Tuck kept his eyes locked with hers, his resolve clear in his expression and in his body language. “The day you were wounded it scared the hell out of me that I’d almost lost you. You matter to me. Always have. I want you. To be with you.”
Every nerve ending in Celida’s body lit up, a wave of heat flooding her so fast that for a moment it felt like she was drowning. She couldn’t believe he’d just admitted all that without being under torture. Though knowing Tuck, his training and experience in the years he’d spent in Delta, even torture wouldn’t have made him say it if he didn’t want to.
“I want to be with you too,” she said softly. So much she could barely breathe right now.
His gaze sharpened, heated. “I mean for more than sex, darlin’.”
Oh, man, he’d never called her that before. The way he said it in that deep drawl, the look in his eyes, made her all melty inside.
“How much more?” she managed to get out, loving everything about this conversation but balking at the thought of being locked into something she wasn’t ready for.
Being exclusive, she could totally handle, because there was no way she would share him. Ever. But the long-term commitment she sensed he wanted from her still scared her a little, even though he was the best man she’d ever known. The truth was, she wasn’t sure if she had it in her to make something last long-term.
His gaze never wavered from hers. “As much as you’ll give me.”
Her heart did a weird little roll at that simple statement, like it had fainted. Seriously, it was a freaking miracle that she didn’t just slide right off the couch into a puddle on the floor in front of him. He wanted everything, but wasn’t pushing her for more than she could handle. And damn, if that didn’t make her slide a little further into love with him.
“Okay.” It came out all breathy and soft, but it was the best she could manage when drawing in oxygen seemed impossible. She was on her feet without realizing it, already reaching for him when he held out a hand to stop her. She froze, looked at him questioningly.
His face was so serious. “All or nothing, Celida. If you want me that’s the way it’s gonna have to be. I can’t do it any other way with you.”
She heard the warning note in his voice, knew it likely was because he knew she didn’t do long-term, but it barely registered above the territorial vibe he was giving off.
“Okay,” she repeated, willing to examine the implications of her decision later if it meant finally feeling that mouth on hers, those hands all over her body. He was standing in front of her telling her he wanted her and there was no way she could say no.
His expression relaxed at her answer, the tension in his shoulders easing. Without a word he took the remaining step to close the distance between them and took her face in his hands. Such a powerful man, yet capable of such gentleness too. The tender, possessive gesture nearly undid her.