|The barbarian was truly magnificent, rugged, virile and strong. Yet in his anguish he was utterly vulnerable. He had spoken of sorrow and guilt but tonight, for the first time, she sensed abject fear in him. That fear seemed to have him teetering on the edge of a vast chasm and if something or someone didn't pull him back he would drown in a hellish pit of his own making. It struck her that tonight she was his strength even as he had been hers in their first weeks together. In a strange way they were kindred spirits, both runaways, bound together by horrific events that had changed the course of their lives. The capricious Fates had extracted payment with one hand and offered it back with the other.
Grayson brushed her cheek against the smooth hair of his chest and touched her lips to his. A hot blush rose to her cheeks as she remembered the intimacy they had shared. He had sought her lips and called her his love. Then he had -- She couldn't even form the words. Nothing Kipp or Aggie had told her about men had prepared her for the fervid excitement she experienced with her lusty barbarian. He had given her free rein to explore and marvel, seeming to yearn for her touch as much as she longed for his. But as passionate and breathless as she had been, as much as she had craved becoming one with his mind-muddling strength, she held back. To the deepest far crevice of her mind, she knew his awesome need. Silently, like a beggar in the night, he had drained her. Even as he clung to her body, he tugged at her core -- pleading, seeking, demanding -- pulling everything from her. Willingly she would have been his if only Drake had known her true identity. But what he sought was too much of her, and she retreated. She'd had to be strong and control her raging emotions. As he spilled his life against her, it was not Grayson's name that floated on his husky susurrations, not Grayson's lips he kissed or Grayson's face he caressed with his tingly beard. His guilt over Khrissa still filled his mind, and Raven filled his bed. Grayson would have to fill his future. Though her barbarian had won her heart and invaded her soul, until that time came she could not surrender her precious gift to him in the guise of another woman.
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