Excerpt from Ashwin by Kit Rocha
Ashwin took his time sliding his hand up her back and under the wild tumble of her hair. Brushing her skin with his fingertips sent warning shocks of pain skittering up his spine. Once, during the war, he’d forced a fellow Makhai soldier to inject the torturous drugs meant for aversion therapy into his veins. It had been a last-ditch effort, a desperate attempt to dislodge her from his brain.
It hadn’t worked. Oh, he associated Kora with pain. He associated pain with Kora. But the line between pain and pleasure was dangerously thin. As he curled his fingers around the back of her neck, the heat crawling up his spine melted across that line. Obliterated it.
“Close your eyes,” he ordered softly.
Her hand clenched in his shirt.
He couldn’t tell her it would be okay, and he wouldn’t urge her to trust him. There was only one thing he had to offer her. “You need something right now, Kora, and I know how to provide it. But I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. It’s your choice.”
She sat up straight, her brows drawn into a confused frown. But slowly, slowly, she closed her eyes.
He’d never had the luxury of simply studying her face before. He traced his gaze over the arch of her brows, down the thin bridge of her nose to the place where the tip turned up just a few millimeters. Down farther, to the full curve of her slightly parted lips, and beneath that to the delicate point of her chin.
He’d never noticed her freckles before. There were just a few scattered across her cheeks. He touched one, and she inhaled, sharp and shaky. Then she sank her teeth into her lower lip and tilted her face to his touch.
Such naked need. All the signs of arousal were there—flushed skin, tight nipples. Shortened breath. The openness of it was a soothing change from the way people hid their emotions behind false smiles and frowns.
All he had to do was touch her, and her body spilled her secrets. When he stroked her, she trembled against him. When his knuckle grazed the spot where her throat met her jaw, goose bumps rose on her arms. He took note of her reaction, factoring it in to his overall strategy.
The first time he bit her, it would be there.
Her flimsy top left her shoulders bare. He touched her there next, dragging his fingers down her smooth, unmarked skin. He noted the ticklish spot inside her elbow, and the way her breathing hitched when he brushed a thumb over the inside of her wrist.
There. That was where he’d start.
Without taking his gaze from her face, he lifted her hand and parted his lips. He knew, rationally, that her skin couldn’t taste sweet. It had to be his pleasure at the way her eyes flew open, then half-closed with heavy desire when he licked her.
He kissed her palm. The tips of her fingers. Slow, careful. Precise. Her inner arm. Her shoulder. The delicate line of her collarbone. The hollow at her throat.
He lulled her with soft touches until she was clutching at his shoulders, her breath quickening as she pulled him closer. Her hip rubbed against his cock when she squirmed, briefly diverting his attention to his own state of physical arousal.
It would be effortless to indulge himself. She’d go to his bed willingly. Eagerly. With an exhilarating lack of nerves and fear, because she wouldn’t be like his domestic handlers—bedding him at first out of duty, and then out of eagerness for the way he could make her body react.
Kora would want him.