The sound of the door slamming shut jolted Lili from her sleep.
Groggily, she closed the book she'd been reading in her lap and lifted her eyes. The figure that stormed across the room was wet from head to toe, likely a result of the rain she could hear pattering on the other side of the window.
“Yang,” she said. “Welcome ba—”
She didn't get to finish her greeting, as the man crawled onto the bed, grabbed her by the chin and pressed her mouth to his. The move was so sudden, so rough, that for a moment, she could do nothing but accept his lips. A low groan rose up in his chest.
“Wait,” she mumbled as she pulled her face away. Yang's hands were already caressing her thighs, pushing up her negligee to expose the skin around her hips. She was used to him acting like this more or less the moment he arrived back in their room, but he'd always said a few words to her first, or at least taken off his changshan. Today, he seemed desperate to take her as quickly as possible.
“Yang, I said wait.” Lili placed both hands on his chest and pushed him as hard as she could. She must have taken him by surprise, as he almost fell back off the bed. She drew her legs up into her stomach and pushed the material back down her legs.
The anger that flashed through Yang's amber eyes was enough to make Lili's stomach drop. Then he smiled.
“Suit yourself,” he mumbled.
The bed creaked as he lay down against the pillows. The rain clinging to his clothes had already begun to soak into the sheets.
Lili frowned. Yang had such a low sense of self-preservation when it came to even the simplest of tasks. She didn't like to scold him, especially as he rarely listened, but dirtying the bed where the two of them were to spend the night was where she drew the line.
“Yang, you're soaked. Here.” Leaning over him, she began to unbutton the knots at the top of his changsam. He watched her playfully as she did so.
“There's something extremely arousing about watching you take off my clothes,” he said. “Not long ago, you would have balked at the mere idea.”
Even though Lili knew he was trying to provoke her, a warm flush rose to her cheeks. “I'm just making sure you don't catch a cold.”
“I don't get ill,” he mumbled.
“Regardless...” Once she'd finished with the last button, she pulled at the sash at his waist, removing it easily. Then she tapped him on the upper arm, prompting him to sit up. He obeyed hesitantly.
She slipped the indigo magua off his shoulders first and dropped it to the ground. Only as she was about to reach for his changshan did she see the reason for his hesitance. A red spot, about the size of a soup bowl, stained the turquoise material just under his right shoulder blade.
“Yang,” she gasped. “Did you... get shot?”
The man pursed his lips, as if it were only a minor detail. “The bullet grazed me. I barely felt it.”
Lili had no reason to doubt his words. She'd known Yang to emerge from a fight before with wounds all over and claim to hardly feel a thing. But even the lightest of injuries, she knew, could turn ugly if left untreated.
She gripped the garment and slid it up and over his head, revealing a lean torso criss-crossed with faint scars. His eagle tattoo curled up one side of his body and down both of his arms, the black ink snaking across his skin like wispy tendrils. No matter how many times Lili saw them, she always felt her heart clench with renewed admiration. He was just so different to any other man she'd seen, so unique in his appearance. Once, she'd been intimidated by his looks, and while she still occasionally felt that way, she also understood why women fell for him so easily. He was utterly beautiful and, most importantly, he was hers.
It had been three weeks since the day the Falzones had been defeated, three weeks since Yang had told Lili his true name. She hadn't expected to last this long. She knew all too well that Yang had a habit of throwing away partners once he'd become bored of them, but so far, she'd managed to keep his interest, and she had an idea why. Despite his temper, she never allowed herself to submit to him completely. From the looks of it, she was one of the only women who'd ever stood up to him, and while it sometimes it felt like walking on a knife edge, Yang seemed to relish the challenge. After all, he hadn't done away with her yet.
The wound on his back wasn't as deep as she'd feared. Just as he'd said, the bullet had clipped his ribs, leaving a ripe red split along the skin about an inch long.
“You're lucky this didn't go deeper,” she said. “What happened?”
“The usual. Leftover Falzone trash wanted revenge for their boss's death and tried to ambush me.” Yang shrugged as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
Attacks like this were an almost daily occurrence on the men of the Lao-Shu nowadays, though they rarely involved Yang himself, who was an expert of keeping to the shadows when he wanted to. Lili didn't have to ask to know that the attackers were most likely lying dead in a gutter right now.
Stepping off the bed, she walked to the bathroom and returned with a towel, a roll of bandages and a flannel that she'd wet under the tap. She placed the pile beside Yang, who gestured downwards. “There's some disinfectant beneath me.”
Lili frowned and reached under the bed. Her fingers closed around a bottle of clear liquid. Although she couldn't read the Chinese label, she knew at once that it was some kind of spirit.
Yang took it from her hands and popped the lid. He took a long swig before pouring some over the flannel.
“Here,” he muttered, handing it to her.
Lili bit her tongue as she took the flannel. The smell of the alcohol stung her eyes. A part of her knew that Yang was only complying to shut her up, but she was touched by the gesture, nonetheless.
His shoulders tensed as the flannel touched the wound. Lili moved slowly, dabbing at the open flesh while wiping away the blood that had dripped down. For all his boasting about not being able to feel pain, there was no mistaking the hiss that escaped his lips. Lili smiled. She was probably one of the only people in the world who'd ever seen him like this. With Yang, a man who guarded himself fiercely from everyone around him, even the simple task of cleaning his wounds felt like an intimate act.
“All done,” she said once she'd finishing applying the bandages. The white strips passed around his slender chest and over his shoulder.
“You always fuss too much,” Yang muttered.
As usual, Lili couldn't tell if the annoyance in his voice was genuine, or if he was just playing with her. Probably a mixture of both.
With a sigh, he lay back on the bed, took Lili by the waist and pulled her on top of him. She barely had time to protest before his lips were on hers again. This time, his kiss was softer, though she could still feel the hunger beneath it, like a riptide underneath a calm ocean surface. The taste of alcohol lingered on his breath. His hands left her waist, slid her over hips and pushed up the hem of her negligee, revealing the pale skin of her thighs, which he squeezed between long fingers. A moan escaped her at his touch.
She broke the kiss quickly, cheeks flushing scarlet as she realised she'd just made a noise. Yang laughed softly. “You always get so embarrassed when it comes to expressing your own pleasure. Why not just enjoy what feels good to your body?”
He'd told her as much several times before. But Lili knew she wasn't like him in that respect, a man who shamelessly took and took from every aspect of life. Right now, though, it seemed like he wanted to give something back to her, even if it was in the form of pleasing her in bed. It seemed almost too good to be true coming from a man who'd tried to force himself on her the moment he'd entered the room ten minutes ago.
The next words he whispered to her confirmed it: “After all, I've already taught you how best to please me. Tell me how to do the same for you.” His purring voice wrapped around her like a caress and sent shivers down her spine.
Slowly, Lili moved her hips further down his body until she was resting at the top of his legs. She could feel his erection through his trousers. Just the feeling of it pushing against her was enough to tickle the ache at the base of her stomach.
Yang's lips curved upwards. He moved his hips slightly, grinding himself against her, and Lili moved with him. A tattooed hand slid up the inside of her thigh and brushed against her underwear. She stopped him before he could slip his fingers underneath.
It was just too embarrassing. She didn't mind so much when Yang was on top, but resting on him like this always made her feel so exposed.
“No?” he teased.
Lili didn't think it was possible for her cheeks to grow any redder. She tried to relax as Yang slid his middle finger beneath her underwear and slowly traced the outline of her opening.
A sigh fell from his lips. Clearly, he was enjoying the heat coming off her, the wetness that coated his fingertip. “Well, Lili. What should I do now?”
He wanted her to guide him, but the idea of voicing any of her desires out loud sent Lili's mind into a frenzy. She looked down at him, red hair fanning out against the pillows, golden eyes narrowed slightly as he stared back at her. He withdrew his finger slightly, and she almost whined at the loss of his touch.
“Please, Yang... I want you to keep t-touching...” Her voice faded before she could finish the sentence.
Yang grinned in satisfaction. “I've told you already what to call me in private.”
“Mao.” The name still sounded strange on Lili's lips. To her, he always had been and would be Yang. “Please touch me.”
He let her words hang for a few seconds before propping himself up on one elbow and lifting his head. Lili met him in the middle. The moment their lips touched, he pushed his finger forward again, this time slipping it deep inside her. Lili's breath hitched in her throat. She rolled her hips slowly in time with his thrusts. While his finger wasn't particularly thick for a man's, the intrusion left her quivering and aching for more.
As if he could read her mind, Yang added a second finger to her heat. Lili couldn't hold back the moan that spilt from her mouth into Yang's. The feeling of being stretched around him, the tips of his fingers curling against her walls, was overwhelming. His thumb lightly traced her clit, adding just enough pressure to tease her without satisfying the growing need that pooled inside her.
“Look at you,” Yang whispered, breaking the kiss. “I'm barely moving, and already you're going wild.” Unlike Lili, he seemed to be keeping his composure well, though there was no missing the slight quickening of his breaths, the tenseness that gripped his every muscle. Usually by this point, he would have taken her, but he was holding back tonight. His eyes travelled over her smooth neck, the curve of her breasts beneath the white negligee, the hair that tumbled down her back in blonde waves, slightly tangled from where she'd been laying on it.
Suddenly, he shoved his fingers in up to the knuckle. Lili cried out and arched her back. Stars flashed across the inside of her eyelids.
Apparently at his limit, Yang pulled back his hand and sat up. Lili didn't protest as he slipped his hands beneath her negligee and forced it up and over her head, exposing her bare chest. Then he flipped her onto her back and mounted her.
Lili was still quivering as she felt Yang's weight on top of her, pushing her into the mattress. Despite the smile on his face, she could sense the desire stirring in him, the need to make her his at once. He dropped his hands and pushed her underwear down her thighs, then unbuttoned his own trousers.
Lili had barely managed to slide the garment off her ankles before she felt Yang's cock pushing against her inner thigh.
She was cut off as Yang's fingers slid between her lips. The taste of her own arousal filled her mouth. She tried to pull her head back, but that only made him push them in deeper.
The tone of his voice was so deadly that Lili had no choice but to obey. She swirled her tongue around his fingers, licking up every last drop of her own fluids while Yang watched her intently. It felt wrong. Filthy. But a part of her was beyond caring. She only wanted to please him now.
When she was finished, Yang withdrew his fingers and moved his hand to her calf, which he hitched up and over his waist. Then, slowly, he pushed into her.
Lili held her breath. Despite the preparation he'd given her, she still felt a stab of discomfort as he forced his way inside. Her fingers curled in his hair, eyes squeezed closed, body tensing around him.
“Open your eyes, Lili.”
Yang's voice was no more than a breath in her ear. She did as he instructed. His face hovered above hers, and once more, she found herself staring into golden eyes. This, she knew, was all part of his game. His eyes rarely left her face when he took her like this. He liked to watch her expressions, hear her call out his name as she fell apart beneath him.
He began to move with long, slow strokes, pulling out almost completely before burying himself in her up to the hilt. Lili let out a short moan. She never could have imagined that first night they'd slept together that this was something she'd get addicted to: the feeling of his weight on top of her, the fullness combined with the hint of pain as he thrust into her. Yang was the worst man she'd ever met, and yet in that moment, he was the only one she wanted.
He kissed her again, his tongue sliding over and around hers with feverish enthusiasm. Lili wondered if he could taste her arousal her on her lips. She imagined the tattoos that snaked down his chest dancing as he he moved, and it made her wild with desire. Her hands left his hair to travel across his back, pausing as she brushed up against the bandages. A thought passed through her head. What would he do, she wondered, if she slipped her hand underneath and dug her fingernails into his bullet wound? Gave him a taste of the pain he revelled in giving her? Yang may have an almost inhuman tolerance, but she suddenly felt the urge to try it, just to see his reaction.
Her fingers brushed the wound through the bandages, gently at first, then more forcefully. A groan, low and animalistic, tore its way from Yang's chest.
“Do it,” he growled at her.
“I told you to do what felt good, didn't I? Do it.”
Once again, the tone of his voice turned his words into a command. Lili slipped her hand underneath the bandage and slid two fingertips into the wound. This wasn't like her. For as long as she'd been alive, she'd never had the desire to hurt someone like this. And yet there was something alluringly intimate about the sticky wetness that rose around her nails, the way Yang hissed and bucked against her.
When she couldn't take it anymore, she withdrew her hand and held it in front of her face. Her fingertips shone a glossy pink. She pushed them into Yang's mouth, and he licked them, the same way she'd done to his earlier. His silken moans combined with the warmth of his mouth only made the whole exchange more obscene.
He grabbed her by the throat suddenly and lifted his shoulders off the bed. The look that narrowed his eyes was either anger or arousal – Lili couldn't work out which. His grip tightened to the point where she felt like she was breathing through a needle's eye.
“Enough,” he snarled.
Lili stared up at him with wide eyes. Perhaps she'd gone too far and annoyed him. Or, more likely, he was so used to being in control that the momentary lapse had left him vulnerable. Either way, she knew she was going to pay for it now.
He started to thrust into her again, harder than before, no longer caring for her comfort. Lili reached up to try and unlatch his fingers, but it was useless. His hand was like a vice around her throat. She squirmed beneath him, knees bending as he slammed into her over and over with furious abandon.
As always, the only warning Lili received that Yang was close to finishing was the slight shake in his breaths. She was glad for it this time. The corners of her vision were starting to grow fuzzy as he kept her neck locked in his vice grip. She tangled her fingers in his hair again and rolled her hips with him, meeting his thrusts until finally, he groaned.
The few seconds of Yang's climax seemed to last a lifetime. When he finally came back to earth, he was trembling. Slowly, he retracted his fingers from around Lili's throat, allowing her to breathe again normally. Her windpipe ached. She wouldn't have been surprised if there were bruises already blooming across her skin.
With a sigh, Yang rolled onto his back. He stared up at the canopy of his bed for a few moments, chest rising and falling as his breathing returned to normal.
“So, it seems that even innocent Church girls have their dark side,” he said in a low, teasing tone.
Lili sat up. It had been a long time since he'd brought up her old life at the Church, even longer since he'd used it to taunt her. Unable to find the right words to say, she muttered, “I'm sorry.”
“Why?” The hint of a smile tugged at the corners of Yang's mouth. “You did as I told you. And it felt good, didn't it?”
The memory of pushing her fingers into Yang's flesh returned to her. Now that she wasn't gripped in the heat of the moment, she felt a little sick thinking about it. “I guess.”
But she had enjoyed it, hadn't she? Making Yang feel pain, taking control of him for those few moments... Was that how he felt when inflicting pain on her?
She jumped as her fingertips probed the tender skin around her throat. She hadn't even realised that she'd been touching it while she thought. Yang laughed softly at her reaction.
He slipped his trousers off, exposing his entire body, before gesturing to her. “Come.”
Obediently, Lili lay back against him. He wrapped his arm around her and kissed the back of her neck. “Life becomes more pleasurable when you learn there's no shame in taking what you need. The sooner you get used to that, the sooner you'll begin to live.”
He trailed his hand down her chest, between her breasts and over her stomach, until he reached the area between her legs. He circled her clit gently, making her shiver against him.
She was living. That much was certain. Yang had sunk his claws deeply into her, turning her away from the pure life she'd once known. But she was okay with that. Even though he'd been rough with her, she couldn't bring herself to hate him. They belonged to one another now.
And at the end of the day, that was worth the price of corruption.