Authors: Jennifer McNare
“What are you thinking?” he murmured, as his hand trailed lightly up and down her back.
That I am falling in love with you. That I cannot bear the thought of losing you.
She brushed her fingers along the outline of his ribs, tracing their contours. “I was thinking that it is almost time for me to go,” she sighed, her breath blowing softly against his naked chest, “and about how desperately I want to stay.” Funny she thought, how just weeks before an hour had seemed like an eternity, and now it seemed like only the briefest flicker of time.
Gavin chuckled, pulling her more tightly against him. “You have become an insatiable wanton, you little minx,” he teased.
“Do you mind?” she teased back, her tone equally playful.
“Hell no,” he said, rolling her onto her back in one fluid motion. “If I could, I would keep you in this room day and night and never let you out of this bed.”
“Hmm,” she giggled. “I think I could live with that.”
Gavin smiled as he dipped his head to kiss her. She spread her legs, welcoming him into her body as their lips met. He moaned in pleasure as she closed around him, hot and tight. He’d called
insatiable, but it was he who never seemed to get enough. Astonishingly, his need for her seemed only to increase with each passing day. She clung to him as he moved within her, raising her hips to meet each of his thrusts. No longer timid, her passion now rivaled his. It was incredible,
Only moments before Melody had been draped across his chest, completely sated, her bones like warm jelly. How could she be ready for him again so soon? It seemed impossible, but she was. It boggled her mind, this incessant craving that consumed her, that overwhelmed her body and her senses and never seemed to be fully satisfied. Yes, she could stay in this bed with him day and night and never want to leave. She dug her fingers into his back, urging him on, wanting to pull him even deeper inside of her, to take as much of him as her body would allow.
Gavin didn’t linger this time, for he was fully aware of the limited time they had before that damnable knock sounded at the door. Encouraged by the increasing pressure of her fingers, he drove into her again and again, pushing them toward the explosive climax that would send them spiraling into the realm of ecstasy.
Her breathing came in little panting moans as she felt it coming on, that moment of exquisite release. A moment later it took her, sending her over the edge with a force that scattered her senses and left her mind and body reeling. She bit her lip to keep from crying out as her body quivered and then once again seemed to shatter into pieces. He collapsed on top of her a few seconds later, his body heavy but not crushing. She welcomed his weight, moving her hands up to tangle in the silky softness of his hair, holding him close. A moment later he turned onto his side, pulling her with him, their bodies still joined.
“What color are your eyes?” he asked in a ragged whisper, his mouth pressed against the curve of her neck, knowing she wouldn’t answer him, couldn’t answer him.
Her own breathing was equally ragged as she moved her hand to his cheek, tracing the line of his jaw. In the past weeks she had explored every inch of his body, trying desperately to
him with her hands. Slowly she trailed her fingertips from his jaw to his lips. She knew the contours of his face so well now. She brushed her thumb against his lower lip and he turned his mouth into her hand, kissing her palm. She continued on, her fingers drifting along the top of his nose, skimming lightly across the bridge and then moving to gently trace the subtle arches of his eyebrows. She placed a delicate kiss upon his lips as her fingers moved to follow the curve of his ear and then across to his cheekbone. In a sense, she did see him and he was beautiful.
Gavin’s breathing slowly returned to normal as she continued her gentle exploration of his face. He’d done the same thing to her on numerous occasions, tracing her features with his fingers, trying to envision her face and create a picture of her in his mind. At times, the inability to truly see her, to see the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed or the expression on her face when she was in the throes of passion was maddening. Only with his touch could he conceive of her delicate beauty, her utter perfection, but ultimately it was enough, it had to be.
As Melody’s fingers moved once again to brush along the lower portion of his face, she felt the thin scar about half of the length of her index finger, just beneath his jawline. She’d asked him about it once before. A childhood injury he’d told her at the time. She would have asked him to elaborate, but as it so often was, her attention had quickly been diverted by his lips and hands. “Tell me what happened,” she said now, moving her thumb lightly back and forth across the thin line.
He considered her request, wondering if telling her about it would break any of his captor’s damnable rules. He supposed not, as long as he didn’t reveal any personal information about himself. Though he believed she was just as much a victim as he was, and as much as he wanted to believe he could trust her, he knew better than to ever let his guard down. “I was sword fighting,” he said after a moment, amusement tingeing his voice as he recalled the incident.
“I was eleven at the time,” he began, “and had a hankering to become a pirate.”
, every little boy’s fantasy.
“My…friend and I,” he’d been about to say my brother and I, but caught himself, “snuck two of the swords from my father’s collection of antique weapons out of the house and into the nearby woods.” He paused, remembering his and Richard’s mad dash into the forest, the heavy metal swords barely hidden beneath their long coats. They’d been quite a pair in their younger days, a couple of unruly scamps who’d often tested their governess’, as well as their parent’s patience to the limit. “We staged a mock battle, and it was quite a performance, if I do say so myself. But of course, we were young and overly careless. I lost my footing at one point and fell forward, and the tip of his blade caught me just under my chin.”
“Oh dear.” She could almost picture the scene in her mind.
“The wound wasn’t deep, but nonetheless, by the time we made it back to the house I was quite a sight.”
“I can only imagine.”
He chuckled at the now fond memory, though it hadn’t been nearly so amusing at the time. “We had left our coats in the woods in our haste, and when we reached the house my white shirt was covered in blood, as was my neck and the entire lower portion of my face. My poor mother nearly fainted at the sight. But of course it looked far worse than it was. A few stitches and I was as good as new, or near enough anyhow.
“A battle scar for a would-be pirate,” Melody murmured, snuggling into him as she brushed her lips against his jaw.
“I’ll admit that I
rather proud of it at the time.”
Melody giggled softly, nestling her head against his shoulder. They lay quietly then, savoring the final minutes of their time together. How would she bear it when it all ended, these magical afternoons that brought such joy to her life? She tried not to think about it, but it was hard not to. Was it possible that she had already conceived? Was it horrible of her to hope that she hadn’t, to hope that their time together wouldn’t come to an end so soon? Yes, of course it was. He was a prisoner here, the life he’d had before, his family, his free will, everything had been taken away from him. Even his child would be taken from him. It was selfish of her to want anything other than for him to gain his freedom as soon as possible. She knew that.
A moment later, almost as if his thoughts had followed a similar path, his hand drifted lightly across her abdomen, and then stilled.
Would her stomach soon swell with his child,
child, Gavin wondered? Had his seed already taken hold within her? He didn’t like to think about it, but it was becoming more and more difficult not to. In a short time they would know if she had conceived. And if she had, what then? If his abductor kept his word he would gain his freedom, as would his sister. He wanted that more than anything,
For Natalie of course, but for himself? It troubled him that he wasn’t quite so eager to be free from his captivity as he had been just a few weeks before. It was something he’d been wrestling with for days. Freedom meant going home, back to his life and to his family, but it also meant never holding her in his arms again, this woman who had become something to him, something special, something that he couldn’t
fully identify, or perhaps didn’t wish to acknowledge he admitted. And of course there was the child he would never know, the child
would never know. “Will it be difficult for you, to give up the child?” he asked her, all traces of amusement gone from his voice.
The softly uttered question caught her off guard, and for a moment she couldn’t answer him, unsure of what to say. Surprisingly, in all the hours they’d spent together they had never actually discussed the purpose of these afternoon visits, creating a child, the topic purposely avoided as if there had been an unspoken understanding between them. Was it the fond memory of his own childhood that prompted him to bring it up now, she wondered?
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said when she didn’t respond right away.
“No, it’s not…it’s just…I…” she faltered, stumbling over the words. She didn’t want to lie to him, but what choice did she have? She couldn’t tell him the truth; that
wouldn’t be giving up her child,
child, for she had far too much to lose if she did, as he surely did as well. But the guilt she felt at deceiving him was nearly more than she could bear.
Damn you Charles, damn you to hell,
she thought miserably. “It’s… well…it is something I do not like to think about I suppose,” she hedged, hating herself in that moment.
“Forgive me. I should not have brought it up,” he murmured into her hair.
Melody reached down and placed her hand over his, squeezing it gently. “No, it’s alright.” She took a deep breath, struggling to find the right words, wanting to be as truthful as she possibly could. “Despite this…the sheer madness of this situation, I know in my heart that if I do conceive a child, he or she will be loved. I try to focus on that.” And it was true. She would love their child with all of her heart. She would love it enough for both of them. “Will it…be difficult for you?” she asked hesitantly.
“Yes,” he replied honestly.
Melody heard the pain in his voice and it broke her heart. She didn’t want to cause him pain, this wonderful man that she had come to love with every fiber of her being. Clearly there were men out there who cared not a fig about leaving fatherless bastards scattered across the country, men who thought nothing of the child’s future, but only of their selfish, momentary pleasures. But not him, he wasn’t like that. He did care, and that made what she was being forced to do so very much harder. “I wish…” she trailed off, flooded with emotion, too choked up to continue.
“I know,” he murmured softly.
But he didn’t know, not really, and that was something she was going to have to live with for the rest of her life.
Another fortnight had gone by and Melody’s monthlies had yet to arrive. She rose from the bed, deliberately ignoring Charles who she knew was awake, and made her way to the water closet. She could feel the weight of his gaze upon her back as she walked away. Once inside, she closed the door behind her with a soft thud. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the wooden panel, fighting back her tears. She was with child. It was too soon to be completely sure of course, but she felt it, felt it with an odd certainty that left her feeling slightly off balance. She was going to have a baby,
. Charles would be ecstatic of course, to have gotten what he wanted so quickly. But not her, for now she would lose him, the man she had come to love more than she had ever thought possible.
How much time did they have left before Charles put an end to her afternoon visits to the cottage? Another week, maybe two? For him, she was glad that his captivity would likely soon come to an end, but for her, selfishly she feared that it would come far too quickly. She despised herself for feeling that way, but she couldn’t seem to help it. The thought of losing him was both heartbreaking and devastating beyond words. The only thing that gave her any sense of comfort was the knowledge that she would always have a part of him with her, their child. But even that was utterly selfish, perhaps more so than anything else, because she knew that the loss of his child would pain him for eternity. It was so unfair, so cruel. Silently she cursed Charles for what he’d done, done to them both.
Several minutes later, once she had composed herself, she opened the door and reentered the bedchamber. Charles was seated on the edge of the mattress, waiting, watching her as she approached.