She craved the feeling of security Rick provided her. Nothing in her past could hurt her, as long as he was there. She didn't even question why she believed that so strongly. She just knew it was true.

 

Heart pounding, she came to a stop outside the door to Rick's quarters. Slowly, almost timidly, Tamia touched the door pad, expecting to hear the signal. To her surprise, the door slid open with barely a sound.

 

She frowned.

 

His quarters were dark, and the door wasn't locked. Where was Rick?

 

Making her way carefully, on still-unsteady legs, she passed through the small living room to his bedroom. At the doorway, Tamia stopped, listening. She heard the murmur of his breathing, even before she saw the dark silhouette of him against the dim light of the floor strips. A trembling smile touched her lips.

 

He sleeps.

 

She moved to the bed, slipped out of her robe and under the covers, and curled against Rick. She relaxed at the feel of his breathing warmth against her. She needed this contact to chase away her demons. She needed to know she wasn't alone.

 

She felt him startle awake, and then heard him mutter, "Wha' th'... Tamia?"

 

She nodded against him and snuggled closer. The warmth of his arms settled around her, and she lifted her head to find his sleepy blue eyes fixed on her.

 

"What are you doing here, babe?"

 

She kissed his skin lightly. "Couldn't sleep."

 

"You're trembling!"

 

"Bad dream," she mumbled as she looked away. Suddenly, she didn't want to show him her weakness. She didn't want his pity. "That's all."

 

He tilted her face toward his with a gentle hand. She saw his concerned expression, shadowed by the dim light of the floor strips. "What can I do?"

 

"Just hold me." Even as the whispered request spilled out, Tamia tensed against the words. Needy was weak, and she despised weakness. Tamia Kuan didn't need anyone. Yet the clench of fear in her chest at the mere thought of not having Rick in her life made her tremble.

 

Her eyes stung, and she blinked angrily to clear the moisture filming them as she turned her face away and burrowed into his warmth. She wasn't going to think about being alone, again.

 

She knew only one way to keep the dangerous thoughts, and even more devastating feelings, at bay. As Rick's lips brushed her forehead, she turned her face up to him in silent demand. He dropped his mouth to hers, one hand cupped against the side of her neck, his thumb brushing the underside of her chin. Electricity buzzed through Tamia at the contact of his lips, and hunger pulsed through her. She shifted closer as her body went up in flames from the inside. Still, there was something soothing about his touch. As restless as her body was for more, her mind and emotions calmed.

 

With Rick touching her, she was no longer afraid.

Contact Esther Mitchell at:

esthermitchell@esthermitchell.com

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