When she breaks free from the bondage of her past, he'll be waiting.
Jake made the ultimate mistake--falling in love with Ellie, his best friend's wife. Distance was the only solution, but it prevented him from seeing what a bastard his friend turned out to be. Now Ellie is free from the bondage of her past, and Jake waits. Needing, wanting, and ready for her when she spreads her wings.
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December 19, 2006
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Excerpt from Understood by Maya Banks
He walked through the house on silent feet. When he reached his bedroom, he paused at the doorway and stared over at the bed. His chest shook at his sharp intake of breath.
Unable to resist, he moved closer to the bed. The sheet was tucked underneath her arms, covering her chest. Her silky, dark hair splayed out over his pillow. His fingers itched to touch the curls, to twine them around his hands.
While the sheet covered her body, it did little to conceal the dark imprint of her nipples. He swallowed as he imagined what they'd taste like, the sensation of the sweet buds on his tongue.
As if sensing his presence, she stirred and her eyelids fluttered open. A shy, sweet smile curved her full lips.
"Jake," she whispered. "You're here."
Hell and damnation, it was all he could do to keep himself from ripping the sheets from her body, spreading her legs and diving in. Instead he eased to a sitting position beside her and trailed a finger over her cheek.
"Did you think I wouldn't be?"
She nuzzled her cheek against his hand as if seeking his touch. "I hoped you would," she said quietly.
He shifted to try and alleviate the ever growing discomfort in his groin. Her voice, so sexy, husky, like a shot of good whiskey. It licked over him, and he began to imagine her tongue doing the same.
"Ellie, we need to talk." He didn't recognize his own voice. It sounded hoarse and needy.
She struggled to sit up, and when she slid upward, the sheet fell to her lap. He groaned aloud as the rosy tips of her breasts became visible.
She yanked the sheet back up, clutching it to her chest. Pink dusted her cheeks, and she peeked up at him.
He fought to try and remember what it was he wanted to say to her. His mind had gone straight to mush as soon as he'd gotten a glimpse of those perfect breasts.
"What did you want to talk about?" she prompted.
He shook his head and refocused his attention.
"I need to be sure this is what you want, Ellie. I don't want a martyr in my bed. You need to be absolutely certain you want what's about to happen here, because once I take you, you're mine."
He watched as her lips formed an "O" of shock. He leaned in closer until his lips were a hair's breadth from hers.
"Mine, Ellie. In my bed. All mine. I won't let you go. You need to tell me if you're prepared for that, because if you aren't, you need to hightail it home right now."
She ran her tongue over her lips, licking nervously then pulling at the bottom lip with her teeth.
"I don't want to go home."
"Then look at me, Ellie. Tell me who you see. Tell me who's going to make love to you in about two minutes."
"You are, Jake," she whispered.
He covered her mouth with his, his need to taste her nearly overwhelming. He'd waited years for this moment. He sucked gently at her tongue, grazing it with his teeth.
He looked at her in confusion when she ended the kiss. Earnestness burned in her blue eyes as she pulled away.
"There's something I want to say, too, Jake. About the other night."
He put a finger over her lips to shush her, but she shook her head.
She took in a deep breath, and he wondered what the hell she could possibly have to say that was worth interrupting the moment.
"Jake, the reason I went to that bar. I didn't know you'd be there, you have to believe that."
He frowned. "That makes it better? Hell, Ellie, what if I hadn't been there? Have you thought about that?"
She colored and seemed to grow more anxious.
"The reason I went...I went because I hoped that if I could go through with it, I mean I did it because I wanted you. I had to be sure I could go through with it."
He looked incredulously at her. "Am I supposed to be flattered that you thought you had to test drive some other cock in order to work up the nerve to climb into my bed?"
She shook her head vigorously. "That's not what it was about."
"Then what was it about?" he demanded.
Her gaze dropped. He reached out to nudge her chin up. He looked expectantly at her.
"I wanted it to be perfect," she said quietly. "I wanted you. I felt pretty positive you wanted me. I didn't want our first time together to be a disaster because I couldn't go through with it. I thought...I thought if I went to bed with another man, I could get past my demons."
Her lips trembled as the last words came tumbling out. He swore softly under his breath even as his chest tightened at her admission.
"I'm so damn tempted to turn you over my knee and spank your ass. Of all the fool-headed, cockamamie things. Do you honestly think I'd sit back and be grateful you went to bed with another man before offering yourself to me on a silver platter?"
Her blue eyes glimmered with a hint of moisture as she stared back at him.
He moved his hand from her chin and stroked it over her cheek. "Ellie," he said in a low voice. "I don't expect you to pretend. Not with me. Never with me. You don't have to put up a brave front and act like no one's ever hurt you.
"Do you understand how much I want you? Not your idea of perfection. I want you. Just the way you are. I want you so damn much I ache."
Her eyes widened.
"Do you want me, Ellie? Do you ache like I do?"
She leaned forward, reaching a hand to his face. The sheet fell once more, and this time she didn't try to retrieve it. Her fingers slid over his jaw, and he turned his face so he could kiss the smooth skin of her palm.
"I do want you, Jake. So very much. And you're right. I'm not afraid of you. You're the only person I feel safe with. But I'm afraid of me."
He looked hungrily at her. "Then trust me to make this perfect for both of us."