Daring in a blue dress, p.16
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       Daring In a Blue Dress, p.16

           Katie MacAlister
 
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  “I thought I was going to have the chance to drive you as insane as you drove me,” he protested when I rose and unbuckled his pants.

  “Next time, I promise. All of a sudden, you being right here next to me, smelling so good, and being warm and solid and raspy-faced, was just too much. I hope you are as ready as I am. . . . Oh, nice, you are.”

  I released him from the confines of his underwear and, doing a little dance on my knees, managed to rid myself of my underwear, praising myself for having the foresight to put on a skirt for the evening.

  “I wasn’t a minute ago, but then you started talking about your breasts, and thighs, and your legs wrapped around me with their strong, silken grip, and that was all it took.”

  I giggled as I positioned myself over him, leaning down to kiss him. “I didn’t say any of those things, silly man.”

  “Ah. Then I must have imagined it. Here, let’s get the rest of your clothing off.”

  “You still have yours on,” I pointed out, but obliged him nonetheless, peeling off my bra, and pulling my skirt over my head.

  “That’s because you have me pinned to the bed, and besides, it’s more important you are naked.” His hands closed around my breasts, sending little shivers rippling down my back and arms.

  I was in control until he took one nipple in his mouth at the same time his thumbs found very sensitive flesh.

  “No!” I said, rising up on my knees, and reaching for his nightstand. I dug out a condom, ripped open the package, and slid it on him without mishap before positioning him exactly where I wanted him.

  “No?” he asked, withdrawing his hands.

  “No, not ‘no, stop doing that.’ No as in ‘I am not going to be able to stand it if you continue, and I’d prefer to wait for you before jumping into the big O.’”

  “I love your Americanisms,” he said before swirling his tongue over my other nipple.

  “I’m only half-American,” I said, arching my back and rubbing the head of his penis against all those intimate parts of me that were clamoring for him. Wave after wave of tingles rippled out from my inner depths, my body already tight and on the verge of an orgasm. I wanted badly to kiss and touch and taste him, but even more than that, I wanted him deep inside of me.

  I sank down onto him, my muscles rejoicing at the sensation, all my female parts clasping him with a fervent embrace, making it difficult to sink all the way down despite the fact that I was very anticipatory. Alden moaned with happiness, his fingers stroking my butt and legs as I moved on him.

  I kept sinking. He kept moaning. I sank a little farther, expecting an end to him, but there still seemed to be more. I rose up and doubled over to look at him.

  “What’s wrong?” he asked, ceasing the moaning and stroking, a frown between his brows. “Why are you stopping? Why are you looking at my dick?”

  “I could swear it’s gotten bigger,” I said, trying to do a visual measurement.

  “Since when? This morning? I assure you that it is exactly the same as it was then.”

  “Hmm.” I repositioned him, and slowly sank down, all my nerve endings roaring to life with his invasion. My back arched, my breath caught in my throat, and my breasts demanded the return of Alden’s mouth. By the time I reached the end of Alden, I was squirming with ecstasy, needing to move, and at the same time wanting to stay exactly where I was. The urge to move won out.

  “You’re definitely bigger,” I said, working out a lovely rhythm. He groaned, his hands on my hips. I leaned down to nibble on his lips while one of his hands moved around to my front, sliding down my belly. “Sooo big. And hard. And oh dear heavens, did I mention big?”

  Alden panted beneath me. “You did. Maybe it’s because of this?” He held on to my thighs with both hands, and did an amazing, wonderful, astounding movement with his hips that had him pushing even deeper inside of me.

  “Oh dear god, yes! Yes! Do that again!”

  He did it again, and then twice more after that, which was all it took to push me over the edge. I didn’t even have a chance to warn him that I was so close—my entire body suddenly slipped into a joyous explosion of orgasm. I was vaguely aware of his fast, short movements, but when I collapsed down onto his chest, it was the manic beating of his heart that filled my awareness.

  Oddly, my own heart seemed to be beating at the same rate, not to mention the fact that our breathing was equally as rough and fast.

  It’s almost as if, my inner voice innocently pointed out, we were made for each other.

  “You’re going to kill me if you keep that up,” I said between pants, biting the lobe of his left ear. “And don’t tell me you didn’t get bigger, because I know you did.”

  He started laughing, but because he was still trying to catch his breath, it turned into a case of violent hiccups. By the time I disengaged myself, got him a towel and a glass of water, and he managed to stifle the hiccups, my inner voice had stopped saying how perfectly suited he was to me, and I was able to crawl into bed and curl up with him in a fairly reasonable facsimile of calm acceptance of what we had together.

  And how long do you think that will last? my inner self asked.

  I ignored her. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

  Chapter 11

  Two weeks passed during which Alden sweated in the house while tearing off old wallpaper in the library, the formal dining room, a small reception room in a gloomy corner of the first floor, and the kitchen. He sweated while he repaired holes in the walls, killed mold, cut out rot, rebuilt window seats, and repainted all four rooms. He sweated every afternoon for three hours while wearing full plate armor, learning how to fight with a sword and a shield, how to breathe in an enclosed helm, and, most important, how not to fall over in such a way as to leave himself vulnerable to attack. And best of all, he sweated every night with Mercy either on top of him or under him, but always she was right there with him when the pleasure became too much for him, and he gave way to limb-shaking orgasms.

  “Unfortunately,” he told Mercy on the fourteenth night of such limb-shaking activities, “the house hasn’t given up its attempt to do away with itself.”

  “I really think you need to stop viewing what must be perfectly normal experiences for a house this old as a form of personal rejection. The house doesn’t hate you, Alden. If it had feelings, and I’m not saying it doesn’t, but if it did, then it makes sense that it would like you, because you’re working so hard to make it nice again.”

  “You and I know that, but it doesn’t care.” He looked up at the ceiling, upon which, four nights before, a long, jagged crack had appeared, moving from the far corner to the exact spot under which he lay. He thought of it as an accusing finger, marking him for the house’s disapproval. “Just today a door in the attic tried to fling itself down the stairs.”

  Mercy, who he was pleased to note was lying bonelessly next to him, a sated, dreamy half smile on her face, roused herself enough to say, “That wasn’t an attempt to get out of the attic. You said there was wood rot, and the weight of the door was finally too much for the damaged frame.”

  “Or it could have been trying to leave the house the only way it knew how.”

  Mercy gave a ladylike snort. “So you’ve had one little incident—”

  “Two days ago, a branch came off the oak next to the third-floor bedroom on the north wing, and broke not just the window, but damaged the frame.”

  “OK, so you’ve had two little incidents—”

  “And the day before that, there was the discovery that the water heater for Lady Sybilla’s side of the house has been leaking for an undetermined length of time.”

  “Aha! That means it wasn’t an act of self-harm,” Mercy said, raising her hand.

  He raised one eyebrow. “Although the leak is of long term, the fact that the water heater fell over onto its side and spewed a good six inche
s of water in one of the cellars before I could turn off the water makes it fit my parameters for suicide.”

  “Hrmph. A few events—”

  “Don’t forget about the hornet’s nest I found burrowed into the wall in the old housekeeper’s room. Or the mushrooms that were growing in the ground-floor guest loo. Or the family of bats residing in the north wing’s attic, rendering that attic unusable, and most likely unable to renovate due to the amount of guano that has hardened on the floor.”

  “All right, I admit those are all bad things—”

  “Not to mention the fact that every day, whenever I go outside, yet another piece of roof tile manages to slither its way off in what I can only describe as an attempt to brain me.”

  Mercy’s hand fell back to the bed. “That has been kind of odd. I wouldn’t have thought it could happen until I saw it for myself.”

  He turned off the bedside lamp that he had finally gotten working again and settled back on the pillows, waiting for Mercy to snuggle up against him. That she did so automatically filled him with a quiet sense of contentment. “I told you the house hated me.”

  “It’s a mild animosity at best,” she corrected, putting her hand on his chest, and tucking one of her legs between his. She kissed his ear, and settled against his side to sleep.

  He said nothing, enjoying the drowsy pull of sleep, and her warm, comforting nearness, but before he could completely drift off, a dull thud penetrated his awareness.

  He opened his eyes, frowning at the sight of the quarter moon just barely visible through the leaves of the tree outside his window. The moon hadn’t been anywhere near to visible when they’d settled down for sleep. A glance at the clock showed almost two hours since he’d turned out the light.

  Thud. Thunk. Kerwidget.

  Alden sat up in bed, his frown increasing as he stared at the section of wall where the noise seemed to originate. As in the other bedrooms in this wing, the two windows in his room sat above a deep window seat, one with storage that he did not use, since he suspected that the mice that still occupied the walls despite the efforts of the exterminator might have access to it.

  The kerwidget definitely came from the window seat.

  He extricated himself from Mercy, gently easing himself out from under her arm and leg.

  She murmured an inarticulate noise, and rolled over, wiggling her enticing ass at him until she evidently realized he wasn’t there for her to back up into. She half sat up, saying, “Alden?”

  “I’m here.”

  “What are you doing?” She shoved her hair back off her face. “Is anything wrong?”

  “No. Close your eyes; I’m going to turn on the light.” He clicked on the bedside lamp, squinting a little at the brightness that followed. It died away almost immediately with a gurgling fizzle of the lightbulb.

  Alden sighed. “The house is just being mean now.”

  “Coincidence,” Mercy said in the darkness.

  Alden carefully made his way over to the wall, and clicked on the light switch there.

  Mercy shielded her eyes from the overhead light, and asked, “Why are you up?”

  “I heard a noise. I think it came from the window seat.”

  “What sort of a noise?” She yawned, suddenly snapping her teeth closed while yanking the duvet up to her chin. “You don’t think it was . . . mice?”

  He didn’t answer, instead pulling off the cushions that sat on the window seat, and lifting up one of the two hinged seats.

  There was nothing inside the storage area.

  “Well?” Mercy asked, the duvet now up to her eyes as she sat huddled in bed, pressed against the headboard in a way that said she expected a great wave of mice to come streaming over the sides of the window seat. “How many are there?”

  “None. That is, there are no mice in it. There’s nothing in it. It’s completely bare.”

  “Completely bare things don’t make mysterious noises. What exactly did you hear?”

  “Two thuds, one thunk, and a singularly alarming kerwidget.”

  She sat up straighter, lowering the duvet so that her mouth was free of it. “I can explain away the thuds and thunk, but I can see why the kerwidget is alarming. That’s not a normal sound.”

  “No.” He knelt next to the window seat, feeling more than a little silly when he ran his hands around the interior, pressing on the walls and floor of it to make sure there wasn’t some sort of secret panel.

  “What are you doing? I can’t look because you’re presenting a view of you that I’m not super crazy wild about, and that’s saying a lot because I’m super crazy wild about all the other views of you.”

  Hastily, he straightened up from the bent position, and reached for the closest pair of pants, heat washing up his neck and cheeks. His voice came out stilted when he said, “My apologies.”

  She pulled the duvet down from where she’d been covering her eyes with it. “That’s OK. And stop being embarrassed—I know you didn’t mean to moon me. Besides, I like your butt. I just don’t need to see . . . you know . . . all of it.”

  He grimaced, and was about to apologize again when she added, “What were you doing bent over like that, anyway?”

  “Pressing on the walls of the window seat in case there was some sort of panel that slid back to reveal a secret hiding place.”

  “You mean like a secret passage?” she asked, her nose wrinkling in the most adorable way. He badly wanted to crawl back into bed and kiss her nose, wrinkles and all, but he knew that neither of them would sleep until they had a better idea of the origin of the noise.

  “More like a hiding spot for a cache of untold wealth in the form of jewels, or even a small hoard of gold coins. Houses this age sometimes had little spots where the lord and master could tuck away bits of his wealth.”

  “Oh.” She sounded disappointed, and slid forward, picking up from her bag the gossamer-thin garment she called her nightgown. “I think a secret passage is way cooler than just a hidey-hole.”

  “I suppose that would depend if something of value or interest is hidden in it.” He tapped the walls of the storage area again, but they sounded perfectly normal, and not at all like the sort of structures given over to midnight kerwidgeting. “Perhaps I misheard—”

  At that moment the overhead lights—both of them—gave whispered hiccups and went out, one after the other.

  “You bastard house!” he shouted, raising his fist to the ceiling. “You’re costing me a fortune in lightbulbs!”

  “Come back to bed,” Mercy said, and patted the duvet. “You must have been dreaming.”

  “Possibly, although I wasn’t aware I was sleep—” He stopped in the midact of closing the seat lid.

  “Hmm?”

  “Mercy,” he whispered.

  “What?”

  “Come see this.”

  The sound of a duvet slithering to the floor was followed by the soft padding of her feet, and suddenly, she was there, at his side, her warm, sleepy scent twining itself around him. “If you are planning on showing me a mouse—”

  “Shh,” he said softly, and pointed even though he doubted she could see the gesture in the dark.

  “Why? What—oh!”

  It hadn’t been visible with the lights on in the room, but now that they were out, a soft golden glow definitely showed along the near bottom edge of the window seat.

  “There’s a light beneath it,” Mercy whispered into his ear, distracting him for a few seconds with the warmth of her breath.

  “There is. I suspect that I was overly hasty in ruling out a secret passage,” he whispered back.

  “Oooh!” She squeezed his arm excitedly, moving with him when he carefully edged his way over to the black shape of the desk, where his laptop sat. On the seat of the chair was the tool belt he’d been wearing earlier in the day while try
ing to fix a leak in Fenice’s bathroom. He extracted a screwdriver, and, as an afterthought, a hammer.

  “What are you going to do? Pry it open?” Mercy asked softly.

  “If I have to. I’d rather locate the mechanism that opens it, assuming there is one.” He made his way back to the window seat, adding, “It might be that there’s no opening, you know. The seams of the wood could have simply pulled away and are allowing some light to come up from below.”

  “Yes, but light from what? Lady Sybilla is over on the other side of the house.”

  “That is exactly what I intend to find out.” Using the screwdriver, he gently felt along the front length of the window seat, but with no result. No panel opened, no secret switch was uncovered, and no hidden mechanism was triggered. It was simply an empty storage area with a glowing line of light along one edge.

  “Well, that’s just anticlimactic as hell,” Mercy said in an annoyed whisper when he sat back on his heels.

  “I’m not sure what else I can do,” he said, staring into the dark void presented by the opened seat. “Short of bashing down the sides of it, that is.”

  “Don’t do that.”

  “I don’t intend to. I have enough fixing to do in this house without creating more work.”

  “Let me try. I was always good with those boxes that had secret drawers.” Mercy took his screwdriver and proceeded to tap, prod, and attempt to pry up the entire front length of the seat before she, too, sat back in frustration.

  “Maybe just a little bash at the side wall,” she said, disgust filling her voice.

  “No bashing walls. We’ll leave this until morning, and take a look at it in the light of day.” He put both hands on the edge of the seat in order to get to his feet, and was halfway up when from the depths of the seat came a clicking noise, followed by a groaning, low rumble.

  The light burst upward into the darkness of the room, dazzling Alden for a moment.

  “You did it!” Mercy said with a clap of her hands, then immediately whispered an apology for speaking loudly, and added a more subdued, “Holy cow, it really is a secret passage. Look, stairs! In your window seat! Oh my god, this is just like something out of my childhood Nancy Drew books.”

 
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