Authors: P. T. Michelle
“I really don’t give a damn.” Calder shrugs, his tone blasé. “I might see you in a year or two. Might not.”
While my heart jerks at his flippant reference to his upcoming deployment, Damien visibly stiffens. “What the hell is it with you two always causing trouble?”
Ah, he must be referring to Bash, considering his earlier confrontation with Gavin. I put my hand on Damien’s arm to diffuse some of his anger. “I’m sorry, Damien. I really don’t think I would’ve lived up to your expectations anyway.”
He has no idea how true that statement is.
Before I can pull away, Damien captures my hand and turns it over to kiss my palm. Raising his dark eyes to mine, he says, “I have a feeling you’ll fulfill many. We can pick up where we left off…” He pauses and cuts a smirk Calder’s way. “Once he runs off to save the world.”
Calder’s hands cinch on my waist. “Walk away, Damien, before you can’t.”
I’m surprised when Damien just laughs at his curt tone, then slides his gaze to me. “Don’t feel sorry for him, Celeste. He’s too damn stubborn to get killed.”
Shaking my head once Damien walks off, I mutter, “I can’t figure guys out. At least girls react normally to each other when they’re pissed—bitchy with claws bared.”
Calder’s bark of laughter is cut off by a loud rumble of thunder rolling through the room. It shudders the walls as if perfectly timed to introduce the house music starting up. When the music level jacks even higher, the crowd goes wild around us, people raising their arms and jumping to the crazy beat. While the gathering storm amps their excitement further, they cheer even louder when a loud clap reverberates and lightning illuminates black clouds in the sky outside.
I hold on tighter to Calder so I don’t get knocked over and laugh at the people acting like nuts. At the same time the power flickers, sending the group into further frenzy, my gaze locks with Jake’s dark eyes. He’s watching me from the edge of the crowd, lust, jealousy, and sheer want evident in his gaze.
I swallow and force myself not to look away, cringe, or shudder at his steady regard. I’m not Cass. I’m
who has always given him the brush off. Taking a page from Celeste’s book, I keep my expression impassive. Once I slowly slide my attention back to my dance partner, the sight of Calder watching me so intently sets my heart racing.
We’re suddenly jostled when a guy spinning a girl around bumps us. The second they hit, she squeals and her champagne sloshes across my hand on Calder’s shoulder.
“Shit! I’m sorry, man.” The reaper guy turns, eyeing Calder’s wet jacket.
“You need to apologize to her,” Calder says tersely, glancing at me.
“It’s fine.” I quickly wave the guy and girl off, then try to swipe the dampness from his uniform. “We should get a towel to soak this up so it doesn’t stain.”
Clasping my hand, Calder tugs me off the dance floor, past the mass of people at the bar.
When we pass through a swinging kitchen door, a couple of fairies are standing on opposite ends of the massive island, giggling drunkenly. Hands aloft, golden crystals trickling from their clenched fists, the girls freeze in the middle of their glitter sugar fight and turn guilty looks our way.
“It’s time to leave, ladies,” Calder says in a commanding tone as he removes his hat and sets it on the corner of the island.
Instead of focusing on the girls, my attention briefly snags on Calder, specifically the two sharp points of ink on his skin just above his collar.
What is his tattoo?
The girl with curly blonde hair closest to us let’s out an annoyed grunt, drawing my gaze back to them.
“Fine, be a killjoy.” Once her friend with a black pixie cut comes around the island to stand by her side, they exchange devilish looks, then toss their handfuls of glittery sugar toward us like wedding rice, giggling uncontrollably.
“What the hell…” Calder snaps as the golden cloud scatters all around us, but we all pause when the kitchen lights go out and the music suddenly stops. Someone yells through the silence about the DJ having a generator, and the second the music starts pumping once more, the girls squeal their excitement and head back to the party through the swinging door.
Grunting his annoyance, Calder walks over to the door and turns a latch at the top, then glances my way. “At least they won’t be able to return with reinforcements.”
I’m thankful for the dim light coming from the flashes of lightning outside. I can still see him without being tempted to stare at him. My stomach dropped when he first tugged his hat off and I saw his whole face and light brown hair. The man’s sinfully good-looking. With enough champagne in me to be dangerous, I panic. My skin feels all warm and tingly now that we’re alone. Needing a distraction from my thoughts, I start opening drawers in the island. Grabbing a hand towel from the second drawer, I wave him over. “See what happens to killjoys,” I say lightly, snickering while I attempt to wipe away the glitter stuck to the splatter pattern on his shoulder.
Calder grimaces as he taps the bill of his hat on the island’s charcoal gray marble surface to shake off the glitter. “At least I wore an old hat tonight.”
Scanning my gaze over the gold glinting in the darkness across his light brown hair, I sweep the cloth over his other shoulder, keeping my movements brisk while brushing the loose glitter away. “It looks good on you. Kind of gives you an ethereal glow.”
Calder captures my wrist and pulls the cloth from my fingers. “Trust me, there’s nothing otherworldly about me.”
My heart races when he lifts my hand to his lips and presses a warm kiss to my palm.
“I’m just a man; all flesh and blood,” he says in a low rasp before moving his lips along my hand. Kissing my fingertips, he murmurs, “This is what real feels like,” and then wraps his lips fully around my index finger.
I exhale sharply at the hot warmth of his mouth and tongue sliding from the base of my finger all the way to the tip. The pleased rumble in his throat as he licks the glitter off and rasps, “I knew you’d be an interesting mixture of sugar and spice,” tightens my belly and lower muscles. This isn’t a good idea. My emotions are all over the place with this guy.
I try to tug free, but his hold on my wrist just tightens, his warm fingers folding around me. “You smell so good, all I can think about is tasting every part of you,” he says before sucking on the heel of my palm. His action sends electric pulses shooting through me; I’m immobilized by the heat of his mouth and arousing words. Tensing, I know I need to move out of his hold, but before I get a chance to pull away, he puts his other hand on the countertop behind me, blocking me in.
“You’re going to give us a chance,” he says gruffly as he folds my hand across his neck.
“I am?” My attempt to muster sarcasm fails. I just sound breathless instead.
Damn this man.
He grips my waist and leans close, his masculine smell enveloping me, stealing my ability to think. “I made the mistake of letting you walk away from me earlier,” he says while inhaling along my throat. Following the same path with his mouth, his searing heat jacks my heart rate even higher. “I won’t let you go this time.”
“Let me?” I chuckle at his dominant arrogance even as my fingers tighten on his neck, pulling him closer. “It’s called free will, Navy. You don’t own me.”
A low laugh rumbles from his chest, vibrating against mine as he slides his lips along my jawline. “When I’m done with you, the only place you’ll want to be is in
bed the rest of the night. You will most definitely be owned.”
I press my other hand to his chest, enjoying the feel of his hard muscles under his uniform. “You’re pretty sure of yourself. And just how do you plan to do that?”
He kisses my nose and then licks the corner of my lips. It takes everything inside me not to respond to his seductive worshiping of my face, but I manage to remain still as he presses a tender kiss in the same intimate spot before he lifts his head and meets my gaze.
Running the pad of his thumb along my bottom lip, he follows the path with a hungry gaze. “I can’t wait to taste your mouth.”
“What’s stopping you?” I ask, my chest tightening. I want to feel his mouth on mine. To know if he kisses as aggressively as he talks.
He shakes his head slowly, his gaze never leaving my lips. “I won’t until I hear you begging me to let you come.”
My eyebrow hikes. “And how do you plan to do that? Molten stare me into a frenzied state?”
The corner of his mouth lifts in amusement for a split second before his heated gaze snaps to mine. “I’m going to devour your pussy first. You won’t be able to hold anything back while you’re writhing and begging me to let you come. I want
of you. And when I’m done lapping up all the pleasure I’ve given …” He leans closer, and just when I think he’s going to kiss me anyway, he clamps his teeth on my bottom lip with enough bite to flood my core with throbbing want. Sliding free, he holds my gaze. “
I’ll taste your sassy mouth, Celeste.”
“Don’t call me that,” I snap before I stop myself. I’m shaking inside by the things he makes me feel. All the feelings he evokes—want, desire, arousal—only make me more anxious. Not only am I
the person he thinks I am, I’m the biggest fraud on the planet. I talk a big game, but I’m sexually dead inside. No matter how hard he tries, he won’t be able to get me there. And knowing this makes me feel physically ill, because…this man…I
Talia might technically still be a virgin, but at least her battery-operated-boyfriend can make her come. Even though I tease her about getting laid, she has no clue that I’ve never climaxed. Apparently I’m the best actress to every man I’ve been with. None of them know that I faked every orgasm. Every. Single. One.
Calder’s chuckle pulls me out of my worried thoughts. Lifting my hand, he presses his lips against the cuff on the inside of my wrist, his voice low, intense. “If you want to be someone else tonight…Yvette doesn’t suit you.”
Be someone else.
As soon as he says it, the answer comes to me…the perfect name. Hearing
name won’t make me tense. She’s brave…far braver than I’ve ever been. She would’ve been there for me if she had known. I think about the raven I had inked on the inside of my wrist a couple years ago. It stands proudly on the gorgeous tree branch the tattoo artist expertly drew over the scars, incorporating them into the bark. Calder can’t see the tattoo hidden under my cuff, but it’s like he subconsciously knows where to point me with just a simple statement.
Tonight, I’ll be her. A girl full of sunshine. A girl afraid of nothing. Not even death.
I fold my fingers around his and meet his gaze. “Call me Raven.”
A pleased smile flashes. “Ah, a name that implies cunning and shadowy stealth to go with your intriguing sex appeal. I fully approve. Raven is perfect.” Releasing my wrist, he skims his gaze over my hair as he runs his thumb along the edge of my black mask. “The gold shimmers in your dark hair like your eyes do when you’re amused.”
His comment makes my stomach flutter, but I shake my head. “Brown eyes are so bland.”
“Not yours. They shine.” Leaning close, he rests his left hand on my shoulder, then slides his thumb along the front of my throat and under my choker, commanding in my ear, “Put your hands on my waist and hold still while I take care of something I’ve should’ve done the moment you walked into the party.”
“What if I don’t want to stay still?” Despite my question, I lower my hands to his hips and try to ignore the chill bumps rising on my skin as he runs his nose down my throat.
“I might hurt you,” he husks right before warm lips sear the skin just above my choker.
“Intentionally?” I whisper, my fingers gripping his white jacket as his other hand slides down my ass.
Warm breath bathes the curve of my shoulder, and at the same time his thumb dips into the hollow of my throat, he releases a pleased groan. “You smell so fucking good, I could devour every bit of you.”
I gasp when he sinks his teeth into the soft spot between my shoulder and my neck. It’s so unexpected, so purely primal, my sex floods with heat. As my knees wobble, my instinct is to flee. Not out of fear, but because I’m so incredibly turned on. I want to know just how far he’ll go, how raw he can get. Clamping his teeth on my shoulder is an act of dominance, not meant to break skin, but applied with careful and measured force. He’s marking his territory, laying a claim. On me. No…on Celeste. The tantalizing sensation of his body against mine, his tight hold on me, makes it hard to remember that I’m not the woman he wants. He makes me want to forget who I am completely and let him have free rein.
While my brain fights every instinct for me to lean into him, he grips my ass tight and kisses the side of my throat once more, the pressure of his lips bone-meltingly intimate.
Thunder rumbles and lightning flares in time to the rising bass of the rave music in the other room. The ramping sound goes straight to my rapidly beating heart and vaults my pulse even higher.
With every short breath I take, his amazing smell draws me in deeper. I remind myself this won’t end well. I’m guaranteed to disappoint Calder. In so many ways.