“For what?”

“For this sweet place … here.”


Her body jerked at his gentle caress. She could hardly speak. “I don’t have a word for that.”

“Then how do you refer to it?”

“I don’t!”

He laughed quietly. “I know several words. But the French, not surprisingly, have the nicest one. Le chat.”

“The cat?” she asked, bewildered.

“Yes, a double meaning for a feline and a woman’s softest part. Puss. Pussy. The sweetest fur … no, don’t be shy. Ask me to pet you.”

The words stole her breath away. “My lord,” she protested faintly.

“Ask and I’ll do it,” he prompted, his fingers withdrawing to play in the sensitive hollow behind her knee.

She swallowed back a moan.

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“Ask,” came his coaxing whisper.


Leo kissed her thigh, his mouth soft and hot, his bristle an exciting scrape against the tender skin. “Please what?”

Wicked man. She squirmed and covered her face with her hands, even though they were in complete darkness. Her voice was muffled by the screen of her fingers. “Please pet me there.”

His touch came so lightly she could scarcely feel it at first, fingertips stirring, teasing. “Like this?”

“Yes, oh yes…” Her h*ps lifted, inviting more. He fingered the folds of her sex, massaging delicately, tracing the softness within. The skillful caresses brought her body to trembling readiness.

“What else should I do?” Leo whispered, moving lower in the darkness. She felt his breath on her, heat against moisture, a soft intermittent blowing. Her h*ps arched and strained without volition.

“Make love to me.”

He sounded gently regretful. “No, you’re too sore.”

“Leo,” she whimpered.

“Shall I kiss you instead? Here?” His fingertip swirled.

Catherine’s eyes widened in the darkness. Stunned and acutely aroused by the suggestion, she licked her dry lips. “No. I don’t know.” She writhed as she felt him breathe against her, his fingers gently holding her apart. “Yes.”

“Ask me nicely.”

“Ask you to … Oh, I can’t.”

The teasing fingers left her. “Shall we go to sleep, then?”

She caught his head in her hands. “No.”

He was inexorable. “You know how to ask.”

She couldn’t. The shamed syllables stuck in her throat, and she could only moan in frustration.

And Leo, the monstrous cad, smothered a chuckle against her thigh.

“I’m so glad you find this amusing,” she said furiously.

“I do,” he assured her, his voice thick with laughter. “Oh, Marks, we have so far to go with you.”

“Don’t bother,” she snapped, trying to move away, but he pinned her legs in place, holding her easily.

“There’s no need to be stubborn,” he coaxed. “Go on, say it. For me.”

A long silence passed. She swallowed and made herself say, “Kiss me.”


“Down there,” she managed, her voice shaking. “On my pu**y. Please.”

Leo fairly purred in approval. “What a naughty girl you are.” His head lowered, and he nuzzled into the damp softness, and she felt his mouth cover the most sensitive part of her in a wet, open kiss, and the world caught fire.

“Is that what you wanted?” she heard him ask.

“More, more,” she cried, gasping.

His tongue traced her in fluid, savoring strokes. Her body drew taut as he began to tug and flick, and the voluptuous expanding pleasure went all through her. She was suffused in wet sensation, each slide of his tongue opening her to greater pleasure. His hands cupped beneath her, making a vessel of her hips, tilting her to meet his mouth. She convulsed in raw shudders, crying out, her nerves dancing with exquisite heat. His mouth lingered softly, as if he were reluctant to stop. For a scalding moment she felt his tongue enter her, teasing out a last few quivers.

She was soon chilled as rain-scented air from the partially open window swept over her skin. She thought Leo would satisfy his own needs then, and she moved toward him in exhausted confusion. But he settled her in the crook of his arm and pulled the quilts over them both. She was replete and enervated, unable to stay awake.

“Sleep,” she heard him whisper. “And if you have any more nightmares … I’ll kiss them all away.”

Chapter Twenty

The rainy night had yielded to a damp green morning. Leo awakened to the sounds of the carriage yard coming alive with the whicker and jangling and stomping of horses. A muffled clatter of footsteps advanced along the hallways as people left their rooms and went to the tavern for food.

Leo’s favorite part of a romantic rendezvous had always been the moments of anticipation right before lovemaking. His least favorite part had been the morning after, when his first waking thought was how quickly he could leave without causing offense.

This morning, however, was different from any other. He had opened his eyes to discover that he was in bed with Catherine Marks, and there was nowhere else in the world he wanted to be. She was still sleeping deeply, on her side with her hand palm up. Her fingers were curled like the edges of an orchid. She was beautiful in the morning, tumbled and relaxed and sleep-flushed.

His fascinated gaze traveled over her. He had never confided so much in any woman, but he knew that his secrets were safe with her. And hers with him. They were well matched. No matter what happened now, their days of battling were over. They knew too much about each other.