| 17 | Euphoric Darkness ||

Lacey paused brushing her teeth when she heard the shower door close and the water turn on. She spit the toothpaste in the kitchen sink and set the toothbrush on the counter, wiping her mouth with the heel of her hand. Her mouth was dry as she peeked around the corner to the door that led to the bedroom.

She frowned.

Who the hell was in her shower? She looked around for something hard, and the only thing she could find close was a cast iron skillet.

She opened the door without a sound. Once she stepped through, she looked at Sodom and Gomorrah and turned to a pillar of salt.

Even through the foggy mist from the hot water, she could make out Devlin’s handsome physique. He was leaning on the shower wall, the water running down his wet black hair, down the planes of his chest, stomach, legs.

She frowned when she saw red collect at the base of the shower before swirling down the drain. Her stomach lurched.

“You just going to stare, or are you going to join me?”

She looked up into those dark eyes that seemed to see right through her.

“You’re hurt.” She put the skillet on the bathroom counter and took a few steps toward him.

He shrugged. “It’s just a scratch. I’ve lived through worse.”

“You should let me look at it.” She was supposed to be mad at him. She was just ranting about not paying him any mind. That if she saw him, she’d tell him to kick rocks.

“Lacey, get in here.”

Was it wise to let him off the hook so easily? Of course not!

He extended his hand outside the shower.

She looked down at it, memories from a different life tumbled across her mind’s eye. She couldn’t say no then.

He grabbed her, pulling her under the steaming water. The cloth of her nightgown clung to her body. She bent her head back to look into his dark eyes. Breathing was difficult with him so close. Her body started tingling at the thought of him touching her. He pinned her against the wall and rested his forehead on hers for a long moment before he started kissing her shoulder and up her neck.

“During war, a good man prays, a coward begs, what does the devil do?” He whispered over her skin.

“The Devil?” Thinking was a struggle with him kissing her, his wet, hard body leaning against her. “H-he often gets his way, I suppose. Whatever that may be.”

“What if he wants you.”

It was a whisper that she barely heard over the pounding water. She kept her hands clenched at her sides. If she touched him, she’d want more.

“Touch me, Lacey.”

She moaned, itching to heed his gentle command. “I-I―” She sighed when Devlin placed her palm on his chest. She slid her hand up the taut, smooth skin, over his shoulder, along his arms. They flexed under her fingers, and her stomach danced under her flesh.

He moaned, pressing his heavy body into her. She was too aware of his penis pushing into her stomach. The sopping wet cloth heavy and rough against her nipples made her sigh and arch toward him.

“I need you, Lacey. If you want me, just say yes. If you don’t, I’ll go.” He nibbled her ear, his hands still posted on the wall behind her. Her body yearned for his touch. She was trembling the anticipation of being in his possession, a feeling she never thought she’d have again. She wouldn’t give another human control over her like she gave to Devlin.

That same word. How could it hold more meaning in that moment than it did then? He exhaled and did the most treacherous thing she could ever think of: he pulled away, putting space between them.

No!

He kept his gaze on the floor before turning and walking out the shower. The water was still steaming, but a shiver ran through her body: heat, desire and longing, replaced with cold, empty space.

A few moments later, she tucked a piece of wet hair behind her ear, and a satin bathrobe hugged her body. He was leaning on the window frame, a towel wrapped around his hips, all the tools to tend his wound were on an adjacent table. He seemed to be in deep thought as he stared out to the city streets below.

“I’ll be out of here soon.” He said, without looking at her.

“It’s okay.”

He met her eyes. Her chest clenched. She saw pain there in their depths. “I shouldn’t have come here.” He mumbled, before finding the exterior landscape through the window’s clear surface.

She pushed him to sit on the window ledge and investigated the cut at his side. He didn’t seem to be phased when she poked it. Not even when she dabbed alcohol on it.

“It’s not so deep.” She chanced a glance up at him from under her lashes, and he watched her work. His intense eyes were boring a hole down to her soul. “I went to nursing school, you know.” She said, to break the silence.

“No, I didn’t.”

She smiled at him before looking back at her task. “Yep, two years in and one of my labs, they wanted us to take blood from each other. I politely told my professor that there was no way in hell that I was going to let someone stick me with a needle.” She chuckled at his brief look of surprise. “Needless to say, they removed me from the program, and I went into data analysis instead.” She finished taping the bandage over the cut in silence. “There, good as new.” She turned her back to him and started picking up the medical tools. She was afraid of what she might do if she kept looking at him.

Every bone in her body was telling her to release control, to let him have her, but she wanted more than simple pleasure. She deserved more. She hated to admit it to herself, but Devlin hadn’t changed, not really. He was the same rakehell that she allowed in her life five years before. He was the same, and like then, he left her body satiated, but everything else, every other bit that needed or wanted something was left waiting, praying,
hoping for more.

“I-I have to get up early for work. You should probably go now.” She dared look up at him from under her lashes. His deep, dark, bottomless eyes gazed at her intently for an extended moment before he pushed up on his feet, collected his stuff and walked out the door.

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