“You,” she breathed in a rush. “You bought it.” Tears stung at her eyes, and her throat tightened with the sudden onslaught of emotion. A strong wave of relief washed over her. Thank God Roger hadn’t been the buyer. The idea that he would’ve had such a personal part of her had turned her stomach. But Malcolm, now that was a whole different story. She turned and looked up at him expectantly. “Why?”
His eyes crinkled at the corners, and his lips curved. “Well, to be honest, I thought it would make you happy.” He cradled her face with both hands and wiped one big fat tear away with agonizing tenderness. “Apparently, I misjudged the outcome,” he said with a fading smile.
Sam sniffled and placed her hands over Malcolm’s. “It does.” She laughed.
Malcolm cocked his head and gave her a questioning look. “Then why are you crying?”
She kissed his palm, linked his fingers in hers, and turned back to the painting. “It makes me happy that you were the one to buy this, and to be honest, I’m thrilled it wasn’t Roger.”
“Roger,” he glowered. “Why would you think that he bought your paintings?”
Sam shook her head slightly at his jealous reaction, wrapped his arms around her waist, and leaned back into his hard, warm body.
“Paintings? You mean you bought this one and…” Her voice trailed off as she started to put the pieces together. “You’re the hottie,” Sam mumbled.
“It most certainly was not Roger. I went to the city and purchased this one myself. I knew it was yours the moment I set eyes on it. That Gunther fellow was very helpful. He’s a big fan of your work.”
“He’s a big fan of yours too,” Sam chuckled. “When Gunther called and told me that this Barkley guy came in and asked for my work in particular…well, after all of Roger’s obsessive behavior…” She let her words trail off and shrugged her shoulders.
Malcolm squeezed her tightly and let out a growl of frustration. “How could I be so stupid?” He kissed the top of her head. “I was so excited to have your work, such an intimate part of you, so close to me.” He sighed and rubbed his chin gently on her hair. “It never even occurred to me that you’d worry about Roger buying it,” he said quietly, almost contritely. “I’m sorry if my intended surprise caused you any discomfort.”
“Don’t you dare apologize for buying my work.” Sam leaned her head back and craned her neck to look up at him. “Before this, I only sold a few other paintings.”
“I will have to find out who has them and buy them back.”
“You do know just what to say don’t you?”
He squeezed her tightly and placed a warm kiss on her cheek. “I want to have every single one of them. Maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t want to share you with anyone.”
Sam turned her gaze back to the painting. She thought of all of the pieces she’d painted. Many of them were of the ocean or the seashore. There were even two that had wolves in them. “Why did you choose this one to hang here?”
“It’s you,” he whispered softly into her ear and pulled her closer. “It’s the two halves of you.”
Sam stilled, and her breath caught in her throat. Of course! All this time, she’d thought the painting was of her mother, but really it was of her mother and her father. Her father—Lucas Logan from the Gray Wolf Clan. Tears filled her eyes again, and she let out a small laugh. “Oh my God! You’re right. It’s my parents…the two pieces of me.”
“I have to be honest. I didn’t purchase these paintings and put them here just to make you happy.”
Sam turned in his embrace and placed her hands on his chest. His strong hands slid down her sides and rested lightly on her hips. She adored the way his muscles rippled ever so slightly beneath her fingertips and how his hands fit so perfectly…everywhere. She looked up at him through narrowed eyes, trying to concentrate on forming a sentence and not jumping his bones.
She cleared her throat and flicked her gaze back up to those spectacular golden eyes. “Okay…why, then?”
He took a deep breath, and his fingers gripped her hips. He kept his now serious gaze fixed firmly on hers. “I knew that they would make you feel comfortable in my home.”
“What does that mean?” Sam cocked her head at him and raised one eyebrow.
He licked his lips, and his gaze slid over across her face as if he was memorizing every curve. “Your energy signature emanates from all of your work,” he murmured and dug his fingers slightly into the flesh of her hips.
Sam swallowed hard and suddenly became acutely aware of every single spot where their bodies met. Heat flared low in her belly, and his eyes wandered down to her lips. She flicked her tongue out quickly and nibbled her lower lip. “My energy signature,” she said absently. She couldn’t think clearly with his body pressed up against hers. “What’s an energy signature?”
Malcolm leaned down and placed small butterfly kisses along her neck. “It’s the very essence of you. All Amoveo have one. It’s how I can find you.” He paid thorough attention to the soft flesh along her collarbone and pulled her hips tightly against him and the hard evidence of his desire. “It’s how I was able to come to you at the diner so quickly.”
Sam moaned softly and closed her eyes, allowing herself to float in his arms. “Can I learn to do that?” she breathed softly.
Malcolm let out a low growl and buried his face in the crook of her neck. See what you’re doing to me woman? His dark velvet voice slid into her mind seductively. He pulled back and placed a tender kiss at the corner of her mouth. “You’ll be able to do that and so much more, mia piccola lupa.” He let out a sigh and released her from his warm embrace. “Let’s get started.”
They spent the next couple of hours in the living room while Sam practiced her telepathic tune-out. The first several tries at guarding her thoughts were comical. She couldn’t even get through a word or two without Malcolm blurting, “I hear you.” All of this promptly caused Sam to burst into hysterical fits of giggles. Occasionally, she would lose her sense of humor, getting frustrated when she couldn’t get it exactly right.
She knew that he was pleasantly surprised that she was such a quick study. She made astounding progress, considering her abilities had just begun to manifest over the past couple of days. She loved the way he watched her fierce concentration as she focused on protecting her thoughts. She could tell that he admired her feisty determination and tenacity immensely.
Once she got the hang of guarding her thoughts, they moved on to visualization. Unlike telepathy, visualization did not come to her easily. She tried to light a candle for over an hour. Her only glimmer of progress was a single wisp of smoke that rose up from a blackened wick. It made her want to scream with frustration, especially since he was completely unfazed by the entire thing.
“Jesus Christ. Forget it. I’ll just use a match.” She flopped on the sofa, rubbing her temples.
Be patient, mia piccola lupa, it will take time, he whispered in her mind. The tension melted from her head and shoulders. He reached over to toy with strands of her hair.
She looked at him next to her on the couch. He sat there easily, his leg splayed in casual confidence. He was amazing. His wavy, chestnut hair was brushed back off his chiseled masculine face. Her eyes feasted on the length of him. His Levi’s fit him perfectly in all the right places, and the long-sleeve green V-neck sweater hugged every muscle. Her gaze made a slow journey back up to his now smiling face. That grin made her stomach flip-flop. He was truly stunning.
The reality of his situation hit her for the first time. He was a pure Amoveo being, and she was only half. She wondered how he would ever be satisfied with her. How would she ever be good enough? She couldn’t accomplish a simple thing like lighting that candle. Tears stung at the back of her eyes. She was frustrated, overwhelmed, and disgusted with herself at the same time. Sam rubbed her eyes and sat up quickly. “I should go. I think I’ve had enough supernatural weirdness for one night.” She stood, avoiding his gaze. “Thank you for dinner.”
“You have guarded your thoughts very well, but I can still feel how upset you are, Samantha. What’s wrong?” He took her hand, trying to get her to look at him.
“Nothing.” She took her fingers from him and walked over to the windows. She stared out into the inky black night.
Malcolm didn’t move from the couch. He was afraid he would end up chasing her right out the door. He felt so completely uncertain of what to do next. He knew that if he pushed her too hard she’d run. Her energy wave, thick with her insecurity, pulsed over him and gave him pause. “Sam,” he began gently. “I know that when a woman says nothing it definitely means something…and that’s true if she’s human or Amoveo.” He smiled. “Or both.”
“That’s just it. I’m not Amoveo or human, am I? I’m some kind of bizarre mutant, a hybrid. I don’t have the same strength as a regular woman in your race.” She faced him. “Are your people even going to accept me? I can’t even light the stupid candle.” Her voice rose with fear and frustration. “I’m some kind of freak,” she shouted with a broad sweep of her hand.
The next instant a huge fireball exploded in the fireplace.
Sam slapped her hands over her mouth and froze. “Holy shit,” she whispered through her hands. She gaped at the flames, which burned brightly.
Malcolm stood and walked toward the flickering light.
She moved cautiously closer to her creation.
They both stood silently, staring into the fireplace.
“I don’t think we need to worry about the strength of your abilities, Samantha,” Malcolm murmured, looking into the dancing flames. “It’s the control I’m concerned about.” He looked at her with something that looked a lot like love. Sam knew that she was different from a traditional Amoveo woman, but she was his.
She knew in that moment that he loved her.
Sam swallowed hard. “Wow,” she said, awed.
“My feelings exactly.” His voice was low and laced with desire, and he looked at her through slightly hooded eyes. He reached out and took one long strand of hair between his fingers. “It glints like spun gold in the firelight.”
She watched the flames reflected in his golden eyes and sensed his desire for her in the air. It was as if the humidity skyrocketed in the living room. Sam’s skin felt too small for her body, and she could swear that it practically screamed to be stroked and kissed. She moved toward him almost imperceptibly. She knew that her hips and ample breasts were shamelessly outlined by her body-hugging sundress. Samantha had an overwhelming urge to have Malcolm peel it off of her.
His desire for her slammed into her and stole her breath. Her eyes tingled and shifted with a ferocious intensity.
She could feel the weight of his gaze on her. She couldn’t tell if the heat was from the fire or from them. He moved closer to her. In one slow movement, he brushed her hair back, which exposed her shoulder.
“You are perfect, Samantha. Do you not see how amazing you are?” he whispered. He stroked her skin softly and placed a butterfly kiss in its wake.
Her eyes fluttered closed as he traced a deliberate line down her arm with his knuckles. He barely grazed her skin, but she felt his touch in every cell of her being. His massive body was just inches from her. She could feel his warm breath as it bathed her shoulder. She finally opened her eyes and turned toward him ever so slightly. They stood face-to-face beside the roaring fire.
He tilted her face up to give him access to her lush mouth. He smiled when he looked into her shifted blue eyes. “Mate,” he whispered as he claimed her mouth with his. She tasted of champagne and spice.
He sensed heat as it pooled low in her womb and their tongues danced and dueled. She gripped his arms for balance as he rained kisses down her neck and breathed in her scent. He pushed aside the delicate strap of her sundress, trailed little kisses along her shoulder. He undid the tiny buttons down the front of her dress, needing to touch her, needing to claim her. One by one, he popped them open as he paid thorough attention to her mouth once again, trying to take his time and make this night perfect for her.
Every time he touched her, he branded her as his. The front of her dress now gaped open and exposed her full round breasts. He looked down and feasted on the sight of her. Taking one of the creamy mounds in his hand, he almost came apart. He felt her nipple harden under his palm. He pushed the other strap from her shoulder, leaving her bare from the waist up, open for him to devour. He quickly bent down and took her other breast in his mouth, suckling on the rosy peak as he held her close.
Her bosom pushed against him as she sucked in her breath and tangled her fingers in his hair. His lips seared her breast. He couldn’t get close enough. He wanted to feel his body, feel his flesh against hers. Knowing exactly what he needed, Sam grabbed his sweater and hastily rid him of the offending garment. She sighed with delicious relief as his chest pressed up firmly against her breasts as they clung to one another desperately. He claimed her mouth while he toyed with her nipple, rolling the pebbled bud gently between his fingers.
Samantha held him close to her as lightning bolts of pleasure raced along the edges of his mind and every nerve ending. He practically drowned in it. Her breath was coming in quick gasps, driving him closer to the edge. He pressed the hard length of his erection insistently against her lower belly. He smiled against her lips as she brazenly rubbed the bulge between them, which strained to be released. He moaned his pleasure into her mouth. She swiftly removed him from the confines of his jeans and wrapped her warm hand around the length of him.
Malcolm almost lost his self-control as she wrapped her delicate artist’s fingers around him. He groaned as he nipped and suckled at her breast. Growling deep in his throat, he lifted her off the ground, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He wasn’t sure he could wait one more minute to be inside of her. He needed her now. He kissed her ferociously as he pinned her up against the wall beside the fireplace. He held her there, her dress around her waist. The surge of passion rose insistently between them. Their eyes locked as he slid his fingers beneath her damp panties and sunk two fingers into her hot, wet channel. He stared into her luminous wolfen eyes, which glowed with her pleasure. He loved the way she looked, wanton and lustful. Her lips parted in ecstasy as he rubbed her sensitive nub in slow torturous circles, all the while his fingers moved inside of her.
Her pleasure was evident in each ragged gasp as he massaged her to the very brink. He felt a new surge of wetness in his hand and knew she was ready. He pushed aside her thin silk panties and drove himself deep inside of her. Slow and deliberate, he kept his gaze locked on hers as he sank himself into her stroke after stroke.
With every fiery stroke of delicious friction, she felt the orgasm build. He was hot steel covered by silk. Each time he filled and stretched her, it brought a new wave of pleasure rolling over her. With every thrust, she hungered for more. She tangled her fingers in his hair and called out his name as he increased the tempo. He drove into her again and again. Just when she thought she would weep from pleasure, the orgasm exploded over both of them. They cried out in unison, and with one final thrust, he buried himself deep inside of her.
They stayed there for several minutes. Their bodies locked together, breathless, neither one wanting to break the embrace. They were completely and utterly spent. Samantha had heard about sex like that. Seen it in the movies, but never had she experienced anything even remotely close to what had just happened. He was breathing heavily and had his face buried against her neck.
Finally, in a muffled voice, he said, “I’m sorry.”
Sam swatted his shoulder as her legs dropped from his waist. “What on earth could you be sorry for?” Her legs wobbled a bit under her.
Malcolm stepped back as she tried to put her dress back in its place. He took her face in his hands. “I wanted our first mating to be perfect,” he murmured against her throat. “To take our time.”
She smiled at him as he kissed her tenderly on the lips.
She was surprised to feel him stir so soon, but then again, she had never been with her mate before.
Her mate. It sounded odd and familiar at the same time.
Sam smiled, and she slowly ran her tongue along his lips. That was all the encouragement he needed. Malcolm picked her up effortlessly in his arms, as if she weighed nothing at all, and carried her toward the front hall.
She shrieked in surprise and instinctively threw her arms around his neck. “What are you doing? I’m half naked. Put me down. You’re going to hurt yourself. I weigh a ton.”
He sent her a look of doubt as he went up the grand staircase. She continued to protest all the way into his bedroom. Gently, he laid her on the massive four-poster bed. “Now, mia piccola lupa, we will take our time,” he whispered with a wickedly sexy smile.
She watched with unusual boldness as he stripped off his jeans and tossed them onto a chair in the corner. All the while, his gaze stayed transfixed on her. Her eyes widened at the magnificent evidence of his arousal. She felt a surge of wetness as raw carnal lust flared through her body. She began to remove her dress, but he tenderly pushed her hands aside. He peeled it from her hot sensitive skin. She was surprised by her shocking lack of modesty. She felt completely comfortable as she lay naked before him. Definitely a first.
He stretched the length of his body next to hers. They let their hands explore as they savored every kiss. They stayed there, touching and tasting, for what felt like hours, slowly enjoying every inch of one another. Finally, he propped himself up on his elbow so he could take a loving look at her. Her long flaxen hair splayed around her head like a halo, and her pale blue wolfen eyes stayed locked on his. Her lips parted with panting breath as her passion grew.
He trailed his fingers down her lovely neck as her pulse beat enticingly under the surface. He feasted on the sight of her pale breasts with rosy pink buds, thrusting up at him with every breath. Eventually, he splayed his hand across her flat belly and felt the little muscles as they quivered under his touch. His long fingers stroked lower still, to reach the treasure between her thighs. He dipped one finger into her hot depths and took her nipple into his mouth.
Sam cried out with pleasure. She held his head to her breast, her fingers entwined in his hair. She rubbed up against his hand as he worked her most sensitive spot. He loved the way she reacted to his touch and almost lost his resolve completely as he felt another gush of wetness in his hand.
He covered her with the length of his body and settled between her legs. He studied her, wanting to brand this image of her in his memory forever. Her lips were pink and swollen from his kisses, and her Amoveo eyes held nothing but trust. He trailed kisses down her breasts, along the middle of her belly, and lower still to the glistening mound between her legs. He feathered small kisses on her inner thigh and breathed in her musky scent, which added to his arousal. His strong arms anchored her to the bed, leaving her open for him to devour. He leaned in and took one loving taste of her.
When he put his mouth on her, Samantha almost came off the bed as a lightning streak of pleasure shot through her entire body. He was merciless as he continued his assault on her. His devilishly talented tongue sent shock waves through her with every lash. Her head thrashed back and forth. She bucked her hips and writhed against him, mewling small sounds of pleasure.
He sensed she was reaching her breaking point. He smiled and moved over her. Settled at her entrance, he eased himself inside of her, inch by inch. She raised her hips to meet him and urge him faster, her passion driving her to impatience, but Malcolm wouldn’t hear of it. He held her hands over her head, looking into her eyes as he slid inside of her with lingering, hot strokes time and time again.
She wrapped her legs around him and locked her ankles, giving him even deeper access to her molten chamber. He drove into her relentlessly as the sweet torturous passion rose between them.
Malcolm locked his eyes on hers, whispered the ancient mating words in her mind, and buried himself in her with one last thrust. Nos es unus. Materia pro totus vicis. Ago intertwined. Forever.
The words spilled into her mind, filling every cell of her being. Stars burst behind her eyes as she cried out his name, her body inundated with both her pleasure and Malcolm’s. Wave after wave crashed through her, the colors bursting and swirling like the aurora borealis in the air around them. They were completely connected in mind, body, and spirit.
The waves of pleasure subsided into tiny aftershocks. They lay there, entwined bodies shaking and breathless. Samantha realized that life as she knew it was gone. Wrapped in Malcolm’s arms, she knew there was no going back.