He should leave Hampshire, he thought. Amelia would make her own decision about Frost, and Cam would follow his destiny. No compromises or sacrifices on either side. He would never be anything more to Amelia than a brief, vaguely remembered episode in her life.

Lowering his head, he scrubbed his hands through his unruly hair. His chest ached in the way it always had when he yearned for freedom. But for the first time, he wondered if he was right about what he wanted. Because it didn't seem as if the pain would be cured when he left. In fact, it threatened to become a good deal worse.


The future spread before him in a great lifeless void. Thousands of nights without Amelia. He would hold and make love to other women, but none of them would ever be the one he truly wanted. He thought of Amelia living as a spinster. Or worse, reconciling with Frost, perhaps marrying him, but always living with the knowledge that Frost had betrayed her once and might again. She deserved so much more than that. She deserved passionate, heart-scalding, overwhelming, consuming love. She deserved?Oh, hell. He was thinking too much. Just like a gadjo.

He forced himself to face the truth. The fact was, Amelia was his, whether he stayed or left, whether they walked the same path or not. They could live on opposite sides of the world, and she would still be his.

The Roma half of him had seen that from the beginning.

And it was that side of himself he would listen to.

Amelia's bed was soft and luxurious, but it might as well have been made of bare wood planks. She rolled, turned, sprawled, but she could find no comfortable position for her aching body, and no peace for her tortured brain.

The room was still and stuffy, the air turning thicker by the minute. Craving a breath of clear, cold air, she slipped from the bed, went to the window, and pushed it open. A gasp of relief escaped her as a light breeze swept over her. She closed her sore eyes, used her knuckles to rub her wet lashes.

It was strange, but with all the problems she faced, the thing that kept her from sleeping was the question of whether or not Christopher Frost had ever really loved her. She had wanted to think so, even after he had abandoned her. She had told herself that love was a luxury for most people, that Christopher's career was a difficult one, and he had been faced with an impossible choice. He had done what he'd thought best at the tune. Perhaps it had been wrong of her to expect him to choose her and damn the consequences.

To be desired above all else, to be wanted, needed, coveted?that would never happen to her.

The door opened in a well-oiled arc. She saw the shadows change, felt a presence in the room. Turning with a start, she saw Cam Rohan standing just inside the door. Her heart began to drum with furious force. He looked like something from a dream, a dark enigmatic ghost.

-- Advertisement --

He approached her slowly. The closer he came, the more it seemed everything around her was unraveling, falling away, leaving her exposed and vulnerable.

Cam's breathing wasn't quite steady. Neither was hers. After a long pause, he finally spoke. "The Rom believe you should take the road that calls to you, and never turn back. Because you never know what adventures await." He reached for her slowly, giving her every opportunity to object. Through the cottony gauze of her nightgown, he touched the curve of her hips. He brought her close, into his hard weight.

"So we're going to take this road," he murmured, "and see where it leads."

He waited for a signal, some syllable of objection or encouragement, but she could only stare at him, transfixed and helpless.

He smoothed her hair, whispering for her not to fear him, he would take care of her, please her. His fingers found the sensitive curve of her scalp, cradling her head as he kissed her. He dragged his mouth across hers, again and again, and when her lips were open and damp, he sealed them with his.

Excitement flooded her, and she gave in to the dark pleasure, opening to the penetrating strokes of his tongue, struggling to capture the silkiness. His hands gently urged her backward until her balance collapsed. She lay on the tumbled bed as if on some pagan altar. Bending over her, Cam kissed her throat. There was a series of quick tugs at the front of her gown, and the edges of the garment parted.

She felt his urgency, the heat radiating from his body, but every movement was careful, lingering, as he reached beneath the fragile cotton and caressed her breast. Her knees drew up, her entire body arching to contain the pleasure of his touch. With a wordless sound Cam coaxed her to relax, his hand gliding from her chest to her knees. His parted lips brushed the na**d tip of her breast, toying with the hardening bud, his tongue skimming wetly. She brought her hands to his hair, tangling her fingers in the ebony locks, trying to hold him to her. His mouth closed over her nipple, tugging lightly until she quivered and tried to roll away, unnerved by the feeling that she was being driven to the brink of some new sensation altogether.

Cam pulled her back to him and bent over her once more. His mouth covered hers, while his teasing fingers pulled the hem of her gown higher and found the tender backs of her thighs.

Amelia reached for his shirt with trembling hands. It was loose-cut and collarless, the kind that lifted over the head instead of buttoning. Cam moved to help her, pulling the garment off and tossing it aside. Moonlight gilded the supple, muscular lines of his body, his chest taut and smooth.

Flattening her palms against the hard flesh, she drew them gently downward to his sides and around his back. He shivered at her touch and lowered to the place beside her, one leg sliding between hers. The gown fell open to expose her chest completely, the hem bunching high on her thighs.