Duncan took a deep breath and placed a kiss on the tip of one of Madelyne's finely arched eyebrows. He kissed the bridge of her nose next, right in the center of her attractive freckles, the ones he knew she probably would have denied she had.

Madelyne held her breath, waiting for him to reach her mouth. When Duncan turned and moved to the side of her neck, she tried to get him back where she wanted him. "I want to kiss you again, Duncan," she whispered. She knew she was being brazen. Aye, she was playing with forbidden fire. Madelyne told herself she acted so bold because she was so unprepared. No one had ever explained the ways of men and women. No one had ever cautioned her about the intense pleasure. And the pleasure warred with her ability to reason.


Madelyne suddenly realized that the make-believe battle she fought with herself was just that, make-believe. She was trying to force Duncan into taking the decision away from her. Then he alone would be responsible for this act. She'd remain an innocent, trapped by the pleasure he forced on her.

The truth shamed her. Duncan wasn't forcing her at all. "I'm a coward," she whispered.

"Don't be afraid," Duncan soothed her. His voice was filled with tenderness.

Madelyne tried to explain, to give him all the words, to tell him how much she wanted him. Just for tonight she wanted to belong to him. She didn't believe he could ever love her, but for one glorious night she wanted to pretend the promises he gave her were true. If Duncan could give her only a part of himself, she'd make herself believe it was enough.

"Put your arms around me, Madelyne," Duncan ordered her. His voice was controlled, yet his hands were gentle as they played against the swell of her breasts.

The palms of his hands cupped her br**sts fully then. Madelyne instinctively arched against him, thinking the pleasure he gave her was excruciatingly sweet.

Duncan ignored her surprised gasp. He used his thumbs to coax her ni**les into responding. When they were hard and straining, he moved downward and took one into his mouth. His tongue was velvet torture. He used suction to drive her mad. She twisted and moaned while her hands clung to his shoulders.

Both br**sts felt swollen when he finished with them. Duncan covered them with his chest again and captured her mouth in a long, searing kiss that only made her desperate for more.

He couldn't wait any longer. In the back of his mind he knew she still hadn't given him permission. He lifted his head to look at her, saw the tears shimmering in her eyes. "Do you want me to stop?" Even as he asked the question he wondered how in God's name he'd ever be able to accomplish that feat.

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"Tell me why you're crying, Madelyne." He caught the first tear that escaped from her lashes with his thumb.

She didn't answer him. Duncan roughly took hold of her hair. His fingers twisted into the silky strands. "Give me your honesty now, wife, full measure. I can see the passion in your eyes. Say the words, Madelyne."

His demand was as forceful as his need. Duncan could feel the heat in Madelyne. Her body moved restlessly against him.

"'Tis wrong of me to want you, but I do," Madelyne whispered. "I want you so much, I ache."

"You're my wife now, Madelyne," Duncan answered, his voice raspy. "What we do isn't wrong." He leaned down and kissed her again, a hot, searing kiss that held nothing back. She responded with equal passion. When her fingernails dug into his shoulder blades, he abruptly pulled back.

"Tell me you want me inside you. Now. Say it, Madelyne." Duncan stared into her eyes as he slowly pushed her legs apart with his thigh. Before Madelyne understood his intention, his hand slid into the soft mount of curls covering the most sensitive part of her. His fingers gentled and stroked until her heat was wet and slick with desire. And all the while he watched her passionate response.

His finger slowly penetrated her. Madelyne instinctively arched against his hand, giving him so much pleasure by her uninhibited action, he thought he was going to die. She was so incredibly hot. And the heat belonged to him.

"Cease this torment, Duncan. Come to me."

He moaned her name just before his mouth took hers again. As slowly as he could manage, he settled himself between her silky thighs, lifted her hips, and began to penetrate. She twisted, driving Duncan forward.

Duncan paused when he felt the shield proving her virginity. "Put your legs around me." He groaned the instruction. His face fell against her neck. When he felt her move to obey him, he plunged forward. Madelyne cried out in pain and tried to pull back. "It's all right, love. The pain is over now, I promise. Hush now," he whispered.

Duncan wanted to wait until her body had adjusted to his invasion, but the throbbing was unbearable now. He couldn't stop. He began to move, slowly at first, and then with growing need and force. His hand moved between them, arousing her to a fevered pitch when his fingers rubbed against her.

The pain was soon forgotten. Duncan filled her completely. Madelyne began to move with him, arched her h*ps to take him deeper inside, and felt the change that overcame her husband then.

The power uncoiled, surrounded, penetrated. She glorified in the sensations, allowed her softness to become the sheath for his power. They were so much a part of each other now; each belonged to the other, body, mind, and soul.

Her control deserted her. She was wild, as free as a tigress now, reaching to attain the mystery of fulfillment just outside her grasp. She gave herself up to the feelings, surrendering herself to her husband, her lover. And all because he surrendered himself to her.

He whispered bold words into her ear, but she was soon too mindless to understand what he was saying. She couldn't think, only feel the power pulling at her, stroking, demanding.

The cl**ax was so overwhelming, she cried out. His name. She was terrified, vulnerable, safe. She was loved.

Duncan answered her with an explosive cl**ax and a harsh growl. He called out to her, held her so tightly she thought he might absorb her. And then he collapsed against her, sighing her name with true satisfaction.

Their bodies were damp with perspiration. The musky smell of loving surrounded the haze of their passion. Madelyne touched his shoulder with her tongue, licked the salty taste of him.

Duncan didn't think he had the strength left in him to roll away from her. He decided he'd stay right where he was forever.

He had never experienced such contentment. When he was finally able to gather his wits, he leaned op on his elbows to look at her. Madelyne's eyes were closed. Her cheeks were pink. She was back to being a timid kitten, Duncan concluded with a smile. Lord, how could she be embarrassed now, after the way she'd responded to him. He thought he'd carry her scratches on his shoulders for at least a week.

"Did I hurt you?"

"Yes." She sounded shy.

"Very much?" He sounded worried.

"Very little."

"And did I pleasure you, Madelyne?" Duncan asked.

Madelyne dared a look up at him. His arrogant smile captured her. "Yes," she admitted.

"Very little?"

She shook her head, smiling now. Madelyne suddenly realized he needed to hear her tell him how much he'd pleased her almost as much as she needed to hear of his satisfaction. "Very much, Duncan."

He nodded, thoroughly satisfied. Though he'd known he'd given her fulfillment, his contentment was intensified because of her honesty. "You're a passionate woman, Madelyne. You've nothing to be embarrassed about." He kissed her long and hard, and when he next looked at her, he was pleased to see her shyness gone. Her eyes had turned a deep blue. Lord, he could lose himself in her again.

Duncan suddenly felt vulnerable. He couldn't give a reason for the feeling. It was too foreign to his nature to understand. If he didn't guard against her, Madelyne could turn him into Samson. He thought she was more enticing than Delilah. Aye, she'd snatch his strength away if he allowed it.

With a frown Duncan rolled onto his back, clasped his hands behind his head, catching some of Madelyne's hair under his elbow. He ignored her, staring at the ceiling while she struggled to get free of the restriction.

Duncan was trying to come to terms with all the truths demanding his attention. He'd ignored the facts too long. The only time he'd been honest with himself was when he touched Madelyne. He couldn't control his reactions then, no matter how valiantly he tried. She had come to mean a good deal to him. The power she had over him actually worried him. And Duncan wasn't a man given to worry much or easily.

Madelyne pulled the covers up to her chin. She rested on her back but glanced over to catch the ferocious frown on her husband's face.

She immediately became frightened. Had she failed him some way? She knew she'd been a little timid, awkward too. "Do you have regrets now, Duncan?" she asked, her voice hesitant.

She couldn't look at him. Madelyne closed her eyes, letting her fear and shame build.


He snapped out the denial. His voice was harsh. Madelyne wasn't the least comforted. She felt hurt and humiliated. The glow of their lovemaking was gone now, replaced by such a desolate, desperate feeling of failure. God help her, she started to cry.

Duncan wasn't paying Madelyne much attention, for he had only just accepted the full truth.

The admission staggered him. The disrespectful, unpredictable woman weeping loud enough to wake the dead had tripped her way right into his heart.

He suddenly felt as vulnerable as this Achilles warrior Madelyne told him about. Aye, Achilles couldn't have been too pleased to find out his heels were vulnerable. He'd probably been infuriated, as infuriated as Duncan suddenly was.

Duncan didn't have the faintest idea how he was going to protect himself from her. He decided he needed time to think through this situation. Aye, time, and distance, too, because it just wasn't possible to think about all the ramifications when Madelyne was near him. Hell, that infuriated him.

Duncan sighed, long and loud. He knew what Madelyne wanted, what she needed from him now. With a groan of frustration he jerked the covers away and pulled her into his arms. He told her to quit crying, but she blatantly disobeyed him and continued on until his neck was soaking wet from where her face rested.

Madelyne fully intended to tell him she despised him and that she was never going to speak to him again, that he was the most insensitive, overbearing man she'd ever encountered. She needed to quit crying first, else she'd just sound pitiful instead of angry.

"Do you have regrets now, Madelyne," he asked her when he couldn't stand the sound of her weeping any longer.

She nodded, bumping his chin. "I do," she told him. "I obviously didn't please you. I know that's true because you're frowning and snapping at me, but it was only because I didn't do what I was supposed to do, Duncan."

Lord, she was unpredictable. She cried because she thought she hadn't satisfied him. The realization made him smile.

Madelyne suddenly pulled out of his arms, bumping him again. "I don't want you to touch me ever again."

In her anger she forgot all about her nakedness. Duncan's body reacted swiftly to the lovely view. Madelyne faced him, her legs tucked beneath her, and her breasts, magnificent, full and rosy-tipped, were too irresistible to ignore. Duncan reached out and circled the nipple of one with his thumb. The nipple hardened before Madelyne could slap his hand away.

She tried to deny him then by pulling the covers over her bosom, but Duncan easily won the spontaneous tug-of-war when he ripped the blanket out of her grasp and flung it to the floor. She would have followed it if he hadn't grabbed hold of her arm and yanked her back on top of his chest.

Duncan trapped her hands with his and grinned. The grin left quite abruptly when her knee found a vulnerable target between his legs.

He groaned, captured her legs by locking his own around her ankles, effectively stopping her struggles. He let go of her hands and then slowly pulled her head down to him. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest, wanted nothing more than to kiss her anger away, but when she was just a breath away, he stopped. "Listen well, wife. You weren't awkward, only innocent. And you have pleased me more than I had thought was possible."

Madelyne stared at him a long moment. Tears flooded her eyes again. "The truth, Duncan? I did please you?"

He nodded, exasperated. He vowed to lecture her first thing in the morning about questioning him, and then remembered he'd already made that vow.

She was appeased. "You pleased me too," she whispered.

"I know I did, Madelyne." He wiped the tears away from her cheeks and sighed over the disgruntled look that came over her face. "Don't frown at me," he ordered.

"How do you know you pleased me?"

"Because you screamed my name and you begged me to—"

"I never beg, Duncan," Madelyne interrupted. "You exaggerate."

He smiled most arrogantly. Madelyne opened her mouth to tell him just how arrogant she thought he was, but his mouth caught hers, effectively stopping her rebuke.

It was a hot kiss. Madelyne could feel his arousal pressed against her. She moved her h*ps against him restlessly, teasingly, too, arousing him all the more.

Duncan gently pulled away. "Go to sleep now. It would be too painful a second time."

She stopped his protest with another kiss. Madelyne decided she liked being on top of him, shyly whispered that fact to him.

He smiled, yet still insisted she sleep. "I command it," he told her.

"I don't want to sleep," Madelyne said. She nibbled on the side of his neck, shivering with new awareness. "You smell so good," she told him. Her tongue played with his earlobe, driving him to distraction.

Duncan decided to put an end to her game now, before he was unable to stop himself from taking her again. He didn't want to hurt her, but he knew that she was too innocent to understand.

He'd have to show her how uncomfortable it would be for her.

With that intent in mind, his hand moved between them. When he thrust his finger inside, Madelyne moaned. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders. "Now tell me you want me," Duncan demanded, his voice harsh with his desire.

Madelyne slowly arched up. Pain and pleasure blended into confusion. She rubbed her br**sts against his chest. "I do want you, Duncan," she whispered.

Duncan suddenly felt his control desert him. He felt strong enough to conquer the world. When Madelyne tried to roll onto her back, he shook his head.

"Do you really force me to beg you, Duncan?" she asked, though it sounded more of a demand to her husband. He thought her voice quavered because she ached with as much need as he did.

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