After he’d gotten Noelle back, he’d savagely killed the men who’d held her.

Only then, in an effort to be proactive, had he had his doctors screw with her nerve endings. That had hurt far worse than any torturing the kidnappers had done. So no, nothing Hector could do would cause her a moment of pain.

Sadness flickered in her chest. “He loved the idea of me.”

“Doesn’t matter.” She wiggled against him, her hunger for him returning full force. “Let’s get back to the good stuff.”

His eyes narrowed. “You may not feel the pain, sweetheart, but I could still do some damage.” Comprehension blazed with lightning sharpness. “And now I realize you wouldn’t know if I was causing damage until it was too late. We should stop,” he added. “Before this goes any further.”

“No!” Like a dog that refused to relinquish her new chew toy, she dug her claws into his chest. “Stay.”

“I want to, I do. I like spending time with you—when I’m not battling rampant lust for you. God knows, I want you all the damn time. And I care about you, like I said, but I will not hurt you. I won’t let myself.”

He more than craved her. He cared about her.

He liked spending time with her.

The knowledge affected her. Deeply. How strong he was, to resist his own needs. How sweet he was, to protect others from what he could do. But she felt the same about him—she cared, she liked—and she wasn’t going to let him shove her aside and keep her at a distance. Even though she was now scared, too.

“What about tying you up?” she asked. Anything. She would try anything to be with him. And a little bondage? Nice.

Shock flared in his eyes, that she so easily accepted, but it quickly dissolved in the face of regret. “I burn through rope.”

Ouch. “What do you do with the hookers?”

A blaze of shame. “You don’t need to know.”

Did he think her desire for him would wane? “Tell me anyway. You know I’ll press until you do.” His expression remained stubborn; so, once again she pricked at his pride. “Remove your tampon and tell me, Hector. I’ve pursued you, I’ve won you, and now I deserve to know.”

He snapped his teeth at her, reminding her of the times he’d bitten her. “They get on their knees and blow me,” he snarled. “Happy now? Last time was over a year ago. And before you ask, I’m not letting you do that to me.”

Over a year ago. So telling, whether he meant it to be or not. Tenderness filled her. She thought for a moment. Then she said, “All right. So you won’t let me blow you. What will you let me do to you, Hector? Because you’re not leaving this room until we’re both sated.”

HECTOR PEERED DOWN AT the woman splayed underneath him, the woman studying him with an intensity and longing that floored him. She was addictive in so many ways. Her ever-changing scent—now jasmine and honey. Her always decadent taste—sugar and spice. But this … this was where the true danger lay. The way she looked at him. As if he were beautiful. As if he were strong, valiant, sexy … worthy.

When compared to her, he was none of those things. Hell, when compared to a piece of lint, he was none of those things. The fact that he and Noelle were so damn different hadn’t changed. She was energy, a kaleidoscope of colors. He was linear, a bold black and white.

Yet, throughout their sexually charged conversation, she hadn’t seemed to notice, or maybe she just hadn’t cared, that he belonged in a different world. Desire had—and did—thrum from her in sultry waves, increasing his own.

And now he knew they had something in common. A shitty childhood. Once Hector had assumed she’d never known pain or suffering. Stupid of him. She’d been kidnapped, tortured, then tortured again when she returned home. This beautiful, sexy creature had been made to scream with something other than pleasure. Never fucking again, he vowed. He would guard her, from afar if necessary.

“Why do you want me?” he asked, truly confused. He was a bad bet, no matter from what angle she studied this. And he knew she wasn’t just leading him on or hoping for a temporary distraction. She could find that anywhere, with anyone, with a lot more ease and zero threat. Example: Dallas.

The thought alone nearly caused Hector to rip the silk covers at her temples into shreds.

Slowly he relaxed. On that front, at least, they were even. No one had ever fascinated him more than this—what had he once called her?—slice of elegance.

“Your intensity … I wonder, all the time, what it will be like, having every bit of it focused on me.”

Curiosity too, then. How disappointing. Enough to make him walk away, though? No. Just then, he doubted anything could. She was soft beneath him, and though only their legs were touching, he could feel the heat of her. Could she feel the heat of him?

“I never noticed this until today, but your face displays every emotion you’re feeling, in the minutest degree,” she said. “Disenchantment, anger, arousal. I don’t know why you felt the first two a moment ago, but I want you to listen to me. I’ve only had one serious boyfriend in my life, and only two sexual partners. One of which doesn’t count.”

“Barry,” he said, still offended on her behalf. How dare anyone treat her like that prick had? “I’m putting the guy in ICU as soon as tomorrow.”

Her lids went to half-mast, the gray of her eyes softening to a smoky silvery-blue. “I think you’re a better gift giver than Ava, and she’s a master. But the point is, I’m choosy, and I don’t screw around for fun. Wait. I do screw around for fun, but it’s also for keeps.”

Two men. At last those words sank in, and grew roots. Only two. And she wanted him to be number three. He was baffled, humbled. And yeah, aroused. So damn aroused. The length of her glossy hair spilled around her head, her seemingly delicate shoulders. Her cheeks were flushed a lovely rose, and her lips were plump and parted, her every breath shallow and laced with need.

No matter how strong and valid his fears, he couldn’t, wouldn’t, spit on her gift to him.

“I’ve, uh, never had sex,” he admitted. “Never been with anyone.”

“Oh, Hector.” A moan of excitement. “I’m glad. I like that. Want to be the first.”

He leaned down … down … until her nipples were pushed against his chest, needy little peaks that enthralled him. She wigged until her thighs were outside his, trembling, locking around his hips. Damn, but she felt good.

“I told you. I don’t want to hurt you,” he croaked out.

“Then you’re going to have to give me everything you can.”

That wasn’t much, but damn if he wouldn’t do everything in his power to make every second they spent in this bed the best of her life.

And there was the voice of temptation, luring him into danger.

Can’t resist. “I’ll make you come without using my hands.” He’d never tried that with anyone, but with her … “Do you want me to make you come?”

White teeth nibbled on her bottom lip, plumping and reddening the luscious petal further. Undoing him. “Yes, please.”

“You just tell me how, then, and it’s done.” Whatever she suggested, he would try. He had very little experience with a woman’s pleasure, but damn it, he would try. He desired her, had dreamed of her too many nights, had fantasized so many times reality was now blurred.

If, at any point, the burning and itching flared up in his arms, he would stop.

Stopping would probably kill him, but he would do it.

“Let’s start with something small, easy. Like a kiss. Yes. Kiss me,” she pleaded, breathless. “We’ve done that before, and nothing bad happened. Right?”

His gaze dropped to her mouth. Her tongue swept over her lips, leaving a gloss of moisture. His cock twitched, a lance of need shooting through him. Any minute now, and his zipper would bust, he was so full and hard.

He scooted off her, off the bed, and stood at the edge. She remained splayed on the mattress, her hair spilled around her, and her dress bunched just under her waist, hiding her panties. Fucking gorgeous. “Sit up for me,” he croaked. Things were less likely to fly out of control that way.

Still trembling, she pulled herself up, hair cascading into place. What he would have given to run his fingers through the strands. He knelt in front of her, placing himself a little lower than eye level.

“If I burn you, scare you, do anything you don’t like, tell me.”

Whether she would actually do so or not, he didn’t know. He wouldn’t risk her safety, though, not in any way, so he would remain vigilant. He would fuel her passion without becoming lost in his own. Something he’d never done. But for her … anything.

“Hector.” She leaned into him and pressed their lips together. Her tongue swept inside his mouth, her intoxicating flavor exploding through him. As sweet as before, with a splash of something darker, richer.

Don’t touch her. Don’t you dare touch her. Or explore her curves, or knead her breasts, or finger her deep and hard. He’d probably come if he did. He’d never dared to thrust his fingers inside a woman, but he knew this one would be hot and wet, clutching at him.

“I want to put my arms around you,” she breathed. “Can I?”

“Yes.” God, yes. He placed his hands on his thighs, his fingers hooked over the curves of his knees. “Around my neck, but don’t touch below my shoulders.”

She scooted closer, placing her ass at the edge of the mattress while framing his torso with her legs. She danced her fingers across the spikes of his growing hair before sliding down to ride the ridges of his spine.

“Now. Kiss me now, and don’t ever stop,” she commanded.

Their tongues met, mated, rolling together, darting apart, finding each other again, dueling. She moaned, and he swallowed the sound. Her nails bit into his shoulders, perhaps even making him bleed. He liked the thought.

In a snap, the burning and itching in his arms started up, but only slightly. He disengaged only long enough to check them out. There was a muted glow seeping from his pores, but nothing to worry about. Yet.

And for the first time, he didn’t have to worry about the woman he was with seeing what happened to him. She’d already seen. She knew the truth. And she hadn’t judged him. She hadn’t screeched in fear, hadn’t pushed him away or commanded him to leave her home. All the things he’d always nervously and angrily presumed. She’d simply questioned him, doing her best to find a way for them to be together.

Please. As if she needed to beg him. But he realized he had stopped to stare up at her, wonder radiating from him. This strong, brave female with a taste for luxury wasn’t afraid of him. Wasn’t disgusted by him.

If things proved too treacherous and he couldn’t allow himself to come, too, he would still do everything in his power to bring about her release. But what could he do to her that did not involve his hands? He could think of a few things …

His heated gaze skated over her, locked on her deliciously hard nipples. Moisture flooded his mouth. “Take off your dress.”

Without protest, she whipped the material over her head. Her breasts were hugged by a crimson bra that sparkled in the light. She wore matching panties that hugged the sweetest female body in existence.

“Unhook the clasp.” His tongue was so thick, he barely got the words out.

When the bra at last sagged open, freeing those lush morsels from their prison, revealing her berry-pink nipples, he leaned forward, as if in a trance. He flicked one with his tongue, then fit his mouth around it and sucked. Her hands once again made their way around him, holding him close … closer.

There was no woman more perfect. Lust incarnate, that’s what Noelle was, her groans swiftly becoming cries. He’d begun the day desperate to avoid her, yet now he was desperate to have her.

“I want to see you, too,” she said. “All of you.”

“Not yet.” He switched his attention to her other nipple, paying it the same homage, worshipping with his tongue, his teeth. Twice he found himself reaching up, his hands curving to fit against the plump mounds of her breasts, but both times he caught himself in time.

“Want to touch you, too.” A needy whimper from her.

“Not yet.” A groan. The burning climbed another degree, and soon thin plumes of dark smoke were curling from them, wafting to his nose. Shit. Fuck. Not here, not now. He pulled away from Noelle, stood. Shit, he raged again, even as he pulled the gloves from his pocket and slid them in place.

Noelle’s moan of disappointment echoed from the walls, and he had to brace herself against the bed to remain upright. “Are we… done?”

Never had a woman looked sexier while pouting. “No.” Please, no. “Can you stand?” he asked, his voice so guttural and raw he was almost embarrassed.

“Let’s see.” She pushed to her feet, wavered as a tremor racked her entire body, but she didn’t fall. “I’m good.”