The Prince's Gamble by Caridad Pineiro

She had been in the shower for so long that Alexander decided to order some food. Judging from the paleness beneath the make-up, he suspected Kathleen had not eaten very much during the course of the long day. He busied himself as he waited for her and set covered dishes on the bistro table by the windows. He poured glasses of wine to allow it to breathe. Tried not to grow anxious at her delayed return, especially when the water stopped running in the shower and she didn’t come out for far too long. Going to the door, he listened, but heard nothing. He knocked. “Are you okay, Kat?” Silence greeted him. He knocked again. Slightly harder. But she still didn’t respond. Trying the door, he realized it was unlocked and opened it while calling out, “I’m coming in.” Hesitantly he entered, and his heart nearly shattered from the site of her crumpled on the oor, her head buried against her knees and her arms hugging herself. He dropped to the ground beside her and nervously brushed his hand across her hair. “Are you okay?” What a stupid question, he thought, and jammed his sts against his thighs, not knowing what he could do to help. She nodded, silent, but he couldn’t miss the tremors wracking her body. Or the long, pent-up breath she took in and then expelled in a rush.

He did the only thing he could think of. He scooped her into his arms and stood. She murmured a slight protest, but then tucked her head tight to his chest and grabbed hold of his shoulders. He carried her back into the bedroom, to the wing chair tucked in a corner of the room. Sitting down, he held her close and cuddled her in his lap. Brushed kisses across her temple. “You’ll be ne, Kat.” He took some small satisfaction from the fact that the shivers in her body slowly abated as he held her. “I hated him touching me.” She tilted her head back to look at him. “I can’t begin to know what you went through.” Even when he had been kidnapped, the men had not done anything sexual or violent to him. But there was one thing he had learned about himself that day that he hoped might help her. “When I was taken as a child, I was terri ed of the men. A part of me remembers that fear because I let it sink its teeth into my heart and soul.” Kathleen raised her hand and cradled his cheek. “But you didn’t let the fear stop you.” “No, I didn’t, and you won’t either. If you face it now, stomp it down, it won’t touch you in here.” He laid his palm directly above her heart. She grasped his hand with hers. She was trembling again, but not from fear this time. Tentatively, she moved his hand beneath the edge of her robe to the warm, slightly damp skin of her breast. He made no overt move, allowing her to decide what would follow. “I want you to touch me, Sasha. I want to touch you.” She pressed his hand to her breast. Desire beaded her nipple into a hard nubbin beneath his palm, but he still held back, knowing her emotions were fragile and that she could shatter if he handled this wrong. “I want the same thing, Kat. But I don’t want to rush this,

whatever this is.” He reinforced his words with the gentle pass of his thumb along the swell of her breast, a lazy back and forth to ease her past any doubts or fears. “I don’t want to rush this either.” She moved her hands to his shirt where he had undone the top few buttons. She eased a couple more buttons open and ducked her hand beneath the fabric of his shirt. “But I don’t want his touch to be the memory I take with me to bed. I want it to be yours.” Her nger traced the edge of his hard, at nipple. He drew in a shaky breath, immediately aroused by that simple and innocent touch. He responded in kind and dipped his thumb down to circle around the puckered nub of her nipple. Circled it over and over until they were both breathing hard and had to have more. She shifted in his lap to straddle his legs, her center resting directly over his erection. The robe parted to reveal all of her to him. He brushed his hands from her strong thighs, past her at midsection to her perfectly full breasts. Cradling them, he strummed his ngers across her nipples and then shifted his hands to her back and urged her forward. Her soft murmur of pleasure as he closed his mouth around her nipple roused him beyond what he had thought possible. He almost came from the sound of his name on her lips in a long sibilant plea. “Sasha. I want you to be the man I think of in my dreams tonight.” With a groan, he sucked and licked her nipples, alternated his mouth with his hands, wanting to bring her pleasure and erase the memories of Nicolai’s touch. Kathleen held Alexander close, her ngers tangled in his silky hair and digging into his scalp. At one long pull of his mouth on her breast, her body shuddered and need surged within her. She rocked her hips back and forth against his hard length and moaned at the feel of all that power tucked against her. Wanting more.

With a powerful push, Alexander came to his feet, his arms beneath her buttocks to keep her close. With a few hurried strides he walked them to the bed and, gently, he lowered her to the surface and positioned himself between her legs. But as she reached for the zipper on his pants, he brushed her hands away. “Tonight is all about you, Ko’shechka maja.” She wanted to protest, but didn’t have the strength. Didn’t have the willpower. He dropped to his knees and skimmed his mouth against the side of her knee and then along her thigh until he was poised by the dark tangle of curls at her center. She shook as she imagined his mouth there, but maddeningly, he took his time, bringing his hands to her center to open her for him. Darting his tongue out for just a hint of a kiss against her. She jumped at that and murmured his name. “Sasha, please.” He smiled, all con dent male, and swept his gaze to hers for barely a heartbeat before he nally honored her request. He brought his lips to the swollen nub and licked and sucked. Dipped his tongue down and slipped one nger and then a second into her, stroking her toward her release. She trembled and closed her eyes at the pleasure he was bringing her. It was so great and yet so sudden. Unexpected, and even possibly unwanted. What was she doing? Alexander must have registered her retreat from the moment. He raised his head and rose on his knees until they were face-toface, but he continued his caresses. He urged her toward release with his ngers as he said, “Don’t leave me now, Kat.” She laid her hands on his shoulders, needing the stability he seemed to provide even as he was driving her to lose control. The control that had always been who she was and what she was. “I’m scared of this, Sasha. Of what I feel for you. It’s so wrong.” He leaned forward, skimmed the edge of her mouth with his, and whispered, “I know what you’re feeling because I feel it, too.”

She slipped her hands back into the wealth of his hair. Met his mouth with hers as he placed one gentle kiss after another on her lips. As he brought her to the edge with a few more strokes of his hand. “How can this be wrong, Kat?” he murmured. Her breath caught in her throat as she held onto that feeling for that one eeting moment—that sensation of ying free, unfettered by the bounds of her body. Her soul lled with almost unbearable lightness. And then she was falling over, lost in the sensation of him as she called out his name.

All Rights Reserved Copyright 2012 Caridad Pineiro Scordato

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