First Chapters – Watching Over the Watcher by Simone Beaudelaire

Today’s First Chapter is from Watching Over The Watcher by my friend Simone Beaudelaire.  This is a great story.

Simone Watching the WatcherDESCRIPTION

Psychic Selene Johansen is an excellent police investigator, able to determine guilt from the first handshake.

While her talent for fact-finding keeps her busy, her personal life is lonely. After all, who wants to date a girl who can read minds?

But Selene’s consuming solitude dissolves when she learns longtime friend Brandon Price knows about her psychic gift … and her secret love for him.

As their relationship heats up, Selene dares let her guard down, not realizing that a ruthless stalker is determined to put an end to the couple’s passion… and their lives.

Chapter One

Selene Johansen bent over and scooped up a heavy cardboard box. Her long white-blond braid slipped over her shoulder to dangle onto the carton, the end tracing squiggles in the thick dust. She hefted the box, and the unbalanced load inside shifted uncomfortably. Hoisting the unpleasant burden, she made her way across the squeaky wooden floor towards the door of the little bedroom passing pink curtains, traversing a rose and green rag rug and bypassing a bed with a rose printed bedspread. She had to step aside as her friend Maggie barreled in, black ponytail bouncing, intent on collecting another load. Only a couple of boxes left.

As Selene stepped out the door behind Maggie, heading down the short, terra-cotta painted hallway, her sneakers thundered on the honey-colored boards. Dirty as her shoes were, she didn’t want to make a mess on the vibrant green runner which lined the center of the hallway. Making her way slowly, her thoughts drifted to the girl she was helping move today, and how they had met.

It had been eight years ago, back when Selene was only twenty, idealistic and looking to use her gift.

“Hey, Johansen, you ready?” Bill asked, standing up from his cluttered, paper-strewn desk and knocking over an avalanche of crumpled documents, a stapler, and a cup of coffee. Selene cringed. She knew better than to criticize her supervisor, but his slovenly ways really bothered her.

Biting back a comment about the confidential files, now rendered illegible under a stream of brown liquid, she followed him out of the room and down the hall to where her first client was waiting.

“This is a perfect girl for you to cut your teeth on, babe,” he told her, setting her teeth on edge again. To prevent herself from uttering a biting retort about sexual harassment, she studied the abstract art hanging on the glaring white walls above a gray industrial carpet. Red and yellow triangles. This place is all bold colors and sharp angles. How can anyone relax in such an environment?

“Why is that, Bill?” She tossed her mane of silver-blond hair over one shoulder and wished she’d woken early enough to put it up. No one took her seriously with all that fluff hanging down.

“She’s young like you. Y’all should have plenty in common.” Y’all? Don’t you know you live in Minnesota, you dink? No one says that here. She shook her head and followed him into the counseling room. Two overstuffed sofas, both in a soft shade of blue, sat at right angles along the interior wall. Above them, a window let in a view of the steel-gray winter sky and she could see a naked river birch, its golden bark contrasting with the pale February colors.

A girl with hair almost as long as Selene’s sat on the sofa. Selene smiled. It might be a conversation starter, though the girl’s hair was blue-black, not blonde. She turned, revealing the copper skin and chiseled cheekbones of a Native American. What a pretty girl. She was not, however, even close to Selene’s age. By the look of her, she was barely in high school, if that. She wore a pair of faded blue jeans and a purple sweater. Her eyes were red-rimmed.

“Hi,” Selene said gently, choosing a tone that was neutral though bordering on sympathetic. She extended her hand. The girl looked askance, scowled, and then agreed to shake.

Immediately, Selene was plunged into an icy river of grief, which swirled in overwhelming torrents at the edge of excess. Tears stung her own eyes and a shaky breath caught in her throat.

“I am so sorry,” she said softly, knowing it was a meaningless thing to say.

“Why?” the girl sneered. “Do you know what it’s like to lose your mother?”

Selene nodded. “I do. But not like this.”

“Like what?”

“Mine died when I was a baby. I never knew her. And it wasn’t cancer.”

The client squinted in furious confusion. “How did you know that?”

“It’s a gift I have,” Selene admitted, suppressing the desire to squirm in discomfort. Will I ever get used to telling people about this?

The girl’s angry dark eyes widened. “Gift? You can read my mind?” She wrenched her hand away. “Freak. Don’t touch me!”

“Okay,” Selene said. “I won’t. What’s your name?”


“Is that short for Margaret?”

“No. Just Maggie. Maggie Price.”

“I’m Selene Johansen. Do you mind if I take a seat?”

Maggie shrugged and slumped lower on the sofa. Under Bill’s supervision, Selene attempted to talk through some coping techniques with Maggie, helping the child come to terms with her loss.

At the end of the hour-long session, there was a knock at the door. Selene rose to answer. It was then that Selene saw something which completely took her breath away. It was a man; black haired and dark-eyed, looking at her with an expression which almost matched his daughter’s in grief, if not in rage. They looked each other in the eyes for an endless moment, sharing empathy beyond words. Selene did not offer her hand. There was no need.

And that had been the start. Frequent contact had eventually worn away the animosity, and now Maggie was one of Selene’s few friends who wasn’t a cop. As the younger girl matured, she ceased being a former client with whom Selene still kept in touch, and became a friend. Now, eight years later, Maggie was twenty-two, and the seven year difference in their ages no longer seemed significant. They were the closest of friends.

Selene had arrived at the truck and set the heavy box in the bed. It was nearly full. Good thing we’re about done here.

She glanced around the small, tidy front yard. Neatly trimmed grass gave way to a row of carefully shaped shrubs along the front of the house. An aged oak shaded the windows of the front room, which was barely visible through the green-shuttered windows. The white-painted siding was clean and well-maintained. The Price home, a small, one-story bungalow, matched its neighbors for attractiveness, if not exactly for size. She smiled. It looked like a baby brother at play with older siblings.

“Come on, Selene,” Maggie called from the open doorway. “The day won’t wait for us. Stop smelling the flowers and get to work.”

Selene grinned at her friend’s impatience. Though Maggie was correct about one thing. The intoxicating fragrance of lilac was worth a moment’s attention.

She headed back into the house, still thinking about her unlikely friendship with Maggie. It was a relationship Selene cherished, in particular because of its uniqueness. She had given up counseling after working with Maggie for several months. Spending day after day bathed in such intense sorrow was more than Selene could take. Realizing she didn’t have the emotional stamina required to do the job, she prevailed upon Maggie’s father, a career counselor, to help her find a new profession. The personality assessment he had given her indicated a preference for law enforcement, and it was a perfect fit. As a police officer, she only had to read people’s feelings for a moment, and that worked out much better for her constitution.

People who didn’t work for the police generally didn’t know about Selene, since her job was completely classified. There really were very few people outside the police department who understood her at all. Selene had succumbed long ago to the pressure of her job and let most of her non-professional acquaintances drift away. They were a distraction, and her job was too vital to allow for such things. In fact, she usually let her work absorb all her time and energy. Maggie was the only exception. Selene refused to relinquish that connection. Once a month, the one weekend she was not on call, she spent time with Maggie, catching up and enjoying feeling like an almost normal person.

Maggie had often urged Selene to stop treating calls from work as though the fate of the universe depended on her. After all, it was only a job. Selene tended to agree with the department’s point of view. Without her skill, lives would be lost, lives that could otherwise be saved. Selene basically assumed she had been born solely to serve this purpose. Mostly, it didn’t even bother her anymore.

Selene looked at her friend as Maggie squeezed past her in the hallway, carrying a box of…something with apparent ease. That didn’t mean the box was light. Maggie was a physical trainer, and amazingly strong. It showed in the slim, toned figure, the chiseled arms, and the perfectly flat stomach. Her face, of course, matched her figure. Her excellent conditioning made her exotic cheekbones and strong nose stand out in perfect relief. Her shining black hair, tied up today in a practical ponytail, hung neatly to her shoulders. She was incredibly gorgeous.

She was also terribly disorganized. One day last week, Maggie had decided it was time to move out of her father’s house. This had come as something of a shock to Selene. For years Maggie had argued that living at home made the most sense for her. She saved on the rent and could take care of her father, who had been widowed years before.

Now, suddenly, Maggie wanted her own apartment, and just like that she had rented one, so Selene was helping to move her few belongings into the new place. The truck was almost packed, and Selene supposed her job would also entail helping Maggie remember where she had placed various essential items at the other end of the move.

Selene returned to the bedroom and hefted the second-to-last box. Its weight was staggering and she was momentarily thrown off-balance. So that’s where the Anatomy and Physiology textbooks Maggie kept after college had ended up. Thankful for the hours of training she spent each week in the police department’s gym, she moved the box to the back of Maggie’s rusty old pickup, Maggie trailing behind her with the final carton.

Finally everything was loaded.

“Ladies,” a warm and friendly voice came from behind them, “before you drive away, would either of you like something to drink?”

Selene turned around. Maggie’s father Brandon was standing behind her holding out two glasses of what could only be his homemade lemonade.

“Thanks, Dad,” Maggie said, grabbing one and downing it in three gulps.

“Yes, thank you,” Selene echoed a little shyly. She had always liked Maggie’s dad, perhaps a little too much. But she had never felt entirely comfortable around him. She wasn’t sure whether he knew about her gift, but she hoped he didn’t. Selene wanted at least one person to believe she was normal, and if it could be Brandon Price, well, that would be just perfect.

“I can’t believe you’re done already,” he commented, “I was going to help.”

“I guess you’re slowing down in your old age, Dad. We young chicks are just too fast for you.”

“Sorry, I got tied up.”

“You know, Dad, you could have told Grandma you would call her back.”

“Yeah right, Maggie. If I did that, I would hear about it for a month.”

“You’re right.” Maggie grinned. “But it’s okay, Dad. Selene and I got it taken care of.”

Brandon’s dark eyes met Selene’s briefly. She glanced away, studying the garden beds with great interest.

To cover the nervous movement, she took a sip of the lemonade. She loved the taste of it, tart and refreshing, and as she savored the cool drink, she looked back at Brandon and Maggie, standing together on the driveway. They were both striking and looked so much alike, their Native American heritage obvious. They were both tall with glossy black hair, sculpted cheekbones, and warm dark eyes. Watching them, so happy together, Selene wondered briefly who her own father was.

Well, there was no benefit in feeling sorry for herself. Fate had decreed that she would live without a family, and honestly, they would likely be a distraction from her work. Mentally shaking her head, Selene tossed down the rest of her lemonade and handed the glass back to Brandon with a shy smile. He smiled back, his white teeth flashing against the copper of his skin. Even at thirty-nine, he was still a gorgeous man. Selene felt a rush of heat to her face and hoped she wasn’t blushing.

“Can I offer you ladies some dinner?” he suggested. Selene met his eyes again and he winked at her. This time she knew she was blushing.

“No time, Dad,” Maggie replied. “I still have to unload this stuff at the apartment.”

Selene tried not to be disappointed. She had eaten with them a number of times, and not only was the company excellent, the food was superb.

“Maybe Selene would like to eat with you though,” Maggie told her father, surprising Selene out of her contemplation.

“Don’t you want my help at the other end?” she asked.

“Not really,” Maggie replied with a sassy look, “I’ve already heard enough knowing sighs from you. I know where I want my things, and I don’t want to spend the next six months looking for them because you had a ‘better idea’ about where they should go!” She planted her hands on her hips and smirked.

Selene smiled at the banter. “If you had any logic at all in that little pea brain of yours,” she teased back, “you would realize I’ve put them in the best places and look for them there first.”

Maggie shook her head. “You know, Selene, you would make a lousy roommate.”

“Why do you think I live alone?” Selene replied. The two women laughed.

“So, Selene,” Brandon said, drawing her eyes back to his face. She melted a little as he addressed her directly. “Would you like to stay for dinner? I have a stuffed chicken breast with mushrooms calling your name.”

Selene’s mouth watered at the thought of food that didn’t come frozen and sealed under cellophane. You should really get home. You never know when they’re going to call you in to work. Chief Brady was no great respecter of free time. Still…this was Brandon.

“Sure,” she told him, smiling again.

Maggie waved, hopped into her battered pickup and drove off, leaving Selene and Brandon watching the precariously stacked boxes sway.

“Do you think she’ll arrive with all her stuff intact?” Selene asked, as the truck disappeared around the corner.

“She’ll be lucky if it’s all still in the truck,” Brandon replied. They both laughed, turning toward the house.

Truly, Selene was glad of the invitation. She liked Brandon as much as she liked his daughter.

He escorted her to the door, and ushered her in with a hand on her back. As his pinky finger touched the centimeter of bare skin between Selene’s shirt and jeans, his feelings washed over her. Sadness was the largest part, but there was also some relief, and not over his daughter leaving, either. He was glad she was staying. He wasn’t ready to face dinner alone. She stepped away from him quickly. She didn’t like probing the thoughts of innocent people. Not for the first time she wished she had the ability to block her gift, to use it only at appropriate times. No, she wasn’t so lucky. Any time a person’s hand touched her bare skin, she knew exactly what that person was thinking and feeling.

“I’m hardly fit company,” she told him, looking down at her dirty clothing.

“Don’t worry,” Brandon said reassuringly, “I’m not likely to throw out a guest because of a little dust. Besides, most of it came from this house to begin with. Why don’t you go wash up? I’ll set the table.”

Selene scuttled off to the bathroom. Because of the age of the house, it was the only one, but its large size more than made up for it. Standing in front of a mirrored vanity with two embedded sinks, she brushed as much grime as she could off her oldest jeans and faded tee shirt, hating the way it settled on the black and white tile floor. She washed her hands with a bar of fragrant soap. The aroma of herbs and prairie flowers wafted up from the stream of falling water. It was a friendly, welcoming and homey smell. It was also not available in any of the stores where she had looked for it.

She splashed a little water on her dusty face. No makeup at all, and she looked like a teenager. The faint smattering of freckles she pretended didn’t exist stood out against her skin. She was paler than usual. You know, you look a little sick.

Well, she felt fine, and a little paleness was nothing to be too concerned about. Shrugging at her reflection, Selene left the bathroom. Passing down the narrow hallway to the kitchen, she seat herself at the round wooden table in one corner. She glanced at Brandon, who was standing near the stainless steel six burner stove, surrounded by a staggering number of cherry wood cabinets. He was stirring something in a large pot while enticing scents swelled and billowed through the room with the slow movement of a ceiling fan. Maggie had once told Selene that her parents had argued, shortly before her mother’s diagnosis, about taking out a loan to improve this kitchen. Brandon had hated cooking here before, because it had apparently been very basic, and only half the size, with cheap, builder-grade cupboards and a vile countertop in a nauseating shade of olive.

No longer. Now the cavernous workspace was crowned with shining black granite, shot through with gold and tan. He’d won the argument, but Selene knew he had suffered a great deal of guilt over it, in light of his wife’s subsequent fatal illness.

He approached, carrying two plates and setting one in front of her. He took a seat as she inhaled in appreciation. The chicken breast was stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and was served with a rich mushroom sauce, seasoned rice, and steamed asparagus. She forked up a mouthful of the tender meat, closing her eyes to concentrate on its succulent flavor. Delicious.

“You know,” she told Brandon after several bites, “if you ever decide to give up being a career counselor, you could make a fortune working in a restaurant.”

Brandon smiled, leaning his chin on his fist. “Thank you,” he said. Then, more quietly, “I’m glad you stayed. It’s always nicer to cook for someone else.”

“I’m sure,” Selene replied, “that’s why I never bother. With no one else to feed, why go to all the trouble?”

He looked at her with his heart-melting brown eyes and said nothing, but his expression spoke volumes. She didn’t need to be a powerful touch psychic to read that particular thought.

“It’s hell being alone isn’t it?” she asked softly.

He dipped his chin, acknowledging her comment, looking just a tiny bit vulnerable. Selene put her hand on the sleeve of his shirt, her way of giving a comforting touch while honoring his privacy. He slid his arm out slowly from under her hand, until his palm touched hers. Selene tried to slip away, but he closed his fingers, encasing her in his emotions.

“Please,” she said softly, “you shouldn’t do that.”

“Don’t you want to know?” he asked her.

Selene looked down at her napkin. So he knew she was a freak.

“I’m trying to respect your privacy,” she told him.

“I’m choosing to share. Unless you don’t want me to…”

Not want to share thoughts with Brandon? Thoughts freely offered? “No, I’m glad. It’s nice to feel normal emotions from someone for a change.”

She laced her fingers through his and let his feelings wash over her. Sorrow, grief, loneliness, and a little fear. He really didn’t want to be alone. She closed her eyes, and then opened them to look deeply into his. They had unconsciously leaned closer together, closer than she could remember being to him before.

He was exceptionally attractive. His full lips were so close. She would only have to move a fraction to touch them. She tried to remind herself that he just didn’t want to be alone. That it was the circumstances, not her presence, which made him vulnerable. But then, she didn’t want to be alone either. She moved forward a little, but stopped, too shy to continue. Her attention focused on the sensations moving into her through their joined hands.

Disappointment? Her eyes widened. He moved his chin down again, a slight nod. Subtle. Almost unnoticeable. She noticed. Her cheeks flamed and she looked down briefly. His free hand touched her chin. The double dose of sensation was overwhelming. He lifted her face until her eyes met his again. She could feel the query pulse into her from both sides. He wanted it too.

He couldn’t hear her thoughts. Goodness, how can people who aren’t psychic communicate? Brandon wouldn’t know what she intended unless she said or did something obvious. Imitating his soft nod, she lowered her face into his hand and gently kissed the palm.

Surprise, relief, then a tinge of nervousness. He moved toward her and pressed his lips lightly to hers. It was a soft touch, like the brush of a butterfly’s wings. So gentle. She closed her eyes and turned her face up towards him. It was an invitation as old as time. He responded. Another brush, then another. She released his hand so that both of hers could slide around his neck. His tongue swept her lips. She opened, letting him taste her.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, Selene felt as though the lights had been turned off. Somewhere in the middle of that drugging kiss, he had released her face. The moment his hand left her skin to wrap around her waist and draw her to stand pressed against his body, she had lost her sense of his feelings. Without that intoxicating but false intimacy, reality hit like icy rain. What on earth was she doing kissing her best friend’s father? Dear Lord, she was nearly in his lap. She stepped back, breathing heavily.

“What?” Brandon asked. “What happened?”

“What are we doing?” she asked, scarcely believing she’d been seduced into revealing her secret so blatantly.

He blinked. The transition from passion to nervous questions had been too swift.

“Commiserating,” he finally said.

“That’s all?” Oh God. It didn’t mean anything. She closed her eyes in disappointment and turned away.

His hand on her chin forced her eyes back to his. With the touch came a flash of something intense, which she didn’t have time to interpret. Then his fingers withdrew. “If that’s all you want it to be, but…”

“But?” She sucked in her breath.

He held out his hand. “I don’t know the words.”

She swallowed hard, realizing what she hadn’t seen earlier. He was using her gift on purpose to communicate with her. No one had ever done that before. Not only did Brandon know about her gift, he seemed completely at ease with it.

Nervous, about what, she wasn’t sure, Selene touched his palm with her fingertips. A contact so light made his feelings more like an echo, but an audible one. There had been notice there before, attraction even. He liked her. He hadn’t known where to start, how to begin, but sadness over his daughter moving out had made him vulnerable, and her otherworldly empathy had overcome his restraint. He wanted her comfort, but he also wanted her company, and not because he was lonely and she was convenient. He had intentionally sought her presence because she was herself.

Selene exhaled a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. Brandon was interested in her? It was beyond imagination.

No, I can’t just wallow in his feelings like a freak. We need to do this like normal people. “Can we sit somewhere more comfortable and talk about this? I mean really talk with words.”

“Of course,” he said. He tried to take her hand but she resisted, so he put his on her back. They walked into the living room and sat, side by side, on the western style sofa.

“I think you should back up and tell me what’s going on here,” Selene said, using the carefully neutral tone she often employed when interrogating suspects.

“There isn’t much to tell,” Brandon replied, his voice soft but intense. “Putting it into words would be like trying to explain wind. I don’t have the skill. Besides, you felt everything, right?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point,” she insisted. “This isn’t how these things are supposed to work.”

Brandon shrugged. “Who cares about supposed to? You’re unique. Why shouldn’t we begin in a unique way?”

Unique. Not weird, freakish, or odd. How nice it sounds. “Are we beginning something?” Her heart was hammering as she asked the question.

“We can if you want to,” he said, and, after taking a deep breath, added, “I know I want to.”

He wants to? Oh…how utterly and unexpectedly perfect. Had she ever had something she wanted simply handed to her? Could it really be this easy? No, there was another concern to consider. “What about Maggie?”

A hint of a frown creased the little space between Brandon’s eyebrows. “What about her? She’s been after me for years to start dating again.”

“I don’t think I’m quite the person she had in mind.”

One corner of his mouth turned up, acknowledging the awkwardness with a wry, humorless grin. “She’ll adjust. Maggie is an adult now. She’s moving on with her life. Why shouldn’t I do the same?”


“Listen,” Brandon told her earnestly, “If you aren’t interested, please just say so. I’d rather know than wonder.”

“I didn’t say I wasn’t interested,” Selene assured him, “I just didn’t see this coming.”

“Didn’t you?” He traced a finger over her cheek and sent her a quick flash of amusement. “Did I imagine all those shy smiles, the flirty looks? Was I imagining your interest because it was what I wanted to see? That isn’t what that kiss felt like.”

Selene swallowed hard. “You weren’t imagining it, but I never dreamed my childish crush would amount to anything. You were an attractive fantasy, something to keep me warm…” she choked and turned red, “when I’m lonely.”

A look of masculine pride spread over Brandon’s handsome face. “And why shouldn’t your feelings amount to anything?” he asked, still trailing his fingers over her cheek. She closed her eyes at the soothing touch.

“They never have before,” she said without emotion, not wanting to whine. She was merely stating a fact, albeit one of the most discouraging facts of her life.

As though unable to restrain himself another moment, Brandon wrapped warm arms around Selene’s slender frame. “The entire world must be populated with idiots. Will you take a chance on me, Selene? We’ll go as slow as you want until you can get comfortable with the idea. Will you give it a try?”

Selene thought for a moment. While every instinct she possessed, not to mention every nerve in her body, was screaming to say yes, the analytical part of her mind which never really shut off reminded her of how much pressure her job placed on her, and how it devoured all her time.

“I work a lot,” she told him letting her regret show on her face. “Long hours, tons of overtime, and I’m on call nearly every evening and weekend. Being with me would still mean you’d be spending a lot of time alone.”

He slowly shook his head, not accepting her words as the end of the conversation. “I’ve been alone for years. At least I could be with you sometimes.”

He would accept even that? “I have very little to offer.”

Incredulity and heat flared into her from his fingertips. “Let me be the judge of that,” he said, his eyes boring into hers with passionate intensity.

She looked away. “Don’t forget, Brandon, I’m a freak. I can read your mind. You’ll never be able to keep a secret from me.”

Can’t have that. His words flared in her mind as he turned her back to face him. “You’re not a freak. You have a gift. If it can sometimes be uncomfortable, well it has its uses too. It doesn’t bother me. Say yes.”

The heat in those eyes. The desire. No one has ever looked at me like this before. She could think of no other excuses, and really, she didn’t want to try. The temptation was too great. She couldn’t withstand it. “All right then, Brandon Price. We’ll try this and see where it leads.” She hoped she sounded as nonchalant as she intended.

He dazzled her with a white-toothed smile.

Selene badly wanted to pinch herself and see if she were dreaming. If this is only a dream, I don’t want to wake up yet. Kissing Brandon…she would never have imagined it outside of her wildest fantasies. Even then, she rarely let herself indulge; it was so far beyond what was likely. Oh, don’t lie to yourself Alone, unable to sleep, she had sometimes succumbed to the temptation and imagined his arms around her, his firm full lips pressed to hers. The longing released by those fantasies had been excruciating. And now you know your imagination fell utterly short of reality.

Wishing she could communicate her own feelings without words, she gave Brandon a pleading look. He chuckled softly and pulled her against him in a tight hug. His mouth came down on hers. Instead of feather light persuasions, this kiss had the impact of a train. His hands were not on her skin anywhere. The only thoughts she heard were her own. Her arms went around his neck and she kissed him back with reckless abandon.

Time ceased to have any meaning as they explored each other’s lips and mouths, and it could have been an hour later when they finally parted, panting.

Selene blinked a few times, startled by the intensity of desire and passion flooding through her.

“Wow,” she said softly. “That was…I don’t even know how to describe it.”

“Don’t try,” he urged. “The words don’t exist.”

“I should go home,” she told him, a hint of regret in her voice. “I don’t want to ruin this by rushing it.”

“One more, and then I’ll take you home,” he offered, his devilish grin flashing, making her already pounding heart increase its tempo yet again. Her belly fluttered with excitement.

She smiled, her cheeks burning. She waited for him to reach for her, but he stayed where he was. He wanted her to initiate this kiss. Did she dare? She licked her lips nervously and ran her fingers up his arm to his shoulder, around his neck, and finally pulled him towards her. She raised her face and touched her lips softly to his. His fingers laced into her hair, stroking her sensitive scalp as she kissed him. Softly, shyly, she told him without words that his interest was enthusiastically reciprocated.

Several minutes passed while their mouths played and mated, arousing untapped desires, desires too long left dormant, too long denied. Finally, Selene ended the embrace.

“Brandon,” she said in a serious voice, “it would be far too easy to rush this, to move too fast, and later have regrets. We could easily carry on all night, and then where would we be?”

Brandon gave her a wicked look. “Guess.”

She blushed again, looking away.

“I’m kidding,” he said, taking her hand so she could feel his sincerity. “It really is too soon for that, and the last thing I want to do is scare you off. I’ll take you home now.” He squeezed once and stood, still holding her hand to help her to her feet. She could feel his intense satisfaction washing over her in waves of soul-soothing joy.


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