He pulled away from her with a muffled groan, fumbling with the trousers he still wore. In the shadows she saw the strong shape of his thighs, the flat planes of his hips and stomach. There was an alluring strength in him that made the blood sing in her veins. Cidra felt at once light-headed and heavy. When Severance came back down beside her, gathering her close again, she was aware of the strong, hard thrust of his manhood pressing against her.

“Open yourself for me, my love.” His hand was on her inner thigh, gently but firmly pushing apart her legs. She clung to, him as he slid into the warm place he had made for himself. “Severance, it feels good. So strange, but good.”

“I know. Sweet Harmony in hell, I know.” She felt him move closer, felt the blunt, probing shaft at the gate of her femininity. He was moistening himself with the dampness he had brought forth there. She moved, savoring the promise of even more intense sensations.

“Now, Severance?”

“It has to be now. I’ll go crazy if I wait any longer. Look at me, Cidra.” She opened her eyes and saw the barely controlled desire in his narrowed gaze. “I want to see your eyes when I take you. I want to see if you really understand this.”

“I understand.”

“I’m not talking about the kind of knowledge you’ve known before from books. I want to know you understand what this means.” He groaned deep in his chest. “Ah, hell, I can’t explain it and I can’t wait. Hold on to me, Cidra. Just hold on and whatever happens, don’t let go.”

She obeyed, her hands on his shoulders as she felt him surge against her. The short, sharp pain took her by surprise, and she opened her mouth to cry out. But he covered her lips with his own, drinking the small, startled sound as he continued to push forward in a single, strong thrust. Only when he was embedded in her did he stop and give her a chance to adjust. She felt a shudder go through him as he fought to control himself.

But Cidra wasn’t at all sure she could adjust. Her body had tensed instinctively at the moment he had entered her, and now, instead of the deliciously satisfying feeling she had been anticipating, she was aware only of feeling invaded.

“Easy, sweetheart. Don’t fight it. Trust me. Can you trust me, Cidra? Give me a chance to show you what it’s supposed to be like.”

Her tongue touched the edge of her parted lips. Her breath was coming in quick little gasps as she met his eyes. “I trust you.”

He muttered something she couldn’t quite catch, nestling his head beside hers as he slowly, carefully, began to move within her.

Cidra waited, unsure of what to expect next. But the too-tight sensation faded beneath a compelling rhythm that gradually became far more important than the initial discomfort. Slowly she began to echo the pattern Severance was establishing, lifting to meet his heavy thrusts. One of his hands slid down to cup her buttock.

“That’s it, sweetheart. You feel so right. So perfect.”

She tightened her arms around him as her body began to eagerly seek each new surging thrust. Each time he withdrew slightly, she sank her nails into his skin, pulling him back with a fierceness that seemed to deepen his desire. The driving strokes filled her until she thought she would burst.

“Ah, Cidra, I can’t stop. I can’t wait.”

She wasn’t certain what he meant, but she tried to reassure him, anyway. “Severance, it’s all right. It’s all right,” she whispered, unconsciously using the same words he had used earlier.

“Cidra!” He drove deeply into her one last time, and his body shuddered heavily. There was an exultant shout caught somewhere in his throat, and then slowly he collapsed along the length of her.

For a long time Cidra lay still beneath him, her palms tenderly stroking the damp skin of his back. She felt him recover his breath, felt his heartbeat return to normal, and then he slowly lifted his head to look down at her. In the shadows his gray eyes were dark and unreadable. He touched her mouth with his fingertip. She smiled tremulously. He didn’t respond. Instead he searched her face.

“Are you all right?” he finally asked.

“I think so.” Her smile widened. “What about you?”

He bent his head and brushed her lips with his own. “I’m much better than all right. I feel normal again. Better than normal. I feel good. Very tired and very good. Because of you, Cidra.” He cradled her head in the curve of his arm. “Go to sleep, sweetheart. Next time I promise it will be better for you.”

She stretched a little and nestled against him, inhaling the musky scent of his body. “I can’t imagine it being any better. I felt so close to you, Severance. I’ve never felt that close to another human being in my life. Maybe that’s why Wolves are so interested in sex.”

He chuckled sleepily. “Maybe. I wish I could show you how really good it can be for you. Next time. I promise you that next time I won’t be so damned exhausted and so out of control.”

“Go to sleep, Severance. It’s been a long day.”

“You can say that again,” he said, the words fading as he closed his eyes and slipped into deep sleep almost at once.

Cidra stayed curled in his arm, wondering why she wasn’t equally sleepy. For a long time she lay still, thinking of the jumble of emotions and physical sensations she had experienced during the day. They had all culminated tonight in Severance’s arms. His lovemaking had left her feeling dazzled and dazed. She wasn’t quite certain what to make of the experience. It had been, as she had anticipated, a very physical act, and yet there had been so much more. The feeling of oneness, the sense of closeness, had been totally unexpected, and it added a whole new dimension.

Dreamily she listened to the usual cacophony of night sounds from the jungle. A curious lethargy stole over her, but she was no nearer sleep than she had been earlier. It wasn’t Severance who was keeping her awake now. In the darkness she could make out the hard lines of his face. They didn’t appear any softer in repose than they did when he was awake. Cidra wondered what he would say to her in the morning. And then she occupied several long minutes wondering what she would say to him.

The first words after a night like this ought to be significant, she thought. But she wasn’t sure in what way. The knowledge that their relationship had been fundamentally altered was vaguely disturbing. It had been easier when she had been able to consider herself simply a temporary member of his crew. Now she wasn’t sure what category she fit into.