When Ven and Erin are finally alone . . .
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"What if we took a break from being reasonable and rational for a little while?" she whispered. "What would you say if I asked you to hold me – just hold me – until morning?"
Hunger flared inside him, demanding that he conquer, that she surrender. The warrior he'd been born and trained to be wanted to plunder. The man he wanted to be -- for her, just for a little while -- pushed the hunger aside and sought desperately for self-control. "Erin, if you need me to hold you, I would love nothing more. In fact, I've been thinking of nothing else since I first touched you, if you want to know the truth."
She gave him a shaky smile, threw the silken bed coverings aside, and held her arms up to him. "Then hold me, Ven. Make me feel safe again."
Carefully, so carefully, he climbed in the bed next to her and pulled her into his arms, realizing as he did so that he was the one surrendering. When she nestled her head against his chest, her music flared up between them, pulsing hot and insistent. He forced his breathing to slow down, tried to focus on something – anything – other than the urgency of desire clawing at him.
He caught one of her hands in his and considered the rings on her long fingers. "It's the opal, isn't it? The opals and the emeralds that sing when we're together?"
She trembled in his arms and turned her face to his chest. The scent of flowers and springtime from her hair tipped the lid off his sanity just a little bit more, and he couldn't help but inhale her scent. Rub his face in her hair.
Want to mark her, brand her, claim her.
"Yes," she answered, the words muffled by his shirt. "They are . . . yes, it's the emeralds and opals singing."
Her words distracted him a little from the flames searing through his nerve endings. "What does it mean, Erin? Why can I hear them, too? Can everybody hear them?"
She drew a deep breath and looked up at him. "No. In fact, in the ten years since I turned sixteen and my Gift manifested, no person other than you has ever heard my gems sing. And the emeralds – the emeralds have never sung before I met you. Not even to me."
His arms tightened around her. They only sang for him. Like he wanted to make her sing. Something deep inside him raised its head and roared. His breath quickened and he rolled back a couple of inches from her, trying to maintain distance. Trying not to pounce on her like the predator he was.
The gems. We were talking about the gems. Focus.
"What do they sing to you?" he asked. "Do the songs have meanings? Why are they so quiet now? I mean, not to be crude, but this is skin-to-skin contact. I figured they'd be singing up a storm."
She scooted closer to him, and her own breathing quickened, roughened. "We could always experiment a little, with the skin-to-skin thing. Right now, though, I'm focusing on keeping them under control with everything I've got."
His arms tightened around her and he couldn't stop the words from rushing out. Couldn't fight it any longer. "Let it go, Erin. Let it go and see what happens."
Excerpt from Atlantis Awakening, copyright 2007 Alyssa Day/Alesia Holliday