Unconquered
said, “I simply didn’t want to lose my fortune.”
    He burst out laughing. “Good Lord, Miranda, your tongue is blunt! Hasn’t anyone taught you tact? One may be honest without being quite so frank.” He kissed her fingertips, and shyly she withdrew her hands from his.
    “What should I have said?” she asked, daring to look him in the eyes.
    He smiled at her. “You might have told me that it was much too soon to be sure of your feelings. A fashionable lady would have blushed prettily and said, ‘La, sir! You are naughty even to ask such a question.’ I realize that is not quite your style, Miranda, but you do understand what I am getting at, don’t you?”
    “Yes, although it seems rather silly to couch the truth in folderol.”
    “Silly, but sometimes necessary, wildcat. The plain truth frightens people. Trust me, Miranda, and we will grow together. Now,” he stood up, and coming around the table drew her up so that they were facing each other, “about the other matter. You say you are afraid of the feelings I raise in you. Did you know that you raise the same feelings in me?”
    “ I do? ” He was very close now. She could smell the male scent of him; feel the heat of his long, lean body; see the slow pulse beating at the base of his throat.
    His big, elegant hand caressed her silver-gilt hair. “Yes, you do,” his deep voice murmured as his arm tightened about her slender waist.
    She almost stopped breathing. Her eyes widened and grew dark. He bent and brushed those ripe lips gently, so very gently. “Oh, yes, Miranda,” he murmured against her mouth, “you very definitely set my senses awhirl.” Tenderly he nibbled at her lips while one hand reveled in the silky texture of her lovely, long hair. He held her in a firm but easy embrace, and now with a soft little moan she fell back against his arm. He kissed the cleft in her chin, then traveled the satiny length of her throat downward to her breasts. The ribbons holding the two halves of the front of her nightgown together melted away. With a groan he picked her up, carried her across the room, and lay her on the bed.
    He lay next to her fully clothed, and drew her into his arms. He kissed her with a passion that left her only semi-conscious, but still acutely aware of her newly awakened desires. She feltthe thin hold she had on herself giving way as he buried his face in her breasts. A hungry, wet mouth closed over a swollen, aching nipple, and as he suckled eagerly, she felt with lightning-sharp awareness a corresponding ache in the hidden place between her legs. His fingers soon found that hidden place, and stroked her gently.
    After what seemed a sweet eternity he rolled over on his back and, taking her slender hand, placed it on the covered badge of his gender. Wordlessly he taught her the rhythm, and shuddered beneath her delicate touch until finally he stopped her and said in a strangely hoarse voice, “You see, Miranda, if you are helpless beneath my touch, then so am I helpless beneath yours.”
    “I didn’t know,” she whispered.
    “There are many things you don’t know, wildcat, but I will teach you if you will let me.” Then, leaning over her, he slowly retied the ribbons of her gown and, smoothing her tangled hair back, gently kissed her goodnight.
    The door clicked shut behind him, and Miranda lay quivering for some minutes. So that was lovemaking! She realized that in being entirely truthful with him she had given him a powerful weapon against her. Still, he had not used that weapon. He had been equally truthful with her.
    Being a married woman would entail responsibilities. Why, she might even be a mother by this time next year. A mother! The thought raised a host of new doubts. She certainly would have to grow up herself before she could nurture a child. Oh Lord! What was she letting herself in for?
    For the next few days Miranda was strangely subdued, and her mother feared she was falling ill. She did not ride, but stayed

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