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“Now aren’t you glad I came with you?”
She smiled. “Aye, I am. You saved my life.”
“Where were we?”
He took her face in his hands again. Maeve’s eyes searched his, her blood-red lips parted as if to object but he didn’t allow her to speak. He took that as invitation and kissed her, their mouths fusing together. He heard her sharp intake of breath through her nose. Her body stiffened but still he didn’t stop.
She didn’t resist him. His lips molded to hers in a way they had never molded to another. His tongue dipped into the honey recesses of her mouth, tasting her. And she tasted oh so sweet. So delectable. So wonderful. The smell of roses rushed over them, enveloping them. A moment later, her body relaxed and she melted into him. Yet one hand pressed against his chest, as though she intended to push him away. She did not.
For the first time in a long while, Henry’s shaft hardened, straining against the soft curves of her body seeking her heat and dampness. Wanting her. His mouth devoured hers and now she returned the kiss, much to his delight. Her tongue was probing, needy. Her lips mashed against his, as if she’d allowed reckless abandon to overcome her.
But then, almost as suddenly as she relaxed, she shoved away and stumbled back a step. Her face was flushed, her lips damp and swollen. Her breathing was erratic, her breasts rising and falling and making him want to rip open her gown and suckle those pearled peaks.
He could see the crushed pink petals of a rose in one of her fists. Immediately his mind equated those velvety petals with her nipples—he couldn’t help but wonder if they matched the color and texture. She must have grasped the bud and ripped it from the stem. Her fingers opened, one by one, and the mashed petals cascaded to the ground.
“Thank you for protecting me, Sir Henry.” Her voice rasped the words, as though she had trouble keeping it under control.
Maybe she did. Maybe she enjoyed the heat of the kiss as much as he did. Now he had a problem—a large problem straining against his breeches—and nothing he could do about it. And he certainly couldn’t return to the party with a giant boner straining against the cloth. Oh hell no.
“I shouldn’t have kissed you.”
Why did he feel the sudden need to confess? He had nothing to be ashamed about. He was a grown man. Had they both been mortal, he would have guessed they were about the same age. And despite being in his late forties, he was still a strong, virile man.
Maeve gave him her best snooty look. “Why did you?”
His gaze flickered her to her lips and—damn it—she licked them. More taunting. More teasing. She knew what she was doing. He didn’t buy the icy queen act. Deep down, she was desperate for loving. He was going to give it to her.
“You allowed me.” You cannot deny you liked it. You experienced the heat as I did. Even though he wanted to say the words to her, he pushed them out of his mind and instead said, “I wanted to.”
“See that it doesn’t happen again.”
She whisked by him, leaving behind the scent of crushed roses. Henry watched Maeve walk away, the damaged rose petals on the ground at his feet. For whatever reason, he bent and picked up a few of them, rubbing the velvety softness between his thumb and forefinger. He placed the petals in his palm, examining them. Even smashed they were beautiful. He tucked them away in his pocket. He would cherish them simply because she had held them in her palm.