“Please stay.” The words came out as a tremulous whisper. She meant them with all her heart, but her heart was still afraid.
Slowly, Sir Thomas reached across the distance between them and took her hand. His touch was as soft as his voice, and yet she could feel the warmth of him through the layers of their silken gloves. She looked into his astonishing green eyes and her heart constricted at what she saw; a quiet pleasure that mixed with a dark intensity. She knew that look from her dreams. It was desire.
“Thank you.” Without taking his gaze from hers, Sir Thomas bent and touched his lips to her fingers. Jane clamped her mouth closed around a sigh.
“Now, Lady Jane,” he lifted his head. A subtle change came over his manner, lending him an air of command that had so far been lacking. “Let us speak of these dreams.”
Jane would not have believed she had any blushes left. But Sir Thomas’s gaze lingered on her cheeks, letting her know she colored crimson once more, and he smiled. The expression brought a dangerous and breathtaking light to his eyes.
“Would I be right in thinking they are dreams of love?” he murmured.
His fingers thrust into her slit, stroking her, demanding she surrender to the pleasure he brought. His cock pressed hard and rigid against her ass while she writhed and cried out . . .
She dropped her gaze to her fan. Jane had no real experience with flirtation. She did not know how to speak of love to a man, much less to hint at the kinds of desires her dreams had brought. She had been married young to Lord Octavius DeWitte, at her father’s urging. Octavius was a steady man, but he had not wanted a companion for his heart. She was to be housekeeper and hostess, and provide an heir if that could be managed. During the five years of their marriage, he praised her competence and level-headed management of the house. He’d given her anything she asked for, but never teased her, much less tempted.
Fingers traced feather soft down her cheek. Sir Thomas’s touch was as instantly familiar as his person had been. It ignited sparks against her skin and sent them tumbling down to her breasts, her thighs and her tightening center.
“You are so beautiful,” he whispered. “Any man seeing you would dream of love.”
“But you are not the one who dreams, sir.” The words emerged in a low and husky voice, quite unlike her own.
Sir Thomas let his fingertips linger a moment on her jawline. “And yet, Lady Jane, you do not tell me I am too bold.”
Tell him he was too bold? Impossible. It was all Jane could do not to lean into his hand and rub her cheek against his warm palm. The cool night wind carried his scent to her, a mixture of leather, brandy and spices that worked its way into her blood and her brain, wreaking havoc upon what little reason remained to her.
“It is impossible.” Tears pricked her eyes as she took his hand and lifted it away.
“No, it is not.” His fingers curled around hers, preventing her from pulling her hand back.
“I have a position to maintain, sir. I am not free as others are.” It was monstrously unfair. The whole court was at liberty. The wealthy widows—the wealthy
—flaunted entire trains of lovers in every public setting. But depleted of money and family, utterly dependent on the good opinion of her mistress, Jane was condemned to remain as alone as any unmarried girl.
Sir Thomas pressed her hand gently, urging her to look at him. But Jane knew if she did, she would be utterly and finally lost. She kept her gaze fixed on the gardens and the winking torches that burned so brightly in the distance. The sound of women’s laughter reached her and she winced to hear it.
“Listen to me, Jane.” Sir Thomas pressed her hand once more. “If I have but one thing from you, all others will become possible.”
“What might that be?” She’d meant those to be bitter, jesting words, but they sounded only of despair.
“Give me your assent,” said Sir Thomas calmly. “Say yes, and I will be with you this night, and any other time you desire me.”
She stared at him. He met her gaze and returned it, completely unperturbed.
“It is impossible,” she repeated.
That only brought a smile from him. “More impossible than that you should dream of me before we ever met? More impossible than that you should desire the companionship of a stranger, even now?” She must have looked startled again because he nodded slowly, never taking his gaze from hers. “Yes, I know your feelings, Jane, because they are mine as well.”
Her eyes, traitors to all propriety, traveled down to where their hands were clasped, tracing his form along the way. His breeches were tight, his coat was open, and she could clearly see the straining outline of his hard cock. She remembered her hand pressed against his erection. She remembered all the longing she’d felt to strip away the clothing from between them, to see him fully naked beneath her hands.
To touch him, to take him inside her.
“Say yes, Jane,” Sir Thomas whispered. “And we will both have what we want so very much.”
A slow pulsing began deep in her center, and she knew it came from seeing his cock swollen for her, from holding his hand and from receiving the lightest of his touches. She would never have believed it possible to feel so much from so little, but there was no escaping this pure, intense desire that made her breasts swell and softened her pussy.
Alone at night, woken from her dreams to her cold, narrow bed, she had wept in her frustration at being denied. Now Sir Thomas offered her all she had ached and agonized for.
“What is your answer, Jane?” Sir Thomas asked.
“Yes,” she said. “My answer is yes.”
Sir Thomas let out a long, slow breath. He turned her hand over and kissed her palm, and she felt his tongue, quick and light, touch the silk. This time she closed her eyes. This time she sighed.
“Be patient but a little longer.” Sir Thomas set her hand down against her thigh. His fingertips brushed her skirts softly as he stood to make his bow. “I promise, I will be with you again soon.”
Jane could not move. She could not breathe. He saw her paralysis, and in return offered another of his breathtaking smiles. A fresh flash of desire shot straight to the core of her. Then, Sir Thomas turned and made his way slowly back down the balcony stairs, vanishing into the shadows.
homas Lynne sat back on the plush seat of his recently hired carriage and considered Lady Jane Markham DeWitte.
He’d glimpsed her at a distance months ago and been struck at once by her appearance. But that glimpse and the half-reality of dream and glamour had left him unprepared for her true beauty. Lady Jane was a magnificent creature. Old enough to be possessed of character, but young enough to be merry, she had a lovely face and a pair of sparkling brown eyes. Her gown of ice blue silk had draped across her form beautifully, showing her luscious curves to advantage. His cock pulsed at the memory of those curves; so soft and yet so strong. It had been all he could do not to reach for her breast as they sat together, to caress and play with it in the way he knew she liked. She would moan sweetly and throw her head back, begging for his touch with her whole body.
And he would give it to her. He would give her all she desired and so much more. In the dreams, she had been intoxicatingly responsive to his touch. How much finer would she be when they were at last together in the flesh?
His cock was stone hard now. Thomas cursed mildly, adjusting himself in an attempt to find a more comfortable position. He considered undoing his breeches and seeking a more active relief, but decided against it. He had only this single errand. After that, he would be able to call Jane to him, and sink his cock into her silken heat. Any discomfort he felt now would only enhance the pleasure of that moment.
Sir Thomas grinned out at the passing city. He stroked his cock slowly, but only once, a promise to himself of the delights to come.
The rain had begun again, a steady, drenching April shower that could very well keep on for all the next day. The carriage turned a corner and passed through an arch in a high brick wall that marked the entrance to Hyde Park. Instead of elegant houses and shops, the carriage now traveled a lane flanked by rolling meadows and ancient trees. One corner of this green expanse in the middle of sooty London had been carved out to make the grounds for Kensington House, the palace that held his lovely Jane securely behind walls of stone and cold iron gates. But Hyde Park itself held far more surprising things. If those who served England’s royal family had known of them, they surely would have housed their hoped-for heir much farther away.
“Stop here!” Thomas thumped his cane on the top of the carriage.
The driver, who had been hired with the carriage, drew in the reins to halt the healthy but dispirited horses. Donning his high hat and pulling the brim low, Sir Thomas climbed out onto the sodden gravel roadbed.
“Sir!” protested the man. “It’s pouring!”
“And because it is, you may take the carriage directly home,” Thomas told him. “I shall follow in my own time.”
The man ogled Thomas in the light of the carriage lantern. For a moment, he plainly thought to protest. As he was being paid extra to be discreet, however, he shut his wide mouth. He wagged his head hard enough to shake his double chin, but he also touched up the horses and drove on.
Alone, Sir Thomas set off through the rain, whistling as cheerfully as if he strolled through a pleasant summer’s afternoon. He carried no lantern, but the dark did not trouble him and his stride remained long and sure. An observer would have noted with surprise that despite the soaking ground, no mud spattered his gleaming hessian boots, his well-tailored overcoat or his perfect white knee breeches. No rain touched the sleeves of his great coat, or the brim of his hat.
Still whistling, Thomas made his way to a thick grove of oaks at the edge of the greensward. Once he stepped beneath the trees, the rain ceased. Here, the ground was perfectly dry. Fern and bluebells wafted their rich fragrance into warm and pleasant air. In the distance—much farther than might have been suggested by the size of the grove from the outside—burned a preternaturally clear and steady light. This light had nothing in common with mere daylight or ordinary flames. This was the silver of the full moon that somehow also granted the clarity of a summer morning.
Sir Thomas removed his hat. The silver light fell against his face like a caress.
“Welcome, my most loyal Sir Thomas Lynne! Come forward!”
The voice was lovely beyond comprehension. Warm, rich and merry, it was nothing less than the sound of love. It went straight to the blood and the heart, opening both wide to the desire to hear the voice’s owner speak again.
Thomas could now make out an opening between the ancient trees before him. It had not been there an eye-blink ago, and yet somehow it had always been there.
Sir Thomas bowed his head and stepped into the presence of the Queen of the Fae.
Outside, the cold English spring might lurk, but beneath the queen’s silver light, perfect summer reigned. Roses bloomed in scarlet profusion and ivy twined the trunks of thorn and oak trees. Slender girls clad in simple Grecian tunics lounged on the emerald grass with their arms twined about each other and bare legs stretched out. They nibbled the fresh fruits from the wooden platters that lay between them. They might have been simple pastoral maidens of the sort seen in classical paintings, unless one dared to look at their eyes. Not one of the maidens had human eyes. Instead they were golden with slit pupils like cats, or round and solid black like birds. The human eyes belonged to the knights standing guard around the edges of the clearing. Each man had been selected for the perfection of his body, which were all on display. They wore nothing with their golden breastplates and helms except leather loincloths. But the silver tips of their spears were wickedly sharp, and Thomas knew from experience that all of them were deadly fighters. He should, for he had trained them.
In the center of this gathering Her Glorious Majesty, Tatiana, Queen of the Seelie Fae, sat on a throne of gold and starlight and smiled radiantly as Sir Thomas knelt at her feet.
Tonight, the queen had chosen to appear as a mature and voluptuous woman. Her golden hair tumbled freely about smooth shoulders clad in a delicate fabric that was both sparkling green and quite translucent. If he dared to glance up, Thomas could see all her abundant curves, the tight buds of her nipples and the dark triangle between her rounded thighs. His cock, already hard with thoughts of Jane, stiffened unbearably tight. It was an act of will to remain where he was, but Thomas held still nonetheless. No matter how she displayed her changeable beauty, Her Glorious Majesty expected her knights to remain civilized and gallant until she commanded otherwise. If he gave way to this maddening desire even slightly, he would face his queen’s disapproval.