The woman he can’t forget… The child he can’t deny!
Wild. Powerful. Ultrarich. Matthieu’s reputation was infamous. And he wanted to keep it that way! It was a way to shelter from the pain of his traumatic past. Until enchanting Maria entered his world of unimaginable wealth…and unravelled his carefully ordered life with a night of blistering passion.
She was the only woman to see the man behind the scars. Yet, to protect her, Matthieu pushed her away. Now Maria is back, with an announcement that leads him to question everything: “I’m pregnant.”
What is it like to be kissed?
Maria was embarrassed. Should never have asked such a question. Especially not to a man like him. She might not have known who he was – which was partly why she’d felt able to speak her mind – but she didn’t have to know his name to know that he most definitely knew what it was like to kiss, to touch… to… She yanked her mind back before she could give away her thoughts.
A blush rose almost painfully to her cheeks and she hoped that he might not see it beneath the cover of the night sky. She felt naïve and uncouth next to him. And small. Because… his body, his presence, it was huge. She’d seen the impressive width of his arms as he’d sat down and leaned his weight back on his hands behind him. Arms and muscles that looked too wide for her to encompass with both her hands. If it hadn’t been for the champagne bottle, she would have pressed her thighs together against the feeling that was growing within her. She might have been innocent, but she knew the shocking arousal sparking within her was something she rarely felt, even with Theo.
She turned away, but even then, every single feature on his face glowed within her mind. Harsh cheekbones defined by the short beard that covered the strong line of his jaw, framing lips that were almost cruelly sensual. His eyebrows hung low above eyes that were a green shade of hazel, so bright almost, that she could have lost herself within their depths.
She thought he wouldn’t answer and almost jolted when he did speak.
‘There are lots of different types of kisses. Manipulative kisses, to get what you want. Cruel kisses to punish.’ Later she would wonder that he chose those two descriptions first. ‘Soft, gentle kisses a mother gives their child,’ he said, his tone unfathomable and causing a sudden yearning in the pit of her heart. ‘Passionate, mindless kisses that are all consuming, thoughtless and more than a little selfish.’
She turned back to him, startled to find him looking so intently at her. As if trying to figure something out. As if… no. Surely it was only her wondering what it would be like to kiss this man.
‘But your first kiss? Honestly? Probably messy and awkward.’
Maria felt a little sad at that. As if somehow he’d taken away the promise of something that would be… good?
‘Perhaps I should just get it out of the way then.’
He huffed out a gentle laugh – not at her, she realised. With her. There was a difference.
‘Perhaps,’ he said ruefully.
‘Would you do me a kindness then? Would you kiss me?’
He met her gaze then, this man whose name she did not even know. And she felt it. That low hum through her body, as if his penetrating stare could reach into the depths of her soul and figure her out, understand her. That’s what she’d wanted, she realised. All this time, all these years. Someone to understand. And, having done so, choose to stay.
His eyes roamed her face, looking for what, she didn’t know. The hairs on her arms lifted and goosebumps raised across her skin. She resisted the urge to shiver beneath his gaze, because she was scared. Not of him, but of what was happening to her. She’d never wanted something as much as she did his kiss. He frowned for a moment, as if fighting some inner battle she couldn’t imagine. He reached out his hand and raised her chin with his finger, looking at her, inspecting her almost.
‘Are you sure?’
She nodded, unable to speak. Wondering if he would walk away instead, or give into this strange web woven around them, separating them from the rest of the world.
He moved slowly, as if giving her the chance to turn away, to change her mind. She watched, wide eyed and fascinated as he bent his head towards her, and… instead of pressing his lips to hers, he passed them, pressing his cheek to hers, stroking it almost, the heat warming her skin and heart, and she heard him breath in, as if taking her into him, only to finally turn his head back towards her and almost brush a kiss across her lips. Once, then twice.
Her heart soared at the gentle yet firm feel of his lips against hers. Something within her rose to the surface of her skin, clamouring to reach out to him, to feel more than the simple contact of his finger beneath her chin and his lips against hers.
Desperate and fearful that he might pull away, that he might take this away from her, she reached up, inexpertly, to either side of his face, the soft hair of his beard against her palm, her fingers brushing the silky thick strands of his hair. Holding him gently, pulling him back towards her in case he turned away.
His lips hovered barely a centimetre away from hers, she felt his breath against hers, she drew it into her lungs and her stomach clenched as she wished so much that she knew what to do next. Instead, they hovered on this almost kiss, fire scorching through her veins, heart beating so wildly she thought she might never find equilibrium again. Then, as one, they moved, coming together – she opened to the tongue he’d pressed against the seam of her lips and she met it with her own, the first shocking feel of him against her, inside of her, filling her and delighting her completely. She lost herself to the kiss, the dance of their bodies, the impossible almost dizzying feeling that consumed her.
She felt his hands in her hair, his fingers curling into the thick tendrils and tightening just a little in a way that strangely made her feel both safe and wanted at the same time. She stretched into the feeling, trying to hold on to each different strand of emotion and desire he was wringing from her with just a kiss.
She couldn’t hold back the moan of pure pleasure that fell from her lips to his and regretted it instantly as he finally broke the kiss, his forehead resting against hers, breathing harshly as she, as if as shocked as she.
‘Is it… is it always like that?’ she dared to ask.
‘No,’ he replied darkly. ‘Never.’
Dottie, 5*, Goodreads