, and the hesitation in her melted away.
He moved slowly until his lips brushed the soft skin of her hip. She smelled like a pine forest under new-fallen snow, fresh and fragrant. He paused to drag his tongue over the spot he intended to bite. She gasped the instant before his teeth touched her.
His canines sinking into her succulent skin was thrilling beyond anything he could remember. The flood of blood over his tongue made him moan. A sense of peace spread through his ravaged body as her power flowed into him. He drew more into his mouth, the taste of her cascading down his throat. Her hand reached down to the back of his head and tangled in his hair.
He reveled in the feel of her as she trembled beneath him. Originally intending to only to take a taste, he soon found he didn’t want to let go. The urge to mark her nearly overwhelmed him. He tightened his bite a fraction. She groaned, her fingers twisting in his hair.
His lips tingled. With a start, he withdrew his teeth before the mark took hold. A long, shuddering sigh escaped her. He swiped his tongue over the wounds to stem the bleeding. She shifted under him.
He looked up into her flushed face. His position gave him a lovely view of her breasts heaving with each breath. The taste of her lingered on his lips. Her blood rushed through him, making his entire body ache.
He realized, to his shock, that he wanted more from her than a moment between two strangers on his floor. His hand slid over her belly to touch the scars marring her perfect skin. It offended him that someone had hurt her and still lived. “Tell me who did this to you.”
She opened her eyes to watch his fingers play over the scars. When she hesitated, he thought she still wouldn’t name him. Then she spoke. “Ansvarr.”
Of all the names he thought might cross her lips, the name of his half-brother was not among them. He tried to hide his surprise, unsure if he succeeded. “You were in Vancouver?”
She withdrew her hand from his hair. Her jaw set, hardening her features in an instant. He wondered if he should reveal his relation to Ansvarr, but he didn’t want her to be upset, so he decided to wait.
He tried to get to his feet, but dizziness overtook him. With her blood strengthening him, he had all but forgotten how bad his injuries were. With less than a dozen hours to the peak, and thirty-six before he could sleep naturally, he wasn’t going to make it.
Dagny gasped when he almost fell and hurried to her feet. “Let me help you into bed.”
Brand couldn’t help smiling as he took her offered hand. “With an offer like that, how can I refuse?”
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