Maxim felt the tenderness of her lips on his and savored the sweet taste of her kiss. She was stirring up physical responses in him—an intense sensation that rippled through his body. He drew back slowly, gazing into her eyes. He brushed his hand against her cheek with a touch so light she scarcely felt it. He had a desire to protect her from harm— to defend her from anyone who threatened her happiness; and above all else, he needed to keep his physical urges under control.