A Musketeer's Heart - Chapter Sixteen

Aramis had left her standing at the foot of the enormous bed and proceeded in lighting five more candles, arranging them on the two small tables beside the bed. Obviously satisfied with whatever he’d tried to achieve, he turned toward her, his eyes hungry. She shivered. She could claim it was for being dressed in only her chemise and the window still being open, but it would be a load of crock. The only thing making her shiver was him. He prowled toward her, and she swayed a little. His possessive look was intoxicating.

“Are you cold?” he asked, his voice deep, raspy.

She could merely shake her head, no words were forthcoming.

“Good,” he said, and pulled his shirt off over his head, letting it drop somewhere in the vicinity of his already discarded doublet. “Wouldn’t want you not being able to enjoy tonight fully.”

Oh, God. She swallowed, wanting to say something, anything, but her voice simply wouldn’t cooperate. So wouldn’t her brain, it was too busy sending her eyes on a roving expedition over the broad expanse of his chest. It was magnificent. Broad shoulders, a fair dusting of hair on his chest, tapering down into a trim waist, a narrow trail of hair running down his sculpted stomach only to disappear into the waistband of his breeches.

“If you continue looking at me like that, it will all be over too soon, darling.”

Her eyes jumped to his, then inexorably travelled back down again.

“I hope you don’t mind the scars.”

She looked at him again. His voice had changed. Was he embarrassed by his scars? By how they made him look? She shook her head and stepped closer, traced an ugly, jagged scar on his ribs with a fingertip. “Why would I?” she asked quietly. “They’re a part of you.”

When he offered no words in retort, and didn’t pull away, she spread both her palms on his chest to explore. “They show what you’ve been through, what you are. Who you are. They’re badges of honour.”

“There’s nothing honourable in war,” he admonished.

“But there is honour in defending your country, what you believe in, and the lives of those who cannot defend themselves.” She took another step closer, until their bodies almost touched, and kissed the scar underneath his heart. “You’re an honourable man, Aramis,” she whispered against his skin, then looked up at him, knowing he still waited for permission. “I trust you.”

There were no words afterward. Just heat and feeling. He pulled her to him fully, and kissed her hungrily as his hands roved up and down her back, her sides, up to cup her breasts. He hadn’t touched her breasts that night at the pond, he hadn’t touched her anywhere but her face, hips, and between her thighs that night. It almost felt as if he was trying to make up for the slight. But he didn’t hurt her, his caresses were gentle, yet wherever he touched her, heat blossomed, until her skin seemed too tight for her body.

After what had seemed like an eternity, he finally broke the kiss, trailing his lips down along her jaw and along her throat, leaving a trail of fire in his wake. She moaned as he sunk his teeth gently into the spot where her shoulder met her neck, then he nibbled and kissed down her shoulder, moving the strap of her chemise out of the way. With a ragged moan, he once again captured her mouth, his tongue delving deep, sensually running alongside hers, kissed his way down her throat on the other side, pushing the other strap of her chemise down her shoulder.

He straightened, and released both straps. The slide of silk against her sensitized skin was almost painful and as it caught slightly on her nipples, she had to bite back a moan. Then he took a step back, and the chemise floated to the floor, leaving her naked, exposed to his gaze. A gaze that blazed with hunger as he looked his fill. A gaze so possessive, her arms twitched with the need to cover herself.

He must’ve noticed, because he frowned. “You’re beautiful, Alexandra. Don’t hide from me.”

Oh, God. She didn’t think herself beautiful. She was pretty, yes, but never beautiful. Her skin was too dark, her eyes too pale, she was too small, too boyish...She didn’t fit the beauty standards society demanded. But he made her feel beautiful. The way he looked at her, colour riding high on his cheeks, jaw tight as if he was gritting his teeth, fists clenching and unclenching at his sides as if he was holding back...He made her feel beautiful.

With a shuddering breath, he finally moved. He placed his hands on her hips, pulled her closer, and claimed her mouth again. God, she could kiss him forever. When she circled his neck with her arms, he hoisted her up, and she quickly locked her ankles behind his back. She knew this. God, she’d dreamed of this for the past few months.

She wrenched her mouth away. “You’re still dressed.”

He stopped her protest with another kiss, placed one knee on the bed, and lowered her onto the linens she’d scattered about earlier. His hands free, he trailed his fingertips up her rib cage to cup her breasts. She arched up into his arms, her whimper quickly turning into a moan, when he gently pinched her nipples. Then she moaned again when he left her lips anew, licking a path down her chin and throat. She cried out softly, when he cupped her left breast and sucked the nipple into his mouth. He suckled in soft, gentle tugs that echoed between her thighs. Then he bit her tenderly, and a spear of pleasure shot up her spine. He lavished the same kind of attention to her right breast, playing with the recently abandoned nipple with his fingers, and moisture flooded the tender folds between her thighs.

God, what was he doing to her? It felt similar to what she’d experienced that long-ago night at the pond, when he’d caressed her there, but alien at the same time. How could she feel like this, when he was paying attention only to her breasts, his fingers weren’t even down there! She tightened her fingers on his scalp as yet another spear of pleasure rippled through the juncture of her thighs, echoing deep inside her.

Kissing his way to the valley between her breasts, Aramis gently took hold of her wrists, disentangled her fingers from his hair, and placed her hands to her sides. Then he laved little open-mouthed kisses down her belly, and dipped the tip of his tongue into her belly button, provoking yet another sliver of pleasure deep inside her. She held her breath, because surely he wouldn’t move any lower, and he paused, his breath tickling her lower abdomen, where the curls started.

“Look at me,” he ordered.

Could she? Should she? Unable to help herself, she opened her eyes, and looked down her body. He lay between her spread thighs—she should be mortified at the position, but she strangely wasn’t—, his hands holding her hips, his eyes blazing with hunger. He smiled, a smile full of promise, and, holding her gaze, lowered his mouth for the most intimate of kisses.

She arched her back, grabbing fistfuls of bedding while he closed his eyes on a satisfied moan, his tongue flicking at her folds as he’d done with her lips when they’d first kissed. Then, as he’d done with her mouth, his tongue delved deep, and her thighs tightened around his head. He rumbled appreciatively against her folds, and slid his tongue upwards, toward a spot that was tingling almost painfully. Alexandra bit her lower lip, clenching the bedding in her fists, her entire body trembling, taught like a violin string. Then, as with her nipple, he closed his mouth around that tingling spot, suckled, and everything...Melted.

The tension that had gripped her disintegrated, and sensation flooded in. Wave after wave of pleasure inundated her, all stemming from that tiny little nubbin of flesh between Aramis’ lips. Frissons of heat ran up her spine, bubbling like champagne, stars sparkled at the back of her eyelids, and finally every muscle in her body loosened. Her thighs unclenched, she released her death grip on the sheet, and sighed as a wave of calm spread to her limbs, enveloping her in a soft cocoon.

She opened her eyes at the rustling sound, watched as Aramis shucked his breeches and braes, standing once more fully nude in front of her. She could only stare, and lick her lips, moving required a strength she didn’t possess. Which he obviously didn’t mind, for he once again joined her on the bed, and, his knees on either side of her thighs, moved upward on all fours, until he was hanging above her.

“That was the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen,” he whispered. “And you are delicious.”

He lowered his mouth to hers and there was a tang on his tongue that hadn’t been before. She shivered. She was tasting herself. She suddenly wondered what he tasted like. Would he let her try? Would she be brave enough to ask? Then he balanced his weight on one arm, brushed his knuckles down her side, guided himself inside her, and all thought fled.

She sucked in her breath, her flesh still sensitive, yet he entered her slowly, inch by slow inch, so incredibly slow, she wanted to urge him to hurry. Since her mouth was too pleasantly occupied, she ran her fingers down his side, and grabbed his flanks.

He lifted his head and looked down at her, a smile in his eyes. “Easy does it. It’s not a race.”

“Aramis,” she whimpered as he was still sliding into her too slowly.

“What is it, my love?”

She swallowed. “I need to feel you inside me.”

“Jesus.” He closed his eyes, his forehead furrowed. “I need to go slow. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t.” She lifted her knees and he slid all the way in. “Oh, God.”

“Aramis is the name,” he corrected, his voice strangled.

“I know,” she whispered. He felt so good inside her. She felt deliciously stretched, her still sensitized channel already tingling. She closed her eyes on a moan.

“No. Open your eyes. Look at me.”

She could only obey. She opened her eyes. He lowered himself onto his forearms above her, and slid almost all the way out of her. Then thrust slowly back into her again. Retreated then thrust again. Over and over, holding her gaze. Her skin was tingling, her abdomen was inundated with sensation, pleasure, pain, ecstasy all mixed together, beckoning her closer and closer to a point she couldn’t reach. Not without his help, and he kept his rhythm slow. She wanted to grit her teeth, she wanted to beg, she wanted to scream...Then instinct took over, and she pulled her knees to her chest. Suddenly he was even deeper. She moaned, he cursed. She clenched her muscles, feeling her channel close in around him, and his palm connected smartly with her backside. She yelped, and he grinned. She clenched around him again, and his grin turned into a snarl.

He slid out of her, shot up into his knees, braced onto one arm on the mattress by her head, placed the other palm onto her stomach, and impaled her. She slapped one hand over her mouth to muffle her scream. He froze, his eyes concerned, but she shook her head. Satisfied the scream hadn’t been one of pain, he moved again. His thrusts became rapid, deep, powerful strokes, hips pistoning in a punishing rhythm. It felt as if her entire body was on fire, pinpricks of pleasure spreading and spreading, until she felt flooded with it as her hips rose to meet his, that damned hand keeping her pinned to the bed as she kept rising. And rising.

Through a haze of need, she looked up at him. His expression was that of concentrated hunger, his eyes dark and focused, the skin stretched taught over his cheekbones, his mouth parted in a snarl, sweat trickling down the side of his beautiful face. His palm on her stomach finally moved, lower, lower, until his thumb connected with the nubbin of sensation above where they were joined.

When before everything had melted, pleasure flowing through her like slow molasses, this time everything exploded. Pleasure-pain shot through her body as she shattered underneath him, her hand over her mouth the only thing preventing her from waking the entire palace. Shards of light, like the sun’s reflection of a broken glass danced in front of her eyes, yet they didn’t distort her view of Aramis. He thrust one last time, grinding against her, then pressed his face against her throat, muffling his own bellow as his body went rigid. She felt him pulse inside her, causing yet another wave of spasms to assault her, then he collapsed on top of her, his face still tucked in the crook of her shoulder.

He was heavy, heavier than she’d thought, his weight squishing her into the mattress, but she didn’t care. He felt good stretched on top of her, familiar. Warm and comforting. Mustering the last of her strength, before exhaustion took over, she lifted one hand and tunnelled her fingers into his hair, holding him close.

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