Fuck, it was hot.
John ‘Rocket’ Hardin thought that in the mountains it should at least be cooler, especially out of the sun in this little cave. But no, the heat invaded the space and made it into a warm, wet towel. He was sweaty and streaked with dirt that had blown against him as they’d climbed the rocky trails. He used the tail of his shirt to wipe as much off his face as he could, but only a shower was going to attack this mess.
He’d been fucking pissed off when his SEAL team had been told they were being sent to rescue a writer from the Taliban. Ten years in the service and he had to waste his time because some wacky writer thought it would be great to hang out with terrorists and interview them. And, oh, yeah, write books. Stupid idiot.
But they’d executed the extraction just as night had begun to fall, hoping to take advantage of the cover of darkness. But it hadn’t been cloudy or overcast, damn it, the stars bright in the sky and the moon like a big spotlight. The team had done its best to stay concealed, but without help from nature, someone had discovered their captive was gone before the SEALs were fully away. Rocket had broken off with Mallory, radioed Command to let them know and taken off with her in the mountains so their enemies wouldn’t find her. She hadn’t complained, just followed him, despite what she’d been through already and the harshness of the landscape.
Getting them out of that terrorist camp hadn’t been a picnic, for sure, but his team was experienced and it had almost gone off without a hitch. But then things had gotten very hairy. His stated job was to get Mallory to safety above all else. He hated splitting from the rest of his team, but he had his marching orders. Their job was containment so he and Mallory could get the fuck out of there. The orders had come straight from their commanding officer.
She was a trooper, he’d give her that, moving at his direction until they were far enough away from the camp and could find a place to hide. Using his satellite radio, he’d informed Command where they were and had been told to wait for extraction. Once the chopper arrived and landed on the plateau near their cave, they’d be out of there. And he’d probably never see her again.
He glanced over at her and saw she was in almost the same condition he was. Her hair was wild, and she’d managed to push it behind her ears. But her skin looked like his, sweaty and streaked with dirt, not to mention the bruises on her wrists from the rope that had tied them.
He’d been shocked at his reaction when he’d first seen her in the hut where she was being held. In jeans and a T-shirt, hair wild and mussed, hands tied behind her back and smears of dirt on her cheeks and arms, she was still the sexiest woman he recalled ever laying eyes on.
But danger, it seemed, was an aphrodisiac, ramping up everything in his system well past the boiling point. This place was certainly as uninviting as any he’d ever been in, as far as sex was concerned. Despite that, he was so horny his dick hurt and his brain was filling with very un-SEAL-like thoughts. Mallory Kane was every man’s wet dream, with her lush, toned body, her curly auburn hair and green eyes that blazed like emeralds.
Maybe it was the aftereffect of all that tension. Maybe it was a need to reaffirm life after escaping from a lethal situation. Or maybe he felt that she needed something to erase the after-effects of her captivity.
Whatever it was, he wanted her more than he wanted to breathe. And wasn’t that just a damn shock for someone with his discipline? This was no place for sex to intrude. Life was not fucking fair. At all. But maybe after…
Business first, asshole.
Now they sat side by side, leaning against the wall of the cave, Mallory pulling herself together.
“Thank you,” she told him when her breathing finally evened out.
Her voice was soft and rich, almost musical, even with the stress she was going through. He thought he could listen to it every day. The only problem was it went straight to his dick, which was doing its best to break the zipper of his camos.
“You’re welcome.” He slid a glance at her and grinned. “All in a day’s work.”
“Those must be some days, then.”
“It’s part of our motto,” he said. “The only easy day was yesterday.”
She snorted. “If this is an example, then you guys deserve a ton of awards for what you do. I didn’t think I would leave there with my head still attached.”
“You should try and get a little rest,” he told her. “It will be a while until the helo gets here. I radioed that we were secure here.”
“Rest?” Her laugh had a tinge of hysteria. “I almost rested permanently. I am just so grateful that you came to rescue me. I know those people were going to kill me. And soon.”
Rocket studied her for a moment. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” She shrugged. “You saved my life, so I guess you can ask me anything.”
“So, just out of curiosity, you had to have known how dangerous this whole thing was. I mean, you might as well have committed suicide. What made you set this up to begin with?”
When she didn’t answer at once, he glanced over at her. She was frowning.
“Is that question a problem?” Rocket pushed.
“No. Not a problem. I just…” She swallowed. “I guess I was just focused on getting the story and writing the book. The last one I did was very successful and I have a great contract for this one.”
“But that’s not all of it, is it?” he asked.
“The main part.”
He waited, but when she didn’t say any more, his curiosity got the better of him.
“Is it so exciting that you’re willing to risk your life for it?” When she didn’t answer, he turned sightly and reached over to cup her chin. “Mallory?”
She sighed. “It’s a long story that you wouldn’t be interested in. But it’s a way to prove myself and I really don’t want to discuss it now. Okay? Please?”
“Sure.” He could understand that, it that didn’t kill his curiosity by a long shot.
“But…” She nibbled her lower lip. “I do want you to know I realize that I owe you my life.”
She raised her eyes to his, a whirlpool of emotions swirling there. Okay. There was more than just following a story here and writing a book. But how did he find out what it was? She was the first woman to pierce the emotional shell he kept himself locked in and he wanted to know more about her. No, he wanted to know all about her.
“And this may be inappropriate, but I’m doing it anyway, because I really want to thank you for what you did.” She knelt beside him, cradled his face in her hands and pressed her mouth to his.
Holy shit! His dick tried again to escape the pressure of his fly and he was sure his temperature went up. It shocked him, because he’d sure had enough sex in his life to be able to control his reactions when he needed to.
He was not prepared for this. He was supposed to be rescuing and protecting her, not thinking about sex. He thrust his fingers into her disheveled hair to hold her head in place, pressed his lips against hers and, when they parted slightly, thrust his tongue inside. She tasted like ten kinds of sin. When he licked the inner surfaces of her mouth, she brushed her tongue against his and before he realized what he was doing, he slipped his hands around to the front and cupped her breasts, gently squeezing them. He felt a tear in the fabric of one cup and anger gripped him. Did the barbaric terrorists molest her?
“It’s okay,” she whispered against his lips, as if she knew what he was thinking. “They didn’t rape me. I swear. Just tried to demoralize me. Break my spirit. But it didn’t work.”
“Good. I can see that.”
“But I need to get it all out of my mind. You can see that, right?”
Oh, yeah. And it might be against the rules, but he was all on board with this. “I just don’t want you to think I expect—”
She moved until she was straddling him, her hot center pressing hard against his aching dick. “I don’t just want this. I need this, to celebrate the fact I’m still alive.”
At some point he’d get the details of what happened out of her, but not now. Right now, he could tell what she wanted was to wipe the worst of it out of her mind, and he was glad to help her. They had another hour at least before the helicopter coming to extract them would be here and he intended to make good use of every single minute. He had never done anything like this before. Business was always…all business. But there was such electricity between them. And they’d just come through a harrowing situation and needed reaffirmation of life.
“If you’re sure, then, damn it, yes. I want this, too.”
He took her mouth in another kiss, moving his hands to lightly pinch her nipples. She moaned, sliding her hands beneath his shirt and dragging her fingernails across his back. Heat filled his body. Jesus! Although he sure never had trouble responding to a woman, he didn’t ever remember reacting this way before. Or this fast.
Rocket eased her T-shirt up so he could touch the smooth skin of her abdomen. Before he could even think about it, he had unfastened her bra and pushed it up so he could palm her bare breasts. Rubbing his thumbs over the taut nipples made them bead beneath his touch. The temptation was too much for him, so he pushed her top even higher, bent his head just enough and took one of those nipples into his mouth. When he sucked it hard, she moaned and leaned into him.
He didn’t know if she’d object or smack him, but he yanked off the shirt and the bra and tossed them to the side. Then he went after her breasts with a vengeance, licking and sucking and squeezing. Mallory threw her head back, more little moans drifting from her mouth, the sound of them heating him up even more. He didn’t even stop to think about what he was doing, or the trouble he could get into because of it. He knew he wanted this woman and that hunger was driving him forward.
Mallory arched up to him, her nails scraping his back, the sensation shooting straight to his cock and his balls. He was afraid he’d come just from sucking her breasts and miss the best part of the fun. He lifted his mouth and slid it to the hollow of her throat, where he swirled the tip of his tongue before dusting kisses along her neck.
Realizing at last that they were in a somewhat uncomfortable position, he lifted Mallory and moved her body so she was straddling him. She sat pressing against him so his cock was nestled right at the vee of her thighs, at the heat of her sex. He was sure she could feel how hard and thick his dick had become. He had to restrain himself from ripping her clothes off and plunging into her fast and quick. But that wasn’t him. It was bad enough that he was probably breaking a million rules. He needed to treat her with respect. She was a strong woman who had survived an ordeal that would have destroyed a lot of people. He might never see her again—although he pushed that aside—but he wasn’t going to go at her like a rutting pig, either, despite how he’d started out. And he wanted to make sure she knew that.
He lifted his head, cradled her face in his palms and looked directly into her eyes.
“Before we go any further, I don’t want you to feel you have to do this,” he told her. “You’ve been through an ordeal and I want to respect that. The fact that I want you, bad, shouldn’t come into consideration.”
She smiled and raked her fingers through her hair, and her disheveled look only made her appear sweeter and sexier.
“I don’t do anything I don’t want to,” she told him, her breathing accelerated. “And I want this, too.” Her lips curved in a very sexy smile. “What better way to celebrate the fact that I’m alive and not with my head rolling on the floor in some barbarian’s camp? And who better to celebrate with than the man who rescued me?” She gave him a tiny smile. “I do want this, Rocket. And it’s not an obligation for saving me. Okay?”
She grabbed his head and pressed her lips to his, sliding her tongue into his mouth.
Holy shit! Even her kisses were off the charts.
“Okay. Good to know.” He cupped her chin. “We’ve got most of an hour before the helo gets here. I think I know a good way to pass the time, right?”
“Yes.” She wriggled against his cock. “I want this. With you.”
He locked his gaze with hers for a long moment, but he felt a little better about this now. “Good. I want this, too.”
The time for talking was over. Rocket set Mallory aside so he could strip off his fatigues and lay them on the floor to give her as much protection from the dirt as possible. He thought about leaving his boxer briefs on, then figured, what for?
When he turned around, Mallory had kicked off her shoes and stripped off her jeans. She looked at him as she eased her bikini panties down her legs, giving a sexy wiggle. Was it possible for him to get any harder? If he did, his dick might just break off. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her toned legs, her nicely rounded butt and the trimmed patch of auburn hair that covered her sex. His mouth watered as he imagined her sweet taste.
They were lying on the floor, naked bodies pressed together, the heat of her sex scorching him, when his brain kicked into gear.
“I thought we were done talking.” She wriggled beneath him.
“Yeah, well, I have to tell you this.”
She frowned up at him. “A confession? Now?”
“Uh-huh. I, uh, don’t have any condoms with me.”
She burst out laughing. “I already figured that. You’re on a mission, not a night out. No sweat. I’m on birth control.”
“And I’m clean,” he assured her. “I get tested regularly.”
He didn’t want to tell her it was a leftover from his days as an extreme horndog. He waited for her to say something, but instead she pulled his head down to hers and licked his lips. Her tongue was like a hot flame, scorching him clear to his balls. He held her head in place as he licked every inch of her mouth before trailing his tongue along her chin and down her neck. He pressed the tip of his tongue against the hollow of her throat, feeling the strong beat of her pulse, before moving down the smooth skin between her breasts. He loved the feel of them against his hands as he palmed them and rolled the nipples between thumb and forefinger.
Mallory moaned, a soft, sensuous sound as he trailed his mouth down over the slight curve of her stomach until he reached that gorgeous thatch of auburn hair. He slid his arms beneath her thighs so he could place them over his shoulders and used his thumbs to separate the plump lips of her sex. The pink bud of her clit peeped out at him and he couldn’t resist stroking it with his tongue.
Mallory shivered and lifted her hips, raising herself closer to his mouth. Shit, she tasted like the sweetest sin, a flavor that he had a feeling he could become totally addicted to. He traced the delicate skin on either side of her clit with slow licks, stopping to nibble that little bud every few seconds. Each time he did, she made such a delicious sound that his hunger spiked even more, and she tried to lift herself to his mouth. The painful ache in his dick and his balls told him he was closer than he would have liked. He wanted to make sure she got her orgasm before he lost all control.
Nudging her thighs farther apart, he slid two fingers into her soaked channel, humming his satisfaction as her inner walls tightened around them. Her eyes were closed and her face flushed with pleasure, obvious even in the dim light of the cave. The little sounds she made aroused him even more. When he added a third finger, she planted her feet on either side of him and pushed herself into his touch.
“Don’t stop,” she begged.
He gave a low, throaty chuckle. “Don’t worry. I have no intention of stopping.”
As he increased the pressure, he curled his fingers slightly so that with each glide, he scraped lightly against her sweet spot. She pushed against his hand harder and harder, riding it, her little moans making him impossibly more aroused.
Her orgasm rolled through her, tightening her body, her inner walls fucking his fingers. He thrust again, pinched her clit…and she came, making those delicious tiny sounds as her liquid coated his hand.
At last the shivers subsided, the groans of pleasure became softer and her body relaxed slightly. But he was almost at the breaking point, drinking in the sight of Mallory lying naked and flushed on the floor. He was so aroused by this time that he had to grit his teeth and reach for control.
Then he was on his knees between her thighs, lifting her legs to rest on his shoulders so her hips were raised. She was open to him and he could not wait another minute. With his fingers wrapped around his throbbing dick, he positioned the head at the opening of her sex, drew in a breath and thrust forward. Her hot, wet flesh gripped him like a vise, the electricity of it shooting straight to his balls.
Oh, sweet Jesus!
He didn’t remember the last time he’d fucked where his cock was bare. The sweet feel of her skin and her liquid sent him into overdrive. He closed his eyes for a moment to gather himself. Then, with his palms beneath the cheeks of her incredible ass, he began the familiar rhythm. It didn’t matter that they were in this cave, his clothes spread out as a shield on the dirt floor, or that the light was so dim he couldn’t see every inch of her the way he wanted to. All that mattered was that this delicious, hot woman was here and he was having the best sex of his life with her.
She grabbed his forearms, digging in her nails as she moved with him. They fell into a rhythm as if they’d been doing this forever, as if their bodies were used to it. Every one of his nerves was on fire. In, out, back, forth…he wanted to make it good for her, but his control was snapping.
“I can’t last much longer,” he gasped, “although I’m trying, babe. I really am.”
He felt the surge of her second orgasm and the clenching of her walls just as he exploded. Their bodies throbbed together, spasming, her tight sex pulsing around his shaft. On and on it went, beyond anything he expected, until finally the last tremor faded. He managed to lower her legs to the ground and fell forward, catching himself on his elbows. He studied her face, seeing the satisfied glow and the look in her eyes. His heart was still beating erratically and hers matched the rhythm.
For a long time, they just lay there like that, staring at each other as if exchanging silent conversation. Then he lowered his mouth to hers and indulged in a deep, deep kiss. And when the last of the tension finally left both their bodies, he eased his cock from her grasp and sat back on his heels. Fishing in the pocket of his pants, he pulled out the bandana he used to wipe sweat from his face and cleaned both of them.
“We’ll both need a good shower after this.” He chuckled, but then his face sobered. “Mallory, I—”
She reached up a hand to touch his lips with her fingers. “Don’t. Do not say a word. Don’t ruin it. Please.”
“But I should—”
“No.” She shook her head. “It was special and let’s keep it that way.”
Rocket had no idea where the conversation would have gone from there, but at that moment his radio squawked. “Rocketman here.”
“Helo is four clicks away,” came the voice from the command center. “Get ready. How copy?”
“Good copy.” He clicked off and looked at Mallory. “Time to get ready.”
They dressed in silence, brushing off as much dirt from their bodies and their clothes as they could. Before they left the cave, he pulled her into his arms for one last kiss, as tender as it was erotic.
“Just so you know,” he told her when he lifted his mouth from hers, “I’m never going to forget this, Mallory.”
“Me neither, Rocket.” She brushed her lips against his. “By the way, where did your call sign come from?”
He grinned. “We’ll save that for another time. Because I’m sure, no matter how long it takes, there will be one.”
“I’ll hold you to it.”
“And now we’d better get out there so the helo can see us.”
He checked the immediate area outside the cave before motioning her forward. Just as she stepped outside, Rocket heard the sound of the rotors and the helo lowered to the plateau just outside the cave. Rocket grabbed Mallory’s hand and they ran for the door one of the men inside was just sliding open. Rocket boosted her inside before grabbing for the hands that hauled him up.
Then they were airborne.
As the chopper cut through the night, Rocket quietly studied Mallory. Was she glowing or was that his imagination? Could the others in the helo look at her—or him—and guess what had taken place? As he studied her, as casually as possible, she glanced over at him and their gazes locked. For one moment, heat flashed, then she looked away. He’d broken protocol with her, but he couldn’t find it in himself to regret it. What the hell, anyway. He’d never see her again, and that actually saddened him.
When they finally reached the field camp and Mallory was helped down out of the helo, two men came running forward to hurry her off. Rocket watched, and at the last minute before being hustled into a car, she turned and waved.
Then she was gone, and for a long moment, Rocket wondered if the whole thing had even happened at all.