He intended to show her more than that. Maybe it was selfish, but he wanted to mark her every bit as much as she’d marked him.
EVER SINCE HER CONFESSION, Miranda had felt out of kilter—waiting for Smite to realize what she’d said, waiting for him to walk away from her.
The opera only heightened her sense of confusion. She didn’t know why he’d suggested it—surely not just because she’d enjoy it. And he’d seemed uneasy through the entire performance. No; not uneasy. Tense. As if he waited for a particular moment. When the opera was almost over, that moment came.
He leaned over. “We’re leaving now,” he murmured.
“Leaving? Why are we…” She glanced up at his face. “Oh.” There was no mistaking why they were leaving. There was a hot need in his eyes, something dark and deep and roiling. He wanted her. And he wanted her now.
She took his arm as they slid out of their seats and picked their way to the back of the hall. It was dark, and the soprano had started in on the final aria. Nobody could see the way her fingers dug into his arm. Only she was close enough to sense his urgency. He practically dragged her into the empty entry. The marble pillars echoed with their footsteps; behind her, the soaring song climbed high, and then higher.
“In return for making me miss the aria,” she said, “I’m going to torment you the entire way home.” She pulled off her glove and ran her finger down his chest. “Think you can stand twenty minutes of me, Turner?”
He turned and took her hands in his. “You’re not missing the aria.” He spun her around to face the wall and his voice dropped a few dangerous notes. “We’re not going anywhere, either.” He raised her hands and set them against the wall, and Miranda shivered.
“Anyone might come out of those doors,” he said. His hands settled themselves at her waist, and he stepped up against her skirts. His body formed a warm, solid mass behind her. “Anyone at all. And if they do, they’ll see me doing this.”
His gloved hands slid up the stiff fabric of her bodice to cup her breasts. His thumbs circled her nipples. The material of her corset diffused the feel, spreading it out. But it did not mute the sharp spark of pleasure that shot through her.
“If that door opens now, of course,” he murmured in her ear, “I can step away and only the flush in your cheeks will raise suspicion.” His hands continued to chart a dangerous course over her body. He stroked her, caressed her, until she strained against him. He kissed the back of her neck. “So I think we should remove any doubt as to what is happening.”
At first she had no inkling what he meant. But he braced her waist. She pushed against the wall, the palms of her hands hot against the cool stone. And then she felt air against her ankles. Her calves. Her thighs.
He was going to have her here. Now. Like this.
“Anyone might see us,” she protested halfheartedly. But her pulse was already racing, and she found herself wet for him.
He didn’t flinch. “That is rather the point.”
Fabric rustled and he stepped closer. She could feel his frame, hot and muscular and hard behind her own. She was on fire for him—for this. Anyone might see. It scared her. It thrilled her. She felt as if she’d been brought to the climbing heights of the aria. His hands left her, briefly; she heard a rustle, and smelled a hint of vinegar.
“First,” he said, and slid what must have been a sponge inside her. His fingers were sure and steady. Miranda bit down on a moan.
“Now this,” he continued.
He shifted against her, and she felt the hard ridge of his erection naked against her skin.
She was wet and ready for him. He nudged her opening; she spread her legs as best as she could from that position. His entry wasn’t smooth or easy, but it was good. When he was finally seated inside her, she felt an impossible thrill.
She had no notion how much time was left in the opera. By the libretto she’d been watching, not much. Only a few minutes until the curtain fell, and the audience stood to leave. Their discovery wasn’t just a possibility; it was practically a given.
But there was no sense of hurry in his deliberate thrusts. He didn’t use his fingers to aid her along. There was nothing but the slow, slick feel of him, taking her in a leisurely rhythm.
“Hurry,” she said.
“Not a chance.” He sounded amused, not transported by passion. “If you think I’ll let you go before you explode, you are vastly mistaken.”
“Everyone will find us.”
“Then they’ll see this.” His hand pinched her nipple.
The soprano started one last, desperate climb into the heights. The music swelled over them. Their surroundings couldn’t disappear—they wouldn’t. She felt not just the need rising up in her, but that growing crescendo of music, the swelling sounds of the orchestra. Her pleasure wrapped around her, taking her higher. And then it hit, hard, just as the singer hit that final, clear lingering note. She heard herself call out.
Surely someone must have heard. But no; her cry was muffled in the roar of applause that followed.
His hands closed on her hips in grim satisfaction. His thrusts came harder and harder. And then he stiffened behind her. His teeth grazed the back of her neck. He came as the audience began the rustling murmur that presaged an immediate exodus. One last lingering kiss against the back of her neck, and then he disengaged.
He should have been flustered. It would be mere seconds before their privacy was invaded. She turned. He was as calm and unruffled as a windless lake. He adjusted his trousers. She must have been positively disheveled in contrast. He’d reduced her to a panting heat. At the very
least, her hair must have fallen from her chignon. But he patted her skirts back into place and gave her a long, slow smile.
“Now we’re going home,” he said.
They said little as the hired hack brought them around. He stroked her hands, kissed her lips. He held her close, and she basked in the warm glow that came after intimacy. It took her almost a quarter of an hour to realize that something was wrong.
“There’s something I don’t understand,” she said finally. “I hadn’t thought you would be the sort to get excited by the threat of discovery.”
“Did you like it?” he asked simply.
“I loved it.”
He smiled in response and looked away.
And that was when she finally understood. He wasn’t the sort to become aroused by the thought that their tryst might be discovered. No. He’d listened to what she told him earlier. She liked danger.
So he’d created it for her.
“Turner. I don’t know what to say.”
He made an embarrassed motion with his hand. “Pray don’t say anything at all.” He set his hand on her shoulder, and let it slide down her side.
She let out a shaky breath. He’d satisfied her, and not just physically. He’d filled that part of her that yearned for danger. He didn’t talk of affection, but beneath the gruff exterior, he was tender. And he didn’t need to say he cared to make her understand.
She’d worried about not being able to pay him back for his forbearance in the matter of the Patron. But this… Her left hand couldn’t repay her right. There was nothing of commerce to their arrangement any longer. He’d done something that she suspected was deeply, deeply contrary to his own nature. And he’d done it to let her know that he accepted her. All of her.
Falling in love with a man who’d declared the relationship to be a month long, who’d warned her he would never love her, was all kinds of reckless. He wouldn’t even share a night with her after intercourse; he was never going to share her life. And yet he made her feel safer and more in peril all at once.