When she looked down at herself, Samantha couldn't help but notice that her bruises were gone, her cuts, scrapes and welts were also healed. Reaching up, she pushed her hair from her face with a trembling hand.
"Now I know I'm dreaming." Tears filled her eyes and slid down her cheeks as she sat next to the man she loved and looked down at her body, no longer marred with the visual reminder of her time at that hellish camp.
"I do wish this wasn't a dream," she whispered. Pulling her robe tight, she lay back down next to Aiden, determined to enjoy the comfort of his presence while it lasted, even if it was only a figment of her imagination.
"You aren't dreaming, baby," Aiden said, his voice heavy with sleep. He wrapped his arm around her and squeezed gently. "You're in a hotel somewhere in West Virginia. Sabrina is in the adjoining room. Most importantly, you're both safe."
"It's a dream." She shook her head. "You're not real. This isn't real. It can't be. I had..." Swallowing thickly, she cleared her throat. "There were..."
"Cuts, bruises, welts from where they beat you?" he asked gently, then shook his head. "They're all gone, all healed. There's nothing left of them but your bad memories and even those I did my best to heal."
Samantha inhaled sharply and examined her memories. He was right. Even the worst of them seemed softened somehow. It was as though a lot of time had passed--a year, maybe two. She felt ... healed. Inside and out. "Can you ... do this for Sabrina?"
"I don't think so. I don't know if I can get into her mind. If I can, I can heal her mind if she'll let me in." He shrugged. "However, you wanted me in your mind. You reached for my touch as I entered your thoughts." Rolling onto his side to face her, he gave her a crooked grin. "Somehow, I just don't think your sister is going to appreciate my help."
"Then heal her wounds."
His smile faded. "I can't."
"You can't or you won't," she asked, then thinned her lips. It was no secret that there was no love lost between the two of them, but she never thought he would let her sister suffer if it was in his power to stop it. She didn't want to think him so petty as to hold a grudge like that, but why else would he refuse to do it?
"Okay then. I won't do it." He sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and sat with his back to her. "For one thing, neither of you would allow it."
"Bull chips! I just asked you to." Standing, she clenched her fist so hard it hurt. Never had she ever been so mad at him. Circling the foot of the bed, she moved to face him. He wasn't escaping this so easily. If it killed her, he would look at her and tell her why he wouldn't help her sister.
He shook his head. "Neither of you will like how it's done. Especially her."
Samantha opened her clenched fist and showed him the red crescents on her palm. Blood slowly seeped from the new wounds where her nails dug into her tender flesh. She shoved her hand into his face. "Then show me how it's done and let me decide." Never had she thought him capable of refusing to help someone who needed it before today. He'd always helped everyone he could as long as it was within his power to do so. But not today. Why?
"Fine," he bit the word out between clenched teeth.
A muscle popped in his jaw and his emerald gaze shot green fire at her. The glint in his eyes told her that maybe, just maybe, she should have left well enough alone.
"Put your hand in mine. Later, you aren't going to deny that you asked me to do this."
Samantha rested her hand in his. Two years of trusting this man made it easy to decide to keep doing so.
Circling her wrist with his fingers, Aiden bent over her hand, turned it over, and pressed a very long, very wet, and intimate kiss against her palm. Warmth swirled through her hand and up her arm as his tongue moved slowly over her palm.
Liquid heat pooled low in her middle. Her body's cream slid sinuously from her channel to coat her upper thighs. She had never thought to feel this way again. Not once since her capture had she dared to dream that she could feel this way again. Even for Aiden.
When her legs would have given way, he wrapped his arm around her as his mouth continued to feast at her wound. Everything fell away as some part of her remembered his healing from the night before. His mouth and tongue on her damaged flesh, giving instead of taking, healing instead of harming.
This was what Aiden was deep inside. He wasn't a man, a shifter, but rather, her salvation, her healer ... her lover. He was the gentle man who always gave more than he'd ever taken for himself.
Slowly, he pulled away, looked up into her eyes, his own a deep, emerald green. "Look at your hand, baby."
He held it up for her to see.
"That's how I healed you last night. Do you still want me to heal your sister?" He leaned forward to whisper in her ear, his breath sending tendrils of desire coursing through her blood. "Do you really want my mouth on her skin? Does she have bite marks on the tips of her breasts as you did? Will you want me to suckle them as I did yours?"
Samantha's nipples grew to hard peaks and she groaned. Just thinking about his lips on her flesh last night made her wet. She leaned against him and began to pant.
Reaching up, Aiden pushed the robe aside and cupped her breast, his lips settling over the hard nub. For a moment, he suckled gently, then stopped and looked up into her eyes. "Tell me you want me to do this to your sister."
Samantha shook her head. She wanted her sister healed, but, God help her, she couldn't bear the thought of Aiden touching any other woman but her this way.
This was right. What she did with Aiden was something beautiful, even spiritual. Nothing could convince her otherwise. Wrapping her arms around his head, she held him to her. She hoped, even prayed that he was right and this wasn't a dream.
Her head dropped back onto her shoulders as he continued to suckle her breast. She couldn't think, could barely breathe as his gentle mouth and tongue took her to the edge of a familiar precipice she hadn't dared hope to visit again.