"Hey, no copping a feel."
Leaning over, he nipped her ear. "Quiet."
He saw the edge of her smile. "Do the rest."
Her languid laziness was so feline he couldn't do anything else but stroke her. After he finished her back, he swept the heavy weight of her hair to cover her. Pretty, his wolf said as he ran the strands through his fingers.
Mercy didn't hurry him up, and he realized she liked having her hair played with. It was a surprising discovery, it was such a feminine thing. But it fit her. Releasing the strands after long, long minutes, he ran his fingers down to trace the delicate lines of the tattoo at the base of her spine. It was a fine blade anchoring and twined by beautiful curling lines.
Feminine and martial.
He liked it. Just as he liked the fact that she had another tattoo on her right arm - slashing lines that echoed the markings on her alpha's face. Loyal. This cat was loyal. And that both drew him and frustrated him. But he wouldn't think about that today.
These minutes, these hours, were for Riley and Mercy. Not a lieutenant and a sentinel. Here, they were two ordinary people who happened to set one another aflame . . . and, perhaps, touch each other far deeper than either of them was willing to admit.
Drifting lower, he ran his knuckles over her bu**ocks. No protest. So he kneaded her muscles with careful hands, learning her far slower than he had either of the other times they'd been together.
By the time he reached the tops of her thighs, the scent of her arousal had wrapped around him like a thousand soft whispers. But he didn't push. He was enjoying having her under his hands - Mercy rarely stopped being in motion. To have her like this was a rare treat, one to be savored.
The sole of her foot hit his back lightly as she bent it in a lazy movement. He squeezed her thigh. Instead of dropping the foot, she tapped him again. So he stroked his hands back over her body and off her shoulders, bracing them palms-down beside her head as he bent to nip at her ear again. Except this time, it was gentle, a question.
Reaching up to sweep her hair off her back, she bared the line of her neck. He was agonizingly hungry for her, but he didn't immediately move to take. The other two times, he'd been in a fury. Today, he wanted to savor, to taste her in slow sips and little bites. Another nip, the graze of his teeth along her jaw. She made a complaining noise that wasn't really a complaint. "Wolf."
He stroked his hand down her side, over the curve of her breast, her hip, then back up. "Cat."
She arched into the caress, but the move was languid, relaxed. "Pet me some more."
"You always this greedy in bed?" But he was doing what she wanted - petting a warm, compliant, and sexually aroused Mercy was no hardship. Hell, if he was honest, it was an erotic fantasy come to life.
"No." She was purring under his touch. "But I'm not promising anything."
"Of course not." He got off her and the rock.
"The stone's hard." And there was no way he was chancing adding to her bruises. "Come down here and I'll pet you as much as you want."
"Bribery doesn't work." But she got up with a slow, graceful movement and flowed off the rock. It was the only word he could think of to describe it. She was pure liquid silk. And then she was in front of him, her arms around his neck, her body pressed to his.
As he leaned down to kiss her, he was hit by a fantasy of her hair sliding over his skin, wrapping around his cock. Groaning, he deepened the kiss, stroking his tongue against hers. Her hands tunneled into his hair and she made little noises in the back of her throat that let him know she liked what he was doing.
"I'm ready." It was a whisper against his mouth, her lips sliding along his jaw, soft and lusciously feminine.
"I'm not." Kissing his way down to her throat, he sucked. Just enough to leave a mark.
"I know what you're doing."
He smiled. And bit her. Her body jerked but she kept her claws sheathed. "Behave, Riley." A lazy warning.
"You, telling me to behave?" he asked, dipping his head to tug a nipple into his mouth.
Her hands clenched in his hair. "Mmm." That purr was vibrating against him, setting off a thousand small charges in his nervous system. His c**k throbbed.
She began to slide one hand down his body. He caught it, brought it back up to his shoulders. Pulling his head up, she pointed to her lips. It wasn't a hard order to follow. And her kiss . . . oh, but her kiss. All heat and lush, seductive pleasure. It was a promise, that kiss, a promise of a slow ride to oblivion.
"So patient," she murmured against his mouth. "Will you be patient for me?"
He blinked. "Er . . ." And then told the blunt truth. "I'm not good at giving up control in bed."
A chuckle, a glimmer of amusement in those golden eyes. They'd turned leopard on him, he realized, but she was a leopard well pleased, willing to let him play. "Where are you good at giving up control?" A flick of her tongue over the pulse in his throat. "Obviously not in the forest. Hmm, how about on the kitchen table - "
As if he needed any more erotic images to torment him at night. "Mercy."
" - in the shower - "
Mercy's skin, all wet and slippery. Her body pinned to the wall by his. His hand clenched in her hair and he took her mouth with raw possession. When they parted, her lids were at half-mast, that teasing smile still curving her lips. "Definitely the shower, then."
Shuddering, he ran his hands over her back to squeeze her bu**ocks. "You trying to make me crazy?"
"Everyone needs a hobby."
His fingers touched her core. Hot. Slick. So ready. She moved against him, her words breathless when she said, "Now, Riley."