His hands shifted, the palm at her neck slipping down to the centre of her back, bringing her body fully flush against his own. She felt the hard planes of his stomach against her soft skin, the press of his arousal, and it wasn’t enough.
She wanted more.
And for that she hated him.
She felt fury race through the blood in her veins. Anger that he had withheld this from her. That he had denied them this. Denied them something that could have cut through all the deceit, all the lies, all the unspoken truths that had come between them. He had denied them something that would have brought them together in the way that men and women had been brought together for all the centuries of the world’s existence.
Eloise was furious—furious at all the things that life had placed just out of her reach, the things that she’d never been able to have or to indulge in. His tongue wrapped around her own, filling her in a way that promised a different kind of fulfilment, and in that moment of fear—fear that he wouldn’t seek complete fulfilment—her hands came to life, clutching at the shirt he wore, pulling him to her just as powerfully as he was pulling her to him.
She felt Odir take in a ragged breath without breaking the seal of their kiss, knowing that the air they shared came together in a way more intimate than they had ever been with each other.
She opened her eyes and saw him lost to the kiss, just as she had been. His dark skin betrayed him with a faint flush, his closed eyes, framed by impossibly dark eyelashes, were hiding the secrets hidden there.
It was all too much. She wanted to see him—wanted to know that he was driven by this unconstrained passion as much as she was.
She pushed Odir back, breaking their contact and forcing him to look at her. Their breathing, ragged and uncontrolled, the only sound in the darkened room. And she got what she asked for. In his gaze she could see anger, accusation and fury, all rimmed with need and a fire that finally she knew would not be so easily put out.
Their masks were off. All the hurt, the pain, all the passion held at bay for so long—too long—was laid bare between them. Suddenly the anger swelled to life within her and she lifted her palms to his chest and pushed. Pushed and punched, again and again, and he just stood there, taking each blow, each strike.
‘Are you done?’ he demanded into the darkened room.
‘No. I’ve not even begun,’ she promised him.
He gathered her wrists in his strong hands and drew her back to him. Crushed her mouth with his and began his reckless, sensual onslaught once again. His hands came around her slim waist and he pulled her from her feet up against his body, blocking all thought of what might have been had it not been for their fathers, had not been for all the lies.
It was just them in the suite—no audience, no press, no witnesses—and Eloise finally demanded the pleasure that she’d waited for, longed for all this time.
Even as his fingers roamed over the black silk fabric of her dress, separating his skin from hers by the smallest distance possible, her mind raced. This was her husband—a man who thought the very worst of her, of whom she had thought the very worst... Perhaps they could take this one moment, this chance to indulge in the deepest fantasies which had kept her awake night after night in the palace as she had lain alone.
Perhaps tonight she could forget that she was a virgin, that she was innocent—forget that the whole of her body was trembling in a heady mixture of anticipation and fear. She knew he did not think her innocent. And for the most shocking moment she wanted to have had that experience—wanted to be a woman who knew what she was doing.
Eloise was so tired of being scared, of being helpless. Perhaps if she faked knowledge, faked the sophistication he believed her to have, then she could just let go...
* * *
Odir felt as if he were letting go of something that he couldn’t—wouldn’t—put a name to. He felt as if all his desire, all his need, was pouring out of him and being eaten, consumed whole, by the woman in his hands. And still it wasn’t enough—this kiss wasn’t enough.
He had been able to take the soft punches her hands had thrown at his chest. He had been able to take her anger because it matched his own. But he hadn’t been able to take that look in her eyes when she’d watched him. So he had stopped her with another kiss.