He stilled, and she knew he was waiting for her to say more.

“I love you,” she said, because it was true, and because she needed something to be true. Tomorrow he would hate her. Tomorrow she would betray him, but in this, at least, she would not lie.

“I want you,” she said, when he lifted his head to gaze into her eyes. He stared at her long and hard, and she knew that he was giving her one last chance to back out.

“I want you,” she said again, because she wanted him beyond words. She wanted him to kiss her, to take her, and to forget that she was not whispering words of love.

“Lu-”

She placed a finger to his mouth. And she whispered, “I want to be yours.” And then she added, “Tonight.”

His body shuddered, his breath moving audibly over his lips. He groaned something, maybe her name, and then his mouth met hers in a kiss that gave and took and burned and consumed until Lucy could not help but move underneath him. Her hands slid to his neck, then inside his coat, her fingers desperately seeking heat and skin. With a roughly mumbled curse, he rose up, still straddling her, and yanked off the coat and cravat.

She stared at him with wide eyes. He was removing his shirt, not slowly or with finesse, but with a frantic speed that underscored his desire.

He was not in control. She might not be in control, but neither was he. He was as much a slave to this fire as she was.

He tossed his shirt aside, and she gasped at the sight of him, the light sprinkling of hair across his chest, the muscles that sculpted and stretched under his skin.

He was beautiful. She hadn’t realized a man could be beautiful, but it was the only word that could possibly describe him. She lifted one hand and gingerly placed it against his skin. His blood leaped and pulsed beneath, and she nearly pulled away.

“No,” he said, covering her hand with his own. He wrapped his fingers around hers and then took her to his heart.

He looked into her eyes.

She could not look away.

And then he was back, his body hard and hot against hers, his hands everywhere and his lips everywhere else. And her nightgown-It no longer seemed to be covering quite so much of her. It was up against her thighs, then pooled around her waist. He was touching her-not there, but close. Skimming along her belly, scorching her skin.

“Gregory,” she gasped, because somehow his fingers had found her breast.

“Oh, Lucy,” he groaned, cupping her, squeezing, tickling the tip, and-

Oh, dear God. How was it possible that she felt it there?

Her hips arched and bucked, and she needed to be closer. She needed something she couldn’t quite identify, something that would fill her, complete her.

He was tugging at her nightgown now, and it slipped over her head, leaving her scandalously bare. One of her hands instinctively rose to cover her, but he grabbed her wrist and held it against his own chest. He was straddling her, sitting upright, staring down at her as if…as if…

As if she were beautiful.

He was looking at her the way men always looked at Hermione, except somehow there was more. More passion, more desire.

She felt worshipped.

“Lucy,” he murmured, lightly caressing the side of her breast. “I feel…I think…”

His lips parted, and he shook his head. Slowly, as if he did not quite understand what was happening to him. “I have been waiting for this,” he whispered. “For my entire life. I didn’t even know. I didn’t know.”

She took his hand and brought it to her mouth, kissing the palm. She understood.

His breath quickened, and then he slid off of her, his hands moving to the fastenings of his breeches.

Her eyes widened, and she watched.

“I will be gentle,” he vowed. “I promise you.”

“I’m not worried,” she said, managing a wobbly smile.

His lips curved in return. “You look worried.”

“I’m not.” But still, her eyes wandered.

Gregory chuckled, lying down beside her. “It might hurt. I’m told it does at the beginning.”

She shook her head. “I don’t care.”

He let his hand wander down her arm. “Just remember, if there is pain, it will get better.”

She felt it beginning again, that slow burning in her belly. “How much better?” she asked, her voice breathy and unfamiliar.

He smiled as his fingers found her hip. “Quite a bit, I’m told.”

“Quite a bit,” she asked, now barely able to speak, “or…rather a lot?”

He moved over her, his skin finding every inch of hers. It was wicked.

It was bliss.

“Rather a lot,” he answered, nipping lightly at her neck. “More than rather a lot, actually.”

She felt her legs slide open, and his body nestled in the space between them. She could feel him, hard and hot and pressing against her. She stiffened, and he must have felt it, because his lips crooned a soft, “Shhhh,” at her ear.

From there he moved down.

And down.

And down.

His mouth trailed fire along her neck to the hollow of her shoulder, and then-

Oh, dear God.

His hand was cupping her breast, making it round and plump, and his mouth found the tip.

She jerked beneath him.

He chuckled, and his other hand found her shoulder, holding her immobile while he continued his torture, pausing only to move to the other side.

“Gregory,” Lucy whimpered, because she did not know what else to say. She was lost to the sensation, completely helpless against his sensual onslaught. She couldn’t explain, she couldn’t fix or rationalize. She could only feel, and it was the most terrifying, thrilling thing imaginable.

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