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The words reached her on a whisper; no cynicism came with them -- he seemed as appreciative as she.
She drew in a breath -- the air was cooler, sweeter than any she'd ever tasted. "It's... strange." She glanced at him. "Come -- let's walk a little way."
His brows rose but he stood, stepped past her and jumped down. He gave her his hands, helped her down the steps, then, enclosing one of her hands in a firm grasp, he surveyed the silvered sward. "Which way?"
"There." She pointed across the expanse before them to a pinetum.
Dexter called a command to the groom, then, her hand still locked in his, they set out.
It had been years since she'd walked hand-in-hand. She found it unexpectedly enjoyable, leaving her freer than if she'd taken his arm. Yet when her boot slipped in a dip, he pulled her up, steadied her easily. She laughed and smiled her thanks, resettled the luxurious wrap,, then let him take her hand and they walked on.
Behind them, the carriage drive dwindled. The sense of being alone, the sole living beings in the quiet landscape, grew with every step. The consciousness of being -isolated, one male, one female, burgeoned; there was no other living creature to distract or deflect their senses.
The magic that hung in the moonlit air was a drug.Amanda felt giddy by the time they were nearing the pines. She was aware Dexter was watching her; his thoughts were impossible to guess.
How did he see her? As an obligation, a young lady he felthonor-bound to protect? Or as a lady with whom he was happy to be walking handfasted through the moonlight?
She didn't know which, but she was determined to find out.
The pines were grouped to create a grove with a path winding through it; she glanced at Dexter. "Can we go in?"
His eyes met hers. "If you wish."
She led the way, gazing about her as they moved into the trees' shadows. The path led to a clearing where the interested could pause and admire the individual trees. She did so. The trees hid the moon; the clearing was lit only by diffused light, even softer, less substantial, than moonlight.
Sliding her fingers from Dexter's, she adjusted the silken wrap. She paused, eyes on the trees, senses alive to the subtle promise, the elusive whisper on the night air. She turned to him. His gaze shifted from the trees to her. She hesitated for only a heartbeat, then stepped closer. Lifted one hand to his shoulder, stretched up and set her lips to his.
He didn't immediately react, then he stirred; his hands locked about her waist and anchored her in the same instant his lips firmed. He returned her caress, then his tongue touched her lips and she parted them. He surged in.
Their lips clung, their tongues twined, caressed, made artful promises. His fingers flexed against her spine, sinking deeper, as if to hold her where she was, her feet firmly on the ground.. Preserving the small but definite distance between their bodies, when all she wanted was to close it.
He drew back from the kiss, lifted his head, but seemed incapable of lifting it far. His eyes searched hers. "What are you seeking?"
She slid her fingers to his nape. "I told you -- excitement. You told me I could find it here." In your arms. With her eyes, she dared him to misunderstand as, ignoring the pressure of his hands at her waist, she stepped closer. Her pelisse brushed his coat. She held his gaze, darkly shadowed, and prayed she struck the right note -- one of blatant challenge. "Show me, then." Her gaze fell to his lips. "I want to know -- I want to feel it."
Stretching up, she kissed him again; this time he met her from the start. Their lips melded, tongues tangled... then, as if she'd succeeded in getting him to open some door, the muscles of his arms unlocked. His fingers eased from her waist; his hands slid over, then under the slipping silk wrap. Slowly, deliberately, he drew her to him.
The contact, body to body, was a shock -- a delicious one. The sheer strength now caging her would have had her resisting had it been any other man. Instead, she sank against him, inwardly smiled as his arms tightened and his hands shifted over her back. Gloried in the contrasts -- her slenderness against his large body, the fineness of her bones against the heaviness of his. Her body reacted; she felt his react to her -- felt her pulses leap. Sensed his need to seize. Was grateful that he didn't.
He felt like iron beneath his clothes -- hot, resilient -- male. Her breasts, flush against his coat, started to ache; her palms itched. Sliding her hand into his hair, she tumbled the thick locks, as heavy and silken as the wrap, over and through her fingers. Her other hand rested on his chest; she would have sent it wandering but he distracted her.
Drew her deep into the kiss, caught her wits, captured her senses with a sudden flare of sensual heat. With the sudden unmasking of desire, his and hers, the temptation of an unfamiliar need. On a Wild Night. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.