“This is my fault. I knew better, but I was selfish. I let myself need you too much. I’m so sorry, Dominic.”
Angelica felt an arm slide under her knees and one around her back before she was lifted into his lap. The blanket fell away from her shoulders as he pulled her hands away from her eyes, allowing the wetness to trail down her cheeks. Dominic cupped her face and used the roughened pads of his thumbs to wipe them away. Thoughts of regret consumed her mind, yet his tender touch and the intimacy of his stare had her body responding in a manner that contradicted those thoughts.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but none of this is your fault. Look at me,” he said when she’d lowered her eyes. She obeyed, unable to deny him even the smallest request. “I accepted what I am a long time ago. Hell, I’ve even been grateful at times. If I was still Mortal I never would’ve been able to protect you last night. As long as I can use my strength and powers to keep you safe, I’ll never regret what I am.”
Angelica desperately wanted to believe him, but her guilt held fast, refusing to subside even a little. Keeping Dominic as her close friend all those years had placed him in danger. She had knowingly made him a walking target to those who wanted to destroy her. He had no idea that because of who – or what – she was, he’d been forced into a state of half-life for all eternity. And it scared her to death to think he might hate her once he learned the truth.
On a shaky sigh she closed her eyes, one of which overflowed with the sorrow that filled her heart, releasing a single tear from beneath the fan of lashes. It slid over her skin, her shame evident in the trail of moisture it left in its wake. Soft, cool lips pressed lightly to her cheek and took with them the droplet in mid-descent. When he spoke, his breath caressed her cheek like a faint winter breeze, causing shivers that had nothing to do with temperature to ripple down her spine. “God, I can feel your sadness, angel.” His voice was low and gruff, like he struggled to force sound through gravel. “Tell me how to fix it. I’ll do anything.”
Reluctantly she opened her eyes and stared intently into the steel-blue depths of his. “What if I were to tell you that I could have prevented all of this…if I’d just kept my distance from you?”
“Sweetheart, that’s ridiculous,” he said gently.
Her eyes searched his, silently begging him for an answer. There was nothing ridiculous about her claim and she needed to know where she stood. He pushed a long breath out through his nose with a slight flare of his nostrils – a familiar sign he was acceding to something she wanted against his better judgment.
“I’d say I don’t give a damn what it prevented. I wouldn’t give up any of our time together. I swear. Not for any reason, no matter my consequences,” he answered with a harsh tone.
The conviction of his answer soaked into the speck of hope she’d been holding in her heart until it expanded so much her chest hurt. Tears, originally borne of fear and sadness, but now tangible drops of relief and happiness, flowed unchecked down her face.
Dominic’s features softened with a look of resignation. “How can you doubt how much you mean to me? How much you’ve always meant to me?”
His gaze slipped from her eyes and settled heavily on her lips. “God, woman, is there any emotion that doesn’t look good on you?” he said in a gruff voice.
She drew her brows together and opened her mouth to ask him what he meant by that, but he didn’t give her the chance.
“Even when you cry you’re beautiful. Your eyes look like submerged jewels behind the tears you try to keep from falling. The apples of your cheeks turn the prettiest shade of pink. And your lips...” His thumb lifted from her cheek and trailed lightly over the fullness of her lower lip. “They get all swollen and pouty. And eventually, when you get nervous or unsure about something - like now - you suck one corner between your teeth, which is enough to bring any man to his knees.”
Angelica immediately released her lip on a gasp of surprise. No one had ever said anything so innocent, and at the same time so provocative, to her before in her life. The butterflies returned to flutter wildly in her stomach and her heart beat a rhythm, hard and fast, against her breast.
As his gaze traveled back up her face, black lashes lifted to reveal silvery-blue orbs that held a raw, molten desire. His eyes penetrated her soul and rendered her mindless, her every thought forced into submission by the overwhelming power of her physical urges. Urges she’d denied herself almost her entire life.
Very, very slowly, he closed the short distance between them. When his lips were only a breath away from her own he held still, poised at the threshold of no return, giving her plenty of time to back out now and run the other way.
Now keep in mind, that when I look at this later today, I'll be changing things AGAIN. It seems to be a never-ending process of progression. But anyhoo - what do you like about it? What didn't you like about it? Do you have a favorite line? Lay it on me!