This must be the week for celebrating first kisses; first I went all dreamy over Kyle and Nikita’s first kiss on Tuesday, and now I’m taking a look back at the first kiss shared by Sara and Gideon in SAVAGE ANGEL. Sara and Gideon had some bumps to overcome—after all, the path to true love is never a smooth one—but even I was surprised at how intense the chemistry was between them. They just worked, these two complex characters. And their first kiss proved it…
A rough sigh escaped Gideon as he stared blankly at the security pad by the garage’s main door. Time and again the memory of trying to eject her from this job flashed through his mind, and every time the memory of her stricken expression sliced him like a blade. She’d recovered almost immediately, as there didn’t seem to be anything that knocked her sideways for long. But it had been there. He’d made her hurt, deliberately, for no other reason than he’d wanted to be in control of something. So he’d tried to control Sara.
She’d come way too close to the truth when she’d accused him of focusing all his energies on her, and it grated that she knew him better than he knew himself these days. And it wasn’t fair, especially when he knew zilch about her. But no matter how hard he tried to convince himself otherwise, Gideon knew it was the worst kind of stupid to pretend Sara Savitch was the source of all his problems. He was the source, damn it. And if he didn’t get his head screwed on straight he’d not only make a dangerous situation even worse, he’d alienate her right out of his existence.
Isn’t that the point?
Gideon scowled as the thought surfaced. It was true; a day ago that was exactly what he’d wanted. More than anything he’d wanted to be alone for the rest of his foreseeable life. Even now the thought of the ugliness that was his soul spilling out to contaminate the people around him filled him with bleak despair. It was better to push her away before he became addicted to having her in his life.
Pushing her away was feeling more and more like running away. And God help him, he was sick of feeling like a coward.
As if his thoughts had conjured her out of thin air, Gideon turned to find Sara standing a few feet away in the near-dark, and he was amazed yet again that such a tall woman could move so silently. He was also amazed at how luminescent her skin was, even in the encroaching gloom. Her slanted dark brows and wide, too-kissable mouth stood out against the starkness of her pale skin, her eyes great, dark pools of fathomless mystery. She seemed almost unreal as she stood there in the light that was neither night nor day, as if even the slightest wrong move would make her vanish forever.
No more wrong moves, dumbass.
She held out a folded piece of paper. “Here’s a copy of all the new security codes, as well as a list of my team’s cell phone numbers that you can call at any time. Your father has a copy of this list as well. I would like to encourage you both to memorize the codes as quickly as possible and input the phone numbers into your personal phones, then destroy that list.”
He took the paper without looking at it, far more interested in the dark gray of her eyes. “Understood.”
“Please keep all security-sensitive texts, cell phone calls and emails down to the barest minimum. If you have any pertinent security questions, issues with Lynchpin procedure or personnel, or unexpected schedule changes for either yourself or your father, my team and I would appreciate it if you’d write them down or meet with us face-to-face, rather than share this sensitive information electronically. Do you have any questions?”
She was at parade-rest, looking so unreachable it struck a hollow chord somewhere deep inside him. But it was better for her to avoid him like the plague. Better… “How badly have I screwed things up with you?”
The surprise that bloomed in her exotic face mirrored his own. That wasn’t what he’d planned on asking at all. Then the impassive mask she seemed to be in the habit of wearing clamped down tight. “There’s nothing for you to be concerned with, I assure you. Whatever unfortunate history we share is meaningless in the face of my duty to protect your father. Nothing will distract me from—”
It was like someone had hit her internal pause button. Or maybe the longing he could hear vibrating in his tone had somehow severed her ability to move. Whatever it was, she stilled with a thoroughly uncharacteristic deer-in-the-headlights look, and that rare flash of vulnerability unraveled his resistance. He wasn’t good enough to be around a class act like Sara and never would be. He knew that. But…
His hand raised on its own volition to her cheek, following that same instinct to touch her that had overwhelmed him when they were in his kitchen. Admittedly that hadn’t ended well for him. She’d moved so fast and with such precision that about the time his hand was making acquaintance with his shoulder blade, it occurred to him that he might not know what he was dealing with when it came to Sara Savitch. But he didn’t care. She fascinated him in a way no other woman ever had, and made him harder than any woman ever could. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t good enough for her, or that she should run a country mile to get away from him. He didn’t want her to run away, any more than he wanted to let her go.
She turned her head away from his hand with a swish of her glossy ponytail, her steely gaze glued to the darkened horizon. If snubbing were an Olympic event, this one would have earned her the gold.
“I see.” Gideon’s voice was rougher than he’d intended. Small wonder. The longing to touch her, taste her, was rising like a rogue wave to drown out the dead certainty that this could only be bad for her. “I guess I should thank you for giving me an honest answer.”
A muscle in her jaw jumped as she kept her face averted. With the greatest care—because pulling back a bloody stump was a real possibility—he traced the taut muscle with curious fingers before palming it. “I… You’re imagining things. I know I’m not good in dealing with people, but even I can figure out when I’m not communicating with them. And right now I’m choosing not to communicate with you.”
He had to smile at that. “But you are. Sort of.”
She turned her head further away. If she went any further she’d give herself a crick in the neck. “No.”
“Right now you’re letting me know you’ve just about had it with me. Just about…but not quite.”
“Oh, really?” Her tone was as remote as the moon. “Pray tell, how am I telling you that?”
“Body language.” With a tenderness he’d believed he was no longer capable of, Gideon caressed a thumb over her cheek to rest at the corner of her wide, made-for-kissing mouth. “You’re not moving away from me, and you’re not knocking my ass to the ground like we both know I deserve.”
“Don’t tempt me.” There was a bite in her tone, but it was as weak as a kitten’s. That rallied him enough to inch closer, until he could breathe in the ginger-spicy scent she favored as his body rubbed, feather-light, against hers.
Feather-light or not, where there was friction there was a danger of igniting a spark. A tiny intake of breath whispered from her, telling him in no uncertain terms she wasn’t immune to the allure of the flame. With a compulsion that should have worried him if he’d slowed down long enough to think about it, he devoted himself to the task of wringing that fluttery sound of arousal from her again.
His free arm curled around her waist to press against the small of her back. It didn’t come as a surprise to find her stiff and unyielding. But miracle of miracles, she wasn’t blasting him into the next zip code. His eyes closed, savoring the moment before his lips glided a tentative caress against the arched line of her neck. When he’d been overseas he’d spent countless hours lying awake in his bunk, fighting the devouring darkness inside him with hardcore daydreams about Sara. They’d been filled with exploring her silken skin in ways he’d been too greedy to do when he’d raced to bury himself inside her on their first meeting. His desperation then had been understandable; the most knock-’em-dead woman he’d ever met was suddenly smack in the middle of his path mere hours before he was to be shipped off to the world’s foremost hellhole. With that kind of pressure hanging over him like an axe about to fall, it wasn’t any wonder he’d hastened things along.
But the rush to lose himself in mindless, hot sex with Sara—a living goddess if there ever was one—had an unforeseen and debilitating side effect. He’d had an entire year to lament how he hadn’t taken the time to savor the taste of her, or embed the feel of her porcelain-pale skin into his nervous system. He had no clue what her statuesque body looked like beneath the rigid, unflattering black and white uniform she wore while on the job, and he could only imagine what her straight fall of hair would feel like sifting through his fingers.
Transplanted a world away from her, this lack of knowledge had grown from a wistful desire to an all-consuming obsession. She was better off not knowing a man like him, he knew that. But he also knew he’d go nuts if he didn’t find out these mysteries that made up Sara Savitch.
When she didn’t resist him—or at least break his jaw—Gideon grew bolder, taking a velvety soft earlobe into his mouth while tangling his fingers in the cool tresses of her ponytail.
Her hands landed on his waist, neither pulling him close nor pushing him away. She couldn’t have made it any plainer that she didn’t know what the hell to do with him. “Wait. I’m ticklish there.”
“I remember.” He considered telling her the memory of her had kept him sane when he’d needed it the most, and alive when he didn’t necessarily want to be. The words wouldn’t come, because they were too close to a festering darkness he wasn’t ready to vent. Instead he palmed the back of her head and guided her mouth to his. With any luck, she’d be able to figure out what she’d meant to him through touch alone.
The moment his mouth captured hers, a floodgate of dazzling rightness opened up to swamp his senses. Her spicy scent filled him until he didn’t want to breathe anything else. Her lips molded against his like hot wax, scorching him with a heat he yearned to bathe in forever. And her taste…
When her mouth opened under his, Gideon shuddered as the primitive force of desire slammed him senseless, a deep and edgy hunger unfurling in the pit of his gut to make the sensitized flesh behind his zipper throb. Her taste was stormy and hot and so addictive he wanted to stay this way for the next century or two. There was no way he could want anything else, when the staggering flavor that was Sara enslaved him and the sinuous dance of her tongue made the world melt away. If the memory of her had gotten him through the worst kind of hell, the reality of her was enough to convince him there must be a heaven, if only to be found in her arms.
Arms that were pushing him away.
Arms that were turning him out of heaven on earth.
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