What did it mean? As much as she’d changed, Maya didn’t strike me as the type of girl who’d mark her body without it having meaning. She didn’t strike me as the type of girl who’d have a tattoo at all, but she was surprising me left and right. This new Maya was still a mystery to me.
Inexplicably, I wanted to kiss her then. I pressed my lips to her shoulder and down her arm, slowly and gently so I wouldn’t startle her if she woke. With every brush against her skin, I breathed her in. The velvet softness of her skin was intoxicating. No woman had ever felt so soft. The curves of her body called to me like no one’s ever had. My fingers itched to claim them again, to pull her up against me, over me. I wanted to sheath my c**k in the warmth of her tight little body. Already I wanted her again. Hours wouldn’t be enough.
She’d given herself to me. Never had I felt so gutted, so desperate to possess someone physically the way I had with her. We’d danced around our attraction all week, and I’d begrudged Darren’s seedling of advice, however inspired, to give ourselves over to what we wanted. Now we would see how it played out. I hadn’t planned to tell her I loved her. I’m not sure I’d even admitted it to myself. But something had transformed between us and the words had simply rushed out.
Everything was like that with Maya. A familiar impulse, a craving I had no good sense to resist because I’d indulged it already. My body and mind refused to go without the best thing I’d ever experienced, the embodiment of her love.
I idly traced my fingertips over a tiny black bird, its wings outspread over the back of her rib. Maya stirred then. She looked over her shoulder with those beautiful brown eyes.
My chest tightened almost painfully, like the wind had been knocked out of me. “You’re beautiful,” I whispered.
She frowned slightly as she turned, a confused smile turning up her mouth. “I doubt it.”
She lifted the sheet up to cover her breasts. I tugged it back, even lower than where it originally was. I caressed her skin, obsessed with every curve and contour of her body.
“You’ve never looked so gorgeous. I like you like this. No makeup, your hair wild like this. The ‘just f****d’ look works for you.”
She shook her head with a smile. “Yeah, right. I’m a mess.”
“A beautiful mess.” I kissed her. With my hand, I followed the arc of the design that I could no longer see on her back. “What does this mean?”
She hesitated, her eyes now more alert. She linked her arms behind my neck. “That was amazing, earlier,” she murmured, bending toward me. “I’m not sure how I managed to go without that for so long.”
Her breath warmed my lips. She darted her tongue out, licking my lower lip before seizing it between her teeth, biting down gently. I groaned, and she licked over the sting of her bite. My c**k stirred back to life, ready for her. I grasped her hip, barely resisting the urge to push into her right then and there.
What the f**k? The tattoo. My brain shifted back. She was avoiding the subject, but I pressed. “Tell me about it. When did you get it?”
She relaxed back into the bed. Her eyes were somber now, darker, as if she were remembering something unpleasant. “A long time ago.”
She sighed, seeming to give up some resistance on the subject.
“It was a dark time in my life. Without you and…other things that were happening.”
I lifted an eyebrow. “So you commemorated it with a tattoo?”
She frowned and looked away. “It’s not like that. I guess it’s hard to understand.” Her body tensed in my grasp and a coldness began to creep between us. I caught her chin, turning her to face me once more.
“I don’t, but I want to. Help me understand.”
Her lips set firmly, resistance back in place.
“Please,” I urged, tracing the bow of her mouth.
She took a slow breath. “I think there’s something cleansing, even cathartic about getting ink. The decision, then the pain and the healing. Not just physically, on the skin. On the inside, it helped me heal. I remembered running my fingers over it the same day, feeling the beginning of a scar. It was kind of a rush, but something about it gave me strength when I needed it.”
“It’s enormous. It must have hurt like hell.”
She shrugged. “I knew it would hurt, but I’m not sure if the experience would have been the same without the pain.”
I nodded, trying to wrap my head around what she described. I’d put myself in harm’s way to deal with my demons, but never to commemorate them.