Aric’s scent overpowered the stale blood, the heat of his body a scorching fire that licked at my already burning skin. Hotter. Fiercer. And when our breaths mingled in the too-intimate slice of space between us, all that hurt, all the fury that had been bubbling through me like an unstable brew, erupted in an outpour that refused to be contained.

“Let go of me,” I snarled, staring up at Aric’s face. “I’m done with your lies. Done.”

My breaths came out hard, and my whole body buzzed, a stark contrast to the statue-stillness of Aric as he kept me caged against the door. But his eyes—they blazed.

Time glitched, and, like in that alley behind Drei Palmen, the sphere made of our energies that ensconced us seemed to detach from the rest of the world.

The charge built up.

As did my pent-up frustration.

As did Aric’s own demons, locked up tight somewhere in the dark for far too long.

The fuse sparked, and there was no stopping it.

I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, the words rolled on repeat through my head as my breaths deepened. Aric’s gaze swept down to my lips—

I wasn’t sure who moved first.

But as that charge went off like a supernova, Aric and I surged into each other.

Our mouths and bodies collided with a need that became its own primal force. The ground-shaking magnitude of the detonation only fueled us further. We turned into each other’s centers of gravity, our energies shielding nothing of our inescapable pull toward each other, but mirroring all the depths—even those we might have wanted to keep concealed.

But this hunger, this desire… It refused to let us be anything but our raw, unfiltered selves.

My back hit the door, and Aric ground against me.

The demanding press of his body coaxed a moan from my lips. He stole it away with his tongue and teeth, kissing me so fucking hard I was pretty sure the very foundations of reality were about to unravel. I groaned and wound my fingers through his hair.

Spurred on by my action, Aric brought one hand to my butt, then followed the curve to my thigh, right to the hem of my dress, and yanked me even closer to him. I hooked my leg around him, matching him grind for grind.

Fangs nicked my lips, and that scrape, that edge of roughness wrought of primal lust, set off another detonation.

We clashed as if we were two vortexes granted release after an eternity of oppression.

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