Heart and Soul (Shayne Davies #3) - Jackie May
ONE DAY EARLIER
After pushing Brenner’s shirt up, I’m tracing my tongue along the deep lines between each of his rock-hard abs, when he suddenly turns aside with a grunt.
I cock a brow at him. “What was that?”
“Nothing.” Smirking, he caresses my cheek.
“Wait, are you…?” I plunge my face into his flat stomach. Brenner bucks with an involuntary shout. I gasp. “You’re ticklish.”
We lock eyes—a silent challenge given and accepted. Peering into his sparkling green irises, daring him to blink first, I walk two fingers across his abs. His whole body stiffens in response, pushing a tiny grunt from his compressed lips. He narrows his eyes in concentration.
“Uh-oh,” I coo. “The serious face. This is serious.”
Seriously stunning. Like a flash of revelation, it occurs to me that Brenner is devastatingly beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always noticed him—from the moment I first laid eyes on him, he’s been unforgettable to me. But even during these last few months, when I pined for him, threw myself at him, I still wasn’t seeing him the way I see him now. I’m completely obsessed with the striking contradictions of his face—grim but gorgeous, tortured but tender. An angel raised by demons.
Still holding out, Brenner furrows his brow, trying for a menacing glare, but all I see are sensual eyes crackling with a carnal intensity I can’t wait to unleash.
“Ohhh, a tough guy, huh?” I lower my voice into a breathy, sultry murmur. “Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen. He’s not the good cop. He’s…the hammer.” Making a five-point claw with my fingernails, I dig them into his rippled stomach. His jaw clenches, and his entire torso begins to quiver, but still he holds, piercing my soul with a fierce look.
I allow him one more instant of perceived control before twisting my clawed hand against his belly. As soon as I do, he bucks wildly, shouting, and immediately retaliates with fingers tickling at my ribs. Convulsing violently, I burst into a full-on Julia Roberts laugh. I’d have flipped right off the side of the bed if Brenner hadn’t pinned my arms and rolled on top of me, straddling my waist. “Guess I’m not the only one.”
I run my hands up his chest. “See, but it’s fine to be ticklish in the ribs. Keep your ribs. But the abs? No, no, no.” I unbutton his shirt. “I need those. So we’re gonna try this again, and we’re gonna keep trying, until you can take it for as long as I can give it. And that”—I spread his shirt open—“is just for starters.”
Pushing the shirt back over his shoulders, I admire several cuts and bruises in various stages of healing across his chest. Tattoos of chemical formulas ring the sides of his neck, permanent souvenirs from his time undercover, the angel masquerading among devils. He got out alive, only to fall straight into the deep end of the underworld, where he both lost and found. Lost his sister. Found me.
Brenner swoops down, sliding his arms under my back, pressing our bare chests together. The skin-to-skin contact shoots a ripple of ecstatic goose bumps all the way down to my curling toes. As always, it’s freezing cold in our bedroom. Brenner is as warm as a fleece blanket, and cozier, too. I want to wrap myself up in him.
He goes for my lips, softly at first, but then parts them, deepening the kiss with more feeling than I expected. This had started as a playful romp, but now we’re headed—for the third time this weekend—toward the full treatment.
Anxiety flutters in my chest—those nagging butterflies. I ignore them, pulling hungrily at Brenner, chasing his lips when he pulls back, moaning when he then presses down on me with surging eagerness.
My pulse races, even as those butterflies grasp at my runaway heart, trying to pace it. I shrug them off, glibly proclaiming the futility of trying to hold my feelings back. Hello, this is me we’re talking about. You flash yellow lights, I say, Speed up. Red lights? Run them. High fastball? Swing for the fences. Only one card in the whole deck that could give me the winning hand? Bet everything. I’m fast enough, I’m strong enough, and Lady Luck owes me. So it may be naïve, but I say, What the hell? If you’re going to plunge, might as well do it with style. Make it a swan dive.
And so, closing my eyes, tilting my head back with a gasp, I let go. I let my heart