Turner half expected her to squeeze.

"Would you please just go away?" she said in a mortified whisper.

He meant to. Dear God, he knew he ought to obey her request. But his legs steadfastly refused to move, and he couldn't take his eyes off the sight of her exquisitely rounded backside covered by her slender hands.

Hands that were still shaking from the cold.

He cursed again, remembering just why he had yanked off her skirt to begin with. "Get closer to the fire," he ordered.

"Any closer and I'll be in it!" she snapped. "Just go away."

He took a step back. He liked her better when she was spitting fire.

"Away!"

He walked to the door and shut it. Miranda remained utterly still for a moment, then finally let the blanket around her shoulders fall to the floor as she knelt before the fire.

Turner's heart thumped loudly in his chest- so loud, in fact, he was surprised it didn't alert her to his presence.

She sighed and stretched.

He grew even harder- a feat he didn't think possible.

She lifted her heavy tresses off her neck and rolled her head around languorously.

Turner groaned.

Miranda's head spun around. "You knave!" she spat out, forgetting to cover herself.

"Knave?" He had to raise a brow at the old-fashioned word.

"Knave, rake, devil, whatever you want to call it."

"Guilty as charged, I'm afraid."

"If you were a gentleman, you'd leave."

"But you love me," he said, not sure why he was reminding her of it.

"You are horrid to bring that up," she whispered.

"Why?"

Miranda looked at him sharply, shocked that he'd asked. "Why do I love you? I don't know. You certainly don't deserve it."

"No," he agreed.

"It doesn't matter, anyway. I don't think I love you anymore," she said quickly. Anything to preserve her battered pride. "You were right. It was a schoolgirl infatuation."

"No, it wasn't. And you don't fall out of love with someone so quickly."

Miranda's eyes widened. What was he saying? Did he want her love? "Turner, what do you want?"

"You." The word was the barest of whispers, as if he could hardly bring himself to say it.

"No, you don't," she said, more out of nervousness than anything else. "You said so."

He took a step forward. He'd go to hell for this, but first he would have heaven. "I want you," he said. And he did. He wanted her with more power, more heat and intensity than he could even comprehend. It went beyond desire.

It went beyond need.

It wasn't explainable, and it sure as hell wasn't rational, but it was there, and it could not be denied.

Slowly, he closed the distance between them. Miranda stood frozen by the fire, her lips parted, her breath growing shallow. "What are you going to do?" she whispered.

"That should be obvious by now." And in one fluid movement, he leaned down and scooped her up.

Miranda didn't move, didn't struggle against him. The warmth of his body was intoxicating. It poured into her, melting her bones, making her feel deliciously wanton. "Oh, Turner," she sighed.

"Oh, yes." His lips trailed along the line of her jaw as he laid her gently and reverently on the bed.

In that last moment before he covered her body with his own, Miranda could only stare up at him, thinking that she'd loved him forever, that her every dream, her every waking thought, had been leading to this moment. He hadn't yet uttered the words that would make her heart soar, but just now that didn't seem to matter. His blue eyes blazed so brightly, with such intensity that she thought he must love her a little. And that seemed to be enough.

Enough to make this possible.

Enough to make this right.

Enough to make this perfect.

Miranda sank into the mattress as his weight settled atop her. She reached out to touch his thick hair. "It's so soft," she murmured. "What a waste."

Turner raised his head and looked down at her with amusement. "A waste?"

"On a man," she said with a shy smile. "Like long eyelashes. Women would kill for them."

"They would, would they?" He grinned down at her. "And how do my eyelashes rate?"

"Very, very highly."

"And would you kill for long eyelashes?"

"I would kill for yours ."

"Really? Don't you think they'd be a bit fair with your dark hair?"

She swatted him playfully. "I want them fluttering against my face, not attached to my eyelids, silly."

"Did you just call me silly?"

She grinned at him. "I did."

"Does this feel silly?" He stroked his hand up her bare leg.

She shook her head, her breath leaving her body in mere seconds.

"Does this?" His hand closed over her breast.

She moaned incoherently.

"Does it?"

"No," she managed to get out.

"How does it feel?"

"Good."

"Is that all?"

"Wonderful."

"And?"

Miranda took a ragged breath, trying not to concentrate on his forefinger, which was tracing lazy circles through the thin silk covering her puckered nipple. And she said the only word that seemed to describe it. "Sparkling."

He smiled with surprise. "Sparkling?"

It was all she could do just to nod. The heat of him touched her everywhere, and he was so solid and heavy and male. Miranda felt as if she were slipping over the edge of a precipice. She was falling, falling, but she didn't want to be saved. She just wanted to take him along with her.

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