DEFENDERS

Excerpt 2

 

The storm that had been pushing the warm air through the city finally arrived and a torrent of water began cascading over the edge of my balcony’s roof as his body moved through the shadows toward my bed. The thick drops hitting the pavement outside with a thundering roar made his movements undetectable by sound, but streetlight filtering through my windows left streaming shadows down his broad chest. Breathing in the aroma of ozone and earth filtering in from the cracks in the house, I curled into the covers and pleaded, “Stay with me.”


He reached my bed and settled onto the edge of it, the weight of him making a deep enough indent that I rolled around his hip. That touch sent a current of electricity through me, and given the pause in his movements, I figured he felt the same. “Ezra would have my head for violating her rules of conduct,” he said tenuously.


Even obscured through the shadows and rain streaks he was undeniably handsome. Accented in the silver of the night, his muscles bulged and his skin was flawless; he looked more like a silver god than a teenage boy. At the moment, I couldn’t care less about Ezra’s rules. 


“She’s allowing us to live here despite knowing the risks,” I argued softly. 


A slight smile teased his lips. “She’s counting on us having the integrity to reject those risks,” he countered.


“Hmmm, well,” I mumbled thoughtfully. “I’m sorry to say that I failed her in that pursuit.” And he bent over in stifled laughter. 


“Come lay with me,” I moaned.


He sat back again and warned teasingly, “Satisfying that impulse will lead to great danger.”


“I beckon danger,” I replied, and he chuckled.


“Yes, you do.” 


He stood and turned swiftly to face the bed, and I threw back the covers, but he shook his head and lifted them back in place before laying on top. 


I protested with a dejected moan but he placed a hand on my hip to settle me. Through the thin layers of fabric between our skin, his heat was both comforting and intoxicating, but when I looked down at the source, Eran’s fingers were lifting away too quickly.  


“Don’t move.” My reaction was immediate and nearly inaudible, and it made Eran pause. His lips turned up in a cautious smirk – a motion that stole my breath and left me swathed in a world that held just the two of us. His touch returned, settling down tenderly, and I exhaled, stimulated, before briefly closing my eyes.

When I reopened them, there was an unrestrained fire behind his translucent blue-green irises.


His hand shifted and his palm’s warm weight wandered down the outside of my thigh, flattening to broaden his touch. “All these years, all this time, and you still take my breath away, Magdalene.”


My weak attempt to control my urges ended and I carried my hand over the space between our bodies, to his stout shoulder, and rested my fingertips on its highest point. We were no longer breathing easily, taking short inhales when our bodies needed but otherwise forgetting this function altogether. My fingers traveled along his muscle’s crest before dropping to the solid line of his waist, where I found the billowy comforter in my way. Irritated, I crawled my fingers over it, brushing his rigid stomach in their progress; and he drew in a sharp breath and swallowed, never shifting his eyes from mine. Flattening my hand, I intentionally, just barely grazed his torso, taking in the crests and valleys at a leisurely, intoxicating pace.


He swallowed again and, through a low growl, he grumbled, “Magdalene, I –” But he exhaled deeply, closed his eyes to regain himself, and then abandoned the effort entirely. Without warning, I found him rolling up and over my body, pressing me into the bedsheets, his heat quickly enveloping me, removing all thoughts from my mind so that I was solely conscious of him.


His lips lowered to mine, bringing with them greater warmth and Eran’s rousing smell, which had evolved through the night to sun-drenched wood and earth. We met tenderly, slowly, before our kiss deepened with greater need; and my head tilted, arching into him; and I moaned, lifting my hands to the quivering muscles across his back; and suddenly he was off me, his body twisting around to face the French doors leading to the balcony outside.


The doors, previously locked in place, now moved in the wind before slamming with fury against the walls, rattling the glass. The slanted rain shed droplets across my hardwood floors inside and left my balcony glistening in the lights from the street as Eran abruptly stepped onto it. Sturdy and strong, his shoulders rolled back in defiance, his face carved into alert temperance. I raced for the doors’ threshold, determined to stabilize them, one hand already on a door handle and my second reaching for the other when I came to a stop, slipping my fingers over the back of my neck to subdue the tickle there. 


My gaze snapped to the distance beyond my balcony railing and darted across the night sky. Eran did the same, vigilantly, scanning all that was visible from the balcony – rooftops, tree peaks, and street lights – before moving to the railing and surveying the street.


“It’s the storm,” I reasoned. “The electrical charge.”


“There’s no lightning, Magdalene.” He didn’t turn around when answering. 


“Then let’s find out with certainty,” I muttered. 


Surprisingly, my voice carried above the pounding rain and Eran’s body, soaked through his flannel pants and lighting his chest iridescently, spun around to step inside. He met me at the French doors, preventing my exit.


“Eran,” I said in frustration.


“No, Magdalene,” he warned.


My eyebrows shot up in offense.


“No,” he replied emphatically.


“I’m not one of your –”  I mumbled attempting to make my way around him. He stepped to the side and blocked me. “I –”  Sighing, with an irritated glare at him, I acknowledged, “It’s – It’s gone.” 


“I know,” he said, his focus remaining locked on my face. 


He was evaluating me, determining my level of dedication at getting by him to conduct surveillance of the area for any sign of life. A few seconds passed before he spun quickly, closed the doors, and rotated back to me, turning the locks into place without physically touching them. 


“Go to sleep, Magdalene.”


“Good idea,” I asserted and walked to my bed easily – too easily. 


I listened for his footsteps heading for the door but the old springs of my wing-backed chair in the corner groaned and when I looked up Eran had dropped into it.  


I slid into bed and fumbled with my bedcovers before irritably acknowledging, “You’re going to watch me until I fall asleep, aren’t you?” 


“Yes,” he replied unsympathetically, resting his head back, watching me down the length of his nose. 


“So I can’t leave.”


“That’s correct.”


His admission lit me up. He knew this, both in sensing it and by the downturn of my lips, but he showed no reaction, continuing to stare over his cheeks. The rain shadows dripped down his face, contorting it – and still he was handsome. Damn it. 


“Sleep,” he insisted, turning to watch the door contemplatively, because I was no longer a threat, having relegated me to more of a nuisance. There was someone else who now captured his attention.


Despite my best effort, I did eventually fall into a comatose state, and on waking, I found a sun-drenched room and Eran’s slumped figure, still in the chair, still guarding the door.

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