An almost frenzied need to bring her back to the present washed over him. His instincts were telling him the best way to accomplish that, but his brain insisted it was a bad, bad idea.
Fighting the urge to act on his instincts, Tack cleaned up the detritus of lunch. It only took a couple of minutes to put everything back in his pack. But in that short time, Kitty didn’t just maintain her distant silence, but she drew further away from him.
And she couldn’t afford to do that.
He couldn’t say how he knew that, he just did.
Tack’s certainty growing that she’d checked out mentally in a way that was dangerous for her emotions, he put his pack aside and scooted closer to Kitty. She didn’t seem to notice.
“Wildcat?” he prompted, his voice as gentle as he could make it. “You okay in there?”
“Of course.” The words were right, but the vacant tone was anything but.
He slid his hand under her hair, cupping her neck, giving physical contact to draw her back to him and now. She didn’t react to the touch at all and that scared him.
“Damn it, Caitlin Elizabeth Grant, look at me.”
Her brows furrowed. “Don’t.”
“What?” he asked in a tone as gentle as he’d spoken sternly before. Come on, wildcat, tell me not to yell at you.
Her silence changed, as if she was searching for words. “Call me Caitlin.” She frowned. “I don’t like it.”
“I thought you wanted me to.” She’d said so, hadn’t she?
“Why not? Why don’t you like it?”
And that was it. He was done playing nice, his own misgivings not nearly as powerful as his need to stop whatever was going on inside Kitty’s mind.
With careful, but inexorable pressure, he turned her head so she faced him. Her pupils were dilated like they’d been yesterday, her complexion waxy, but her lips were pink and parted invitingly.
Her breathing changed just a little bit and he took that as a victory.
“I’m going to kiss you, wildcat. Are you up for it?”
Tack’s gut was telling him this is what he needed to do, but damned if he would kiss her without her permission.
She’d had enough choices taken away, that was becoming clearer the more he found out about her life before returning to Cailkirn.
“What?” Suddenly she was looking at him and seeing him. “You’re going to kiss me? Why would you do that?”
He almost laughed. He did groan. His body was burning for her. “Because I want to.”
“You really need to ask?”
“You don’t sound real sure there, sweetheart.”
She bit her bottom lip and then released it. “I don’t think I’m very good at it.”
“Good thing I am then, huh?”
“I tell you what, let’s give it a try and you can let me know if you agree, okay?”
More relieved at her acquiescence than he should be, he tipped his head forward and slid his lips across hers in the simplest and most chaste of touches.
A small sigh shuddered out of her, the breath washing over his lips.
He kissed her again, this time molding their mouths and moving his lips against hers for long delicious moments. Her small hands came up to clutch the front of his long sleeved t-shirt, her fingers twisting in the fabric as she tried to pull him closer.
He went willingly, allowing their upper bodies to touch.
It wasn’t skin on skin contact, but that didn’t seem to matter to the electric shocks short-circuiting his nerve endings.
He flicked his tongue out to taste her. The flavor of grapes and ripe strawberries exploded on his tongue along with a sweetness that was all Kitty Grant.
Certain it would become an addiction way too easily, he still wanted more of that taste. He delved into her mouth and she welcomed him, sliding her tongue along his, and pressing their lips closer together.
His reasons for initiating the kiss melted, along with everything else around them and he reveled in the touch and feel of this woman he’d craved for too many years of his life.
He maneuvered them so she was lying on her back on the tarp and he was partially over her without once breaking his lips from hers. To do so would have been a travesty of epic proportions.
Her fingers kneaded him through his shirt like a cat. Such an innocent touch, but it felt good. So good, that between that and the kiss, his erection was pressing hard enough against his fly he’d be surprised if it didn’t leave an imprint in his flesh.
He wanted skin though. Craved her skin under his fingertips and damned if common sense was going to stop him from getting exactly that.