“Thank you for—” Arawn Tiamat paused, glancing at the silver and crystal chandelier suspended from the ceiling. “—if not for forgiving me, at least allowing me to try to make this up to you, somewhat. I appreciate the opportunity to spend time with you. I don’t deserve it.”
Willow shrugged. “It’s not your fault, you said.”
He bobbed his head from side to side. “Right. And not. But okay. Anyway, thank you.”
This was a lot better conversation than what Willow had been expecting, even if it was so awkward that she wanted to run and break through that plate-glass window and plummet fifty stories to the ground rather than have him apologize one more time. “Aw, that’s okay. I know it’s not your fault. And you meant something to me.” The truth came at her hard. “A lot. You meant a lot to me. I’m glad we can at least make it better, this way. I’m glad we’ll have a chance to be friends, so I can remember you as a friend.”
His smile was so sad. “Yes. That’s true.”
“I think it’s good that we could be friends. Don’t you?”
He nodded, still with the same, sad smile. He probably thought he was hiding it.
She spread her arms. “Come on. Let’s hug it out. We’re going to be friends!”
Arawn hesitated. His eyes widened just the slightest bit.
While she was standing there with her arms spread out to the sides like a giant idiot.
A giant dragon-sized idiot.
With her arms out.
And a stupid grin on her face that was getting more rigid and like her lips were peeling back from her teeth by the second.
She should put her arms down. She should say she was just kidding. Oh my Ladies of Magic what was wrong with her mouth?
Arawn closed the gap between them with one stride of his long legs and enfolded her in his arms, turning what she had meant to be a quick, A-frame, fluttery back-pat-fest into him holding her, cradling her, with his arms wrapped tightly around her waist and shoulders.
Her hands floated gently down to his back.
She pressed her cheek against his shoulder.
He drew her closer, and it felt like he was barely breathing.
She couldn’t stop her arms from tightening around his neck and back.
The faint scent of his cologne, something warm and sweet like bubbling sugar and fresh like the sky, emanated from the soft skin on his neck.
She turned her face toward him, breathing in his familiar scent. She’d missed that about him, too, whether it was the sweetness that puffed from their sheets at night when he rolled over, or this, with the tip of her nose touching his neck, rubbing her cheek on the rough cloth of the shirt she’d poofed up for him.
The black business suit of her jacket tightened around her shoulders because he’d grabbed handfuls of the fabric, but he didn’t kiss her. He didn’t grope her. He just pressed his cheek to her forehead and bent his body as far as he could, curling himself around her because he was so tall. Willow wasn’t a shrimp, but she stood on her toes so he wouldn’t tie himself in a knot.
She breathed in his sugar and sky scent as the warmth from his body seeped through her clothes.
His lips touched her temple.
The soft brush near her hairline was so light that she didn’t have to say anything about it. It could be part of a hug between ex-lovers without anybody making a comment or reading anything into it.
His kiss straddled that very faint line between innocent and asking for more.
It could have been nostalgia. It could have been an accident.
It didn’t have to lead to anything.
Willow pressed up farther on her toes, and her lips sought the soft skin under Arawn’s jaw, where she knew he liked to be touched.
When her mouth pressed against his soft, vulnerable skin and she felt his strong pulse against her lips, Arawn’s body stilled. He almost stopped breathing.
Willow opened her lips and sucked gently, kissing his neck. She reached up the side of his face, bending his head toward her.
His arms firmed, pressing her harder against his strong body.
Willow let her teeth rake over his skin.
He drove her back against the wall, slamming her against the plaster but his hand was behind her neck to protect her skull, and then he grabbed both her hands and pinned them above her head.
His face was right in front of hers, almost nose-to-nose. His voice cracked as he whispered, “Tell me you want this.”
“Yes,” she said, a whimper and nearly a sob in her voice. “I missed you so much.”
“Oh, Willow. Me, too. Me, too.”