Last Night's Scandal
coat. She’d simply wrapped her arms about his waist, because that was the natural thing to do.
    Now she was hotly aware of the taut waist under her arms and the straight back against her breasts. She was aware of thigh touching thigh and leg touching leg and the rhythmic movement of their bodies as the horse walked along the muddy, rutted road.
    She could actually feel her moral fiber—such as it was—disintegrating.
    Ah, well, it was only a short ride, and she could expect a long, boring lecture at the end of it. That would stifle inconvenient and pointless urges.
    She let her cheek rest against Lisle’s neck and inhaled the earthy scent of male and horse and country air and recent rain, and somewhere in this mix, tantalizingly faint, a hint of shaving soap.
    After a moment he said, “In what ways was Millicent agile, I wonder?”
    “Nothing nearly as exotic as you imagine,” she said. “Nothing like your harem dancers, I daresay. Not nearly so acrobatic.”
    “In the first place, I don’t imagine, ” he said. “In the second, if you’re referring to the dancing girls, they’re not, technically, harem dancers.” Oh, good, a language lecture. That would take her mind off the rampant virility and the male scent, which ought to be bottled and marked with a skull and crossbones.
    “The word harem, you see, commonly refers to the women of a household,” he said,
    “though this is not the precise meaning of the word, which denotes a sacred or forbidden place. The dancing girls, on the other hand—”
    “I thought we were to take the left turning,” she said.
    “Oh. Yes.” He turned back to the lane.
    Not a moment too soon. It might have been the way he smelled or the heat of his body or all that virility or, more likely, the devastating combination, but she’d found herself growing genuinely interested in the correct meaning of harem.
    Moments later they entered a meadow and proceeded to a small railed area guarding what appeared to be a block of stone.
    “There it is,” he said.
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    As they neared, she saw the metal plaque set into the stone.
    “A rock,” she said. “You’ve stopped the carriage and taken me to see a rock.”
    “It’s the Balloon Stone,” he said. “The first balloon ascent in England landed here.”
    “Did it, really?”
    “There’s a prior claim, but—”
    “Oh, I must see.”
    Eager to get down and away from him and get her head clear again, she didn’t hesitate.

She set one hand on the back of the saddle and one on his thigh, preparatory to dismount.
    She felt it instantly, the shock of that intimate touch, but it was too late to stop—and absurd to do so. This was the quickest and easiest way to get down.
    She swung her leg over the horse’s rump, aware of the pressure of Lisle’s hand over hers
    . . . on his thigh . . . holding her steady. Heart racing, she slid down to the ground.
    She didn’t wait for him to dismount but moved quickly to the railing, hiked up her skirts, and climbed over it into the small enclosure.
    She knew she’d given him a prime view of her petticoats and stockings. She knew what such a sight did to a man. But he’d got her agitated in that way. Turnabout was fair play.
    “ ‘L et Posterity Know,’ ” she read aloud in the declamatory tone usually employed on state occasions, “ ‘And Knowing be Astonished That On the 15 Day of September 1784 Vincent Lunardi of Lucca in Tuscany The first Aerial Traveller in Britain Mounting from the Artillery Ground in London and Traversing the Regions of the Air For Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes, In this Spot Revisited the Earth.’ ”
    Lisle remained at the railing. He still hadn’t recovered from the ride: Olivia’s arms wrapped about his waist, her satanic breasts pressed against his back, and her legs tucked up behind his. Physical awareness still vibrated the length of his body, particularly where it

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