‘Mmm?’ He drew her in close and held her warm and safe against his bruised body and she felt his breathing as she slid her arms under his robe and around his waist. Suddenly it was all very simple.
‘Make love to me.’
Giles’s heartbeat kicked and his hands tightened. ‘Isobel, think of the risk. You making love with the man you were going to marry is one thing. But I’ll not chance getting you with child.’
‘There are ways of making love that hold no risk,’ she said. It was easier to be bold with her burning face hidden against his shirt front. ‘We...Lucas and I, made love like that the first time.’
‘You trust my self-control?’ His voice rumbled in his chest against her ear and she felt the pressure as he rested his uninjured cheek against her hair. He had not rejected her out of hand. Her pulse quickened, the heaviness of desire settled low inside her. If he touched her intimately he would feel the evidence of her desire for him. And she wanted him to touch her, shamelessly.
‘Yes.’ The second time with Lucas, neither of them had had any self-control. But it had not mattered, they told themselves, lying tangled in a happy daze afterwards. They would be married within weeks. ‘Am I asking too much of you?’
‘There is nothing you could ask me that is too much, except to forget you. This is only going to make things worse for us, you know that?’
‘I know. But it will not be worse until tomorrow.’
Giles gave a muffled snort of laughter. ‘Feminine logic,’ then gasped as she pulled a handful of shirt from his breeches and put her hands on his bare skin. ‘Isobel, if we are found out—’
‘Lock the door. Lock the door and make love to me, Giles.’ Isobel stepped back out of his arms. ‘Please. Make me yours, as much as we can.’
As he went to the door she blew out all but two of the candles.
‘Isobel?’ Giles turned back, the key in his hand.
‘I am shy—a little,’ she confessed and knew her blush added veracity to the half-truth. She did not want to risk what he might read from her body.
‘There is no need,’ he said, smiling at her as he let his robe drop then pulled his shirt over his head. ‘It is all right,’ he added as she ran forwards with a cry of distress at the sight of his ribs, marked black and blue with bruises. ‘Bruised, not broken. Let me see you, Isobel.’
Her robe slithered to the floor. Under it all she wore was her nightgown, warm and sensible flannel for February. ‘Ah. My little nun,’ Giles teased and pulled it over her head before she could protest. ‘Oh, no, not a nun. My Venus.’
‘I am not that,’ Isobel protested, her hands instinctively shielding her body, even as she warmed with shocked pleasure at Giles’s expression as he looked at her in the shifting shadowlight.
‘Slim and rounded and pale.’ His hands traced down over her shoulders, down her arms, over her hips. His touch was warm now. ‘When I first saw you I thought you were too thin and your nose was red from the cold. You seemed quite plain to me. I must have been blind.’
‘And I thought you were a cold statue, too perfect to be real.’ She let her hands stray to his chest and played with the dusting of dark hair. ‘So cold.’ His breath hitched as her fingernail scratched lightly at one nipple.
‘No. Not cold,’ Giles said thickly. ‘Hot for you.’ He kissed her, held her tight against him so her breasts were crushed against the flat planes of his chest and her thighs felt the heat of his through the black silk of his evening breeches. The thin fabric did nothing to disguise the hard thrust of his erection against her belly. This was no shy and tentative young lover, this was a mature, experienced man. Isobel moaned into his mouth, pressed herself against him.
She wanted him, needed him inside her so she could possess and be possessed, know that she was his. But they must not, she knew it. Whatever she did, she must not put Giles into a position where he felt honour-bound to marry her, come what may. Somehow—if only he would come to realise that he loved her—they would find a way, but not like that.
Giles slowed the kiss, gaining control after the first shock of their lips meeting. He edged her against the bed until she tumbled backwards and he followed her, rolling her into the centre of the mattress and coming to lie beside her.
‘Your breeches.’ Isobel felt for the fastenings, but his hand stilled hers, pressing it down over the straining weight of his erection.
‘Better leave them on.’ He was having trouble controlling his breathing, she realised.