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Her lips parted for that kiss, his long-awaited, fantasized-about kiss …

She just had to make it to the head of the stairs. She peered through the darkness as she reached for the railing to help her along, since she had not bothered to light and bring a candle. She was not expecting anyone to be up and about; Stanton and the housekeeper had retired at least an hour ago to their own quarters. Thus, as she reached for the railing she was totally startled and nearly screamed when a voice just before her softly said, “Now … whatever are you doing stealing about at this hour …?”

Jewels steadied herself and managed to answer, hand to chest, “As to that, I can’t be accused of stealing about in my own home … and ’tis only about nine or so … and I might ask, what are you doing walking about in the dark, Ryker?”

He had already spanned the distance between them, his voice low, husky, and hungry as he took her in his arms and whispered, “Thankfully … this …” And with that he bent and kissed her.

Her lips parted for that kiss, his long-awaited, fantasized-about kiss. Kissing Ryker was a notion that had invaded her mind and had taken siege to the city. She threw herself into that kiss, surrendering her tongue to him with abandon. She didn’t think; she only felt.

She lost herself in that moment to him and his all-consuming kiss. He was delicious, and her body tingled with excitement. She forgot all other purposes as she allowed his kiss to turn into another. His hand moved from her waist to cup her breast, and her body burned for more touching, more of him, and she couldn’t feel the floor beneath her feet … and … she had to stop … she had to get away. She was on a mission, she reminded herself. She pushed at his rock-hard, oh so beautifully formed chest. “Sir—you must not …”

“No? Must I not?” he teased while nibbling at her ear.

She broke away and ran from him without a word. Without looking back she went flying into her room and locked the bedroom door. There she leaned back against it and reminded herself to breathe. She had so much yet to do … and all she wanted to do was to climb back into his arms …

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