Excerpt from Renegade Bride

   
     "Creed—" Her voice was raw and another cough shook her. "So s-scared..."
     He dropped his face into the curve of her neck, his cheek in her hair. "Ah, Mariah, I almost lost you." He stroked the hair back off her forehead with his damp palm. Even as he said it, guilt flashed through him like a hot wind. She had never been his to lose. "I should never have let you cross, Dieu... It was my fault." His voice cracked. "Forgive me, Mariah. I nearly killed you."
     She half-turned in his arms until her cheek was pressed against his chest. She clung to him fiercely, her wet flesh fused with his and she shook her head.
     “D-don't do this. We both know why I'm here. Not because you wanted it." She sucked in a breath through her chattering teeth and turned her face toward the river. "I-I panicked. You saved my life and y-you don't even l-like me."
     "I don't even...? Ah, Mariah—" He pressed his mouth against her wet hair. "Mariah..." Her arms wound around his back and neck. Through his soaked shirt he could feel the fullness of her breasts. Her nipples, puckered with cold, pressed against him.
     A soft, wretched sound came from his throat and he felt the animal burn of desire welling up in him like a night sweat—irrational, uncontrollable. His lips stole over her cool temple and down her cheek, leaving a trail of heat in their wake. He gathered her protectively to him and felt her arms tighten around his back.
     Perhaps it was his need for reassurance that she was alive that made him forget himself. Perhaps it was the way she clung to him as if afraid he might cast her back to the pagan river gods. Maybe it was none of those things and he was just a fool, longing for things that couldn't be.
     The scent of crushed wild mint came from beneath them. He shifted slightly and she slid down into the crook of his arm. Her eyes, like pinwheels of gold, searched his face. Moisture clung to her dark lashes. Her lips trembled as she spoke his name. "Creed—"
     Powerless to stop himself, he crushed his lips to hers in a hard, hungry kiss—claiming, possessing her as if she were his. She arched up to him, meeting his urgency with an unexpected desperation of her own. Splaying his fingers against the cold fabric of her shift, he drew her closer, until she was flush against him. Her fingers twined in his hair at the nape of his neck, pulling him closer still. He breathed her name against her mouth and felt her lips part in welcome as the kiss deepened. He wanted her in a way he'd never wanted another woman in his life. It wasn't even a conscious thought, but primal. She'd nearly drowned and now he wanted to throw her on the ground and—
     What the hell was happening to them?
 
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