And I’m rewarded with an eye roll and a quick chuckle. “No, of course I know the specifics of it. Dr. Hatchet explained.”
I pause. “Doctor . . . Hatchet?”
This is going to be a corker, I can tell.
“He was the personal physician to the King when I was twelve.”
I nod cautiously. “And he’s the one who told you about the birds and the bees?”
“Yes.” She swallows. “He was very thorough. He had diagrams.”
I nod again. “Of course. Diagrams are always helpful.”
Lenora narrows her eyes, like she’s trying to figure out if I’m mocking her. I keep my features utterly neutral, but it’s not easy.
“And how old was Dr. Hatchet?” I ask.
“He was . . . well . . . more than a few years older than Father. He was totally deaf on his right side and suffered from cataracts . . . and he kept forgetting my name. He retired the month after.”
“Didn’t your mother tell you anything?”
I always thought that’s how it worked with girls.
“After I spoke with Dr. Hatchet, Mother came to see me.”
“And what did she say, then?”
“She patted my shoulder and said it’s all much nicer than it sounds.”
That’s when the laugh escapes—can’t help it.
“Don’t laugh at me.” Lenora frowns.
I hold up my hands. “I’m not laughing, I swear to God.”
Her mouth puckers into a little pout. “You’re literally laughing in front of me, Edward.”
“I’m sorry.” I rub a hand down my face. “Truly. You just . . . you caught me by surprise.”
“Yes, that’s me,” she says dryly. “I’m just full of surprises.”
After a moment, I’m able to stop laughing. I clap my hands, ready to get to work.
“All right, so I’m thinking we should start slow. Talk over all the things that come before making love, that lead up to it. And then we’ll practice, so you’re comfortable on the wedding night,” I explain.
“Like lessons? I was always very good at lessons,” she says in a way that’s so fucking adorable, I may lose my mind.
“I bet you were, sweetheart. And these will be our . . .”
“Love lessons,” Lenora finishes.
“Yes, I like that. Love lessons.”
I half expect her to get a pad and pen from her desk to take notes. But she doesn’t, and that’s probably for the best if I’m not going to start laughing again.
“Right. So . . . sex usually begins with the eyes. Looking, gazing . . . wanting another person so much, your skin gets hot with the desire to touch them.”
“I think we’ve got that part covered.” Her voice goes airy. “I like looking at you, Edward.”
My smile is slow and full. “I’m happy to hear it. You’re my favorite person to look at too. After looking, you move to physical contact. Caressing a shoulder, holding hands.”
“We’ve done that,” she says huskily.
“Yes, and you liked the hand holding?”
I look into her eyes and swear from the bottom of my heart, “I’m going to make sure you like it all very much. I promise, sweet girl.”
The faint blush comes again, but her smile is so tender and grateful, it steals the breath right out of my lungs.
“What comes after touching and hand holding?” she asks.
Her eyes go straight to my mouth. She stares with an innocent hunger, a pure, unexplored desire. And it calls forth a hundred images in my filthy mind of all the ways I want to have her, take her, push her, pull her, ride her—all the ways I’ll be able to very, very soon. The crotch of my trousers tightens and I’m hard as granite.
“Should we try it?” I ask.
I don’t breathe as I wait for Lenora’s answer. And then she says the most beautiful word in any language.
FOR A FEW LONG MOMENTS, Edward . . . looks at me. It makes my stomach swoop and my skin hot, just as he described. Like I’ve been in the sun too long. Flushed . . . but everywhere.
It feels very . . . naughty.
“Have you ever been kissed, Lenny?”
“Once. A Belgian prince kissed me during a ball. He just sort of grabbed me and flicked his tongue around in my mouth, like a lizard.”
“They tackled him and, you know . . .” I shrug. “Removed him from the country.”
There’s a glint in Edward’s eyes that feels almost dangerous, but in a good way.
“Is that it?”
“Yes. That’s it.”
He leans forward and his voice is different. Darker. Almost hypnotic—a commanding, alluring voice.
“Come here, Lenora.”
I blink at him, like a suddenly cornered owl. “Here? Now? You want to kiss me now?”
“I do. Very much.”
I glance toward the window. “But it’s the middle of the day!”
Yes, yes—I sound moronic. I’m aware.
And so is Edward. He smirks devilishly. “All sorts of fun can happen in the middle of the day. Come closer and I’ll show you.”
My breath catches in my narrowed throat, and I don’t know why I’m so damn nervous. I’ve been present during the negotiation of military treaties with heads of state that could’ve ended in war, without batting an eyelash.
And yet, somehow, this feels bigger. More important.
I rise to my feet. But I can’t seem to make them move in his direction. At least not fast enough for Edward. Because he stands too and steps toward me with that large, loose, confident stride.
“Can I tell you a secret?” His voice brushes over me like the touch of a soft feather. Calming and smooth.
His eyes drift over my face, before settling on my lips.
“I’ve been obsessed with your mouth since the first time I saw you.” His hand cups my jaw and this thumb grazes my bottom lip. “How it would feel, what you would taste like. I’ve dreamed of your lips, lass.”
He wraps his arm around my lower back, pulling me closer until we’re pressed against each other—thigh to thigh, stomach to stomach, my breasts against the warm, solid wall of his chest.
Sensation pulses through me and it feels . . . wondrous.
Edward’s palm slides along, spreading across my hip, holding me, fingers clenching. My nose brushes the hollow of his throat, and I breathe in the warm scent of his skin—sun and sand and summertime.
“Don’t be afraid.”
I look up into his eyes, my voice a breathless whisper.
“I’m not afraid.”
My mind has finally caught up to what my body already knows. These strong arms . . . his arms . . . will always keep me safe.
Edward leans down and brushes his lips against mine, a gentle, sweet touch. And then again, firmer. And still again, grazing back and forth. His mouth is warm, his lips full. And my heart beats so fast I can feel it drumming against his chest.
I lift my chin, reaching toward him. And Edward kisses me again.
Thrilling joy and excitement, and burning, burning need all sing in chorus inside me. Edward’s lips engulf my bottom one, sucking gently, and a streak of heat blazes to my lower stomach.
I think I gasp or maybe moan. I don’t know if I’m breathing and I don’t care. All that matters is the glorious feel of his mouth on mine.