JULIA had never been undressed so quickly, so frantically, and with such desperate hunger in her life.

And she loved it.

Her back to the mattress, her legs bent and spread, Julia trembled with heat and desire as she stared up at Parish. Without clothes, he wasn't just sexy-he was stunning. Drool-worthy. His powerful body flexed with every movement, each muscle defined. But it was the long, thick muscle standing hard and proud against the six-pack of abdominal perfection that made her mouth water. What would he feel like in her mouth, taste like against her tongue? She almost reached for him when he knelt, placed his hands under her buttocks and yanked her to the edge of the mattress.

His breath fanned her stomach and hipbones. "I've thought about this ever since we met. How you looked, scented..." He lowered his head and lapped at her. Just once. Julia gasped and arched her back. "How you tasted."

How was it possible that just one swipe of his tongue made every muscle in her body jump? He was magic. There was no other explanation for it. She lifted her head to see what he was doing, and the blood rushed to her sex. Nostrils flared, dark eyes glittering with exotic desire, his gaze was locked between her thighs.

A soft growl came from his throat. "You're so beautiful, Doc. Every inch of you is soaking wet. Your pussy's like a ripe peach, juice running down your leg." Once again, he dropped his head, but this time he ran his tongue up her inner thigh.

Julia nearly came right then. His tongue. It wasn't smooth like a human's. It was slightly rough, like a...

She stared at him.

"Cat," he said with a grin, lapping at just the edges of her sex. "So sweet. Christ, I think I'll drown in you."

The heat building inside her burst into flames. Her ass clenched, her breasts tightened into sensitive buds and she felt her pussy cream right before him.

Parish saw it too and his canines dropped. "My cock's crying for you too, Doc. But first I'm going to fuck you with my tongue." Without another word, he curled his fingers around her knees and spread her wider. He purred, his eyes glowing. "Oh, yes...there it is. Your clit is ripe, Doc. So damn pretty. So pink."

Julia's legs shook, her sex pulsed and ached to be filled, touched, eaten. God, she was going to go out of her mind just from the way he talked. "Please, Parish..." she moaned, letting her head fall back on the mattress.

"Spread yourself for me," he commanded, his breath fanning her wet sex. "Wide. I want my entire mouth on you, my tongue thrusting inside you as my lips suck that plump little clit."

With trembling fingers, Julia moved her hands down her belly, over her hips and into her hair. She gasped at how wet she was, how sensitive.

"Hurry, Doc," he growled with need, his fingers digging gently into her thighs. "I want to taste you before you come, and you're so ready."

His shoulders pushed between her legs, and the minute she spread herself wide, he latched onto her clit, suckling gently as his tongue flicked feather-light. In seconds, she came. Spasming on the mattress, her hips slamming upward, pumping as she moaned. Dammit. It's too soon. Too fast.

Just as she was about to lift her head, Parish chuckled against her sex, his hot breath making her writhe. "Now, we can begin." Without another word, he thrust his tongue up into her, and fucked her in slow, rhythmic strokes.

Her hands fisting the bedspread, Julia tried to focus but it was impossible. She was so tense, so heated, her body refusing to come down from the orgasm. It wanted more. It craved more.

He drew back then, eased his tongue out of her and replaced it with two thick fingers. "I feel you around me," he growled, thrusting into her so deeply she felt it at her belly. "You're so wet, suckling my finger."

"Oh, god," she moaned as he started licking her again, using his entire tongue in greedy circles.

Julia didn't know what to do with this feeling. She'd never experienced such mind-numbing pleasure. She wanted him so badly, yet didn't want him to stop licking her or thrusting his fingers inside her.

She released her pussy lips and plowed her fingers through his soft, thick, hair. She scratched at his scalp as he ate her. Instantly, he started to purr, the sound making his lips and tongue vibrate against her. Her eyes slammed open and she gasped in a breath. She was going to come. Again.

"Parish, please," she begged, rocking her hips against his face, her juices pouring out of her, down her thighs. "I want you inside me."

But he wouldn't stop. Hungry and determined, he drank her down, his purr coiling around her aching clit.

The climax that tore through her was raw and shocking. For a moment, she was blind and deaf, all her senses pooling below her waist. She cried out, pumping wildly, barely feeling him draw back and loom over her. She could hardly breathe, and her eyes were as wet as her sex. Nothing could feel better. Nothing.

And then she felt something nudge against her sensitive mound. Instinct blossomed inside of her and she reached out and grasped him. Hot, rock-hard cock filled her hand, and she moaned a hungry, "Yes." Up and down, she stroked him until he started to breathe differently, moan, curse, and pump himself off in her palm.

"Inside," he growled. "I need you. I need to be up inside you where it's hot and tight and still shaking from your climax."

She released him, and he entered her with one quick, deep, gasp-inducing thrust. Julia gripped his shoulders, her nails digging into his skin. He felt so right there, so perfect.

"Wrap your legs around me, Doc. I want to ride you."

She groaned, closing her thighs, her heels squeezing his tight ass. For one moment, his eyes met hers and he grinned. Then he started to fuck her, deep and slow, all the way to her womb. Oh, the pleasure. The heat.

"You've claimed my heart, Julia Cabot," he whispered against her mouth as his thrusts quickened. "It's useless to anyone else, but full of life and love and desire for you. I want no one but you."

Oh, god yes. She wanted him, too. But... "I'm scared."

"Of what? Being loved? Taken care of? Respected and desired? Of never having to worry about my devotion, my commitment?" His kissed her, then settled in the curve of her neck. "Pantera mate for life, Julia."

She gasped as he bit her gently.

"Tell me I can claim you."

She moaned.

"Tell me you want not only my cock inside of you, but my mark on your body."

"I want you," she cried out, climax so close she could taste it. "All of you."

He growled harshly, "Mine...all mine," as he scored the skin between her waist and navel with his claws and pounded her deep into the mattress.

Julia came with a jolt and a scream, and as she did, Parish roared out her name, pumping his hot seed into her soaked and sensitive pussy. Freefalling, Julia slapped her arms around him, holding on tight as he continued to come inside of her.

Long minutes passed before he rolled to his side, but when he did, he didn't break their connection. His powerful arms curled her snugly against his chest, where she rested and tried to catch her breath. Tears threatened as she gripped him possessively, almost fearfully. Had he truly marked her? Was that the delicious sting she felt on her abdomen? And if so, what did it mean?

Oh, god...

Parish kissed her hair and whispered, his voice raw with emotion. "Tell me you're going to stay. Here. In the Wildlands with me. I need to hear it."

Her heart squeezed. "I want to."

"But something holds you back. What is it?"

She rubbed her face against his hard pectoral. "I don't know. I have nothing back there, nothing but my cat. But how do I trust my wants and desires when they've always led me into failed misery?"

He tipped her face up to meet his, brushed the hair from her cheek so lovingly she nearly burst into tears. "Perhaps this time you should trust your gut and your instincts. I watched you that day in the hospital. You used them delivering the child, didn't you?"

Her breath caught in her throat. He'd been watching her? "Yes."

He smiled. "You have Pantera in you, I think. When I looked at you for the first time I felt need and desire unlike anything I'd ever felt. But you were human, and I was lost in anger and grief. It was my gut and my instinct that told me we belonged together."

Stunned, Julia just stared at him. She'd never heard such a thing. No man had ever talked to her like this, told her to trust herself and her instincts. What more was she looking for? A sign? Christ, she had magic.

Exhaustion overtook her thoughts and she cuddled in close to Parish as he kissed her hair and stroked her back until she fell asleep.

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