He tilted Juliana’s face up to his and kissed her.
Juliana rose on tiptoes into the kiss, seeking him, needing him. Everything Elliot had told her settled onto her like a black miasma. How a man could endure so much, how he could transition back to the calm, the everyday, was beyond her comprehension.
If she could wash it all away from him, she would. Juliana kissed his lips, running her hands over his broad shoulders. She marveled that such a strong man could have anything wrong with him at all. He’d returned to full health in the time he’d taken to recover and put his affairs in order. She couldn’t ever imagine him weak.
Only a man as strong as Elliot could have survived the ordeal, in any case. His ten months as a prisoner might have taken away his youth but hadn’t been able to break him, not completely.
Juliana sought him with hunger she didn’t understand. Her blood burned for him, but not for the pleasure he could give her. She wanted to give to him, to heal him. She needed to.
Juliana tasted the desperation in him, the pain and the hunger, as his kisses turned fierce. He’d been alone in the dark for so long.
Elliot stripped the silken scarf from her head, then the one she wore like a shawl. The light fabric slithered to the floor, brushing her arms as it went.
He undressed her then, a layer at a time, kissing what he bared as he peeled away her gown, her petticoats, her corset. His lips touched her neck, her shoulders, the inside of her wrists, her br**sts, her abdomen as he knelt to loosen the top of her combinations. When Elliot slid her drawers from her, he leaned into her and kissed the join of her legs.
He got to his feet without continuing to explore her there, to her vague disappointment, and swept up the silk scarves on his way. Juliana expected him to carry her to the bed, but instead, he brushed the silk up over her bare bu**ocks and back.
The cool fabric whispered against her skin, her flesh rising in goose bumps. Elliot drew the silk down her br**sts, his gaze dropping to them as her ni**les hardened into tight points.
He guided her backward to the bed, then up onto the mattress, settling her on her back. He continued to glide the silk across her skin, teasing her ni**les, her belly, the twist of hair between her legs.
He brought the silk to his lips and kissed it, then he laid it over her body while he shed his clothes.
The shirt and boots came off quickly, and Juliana watched with appreciation as he approached the bed, wearing nothing but his kilt. He unpinned it and let the folds drop, then slung the plaid on the bed to mix with the silk.
Elliot came down to kiss her. Juliana reached for him, but he evaded her, kissing her neck and throat, pinning her hands above her head to take his mouth down her body. He licked one nipple and drew it into his mouth, teasing with teeth and lips. He did the same to the other, taking more time with it. He lingered to nibble, tugging the nipple long, before he released it to lick it once more.
Elliot moved down to kiss between her legs again, but as her hips rose, Juliana wanting more, Elliot turned her over, to her surprise, and eased her onto her hands and knees. Her fingers and toes sank into the silk and wool on the bed, then Elliot came behind her, spreading her knees, his hand opening her, stirring her need.
Juliana felt his hardness against her entrance, strong and blunt, touching her lightly. She tensed, uncertain, then dragged in a sharp breath when Elliot pushed into her.
She felt not pain but impossible joy. He opened her, his hardness thick and long, the sensation incredible. Juliana uttered a cry, her climax already taking her, and Elliot had not even started to move.
He stilled inside her a moment, letting her get used to the fullness, the intense feeling of him in this position, then he began to move in and out.
Coherent thought deserted her. Juliana floated on feeling—of Elliot thrusting swiftly and fiercely, the pumping of his thighs against her bu**ocks, his fingers firm on her hips. Beneath her, both the rough of the kilt and the fineness of the silk rubbed her knees.
More sensations—his sweat dropping to her back, the intense heat of him against her legs, the sounds that came from his mouth. Not words, only sounds, a man in ecstasy.
Juliana’s throat was raw, and she realized it was from her own cries. She pushed herself back into him, wanting him, and she heard herself begging him. “Please, please, please!”
Elliot went faster and faster, until Juliana thought she would die. He had to stop…She hoped he never stopped.
Their bodies were slick with sweat by the time Elliot’s sounds became groans. The bed creaked, Elliot’s body hard against hers, and Juliana breathed in long, shuddering gasps.
Nothing genteel or soft and slow about this lovemaking. This was raw, brutal passion.
“God, Juliana.” Elliot’s last thrust pressed inside her while her body squeezed back into his. He trailed off into beautiful, musical words she didn’t understand.
Then he shuddered once, hard.
Juliana collapsed to the bed, her knees burning. Elliot withdrew from her and fell beside her, drawing her back against him with shaking hands.
He gathered her hair from her flushed face and kissed her cheek. She felt his pounding heart against her back, and his limbs, tangling hers, were hot.
The breeze from the window brushed their bodies, the sounds of the fête drifting to them.
Juliana drowsed, the brief lovemaking leaving her exhausted. Nothing had ever wound her up so intensely then released her so fast.
“What were you saying?” she asked. “The words?” He’d used the same language when he’d thrown phrases at Mrs. Dalrymple.