Caleb held Kyra captive in his arms. Within his possessive embrace, her breathing quickened at the renewed contact as he deepened the kiss. Lost to a world of sensation, he sighed aloud his own pleasure and began to lose sight of his original goal. He'd only meant to heighten her senses. His only intent was to see how far he could push her before she might break. It had been a foolish move.
Holding her so close, feeling the passion searing from her kiss, he could find no will to stop what was happening between them. Damning the consequences of what they were about to do, he shoved the thought from his mind. Everything about this moment felt so right. Everything about Kyra consumed his thoughts.
"Kyra'" he breathed raggedly, unable to help himself.
In response, she raised herself up to him. The hands that were caressing the back of his neck suddenly squeezed tightly against him.
Tearing his lips from hers, he grasped her hair and trailed his mouth along her jaw, down the column of her throat. Hearing the catch in her breath as he reached a soft spot, he lingered for a moment as she buried her head in his shoulder with a sigh. His hand slid down lower now. It hovered just above her breast. She shivered unexpectedly when he reached to cover the soft flesh with his hand. He pulled her ever more securely to him at the sound and he nipped lightly at the sensitive skin of her neck once more. Suddenly her head shifted as she sought the exposed skin above his shirt collar. Caleb was nearly undone when he felt her mouth mimicking his movements. His eyes rolled to the back of his head. He felt blood pumping hard in his veins.
Kyra was in another world. These new sensations coursing through her body were so unexpected that she felt almost like crying out and calling his name. The most she could do to vent her emotions was to squeeze tighter against him. Her fingers dug through the layers of his dress shirt into the flesh of his shoulders. Still, it wasn't enough to tell him how much she desired his touch.
As if sensing the urgency in her movements, Caleb groaned miserably against her. Even as he swore against better judgment, he pleaded, "Tell me what you want'" In truth, he wanted no answer. He would be forced to end this then. He had sworn to himself that he would only push her enough to gain a verbal response from her. He would hold true to his word if she uttered just one sound'
Unfortunately, Kyra was beyond understanding him now. She heard nothing he'd said. At that moment, she even lost the power to hold herself upright. She simply clung to him, wanting to feel more.
Pulling her mouth back to his, Caleb stepped away from the desk and slowly sank to his knees. She moved with him, her lips parting under his willingly. This was as far as he would go. He swore it to appease his conscience, because if he should push her down to the floor to lay her beneath him, there would be no turning back.
Adept fingers began to unclasp the hooks at the back of her dress. Slowly, he peeled the top from her shoulders. He pulled it slowly from her flesh to reveal her soft, white skin inch by inch.
His eyes were irresistibly drawn to see the flawless beauty of a body that had never been touched before. For only a second she allowed him to look, before shyly trying to cover herself with her hands.
Finding her self-conscious movements engaging, he caressed her face. His eyes beheld hers as he assured her, "You are the perfection of beauty, Kyra."
Holding her face lightly, his fingers crept into her hair as he trailed his tongue down the arch of her neck, stopping every now and then to kiss a sensitive spot when her breath caught. Just before his lips would have ventured lower, he rose up feeling her apprehension. Returning to her mouth, he vowed, "I will never hurt you."
He brought his mouth against hers. Without realizing what he was doing, his traitorous body was bearing down on her, pushing her back against the floor. Once more his lips trailed down her neck. This time, she allowed him to push her hands away. Ever so tenderly, his lips kissed the inviting skin exposed to him. As if in worship of her, he softly caressed her breasts. His hands stroked her as his lips enclosed over each nipple, suckling ever so lightly.
Wanting to remove his shirt, Caleb pushed himself up to a partial sitting position. The sight of her desiring eyes nearly drove him insane. The whole thing was insane, he realized in amazement.
The instant he pulled away from her, Kyra felt confusion swimming in her head. The shock of his withdrawal left her reeling. She was unprepared for this newest separation from him when all she wanted was to pull him ever closer. Even as she opened her eyes to look up at him kneeling above her, something strange began to happen. Though her eyes were on Caleb, an array of images began flashing through her mind'a vision of her mother, then the voice of the man who had vowed to silence her. She grimaced as she tried to block them out of her mind.
It was far too much stimulation all at once. This game Caleb was continuing to play was upsetting her. Why did he keep tormenting her with this need to touch, only to continuously stop, leaving her hanging with nothing to hold onto? It only confused her more to see the look in his eyes. As Caleb knelt above her, it was obvious to see that he looked every bit as tortured as she.
Torture! Her eyes grew wide as the word entered her thoughts. She again envisioned the scene of that woman. That man! He had also knelt above the woman, but not in an act of love. The man had been ready to kill' He'd been ready to inflict pain...
Kyra saw the pleading look on that woman's face. It was so starkly terrifying, but she'd had no defense. The man had her arms pinned beneath his legs. The woman remained defenseless as she lay beneath the man and an object was lifted high above her head'
In defense against the memory, Kyra sucked in a sharp breath and raised her free hands to block her face from it. She twisted onto her stomach beneath Caleb and frantically pulled from beneath him.
Seeing the sudden terror in Kyra's eyes, Caleb immediately set her free. He watched her uncertainly as she scrambled away from him and crawled over to a corner of the room. She moved close to the curtains that covered the window, shivering. Her eyes were turned away from him as she struggled to catch her breath.
An eerie feeling of d'j' vu hit him. It brought back a memory from years ago. The memory was of a time when he had been kneeling over Elizabeth and she had gone into hysterics about him hurting her, forcing her to bear his assault. She'd forced him away, crying in despair as she huddled in a corner, just as Kyra was right now.
Until Elizabeth had grown to trust him, there had been countless nights when she had been frozen in terror under him, just as Kyra had been. It nearly undid him to recall those painful moments.
His mouth hung open as he sat watching Kyra. For a moment, he wondered if fate was laughing at him. He was utterly overwhelmed, because back then he had known whom to blame for Elizabeth's terror. Her lecherous father, Anson Carrington, had caused it all! This time there was no one to rage against and he felt frustrated because of it.
All the old pain of rejection he had suffered through those years came rushing back with bitter force. He found himself closing his eyes as he tried to deny the truth of it. In one act, Kyra had managed to reopen all of the old wounds.
The thought struck him blindly that Kyra must have endured something as equally horrifying that she would behave so irrationally. She had run from him a moment ago, just as surely as Elizabeth would have. From deep within, he wondered if he was a masochist. As he had done so many years ago, Caleb remained where he was. He couldn't walk away from Kyra, any more than he could've walked away from Elizabeth. He could only wonder if his pride was strong enough to deal with this emotional battering a second time.
A new understanding came over him as he watched Kyra shivering. She was staring out a crack in the curtain at the sun-drenched garden. There was so much more to her past than he had first thought. He was certain of that now.
She had that faraway look of pain on her face that he had seen so many times before. He would have to tread very carefully from this point, he knew. If not, she might run away from him in fright. There would be no way to return to this moment if he pushed her away from him now.
For one futile moment he wished that he had never tried forcing this from her. It would have been so much simpler to believe she was a traitor, never having to understand the reasons for her betrayal. Now he could never believe that lie, though he wished it were different. It was plain to see that Kyra was in deep pain, in need of someone's help.
His hands collapsed on the floor in front of him and he hung his head, praying that he would do the right thing. Shoring his courage, he determinedly forced himself forward. Crawling on his hands and knees, he came closer to her without actually touching. If he dared to touch her now, he knew she would only pull away from him.
"Kyra," the words were spoken as a quiet plea, a plea that she would let him help her. She shivered slightly, but turned quickly to look into his eyes. She seemed to be searching for something. That one look told him everything he needed to know. Kyra was frightened, feeling so alone, but trusting him enough to seek answers from him. The first he knew, the second he understood, and the third was what he needed to know more than anything else.
He inched closer to her, finally kneeling down in front of her. She was hugging her knees to her chest, watching him.
Not knowing where to begin, he whispered, "This is difficult." Running a frustrated hand through his hair, he massaged the back of his neck thoughtfully. He needed something to hold on to. "If you had a voice... If we could communicate'" he released that hand so suddenly, wondering if he should tell her what he knew'that she did have a voice. He looked away from her again, wondering where to begin. Turning back to her, he asked, "Do you ever remember having a voice?"
She tried to understand where he was going with this, but couldn't. She shook her head no, then sighed and shook her head in aggravation once more, shaking her hands with finality. She was trying to say, "I have no memories at all." The lie in that statement stilled her for a moment, but she turned her head away. Still, the doubt showed in her eyes.
"I believe you do have memories of your past, Kyra. Whether you think of them as dreams or nightmares, they are in fact reality. You have them too often for them to be mere fantasy. They are even infesting your daily life aren't they?" Gesturing to the spot where they had laid just seconds ago, he insisted, "I can see that they do."
She closed her eyes and shook her head in denial. Why wouldn't he just drop this? Why did he care?
"Kyra, I want to help you. Believe me when I tell you this now." She opened her eyes to look at him. She wanted to trust him. He could see that. He took that moment to come closer. Slowly, he reached out his hand to touch her face. She allowed the caress, feeling the same need he felt to renew their intimate contact. "I know I've been overbearing in the past. I also know that I frightened you, but I thought I had good reason for my actions. Please trust that I will never intentionally harm you again. I vow this to you."
She accepted his words, but thought it was odd. This new friendship he was offering her was something she had never been given by a man. He seemed to be sharing his strength with her at the same time. Her guard lowered and she moved to lower her knees when she remembered that the top of her dress was still bunched low on her chest.
A heat flushed her face when she thought of his mouth caressing her so intimately. She wondered what would have happened if she hadn't stopped him so abruptly. When they had been together, it had seemed her body was trying to reach a conclusion. But, what had it been leading to? She couldn't help wondering about that.
Now she felt sorrow for ending the moment with him. Had he felt abandoned when she pushed away from him? It shamed her greatly to feel she might have caused him pain when he only wanted to give her pleasure.
She pointed to where they had been and held her hand to her heart, trying to apologize for pushing him away. He didn't seem to understand until she gently pushed him away, mocking what she had done before. She placed her hand over her heart once more and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."
Caleb felt an ache in his chest and it almost made him want to cry. To think that he had actually believed she might be in any way deceitful. Cassandra was right. She was no more dangerous than the sun or the moon. Kyra was actually apologizing to him for something that was not her fault.
Rather than showing his own sorrow, he smiled to her and suggested, "Let's get your clothing straightened and worry about the past later."
Keeping his eyes on hers, he helped her pull up the sleeves, and then he gently pulled her to her feet. He slowly turned her to help lace up the back of her dress.
She shyly turned and walked over to the front of the desk. Bending down, she picked up the yellow ribbon that had held her hair in the braid. There was one small mirror hanging on the wall and she stared into it as she attempted to straighten her hair.
Watching her fix the beautiful mass back in place, he couldn't help wondering, "Do you like the dress?"
His question stilled her movements. Feeling the soft material of the skirt, her eyes wandered from him to the dress, then back to stare into his silent eyes. A wondrous smile covered her face.
He looked away for a moment, but finally answered, "Yes, I gave you the dress."
Swallowing in shock, she turned to glance at it in the mirror once more. Coming to her senses, she twirled around and curtsied to him deeply. Her gratitude showed in her enthusiasm.
He laughed softly, saying, "I take it you like the gown?"
Smiling now, she crooked her head in question to him.Why did you do it, she needed to know.
"I am not certain." The answer was honest, but vague. Knowing she was searching for more than that, he confessed, "I could tell you that it is because you are my charge and it's my duty to supply you with clothes." He shook his head a moment later. "No, I do not think that's completely truthful. Let's just say that Jacob convinced me of your need, and leave it at that for now. I spoke with my tailor and asked him to fashion three more in the next few days. It might not be much, but for the moment'"
Kyra cut off his words. Hastening to him, she shook her hands to stop him from saying anything more. A bit shyly, she placed a thankful kiss on his cheek before curtsying gratefully. She wanted him to realize that he had done more than enough for her.
Caleb remained focused on the innocence of the kiss she had bestowed on him. To her the kiss was only a thankful peck, but Caleb felt jolted by it, perhaps because the gesture was so unexpected. These feelings were so new to him that he needed some time to think alone.
"The evening meal will be served shortly, and I would like to check on Cass before then. Why don't you go rest until the bells of the clock reach that time? You must also be exhausted after that scare today."
She nodded, knowing he was right. She was tired. Still, it was awkward wondering how to say good-bye for now. A handshake or wave did not seem appropriate. Yet, anything deeper would feel equally as strange.
Just then, a knock sounded on the door. It was the doctor commissioned to treat Cassandra. That was the perfect way out of this situation.
She slipped past the door when the two men began talking. After a short nap she would go see Cassandra. By then, the doctor would be gone and she could see for herself that her friend was truly well.
Go To: TOP OF PAGE
- Available Links -
This ends the preview section! I hope you enjoyed it.