|The wild grasses kept her from breaking any
bones, but the impact still managed to knock the wind out of her. Long minutes
passed as she lay there, gasping for breath. Her suit was solid black; the
coalescing pattern of stars normally flowing across it had been burnt into
She managed to roll onto her back when a familiar feeling washed over her.
Closing her eyes, she waited for his touch. The sound of his voice.
“Star? How are you doing?”
She opened her eyes to see him kneeling
down beside her. Damn, he looked so good, especially with that little worry line
running across his forehead. “I’ll live, but I’m going to be black and blue
tomorrow, let me tell you. Did it work, boss?”
He grinned at her. “It worked. I managed to get a good look-see during your
light show. Can you manage to get back to Three on your own?”
“Yeah.” She tried to sit up amid aching muscles. The groan that escaped her was
unexpected. Hunter’s expression shifted from relieved back to worried. “It’s all
right,” she reassured him, holding out a hand so he could help her up. “Think of
it as doing an exercise you haven’t done in a long time, and finding out
afterwards which muscles you’d been neglecting.”
She started to say more when Hunter jerked his headset off and thumbed the
switch, turning it off. Before she could ask him why he’d done that, strong
hands reached out and pulled her up onto her feet, where warm arms wrapped
around her until she was securely held against that marvelously protective chest
Quietly, Star buried her face in his neck as her arms tightened around his
shoulders. Several seconds passed as they stood, encased in each other’s
embrace. It felt so natural and perfect, with his hands holding her along her
lower back and ribs. Pressing her tightly, possessively against him. The feeling
was more comforting than she could remember.
A pair of lips brushed her temple, making her wish again that she could accept
him in the light. She was slowly getting to the point where the thought of it no
longer frightened her, but it would be a while longer before that could happen.
But until she could, he would not touch her lips with his.
In the past, the first thing any man she had dated had wanted to do was to mash
his mouth against hers. Sometimes sloppily. Sometimes hard. Often hurtful, as if
force and pressure were the hallmarks of a passionate kiss.
Hunter had kissed almost every inch of her body. She knew his mouth almost as
intimately as the rest of him. Only, they had never truly kissed. The lack of it
made her lips hunger to feel them. She wanted to know, needed to know if he
could burn her soul with his hot mouth as easily as he burned her skin.
And I promise you, I will kiss you like no other man has ever kissed you, or
will ever kiss you.
A shiver ran through her, and Hunter squeezed her tighter. “Talk to me, my
heart,” he whispered in her ear.
Pressing her lips to his throat, where his neck was bare above the collar of his
tunic, Star wanted to ask him a hundred questions. She had to know, for the sake
of her heart and her sanity, would he still be within her reach after she
conceived? They would still be Guardians—that was their life’s duty. But was
what she was feeling also running through his veins? Did his heart leap whenever
she entered the room, like hers did? Did he spend nights tossing and turning in
bed because it had become too empty and too cold? Did he touch himself when he
was in his cleansing chamber, and imagine a lover’s touch upon his skin?
A lover’s touch . . . .
“Udo.” It was more breath than word. His mouth found her pulse beneath her ear
as he freed a hand to push away her wealth of glossy black hair, and his tongue
sent sparks all the way down to her toes.
A tinny beep sounded. With an abruptness that surprised her, Hunter suddenly
released her and stepped back, jamming the headset back on and thumbing the mike
open. “Yeah, Deceiver. Be there in a sec.”
Star felt her skin contracting at the rush of cold that swept over her, as his
warmth was no longer keeping her comfortable. As she watched him answer the comm
link, it dawned on her that they had just held each other in the full light of
day. In uniform. With her mind and her body reaching for him, and now watching
him as he stood staring at her with those blue eyes she would love to fly in.
She blinked. Udo.
Her eyes dropped to the neckline of his uniform, seeing it for the first time,
not as the attire he wore daily when he was a Guardian, but as just another
piece of clothing keeping his body hidden and apart from hers. She couldn’t see
any buttons. No fasteners that she could tell. How in the world did he put it
on? Screw that—how did he take it off?
Her gaze dropped further. He was wearing boots. Were they ankle high? Or higher?
It was hard to tell with his long pants.
Slowly, she lifted her eyes to see a gentle smile on his face. Did he realize
what was happening to her? Could he grasp the miracle that was coming over her?
A small, tentative smile lit her face, and Star gently shook her head. “No,” she
murmured quietly so the headset wouldn’t pick up her voice. “Not now. Right now
my name is Terrin.”
Her eyes centered on his mouth. He had a beautiful smile. A perfect smile. A
loving smile. It had the power to make her happy just to dwell on it.
“My name is Terrin, Udo. And I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”
There. It was out, and she wasn’t frightened any longer. She hadn’t planned on
telling him. Not now. And certainly not like this. But it sounded like the most
natural thing, to tell him. In fact, it felt--
He stepped closer to her, close enough to block the sunlight. His hand reached
up to her face, and Star closed her eyes, ready to feel him nuzzle her cheek or
her temple, as he always did when he lowered his face.
Her world came to a shattering halt as his mouth came down over hers. Taking her
sanity, claiming her heart, drawing everything away from her until she could no
longer breathe. Or think. Or have any other sensation numbing every nerve in her
body except for the giving and taking caress of his lips.
Life was in his lips. He gave her life. Intoxicating, soul-shaking,
mind-blanking life. He held her cheek with one hand, and his lips possessed hers
until she could do nothing but fall weakly against him and let him have absolute
control of her. Hoping he would take her over and over. Feeling him delving as
deeply into this part of her body at this moment the same way he’d taken her
virginity in her lonely little bed back at Guardian Command. Taking her further
and further away from here and now, until the center of her universe was
contained in the length and breadth of one man. One friend, one teammate, one
A soft chuckle vibrated in his chest. “Think?” he asked in that deep voice that
filled her head with memories of passion-filled nights. And promises of more to
“I swear by all the stars in the heavens, Udo,” she somehow managed to confess
as his lips sipped her like precious water. “I love you.”