Licking Fire by Kate Hill
From Ellora's Cave
Trapped in a nightmare world where only powerful emotions can set victims free, Ethan and Latara use lust to liberate themselves. During their heated encounters, they uncover each other's darkest secrets, including the root of Latara's supernatural powers and the true identity of Ethan's untamable twin, Sorrel Baines. Sex for the hotter-than-hell fire spirit and the ass-kicking pyrokinetic grows in intensity until a final blazing climax literally blows them back to reality. Will it be in time to save their lives?
Once the tub filled, she settled into it with a feeling of déjà vu. This time she didn't close her eyes, no matter how soothing the water felt.
She'd been soaking only a few moments when the door opened and she gasped, her entire body tensing.
Ethan strode inside, carrying a towel, bandages and socks. He'd removed his hat, exposing his smooth-shaven head. She'd always loved the bare look and this guy could really wear it. What a beautifully shaped head. The urge to run her hands and lips over it nearly overcame her shock at him barging in on her. Nearly.
"Doesn't anybody knock anymore?" she demanded.
"You need a towel and something to wrap your foot." He placed the items on the sink, opened the archaic medicine cabinet and removed a bottle of antiseptic. Sitting on the edge of the tub, he reached for her foot. "Let's have a look."
"Hey!" she snapped, trying to jerk away from his grasp, but he was too damn strong. She considered kicking him and making a run for it, but something compelled her to stay. For some bizarre reason, he made her feel safe almost as much as he unsettled her. This guy was both scary and comforting at the same time, and few things frightened or comforted Latara Fortino. She was a tough lady. She wrestled werewolves as a hobby and hunted demons for a living. Of course she had the same needs as other women, but she had never surrendered completely to a man. Fighting evil was one thing, but risking her heart was another. She had never allowed a man to sweep her off her feet, either literally or figuratively. Now this long-legged, smoothed-headed Aussie with the killer blue eyes had done both within five-minutes.
"Stop fighting and let me help you," he ordered in that deep, sexy voice that she longed to hear whispering dirty things in her ear while his lean, hard body devoured hers.
She shocked herself by actually obeying. He inspected her foot with surprising gentleness, then cleaned it with the antiseptic. It should probably bother her to be lying naked in a tub of water while a strange man tended her injury, but she felt more aroused than embarrassed.
After placing the antiseptic aside, he continued holding her foot. His fingertips gently caressed the arch then moved up to stroke her ankle. It felt so good that she resisted the urge to moan with pleasure. All the while he stared at her with those slanted, animal-like eyes--incredibly sexy yet with a hint of the wild.
"I want you to listen to me carefully," he said.
"Beetle controls us and this world through his mind. He is very powerful."
"I noticed that," she said, settling more comfortably into the tub. When he released her foot and reached for her other one, she didn't stop him. He massaged her uninjured foot, using his thumbs to press against the sole and his fingers to caress her instep.
"I believe there is a way to fight him and break out of this psychic prison."
This caught her interest and she sat a bit straighter. "I'm listening."
"We need something intense enough to make our minds overpower his. Pain can work. I've tried it and have managed to rouse myself out of this nightmare."
"Then what are you still doing here?" she asked, wary of anything he might tell her. Yes all this was very nice, meeting a savior who gave a great foot massage and had a body to die for, but wasn't it a bit too convenient? Maybe he wasn't saving her at all. Perhaps he was part of Beetle's plan to ruin her life.
"The pain stirred me enough to bring me back to reality," he continued. "I was back in the real world, chained up in whatever place Beetle had brought me to. I'm still not sure where it is exactly. However my time there was short. For some reason the pain wasn't enough for me to overcome him completely."
"Can anybody really cause themselves that much pain anyway? Unless you do something drastic, you're not going to keep up pain intense enough to beat a powerful, mind-fucking psychic at his own game."
The frosty look in his eyes took her aback. "You'd be surprised. But that's not the point. Pain, no matter how intense, isn't enough. Or maybe one person's pain isn't enough, but if two of us combine our emotions--"
"Excuse me?" She gave him her sternest look and jerked her foot from his grasp. "No way am I going to dive into some crazy-assed pain ritual with you. I don't even know you and I certainly don't have a reason to trust you."
"I'm not suggesting pain." He stood, leaned over the tub and braced his hands on either side of her head.
Latara moistened her lips, her pulse quickening from Ethan's nearness. She felt the warmth of his breath on her face and noticed it carried the faintest hint of peppermint.
"Then what the hell are you suggesting?"
"Pleasure." He lifted a hand and trailed it between her water-slicked breasts.
"Pleasure?" She tried not to look as interested as she felt. The idea of experiencing pleasure with this man was...Well, it was exactly what she'd been needing for a long time. Not only was he physically attractive, but he looked as if he had the potency of a bull in mating season. She recalled the way he'd toted her up the stairs without breaking a sweat. Power. Stamina. And by the enticing bulge in the front of his pants, he could satisfy her in every way.
Hold on, Latara. Get a grip. Think. One step at a time.
"Why haven't you tried this with somebody else?" she asked. "This world has lots of people in it."
"And you saw them," he said, still holding her gaze. "They're crazy. Those who weren't created by Beetle as part of this insane fantasy have been placed here by him. They're prisoners just like we are, except they've been here for so long they've surrendered to the madness. That's how I picked you out, Latara. You were dressed completely wrong. You looked terrified. You were running. In the real world, you would have looked insane, but in this world you were simply doing what any sane person would do."
"Racing half-naked through the streets in fear of my life?"
"Exactly." He leaned a bit closer, his lips almost touching hers. "Whether you believe me or not, you're still stuck here. If we do this and it works, good for us. If we do it and it doesn't, what have you lost?"