"Forgive me," she muttered, jerking to her feet. "I over-step." And then, because it was still there, she drained the rest of her brandy and rushed toward the door.

"Aaaah!"

"What the devil?" Turner shot to his feet.

"I forgot about the glass," she whimpered. "The broken glass."

"Oh, Christ, Miranda, don't cry." He walked swiftly across the room and for the second time that evening scooped her into his arms.

"I'm so stupid. So bloody stupid," she said with a sniffle. The tears were more for her lost dignity than for pain, and for that reason they were harder to stop.

"Don't curse. I've never heard you curse before. I'll have to wash your mouth out with soap," he teased, carrying her back to the sofa.

His gentle tone affected her more than stern words ever could, and she took a few great gulps of air, trying to control the sobs that were hovering somewhere at the back of her throat.

He set her gently back down on the sofa. "Let me see that foot now, all right?"

She shook her head. "I can take care of it."

"Don't be silly. You're shaking like a leaf." He walked over to the liquor cabinet and picked up the candle she'd left there earlier.

She watched him as he crossed back to her and set the candle down on an end table. "Here now, we've got a bit of light. Let me see your foot."

Reluctantly, she let him pick up her foot and place it in his lap. "I'm so stupid."

"Will you stop saying that? You're the least stupid female I know."

"Thank you. I- Ouch!"

"Sit still and stop twisting around."

"I want to see what you're doing."

"Well, unless you're a contortionist, you can't, so you'll have to trust me."

"Are you almost done?"

"Almost." He pinched his finger around another shard of glass and pulled.

She stiffened in pain.

"I've only one or two left."

"What if you don't get them all out?"

"I will."

"What if you don't?"

"Good God, woman, have I ever told you that you're persistent?"

She almost smiled. "Yes."

And he almost smiled back. "If I miss one, it'll probably just work its way out in a few days. Splinters usually do."

"Wouldn't it be nice if life were as simple as a splinter?" she said sadly.

He looked up. "Working its way out in a few days?"

She nodded.

He held her gaze for another moment, and then turned back to his work, plucking one last shard of glass from her skin. "There you are. You'll be as good as new in no time."

But he made no move to take her foot off his lap.

"I'm sorry I was so clumsy."

"Don't be. It was an accident."

Was it her imagination or was he whispering? And his eyes looked so tender. Miranda twisted herself around so that she was sitting up next to him. "Turner?"

"Don't say anything," he said hoarsely.

"But I- "

"Please!"

Miranda didn't understand the urgency in his voice, didn't recognize the desire lacing his words. She only knew that he was close, and she could feel him, and she could smell him…and she wanted to taste him. "Turner, I- "

"No more," he said raggedly, and he pulled her up next to him, her breasts flattening against his firmly muscled chest. His eyes were gleaming fiercely, and she suddenly realized- suddenly knew - that nothing was going to stop the slow descent of his lips onto hers.

And then he was kissing her, his lips hot and hungry against her mouth. His desire was fierce, raw, and consuming. He wanted her. She could not believe it, could barely even summon the presence of mind to think it, but she knew it.

He wanted her.

It made her bold. It made her womanly. It brought forth some kind of secret knowledge that had been buried within her, since before she was born perhaps, and she kissed him back, her lips moving with artless wonder, her tongue darting out to taste the hot salt of his skin.

Turner's hands pressed into her back, imprisoning her against him, and then they could no longer remain upright, and they sank into the cushions, Turner covering Miranda's body with his own.

He was wild. He was mad. That could be the only explanation, but he could not seem to get enough of her. His hands roamed everywhere, testing, touching, squeezing, and all he could think- when he could think at all- was that he wanted her. He wanted her in every possible way. He wanted to devour her. He wanted to worship her.

He wanted to lose himself within her.

He whispered her name, moaned it against her skin. And when she whispered his in return, he felt his hands move to the tiny buttons at the neck of her nightgown. Each fastening seemed to melt away beneath his fingertips until she was undone, and all that was left was for him to slide the fabric along her skin. He could feel the swell of her breasts beneath the gown, but he wanted more. He wanted the heat of her, the smell, the taste.

His lips moved down her throat, following the elegant curve to her collarbone, right where the edge of her nightgown met her skin. He nudged it down, tasting one new inch of her, exploring the soft, salty sweetness, and shuddering with pleasure when the flat planes of her chest gave way to the gentle swell of her breast.

Dear God, he wanted her.

He cupped her through her clothing, pressing her up, raising her closer to his mouth. She groaned, and it was all he could do to hold himself back, to force his desire to move slowly. His mouth moved closer, edging toward the ultimate prize, even as his hand slipped under the hemline of her nightgown, sliding up the silky skin of her calf.

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