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The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:42

“I love…” He stepped closer to her and spoke firmly. “I love you.”

How could he make her understand when he hardly understood himself?

“I don’t remember the first time I kissed you,” he said. “I don’t remember the first time we made love. And Ava… I may never remember those things. But I know I love you the same way I know that… I’m right-handed.” He tried to smile, but he knew it came out forced. “I love the taste of oranges because they make me think of my mother… who I also don’t really remember. The same way I know that… I will have to shave twice a day for the rest of my life or resign myself to a full beard. I don’t like guns, but knives are like an extension of my own hand and axes are highly underrated.”

He just kept going. “I like beer and not vodka. I get restless when I’m too long indoors and want—need to go running.”

He saw her eyes start to soften, so he stepped closer and prayed she didn’t retreat from him.

“I don’t remember a fraction of what I was taught in my training, who is on the council in Vienna, or what singer is popular on the radio. But I can tell you what foods I like and what music makes me want to tear my hair out. And I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love you.”

She lifted a hand and clenched it above her heart. “Please—”

“Because loving you is part of who I am. It’s not a memory or a moment. It is in my soul. And I will never—can never—forget my soul.”

Ava said nothing. His heart raced. But finally she went to him, embraced him, and Malachi let out a relieved breath. He wrapped his arms around her and pressed his cheek to her temple.

“I don’t understand it either. I just know it’s true.”

“I love you,” she said. “And part of me thinks it’s not fair of me to love you when you don’t remember—”

“Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that.”

“I don’t care!” Her voice was fierce, and he reveled in it. Reveled in her possession. The way her arms tightened around him, claiming his body as her own. “I lost you once. And I pulled you down from heaven to bring you back. You’re mine.”

“Completely.” He kissed her temple. Her cheekbone. “Completely, Ava.”

Working his way down her face, he searched for Ava’s lips.

He found them. Kissed her silent, but she pulled away to say, “Some days I thought I wouldn’t breathe again. That I didn’t even want to.”

“I need you.” He was rock hard and aching for her. Like her kiss, her body was heat and substance. Not the thin shadow of a dream, but flesh and blood and skin and life.

She began to pull at his shirt. He stepped back and tugged it over his head. Her hands spread out over his chest and dug in, her fingers gripping him almost painfully. Malachi threw his head back and groaned.

She kissed his chest, licked at his skin, tugged at the hair that grew there and scraped her teeth over a sharply aroused nipple. His hands pushed her shirt up her waist to feel the heat at the small of her back as she painstakingly undressed him. The button on his pants, then the zipper. Then she slipped her fingers down the back and pushed down, taking all his clothes with him. He was helpless under her small hands.

Walking him back to the bed in the corner, she waited until his knees hit the edge, then she came down with him, stripping him of his socks, running her hands up his legs. Her mouth followed everywhere.

“You’re real,” she whispered, over and over again. “Real.”

“Your face…” She stood and traced a finger over the arc of his cheekbones. The curve of his lips. “Real.” Her warm palm opened on his skin. “Your shoulders…”

Bare. His body hummed with energy, and he tried to ignore the burn of shame at the reminder of his bare skin. He was naked before her in every way.

“Your hands.” Her voice was thick with emotion. He could hear the tears she battled as she reached down and linked their hands together.

“Ava, please. I need you.”

She ignored him, kneeling on the ground between his legs. “Your feet…” Her nails scraped up the sensitive flesh of his ankles. “Real.” Her fingers followed up his calves to his knees. She bit the skin on his inner knee as her fingers tickled the sensitive flesh behind. “Legs. Real. Knees. Real.” Her tongue traced a line up the inside of his thigh.

She brought him back to life only to kill him slowly. Malachi couldn’t tear his eyes away from her lips. She bent down and kissed the very real arousal that was staring her in the face.

“I need you too,” she whispered.

The heat of her mouth enveloped him. She took him deep, and he twisted his hands in her dark hair.

“Ava,” he groaned again, his head falling back and his eyes closing in ecstasy. He wanted to keep watching, but… “I can’t.”

Her mouth left him. “But—”

“Not that.” He would spend himself like a virgin if she kept going, and he needed to be in her, connected more deeply than just her mouth. “Come here.”

He pulled her up and grabbed her waist, tossing her on the bed as he began to undress her.

“Too many.” The shoes and heavy socks were gone. “Clothes.” The pants, history. “In Norway.” The delicate lace-edged panties could be replaced, along with the stockings.

Half undressed, she arched back and fumbled to remove her sweater, long-sleeved shirt, and bra. Malachi took the opportunity to bend down and taste her as she had tasted him.

“Malachi,” she moaned, halting her movements to enjoy his tongue. “I thought…”

“I missed your taste,” he murmured, pausing to lightly bite the inside of her thigh. “The scent of you. Dreams were not enough.”

“Real,” she whispered again. “Not a dream.”

He spread her legs wider, kneeling down on the floor to take the edge off his hunger. Beautiful. She was utterly beautiful in her pleasure. Her legs thrown over his shoulders. His arms holding her down. He felt her shirt hit him in the face.

“Come up here,” she whispered. “Kiss me.”

He kneeled on the bed, bracing himself over her, feeling the heat from her body. Their breaths mingled together when their lips met, and he pulled her leg up as he slid inside, seating himself to the hilt. He thrust his hips when he felt her clench around him.

Now he understood why she said it, over and over again. Everything paused in that moment, as he looked in her eyes.

“I love you,” he whispered.

Ava smiled, and there were tears in her eyes. “I believe you.”

“I love you, reshon.”

“I love you, too.” She held on to him as he began to move. “So much it hurts.”

“Don’t hurt. Please, Ava. Not anymore.”

She was always the one who wanted faster, but this time, she didn’t have to beg.

“Too long.” He was going to come apart in her arms. Fly to pieces when her legs wrapped around him and her heels dug into the back of his thighs. “Ava!”

“Yes,” she breathed. “There you are.”

“I’m here.” He was very, very there.