Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(35) by Lorraine Heath
“I did say a kiss, the moment of my choosing.”
“But I think it was a kiss brought on by pity.”
“Never. I don’t pity you, Princess. It was simply that I could no longer resist and we did have an audience.”
“We don’t have one now.”
“No, we don’t.”
He was watching her intently, and she realized that he would never force her, would never take what she was unwilling to give. She’d instinctively understood that of course. She’d have not boarded his ship otherwise, but now she fully comprehended that all the power was hers. “This long, slow, leisurely kiss of which you spoke . . . where does it lead?”
“Wherever you want it to.”
She felt the weight of responsibility, but more she sensed the depth of yearning for something she’d been denied. “I believe I would like to . . . explore the possibilities.”
“And where exactly do you want it to lead?”
“I don’t want to say. In case I get frightened and change my mind. But we’ve shared so much on this journey. I would like a little more.”
He touched her cheek. “At any time, all you have to say is ‘stop.’ ”
“And you’ll stop?”
“Even if it kills me.”
“You’ll get angry.”
Walter had. He’d called her a tease, because she’d dared to allow him to kiss her until they were both breathless. She didn’t want to think about that now. She only knew that she was drawn to this man who stood before her, and she didn’t want to look back on these moments with regret. She knew only that if she heard of his death, she didn’t want to have to journey to the other side of the world to beg his forgiveness. She knew that the kiss he’d given her in the crow’s nest was not the one he’d envisioned that long-ago night when he’d stood in her bedchamber and made a bargain with her.
During the days and nights since, she’d come to anticipate what he’d promised. She didn’t want to leave the ship without acquiring it—and perhaps a bit more.
“Well, then, Captain, I don’t see that the kiss you bestowed upon me this afternoon—as lovely as it was—really fulfills my obligation to you at all.”
A corner of his mouth hitched up. “I certainly wouldn’t want you to disembark tomorrow feeling as though you’ve failed to live up to your part of the bargain.”
Never taking his eyes off hers, he wrapped his long fingers around her snifter and set it on his desk. He was progressing so remarkably slowly that she wanted to shout at him to get a move on. Did he not want to truly kiss her? Did he not find her desirable? Perhaps that was the true reason that he’d been willing to be content with a light brushing of lips.
But when he turned back to her, she saw desire smoldering in his eyes, and she saw with alarm how very good he’d been at holding his true feelings at bay. She almost backed up, almost changed her mind, but before she could fully acknowledge that she was suddenly terrified by the intensity of what she saw, he snaked an arm around her waist, brought her up flush against him, cradled her face with one rough callused hand, and lowered his mouth to hers.
No light brushing of the lips, this. No sweetness, no gentleness.
It was as though he were a starving man, devouring his first meal after years of deprivation. His mouth pressed firmly against hers as his tongue enticed her lips to part. He explored as she’d discovered he did everything: boldly and without hesitation. His tongue thrust and parried, gentled and waltzed. Of their own accord, her arms wound around his neck, bringing her closer to him. His hand skimmed along her throat, halted. She could feel her pulse thrumming against his fingers as his mouth continued its leisurely plunder. He tasted of rich brandy, fine wine, tart oranges. He tasted of desire. His mouth was hot, wet, and so very, very talented.
Lethargy seeped into her bones, heat swirled through her, pooled between her thighs. Her toes curled, her fingers dug into his scalp, keeping him near. Not that she expected him to leave.
She didn’t think it possible, but the kiss deepened, became more, became everything until nothing existed except for him and the incredible sensations he was stirring to life. She had been dead for so long. She hadn’t realized exactly how dead she’d been, but now she was being brought back to life—her body, her soul, her heart.
They were all beginning to regain a sense of awareness. They could feel again. They wanted to feel again. She thought she should be terrified by this immense awakening that she was experiencing, but all she knew was a gratitude that threatened to overwhelm her, to make her weep for what she’d denied herself for so long.
His mouth continued to work its magic, never leaving hers, never ceasing its explorations. She was beginning to wonder if she’d ever truly been kissed, because this was like nothing that she’d before experienced. It affected her entire body, made her want to crawl over him, made her want to sink into him until they were one. The cabin had grown so very warm that she wanted to rip off her clothes. Or maybe it was her, heated from the inside out, from the outside in. She barely knew any longer. Had little rational thought save for pleasure, pleasure, pleasure.
Long. Slow. Leisurely. It was all there, and yet in spite of that, the kiss was wild, untamed, unyielding. It commanded, it tempted, it seduced. Thoroughly, irrevocably. She understood better now his restraint, because what he was unleashing had the power to conquer her, to have her writhing in his arms with no care for the consequences that would follow. She wanted what he was offering, wanted it all. Wanted nothing to go unexplored.
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