He’d forgotten just how hard it was to keep Hera from getting her way. But as they walked back, her talking about her family with a smile on her pretty face, he felt contentment wash over him.
Something he hadn’t felt since they’d been apart.
When they got back to the house, her parents were waiting there to show them to their rooms. When Hera dismissed herself to allow him time to unpack, he felt a small ache at her absence.
Just as before, nothing with her was easy. Yet, once again, when she was by his side, it felt like home.
He unzipped his duffel and began to unpack. It was going to be a long, lonely night, knowing Hera was just rooms away.
H ercules woke with the instinct of a soldier and looked around the darkened shadows of the room. He’d been given a room on the second story, and he’d left the window open to take advantage of the cool breeze. The curtains were swaying, and at first, he didn’t know what was going on. He pulled at the sheet, making sure it was up around his waist, and then tuned into the stillness of the room around him.
And then he heard it. The sound of breathing. He twisted quickly toward the side of the bed and jumped as he saw someone there.
“Shhh,” Hera said, lunging forward to put a finger to his lips as he looked up at her with shocked eyes.
He let out a pent-up breath as she stepped back, pulling a dressing gown tight around her. Her curvy legs peeked out at the bottom, showing rounded calves, and deep cleavage was revealed at the top. Her blond hair was mussed, and she bit her lip and stared at him.
“I couldn’t sleep,” she said.
He let out a sigh and looked around the room for a clock. Then he checked his phone on the bedside table. “It’s two a.m.,” he said. “Go back to bed.” He spoke to her as much to his cock, which was reacting to the sight of his half-dressed ex-girlfriend and love of his life standing next to his bed.
She scanned his body lazily. “You still sleep in the nude?” she asked curiously.
He pulled the sheets tighter around him. “What’s it to you?” he asked. “I told you, Hera. I’m your bodyguard. Nothing more.”
She took a step forward. He was a big, bad soldier and bodyguard, but at this moment, nothing scared him more than those dangerous curves approaching.
She put a knee on the bed and leaned forward, letting her robe gap open, showing more of the slope of her breast, creamy and smooth in the moonlight. “What if I want you to do more than just guard my body?”
He gulped. Of course he wanted to do more. She was a beautiful woman. She was the only one he’d ever been happy with. Ever wanted. But it didn’t change who he was. It didn’t change that she wouldn’t want him for a mate. And he didn’t think he could take it halfway again.
This time he’d want to play for keeps.
If he experienced Hera again, he’d die if he couldn’t keep her. And he was a creature, not even a normal shifter. Not someone who could afford to be someone’s mate.
He was nothing.
He ran a hand through his tangled hair, smoothing out the effects of tossing and turning in his sleep. She moved forward, taking another step onto the bed. She was on his bed.
On . His. Bed.
Her bangs fell over one eye sultrily. She reached for his hair. “Let me do it.”
He jerked back, and her hand fell to his chest, scalding him. He tried to scramble back, but hit the headboard. She moved forward, and he caught both her hands in his. “Hera, stop it. I can’t…”
She leaned forward, placing her lips at his neck, ignoring his protests. Her lips sizzled against him, stirring his body further. The bear in him was awakened. Ready to take her. Wanting things it couldn’t have.
He tried to push her back, but it was only half-hearted because deep down, he wanted her. “This is stupid,” he said. “I know things are good between us, but we need to think long term. We need to not destroy each other again.”
She kissed her way down