Chapter Two: Part two

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She looked up to see him staring at her. No. Staring at her lips, his mouth open. His eyes met hers, then dropped again as if magnetized, and his tongue slipped out between his own lips to moisten them. He made a husky sound, almost a groan, then licked his lips again. His voice was so low she could feel it vibrate in her... in the place she wanted to touch after looking at The Scrapbook.

"Sally, did you just ask if I would kiss you?"

This was so embarrassing. Sally controlled her squirm and bounced to her feet. She crossed to the brandy decanter that she had stolen from the butler's pantry, filled with her father's best brandy from the decanter in his library. He would not notice. She had replaced the missing alcohol with water.

Pouring Toad a brandy meant she did not have to look at him while she made her case. "You will grow up to be the duke and keep opera dancers and fall in love with fascinating widows, and do the things in the pictures you sent me." She was blushing. She knew she was.

Toad accepted the brandy, but put it down immediately and grabbed her hand before she could walk away again. "Monkey. If your father knew I was here with you, let alone thinking about kissing you..."

Sally's heart leapt. He was thinking about it! "Someone shall give me my first kiss, Toa– David. I would as soon it was you."

He shifted uneasily and she seized the advantage, sitting beside him on the sofa so close that her skirts washed over his legs, and she could feel the heat of his thighs even through her petticoats. "I am not unpleasing to look at, am I? And I am well-connected, and very rich. Will I not be a temptation to a rake, David?

He reached out and cupped her cheek with his hand, not taking his eyes from hers. "You are, my sweet. You are."

She swallowed the lump that tried to block her next words. "I look at the pictures you send me and I lie awake in the night. And think about what it must feel like." She dropped her voice to a mere thread of a whisper, and he leaned closer to hear; so close his breath warmed her face. "I try to imagine if it was me. And you, David." Any moment. If she stretches her face towards him, their lips will touch, and...

Toad drew back, with a suddenly indrawn breath. "Sally. We cannot. I cannot. How can I despoil you? I mean to be your defender, your knight, your husband one day. When I do marry. I will never give my heart elsewhere, no matter what I do with my other body parts. It is just... We are still young, my Beauty." As if without his volition, the hand that still cupped her cheek stroked downward, the thumb tracing the bow of her lips.

She leaned into the caress, veiling her eyes with her lashes lest he see the indignant flash. 'Mean to marry,' indeed. As if he had but to beckon and she would sit up and beg!

She would, it was true. But how arrogant of him to believe it! Her own pride made her voice cold.

"Do you mean to marry me, David? I know our fathers spoke of it when we were children, but I am to have my Season soon, and I cannot wait forever. You cannot expect me to."

"You have held my heart since before I was breeched. Surely you know that? How could I ever love another? Only... I am not sure how to love a wife yet. I should hate to be a bad husband to the only woman I can ever love." He frowned. Long experience told her that, when he looked so adamant, he was on the point of succumbing to her coaxing. "And I will not despoil you, however much you tempt me." But still he continued to gently stroke her lip.

"I am not asking to be despoiled," she coaxed, "but to be kissed. A kiss may be stolen safely, I know that, as long as no one knows. I can trust you, David. I would trust you with my life." Her mouth tingling from his touch, she lifted her chin, and half closed her eyes.

He did not disappoint, curving his hand around her waist and pulling her in closer, leaning in to brush his lips against hers. When he shifted as if to pull away, she opened her mouth to protest, and his tongue suddenly slipped between her lips; between her teeth.

Sally molded herself to him, learning the dance of lips and tongues, feeling herself melting. From her lips, he moved along her jawline to her ear, leaving soft kisses and nibbles in his wake.

She threw back her head to give him full access. "David, that makes me shiver right down my body. Oh, David, it makes me ache!"

Suddenly, he pulled away again, his face uncertain.

"Don't stop. It feels so good!"

"Er... I say... you only want to know what kissing is like...? You aren't hoping to... er... that is to say... if I were to marry anyone, it would be you, but I'd hate to be... er... Of course, if I had to, I would never leave you to face a scandal without the protection of my name, but I would rather not be forced into marriage by circumstance."

Sally was deeply indignant. "Toad! How can you think I would try to..."

In fairness, some girls might do such a thing. She had heard her father and Uncle Wellbridge warning Toad on more than one occasion. She gave his shoulder a consoling pat. "Do not worry, Toad. I know what you want to say. 'One must never trifle with a lady's affections.' 'You are too young to marry.' 'You esteem me highly, but...' Et cetera, et cetera. I want you, Toad. David. You have set me aflame. Never mind about our fathers' lectures."

He kissed her again, just a brief brush of lips. "Please do not think I mean offense. As I say, I mean to be your husband one day. But I have so many years yet before I must take on responsibility for someone else's life."

She smiled, doing her best to look cheerful. Did he really think she would be allowed to wait 'many years'? Stupid boy. But he was her stupid boy, and she, for better or for worse, was his, heart and soul. And body, too, if she had her way tonight. "And that is why you must not ruin me, David. But there is a great deal we can do before we reach that point, is there not?"

Perspiration stood out on his head and he pulled at his cravat, whimpering. "You will be the death of me."

That struck Sally as funny. She looked down demurely, then up through her lashes. "Will it be a nice way to go, David?"

He groaned and pulled her to his chest again, tugging her hair loose from its careful coiffure, and using one hand to make short work of the buttons on her bodice.

"My beauty, death is a cheap price for what you offer."

"David..." His name was a sigh on her lips. She was on fire again, her mind fogged with desire, but not so much that she forgot the room waiting next door. She intended to watch while he... did whatever he would. Watch and store up memories for the lonely nights to come.

She struggled in his arms, and David instantly released her enough that she could slide his coat from his shoulders, unbutton his waistcoat, and pulled his shirt up from his breeches. She slid her hands up beneath the white linen, curling her fingers into the hair he had unaccountably grown since last she saw him shirtless. He pulled her to him again, just the cloth between her face and the hot skin of his chest.

"Not here," she whispered.

David had finished with her buttons. If Sally stood now, the gown would fall to the floor. She took a deep breath and pulled back again, this time rising to her feet, keeping her hands under his shirt so that he rose with her.

One by one, she pulled a hand out from under his shirt, shook the gown free of that side, and slipped the hand back into position. Her lips curved as his gaze riveted on the breasts pressed into high mounds by the corset.

As if mesmerized, he reached out a hand to cup each one, and then, with a flick of his thumbs, brought the aching nipples up and out of their confinement.

"Aaaaahhh." She felt his sigh of satisfaction quivering through his chest, and as he bent his head to kiss one pert breast, she slid her hands around to his back, glorying in the hard muscles within the silken skin.

Kiss? That was not a kiss. He was sucking, licking, nipping, and her knees were buckling. Any moment, and she would be on the hearthrug. "This way," she told him, urgently, forcing her knees to hold her up a few moments more as she backed into her father's former bedroom, David following after as surely as a kitten after a knotted ribbon.

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