First Kiss, Final Kiss
Elizabeth knew, when she saw his eyes change, just what he had planned as he stalked back across the lab.
She couldn’t move, could hardly breathe.
When he swept her up and his lips possessed hers, she expected a hot, fierce, angry kiss. Instead, his lips gentled, exploring hers. The effect was devastating.
He broke through every barrier she’d spent years building, and she felt her heart open to him, trembling, vulnerable.
Both arms reached up to wrap around his neck, and her fingers slid into his thick, unruly hair. He tasted like mint. She let out a low moan when he eased her mouth open, deepening the kiss. She forgot their audience, forgot her fear of becoming attached to a man who would leave her alone, forgot everything but the feel of his lips, the strength of his arms, the heat of his body.
His hand slipped up her back, tangled in her hair as he angled her head, pulled her in deeper. Heat spiraled through her, and the need to get closer had her arching in to him.
She could feel his rapid heartbeat, hear his ragged breath as he started to lose control. Or was that her breath, so fast and hard it made her lightheaded?
Kane broke off the kiss, staring down at her.
“God help me,” he whispered, just before he dove in again.
This time it was fierce and hungry, and she rode the wild emotions, abandoning any attempt to hold back. His demanding mouth, the hands that curved over her hips and pressed her tightly against him refused to let her retreat.
She lost herself in the heat, in the need for another person she had never felt before. A need she protected herself from, in a life that had no guarantees, and more disappointment than she thought she could ever take and stay whole—
This time she broke off the kiss, fighting to catch her breath, terrified that it was too late. Kane rested his forehead against hers, his own breathing just as labored. “I simply meant to say goodbye.”
“That was some goodbye,” she whispered.
“Too much?” Humor edged his deep voice.
With a quiet sigh, he pressed his lips to her temple. “Ready for this?”
His laughter soothed her nerves. “I need you to ease your death grip on my neck, love.”
The endearment had her tensing again. Oh, yes—it was too late. She liked him before they landed in his time. Now she wanted him. How the hell was she supposed to forget the way his lips felt on hers, the raw, uncontrollable emotion he stirred in her?
She lowered her arms, and Kane eased her to the floor. Heat rushed across her face as everyone in the lab applauded.
To her surprise, Kane bowed, flashing a smile. “Thank you, for your good wishes.” He took her hand, nodded to Mac, and led her to the steps next to the platform. Sparks danced around the perimeter of the circle. “Now I will give you a proper goodbye.” Her heart jumped as he leaned in, but his lips touched her cheek, warm and brief. “Take care, Elizabeth Barritt. Be proud of who you are, live your life for you.”
How could saying goodbye to someone she barely knew hurt so much? Tears stung her eyes at his quiet words. He made it worse by brushing hair off her forehead, his touch gentle, almost more intimate than kissing her.
“Please be careful,” she whispered. Her voice threatened to lodge in her throat, along with her tears. She laid her hand on his left wrist. “Guy is going to do whatever he needs to do to stop you.”
“The constant twinges in my shoulder will be a good reminder. Not a word, Beth.” His fingers cupped her chin. “I will be ready for him. Now, I believe I need to kiss you again. For luck,” he said against her lips, just before he claimed them.
This time the kiss was achingly sweet, and far too short. Kane ended it, cradling her cheek, his hand so warm on her skin. Before she could touch him he backed out of reach. “Now, Mac.”
Gold light burst up from the circle, a shimmering, transparent wall.
“Is that the portal?” She didn’t plan to sound so awed, but it was—awe inspiring; so beautiful it nearly swamped her. Like a breath-robbing piece of art.
“The doorway to endless possibilities.” Kane climbed the steps, turned back to her. “I look forward to seeing what you do with your possibilities. I will miss you, Beth.”
His coat swirled around him as he swung to face the wall of gold. Elizabeth hugged her waist and drew the image in her mind: of Kane’s face edged in gold, the light tracing his aristocratic features, glinting in his clear grey eyes.
He closed those eyes for a second, before he reached out and thrust his hand into the wall. Elizabeth let out a gasp when the light wrapped around him, then winked out of existence, plunging the lab into darkness. Endless seconds later, the lights flickered on, revealing confusion, concern, and outright fear on the faces of the people who should have been used to the portal.
“Elizabeth!” Mac rushed over, gripping her shoulders. “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
“That wasn’t a normal—what do you call it?”
“Departure—and no, it wasn’t. Kane’s signal went offline right after he entered the portal. He’s out there with a nonworking transport, and if I don’t find him fast, he may not be coming home. Stay here. Doc!”
She watched him dodge people to get to the other side of the lab, numb at his announcement.
Without a working transport, Kane would be trapped.
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About Cate Dean
Cate Dean has been writing since she could hold a pen in her hand and put more than two words together on paper. She grew up losing herself in the wilds of fantasy worlds and has had some of her own adventures while tromping through the UK, and a few other parts of the world. A lover of all things supernatural, she infuses that love into her stories, giving them a unique edge. When she's not writing, she loves cooking, scaring herself silly in the local cemeteries, and reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on.
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