Unlocked (Turner 1.5) - Page 13

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In point of fact, he hadn’t yet tried to succumb. After retiring for the evening and dismissing his yawning valet, his bed had seemed too empty and white to contain him. He’d retreated instead to the low fire of his library and poured himself a half tumbler of brandy.

Tomorrow, he’d berate himself for his idiocy. Tomorrow, he’d ascertain whether he’d completely ruined his chances. But for tonight—hell, tonight, he’d kissed her, and she’d kissed him back. Tonight was time for celebration. He raised his glass in the direction of her home and took a hefty swallow. The spirits burned his tongue, but slid down smoothly.

He set the glass on a table, and the hushed clunk it made seemed to echo in the night—as if that quiet tap had repeated itself behind him. He paused, cocking his head in confusion.

The sound came again—not the echo of glass hitting wood, but the low, firm sound of the knocker on the door being struck. He stood and hastened to the front before the noise woke one of his servants. Somehow, he knew what—whom—he would see awaiting him before he fumbled open the bolted locks.

Still, when he threw the door back, he felt as if he might have been dreaming. Elaine stood on his front stoop, a heavy white cloak wrapped about her. The moon, high overhead, illuminated her pale hair with an ethereal glow. She seemed so bright against the darkness of night that, for one moment, he thought himself snow-blind in a mountain pass, dazzling light reflecting off her.

But this was no dream. The cold air of the night was giving him gooseflesh. Besides, if he’d dreamt of Elaine on his doorstep, he’d have wanted her naked, and damn the remnants of winter. He also would have conjured her up by herself, and she’d brought an entourage with her. A maid and a footman stood behind her.

“I hope,” he said, nodding in their direction, “that their purpose is to ensure your safety, and not to serve as propriety.”

A small smile crept across her face, and she glanced down the empty street. “It’s past midnight. Propriety has long since gone to bed.”

He moved aside in a daze and she entered. Her skirts brushed against his legs as she did, and cold night air or no cold night air, he found himself coming to attention.

“Might I send them back to their beds?” she asked. “I have something to say to you, and—”

“Something that couldn’t wait until morning?” he asked hopefully.

She paused, turned to him. “No. It couldn’t wait another hour. Evan…”

“Yes?”

She took a deep breath. Even under that thick cloak, the movement of her bosom had him catching his breath.

She touched the hollow at the base of her neck, and he could help himself no longer. He reached out and took her hand, tangling his fingers with hers. A blue ribbon held her cloak in place. Gently, he pulled on the ends until the bow was undone. Her cloak slithered from her shoulders and fell to their feet in a puddle of warmth.

He’d only touched her hand at this point, but it took all his force of will to keep from sliding his hands down the vision she presented. She wore slippers and a gown so thick it might have offered some modesty, had it not clung so to her form. Her very lovely form.

“I have something very important to say.” Her eyes were wide and luminous.

He cupped her cheek in his hand. She was warm; as he touched her, she leaned her head to cradle against his palm.

He didn’t remember leaning down to her, but somehow, his forehead touched hers and their lips were almost level.

“What have you to say?”

“I…I…”

He didn’t know how it happened, whether it was she who tilted toward him or he who was drawn into the kiss by the feel of her warm breath. Still, his mouth met hers, and the only words her lips formed were kisses. Long kisses, languid kisses. He might have lost himself in kissing her.

“I had hoped you wanted to say that,” he whispered into her ear. “Now might I repeat it louder?”

He took her mouth again. She tasted of cinnamon. She yielded in his arms as he drew her closer. His hands crept up her side, and found nothing but soft fabric and softer flesh underneath.

No corset. She wasn’t wearing a corset. She let out a little sound as his hand rose to her breast, and lust surged through him. He could feel the point of her nipple rising against his palm. His hips pressed forward, seeking hers—

“Ahem.”

Evan froze, his hand on her breast.

The tone behind them was unmistakable. “That will be two weeks’ leave, then, my lady?”

Elaine burrowed her nose into his neck. “Three,” she said.

He would have felt mildly embarrassed, had it not been so marvelous to hold her. Still, he waited until the pair of servants had shut the door before he returned to the task of discovering her.

“Will they talk?”

“James and Mary have been slipping out together for years.” Her breath was ragged as he kissed her shoulder. “I’ve not informed the housekeeper, and so—ooh.”

He cupped his hand around the solid warmth of her breast, the weight heavy in his hand. “What was it you wanted to tell me? You never did say.”

She reached up and pulled a pin from her hair, and all that pale expanse fell past her shoulders. His mouth dried. He wanted her right now. Instantly. Sooner than instantly. But he hadn’t waited all these months for her acquiescence to rush the experience.

“I wanted to say—”

He leisurely rolled her nipple between his fingertips, and she let out a little gasp. “What was it you wanted to say?”

“I—oh, Evan.”

He kissed the side of her neck, and she arched against him.

“Evan, I can’t think when you—”

He slid his hand down her side, drinking in the feel of her curves. She felt so right against him, so perfect.

“I was going to say—”

She broke off yet again as he leaned down further and closed his mouth around her breast. Under his ministrations, the nub of her nipple hardened. He could almost feel her body coming to life, recognizing wants that she’d never quite understood before. He could sense her desire in the tension of her fingertips, biting into his shoulders; could discern it in the uneven rhythm of her breathing as he lashed his tongue along the hard tip. She flattened herself against him.

“Evan,” she said shakily, “are you doing this on purpose? I can’t think, much less speak. And I so wanted to say—”

He set his finger over her lips.

“No,” he told her. “Let me say it first. I love you, Elaine. I love your wit. I love your strength.” He frowned as he slid his hand around her neck. “I d

on’t love these buttons—ah, there we are.” He’d loosened her gown enough that he could slide it over her shoulder, until he could expose the naked curves of her bosom.

“I love your breasts,” he said honestly. “I really love your breasts. In fact, it’s hard to kiss your sense of humor, but these…” He leaned down to taste her again. As his tongue circled her nipple, she gave another little cry. And God, did he love her breasts—and her rounded hips—and her legs, long and delicious, against him.

He backed her against the wall of the entry. His hips pressed into hers and his erection was hard against her belly. By some instinct, she knew to push back. She nipped at his ear, and his own breath stuttered.

“I love you, darling,” he said. “But I’ve just realized that you mustn’t say anything back.”

He pulled her shift up, his hand seeking the warm haven between her legs.

Still she pressed closer. “But I want to. I lo—”

He cut off her words with another kiss.

God. And here he’d thought that the slick, warm feel of her was more than he could handle. But all his reason was melting into heated slag, like so much scrap metal in a blacksmith’s furnace. It was more than he deserved, more than he could possibly imagine. He had her here, body and soul, her skin against his.

“Don’t you dare say it,” he growled. “Somehow, I’m supposed to keep myself from bedding you before dawn.”

Her breathing hitched. And then her hands slid down his back to his elbows. She tilted her face to his. “And why are you supposed to do that?”

If he’d had any thoughts left anywhere, they scattered. He took her hand in his and led her upstairs, lifting her up the last few stairs in his haste. The hall had never seemed so endless; his door had never creaked so loudly. His room had gone completely cold, but he scarcely noticed because she was here.

She looked around her curiously. The dark wood paneling of his room seemed harsh and masculine in the night, but she tinged everything she looked at in an ethereal feminine light. Even the bed, with its straight posts and functional, square frame seemed to take on an elegant look when she ran her hand along the covers.


Tags: Courtney Milan Turner Romance
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