Chasing Cassandra

Page 58

She reached around his back, stroking the long plane of muscle. “That’s why it’s all right.”

Tom’s head lifted, and he stared down at her, his breath shaking a little. She felt pressure centering against the vulnerable opening of her body, hard and yet so slow, easing forward by millimeters. “Easy,” he whispered. “Try to open for me.”

The pressure filled her with a slow and ruthless ache. He reached down to spread her thighs farther apart, and pressed back the lips of her sex. Gently, repeatedly, his hips rocked forward, easing deeper into the tight clasp of untried muscles. Despite her discomfort, she relished the signs of his pleasure, the erotic tension on his face, the heat-blurred gaze that, for once, had lost its alertness. Eventually the careful progress halted, and he held still, half buried inside her. His mouth came to hers in a sweetly wanton kiss, until she began to feel not quite so lethargic, her nerves tingling with renewed excitement.

“Is that as far as you can go?” she asked hesitantly when their lips parted, wincing at the thick inner pressure where they were joined.

“It’s as far as your body will let me in,” he said, his fingertips stroking back the strands of hair that clung to her damp forehead and temples. “For the moment.”

Cassandra couldn’t hold back a little sigh of relief as the invading hardness retreated.

His hands coaxed her to lie on her side, facing away from him. He spoke slowly, as if it were difficult to form words. “My beautiful Cassandra … let’s try this … if you’ll … yes. Rest against me.” He had pulled her back so their bodies fit like two spoons in a drawer. She felt him lift her top leg and ease it back to rest over his. He adjusted her position, his hands caressing her intimately. “I’ve wanted you for so many nights … God, I hope this is real. Don’t be a dream.”

The head of his sex slid along the tender cleft between her thighs, back and forth, before lodging in the sore opening again. He pressed forward only an inch and held, a hard presence inside her. As she lay cradled in his arms, he caressed her front, his clever hands finding new places of sensation, chasing quivers across her skin. By the time he reached the place where their bodies were joined, the full flush of desire had come over her again, and she strained and fidgeted against him. He played with the soft lips of her sex and every tender place within. Moaning with frustrated craving, Cassandra tried to press closer to those tantalizing fingers, following every light caress.

Tom wasn’t breathing at all well, panting unevenly at her ear. Deep inside, she felt the hard, heavy weight of him, and she realized she’d writhed and pushed herself all the way down the length of his shaft. His fingers massaged the swollen nub with maddening skill, somehow knowing the exact rhythm she needed. Her body gripped him in rapturous spasms as she went over the edge, lost in the pulsing intensity of feeling. His breath caught, and then he made a sound low in his throat, a velvety growl, while the heat of his release spread inside her.

They relaxed together slowly in the aftermath, their joined flesh resonant with deep twitches and throbs of pleasure.

Cassandra sighed and purred as his hands coasted over her tired limbs. “I think I was begging,” she admitted, “near the end.”

Tom pressed a soft laugh against the side of her throat, and kissed her flushed skin. “No, sweet. I’m sure that was me.”

DAYLIGHT CAME IN through the transom windows, slowly melting away the shadows inside the railway carriage stateroom. It was with mild surprise that Tom awakened to discover Cassandra sleeping next to him. I have a wife, he thought, propping himself up on an elbow. The situation was so agreeable and interesting that he found himself smiling down at her idiotically.

His wife looked vulnerable and lovely, like a nymph sleeping in a wood. The fantastical profusion of her hair was like something from a mythological painting, curling golden locks spreading everywhere in lavish disarray. At some point during the night, she had donned a nightgown. He hadn’t even been aware of it—he, who always snapped awake at the slightest noise. But he supposed it was only natural to have slept heavily after the hectic pace of the wedding day, followed by an evening of the most mind-obliterating pleasure he’d ever experienced.

For Tom, discovering what pleased and excited a woman, what made her unique, was a challenge he had always relished. He’d never slept with a woman he hadn’t genuinely liked, and he’d applied himself enthusiastically to satisfying his partners. But there had always been limits to the intimacy he had shared with them—he’d been able to lower his guard only so far. Some of his affairs had ended badly as a result, eroding into bitterness.

With Cassandra, however, he’d discarded many of his defenses before they had ever set foot in the bedroom. That hadn’t been deliberate on his part; it had just … happened. And while he’d never had the slightest inhibition about physical nakedness, making love to her had brought him dangerously close to emotional nakedness, which had been more than a little terrifying. And at the same time, astonishingly erotic. He’d never known anything like it, every sensation magnified and reflected infinitely, like pleasure repeating itself in a hall of mirrors.

In the aftermath, he’d brought Cassandra a warm compress for between her thighs, and water to drink, and then he’d lain beside her while his mind had begun its usual process of sorting through the events of the day. To his surprise, he’d felt her inch closer until she was pressed all along his side. “Are you cold?” he had asked in concern.

“No,” came her drowsy reply as she’d settled her head on his shoulder, “just cuddling.”

Cuddling had never been part of Tom’s bedroom repertoire. Bodily contact had always been the prelude to something else, never an end in itself. After a moment, he’d reached over with his free hand to pat her head awkwardly. He’d felt her cheek curve against his shoulder.

“You don’t know how to cuddle,” she said.

“No,” Tom had admitted. “I’m not sure what it’s for.”

“It’s not for anything,” Cassandra had said with a yawn. “I just want to.” She’d snuggled even closer, hooking a slender leg over one of his—and had promptly fallen asleep.

Tom had stayed very still, with the weight of her head on his shoulder, brooding over the realization of how much he had to lose. He was so damned happy to be with her. She was his worst liability, as he’d always known she would be.

Now as his wife lay there illuminated by morning, Tom’s fascinated gaze moved along the long, lace-trimmed sleeve of her nightgown to her slender hand. The white crescents of her fingernails were smoothly filed, the surface buffed to a glassy sheen. He couldn’t resist touching one of them.

Cassandra stirred and stretched, her deep blue eyes unfocused in her sleep-flushed face. Blinking, she took in her unfamiliar surroundings, and smiled slightly. “Good morning.”

Tom leaned over her, brushed his lips across hers, and moved lower to rest his head on the upper slope of her chest. “I once told you I didn’t believe in miracles,” he said. “I take it back. Your body is definitely a miracle.” He played with the intricate fine tucks and ruffles of the nightgown. “Why did you put this on?”

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