After a long and frustratingly unproductive night in the air without firing a single round during their armed reconnaissance sorties, even a three-minute combat shower was something Candace had been looking forward to since returning to base. The strong spray of the hot water felt so good on her tight shoulders and the back of her neck that she couldn’t hold back a groan of sheer relief. The seconds were slipping past far too fast.
After quickly rinsing the conditioner from her hair, she allowed herself a minute of bliss just standing under the stream of water, but then voices outside the stall reminded her she wasn’t the only one who liked hot showers. Sighing, she shut it off and grabbed the large towel from the peg. She dried off and dressed in a rush before hurrying back to her B-hut through the chilly morning air. Already shivering by the time she got changed into her T-shirt and sleep shorts, her hands shook when she grabbed her blow-dryer and plugged it in. The blast of warm air chased away some of the chill as she bent over and ran her fingers through her damp hair. She made sure it was almost completely dry before turning off the dryer, but she missed the heat immediately.
As she reached down for the brush she’d left on her bunk, a strong hand clamped over her mouth and a steely arm locked around her ribs. She jerked and let out a strangled yell as she grabbed at the restraining hands, but they held her fast. A heartbeat later a hard male body pressed up tight against her spine, and hot breath washed against her ear.
“Shh. It’s just me.”
Candace froze in surprise, her heart pounding sickeningly against her chest wall. Ryan? What the hell? She tried to jerk her head away from his hand, but he didn’t release her.
She’d damn well scream if she wanted to after that scare. Anger crashed through her system, right on the heels of the flood of adrenaline he’d caused. She barely withheld the urge to bite him, but slammed her elbow back into his chest. He didn’t so much as grunt and his grip never lessened.
“I’ll let go, but only if you don’t scream.”
Setting her jaw, she gave a tight nod of acquiescence. The instant his broad palm eased away from her mouth, she twisted her upper body around to glare at him with narrowed eyes. “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded in a furious whisper. “You scared the shit out of me!” Her heart was still galloping. Now that she knew she wasn’t about to be attacked, her muscles began to quiver in relief.
“Sorry.” His expression wasn’t the least bit repentant, however. “Had to keep you quiet.”
Someone could walk in at any moment. She shoved her hands against his hard chest, but he didn’t budge. “Why the hell are you even in here? Let me go.”
He didn’t. Instead he brought his other arm around her ribs and turned her away from him again, held her tighter against his body. She gasped when she felt the unmistakable ridge of his erection pressed tight against her bottom. “Can’t do that.”
Overbearing, arrogant asshole! “I said, let—”
The breath whooshed out of her when he lowered his head and brushed his lips against the side of her neck. The soft bristle of his beard abraded her sensitive skin, but his lips felt like velvet. His warm breath sent pleasurable chills radiating all over her body. “I want you,” he whispered. “So much I can’t breathe.”
The stark, unapologetic need in his tone left her speechless. No one had ever told her that before. And coming from a magnificent, masculine specimen like him…
Before she could utter a single protest, he pressed his knees against the back of hers and sent her to all fours on the mattress. The bed frame squeaked in protest when her hands landed, but she’d barely caught her weight when he climbed on behind her, his grip on her body firm yet gentle. It shook her. He completely overwhelmed her, but he was doing it in a way that awoke the sleeping sex goddess inside her. That neglected sensual being in her smiled and stretched in delicious anticipation when his hands traveled up to wind in her hair and tilt her head back. She didn’t even think to resist.
He kissed the side of her neck and inhaled deeply before nuzzling her there. Goose bumps broke out across her skin. Her splayed hands clenched around the blankets as her eyelids drooped in helpless response.
“Yes or no?” His low, seductive murmur rasped across her newly awakened nerve endings.
A shocking burst of lust exploded in her belly as his intentions became all too clear. He wanted her right here and now. Her mouth went dry. Good God. She couldn’t think. Could barely breathe for the feel of him, so warm and solid against her back. He smelled like soap and a hint of delicious dark spices.
“Ace.” He said it softly, but there was no mistaking the demand behind it. He wanted an answer.
She swallowed past the sudden restriction in her throat, aware of every muscled inch of him behind her. A million thoughts collided in her brain. This was so wrong in so many ways, and yet…part of her wondered what it would be like to have sex with him. To go for it and give up control for once. The thought sent a wicked thrill through her. She knew he’d be dominant, confident, completely in charge. And from the way he’d already affected her, she had no doubt he knew exactly how to please a woman. Still, she struggled to respond to his blunt proposition. “Wh-what?”
“You heard me.”