SOFT whimpers of distress and the breeze from the fan blowing across my bare skin drew me out of sleep. I opened bleary eyes and glanced at the window. Pink and pearly gray stained the sky, bleaching the dark indigo away from the horizon. I groaned, burying my face in the pillow, and only another mumbled sound of fear had me biting back the vicious curse I’d almost let slip out.
Four months of waking up at the butt crack of dawn. It was enough to drive a man nuts. Morning and I had never been on the best of terms.
Kristair had stolen the covers again, leaving me buck-assed naked. He’d wrapped them around him like a cocoon and curled up in a tight ball in the middle of our bed, completely covered in blankets and sheets. He was either going to suffocate or roast. Still, I knew, Kristair would’ve burrowed even deeper if he could, anything to escape the morning sun and the dreams it brought.
We’d tried blackout curtains, and they’d worked like a charm until Kristair took them down again. He’d said he’d never adjust if we kept them up. And while he might have had a point, I argued he should give himself some time to become used to dreaming again, along with all the other abrupt changes of being mortal. But there was one thing I could say about my lover: he made stubbornness into an art form. Not that I could talk, to be honest.
Kristair struggled as I peeled away the covers, his hands fisting in a death grip in the folds. Still, he didn’t wake up when I tugged them free. I’d never met anyone who could sleep as heavily as he did. I drew the blankets around us again, and when I pressed against his back, slipping my arm around his waist, he quieted some and nestled into me with a soft sigh. Closing my eyes, I nuzzled the nape of his neck, breathing in the scent of him.
It was still early; we could get a few more hours of sleep. I curled my body around his, closing my eyes, and then Kristair trembled, tossing his head restlessly, and I knew it was a hopeless cause.
If only I could have slipped into his mind. I’d have soothed away every fear he had, especially the ones he refused to name, pretending instead that they didn’t exist. We might not have had our mental connection anymore, I might not have been able to hear his every thought, but no one knew Kristair like I did, not even himself. He was locking too much away, and one day it was all going to come bursting out. I just hoped to god I was there for him when it happened.
I kissed his shoulder and slid my hand down his warm hip. Four months and it was still a wonder to me to feel the heat in his skin when he didn’t have to think about using blood he’d fed on to put it there. Or listening to his heartbeat and his steady breathing. He was my miracle. He had given up everything because he loved me, and that was a sacrifice I refused to take for granted.
Kristair murmured when I rolled him onto his back, limbs heavy with sleep, but he didn’t stir, not even when I nudged his thighs apart and settled my weight over him. I wished the camera were near. I would have taken a dozen naughty photos of him and made my own shrine. His skin held a golden vitality in the early morning sun. His lashes curved and shadowed his deep-set eyes, and lord, he looked just fucking bitable.
I kissed along his jaw, rubbing my lips against the rough growth of his morning beard until they tingled. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. No more bad dreams, not this morning,” I whispered.
His lips parted when I kissed their warm softness, and the tension began easing from his body as his subconscious began to switch from fear to pleasure. This was becoming my new favorite morning ritual. After all, if I was going to be up, I might as well be all the way up.
Kristair’s cock stirred against my thigh, and I smiled, breaking the kiss, rubbing my lips against his own. “Come on, sleepy head. If I’m awake, you’re damn well going to be awake too,” I murmured, dragging my tongue down his throat and giving it a little bite. “I could cover you in marks and you wouldn’t know it until you went to take a shower,” I teased, imagining what he’d have to say about that.
I tugged the blankets away from us again, pulling back enough to look down at him. Damn, he was beautiful. I knew he always said that about me, but he needed to take a hard look in the mirror. Long, lean limbs with just the right amount of muscle, dark golden skin, his chest and arms covered in blue tattoos that matched mine. His brow had furrowed, making little lines and accenting the ruggedness of his features. His chin tapered to a point, and his nose was strong and prominent, and damned if he wasn’t just perfect.
Kristair tried turning on his side, reaching for the covers, but I had him pinned, and as I pulled his hands away from his goal, another idea struck me. Leaning over to the nightstand, I grabbed the lube and a cream-colored silken scarf I kept intending on using. Kristair always distracted me away from the idea. Well, he wouldn’t be able to do that now.
“Oh love, you’re in so much trouble now.” I snickered, rubbing my lips against his jaw. “You sure you don’t want to wake up before I have my wicked way with you?”
Kristair muttered something intelligible and buried his face in my neck. I wished it were a sign he was waking and not that he was seeking comfort, but the distress in his tone told me he was still caught up in his nightmare. It made me ache inside to see this strong man with naked fear on his face, to feel him tremble.
I lashed his wrists to the headboard and took a moment to admire my handiwork. The cream silk emphasized his skin tone, and lord, there was something sexy about a strong man helpless. Making a mental note to remember to put the camera on the nightstand for the next time, I turned my full attention to my bound lover.
Dragging my mouth down his throat, I kissed the steady pulse there, remembering those days in the hotel when I’d woken up to find him cold and unresponsive. Now he sighed and arched his throat, turning his head to the side.
“Jacob,” he murmured, the corners of his mouth lifting in a small smile, and his cock throbbed against my thigh.
He was almost awake, and I wanted to be inside him when he realized what was happening. I lubed my cock and slid my arm under his knee, spreading him wider as I began to push inside him, groaning from his welcoming heat. Long, pure black lashes opened, framing his dark eyes, revealing the lingering fear and growing desire.
Kristair’s lips were so damn soft and inviting as they parted in confusion, and I kissed him, surging deeper into his body as he groaned, until his heat completely surrounded my cock. I stayed there, releasing his leg, tongue tangling lazily with my lover’s.
I wanted to whisper in his mind as I made love to him, and since I couldn’t, I broke the kiss and smiled down at him. “Good morning.”
“Jacob… what…?” Kristair twisted his head back to look up at his bound hands, his knees rising up instinctively to cradle my hips, sleep still hazing his eyes. My lover had many sterling qualities and significant advantages over me in most things, but being quick to react upon first waking up wasn’t one of them.
“If you have to ask, then I’m doing it wrong,” I teased, circling my hips until his breath caught and a tremor rippled through him.
“I’m sorry I woke you.” Kristair wrapped his hands around a slat on the bed and levered himself up to kiss me. “Untie me and I’ll make it up to you,” he promised.
I snickered and eased out of him before thrusting hard, savoring his gasp as his eyes darkened to midnight. “No way that’s gonna happen. That would be reasonable and I’m not a reasonable man, especially at this time of the morning. Consider this my payback.”
I leaned over him and gave his nipple a stinging bite. Kristair groaned, arching against me, his long legs coming up to wrap around my waist. Both of us sighed with pleasure as I surged into him deeper. “And now that I have you tied up and helpless, the last thing on my mind is letting you go.”
“You are a wicked man,” Kristair replied, a smile tugging his lips.
“Yeah, but you love me.” I winked at him as he laughed, all trace of fear gone from his expression now.
“That I do.” Kristair’s eyes glinted as he levered himself up again, his lips teasing my jaw and then down to my neck. He clenched around my cock, making me gasp, his tongue tracing around the pulse in my throat. “I love hearing you breathless even more.”
Tied up my lover might have been, but he certainly wasn’t helpless anymore. Fuck, he made me weak when he feasted on my throat like that, teeth scraping, mouth sucking, and the memory of how it had felt when he fed turning my bones to water.
Two could play at that game. I pulled back out of reach of his mouth, grinning as a small pout crossed his lips before he banished it. He’d have kicked my ass if I told him he’d had and would’ve denied it to his last breath. “Brat,” he growled, clenching again.
“Is that the best you can do?” I teased, bracing my hands on either side of him, snapping my hips harder as his lean, dark body twisted and arched. I could have watched him like that all morning.
“Oh, there’s plenty of other names I could call you.” Kristair’s eyes half-closed, his mouth going soft as desire played across his features. “If you’d give me a moment to gather my thoughts.”
“Not a damn chance.” I slid one hand under his ass, cupping the smooth cheek in my hand and squeezing it before lifting him higher. Now this was a morning ritual I could look forward to: listening to Kristair’s needy sounds of pleasure and having him wrapped around me instead of what we had been dealing with.
I leaned low over him and kissed the hard plane of his stomach, dragged my tongue over the tattoo low on his ribs. Kristair moaned, and I smiled against his skin, looking up the length of his chest. Fuck, he was beautiful, and he was all mine.
“You’re giving me that look again,” Kristair murmured.
“Yeah, love, what look is that?” I kissed his stomach again and gave it a sharp nip, trying to hold onto the passion spiraling out of control within me.
“Like you’re going to haul me off to your cave and keep me your prisoner there.”
I grinned again. “Sounds like a wonderful idea, I might just do that, collar you and mark you at the same time.” Kristair’s dark eyes flashed—with want or pique, I didn’t know—and before I asked, his legs tightened around me as he drove his hips up.
“If you don’t get up and kiss me, I’m going to….”
“Nothing,” I chuckled. “You’ll do nothing.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Kristair promised.
Laughing, I kissed him, tongues mating as our bodies twined and moved together. I lost myself in his clenching heat, the sweet softness of his lips, the scent and sounds of sex. Kristair’s cock throbbed against my stomach, our skin now slick, and those needy, urgent moans of his drove me out of my mind.
“Untie me. I want to touch you,” Kristair said, rubbing his jaw against my own.
Oh, the thought of those long-fingered hands on my skin was a temptation, but I shook my head, capturing his lips again. The long, languid thrusts became quicker, harder, as the lazy, just-woke-up feeling vanished under the mounting heat.
I broke the kiss, pulling back just enough so I could watch Kristair’s unguarded expression. I loved the moments like this when he held nothing back and I could read him as easily as if we still had the mental connection. It was these moments when Kristair shared his wants and needs and vulnerabilities without walls.
He smiled, tongue tracing over my lips as he panted. “So close… just like that… don’t stop.” His moan had my stomach jumping and heart skipping a beat. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him as, with each rock of our hips, the pleasure rippled sharper and hotter over his face.
Then he arched, a soft cry falling from his lips, his body tensing under mine as he came. Enthralled, I paused, buried deep inside him, feeling every rippling contraction as his muscles went limp from his release. I shifted, the head of my cock nudging his spot, and he gasped, biting his lip against the overstimulation.
Kristair’s eyes flew open and his gaze locked on me as I began circling my hips again once I regained my composure and my own impeding orgasm tapered off. “Oh damn,” he whispered, and then he cried out as I drove into him hard enough to rock the bed against the wall.
Each shout from my lover, each writhe of his body, spurred me on. I attacked his throat, nipping and sucking until his flesh was hot against my lips. And all too soon, it was over. One rough moan from Kristair, the hard clenching and buck of his hips, and I was lost, my climax hitting me so fast that it was like lighting zipping through my body, there then gone, leaving me trembling in the aftermath.
“At least we didn’t break the bed this time,” Kristair said, after we’d recovered our breath and the tremors eased from his thighs.
I started laughing and lifted my head from where it had been resting on his shoulder, dropping a kiss onto his lips. “I blame you for that one.”
Kristair turned his head, glancing at the alarm clock we never had to use, and his eyes widened when he saw the time. “Oh for… Jacob, It’s not even six a.m.”
“Nobody knows better than me what damn time it is.”
Kristair attempted to tug his hands free again with no success. “I’m sorry if I woke you. Why don’t you catch some more sleep and I’ll make us breakfast in a little bit?”
“Nope, not gonna happen. One, because for some sick reason, I can’t sleep if you’re already up and about, and two, I’m already wide awake.” I eased off of him and gave his flank a teasing slap as I rose from the bed. “I’m gonna grab a quick shower; then I thought we could go for a run.”
“Don’t you think you’re forgetting something?” Kristair asked with a pointed tug of his bound wrists.
“Nope.” I grinned and sauntered into the bathroom, ignoring his insistent call. Now this was the way to wake up. Pleased with myself, I lingered in the shower and ran through the different ways my lover would attempt to seek revenge on me before deciding I was safe. Kristair would forget all about it by the time he returned from work and I from the gym and meetings with the coaches.
When I came back out again, towel wrapped around my hips, I found Kristair sound asleep again. He’d somehow managed to get himself free and was curled up again under the covers, snoring away. Old habits died hard, I guess.
Another wicked idea struck me, and grinning, I grabbed a hold of all the blankets and yanked them off to the floor. Kristair sat up with a shout, reaching vainly to cover himself. And fuck, the look on his face was so priceless I doubled over laughing before I could say a word. “Kristair… oh my god, if you could’ve just seen your face, you….”
The growl was the only warning I got, and the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back on the floor and Kristair was leaning over me, his face twisted into a snarl. Desire surged all over again in my veins. “About that run….”
“Shut up, Jacob,” Kristair snapped, pinning my hands above my head. “You’re not going anywhere.”
“I have no problem with that,” I managed to say before Kristair kissed me, rough and insistent. Oh yeah, I’d gotten him good.