Take My Dare

By: J. Kenner

He didn’t. He couldn’t. Because though her lips remained silent, her eyes held him at bay. Those bright, whiskey-colored eyes that demanded his attention. That told him without words that she didn’t blame him for going no matter how much he blamed himself.

But he also saw pain and a longing so intense it humbled him. Maybe she didn’t blame him, but she damn sure needed him. “I shouldn’t have gone,” he growled, even though they both knew the words were a lie. “I didn’t have to be there.”

“Of course you did. And now you’re back.” Her words were simple, but her expression reflected a joyous relief. After a moment, her brow furrowed. “Actually, how did you get back? There aren’t any commercial flights this early, and Grayson’s not scheduled to return to Vegas to bring you back until noon,” she added, referring to the Stark International pilot who’d flown him and Chess to Vegas yesterday.

“I rented a car and drove.”

“Drove! It’s five hours.” She gaped at him. “Jackson, you drove all night? After working all day and getting next to no sleep the night before?”

“I’d have done more than that in order to get back to you.” He cupped her face. “Don’t you know that?”

Her eyes said “yes.” But her voice said, “Why?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he let his eyes drift over her. Taking in the sweet curves of her body. The silk nightgown that hit mid-thigh. He wanted to take his free hand and trail his finger along the hemline and watch her shiver. Then he wanted to ease his fingertip up until he stroked her breast and teased her nipple, now hard against the material. He wanted to strip the gown off of her and feast upon her. Touching and teasing. Listening to her soft noises, watching as she submitted to pleasure, knowing that she was his.

Already she seemed softer than she had when he’d first seen her on the stairs, as if tension were a physical thing that had been drained from her body, leaving her light and free. He’d put it there by leaving, even though it had been a necessity. And his return had erased it, lightening her burden as he knew it would do.

Now he wanted to go the next step. To free her completely—even if only for a few precious moments—from fear and worry, nightmares and regrets. And not only because he knew she needed it, but because he needed it, too. Needed to feel her against him, to see her open to him. He needed to be certain she was okay. That he hadn’t completely fucked this up.

Instead of answering, he led her into the master bedroom. He saw Ronnie sleeping in the chair, and a smile touched his lips, even as he changed his trajectory. He veered away from the bed and crossed to the balcony door. He quickly opened the childproof latch, then led Syl outside and down the spiral staircase to the rooftop patio he’d designed especially for her.

The moment they reached the landing, he drew her roughly to him, taking her by the wrist and bending her arm behind her so that she had no choice but to stand still and listen. “You asked me why I hurried back? Why I drove?” He tightened his grip, and she gasped as the position forced her even closer, the soft noise making his cock twitch. “Why do you think?”

“Tell me.”

He bit back a smile. He heard the challenge in her voice along with her rising excitement. “Because you need me, need this,” he said, releasing her wrist and cupping her ass. The shock of her bare skin against his palm shot through him, and damned if he didn’t almost lose it right then.

She whimpered a little as he tightened his grip on her rear. And then, wanting to torment them both, he urged her even closer so his erection pressed against her belly, and he had to fight the urge to pull her to the ground and take her hard right then. Lord knew they could both use it. Him, taking control. Her, surrendering it.

How many times had they done that very thing? Fought each other’s battles? Eased each other’s demons? She was like a balm to him, the only thing sometimes that kept him from beating the shit out of whatever poor soul stepped into the ring, an unknowing proxy for all the demons in his life.

And he did the same for her, easing her pain by taking the control she surrendered to him, in marked contrast to the times in her youth when that control had been ripped away without her consent.

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