She didn't dare look at him again. Not if she wanted to maintain even a shred of her composure.

"Turn around," he ordered gently. He placed two fingers below her chin and tilted her face toward his. Fishing into his pocket, he pulled out a velvet-covered jeweler's box. "In all the rush this week, I forgot to give you a proper engagement ring."

"Oh, but that's not necessary," she said quickly, not really meaning it.

"Shut up, puss," he said with a grin. "And accept your gift gracefully."

"Yes, sir," she murmured, easing the lid off the box. Inside sparkled a brilliant diamond, oval-cut and framed by two small sapphires. "It's lovely, Turner," she whispered. "It matches your eyes."

"That wasn't my intention, I assure you," he said in a husky voice. He took the ring out of the box and slid it on her slender finger. "Does it fit?"


"Are you certain?"

"I'm positive, Turner. I…thank you. It was very thoughtful." Before she could talk herself out of it, she leaned up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

He captured her face in his hands. "I'm not going to be such a terrible husband, you'll see." His face drew closer until his lips brushed hers in a gentle kiss. She leaned in toward him, seduced by his warmth and the soft murmurings of his mouth. "So soft," he whispered, pulling the pins from her hair so that he could run his hands through it. "So soft, and so sweet. I never dreamed…"

Miranda arched her neck to allow his lips greater access. "Never dreamed what?"

His lips moved lightly across her skin. "That you'd be like this. That I'd want you like this. That it could be like this."

"I always knew. I always knew." The words slipped out before she could judge the wisdom of speaking them, and then she decided she didn't care. Not when he was kissing her like this, not when his breath was coming in ragged gasps to match her own.

"Such a clever one, you are," he murmured. "I should have listened to you long ago." He began to ease her dress from her shoulders, then pressed his lips against the top of her breast, and the fire of it proved to be too much for Miranda. She arched her back against him, and when his fingers went to the buttons of her dress, she offered no resistance. In seconds, her gown slid down, and his mouth found the tip of her breast.

Miranda moaned at the shock and the pleasure. "Oh, Turner, I…" She sighed. "More…"

"A command I am only too happy to obey." His lips moved to her other breast, where they repeated the same torture.

He kissed and he suckled, and all the while, his hands wandered. Up her leg, around her waist- it was as if he was trying to mark her, to brand her forever as his own.

She felt wanton. She felt womanly. And she felt a need that burned from some strange, fiery place, deep within her. "I want you," she breathed, her fingers sinking into his hair. "I want…"

His fingers wandered higher, to her most tender flesh.

"I want that ."

He chuckled against her neck. "At your service, Lady Turner."

She didn't even have time to be surprised by her new name. He was doing something- dear God, she didn't even know what - and it was all she could do not to scream.

And then he pulled away- not his fingers; she would have killed him if he'd tried- but his head, just far enough to gaze down on her with a delicious smile. "I know something else you'll like," he taunted.

Miranda's lips parted with breathless surprise as he sank to his knees on the floor of the carriage. "Turner?" she whispered, because surely he could do nothing from down there. Surely he wouldn't…

She gasped as his head disappeared under her skirts.

Then she gasped again when she felt him, hot and demanding, kissing a trail along her thigh.

And then there could be no more doubt as to his intention. His fingers, which had been doing such a fine job arousing her, shifted position. He was spreading her open, she realized wildly, separating her, preparing her for…

His lips.

After that there was very little rational thought. Whatever she'd thought she'd felt the first time- and the first time had been very good, indeed- it was nothing compared to this. His mouth was wicked, and she was bewitched. And when she shattered, it was with every ounce of her body, every last drop of her soul.

Dear heavens , she thought, trying desperately to find her breath. How could anyone survive such a thing ?

Turner's smiling face suddenly appeared before hers. "Your first wedding gift," he said.


"'Thank you' will suffice," he said, cheeky as ever.

"Thank you," she sighed.

He kissed her gently on the mouth. "You are very, very welcome."

Miranda watched him as he adjusted her dress, covering her carefully and finishing with a platonic pat on the arm. His passion seemed to have completely cooled, whereas she still felt as if a flame were licking at her from the inside out. "Don't you…er, you didn't…"

A wry smile touched his features. "There isn't much I want more, but unless you want your wedding night in a moving carriage, I'll find a way to abstain."

"That wasn't a wedding night?" she asked doubtfully.

He shook his head. "Just a little treat for you."

"Oh." Miranda was trying to remember why she had protested the marriage so fiercely. A lifetime of little treats sounded rather lovely.

Her body spent, she felt a languor descending over her, and she settled sleepily into his side. "We'll do this again?" she mumbled, burrowing into his warmth.


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