SHADOWS TILL SUNRISE - SEPTEMBER 2014
With St. John’s warning on my mind, I made a visit to the loo, and it wasn’t until I was on my way out that I found Philippe standing in the dark hallway, almost a shadow himself except for the low flicker of lanterns above him.
He had his thumbs hooked in his belt loops, one booted foot against the wall, looking as lackadaisical as he could. His hair seemed damp, as if he had splashed his face and head with water, and he had banded all of it back into a low ponytail. Had it taken some time to gather himself after all the demon talk?
As I approached, he spoke. “You and St. John gonna hook up?”
There was much eye rolling happening tonight, and I joined in. Philippe was being facetious again.
“St. John is a gentleman,” I said, walking past him. “Unlike some I know.”
He grabbed my waist and spun me until my back was flush against the wall. All the oxygen pushed out of my lungs as I levered my hands against his chest.
His achingly hard chest.
He rested one arm over my head, leaning against the wall, bending until his mouth was near my ear. “This isn’t social hour, Lilly. Poor St. John didn’t know what hit him with all that flirtin’.”
What? “I was hardly flirting.”
And he had to know that. He was merely worked up because of the action earlier tonight in the park and he was looking for someone to take that energy out on. That was my best guess, at any rate.
But as his breath fluttered the hair by my ear, warmth caressing my cheek, I hardly cared why he had me against a wall. I liked the sensation of his heart beating beneath my palm, liked the sharp vibrations traveling from him to me as if there was a frayed wire between us and it was shooting sparks.
I thought about dampening the moment by telling him what St. John had said about Etienne getting to me, but I was so certain that this wouldn’t happen, I didn’t think it mattered. Why upset Philippe any more than necessary?
Perhaps I should have said something, because Philippe pressed even closer. “Maybe you just don’t know when you’re flirtin’.”
“Maybe,” I said, still pushing at him, “you’re just a jealous fiend. Wasn’t a kiss enough for you?”
His body tensed—I could feel muscle straining under my hands.
I wasn’t certain what possessed me then, but I impulsively allowed my fingers to slip downward until I touched his ribs. Hell, I so enjoyed touching him. How much time had gone by since I had been with someone?
“We don’t have time for this, isn’t that the story?” he said harshly in my ear.
“You seem to want to make time.” Heat was taking me over, and although I knew this was the worst of ideas, I ran my fingers over his ribs. He sucked in a breath. “Then again, as you said, we never have time.”
“It does look like we’re at a dead end for the night, unless we go to my place to do some research on every Etienne who ever dueled at the Oaks. We can also have a crash course on different supernatural creatures so we can identify what Etienne really is.”
“Or we could walk the streets, trying to bait the bastard.”
Philippe dug his fingers into my hair, and I gasped.
“Don’t talk like that,” he whispered.
He said it as if he cared. But how could he unless…Had he formed an attachment to me during our previous meeting?
Had I formed one to him?
My boots awakened, jerking against my legs. Was that a yes?
He loosened his grip on my hair, letting his hand trail down my face, my throat. A vein in my neck pounded, branching through me until I felt the echo in the vines of my boots. They seemed like individual veins beating with hot blood, lighting up the rest of my body.
I should get out of here, I thought. Truly. I had no inkling of what I was doing.
So I did the only thing that I thought might cause him to back off. “What did St. John mean when he said you make the most of the bad stuff in your life, Philippe? Are we ever going to trade stories about ourselves since you seem to know enough about me?”
Emotional distance. I had the feeling that might work like a charm with him. I couldn’t depend on my own common sense here in a dim hall, with him so close, his words tickling my ear.
But Philippe didn’t pull away. He only stared into my eyes so intensely that my clit pulsed harder than any other part of me.
“Sin meant nothing by that comment,” he whispered. “He was tryin’ to get my goat, to tease me in front of you.”
As if to shut me up, he crushed his mouth down on mine, and I arched away from the wall, pressing myself to him. He cupped his hands under my bottom, bringing me up against his arousal.
I went wet, needy, grinding against him as he lightly swept his tongue into my mouth then sucked off my lower lip.
“If there’s one improvement over our last meeting,” he said on a ragged breath, “it’s that I’m getting more than a taste of you at the end of the night, cher. And, damn, you taste good.”
My breath chopped out of me as his fingers got busy on my bottom, stroking under the edges of my cutoff jeans. My nipples pebbled against him, sensitized by kissing him so heatedly. It was as if I was feeling rocked like this for the first time in my life.
Surely a man had touched me before this, though. Hadn’t one? No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t recall…
“You taste,” he said, “like cinnamon, herbs, and orange blossom.”
Like the elements I’d heard I worked with for Amari—the ones that chased off the evils in this world.
He tasted divine, too, like cedar, elemental and earthy. I wanted more, but I couldn’t ask for it, so I kept digging my fingers into his ribs instead.
Negligently, he licked my lips again. “Damn that cinnamon.”
With a softly uttered damn of my own, Icaught him in a kiss, parting my lips, sucking at him as if I could take every bit of him into me. He made a guttural sound that turned me on even higher, making me glide my hands down his sides until I inched my fingers under his shirt.
Smooth and toned. Warm skin. I couldn’t stop, so I continued into his jeans.
He laughed under my mouth and reached his hands up to stop me. Damn was right.
“Looks like I wasn’t the only one who wanted a kiss,” he said.
He was such a smoothie. “I’m indulging you,” I said between my teeth as I tried to pull my hands away from him.
But he was strong, and he kept my wrists locked. I wondered how strong I could be, but I decided I would save that answer for when I really needed it.
“You’re indulging me, are you?” He laughed again. “God, you’re a sassy bitch.”
“What do they say? It takes one to know one?”
That amused him, and he slowly let go of one of my wrists, dragging his fingers up my waist until he came to my breast. He palmed it, pressing upward, and I gasped and moved with him.
“Who’s indulging who?” he asked.
“Whom,” I said hazily.
He laughed again, using his thumb to circle my nipple and, even through the cotton of my singlet, he made it peak. “Still sassy. What would it take to humble you, cher?”
I was sure I’d be extremely humbled after I fell asleep and woke up not remembering a bleeding thing—not even this.
Shite. I wanted so badly to always remember how it felt for him to tug down the straps of my singlet and bra like this, desperately wanted to relive every sensation of him uncovering my breast and looking at it with such hunger in his gaze.
As he bent to take me into his mouth, I bit back a cry, threading my fingers through his hair. Vaguely, I watched to see if anyone was approaching—people, not phantoms or Meratoliages. No, not anything supernatural because, right now, I was just a regular woman having an erotic encounter with a man.
I was normal for once…
He laved at me, nipped, sucked until I stood on my toes, pressing him tighter to me, looking down and watching him work me with carnal fascination.
When he paused, making a low, agitated sound, I wasn’t certain of what I had done to earn that. Not until I felt my boots moving.
With a gasp, I realized that one of the vines had separated from my leg and was moving up the side of his arm.
Bad vine, I thought, not knowing if I should try to rein it in or let it go. In his fever, he must have been thinking that I was caressing him, even if both my hands were clutching his hair.
But it wasn’t the vine that put a stop to the best time I had enjoyed since…Well, since I had woken up at dusk. It was the buzzing of Philippe’s mobile in his pocket.
My boot vine retracted, sipping back into my calf and sending me a naughty charge that zapped upward until it settled between my thighs.
If Philippe noticed the odd activity, he didn’t say a word. He merely cursed under his breath, pulling my bra and shirt back over me, then giving me a wicked look before he reached in his pocket to glance at his mobile.
“Goddamn it.” He dropped his arm to his side, staring at the ceiling, his mouth straightening into a thin line.
I forgot about the thwarted heartbeat that banged in my chest, between my legs.
“Don’t say it…” I started.
But he did. “I just got a news alert…on the Riverwalk…two more bodies…tourists…”
I was already past him before he could finish.
From Shadows Till Sunrise, Lilly Meratoliage Urban Fantasy, Book 1
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