In the distance gunfire exploded reminding Jace of black cats on the fourth of July. His heart pounded out an erratic rhythm in his chest knowing just how close he’d come to losing Hayden. He knew he should back off, go for a run, anything to get rid of the pent up aggression he was feeling, but he couldn’t walk away from her after that. Hayden pushed open the door to the shoebox of a hotel room they were staying in and Jace was right on her heels. He hated this silence between them. He’d rather have a screaming match with her than not know what she was thinking.
Once they were inside she strode to the bathroom. He held his palm out to stop her from slamming the door shut in his face.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
“To take a shower,” she said. “I feel disgusting.”
He followed her into the bathroom and she stopped, shower curtain wrapped up in her hand.
“I don’t care if we have it out in here or out there. But we are talking about this. Now.” He pulled his shirt over his head and Hayden’s gaze dropped to his chest, then slowly wandered lower. Heat shot through him and his cock throbbed behind his zipper. Fuck, did she have any idea what she was doing to him? She jerked her attention back up to his face and folded her arms across her chest.
“I was doing my job, Jace,” she said. “My job involves risk. We both knew that going in.”
“Forgive me if I’m not the biggest fan of your fucking job right now.” His attention dropped to her bandage where red dots of blood were seeping through. Fists clenched, he drew in a deep breath to gain some control. If that bullet had hit just a few inches over…
“Stop looking at me like that,” she snapped. She turned around to turn the water to the shower on and winced, holding her bandaged arm.
“Like what?” Jace took two steps closer. Close enough that she had to tilt her head back to look him in the eye. Close enough that he could smell that coconut shampoo she’d been using since they’d arrived in Sudan. He reached out to touch one of the loose waves that had come free of her ponytail and now framed her face.
“Like I’m fragile,” she said. “I’m not.”
“I’m looking at you like this because you could have died out there, Hayden.” He tightened his grip on her uninjured arm, needing to reassure himself she was still here. Still with him. He was hanging on by a thread of self control, and if she kept pushing him like this he was going to snap.
“But I didn’t!”
“You could have!” He dropped his hand to the bandage on her arm and ran his fingers over the skin beneath it, careful not to hurt her. The bullet may have only grazed her, but damn it, that was too close. “What about next time? Fuck, Hayden! Do you have any idea what it would do to me to lose you?”
Just the idea had him dropping to his knees. Over. If he lost her his world would be over. There would be no coming back from that. He wrapped his arms around her middle, pressed his face into her stomach. Hayden’s hands found the back of his head to hold him there.
“You won’t lose me,” she whispered. “I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
She wasn’t close enough. He needed more of her. All of her. It was the only thing that was going to ease the mounting tension building up inside his chest. He pulled back and ran his palms up her thighs, brushing the hem of her shorts with his thumbs.
“I want these off.” He raised his gaze to drink in the rest of her. Her white tank top, damp with sweat, stuck to her sun kissed skin and her nipples pebbled against the fabric. Her cheeks were flushed. Her lips plump and parted. “Now.”
Hayden’s hands trembled as she reached down and unbuttoned her shorts. The room was completely silent except for the almost erotic sound of her zipper coming down and the shower beating the tile behind the curtain. Jace clenched his hands into fist to keep them still. Patient. He had to be patient. She was hurt. He had to be careful with her. Slowly, he slipped her shorts down her legs until they pooled at her feet and she had to step out of them. Fuck…if he hadn’t already been on his knees, he would have dropped to them now. Hayden’s barely there pink panties were soaked. For him. He slipped his fingers inside and confirmed how much she wanted him. She moaned and undulated to his hand. There was no way he was going to be able to take his time with her. Not when he was barely hanging on. The ache from nearly losing her was still too fresh in his chest.
“Jace…” Hayden sank her teeth into her bottom lip and stared down at him.
“What baby?” He drew her panties down her legs, leaving her totally exposed to him. “What do you need?”
She squirmed under his careful touch. “You know what I need.”
"Say it." He kissed her knee. Leaned in to run the tip of his tongue up the inside of her thigh, stopping just short of what they both wanted. “I want to hear you say it.”
“Kiss me,” she whispered.
Before she could get her next breath, Hayden lost the one in her lungs on a moan. Jace kissed her right where she needed it, licking her until she was screaming his name to the ceiling. He devoured her like he’d never get to taste her again. As much as she didn’t want to think about it, they’d come close to exactly that happening today and Jace knew it. She gripped his hair wanting more than this. Wanting him.
“Jace, please…” she breathed. “I want you. Don’t make me wait.”
Jace shot to his feet so fast Hayden’s world nearly spun off its axis. His eyes smoldered as he jerked the button free on his jeans and shoved them down his legs. All the while he never took his eyes off of her.
“Does it hurt?” He reached out and gently lifted the hem of her tank top to help her out of it. She winced and nodded. It might of hurt, but it did nothing to dampen her want for him. Just seeing the desperation in his eyes was enough to break her inside. The fact was she needed him just as much as he needed her in that moment.
“Don’t worry, baby.” He lifted her up and placed her under the spray of the shower. “I’m going to make feel better.”
He climbed in after her backing her up until she was pinned against the tile wall, the spray of the shower hitting her breasts. Jace grabbed her hand and wrapped her fingers around his throbbing erection. He kept his hand over hers and began to pump their grip up and down.
“Do you feel that,” he growled. “This is what you do to me, Hayden.”
She gasped and he took advantage of her open lips, crushing his mouth against hers. Their tongues twined and Jace groaned into Hayden’s mouth. She breathed in the sound, never wanting this to end. His hands slid under her bottom and lifted her up, securing her between his erection and the wall.
“Can’t wait,” he groaned against her mouth as he surged inside of her in one hard thrust. She cried out and wrapped her good arm around his neck.
“Fuck.” He backed off, slowing his thrusts and Hayden whimpered. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I don’t care,” she moaned. “It’s worth it.”
He growled against her neck and began to move like a man on fire. Driving her hotter and higher towards the climax that was just out of reach.
“Tell me you’ll never leave me,” he grunted.
“You’re mine. I want to hear you say you’re mine.” He nipped at her ear, pushing even further.
“Fuck, yes…” Jace leaned down to capture one of her breast in his mouth, his tongue flicking over her nipple, and that was it. The world exploded around her in the most delicious way. Heat consumed her. Stars flashed behind her closed eyes. She felt Jace throbbing inside her as she rode out the waves over her orgasm.
Slowly, the room came back into focus. Jace’s was still holding her close, his breath harsh against her ear. The shower spray beat down against his broad back and water spilled over his shoulders.
“I love you.” His voice sounded off. Rough and broken. He squeezed her tighter and moved his head to kiss the spot just above her bandage.
“I love you too.”
“Did I hurt you?”
“No.” She pulled back to get his attention. When he faced her an ache bloomed in her chest. His eyes were red. His lips pressed together into a hard line. She touched his lips, knowing how much her getting hurt today had affected him. He hadn’t hurt her, but she was hurting him every day she left him in this room to wonder if she was even going to come back. They’d been here seven months. Seven months of her promising him everything would be okay. The problem was, today it had been a lie. Everything hadn’t been okay and she couldn’t continue to make that promise. He’d put his life on hold to be here for her and today they’d both almost lost this. This beautiful, perfect thing had taken them so long to grab hold of. Was it worth it? No. It wasn’t.
“I want to go home,” she whispered.
Jace watched her warily. “What?”
She leaned up and kissed his top lip then his bottom. “I want to go home. Tomorrow.”
His fingers slipped through hers, twining their hands. “What about the job?”
“I think I have enough shots,” she said.
Jace frowned. “Hayden…this isn’t what I was trying to do. You don’t have to leave.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Why?” His brows pulled together, concern coloring his eyes.
“Because this job isn’t the most important thing in my life, Jace.” She squeezed his hand. “You are. And I don’t want to wait three more months to start my life with you. To be your wife. I want it now. I don’t want to risk losing this. I don’t want to lose us.”
A smile caught Jace’s lips and his face lit up. It was enough to make her heart hurt. But in the best possible way. “So we’re really doing this. No more talk. We’re getting married.”
“Yes.” She smiled.
He cupped her face and laughed. “We’re going home.”
She smiled, overwhelmed at how right this felt. At how lucky she was. “Take me home, Jace. We have a wedding to plan.”