And it seemed so easy, once he capitulated. It seemed natural and right.

Kev wasn't certain if he was surrendering to Win or to his own passion for her. Only that there was no more holding back. He would take her. And he would give her everything he had, every part of his soul, even the broken pieces.


He stared at her without blinking, half-fearing that the slightest movement on his part might precipitate actions he wouldn't be able to control. He might simply launch toward her and drag her from the room. The anticipation was delicious, knowing he was going to have her soon.

Drawn by his gaze, Win glanced at him. Whatever she saw in his face caused her to blink and color. Her fingers fluttered to her throat as if to soothe her own racing pulse. That made it worse, his desperate need to hold her. He wanted to taste the blush on her skin, absorb the heat with his lips and tongue. His most primitive impulses began firing, and he stared intently at her, willing her to move.

"Excuse me," Win murmured, standing in a graceful motion that impassioned him beyond sanity. Her fingers made that little flutter again, this time near her hip, as if her nerves were jumping, and he wanted to seize her hand and bring it to his mouth. "I will leave you to rest, dear Mr. Rohan," she said unsteadily.

"Thank you," Cam mumbled from the bed. "Little sister… thank you for…"

As he hesitated, Win said with a quick little grin, "I understand. Sleep well."

The grin faded as she risked a glance at Kev. Seeming inspired by a healthy sense of self-preservation, she left the room hastily.

Before another second had passed, Kev was at her heels.

"Where are they going in such a hurry?" Beatrix asked from beneath the bed.

"Backgammon," Miss Marks said hastily. "I'm sure I heard them planning to play a round or two of backgammon."

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"So did I," Leo commented.

"It must be fun to play backgammon in bed," Beatrix said innocently, and snickered.

It immediately became clear that it would not be an arbitration of words, but of something far more primal. Win went swiftly and silently toward her room, not daring to look back, though she had to be aware that he was following closely. The carpeted floor absorbed the sound of their footsteps, one set hurried, the other predatory.

Still without looking at him, Win stopped at her closed door, her fingers curling around the handle. "My terms," she said softly. "As I told them to you before."

Kev understood. Nothing would happen between them now unless Win had her way implicitly. And he loved her for her stubborn strength, while at the same time his Romany half bristled. She might have mastered him in some regards, but not all. He shouldered the door open, nudged her into the room, and closed them both inside. He turned the key in the lock.

Before she could take another breath, he had secured her head in his hands and he was kissing her, opening her mouth with his. The taste of her inflamed him, but he went slowly, letting the kiss become a deep, luscious gnawing, sucking to draw her tongue into his mouth. He felt her body mold against his, or at least as much as her heavy skirts would allow.

"Don't lie to me again," he said gruffly.

"I won't. I promise." Her blue eyes were brilliant with love.

He wanted to touch the soft flesh beneath the layers of cloth and lace. He began to pull at the back of her gown, unfastening the ornate buttons, tearing off the resistant ones, tugging his way down until the whole mass of it loosened and she was gasping. Crushing the billows with his feet, he stood with her in the deep pink folds of the ruined gown as if they were at the heart of some gigantic flower. He reached for her undergarments, untying the ribbon at the neckline of her chemise and the tapes of her drawers. She moved to help him, her slender arms and legs emerging from the crumpled linen.

Her pink-and-white nakedness was breathtaking. The slim, strong calves were sheathed in white stockings tied with plain garters. It was unbearably erotic, the contrast of luxurious warm flesh and prim white cotton. Intending to unfasten the garters, he knelt in the soft heaps of pink muslin. She crooked one of her knees to help him, the shy offering distracting him insanely. He bent to kiss her knees, the silken inner thighs, and when she murmured and tried to evade him, he gripped her h*ps and kept her still. He nuzzled gently into the pale curls, into the roseate fragrance and softness, using his tongue to separate her. Open her. Her moan was soft and pleading.

"My knees are shaking," she whispered. "I'll fall."

Kev ignored her, searching deeper. He lapped and sucked and ate her, his hunger surging at the first taste of female elixir. She pulsed around him as he thrust his tongue deeply, and he felt the response resonating through her body. Breathing into the plush folds, he licked one side of her, then the other, then straight between to the place where her pleasure centered. Entranced, he stroked her over and over, until her hands were gripped in his hair and her h*ps urged forward in tight undulations.

He took his mouth from her and came to his feet. Her face was dazed, her gaze distant, as if she didn't quite see him. She was trembling from head to toe. His arms slid around her, gathering her na**d body against his clothed one. Lowering his mouth to the tender crook of her neck and shoulder, he kissed her skin and touched his tongue to it. At the same time, he reached for the fastenings of his trousers and undid them.

She clung to him as he lifted her and pressed her against the wall, one of his arms protecting her back from abrasion. Her body was supple and surprisingly light, her spine tensing as he eased her weight down and she realized what he meant to do. He settled her fully, watching her mouth draw into a soft O of surprise as she was impaled in a slow, sure glide.