Darkness. He opened his eyes and sat up, the knock on the door echoing through the small, nondescript room. Walking swiftly, pale, softly muscular chest shining in the moonlight streaming from the huge windows, he crossed the room and opened the door.

A remarkable strength emanated from her as she stood before him, her face pale but determined, her small hands fisted tightly on her curved hips. It was a strength that completely bewildered him. She was staring at him with a grim defiance, awaiting his response to her arrival. Her ebony hair fell in loose waves across her shoulders, the tight black dress on her frame hiding nothing from his view.

Desire shot through him at the memory of her soft skin, harsh nails raking his flesh, and the cruel smile on her face as she had tortured him. Appalled, he struggled to suppress it. There were more important things to going on at the moment than his personal fantasy come to life.

"Wesley?" Huge brown eyes implored him, red lips trembling as he stared hungrily at her.

"Faith?" Was all he could say, words lost as questions threatened to tumble from his throat. A shadow moved across his face and Faith almost ran, afraid of what he would say or do. There was nothing he could do to her that was any worse than she deserved, she decided as he grabbed her shoulders with bruising force.

Wesley expected her to lash out at him as he moved to touch her. Nothing. She regarded him with masterful calm, determined to show him that she would not harm him. Wesley stared at her a long, frozen moment, his hands clenched so hard on her thin shoulders he thought the bones might shatter beneath the force of his grip; but he knew he wasn't strong enough to harm the Slayer. He still wanted to shake her, to alarm her so that when he looked down into those warm brown eyes he would see dread and guilt instead of that icy, mocking stare he remembered so well. The fury pounding through him was alarming, because rage was the last thing he wanted to confront her with.

"I'm sorry." She whispered in a voice filled with anguish.

He looked down into her face, innocent now and not harsh and cruel. She was everything she had never been. Once more rage overwhelmed his senses and stripped him of his ability to think, reducing him to a vortex of agony for what she had done to him and of how he had failed her. He wanted to lash out at the woman before him, to destroy everything she had become so that she was that insane torturer he had dreamed about for so long. But no. She was changed and he could see it in the way she stared up at him, open like she had never been before.

As he studied her face, Faith wanted to weep and collapse in his arms and yet that part of her, that scarred half of her soul, wanted to run from his touch. She did neither as he just stood there clutching her, feeling angry at her and angry at himself.

Suddenly he lowered his head and crushed his mouth savagely against hers.

Faith gasped and tried to pull away, but Wesley wrapped his arms tightly around her, imprisoning her. Surprise made her shove his chest as hard as she could, toppling him backward into a stray chair near the door. He stood immediately, dark eyes burning as he reached for her again. His mouth met hers once more, rough velvet tongue darting into her mouth before she roughly pushed him from her again.

Once more he charged her and the next thing she knew, her feet were sailing in the air as Wesley scooped her up into his arms as easily as he might lift a child.

Faith struggled, tried to protest, but the sound was stifled by the unrelenting seal of his lips. Wes held her hard against him as he carried her across the room, all the while plundering her mouth with his tongue. She wanted him to stop, and she was sure she could make him if she used even an ounce of her Slayer strength against him, but as she sank into the soft depths of his couch, all thought of stopping him flew from her head. Belatedly, she wondered when he had gotten so...hard in all the places he had been soft; his bare chest and his arms and even the light in his eyes were much stronger than she remembered.

She felt Wesley stretch over her, bracing his weight on his newly muscled arms as he held her captive beneath him, a hazy resignation seeping over her. It was as if some part of her had always known this moment between them would come, and she could not, would not fight it. Wesley wrenched his mouth from hers to kiss her cheek, the contour of her jaw, the silky column of her neck, his lips grazing hungrily over her. His tongue tasted her in hot, languid swirls, growing more ravenous as his head lowered and his hands began to roam the rumpled fabric of her gown. She was ware of cool air drifting across her skin, and then he was closing his mouth hungrily over the peak of her breast.

Pleasure washed through her, stirring her blood and sapping her limbs of strength. She threaded her hands into the tousled spikes of his hair and held him to her, watching with dark, forbidden excitement as he caressed the rosy bud with his lips, feeling herself tighten against the hot slickness of his tongue. Somewhere in the dark cavern of her mind she wondered how wonderfully wrong everything had gone. She had come here, intent on apologizing to the one person forgiveness mattered to her most, but her Watcher had been different, hungry and filled with rage and passion. And usually, it was her decision to initiate...whatever they were doing to each other. Now she let him go where he wanted, hanging on for dear life as all the things she wanted to say to him was lost in a moan.

Wesley brushed his rough, unshaven cheek over the mound of her breast, into the small valley between, and then he was devouring her other breast, kissing and tasting and suckling until it was taut with desire. A familiar ache bloomed deep inside her, strange and hollow and urgent and she was aware of a honeyed heat between her legs. Wesley's hand trailed up her calf, beneath the short hem of her dress, and then he was caressing the velvety skin of her inner thigh. Before she could protest, his fingers slipped inside her hot, sweet wetness. A throaty moan escaped her lips, and then his mouth was covering hers again, tasting her deeply as his finger flicked lightly across the satiny slick folds.

Faith wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him fiercely, wanting him to touch her more, kiss her more, wanting to feel the powerful wall of his muscular chest and arms and legs pressing against her as his fingers circled in and out, slowly, then faster, lightly, then harder, binding her to him with every aching caress until finally she was lost in a mindless swirl of ecstasy. She began to pulse against him, rising and falling to the exquisite rhythm of his hand, kissing him urgently as she opened herself wider to him. Her pleasure began to swell, deeper and faster and harder, until there was nothing except Wesley and his caresses and kisses, and the granite, protective heat of his body as she clung desperately to him.

Suddenly, she froze, every limb and sleek muscle and tendon straining for more of this incredible, glorious torture. Higher, faster, deeper, more, until she couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything but ravage Wesley's mouth as her fingers dug deep into his shoulders. And then she began to shatter, like a summer star exploding against the velvet curtain of night, and she cried out in wonder and joy as she felt him tighten his hold on her, keeping her safe like no one had ever done before.

Wesley kissed Faith deeply as he pressed against her exquisite wetness, fighting for control. This was not what he had wanted to do to her, no, he had always dreamed about confronting his Slayer and screaming his frustration out on her. Instead, he sought a deeper joining with her, knowing it had been as long for her as it had been for him. He didn't even entertain thoughts of stopping his primal quest. He wanted her and he would have her, knowing from the fire in her eyes she didn't want him to stop either.

So he entered her slowly giving her time to adjust to him, even though he knew she was more than capable of enduring the miniscule pain he was causing her. Her lids flickered open and she regarded him intently, her brown eyes liquid and dark with desire. He searched for some trace of reluctance, vowing he would stop if he saw any. He withdrew slowly and then entered her again, a little more this time, then summoned vestiges of his crumbling control and retreated once more, feeling as if he might die from the magnificent, unbearable agony of her.

And then Faith wrapped her arms around him and pulled him down into her, sheathing him tightly in her silky wet heat. "Don't be such a wimp, Wes." She whispered through gritted teeth, tongue flicking across the lobe of his ear as their bellies slid together.

Wes groaned. He had wanted to go slowly, to make this sublime moment last forever. But it had been so long since he had lain with a woman, and he could not control the fire raging through him. And so he surrendered to his passion and began to flex within her, filling her, stretching her, melding their flesh as he kissed the dark recesses of her hair. Over and over he drove himself into her, lost to her heat and beauty, the impossibly slender delicacy of her, and the staggering passion she laid bare as she eagerly rose to meet his every thrust. Her nails bit into his back as she tasted him, deeply, fervently, the caress of her tongue broken by the rapid little pants escaping in tiny puffs from her throat.

Pain laced through his back as she raked her nails down his skin. "'re hurting me." He moaned, head buried in her hair.

"Sorry." Was all she could choke out as the pressure decreased.

"No. I like it..." He whispered, shoving into her hard. A smile touched her features as she looked into his face, noting the hard shadows beneath the dark eyes. How could he have changed so much?

Once more thought was driven from her head as he penetrated her, harder and faster, holding her tight to him, aware of her every breath and touch, wanting her to the point of madness, until finally he thought his mind would splinter beneath the awesome force of his desire. It had never been like this, never in his whole life had he wanted someone so badly. The realization both shocked and terrified him as he shoved himself into her as far as he could, feeling lost and afraid. Then he was hurtling over the precipice of ecstasy, and he cried out, burying his face against her throat. Her arms wrapped protectively around him as she clasped him tightly inside her.

In that instant he wanted to stay like that forever, joined to Faith, inhaling her fragrance of vanilla and cinnamon, instead of loneliness and hate.

Faith lay very still, feeling the steady pounding of Wesley's heart as it beat against her chest. Nothing had prepared her for this. She had thought he would have slammed the door in her face or worse, said a million horrible things that, while painful, were true. Instead he had roused a tempest within her that she had not known existed. She bit down hard on her lower lip, wiling herself not to cry. It was as if Wesley had trapped her, binding her to him with bond far stronger than the rope she had once used to strap him down. She couldn't be feeling the things she was feeling, she told herself desperately. She couldn't care for anyone; she'd only hurt them just as she had done to Wesley once before. No! She couldn't let him!

With a start, Faith woke up, chest heaving, sweat running down her sides. Her thin, state issued blanket was twisted around her legs and she kicked them off with a grunt.

For a moment, she sat there, darkness clouding her mind as she stared at the blank wall just ahead of her, the shadows of the bars slicing through the stonework. And realization hit her like a punch in the gut.

It was all a dream.

Another night and she had dreamed about him again. Him, with his newly hardened eyes and a passionate and free, balls to the wall way about him that she didn't remember him ever possessing. Yet she knew her dream was of the real thing. And she knew, without a doubt, that he was laying somewhere in the City of Angels, alone and running his fingers over the scars she had left on his body, over the rope-burned flesh at his wrists.

Faith lay back down and stared at the calendar on the wall. Three more months and she'd be free of this place. Then she would go to him and the dream would be real; she knew it like she knew she wanted his forgiveness. And she wanted her Watcher again. She wanted Wesley.

With a sigh, she curled up under the blanket and let the dream replay in her mind, her fingers following the paths his had walked, doing the things he had done to her. With a moan, she whispered his name.

Across the city, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce woke, sweat-drenched and hard. He closed his eyes as the dream took him, imagining she was there with him, always there. Moonlight streamed into his bedroom and pale, barely noticeable scars shined on his lightly toned arms. He ignored them and moaned her name.


Read the sequel: Running For Our Lives