Amazing amber eyes, big and not quite focused, blinked back at him. She was exhibiting classic signs of shock, but he was in no mood to make allowances.
‘I didn’t think…I…I mean it was—’
‘Did you want to kill yourself?’ he ranted on, oblivious to her pitiful and barely audible apology.
‘Of c…course not.’
‘You could have drowned us both.’ Her eyes widened; the swimming depths reflected mute horror. ‘What the hell were you doing?’
‘I was swimming.’
‘No, you were bloody drowning!’ He watched her full lower lip tremble and without thinking covered her mouth with his own.
Even now, all this time later, he could recall her startled gasp, the salty taste of the soft lips that parted sweetly under his and the softness of her body as she went bonelessly limp. The deep, soundless shudder that sighed through her body would stay with him for ever.
From somewhere he dredged up the strength to lift his mouth from hers when all he wanted to do was explore the sweet, moist recesses. Her fierce little groan of protest as the contact was broken made him forget for several dangerous seconds why this wasn’t a good idea.
The tenacious fingers that curled tightly in his wet hair proved infinitely more difficult to resist than the tide that had tried to pull them under.
He grabbed her hands and pinned them above her head, just to stop her touching him. ‘You don’t want to do this.’
‘You’re insane,’ she contended, shaking.
‘Certifiable,’ Angolos agreed thickly. The slim body beneath his was burning up. He could feel the blast of heat through the layers of wet clothes that separated them.
‘Don’t stop!’ The husky command wreaked havoc with his already-shredded self-control. She was like fire in his arms, supple, soft and displaying the same sort of savage desperation that thundered through his veins.
He hadn’t held a woman for almost a year, let alone had sex.
When he had first been diagnosed, his life had been thrown into utter confusion. He had always known where he was going and how he was getting there. The only restrictions placed on him had been by the responsibilities that had come with the privilege attached to his birth.
His focus and self-belief had always been enough to get him where he wanted to be. Helplessness had never entered the picture; then he had lost control. Someone had moved the goalposts and he had been angry.
He hadn’t realised how angry until he had said to the consultant treating him, ‘Tell me straight, Doctor, could this thing kill me?’
‘Yes, Mr Constantine, it could, but not if I have anything to do with it.’
It was a week later that he had woken up next to a woman, and he hadn’t known her name.
It had been a wake-up call. He had never ducked a fight in his life, but that, he’d then realised, was what he had been doing.
He had never been a saint, but he had always been discriminating and one-night stands had never been on his agenda. He had told himself to stop wallowing in self-pity, and had cleaned up his act. Of course later, when the treatment had taken his body to the limits of endurance, escaping into mindless sex had not been an option. He hadn’t had the strength, let alone the inclination.
That evening on the beach had been the first time in months that he had felt the stirring of sex…finding the object of his fantasy in his arms, half naked and begging him to kiss her, had transformed those stirrings into a raw, raging hunger.
He must have retained a shred of sanity because he had tried to stop, he could remember loosing her wrists and putting out a hand to lift himself off her, but instead his fingers had closed over the soft curve of one small, perfect breast.
The air had suddenly vibrated with the sexual tension that had erupted between them. Angolos had been immobilised by a wave of lust. In his head he had seen himself pushing aside the black material to reveal the straining pink bud. He had seen himself run his tongue over the straining peak, had heard her soft moan of pleasure…no, the soft moan had been real.
‘That feels so…’ Mesmerised, he watched her lips form a soundless oh as, eyes closed tight, her body arched.
‘I want you.’
Her eyes flicked open, tawny and wild. The most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. ‘I’m yours.’ She reached up and slid her hands under his wet shorts, letting her fingers slide over his skin.
Of course he lost it; what man wouldn’t? He pulled her under him and traced the shape of her skull with his fingers, lifting the heavy wet hair from the nape of her lovely neck. The sound that vibrated in her throat as her head fell back reminded him of a cat’s purr.
Her eyes opened and he touched his finger to the corner of her wide mouth and traced the full, soft outline. ‘You have the most amazing lips,’ he told her thickly. ‘And such beautiful, beautiful eyes…tiger’s eyes.’
‘You’re amazing all over.’
He allowed himself to kiss her then, driving his tongue into her mouth. He felt her searching hands on his body, sliding beneath his steaming clothes, baring his flesh to the air.
As his body pressed her into the wet sand she was still shaking and so was he, no longer with cold or anger, but with a wild, frenzied desire. Through the wet clothes separating them he felt the fresh wave of sexual heat that washed over her skin. She wrapped her legs around him and gasped as she felt his erection press into her soft belly.
Angolos wanted to bury himself in that softness more than he wanted to take another breath. He might have done just that, if the night hadn’t suddenly been illuminated by a jagged shaft of lightning. Lightning so bright he could see it through his closed eyelids.
He rolled off her with a groan and as he lay there panting there was a roll of thunder that broke directly overhead. The rain began to fall then, cold on his overheated skin.
She touched his shoulder and he shook his head. ‘I am not in control,’ he told her thickly.
‘Me neither. Good, isn’t it…?’ She sighed. ‘You don’t have to worry. I’m not afraid of thunder, and the boyfriend…I was lying. I don’t really have one. And I don’t expect…’
He turned his head. ‘You don’t expect what?’
‘I don’t expect it to be…you know…the first time…’
The husky confidence made him freeze. ‘Theos! Can it be true…?’ He scanned her face and knew. ‘Dear God, it is.’
A man who prided himself on his control, he couldn’t believe what he had just done. If it hadn’t been for the storm he…
She reached for him and she looked hurt when he jerked back avoiding contact.
He had never wanted a woman so much in his life.
‘You’re mad with me…?’
He looked at the tears trembling on her eyelashes and cursed slowly and fluently under his breath.
‘No, I’m mad with me,’ he told her as he picked her up.
She lay passively in his arms as he carried her across the sand dunes to where his car was parked in a quiet lane. The place was totally deserted as he dumped her in the front seat.
‘Are you kidnapping me?’ There was no alarm in her voice, just a lazy curiosity.
‘No, I’m warming you up,’ he said, switching on the engine and turning up the heater full blast.
‘Maybe I should take off my wet things…?’
The only wet thing she was wearing was a black swimsuit with a zip up the front. ‘Maybe you shouldn’t,’ he said, trying hard not to think about that strategically placed zip. One tug…
‘I don’t think I should have got in a car with a stranger,’ she observed absently as he draped a jacket that had been in the back seat over her shoulders.
‘You didn’t get in. I put you in.’
‘So you did. I’m warmer.’ She leaned back in the deeply upholstered seat with a sigh. ‘You know, I don’t think I’m quite myself,’ she confided.
That makes two of us. ‘You nearly drowned.’
Her eyes, which had been closing, suddenly flickered open. Tawny eyes scanned his face. ‘You kissed me.’ She pressed a hand to her soft lips. ‘I liked it.’
Beside her he didn’t dare move; he didn’t trust himself to speak. The ferocious tension in his body was so extreme that he remembered the bones in his face aching.
‘I noticed,’ he admitted.
She lifted a hand and ran a finger down his lean cheek. ‘Are you going to do it again?’
‘You’re in shock.’
‘I’m something, but not that. I think you saved my life. How can I repay you?’
He caught hold of her wrist and dragged her hand from his face. ‘Well, you can cut that out, for a start.’
She flinched visibly at the cutting response. After a second’s hurt incomprehension, a tide of mortified colour washed over her face.