“You’re not disappointed?” The place where eyebrows would be lifted, and his eyes widened, their golden sparkle bewitching.
“No, not at all. What about you? Am I what you expected?”
“Disappointed? No. Enamored? Yes.” He licked his lips, and when he swallowed, the plates along his throat rose. “You’re beautiful, America.” Heat washed across my chest and into my cheeks. “Can I touch you again?”
At that moment, any fear I could have had in terms of our differences melted, and my sudden curiosity and desire for him to touch me were keen. My knees became weak, and I took a step backward to brace my back against the wall.
“Yes,” I said, closing my eyes as my throbbing heart became palpable in my chest. I wanted nothing more than for this alien to kiss me.
I opened my eyes, and he slowly raised his hand and rested his index finger against my chin. His gaze riveted me to the spot.
Then his hand met my mouth, pushing my bottom lip delicately before tracing the length of my neck with his fingers. I tried to control each breath, inhaling through my nose, wishing his fingers drifted to explore other places.
“I’m not hurting you, am I?” he asked gently. His forehead casing wrinkled with concern, and I was amazed at how his smooth, visually inflexible countenance could be so expressive.
“No,” I said through a breath.
“I want to feel you so badly, but I need to remember that skin is more tender than shell.”
He brought his hands to my shoulders and dropped his fingers to my naked collarbone, his touch so magical against my skin, that when my blanket started to slip I hesitated before pulling it back into place. As his hands inched down to my waist, following the curve of my torso, I sighed softly.
“Touch me,” Garran said, his palms slipping up my arms.
I brought my trembling hands to his shoulders.
“I can barely feel that,” he teased and in a tone so sexy I arched my back against the wall and increased my grip, my fingers biting into his hard shell.
“Can you feel that?” I chuckled, clasping his shoulder even harder.
“Yes,” he said, and his chest expanded with a deep inhale.
Keeping the same pressure, I moved my hands down his arms, stopping at each joint to feel the places where shell plates overlapped. When I reached his wrists, I edged my hands up each sleeve, my fingers drumming across the hard shell of his forearms.
At his elbows, the tips of my fingers traced the edge of shell as it disappeared beneath another plate, and I guessed the soft tissue of my fingertips could be pinched between them if he suddenly moved.
“I want to see it,” I said, “your shell.” Closing my eyes as I drew my hands back to his wrists, I plunged them upward again, this time pushing both sleeves forward until they were gathered at his shoulders.
He sucked in a breath and lowered his head as my fingers wrapped against his hard forearms. As if fashioned from marble, each plate curved to match the bulk of tight muscle beneath its protective casing, his biceps and triceps humanly distinct and packed with power.
“A tattoo?” My eyes followed a set of black lines at the top of his left arm, streaks that swirled and turned in the same pattern as the gold thread on his shirt.
“The mark of a royal.”
“I want to see more,” I said quickly, unable to control my hands as I increased the pressure against his shell.
His lips parted, and for the first time, I saw that his tongue rested behind a set of human-like teeth that were perfectly straight and bright white. He swallowed hard, and with shaky hands, fumbled with the top clasp of his shirt. His breathing was as deep and unsteady as mine as he fought each golden fastener, twisting it away from the swell of fabric.
“Ah,” I said as he undid the last hook, and his shirt fell open.