A/N: A big thank you to everyone who voted, but the overwhelming result (84%) is that Vaughn and Estelle should continue to be… well, passionate creatures. Quick WARNING: skin will be shown! That aside, on with the chapter:
“Why? I’m not afraid of you.”
Vaughn sighed, pressing their foreheads together. “Don’t say that. You know it’s not true.”
“I’m not a porcelain doll. You won’t hurt me.”
Those brown eyes burned into her; angry, conflicted.
“I could’ve killed Linwood tonight, right in front of you! For God’s sake woman, I’m trying to protect you!”
Estelle interrupted him.
“You said it yourself, he’s gone. So what can you possibly be—”
He grabbed her hips and brought them crudely against his. Estelle bit down on her lip, fighting a gasp as sensation speared through her belly and up her spine.
His words made her wince.
Vaughn whispered desperately, pulling away.
“For god’s sake, don’t make me want you more than I already do, because… because it… sweetheart, we can never do this.”
It was wrong, utterly crazy that she had ended up here.
So why was it that when he told her that nothing could ever happen between them, her heart felt as if it would tear in half? Why was it that now, when she finally wanted him, when she finally knew he cared for her in some way, he refused her?
She was a mere governess, amd he was heir to an Earldom, an aristocrat and, worst of all, a damaged man.
There would be no arguments tonight, no insults, no banter. There was only them, and the glorious feeling of reciprocation. She would live for tonight and be grateful. She would cherish this memory, and make it last.
Vaughn’s face was impossible to interpret, a maelstrom of emotions flitted over the darkness of his eyes, too brief to be assessed. Then his hands tightened around her waist, but the hold bore no resemblence to Linwood’s. Fires burst from wherever he touched her.
She felt secure, wanted.
Do it. Kiss me.
Estelle shivered and stayed still as Vaughn leaned into her and pressed their lips together. It was a searching kiss, not quite gentle, but not forceful either. Estelle’s lips were nudged apart, and she complied.
She arched helplessly, mind numb.
His kiss was better than any mere recollection she’d locked away. His kisses made her feverish, made her burn. His breath was hers, his heart echoed the heavy beat of her own, and his lips… they stole the very soul from her body.
Her brain was full of white noise. Shakily, doubtfully, she lifted her arms. As the kiss became fiercer, she groaned, jerking her hands in Vaughn’s shirt, digging through the fabric to leave imprints on the Viscount’s shoulder blades. She gasped into the kiss. His kisses were devastating. Ruthless. Unbearably irresistible.
She was appalled to realise that she wanted more of him, wanted to feel more of him, from him.
“Vaughn . . . ”
“Don’t say anything.”
There was a quiet desperation in his gaze, something dangerously violent and vulnerable all at once. It compelled Estelle to obey.
She knew – beyond all sanity – that Vaughn was right behind her.
The next morning, Estelle opened her eyes to find unfamiliar curtains fluttering over an unfamiliar window in a room that certainly wasn’t her’s.
Her body ached all over, in all the right – and many wrong – places.
Memories of the previous night rushed back to her.
What . . . where is . . . ?
Estelle sat up in a hurry and turned in the direction of the voice. She felt her stomach unclench. Vaughn’s hair was still mussed and he wore his smallclothes and nothing else; the sight made Estelle’s mouth go dry.
Estelle closed her eyes, feeling a bit too bared by Vaughn’s devouring gaze. The memories from the previous night circled in her head.
She recalled a particularly embarrassing flash of herself crying out while Vaughn—
She felt her cheeks burn with a familiar sensation. Was she blushing? How utterly ridiculous!
The silence set her teeth on edge.
Estelle kept her mouth shut, hoping that the Viscount would give her a cue to act on, since they were both in his room and she was very naked in the bed they had both shared earlier.
“Er . . . ?” She ventured at last.
“You drool in your sleep.”
That was certainly not what she had been expecting.
Estelle was seized by the sudden fear that this might be only a fever-dream or an illusion. She dreaded what the new hours would bring, now that she knew what she could have. It was everything she had ever hoped for and beyond.
Please… please tell me this won’t all disappear tomorrow. “Are you . . . I mean . . . is this . . . are we –?”
“What will happen tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know, Estelle. Just . . . let it be. Tomorrow will come soon enough.”
Each time their lips found each other in the glow of the dying fire, it felt like the only natural, right thing in the world. His touch, his scent, his taste, the way she could feel his heartbeat, it was all perfect.
It was everything.
It would be easy to lay there and analyze the foolishness of what they had just done. Tomorrow, she would once again become a mere chaperone, and he would become the Viscount Afonsine. They would forget this night. They would forget these feelings.
They would forget the passion that beat hard in their blood…
But that was tomorrow. Now, it was far simpler to find Vaughn’s hand, to echo his earlier smile and answer the squeeze of her hand with one of her own. It was simpler sleep to the rise and fall of his chest, arms flung about each other.
It was much warmer that way.