"I think you have a devious mind," Ivory said as she once again resumed her physical form, standing in the memory room of her lair. "Leading the hunters into the Valley of Mist and then going beneath the ground rather than through the mist was a stroke of genius. There was no way they could track us, not even through the call of blood."

"The earth welcomes us and covers all tracks. I knew they could never follow our scent, even with the call of blood." Razvan grinned at her. "I would have liked to have been there when they realized they were trapped in an illusion and fighting with snowmen, not ghouls." He burst out laughing.

She stretched her arms wide to allow the wolves to take their normal shapes. "We did not make any friends."

"We do not need friends. In any case, if they are without emotions, they could care less one way or the other." He frowned. "I do not envy Mikhail his job."

"Especially trying to destroy that book. He has no idea of the evil things inside of it."

Razvan was silent for a long moment. "I should have spoken with him more about the book and its destruction. I dislike the idea of my aunts having to deal with anything involved with Xavier, but they, better than anyone else, would know how best to destroy the book."

The concern in his voice moved her. The man had more compassion in him and more drive to protect those he loved than any person she'd ever met. Ivory turned toward him, her gaze drifting over him slowly. He took up a lot of space there in the confines of her home. His shoulders were broad and his physique very masculine. There was little soft about Razvan, although he had the calmest, most serene nature she'd ever run across as a rule. He glanced up and caught her looking at him.

Her heart leapt. There was stark, raw hunger in his eyes, glittering at her, devouring her, drinking her in. Her mouth went dry. They were alone. She moistened her lips. Wanting him. Even needing him. Fear gripping her.

"Razvan." His name came out husky, her voice shaken.

His smile was slow, his voice as thick as molasses. "Ivory."

The way he said her name made her body go hot and damp and her heart pound more. There would be no going back. It was all or nothing with him, she knew that about him. Once he touched her, claimed her, made her part of him, she would be lost. Completely. How much of her would disappear? She ached for this. For him. She was on fire for him. Almost desperate, when desperate wasn't part of her makeup.

She held up a shaky hand before he could take a step toward her. "If you ever betrayed me, I would kill you. I would, Razvan. You have to know that. There would be no forgiveness. I have not trusted another person in centuries. Others do not matter, but you-you would matter."

"I would expect nothing less from my woman."

A slow, sexy smile curved his mouth and burned in his eyes. Hunger stared back at her. Desire. Lust. All things she could cope with. But there was love, pure and honest and so real it took her breath away, shaking her to her very core. Something inside her welled up. Burst. Opened to him. For him. This one man. If she took him in, her love for him would consume her. She had so much to give, but she'd been alone for so long . . .

He held out his hand to her. "I have been alone, too."

She wanted to make him understand the enormity of the decision. Did he know what it would cost her? Did he know how terrified she was? Did he have any idea how bad she was going to be at a relationship?

His smile widened, giving her a flash of his white teeth. He leaned down and brushed a gentle kiss over her mouth. There was no way to save herself from her treacherous heart. She had already committed to him. She had fallen for his smile. His gentle nature. His iron will. Everything about him drew her. Even his stubborn streak and that absolute boyish sense of humor. Everything.

There was more danger to her here, in this man, in this moment, than from the most powerful master vampire imaginable, or from the most ferocious of battles. Loving him too much, as she would-maybe already did-might destroy her. She could put her physical body back together, but not her heart, not her soul-not the very essence of who she was.

"Trust me, beloved. I know I am asking more than any other has dared to ask, but look into the soul we share and trust me."

Ivory kept her gaze locked with his. His eyes. His gorgeous, wild, midnight blue eyes that held so much. All for her. Only for her. So much hunger. So much desire. So much love. Her mouth trembled as she placed her hand in his and let him lead her into their bedchamber. Her heart pounded so loudly she was certain he could hear it.

Razvan closed the door on the wolves, leaving them settled in the larger memory room. He waved his arm to set lights flickering on a hundred miniature candles set into small indentations in the rock wall. The flames danced, throwing shadows across Ivory's face. Her skin looked porcelain, rose-petal soft and inviting. Her eyes were enormous, burnished gold, liquid and frightened like a wild creature trapped by a predator, looking at him with a mixture of longing and innocence that was both intoxicating and irresistible.

He reached behind her and pulled her thick braid over her shoulder to release the tie, his fingers tunneling through the silky strands to loosen the tight weave so that her hair tumbled around her face and cascaded down her back. The texture of her hair, so soft, the strands running through the pads of his thumb and fingers, brought the smoldering embers into a slow burn. She didn't flinch or turn away from him, nor did she lower her gaze from his.

There was courage in Ivory, an abundance of it. Courage he knew was a huge part of who she was. Ivory didn't give up. If she committed herself to him, she would give everything to him, hold nothing back. He loved her all the more for that trait, that absolute unswerving characteristic that made her a dangerous hunter, but would also make her a fiercely loyal partner and a fantasy lover.

He wanted to take his time, explore every inch of her, every secret shadow and hollow, every intriguing, mysterious feminine curve. He could barely breathe with wanting. His hands moved to the buckles of her vest. He knew each buckle intimately, having committed them to memory earlier-the leather straps with the double holes-the tiny crosses embedded in the steel of each metal clasp and the three metal rivets on each side of the buckle and strap, also embedded with a cross-the cross that represented her faith and shining soul.

Of course either of them could have removed her clothes with a single thought, but he wanted the pleasure of unwrapping her. He wanted to take his time and offer her every single moment of pleasure he could give her-build her need from a smoldering ember into a raging firestorm.

She didn't move, but he felt her sharp inhale and her breasts rose and fell against his knuckles as he worked the straps apart and pushed the material off her shoulders for a slow unveiling of her magnificent body. Her breasts spilled out. Soft. Enticing. So tempting he cupped the soft weight in his palms, all the time watching her face.

He saw the swift pleasure overtake her, the flush of color, the slight glazing of her eyes as his thumbs brushed over the taut peaks of her nipples. Holding the twin soft mounds in the palms of his hands felt like a miracle, the sensation beyond his fantasies. He'd given up those dreams long ago-so long ago he couldn't even remember if he'd ever had them-yet she stood before him, her soft feminine curves a gentle weight in his hands and her enormous eyes looking at him with such trepidation . . . and anticipation.

He brushed a kiss over her forehead, then down to the corner of her left eye. A small shudder went through her body. He kissed the tip of her nose and the corners of her mouth. Her lips parted slightly. Hunger welled up in her, swamping him so that for a moment his mouth hovered a scant inch from hers while he fought for control.

He took her breath first, drawing it deep into his lungs, and then he took her mouth, his lips settling over hers, absorbing the shape and texture, the soft firmness, the building heat. His tongue slid along that slightly parted seam, the small invitation.

Ivory's breath caught in her throat. He was leading her down an unknown path of temptation, and she was just too far gone to resist. His kiss was sinful, his mouth a wicked excitement that filled her with such need she couldn't stop her response. He whispered something, sexy, nearly imperceptible, as his tongue swept into her mouth, exploring the hot recesses, running seductively over her teeth and claiming her body for his own.

She knew that was what it was. A claiming. Taking her body and making it his own. His thumbs brushed across her nipples and she nearly cried out, the sound strangled by the lump rising in her throat. Streaks of fire raced from her breast to her clit and her womb clenched. He kissed her over and over until she felt delirious, but one part of her was always focused on his hands. On waiting. On needing.

She stood there with him fully clothed, his dark, streaked hair pulled back so that he looked in control while she was naked from the waist up with her hair tumbling in every direction, a wild, wanton bundle of nerves that finally understood that her destination was this man. This journey she took with him, no matter how frightening, wasn't being taken alone. He had allowed her to lead the way in her field of strength. He was asking her to give herself up to him, just as he had done for her.

He wanted her trust. Wholly. He wanted her to give him everything she was or would ever be without pride or ego, trusting he would cherish her gift for all time. His kiss had been a match, lighting something deep inside her that flared up now, something feminine and alive and needy beyond belief. She wanted to please him. She wanted to be his solace. His pleasure. His everything.

Her tongue slid along his, dancing and teasing, as she pushed her aching breasts deeper into his palms, needing that next brush of fire. His kisses were addictive, burning hot until she knew passion was spinning out of control and her mind was hazy with desire. He bit at her lower lip and the sting sent a lightning strike sizzling through her belly straight to her feminine channel. Even her thighs quivered, her body going into meltdown.

His teeth scraped along her chin, his tongue swirling over the small dip there and traveling down to her throat. He took his time, even though she was melting right there on the floor. His mouth moved over her throat, those wicked teeth scraping gently, sending a sinful lash of spiraling heat sliding from belly to thigh.

She could barely breathe, waiting. Knowing. In the grip of a desire far too strong to ever withstand. He lowered his mouth and took her breast with the same slow heat he'd taken her mouth. His warm breath came first, so that she felt him all the way through her breast and deep under her skin. Her breath just stopped as she strained toward him. His tongue flicked her nipple and she whimpered. Then his mouth drew her deep, suckled, and she cried out, throwing her head back, her arms cradling his head to her, holding him close. Her fingers curled into fists, bunching his hair while her toes curled in a matching reflex.

Desire punched low and fierce, as he captured her other nipple and began to roll and tug to the rhythm of his mouth. Another cry escaped as white lightning ripped through her body, straight from her breasts, through her abdomen to her very core and even lower still, spreading down her thighs until electric sparks crackled around her.

Blood roared in her ears, pounded in her heart and through her veins as he drew the nipple tight against the roof of his mouth and stroked and caressed. She needed him in a way she'd never needed anyone in her life. He was like the brightest star, the moonlight spilling silver across a new snow. He made an ugly world beautiful and decent and made her remember she was a woman.

His mouth was like black velvet, dark and intoxicating, his hands shaping her breasts while his teeth and tongue built the fire in her hotter. When he lifted his head she could see ravenous hunger, yet with those same unhurried movements, his clever fingers skimmed her bare belly. He caught her rib cage between his palms and bent his head to trace a trail of fire over each rib and down to her belly button, where his tongue swirled until she clutched his hair to keep herself upright.

His eyes met hers and his hands dropped to the belt at her hip, pulling the slider apart and dropping weapons and holster onto the floor. She felt the brush of his fingers against her lower belly as he tugged on the leather ties and unfastened the opening. She was tempted to just get rid of her clothes herself, her body on fire with need, but there was a warning in his hot eyes, a look of possession that she found just a little thrilling-okay, maybe a lot. He enjoyed unwrapping her and she wanted to give him that joy. She found herself feeling unexpectedly sexy as he tugged her trousers down her legs and one hand at her hip urged her to step forward out of them.

She held her breath. She was totally naked, every line and curve exposed to his hungry gaze. He just stood there, hands on the curve of her hips, his gaze moving over her, absolutely, wholly focused on her in that way he had, as if he saw nothing else, was aware of nothing else. Only Ivory. She put her hand on his chest, right over his heart, and felt it beating hard. Stark desire radiated from him-for her.

She'd never had a man look at her like that. Certainly Draven had wanted her, but not with love carved into every line of his face. Not with his body shuddering and his heart hammering. He had never looked at her with such a fever of need, with his mind open to hers and his heart given fully to her. No one had ever made her feel as if she was the most beautiful woman in the world, wholly desired, completely loved-until now.

"Ivory." Her name came out strangled in his throat. A soft symphony that brushed her skin just as effectively as his hands.

He brought her to him again, taking her mouth, this time in a fever of need, scorching her with his searing heat as he pulled her closer, so that his heavy erection pushed against her soft belly right through the material of his trousers. She heard her own strangled moan as his mouth fastened on hers, this time without that slow burn. This time wild and so hot it scorched her. He had driven her out of her mind so that need was the only thing she knew, and she melted into him, nearly blind with hunger for his touch.

His tongue tangled with hers as his hands came back to her sensitive breasts, fingers tugging and rolling her nipples until she was panting, gasping, little whimpers escaping. His skin felt hot beneath his shirt, as her nails dug deep into his shoulders. A shudder went through his body. His mouth was addictive, that dark, rich taste of sin and sex she found intoxicating. His body was hard and powerful, moving against hers, controlled, aggressive now, inflaming her more. She could feel each defined muscle rippling beneath his skin, his body tense with need as his kisses sent electrical sparks sizzling through her veins directly to her feminine channel so she was damp and needy, and moaning into his mouth.

She couldn't stop touching him, his hair, his neck, his throat, sliding her hands over his arms and the muscles there, dragging husky male groans, throaty and raw with passion for him. The sound inflamed her more until she thought she was burning up, her body moving almost compulsively against his.

He made a sound. Dark. Dangerous. Intoxicating. He simply drove his hips upward, against the junction of her thighs, pressing tightly while he rocked her there. The urgent movement was incredibly sexy, sending a shaft of desire, sweet and hot, piercing through her core, and she buried her face against his neck, stroking with her tongue, nipping with her teeth, reveling in the way his body shuddered in reaction.

His fingers found her inner thigh. Stroked. Took the breath from her body. His leg forced her thighs open to him, the rough material rubbing over her skin as she bucked helplessly into him, nearly sobbing with need.

"Are you wet for me, fel ku kuuluaak sivam belso-beloved?"

His voice was a black velvet seduction in her ear. A blatant, wicked temptation.

"Are you?" He sounded like pure sin.

She tugged frantically at his shirt, desperate to get at him, as need clawed at her. She ached, her feminine sheath coiled tight with building tension, frantic for release, for him to fill the clutching emptiness. She managed to shove his shirt off his body and couldn't stand anything between them, not even for another second. She stripped him with magic, with frenzied, almost violent haste.

One hand fisted in her hair, dragged her head back to expose her throat to rake gently with his teeth. He bit down and her womb clenched. He trailed fiery kisses over her neck, and then his mouth was ravaging her breasts, his teeth and tongue sending molten fire racing through her blood. His hand slipped over her thigh, caressed and stroked the soft inner skin, moving higher, knuckles brushing the damp mound at the junction there.

Ivory inhaled sharply. Went still. Her breath caught in her lungs. Just stayed trapped there, burning and raw. Razvan pulled his head back and stared into her eyes. She drowned there. Holding her gaze captive, he plunged his fingers into her tight, wet channel. Ivory's eyes widened. She heard the surprised wail escaping her throat, dizzy with shock.

Razvan thrust into her mind so he could feel her response, her reactions guiding his every move. She didn't know if she could stand feeling both of them, the ravenous hunger, the building fire leaping between them.

Still looking at her, Razvan dropped to his knees. He lowered his gaze in a slow, possessive study of her body, watching her flush with arousal, all the while his fingers plunged deep. Her scent called to him as she rode his hand, almost sobbing. Very slowly he removed his fingers and licked at them, savoring the exotic taste of her. She moaned and the sound vibrated through his heavy erection so that he pulsed with urgent need. He ignored his own body's reaction, desperate for the taste of her.

Desperate. He was desperate for her taste. That alone was enough to undo her, that this man, kneeling at her feet, looking like a fallen angel, could be so desperate for her taste, for the hot cream spilling out to welcome him.

He kept her thighs spread with his hands and took her with his mouth, his tongue sliding through the satin-soft heat. She shuddered. Caught his hair with both fists and yanked, the biting pain thickening his shaft even more. His name was strangled, cut off as she lost her ability to breathe when he licked at her like a hungry wolf.

The rasp of his tongue was too much. Her knees weakened and her body coiled too tight, burned too hot, clenching and rippling with shocking intensity. She cried out his name again, trying to say stop, but not wanting this to ever end. It mattered little; he was beyond hearing, his blood thundering in his ears, the taste of her driving him wild. He ate at her like a starving wolf, his tongue stroking, lapping and then suckling her clit, plunging deep and then flicking at the hard nub while she bucked and thrust against his mouth in a mindless, fiery explosion.

Ivory screamed. She'd never screamed in her life. Not when Draven caught her. Not when the vampires had attacked. Never. Not once. But the pleasure bordered on ecstasy, roaring through her belly and rippling through her womb, wave after wave, so that she clung to his shoulders for support while the tidal wave burst through her.

Razvan lifted her then, cradling her in his arms, taking her to the soft bed in the chamber, weaving and floating a silken sheet to lay her on. He came down with her, spreading her legs a second time, his mouth latching on to her, tongue stabbing deep to drive her up a second time. She wept, digging her nails into his back, trying desperately to hold on to sanity as he took her up fast. She heard herself pleading, for what she didn't even know, and then he was rising above her, his face a harsh mask of desire in stark contrast to the unashamed, fierce love in his eyes.

She felt him press the broad head of his erection at her entrance, and time stopped. Sound stopped. There was only the sensation of his body demanding entrance to hers. There was white lightning flashing over her skin, through her body, streaking through her bloodstream as he began to invade, his thick shaft pushing through the tight folds of her body. Between her thighs, his shaft was like a hot brand, where he stretched her slowly on an exquisite rack of pleasure.

His voice was harsh as he murmured to her in the ancient tongue, somewhere between swearing and praising, maybe both. Her blood, thundering in her ears, drowned out the actual words. He was trying to ease into her, to allow her body plenty of time to accommodate his length and girth, but she couldn't stay still, not even when his hands pinned her hips and held her. The pleasure was too much. She thrust upward, using her heels for leverage, just as he eased forward again.

A lash of pain accompanied the pleasure pouring over her as his body thrust deep into hers. His fingers tightened on her hips-dug in-forced her to be still.

"Stop, Ivory. Do not move." His breathing was as harsh as his voice, ragged and uneven. "We're both going to go up in flames. You are so tight."

She could see his white teeth snap together as her muscles gripped and squeezed. That smooth control had slipped. She loved that she'd managed to shake his calm. She could feel the pounding need in him, the dark hunger, see the lengthening of his teeth, just that hint of danger that made her heart jump and her body flood with more liquid cream. She dug her nails into him, her breasts heaving, desperate for more-desperate for him to move. "Please, Razvan. Please."

The urgency in her took him over the edge. He caught her hips and dragged her legs over his arms, levering himself to ride over her clit, and then he plunged deep, the friction nearly intolerable, the pleasure so intense she was afraid of losing herself completely in him. He reared back and began a harsh rhythm, deep and strong and fast, so deep he pierced her womb, the hot length of him filling her, binding them together.

His mind moved in hers so that she felt the fire streaking through his body, the way her tight sheath dragged and milked at him, scorching hot, velvet soft, an exquisite pleasure-pain that shook him to his soul. The tension in her body built, coiling tighter and tighter, until she was frantically writhing beneath him, her breath coming in wild gasps, her head tossing back and forth, her nails raking at his back.

"Razvan." She sobbed his name. A plea. A demand. She needed... Needed!

"I know, Ivory," he bit out softly between his teeth. "Give yourself to me. All of you. Let go, fel ku kuuluaak sivam belso-beloved. I will catch you."

She felt consumed with fire. Terrified she might disappear in the flames. The tension wound her so tight, yet she couldn't let go, couldn't bring herself to take that last leap of faith. She sobbed again, clutching him tighter, not wanting this moment to end, but fearing if they didn't stop, she would be lost.

He pounded into her, his shaft a steel-edged sword, piercing her womb and her heart, taking a part of her into him, just as a part of him was deep within her.

"It is already too late," he whispered, and his voice was that of a dark angel. A whisper of velvet, a lash of heat.

It was too late to save herself; her body was already lost, would forever need his. He had driven her so high she had to fly. He dragged her closer and leaned over her, his body still surging into hers, over and over, a piston that never stopped, never slowed, until she thought she might scream again with the wonder of it. She felt her body tighten. And tighten. Gripping his. Squeezing. She could hear the sounds of their bodies coming together, the hard slap of flesh; felt the power of him moving within her. His body tilted one more time and he dragged the long length of his hard shaft over her sensitized clit.

Her body went rigid. For a moment she couldn't breathe. Couldn't think. Her body tightened around his thick shaft, clamping down almost painfully as the rippling sensations began building into a giant tidal wave, spreading through her body like a flash fire, white hot and powerful. Wave after wave. Never ending. A shock that put her system on overload. She wept with the force of her release, the beauty and wonder of it, as she felt her body take his, forcing him with her, hearing his hoarse shout as his hot seed emptied into her.

She felt his bite, the pleasure-pain of it, and her body clenched and rippled again and again as he took her blood in an erotic exchange. She arched her back, thrusting upward with her hips as her body continued to clench around his, squeezing down on him, milking every drop from his body. He swept his tongue across the swell of her breasts, closing the pinpricks and looked down on her with his sexy eyes.

Just his look made her body react again, another wave washing over both of them. She raised her head to capture his mouth with hers, kissing him, holding him to her as she kissed her way down his throat. She felt his shaft harden again that fast, filling and stretching her as she licked at his pulse. A harsh groan escaped him.

Her teeth nipped his skin and she felt the instant jerk of his erection. She bit down and he slammed his hips hard, burying himself deep, holding her bottom with one hand, forcing her to accept his wildly plunging body. She felt the taste of him exploding inside of her, filling her with his essence. She'd never felt so complete. So loved. She swept her tongue across the pinpricks on his throat and let her body go up another time, this time without resistance.

She could hear her own soft gasps, smell their combined scents as the waves broke over her again and again before he found his own release.

They lay together, their arms around each other, their bodies joined, neither wanting to move. It was several minutes before Razvan found the strength to move, rolling off her to stare up at the glittering ceiling, his fingers linking behind his head.

"Give me a few minutes and I will carry you to the pool."

He turned his head, his smile tender, sending her heart somersaulting. He looked different. Younger. Happier. That same serenity was there, but this time there was love looking back at her with pure, undiluted happiness and joy. She wished she could share her emotions with him aloud, but she contented herself with surrounding him with the deepest feelings she had for him, overwhelming love, so much she couldn't give voice, even telepathically.

His fingers moved over hers, stroked small caresses until she linked her fingers with his. "Thank you, Ivory."

"For what?" A smile escaped. "I think I should be thanking you."

His smiled widened. "You have given me the most beautiful experience of my life. Whatever else happens, I will always have the memory of you giving yourself to me."

"I was afraid," she confessed in a low voice.

"I know you were," he said gently, "which made your gift all the more treasured."

"Are you really going to carry me to the pool?"

"Don't sound so scared," he teased. "Somehow I will manage to find the strength. I promise, I will not drop you."

She tightened her fingers around his. "I know that. I just might feel silly."

"No one is here but us, Ivory," he pointed out, his tone more tender than ever.

She felt her heart twist again. He could do that so easily to her. Move her. Make her melt. It wasn't his incredible body or the way he took her to such heights, it was that enduring love he seemed to have for her. A rock. A foundation. Strong and accepting that made her feel as if she could always count on him.

"I know."

"Do you think I will think less of you?"

She was silent, contemplating his question, turning it over and over in her mind. She just felt ridiculous feeling about him the way that she did. Why couldn't she let herself go in the way that he did?

"I don't think I know how to be a woman." She didn't know how else to say it.

Razvan turned on his side and propped himself up on his elbow. "Ivory, you are my woman. You do not have to be like any other. I do not want any other. There is no comparison. Be who you are. Make no apologies, certainly not to me." A small smile curved his mouth and he leaned forward to brush kisses over her mouth. "I love the way you are, that little reluctance you have to tell me I am the greatest man in all the world."

His soft laughter stroked over her skin. He sounded so boyish, carefree even, less inhibited for the first time in his life.

He managed to climb to his feet and lifted her, cradling her in his arms as if she were as light as a child. "You have worn me out, warrior woman."

Ivory couldn't help laughing. "If you were truly the greatest man in all the world, you would not be worn out. You would be ready to service my every need."

His eyebrow shot up. "I believe that is a challenge." He fastened his mouth to hers as he took her through to the next room where the water spilled out of the rock wall into the smooth basin. "I am more than up for servicing your every need." He whispered the words against her mouth, his tongue flicking over her lips, savoring her taste.

"Really? I am not quite as certain." She used her haughtiest tone.

He dropped her into the water. She came up sputtering to find him standing there, hands on his hips, the water lapping at his thighs.

"That was so mean."

"You deserved it."

"Maybe I did," she agreed, laughing.

He was teaching her how to have fun. To play. To take each moment they had together and live it well. In the spirit of learning, she sent up a plume of water with deadly aim. The water shot over his face and splashed down his chest.

"I thought you might need a little cooling off."

His eyebrow rose. Amusement lit his eyes. "I think you just declared war."

She stuck out her chin. "I think I did."

The water fight was fast and furious. Water geysered nearly to the ceiling and splashed against the wall. Twice he launched himself at her, bringing her down like a crocodile might its prey, rolling her under the water before she could wiggle away from him and surface to attack again.

She threw herself at him, arms circling his neck, and body slammed him, taking them both under and when they came up, they rested on the side of the warm pool and let the bubbles fizz against their skin.

She rubbed her arms and glanced upward as if she might be able to see the sky. "I can always tell when the sun is about to rise. My skin prickles and becomes uncomfortable. Most Carpathians can stay out in the early morning hours but I cannot."

"Not at all?"

She rested one hip against the smooth basin and wrung out her hair. "My skin is so fair, all the years spent in the ground away from even moonlight while I was healing, and I get burned. More like a light sunburn, I guess, but I blister fairly easily." She smiled at him as a memory came to her. "Once, I found a bottle of sunblock a hiker had dropped. I tried it."

He tucked her hair behind her ear. "I take it that didn't go very well."

"Not really, no."

"Have you tried staying up longer while you are here, underground?"

She rubbed her arms again, shivering a little. "Sometimes when I get working on experimenting with new chemicals to hold the vampire in place, I do not feel the sensation for a while, but most of the time, I am so uneasy, I just go to ground."

"Your formula to coat your weapons is brilliant."

She sent him a quick, pleased smile, a little shy when he gave her compliments. "I am still working on it. It needs to last a little longer before their blood eats through it. The more time I give myself, by preventing them from shifting, the more of an edge I have."

"We have," he corrected.

She nodded. "We have," she agreed.

"Is your skin hurting now?" Razvan asked, clearly prepared to carry her back to their bedchamber.

"Not really. It is close to dawn though. Very close."

She liked being with him. She hadn't thought she would. She had been alone for so long she thought it would be uncomfortable to share her space with him, but she enjoyed his sense of humor. He was an intelligent man, quick-witted yet he lacked an ego, which might have made it difficult for someone like her to be with a partner. He was peaceful, and she often found herself wanting to just stand beside him, to feel the way his serenity radiated from him to surround and hold her. Truthfully, she found him sexy and rather intoxicating.

Razvan smiled at her. "I am reading your mind."

She tossed her head. "Do not read too much into whatever I was thinking."

Razvan lowered himself into the water, ducking his head and then coming up fast right beside her, his hands skimming up her thighs, over the curves of her hips, along her tucked-in waist and higher up along her rib cage until he was holding the soft weight of her breasts in his palms. "I think you should read my mind."

Before she could reply he dipped his head and drew her nipple deep into his mouth. It mattered little that he had already made love to her twice, that her body had been sated. She instantly felt the heat swamping her. His wet hair slid over her abdomen and teased her mound as he tugged and teased and suckled.

She held him there for a moment, savoring the pleasure filling her and then she dipped her fingers beneath the water and found his erection already growing firm. At the touch of her fingers his shaft jerked and pulsed. She smirked, realizing the power of her touch as she caressed his hard length with strokes before wrapping her fingers around him to enclose his hard flesh in a tight fist.

Razvan lifted his head and looked at her with dark, hungry eyes. "What are you doing?"

"A little exploring of my own."

He leaned back until his hip brushed the wall of the basin to steady himself. Her touch left him weak, his body shuddering with need.

"You could always sit," Ivory suggested, her voice silky, "as this may take some time. I am very thorough when I explore."

Swallowing hard, Razvan sat up on the very edge of the smooth rock, allowing his legs to dangle in the pool. His erection throbbed against his stomach, rock hard and growing by the moment. When she cupped his balls and leaned down for her first tentative lick, his breath exploded from his lungs. When her mouth took him, he was lost in her body, in her mind, in everything she was to him.

Razvan fisted his hands in her hair and held on, knowing this was the beginning of a wild ride with his beloved lifemate.