"I'm going to make you mine."

"Oh, yes, please ."

He moved slowly forward, patient against her tight innocence. It was killing him, but he was going to restrain himself. He wanted more than anything to plunge into her with hard, furious strokes, but that would have to wait for another time. Not her first.

"Turner?" she whispered, and he realized he'd held still for several seconds. Gritting his teeth, he slowly withdrew until only the very tip of him remained inside her.

Miranda clutched at his shoulders. "Oh, no, Turner. Don't go!"

"Shhh. Don't worry. I'm still here." He moved back in.

"Don't leave me," she whispered.

"I won't." He reached her maidenhead and groaned at its resistance. "This is going to hurt, Miranda."

"I don't care." Her fingers bit into his skin.

"You may later." He pressed a little farther, trying to go as gently as possible.

She arched beneath him, moaning his name. Her arms were wrapped around him, and her fingers pressed spasmodically into his back. " Please , Turner," she begged. "Oh, please. Please, please."

Unable to control himself any longer, Turner plunged forward to the hilt, shuddering at the exquisite feeling of her squeezing around him. But Miranda stiffened beneath him, and he heard her wince.

"I'm sorry," he said quickly, trying to keep still and ignore the painful demands of his body. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Does it hurt?"

She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.

He kissed away the tiny tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "Don't lie."

"Just a little," she admitted in a whisper. "It was more surprise than anything else."

"I'll make it better," he said fervently. "I promise I will." Propping himself up on this forearms to keep her free of his weight, he began again to move- slow, sure strokes, each bringing a jolt of pure desire with its sweet friction.

And all the while, his jaw was clenched in concentration, every muscle in his body tight and coiled with the strain of keeping himself in check. In and out , in and out , he chanted to himself. If he moved off rhythm for even just a second, he'd lose control completely. He had to keep this good for her. He wasn't worried for himself- he knew he would reach heaven before the night was through.

But for Miranda…All he knew was that he felt an intense responsibility to make sure that she found bliss as well. He'd never been with a virgin before, so he wasn't certain how likely this would be, but by God, he was going to try. He was afraid that even speaking would set him off, but he managed to say, "How do you feel?"

Miranda opened her eyes and blinked. "Good." She sounded surprised. "It doesn't hurt anymore."

"At all?"

She shook her head. "I feel splendid. And…hungry." She ran her fingers hesitantly along the length of his back.

Turner shuddered at her feather-light touch and felt his control slipping.

"How do you feel?" she whispered. "Are you hungry, too?"

He grunted something she couldn't understand and began to move faster. Miranda felt a quickening in her abdomen, then an unbearable tightness. Her fingers and toes began to tingle, and then just when she was certain that her body would shatter into a thousand tiny pieces, something inside her snapped, and her hips jerked up off the mattress with such force that she actually lifted him.

"Oh, Turner!" she yelled. "Help me!"

He pumped forward relentlessly. "I will," he groaned. "I swear it." And then he cried out, and his face looked almost pained, and then finally, he breathed, and he sank against her.

They lay entwined for several minutes, damp with exertion. Miranda loved his weight on top of her, loved this feeling of languid contentment. She idly stroked his hair with her hand, wishing the world around them would just go away. How long could they stay here, cocooned in the small hunting lodge, before they would be missed?

"How do you feel?" she asked softly.

His lips curled into a boyish smile. "How do you think I feel?"

"Good, I hope."

He rolled off her, propped himself up on one elbow, and caught her under her chin with two fingers. "Good, I know ," he said, deliberately emphasizing the final word.

Miranda smiled. One couldn't hope for better than that.

"How do you feel?" he said quietly, concern marking his brow. "Are you sore?"

"I don't think so." She shifted her weight as if to test her body. "I might be later."

"You will."

Miranda frowned. Had he so much experience deflowering virgins, then? He'd said Leticia had already been with child when they'd married. And then she pushed the thought from her mind. She did not want to be thinking of Leticia. Not now. Turner's dead wife had no place in bed with them.

And she found herself dreaming of babies. Little blond ones, with bright blue eyes, smiling up at her with delight. A miniature Turner, that's what she wanted. She supposed a babe might take after her and be saddled with her less remarkable coloring, but in her mind, it was all Turner, right down to the dimples.

When she finally opened her eyes, she saw him gazing down at her, and he touched her mouth, right where the corner had been curling up. "What has you in such a reverie?" he murmured, his voice thick with satisfaction.

Miranda avoided his gaze, embarrassed by the direction of her thoughts. "Nothing important," she murmured. "Is it still raining?"

"I don't know," he replied, and he rose to peek out the window.

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