OUTSIDE THE LIMIT Excerpt . . .
They sat there in the rainy gloom, watching the drops of
water coursing down the windshield, the waving green foliage
surrounding them. He reached out for her hand. It was as cold
as ice. He chafed it.
“Come in,” he urged her. “Let me make
you a cup of tea.”
She stared down at her hand, clasped in his, but did not
pull it away. “I’m the opposite of your ideal
woman,” she blurted.
His jaw clenched. “I know,” he said.
“So, um, where does that leave us?” she asked
He looked up at the dripping trees, the heavy clouds. “At
the moment, it leaves us parked outside, in a truck, in the
Her face turned deep, warm pink. “You want me to come
“Only if you want to,” he said. Hah. He lied.
He wanted her to come in more than he wanted his next lungful
“I hardly know you,” she whispered.
“We can fix that,” he suggested. “Come
in for a cup of tea. Tell me about yourself. ”
“That’s very nice of you. But it’s not
a good idea to have a first date in one’s own private
space,” she said primly.
He started to grin. “Is that what it would be? A first
She looked flustered. “I don’t know. What would
you call it?”
He drummed his fingers on the wheel. “I’d call
it a cup of tea.”
Nancy wrapped her arms around herself. “A first date—that
is, um, a first encounter of any kind should take place on
mutually agreed upon neutral ground,” she told him.
“A public place, like a bar, or a restaurant. And just
a drink, not dinner. Just to see how it goes.”
“Oh. Is that how it’s done?” He pressed
a kiss against her fingers. “Tea’s a drink, right?
And wouldn’t breakfast count as the first date?”
“No,” she said breathlessly. “No way.
We haven’t had any dates. We’re nowhere yet. Breakfast
doesn’t count. Intention is everything.”
“Now that is the God’s own truth.” He
reached out, and stroked her cheek with a feather-light touch.
It was as soft as he had imagined.
She made a low, inarticulate sound deep in her throat. He
was dazed, by the warmth of her, the downy softness. The delicate
He leaned forward, in tiny, increments, until their faces
nearly touched, and commenced a slow, careful dance of advance,
retreat. Feeling her breath against his cheek, stroking her
jaw. Tracing that elegant jut of delicately sculpted cheekbone
beneath her smooth skin.
He waited, sensing her caution, and her longing. Waiting
patiently until the two found their perfect balancing point,
and . . . ah.
Her eyes shut as he tasted her lips. So lightly. So carefully.
He gasped at the contact. Oh, Jesus, she tasted like light.
Incredible, electrifying. Her lips, so soft and shy beneath
He explored her face with his fingertips, stroking her jaw,
her pale throat. She dragged in a sharp breath as he slid
his hand down her back, settling on the curve of her hip.
Her nipples poked against her blouse. His fingers ached to
caress them. He touched the first button, tugged it. It came
loose, revealing the hollow of her throat, a warm cloud of
some exotic, woodsy scent. He wanted to gulp it in. Lick it
He pulled her closer, kissed her jaw, then her throat. His
lips brushed the warm gold of the little pendant Lucia had
given her. His hand brushed down over her breast, just close
enough so that the nipple barely brushed his palm. The little
nub was hard, tight.
His arm tightened. He felt it, the second that it happened.
A door, slamming down between them in her mind. One moment
she was melting in his arms, fingernails digging into his
shirt. Out of nowhere, tension gripped her, and she arched
away, stiff and brittle as a stick of balsa wood. He was so
in tune with her, he actually felt alarm jangling through
her, like warning bells clanging. As if the fear were his
He forced himself to let go. It was as hard as bending metal.
He eased back, hands clenched. Giving her the space she
needed. He was doing it again. Pushing her. It was a piss
poor time for this. She was a complicated woman, grief stricken,
stressed out, and he was a jerk-off for forcing the issue.
Off his fucking head. He struggled not to pant. Fists clenched.
Slow breathing. Don’t even look at her. Don’t.
He looked away. Minutes ticked by, measured by drops of
water making their meandering way down the window of the truck,
by ragged, labored breaths that he struggled to keep silent.
At length, he heard her rustling, the soft sounds of fabric
shushing together. Buttoning her blouse, getting herself in
order. A cough. Clearing her throat. “Ah . . um, Liam?
That was, ah—“
“Amazing.” He stared fixedly at the lean-to,
the pattern of the carefully stacked wood for his fireplace.
“But you choked.”
She looked into her lap. “I’m sorry. I didn’t
mean to lead you on. Look, I need to get back. I need to talk
to the cops about that letter, and the jeweler, and clue my
sisters in, and you’ve been really great, and I appreciate
the company, but I . . . but I’m, ah—“
“Scared,” he said.
She sighed. “Not of you.” Her voice was muted.
“You’re a really good guy. I know that. It’s
just . . . well, everything.”
“Yeah?” Anger twisted in him, hard to wrestle
down. “Everything’s not here in the cab of this
truck, Nancy. It’s just me in here with you.”
She looked at him with big, beseeching eyes. He stared back,
unrelenting. “It’s just a cup of tea. It’s
not the end of the world.”
She made a sniffing sound. “Right. You know exactly
what would happen if I went into your house, Liam.”
“Do I? Yes, actually,” he said reflectively.
“I can see it. I’d pull up a chair for you. Put
the kettle on the stove. Rummage around in the pantry for
that tin of ginger butter crisps. Ask if you take milk or
lemon. Ask leading questions about your childhood. Say nice
things about your eyes, your hair, your earrings. Try my best
to be witty and charming.”
“Really?” A smile flickered on her face. “Is
that what you’d do?”
He nodded, willing it to be true.
“It sounds nice,” she said demurely. “But
I . . . oh, never mind.”
Yeah, she didn’t have to say it. He saw that alternative
scenario, too. The one where he ripped the clothes off that
slim, lusciously curved body, pinned her up against the wall
and nailed her, deep and hard, until they both exploded. His
heart thudded. His ears roared.
Cool it, bonehead. The moment was so fragile, so uncertain.
She was intensely sensitive to his every word, his every goddamn
He caught her eye flicking to his lap and darting nervously
away. Yeah, the boner of the century, trying to rip the seams
of his jeans loose. Aching with each heavy thud of his heart
for the soft touch of that cool hand. Heat burned into his
cheekbones. He gave her a shrug that said yeah, and so? He
couldn’t control his physiological responses, but he
could by God control his behavior. He wanted her to know that,
but there was no good way to say it. Better to keep his mouth
“I just need for things to be . . . under control,”
she whispered. “I have enough to be scared of right
now, without piling it on, you know?”
He rubbed his face against his hands, feeling around instinctively
with his senses for a way through this labyrinth. He did not
want to turn around and go back. No. He could not. That wasn’t
even an option.
He flung the door of the truck open. The rain on the earth
had released a deep, sweet spicy perfume, and drops pattered
heavily down onto him. He circled the truck, and stood outside
the passenger side door, staring at Nancy’s huge eyes
through the rain spotted glass. He mimed rolling down the
window. She did so, frowning in perplexity.
“What the hell are you doing out there in the rain?”
“Continuing our conversation. You need control. Control
it, then. The car door’s the limit. I won’t violate
it. I swear upon my sacred honor that I will not touch any
part of you that’s inside that door.”
Her gaze skittered away, embarrassed. “Oh, God, Liam.
You don’t have to play elaborate games like that with
me. You’re getting soaked.”
Like he gave a shit. “That’s my problem, not
yours,” he said.
“But it makes me feel guilty!” she protested.
Ah. Yes. This was progress. “The guilt is your problem,”
he informed her. “I can’t help you with that.
She laughed at him. Something primitive inside him capered
with glee. Yes. It was working. She was lightening up. Praise
“So?” Her eyes sparkled. “You’re
just going to stand out there and get drenched, then? That’s
“It’s a crafty attempt to disarm you with my
gallantry,” he told her. “Is it working? Are you
She wrinkled her nose at him, leaning out the window. “I
think you’re out of your mind.”
His grin stretched all the way around his head. “You’re
charmed,” he said. “And you’re outside the
limit. Any part of you outside the plane of the window is
fair game, remember? The tip of your nose and your forehead
are at serious risk. This is by way of a courtesy warning.”
“Very gentlemanly of you, to warn me,” she said
“I’m trying like hell,” he said, with
And she didn’t pull back. In fact, she leaned a tiny
bit further out. And her fingers were curled over the side
of the door.
He jerked his chin towards her hands. “Outside the
Her lips formed words that didn’t quite make it out
of her mouth, so she swallowed, and tried again. “I
. . . I know.”
His heart started to thud again. The rain was increasing,
its soft, pattering rush. Running down his face. Beading hers,
Over the limit. Fair game. She’d been warned. She
He reached out, as slowly as if she were a bird that would
take flight at any sudden movement, and touched the backs
of her cool, slender fingers. So pale. Wet with rain. Unexpectedly,
her hands turned beneath his. Excitement jolted through his
chest. Palm up, like flowers, blooming beneath his hands.
Opening, offering. Yes.
He leaned closer. The rain whispered, murmuring, pattering
tenderly against every new leaf. She glowed like a South Sea
pearl, that faint blush of pink, barely a hint of color in
her pale cheeks. Her huge eyes were wide open, and luminous.
Greenish brown. Leaves in the water. Dilated pupils, deep
and endless. A sprinkle of ruddy freckles on her nose, now
that he was close enough to see. A frivolous detail that made
her beauty more believable, more approachable. More kissable.
He studied every drop of water beading her forehead. Followed
the grain of her eyebrows, the jut of her cheekbone. Perfect.
Radiant. He was dazzled. Lost. His wits gone. Like they’d
She extricated her hand, and touched his face from cheekbone
to jaw. The trail of her finger was a path of light, moonlight
on water, a beckoning shimmer. Rain dripped into his collar,
soaking his shoulders. Rain defined the dimensions of this
sensual liquid otherworld. Pearly gray, green, silvery, glittering
cool. And beneath it, secret hidden heat. The blush in her
cheeks, the warmth of her lips. Wet with rain, sweet with
rain. Her scent, escaping him every time he tried to inhale
it. Elusive, alluring. Driving him mad. He swayed. Their lips
The kiss pierced through him, broke something open. He started
to shake, and clutched the edge of the door to steady himself.
Moved, by a shy, cautious, trembling kiss. Tears started into
his eyes. Luckily, his face was already wet. He closed his
eyes, tasted her, felt her. The delicate texture of the inside
skin of her lips, the flick of her shy tongue. He drank it
up. A heady liquor. So sweet, for being given, and not taken.
ASK FOR MORE Excerpt . . .
“I spoke to Detective Lanaghan today,” Duncan
Denise Lanaghan was the name of the investigating officer
in the burglary case on Lucia’s house. Hearing the woman’s
name spoken here, in this context, was disorienting. “You
did what? Why on earth?” Nell demanded.
“I wanted to see what progress they were making on
Shock was quickly replaced by anger. “Oh. I understand.
You wanted to see if my story was just so much paranoid bullshit,
He hesitated. “Ah, no, actually. Not at all. A few
minutes with a good search engine was enough to establish
She was further outraged. “Oh! So it’s true,
then? You checked up on me? You cyber-spied on me?”
“I would hardly call it spying,” he said. “I
didn’t hack into anything private. I just looked at
what was lying around in plain sight.”
“But why?” she demanded. “Why nose into
Duncan shrugged, unrepentant. “I was interested.”
“Well, this level of interest is making me nervous.
And I did not need anything else to make me nervous. Understand?”
He nodded, but did not apologize.
“It’s all or nothing with you,” Nell said
tartly. “Either you ignore my very existence, or you
pin me under a microscope. So, whatever. What did Lanaghan
“Pretty much what you told me last night, he said.
“They haven’t made much progress.”
“No,” she said. “The guy’s good.
He left no trace. No prints, no DNA, nothing. Even the SUV
turned out to be stolen, hours before.” The thought
chilled her. She shied away from it, groping for something
else to think about. “So what else did you find on me
out there in cyberspace?” she prodded him. “I
suppose you read last term’s graduate seminar paper
on Christina Rossetti? Or did you dig into the archived transcripts
from the message boards at the online poetry forum?”
“Yeah, both,” he said. “But my favorites
were those five short poems you published in The Golden Thread
That floored her. Her mouth opened and closed. “Ah
. . . actually, I was, um, just kidding. About you reading
. . . any of that stuff.”
“I wasn’t,” he replied.
The silence stretched out, heavy between them, and he made
a sharp gesture with his hand. “Don’t get me wrong,”
he said. “It’s not like I can discuss them intelligently.
I can’t. To be honest, I don’t have a flipping
clue what you were talking about. In any of those poems.”
She was puzzled. “So how did you know you liked them?”
She sensed his discomfort as he fidgeted, and looked out
the window. “I don’t know. I just did. I liked
the way they made me feel.”
She was startled, and moved by the awkward confession. “That’s
one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about my
work. Thank you.”
He drifted like a shadow until he stood right in front of
her. So close, his aura was interfering with her brain waves.
“You’re welcome,” he said, his voice low
and velvety. “This is the first time in my life I ever
got something like that right. And damned if it wasn’t
by accident. Pure, dumb-ass luck.”
“Don’t put it in those terms,” she scolded,
breathlessly. “It’s not something you get wrong
or right. It’s just a matter of paying attention, and
telling the truth.”
He touched one of her ringlets, pulling it out long, letting
it spring back, bouncing. “I’ve got no problems
with attention. Or truth,” he said.
“Um, n-no, you sure don’t,” she stammered.
He curled another lock of hair around his finger, stroking
the texture. “So, what’s my prize for getting
this right, Nell?” The deep vibration of his voice made
her skin tingle. His breath was so warm. It smelled of coffee,
of mint. “Did I earn some points?”
“There you go again,” she protested, in a whisper.
“It’s not about points. Or prizes.”
His lips grazed her temple. “It’s not?”
Then her cheekbone. His voice was a delicate brush of darkest
sable over her nerves. “Then what is it about, Nell?
Teach me. Enlighten me. I await your wisdom.”
Her head dropped back. His hand was ready to support it,
warm and strong. Cradling her. “Do not make fun of me,”
“Oh, God, no,” he muttered, and kissed her.
It was like light flashing through her, delicious heat flushing
every corner of her body. Like some sinuous, muscular animal
thing inside her woke up, a thing that was not afraid of him
at all, oh no, not one little bit. That sleek animal part
knew exactly what she wanted from him. Knew that he had it
to give. Lots of it. Loads of it.
She wound her arms around his neck and demanded it. He made
satisfied sound deep in his throat and positioned himself
between her legs where she perched on the table. Cupping her
head with one hand and her bottom with the other.
She’d kissed men before, and been kissed, and had
sex, too. Some, not a lot. She’d even enjoyed it, to
a certain extent. But never like this. Always before part
of her stood apart, critiquing, judging. She tried to let
herself go, experience the magic, the ecstatic passion that
poets wrote about, but she’d always stayed so flat,
With Duncan, there was no problem with letting herself go.
Oh, no. The problem was in holding herself back. She wanted
to eat him up, strip him bare, ride him hard. He tasted so
good. He coaxed her mouth open, and she wound her fingers
into his thick straight hair and moved against him, helpless
to stop. He bent her back on the table until she let go of
his arms to prop herself up on her elbows. He grabbed her
ankles, folded her legs up high, until her skirt rode up and
her gartered stockings showed. The ones she’d put on
this morning, back when she was still trying to fool herself
into thinking she wasn’t going to wrestle this guy to
the ground and have her wild and wanton way with him. Like,
please. Who had she been trying to kid? He was gorgeous. A
smorgasbord of sexual delights. So big, so hot. She gasped
and pressed back at each grinding shove of his erection against
her. He circled against that crazy hot delicious writhing
sweet spot, and oh . . . God.
Bursts of pleasure rocked her, jolting her mind way out
When she opened her eyes, she found his hand clamped over
her mouth. He was grinning. Delighted with himself.
“Wow,” he whispered, slowly lifting his hand.
“What?” she croaked, mortified. “Oh, God.
Did I, um—“
“Oh, yeah. Bigtime. Hold on a sec.” He pulled
away, wrenched the door open. Nell’s legs snapped together
as a blade of cold light sliced into the room and assaulted
her eyes. Duncan poked his head out the door, peered around
and closed it, plunging them into darkness again. “They’re
gone,” he said, and she heard the click of the door
lock engaging. “Not a sound. But just in case. Since
you’re a screamer.”
A thread of cold unfurled in her belly. She slid off the
table. tugged her skirt over her legs, and found him in front
of her. “Oh, no. Don’t panic on me now.”
There was an edge of pleading in his voice.
“I just . . . the locked door, it, ah . . .”
“I’ll unlock it, if you want. I just don’t
want surprise visitors.” His hands slid under her skirt
and gripped the tops of her thighs, sliding slowly up to her
groin. “Making you come is not a spectator sport.”
“Uh, no, of course not. But I—“
“Shhh,” he shushed her, and he seized her again,
and they were off, kissing wildly. She gripped his arms and
drank him in. Their mouths melded with the sensual sureness
of well matched dancing partners. It was as if they’d
known how to kiss each other senseless since time began, with
all the excitement of novelty, all the grace and ease of familiarity.
She wanted to claw his shirt off, discover every detail that
big, solid torso, to smell his sweat, the texture of his chest
hair, the shape of his nipples, the contours of his muscles.
And his cock. She wanted to grip it, test it, pet it. She
reached down, pressed her hand against his flat belly and
slid it down over his belt. His hand covered hers, and pressed
it against the bulge in his crotch. He stroked the gusset
of her panties. A murmur of satisfaction rumbled against her
shoulder as he found her wet. Very wet.
He kissed her again, his tongue venturing into her mouth
to twine lazily around hers, and both of them moaned as he
explored her slick folds with a gentle finger, circling and
pressing, sliding into her slick opening. She clenched around
him, gasping in shocked delight.
“Oh, God,” he muttered. “I think my hand
is going to come.”
“You think you’ve got problems,” she said
Then, no more talking. Just deep, ravenous kissing while
his finger delved, and her hand stroked that massive hot bulge.
Her legs twined around his thighs for balance, and they shuddered
and gasped together, tongues twining, wrapped in a tight,
trembling knot of desire. Tension rose, until the sweet, keening
ache of anticipation shattered.
Pulses of hot delight jolted through her body.
READY OR NOT Excerpt . . .
The path merged with a smaller streambed from the hillside
above that had carved a gully leading down to the river. The
walls of the gully were steep, the rocks covered with moss,
thick with wild mint and luxuriant, spotted yellow flowers
with heavy heads, like snapdragons. Vivi picked her way from
boulder to boulder, Edna splashing ahead of her. At the mouth
of the spring, Jack pointed. “Look past that tall rock.”
Her eyes followed his hand. There were several pools, sunken
into the huge, flat gray rocks of the riverbank, surrounded
by yellow flowers and mint. The last sun that still slanted
into the river canyon lit up the water, lighting up colored
pebbles and glittering sand. Curls of steam rose from the
water. The river rushed noisily by a few yards away.
Jack watched her face, intently. “Like it?”
She looked around, enchanted. “Oh, my God. It’s
Her delight was shattered when she realized that Jack had
stripped off his shirt and was unbuckling his belt. Oh, God.
Jack Kendrick fully clothed was already too much voltage for
her circuits to handle. Jack Kendrick naked would blow her
fuses to hell and gone. “Hey, you! Just wait a damn
His hands stopped on his waistband. “Yeah?”
“Are you wearing swimming trunks?” she demanded.
“No.” He waited patiently as she processed this.
“I’m not comfortable with that,” she said.
“Things are already funny between us. I’d rather
not, uh . . .”
“See me stark naked,” he finished.
She blew out a sharp, nervous sigh. “Right on, buddy.”
“Do you want me to leave? Can you find your way back
Ow. That would be so flat. So blah. She did not want him
Damn, she didn’t know what she wanted. She wanted
the world to be different. She wanted him to be different.
She wanted . . . aw, shit.
She just wanted him to want her. Her, Vivi D’Onofrio.
The whole damn tattooed, itinerant, sexpot, complicated, prickly
That was too extravagant a thing to hope for. Besides being
way too soon. She just had so much intense, scary emotion
about sex backed up in her system. After six years of celibacy
anyone would be climbing the walls. She had Brian Wilder to
thank for that, too.
“No, don’t leave,” she murmured, abashed.
“Can’t you just, um, keep your underwear on?”
The way his lips twitched made her feel foolish and prissy.
“Yeah, whatever,” he said. “If it really
He pulled off his jeans. He was wearing white briefs. The
muscles in his torso were finger-licking delicious. Luxurious
curling dark hair tapered down to his belly and turned into
a furry mat that disappeared into those briefs. Narrow hips,
powerful thighs. She might not survive this visual sensory
experience even if he did keep his briefs on.
He stepped into the water, descending until he sat in the
pool cross legged, glittering sand wafting up from the bottom
to swirl and turn in the water, glinting in the sunlight.
The water reached his collarbone. He leaned against the rim
of the pool, and closed his eyes.
A nice show of delicacy, while she undressed. He was in
perfect gentleman mode now--but she knew his tricks. If she
relaxed and let down her guard for one instant, he’d
turn on her for sure.
She pulled off her jeans and tee-shirt, and stepped into
the water. Deliciously hot. Like an enormous, full body kiss.
A sprig of mint dangled over her shoulder. She was blushing
“Why are you blushing?” His voice was silky,
“The water is hot,” she snapped. “And
how did you know that with your eyes closed, anyway? That’s
He smiled briefly, and made no reply.
They sat there, listening to the river rushing by, for a
very long time. He kept his eyes closed, until it felt as
if he were hiding from her.
She wanted to make him reveal something about himself. She’d
bared her soul, in
the restaurant the night before. He owed her some freaking
personal history, too. “So. Nudity doesn’t embarrass
“I grew up around people who weren’t embarrassed
about it,” he said. “The sexual revolution. Let
it all hang out. The order of the day.”
Interesting factoid, that. Vivi pinched off a mint leaf,
and chewed it, letting the fresh, clean flavor clear her head.
Jack dunked his head under the water, and smoothed his hair
back from his square forehead, and she noticed once again
the white streak where the scar disappeared into his hairline.
“How’d you get the scar?”
He didn’t open his eyes. “Long story.”
“I’m not in a hurry,” she said.
His forehead contracted, and then he wiped his face clean
of expression once
again. “Another time.”
She plucked another mint sprig. “Sorry. Didn’t
mean to pry.”
“It’s OK. Talk all you want. Just don’t
expect me to be scintillating when I respond. Or even coherent.”
“Why? Is something wrong?”
He opened his eyes, and looked at her, with that bright,
clear timber wolf gaze that made shivers of delicious terror
race through her.
“I can’t concentrate,” he said. “I
can barely hear you talk. All I can hear is my own heart pounding.”
The flat statement hung between them. The force of his gaze
burned against her face. She closed her eyes, counted to ten.
A tendril of hair was clinging to his forehead. A drop of
water rolled down his cheek. Vivi leaned forward, and touched
it with her fingertip. His face was so hot.
He caught her wrist in his hand, and pulled. She floated
effortlessly, inevitably closer to him. For a few breathless
moments, they were face to face, staring at each other. Her
breasts brushed his chest. He touched her lips. Slid his finger
into her hair. Kissed her, hungrily.
She went nuts, in his arms. An explosion of emotions, sensations,
bursting into being from deep inside. Achingly sweet, and
tinged with desperation, and something fierce, like anger,
but brighter, hungrier. Twisting, twining, growing. She wound
her arms around his neck and hung on, digging her fingers
into those thick muscles.
He drew back for a moment, his eyes dilated and full of
wonder. “You taste like mint,” he said huskily,
and then that huge, muscular vortex sucked them right back
into another desperate, twining kiss.
Oh, wow. He was outrageously beautiful close up. His eyes,
the incredible length of his wet black eyelashes. Water drops
trickling along the crest of the graceful dark angled sweep
of his eyebrows.
His lips were hot, soft, supple, as wonderful and kissable
as she had imagined, and his breath tasted so sweet, and his
skin was so supple and beautiful, that delicate rasp of new
beard shadow over those strong, graceful bones, those chiseled
manly angles. God. So fine.
She was so charged with emotion. Vibrating. She explored
his muscular back with her fingers, wound her arms around
his neck and opened to his kiss. An opening from somewhere
so deep, she felt vast inside. An endless universe of bright
She barely noticed the shoulder straps of her bathing suit
being peeled down. She arched back, abandoning herself to
his strong grasp, letting her head fall back and her hair
float out in the water like a lily pad. She cried out with
pleasure as he hungrily suckled her breasts.
So sweet, so shivering melting hot. Heightened for him.
Her nipples felt like points of glowing light. Her breasts
had always felt so deplorably small to her, insignificant
even, but under his hot mouth, they felt plumper, bigger.
Swollen with eagerness, pleasure. Her whole chest was melting
and soft, as if he drank some magic elixir from her body as
he licked her, and the more he took, the more she had to give.
But the breathless aching pull of want between her legs
grew keener every moment.