Sophie tossed and turned, eventually falling into a fitful sleep. Strange threads of reality wove around the edges of surreal dreams: the animals in her kennels looking at her with soulful eyes...the new girl, Morgan, watching her too, but with a different look altogether...the reporter, Toby, eyeing her anxiously when he gave her the keychain...and Michael, his dark eyes holding both laughter and lust, as though he knew it was only time before she would succumb to him. She turned over, mumbling, and punched the pillow.
Then, suddenly, he was there, the scent of heather filling her room. Sophie popped her eyes open and sat up abruptly.
The room was empty.
"Great," she grumbled as she sank back onto the mattress, "now I'm having hallucinations of him. It's bad enough there's a dragon out there." She hit the pillow again, bunching it up under her neck and closed her eyes.
Michael was back-and wearing only a kilt.
Resolutely, Sophie kept her eyes closed. She would not participate in this madcap fantasy-or illusion-or whatever it was. She was tired. The idea of some pre-historic dinosaur still alive in the twenty-first century was playing with her mind.
Strangely enough, even with her eyes closed, she could see. Moonlight from her window played across Michael's bare, broad chest, accentuating the sculpted pecs and bi's and creating shadows in the hard ridges of his washboard belly. A pale light seemed to glow around him-or maybe from him. Sophie squeezed her eyes tighter shut. Her poor brain really was on overload. Next, she'd have him sprouting wings like the avenging arch-angel that bore his name. She almost giggled. There was nothing-nothing-angelic about Michael McCain...except for that damn dimpled smile.
She sensed him moving closer and then felt his weight as he eased himself onto her bed beside her. This was getting to be some weird fantasy.
"Shhh," he whispered as his fingertips lightly touched her eyelids. "Keep your eyes closed, lass."
Lass? Now what? He'd turned into a Highlander from some romance novel? She didn't even read romance! Sophie tried to open her eyes and found that she couldn't. It was as though his feathery touch had sealed them somehow. Yet, instead of panic growing, she felt languid, almost as though her bones were dissolving into nothingness.
"That's it. Just lie there and relax."
Michael's voice soothed her and from some fifth dimension, it sounded more like an Irish brogue than a Scottish burr now. She couldn't understand the words he was using, but the warmth of his hands stroking her shoulders and arms calmed her further and she sank more deeply into her dream, murmuring.
Strange, how warm and firm his lips felt against her mouth. And what he could do with them. He slanted his lips over hers, alternating the pressure, kissing gently, then sucking her lower lip between his, then barely brushing her swollen mouth. His tongue slid leisurely along the seam and she opened to allow him access. He played with her, teasing the tip of her tongue, battling it softly, then plunging fully in to plunder her mouth. His taste was divine, sweet like aged wine, yet slightly woodsy and salty as though he'd brought the outdoors in with him.
A coolness fanned her breasts and she realized her nightgown had come off somehow. Before she could shiver, his large hands were cupping her breasts, kneading them gently, thumbs flicking over nipples, making them into hard little buds.
Sophie murmured again, telling Michael to stop-at least she thought that was what she tried to say. His soft laugh said otherwise and he whispered something in that strange language again. Maybe she didn't want him to stop-after all, this was a dream. She hadn't had sex in so long. Maybe Michael's careful avoidance in not touching her in the car a few days ago was what was bringing this on-some obstinate, irrational desire to prove she was desirable? Her brain frizzled. At the moment, all that seemed to matter was his touch.
His mouth closed over one tight nipple and Sophie arched her back into him as he began to suckle, pulling slowly and gently while he rolled the other tip between his finger and thumb, tugging lightly. The sensation seared deeply through her body and she felt the juncture of her thighs grow damp, her core throbbing as though it had been set aflame. That hadn't ever happened this quickly-not even in real, waking life.
Sophie moaned again, eyes still closed. Now she was afraid to open them. There would be nothing-no one-there and this erotic fantasy would be over.
Michael's tongue traveled a wet trail down her belly, pausing to explore her navel before continuing downward. Dear God! Was he...
He was. Somehow, he had shifted position and was kneeling between her spread thighs. When had she opened them? Michael lifted her legs, placing them over his shoulders and bent down to taste her. His tongue felt like soft velvet as he licked slowly along her folds, her juices slicking the way. He teased her pulsating nub, circling it lightly with the tip of his tongue. Sophie made a mewling sound, deep in her throat. Michael laughed, deliberately continuing the slow, exquisite torture: kissing, licking, air-brushing, stopping. Sophie's hips lifted, begging for more.
And then he bore down, sucking the quivering nub, drawing deep while his finger plunged into her center, finding the soft spot that made stars suddenly sparkle and shoot behind her eyes as her body shattered in total surrender.
Sophie lay there panting, becoming aware eventually, that there no longer was a weight on the bed. Light seemed to fill the room, although it was no longer pale moonbeams. Dawn, already? She forced her eyes open.
There was no one there.
But the odd, orange cast still lingered. She felt a shiver creep up her spine as she turned toward the window. It couldn't be...
Reluctantly, she swung her feet over the bed and walked to the window. The dragon sat on her lawn, docile as a large dog. Sophie blinked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. What in the world...? She blinked again.
A man stood beside the dragon, consumed in fire. Orange flames licked his legs, red ones flowed around his shoulders like a cape and his hair...blue flares whipped in the night breeze. And yet, he didn't appear to be burning.
She had to be hallucinating. First, the wild, erotic dream and now this...this man encircled in flames. Not to mention the dragon. She'd almost gotten used to him-which just proved what state her mind was in. She moved closer to the window and then gasped.
The dragon's lips were peeled back, making him look like he was smiling. She looked at the fire-man. He was grinning...almost like they'd both witnessed her erotic dream themselves. She felt her body heat and her face grow hot. That wasn't possible, of course. Michael hadn't even been here. It was a dream.
Then she gaped as the fiery man bowed with a flourish and waved his hand through the air, making the dragon and himself disappear. Sophie slipped to the floor, a hand to her mouth.
She was losing it. She really was.