Author: R.K. Lilley
Series: Up in the Air #4
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Genre: Erotic Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
Purchase: Amazon CA
Purchase: Amazon AU
I’ve been remade four times in my life.
It is a distinct feeling. Impossible to mistake. The very marked sensation of being unraveled and reknit into a new thing, a new person. It can be good or bad, helpful or harmful, but above all, it is unstoppable.
I was remade when my parents died, went from a happy childhood, into navigating a very dark world, with endless responsibilities, surrounded by enemies, and despairingly alone.
It happened again at the hands of a cowardly predator. I’d become angrier with that one, more cynical, and it undoubtedly turned me into the kinky f**k I was today.
The third happened swiftly. One day I looked up into a pair of pale blue eyes and saw the other half of my soul. Checkmate. I went from a completely controlled existence, a life where I made every decision with cold calculation, to a man overcome with feelings and emotions that were foreign but somehow wonderful.
And all too soon after that cataclysmic change was this fourth one, this one where I begged a God I’d never entertained to spare the life of a woman that I could not live without.
Follow all of the characters from the Up in the Air universe in the years after the trilogy, with POVs from James, Stephan, Frankie, Tristan, and Akira.
My Ravenous Self
It was some endless span of time later, after the shooting.
Weeks that felt like ages. Time I’d spent agonizing and worrying.
I’d adjusted almost completely to working from home, as I wouldn’t even consider leaving her side while she recovered. My businesses suffered through some minor hiccups for this, but nothing catastrophic. All of it had become rather relative, besides.
So what if a few other people helped me run things, and I lost control over some of the minute details that used to consume me? I couldn’t even recall why it was so important to manage it all myself anymore.
What was the worst that could be happen? I’d become slightly less filthy rich?
We were dining privately, and Bianca was being very quiet. Too quiet. She was up in her own head again, though her worries were always the polar opposite of mine.
She worried about me. My stress levels, my lack of sleep, my unmet needs.
It was a difficult thing to grow accustomed to, as I couldn’t remember the last time, pre-Bianca, that someone fretted over me.
Not since my mother, I supposed.
She cleared her throat and brought her level stare to meet my troubled one.
“I heard you talking on the phone earlier, to your Detroit manager. It sounded as though the situation would best be handled if you went there in person. I think you should do it. You can’t stay home with me forever. I’m perfectly self-sufficient now, and even if I wasn’t, I have Stephan and Javier next door, not to mention all of the staff.”
I didn’t even consider it. She may have been ready for that, but I was not.
“Maybe in a week or two,” I told her, not meaning it, but using it as a subject ender.
I went back to my food, feeling her presence acutely to my left. I was a focused man, but I could not be in a room with Bianca without at least half of my attention on her at all times.
Her presence was a great gaping void in my concentration—my ultimate distraction.
I caught her sigh out of the corner of my eye and turned my attention on her fully.
She set down her utensils, sitting back in her chair.
“Was it not to your liking?” I asked her, eyeing up her barely touched dinner. She’d finished only about a third of her filet and less than half of her vegetables.
“It was very good. I just wasn’t that hungry. I think you actually need to expend energy to work up an appetite.”
The words hungry and appetite coming out of her succulent mouth with that soft voice of hers was enough to make me hard, though it was a fact that it didn’t take much these days.
I looked at her, keeping my eyes squarely on her face.
I’d taken one look at the little dress she was wearing earlier and decided wisely not to look at it again.
My control was hanging on by the thinnest thread, and that dress, or more specifically, the body it revealed more than clothed, was more provocative than I could stand.
It was overkill, really.
Inflammatory, when I was already on fire.
Still, if I let my mind wander for even a second, I could picture it perfectly—her body in that dress.
It was palest peach, a lovely color on her, feminine and loose, with ruffles at the neck and hem, and so minuscule that it could have been a shirt. I had to force my mind away from any thoughts about her long, bare legs in it.
It also exposed nearly her entire back, just one T shaped strap all that covered her from her shoulder to the little dimples above her ass, which was torment for all kinds of reasons, one being that her back drove me mindless, the other being that it meant she was braless, and that drove me from mindless to madness incarnate.
The neckline was decent enough, but the sides of the dress were cut severely, on account of the back, leaving the sides of both breasts exposed, so much so that the wrong movement could slip her clean out of it.
I took a few deep, grounding breaths for control.
I allowed myself one brief glance at her bare neck. Her choker was locked away, since the injury.
The sight of her neck without it always made my fingers twitch restlessly.
This also brought my mind to other things she’d lost during her long hospital stay.
Like both of her nipple piercings, which brought my mind to her breasts, the absolute last place it needed to go.
In spite of myself, I glanced at the white skin of one rounded tit where it nearly spilled out of the side of that damned dress.
And felt myself begin to shake.
I looked away, setting down my fork and knife, attempting to hide the fine tremor that ran through the entire length of me, and seemed to be most apparent in my hands.
“James,” she said, voice quiet and solemn, almost chiding, like she knew what afflicted me.
Like she held the cure if only I’d reach for it.
She did, of course, but I wouldn’t let myself reach. Not yet.
It was too soon.
She’d nearly died and needed time to recover, time unsullied by my selfish, unquenchable need.
I didn’t look at her directly, but needless to say, I was still hyper aware of it when she stood and moved to stand at my side.
I took in a deep breath, then let it out, calming myself and taking her in all at once.
She touched the top of my head lightly with her elegant fingers. “Oh, James,” she sighed, tone gentle enough to make me ache.
She stroked her hand into my hair, gripped it lightly, and started to pull.
She leaned forward, pressing my tense head to her soft bosom.
I shut my eyes tight.
The image of me putting my ravenous self on her wounded self was a crystal clear picture in my head.
Obsessively, repetitively, day and night, asleep or awake, I pictured this.
It was very nearly too much to bear; this voracious, prodigious need of mine.
I’d not gone through a celibate stage like this since I’d become sexually active, back in my teens. In the beginning of our relationship, when Bianca had left me, I’d come close, but this spell had since outlasted that one.
It was an ordeal.
I jerked off at least five times a day, to cope with the readjustment, but it was about as satisfactory as eating cardboard instead of steak.
My traitorous hands moved to grip the bare backs of her thighs, keeping her leaning against me.
After one inflamed, torturous moment, I tore myself away.
She let me go, moving back to her seat.
I looked at her, making my gaze go to the bandaged side of her face, which I usually avoided, but not now, because I needed that reminder of why I had to put her needs before my own.
Her injury was still dressed from the latest round of reconstructive surgery, covering one side of her face from cheekbone to jaw.
It was a sobering sight, not because it was grisly, in fact I couldn’t even see the actual wound, it was covered so thoroughly, but because it was a stark and clear reminder of what had almost happened.
That reminder was dampening, which was what I needed at the moment.
I finished eating, and Bianca quietly excused herself.
I knew where she was going, and I forced myself to move in the opposite direction.
If I followed her to her painting studio, watched her work on and around a canvas in that fucking dress, I’d surely snap, and lose all restraint.
She was not recovered enough for my unrestrained self.
I tried not to follow her, to hover, as that was not what she wanted, but it was a constant struggle against myself not to check in on her.
Instead, I took up residence in my home office and attempted to work.
That lasted all of thirty seconds.
That fast and my mind was wandering back to her, and back to the image of my ravenous self on her recovering self, and I recalled rather urgently that I was do for another jerk off session.
I had just pulled my erection from the oppressive confines of my pants when my office door opened with no preamble.
This was unusual. Bianca never came to my office.
She stepped inside, then shut the door behind her, not looking even slightly surprised at what I’d been up to, while I found myself flushing in embarrassment.
Her eyes were unflinching on mine as she approached.
I’d pushed my chair back from the desk in preparation for my after dinner jerk session. There was enough space between for her to fit.
She did, facing me and leaning back until her ass was perched right on the edge.
I raised my desperate eyes to her devastating ones.
Our gazes never wavered as, at the bottom of my vision, she lifted her wispy little dress up to bare herself.
With a sigh of defeat, I let myself look, but only for the briefest moment.
No panties, as I’d suspected.
My eyes, as they returned to hers, were pleading now.
I couldn’t fight her and myself.
Myself was bad enough, but I’d never been any match for her.
Not for one lovesick second since the first time I’d set eyes on her.
“You need more recovery time, Love,” I told her, voice desperate, heart pounding.
“Shh,” she soothed, holding her arms out for me, her skirt falling back down to barely cover the essentials.
With a shudder, I moved into her, sliding my chair close between her legs. I rested my cheek on her soft, bare thigh and attempted and failed to hold onto any vague shred of my once dependable control.
She stroked her fingers through my hair.
It wasn’t long before I raised my head to take her in again. “Grip the edge of the desk with your hands,” I told her roughly, unsteady hands lifting her skirt, letting myself look my fill at last.
“I’m off the painkillers,” she told me.
My eyes jerked to hers, nostrils flaring as I caught what she meant me to. We both knew I wouldn’t touch her impaired.
“Why?” I asked, just to be sure.
“I don’t like them, and the pain is manageable.”
“You can’t do that. You can’t make yourself suffer on my account.”
“Don’t put this on yourself. This is how I’ve always been. I never could stand to take pain medication, no matter the reason, so as soon as it becomes bearable, I stop.”
I shut my eyes tight and took a deep breath, so torn I was doubting myself.
“Please, Mr. Cavendish,” she breathed.
She was ruthless.
I was lost.
I turned my head, burrowing my face between her legs, tasting her.
My moan was almost loud enough to drown out hers.
A taste turned into a feast and I lapped at her, one hand pinching the tip of my cock to hold off on coming as my other hand delved between her thighs to finger her.
She came undone fast, thank God, as I jammed two fingers into her and pushed my tongue repeatedly against the swollen nub of her clit.
I pulled my face away to look at her as my hands went still, stopping her on the brink.
I didn’t have to tell her. She knew what to do.
It’s been over a month since the shocking attack that hospitalized her, and since she told a distraught James that she needed space, but her feelings haven’t gone away. Even she knew that it was only a matter of time before he would cast his spell on her again…
As James and Bianca feel a growing need for each other that neither can deny, circumstances beyond their control intervene, trying to tear them apart. Amidst the ever mounting threat of a monster who wants Bianca dead, and the constant pitfalls of an indiscreet past that James can’t seem to escape, can these two passionate lovers manage to find their happily ever after?
Eight years later, Lana finally returns home, planning to stay briefly, and only for business, but her plans go quickly awry when she runs into the man she could never get over.