She was bathed in the golden light of the candles around her and it made her pale skin even more lustrous. Her hair was damp and curling from the shower. And when his gaze dipped down desire engulfed him in a hot wave.
He’d seen women dressed in the most provocative lingerie the world had to offer. And yet right now the woman in front of him was the most erotic vision he’d ever seen.
The vee of the robe came to just below Charlotte’s breasts and did little to conceal the high, firm swells. He could see the outline of her body through the light material—where her waist dipped in and her hips flared out, her long legs and the slightly darker juncture between them.
His mouth watered at the prospect of tasting her there, feeling her come apart in his mouth...
She looked like the kind of woman he’d never slept with in his life. Like an innocent. And, as much as he knew he should turn away from her because he had no right corrupting anyone’s innocence, the dark part of him wanted her too much. The dark part of him he’d spent a lifetime indulging to carve out his independence, further his ambitions and seek revenge.
Charlotte couldn’t turn back now—not under Salim’s hungry gaze. It emboldened her again. She felt as if he’d just touched her all over but it wasn’t enough. She wanted him to touch her...properly.
She moved across the tent to stand in front of him, light-headed with what she was doing. She said, before she could stop herself, ‘What you said...that I make you want earthy things, dark things... I want that too.’
Salim’s gaze locked onto her mouth and she could see the colour slash across his cheeks. He lifted a hand and rubbed his thumb across her lower lip, his fingers touching her jaw. She held her breath, acutely aware of her innocence. Should she say something?
Her gut clenched.
Surely, she told herself, a man like him would hardly be sensitive enou
gh to perceive her innocence. And there was some bizarre comfort in the fact that her first lover would be a man who wouldn’t feel the need to give her platitudes or false promises.
She didn’t want someone tender and caring, as she’d always believed. She craved this inferno of need and she wanted it with this man who stood head and shoulders above every other man she’d ever met.
She was under no illusions. She knew that this was a moment out of time, that they were cocooned in this tent while a storm raged outside. In their usual world and in their usual circumstances he wouldn’t have looked at her twice, and she felt greedy now. Greedy to store up this moment for when they would be back in the real world.
He took his thumb off her mouth and put his hands on her arms. Blue eyes on green. ‘Are you sure?’
She nodded. A faint alarm bell was ringing at his consideration, but it was too faint to be heard right now.
He brought his hands up her arms to her shoulders and slipped his fingers under the material of the robe. With gentle pressure he pushed at the robe until it slipped down her shoulders, baring them. It clung precariously to her upper arms and the slopes of her breasts for an infinitesimal moment, but when Salim exerted more pressure it fell all the way to the ground and pooled at her feet.
She was naked in front of him, more exposed than she’d ever been, but fire was burning inside her, and a hitherto unexplored sense of feminine power.
Salim’s gaze dropped down over her body, slowly and thoroughly. His eyes lingered on her breasts, which she’d always felt were too small. Now they felt positively voluptuous under his inspection. And then his gaze dropped further, and the ache between her legs turned sharp and insistent.
She didn’t realise she was trembling until he stepped back and started to take off his tunic, pulling it over his head and revealing that impressive chest again. With deft movements he shed his trousers and now he was naked too. Charlotte couldn’t help herself. Her eyes widened as she took in the majestic virility of the man in front of her.
She felt as if something was slotting into place—as if she’d had the desire to see this visual since the moment she’d laid eyes on him but hadn’t acknowledged it until now.
Her avid gaze roved over his chest and down to where a line of dark hair dissected his tautly flat belly, down to the dark hair between his legs. Her mouth went dry when she saw his erection, long and thick and very hard. He brought a hand to himself, wrapping long fingers around the column of flesh as if to contain it...and it was the most erotic thing Charlotte had ever seen.
Her heart was thumping so loud she felt sure he must be able to hear it.
She looked up, dizzy. He was watching her with a hunger that might have made her nervous if she’d had any brain cells left. She stepped closer and he took his hand off himself to reach for her, pulling her even closer so they touched. She could feel his arousal between them—insistent, hard.
He wrapped his arms around her and Charlotte lifted her arms to his neck, stretching up, relishing the friction of his chest against her breasts. Their mouths came together without hesitation, breath moving from one to the other as Salim angled her head so he could access her more fully.
When their tongues touched she made a groaning sound deep in her throat. He devoured her with a mastery that left her nowhere to hide, and she didn’t want to hide. She revelled in the feel of his much bigger body next to hers, revelled in his strength. Revelled in the inherent differences between them.
His hands moved up and down her back, learning her shape. One hand cupped a buttock, squeezing gently. She pressed her thighs together to try and contain the rush of liquid heat. But it was impossible when that same hand explored back up her body, over her waist and in between them, finding the underside of her breast and cupping the plump weight.
He pulled back and looked down, and her gaze followed his to see her pale flesh cupped in his dark hand. He moved his thumb over her hard nipple and she bit her lip.
Suddenly the languorous energy between them seemed to change and thicken with something much more urgent and sharp.
‘I want you, Charlotte...now.’