Authors: Naima Simone
“So fucking long,” Rion groaned. The three words were almost lost beneath the erotic symphony their bodies created, and she barely caught them. But she did. A phantom fist squeezed her heart, the pain and wonder churning with the passion, heightening it, intensifying it.
“I’m about to come,” Sasha ground out, lust hardening the warning, and his strokes shortened, roughened. She tightened her mouth, sucking at his flesh like a woman dying of thirst. With a low, animal-like growl, he jerked free, wrapped his fingers around his cock and jacked it in ruthless, brutal pumps. Cum jetted from him, painting his chest and ridged abdomen in streams. A grimace twisted his face, and coarse grunts erupted from his throat.
“You did that to him, Harper,” Rion praised, sliding a hand around her throat. “You and that sexy-as-hell mouth.”
Cupping the column, he drew her up and back until her spine pressed to his chest. Burying his fingers between her legs, he strummed her clit and rode her, shafting inside her with long, fierce thrusts that had her body singing, reaching for the glimmer of orgasm that loomed so near but just beyond her grasp.
“Please, Rion,” she breathed, digging her fingers into his thighs, spreading hers wider so he could have every inch of her. “Please…”
“Let you come?” He placed an open-mouthed, hot kiss along the side of her neck and the crook where neck and shoulder met. “Ask me. Say it, baby. Let me have the words.”
“Rion, please. Let me come. I need to come.” She didn’t care if she begged. The need razing through her, sizzling every square area of skin and firing nerves—she needed relief; she needed him to give it to her.
“That sounds so pretty,” he rasped. “Yeah, baby. Give it to me then.”
With a sharp, shocking pat to her clit and another stroke, he hurtled her over the edge. Sent her flying. She screamed, convulsing with the almost bruising power of ecstasy. Dimly, she caught his abrupt bark, and his jarring, hard plunges set off another cascade of orgasmic ripples.
As she floated back down and darkness enveloped her, she had her answer to the question that had haunted her earlier.
No, she wouldn’t be able to gather the pieces and recognize herself when she left here tonight.
Rion had shattered her, changed her. Shaped her into someone new. Someone stronger, yet vulnerable. Someone confident, yet uncertain.
Someone who was terrified one night with him wouldn’t be enough.
Rion stared up at the exposed beams in the loft ceiling as if it contained the answers to the egg or chicken’s right of primogeniture or the volume of a falling tree in the absence of company.
Get up, damn it
. The voice snarled against his skull. The longer he lay in the bed, the scent of sex heavy in the air and listening to the steady, deep rhythm of the dozing woman cradled against him, the harder it became to remember why
had to end shortly. Very shortly.
The harder it would become to let Harper walk through the doors of Lick.
Yeah, he had to get up. Get her dressed and out of his club before he did something incredibly stupid and irreversible.
Like beg her to stay.
He shut his eyes, and immediately, images of their night together swarmed in like a hive of angry bees. Harper, bent over the chair in the voyeur room, riding his hand like a jockey racing for the finish line. Harper, deep-throating his cock like she’d never tasted anything better. Harper, sucking his best friend’s dick while backing into Rion’s, squeezing him with her Saran-Wrap tight pussy.
Harper, whispering that she’d always needed him.
Disgusted, he huffed out a breath. He’d thought he was being so clever coming up with that deadline and stipulation. Thought that by ordering her to leave he didn’t have to worry about becoming attached to her and having his heart snatched from his chest again. Thought he was protecting himself.
Trying to be smart, and he’d outsmarted his own damn self.
Now, he faced watching her leave him again. And from the pain clawing at his gut, all his precautions added up to dick.
But the pain let him know he had to do just what he’d initially planned. Let her go. Let her walk out of his life as suddenly as she’d appeared in it. The longer she stayed, the more agonizing the torture of having her turn those sad, dark eyes on him again as she’d done five years earlier. And the deeper the pain of knowing he was no more worthy of her now as he’d been then.
Her husband was dead, and she hadn’t searched Rion out for old time’s sake. She was slumming it; she’d come to Lick for sex. To her, he was good for getting her off—to give her what he
her—not to build a life with, not to claim him.
Not for forever.
Not that he could give her forever, even if she asked him for it. Back then, he’d been deep into the gang, and now he owned a sex club. He still wasn’t someone she could introduce to her parents. And the stink of the streets still clung to him. He, Killian, and Sasha had broken free, but sin still inked his soul, blood still stained his hands. Money and legitimacy didn’t make him deserving of her.
Harper nuzzled his chest, splaying her fingers over his nipple. “Did I fall asleep?” she murmured.
Tell her to put her clothes on. She’s leaving
. “Yeah. Not for long though.” He trailed his fingers down her arm then back up.
. “Are you all right?”
She nodded against him, her tangled hair caressing his skin. He briefly closed his eyes, imprinting that silken sensation to memory. “Yes.” A pause. “Thank you.”
“For?” Unable to help himself, he tangled his fingers in her hair.
“For making me feel again.” Her sigh ghosted over his chest. “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt alive,” she whispered.
He hated that—hated that someone as vibrant, as passionate as Harper had been existing instead of living. Hadn’t he let her go so she could have security, safety, a perfect life? She deserved to laugh loudly, dance wild and barefoot, fuck with abandon, without fear of condemnation or censorship. What had stifled her? What had stolen her joy?
Terrance. From her confession to him earlier, Terrance had definitely played a part in dousing some of that spirit. But he hadn’t been the only one…not the only reason…
He lowered his hand to her belly and traced the thin, pale lines etching her otherwise smooth skin. The marks were fine, silvery, and if he hadn’t been kissing her stomach, he wouldn’t have noticed the stretch marks. But he had. His heart had lurched. At the time, threads of jealousy had wormed through him, but only for several seconds. Harper had never mentioned a baby. She’d spoken of Terrance but not a child. Which relayed the truth. Because she was the kind of woman created to love, to nurture. And if she had a son or daughter, she would crow with pride. So that left one option…
“Was it a boy or girl?” he murmured.
She stiffened, and he paused, his fingertip resting on a mark just under her navel. The gentlemanly thing would be to let it go. But he’d never been accused of being a gentleman. And some instinct cautioned him that like a festering injury, this particular wound needed to be lanced.
So he waited.
“A girl,” she breathed, her body losing none of its tension. “Carlie.”
He didn’t press her, just let her fingernails dig into his skin as if she were anchoring herself, trying to find purchase in an emotional storm.
She drew a shuddering breath. “Three years ago, I became pregnant. I was overjoyed. I never knew I could be so happy. Terrance and I… Sex between us wasn’t often or passionate, but we created this life that I loved from the first moment I saw the plus sign on the test. And he was thrilled, too. The pregnancy actually brought us closer together, and it was a good one. I didn’t suffer from morning sickness; I was healthy. She was healthy. And, God, the sound of her heartbeat.” She chuckled, the soft burst of laughter leaden with sadness and joy. “A song. The most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. One I never tired of hearing.”
Sliding his fingers along her scalp, he cradled her head, held her to him, sensing the story was veering away from the happiness she described.
“At about seven and a half months, I went to my scheduled doctor’s appointment. Like every time, my doctor checked for her heartbeat…but she couldn’t find it,” Harper rasped. A hard shiver ripped through her, and Rion enclosed his arms around her, brushing his lips over the crown of her head. “I was admitted to the hospital, and they discovered a complication due to insufficient blood flow to the placenta. She…died. Inside me. How, as her mother, didn’t I know?” Her voice cracked on a harsh sob. “I still had to give birth to her, knowing I would never hear her first cry, see her draw breath. I cried and screamed through the labor. And when they placed her still, small body in my arms, I died. My lungs worked, my heart beat, but I was dead. I was her mother, but I couldn’t protect her from my own body.”
Heartbreaking sobs racked her. As if a plug had been pulled, the tears poured from her in a torrent so vicious, it scared him. He sat up, carrying her with him. Tugging the blanket free from the bed, he set her on his lap and wrapped them both in the comforter. Rocking her, he let her weep, let her cry out her pain, and he held her through the storm.
Once she quieted, he rubbed his chin over the crown of her head.
“When I met you, I was marking time,” he said. “I’d made it to my junior year only to spite my father because he kept hounding me about dropping out. See, by the time I’d met you, I already had a juvenile record for larceny and misdemeanor assault. Boosting cars and fights. But my father couldn’t have been more proud. To Darry Ward, my education should’ve been conducted on the streets of the South End, stealing and collecting debts for the gang, not in a classroom. I planned to make it through the first part of the year before quitting. Then you befriended me.”
“You mean you stood up for a freshman nerd who was tormented by jocks,” she objected with a snort.
“You talked to me in Ms. Dennison’s English class. Refused to give up on me.”
He hadn’t meant to speak to her about his past—about the most joyous and painful part of his life, but she’d opened up to him, shared her soul with him. The least he could do was honor her trust and vulnerability with his. She deserved as much.
“Most girls like you—the ones from the good, safe neighborhoods with two-parent homes and no idea of poverty or crime—only wanted one thing from me. A secret, dirty screw in the backseat of my car or in their basement when their parents weren’t home. They damn sure didn’t walk down the hall with me or speak to me out in the open for all their friends to see. But you did. Even when I didn’t trust you at first and tried to scare you into leaving me alone, you wouldn’t. Your friendship…it meant everything to me. I still didn’t care about school, but your joy when I aced a test or seeing your face light up with a smile every morning… No one’s face, not even my own father’s, lit up just because they saw me.”
He didn’t need to close his eyes to picture the pleasure that had gleamed in her dark gaze when he walked into their classroom. As if she cared that he’d shown up. As if he mattered.
“If not for your gentle encouragement…” He snorted, and she huffed out a soft, wry bit of laughter because there’d been nothing “gentle” about how she’d browbeaten and nagged him about coming to school, studying, and not skipping. “I wouldn’t have graduated. I definitely wouldn’t have pursued photography, applied to community college, or even admitted I loved it. You convinced me that I was more than my fists. That I had talent… That it didn’t make me weak.”
Rion grasped her chin and tilted her head up. Her eyes, shadowed and glistening with her spent grief, met his. He rubbed his thumb over the plump curve of her bottom lip.
“I’m the man I am today because of you. If not for your friendship, I would be a soulless bastard fucking up lives for the sake of the mob, or caged in a prison, or dead.”
He’d remained active in the gang a year after Harper walked away from him, sinking deeper and deeper. Then Killian had gone to jail, and Sasha had been shot while on a job. He’d already lost Harper to Terrance; he couldn’t lose his best friends. He couldn’t lose himself. That had been four years ago. It’d taken another two years after he’d made his decision to finally get out of the mob, but he’d never looked back.
“You showed me I could be more, that I
more. Before you, I imagined another path for me, but I didn’t have the balls or will to pursue it. You lost your baby, and I can’t tell you how much your loss tears at me, just knowing you suffered. But, Harper, you didn’t fail. I’m living proof you didn’t.”
He lowered his head and brushed his mouth over hers.
This intimacy he hadn’t allowed himself tonight. Fingering her pussy, tonguing it, and burying himself inside her—he’d surrendered to those temptations, but pressing his lips to hers, breathing in her air, tasting her as they stared into each other’s eyes… He’d tried to avoid that closeness, that vulnerability. It reminded him too much of the one and only time she’d given this gift to him. And when he’d had to return it.
Not anymore. He submitted to this pleasure, parting her mouth with his lips, sliding deep, deep, searching, savoring…worshipping. Her delicate hands tunneled into his hair, gripping it. But there was nothing delicate about how she tangled with him, licking at the roof of his mouth, sucking on him as if as hungry for his taste as he was for hers. At first questing, tender, soft, the kiss grew into something wild, wet, fierce.
God, he’d fantasized about this for so long—
. And like a starving man with his first sampling of food after a famine, he lost control, feasting on her. Tongues dueled, vied for dominance. Teeth clicked. Their moans filled the room. Never enough. He would never get enough of this, of her.
Mouth still mated to hers, he lifted Harper and placed her back on the bed, immediately settling between her thighs and covering her. She rolled her hips, dragging her drenched pussy over his cock like an open-mouthed kiss. He grunted, thrusting against her so the base of his length pressed to her clit, and his balls to her swollen folds. Legs climbing to his waist, she circled his neck with her slim arms, clinging to him.
Abandoning her lips, he raked his teeth over her chin, down her throat and to the damp valley between her breasts. On a low, hungry groan, he coiled his tongue around a pale, hard nipple and drew hard on it, lashing it until she cried out, bucking beneath him. He pinched the other peak, tweaking it and tugging.
“Rion.” She gasped, grinding that sweet pussy against his dick, bathing him in more of her heat. “Please. Inside me.”
“Nothing I want more than to fuck you, baby. Pound myself so deep you feel me tomorrow. And the day after that.” He reached over and grabbed one of the condoms off the bedside dresser that he’d thrown there earlier. Quickly, he ripped the packet open and sheathed himself, then returned to her breasts. He pressed the two mounds together, flicked and sucked both tips, making her twist and writhe. Beg. “Put me in. You want this cock, put me inside.”
He arched, granting her space between their bodies, his tongue continuing to whip and polish her nipples. She whimpered, wrapping her hand around him and guiding it to her entrance. He hissed as wet flesh kissed the swollen, throbbing head. Then, with a flex of his hips, he was gripped in the tightest, hottest, most perfect pussy.
“Damn, baby. Nothing like it. Nothing.” He withdrew, plunged back inside. Gritted his teeth as her sex rippled around him. So goddamn slick, plush. Swearing, he reared back, gripped her ass and held her up for his dick. Served her up to it. “Look at you, taking me, spreading for me, swallowing me like a good girl,” he growled. Mesmerized, he watched as he slid between her folds, disappearing inside her pussy, his flesh appearing dark and brutish against her feminine lips. “Fucking heaven, Harper. That’s what you are. Heaven.”
Falling forward, he curled his fingers over the top of the headboard and slammed into her with hard, teeth-jarring thrusts. From base to tip, she squeezed him, coaxing his cum from him with every quiver and squeeze on his flesh. She cried out, her head thrown back, hips crashing with his, silently pleading for what only he could give. He rode her, pistoning into her again and again, bottoming out in a body created for him. No matter what happened after tonight, it wouldn’t change the fact that she was his.
Harper stiffened beneath him, a scream tearing from her lungs and shattering in the air. Her pussy clamped down on him like a vise, and he grunted at the strength of it. Goddamn, she was beautiful in orgasm. Lust tautened her smooth skin across her cheekbones, her features strained with passion. Her lush mouth parted, her dark eyes glazed with passion. Clenching his jaw, he pounded into her, riding her through the release, pushing past her milking muscles even as electric pulses sizzled up from his balls, surged up his spine, and back down to his cock. Once the shudders eased, he let go. He rocketed into her. One. Two. Three strokes. Dropping his hands down to the mattress on either side of her head, he covered her mouth with his, kissing her, needing the taste of her in him.