“Slowly, her slim hand smoothed over the swell of his buttock, lingering there. A shocked laugh choked his throat, the sound muddled by a stifled groan that her intrigued touch elicited. The saucy little sneak thief was copping a feel. He felt inclined to turn around and let her get a handful.”
“He took a quick breath, and his voice dropped. "You've no notion of the effect you have on me"
The words gave a hard tug to her belly. She closed her eyes and swallowed. "If by effect, you mean finding yourself in unchartered waters, wondering whether you are coming or going...." She stared at his shirt, watching his breath hitch. "Then I fear you have the same effect on me, my lord.”
“What is beauty or ugliness but a false front that prompts man to make assumptions rather than delving deeper.”
“You're collecting pieces of me, aren't you?" His voice turned thick as warm toffee, rolling over her skin, heating it. "A bit here. A bit there. Soon you'll set me out on the table, to try and fit me back together."
Ignoring the flurries plaguing her belly, she affected blandness. "I've only got the corners. But it is a start."
A warm breath touched her neck. "I believe you have the centerpiece as well.”
“Know this, there is only one truth left to me." His trembling fingertips caressed her jaw. "That I love you." He said it again, his voice broken, his arms pulling her tightly against him. "I love you. The rest is darkness."
Her fingers curled around the smooth swells of his biceps. "Then let me be your light.”
“Their eyes met, and that spark of something hot and sharp ripped through her again. Awareness. It took a moment to realize, but that was it. She was utterly aware of him. Of the breadth of his shoulders, the deep even way he breathed, the force of his gaze. Bloody hell, but she we beset by the craving to touch him, testing the strength in those shoulders.”
“His steps slowed to a stop. “Why?” His voice was a ghost in the quiet. “Why give me your trust when you know it is such an easy thing to break?”
“Perhaps the easy giving of it will make it harder to break”
“Because we know he was simply a man, with weakness and frailties.
Who yearned for the same things all of us do--to love and be loved”
“With the suddneness of a cat leaping upon its prey, he leaned forward and caught up her wrist. "Tread lightly, Miranda Fair." His thumb moved lightly over her fluttering pulse, as she stared with her mouth assuredly hanging open in shock, her heart beating furiously within her breast."You know, it's never wise to tempt the devil." His gaze lowered to her hand, still locked in his grip, her fingers glistening with pear juice. "Had I not this mask, I should be of a mind to suck that juice right off of your fingers.”
“The whole of my life I have relied on my beauty first, brains second.
It was expected, even requested. But You saw right through me from the start.
You are the only man I've ever known who has looked beyond my face and wanted to know me for me.
And I find myself wanting you to know the whole me.”
“Archer's finger grazed hers. 'I feel you. As if you were connected to me by an invisible string.' He touched his chest. 'I feel you here. In my heart.”
“It is quite all right," Miranda said. "There is a mad aunt lurking in my family close. We let her out, of course. But only at Christmastime.”
“Billy's Adam's apple bobbed. "Don't-" The knife at his throat cut him short.
Black Tom cocked a thick brow. "Don't, wha? Hurt your littl' toffer?" Rotted teeth flashed. "She mean that much ta ye, then?"
Bill licked his lips quickly. His skin took on a grayish hue as sweat seeded over his high brow. "Don't piss 'er off," he managed.”
“And who shall you be once you don your grand disguise?"
"La luna," she said with a smile.
"Then I shall be la notte to your moon" Archer lifted the hard black mask he held and slipped it over his thinner silk one”
“You know, it's never wise to tempt the devil"
His gaze lowered to her hand, still locked in his grip, her finger glistening with pear juice.
His rich voice lowered to raw huskiness "had I not this mask, I should be of a mind to suck that juice right off your fingers”
“But what of the little question of your secret, Lady Archer?"
"Will remain so if you're a pile of ash on my floor.”
“This is unfair. You can save my life, assault me in an alleyway-"
"Assault, was it?"
"Just look at you! It's a wonder you are even sitting upright."
"How odd. My definition of 'assault' must be in error."
"You are not made of iron, you know. You should have alerted me of your injury at once. You could have bled to death! What were you thinking?"
His mouth twitched. "I'm going to assume that was a rhetorical question."
Heat burned her cheeks.”
“He couldn't remember the last time human hands had willingly touched him.
Not true. Miranda had. She had touched him as if he were just a man.
He had lived on those moments ever since, pulled them to the fore when loneliness threatened to suck him down and drown him”
“There were lies, and there were lies. Was a secret a lie? If one wanted to protect another?”
“Are your rooms to your liking?”
“A fine pickle we are in.” “A fine pickle? An Americanism?” “Yes. Ten years there and my language is polluted.”
“Christ, Miri, murder and knife-wielding assassins aside, you are the greatest adventure of my life.”
“Whatever mistakes I make, you are the most important person in the world to me.”
“The whole of my life I have relied on beauty first, brains second. It was expected, even requested. But you saw right through me from the start. You are the only man I’ve ever known who has looked beyond my face and wanted to know me for me. And I find myself wanting you to know the whole of me.”
“The rain petered out to a light mist”
“I love you. The rest is darkness.” Her fingers curled around the smooth swells of his biceps. “Then let me be your light.” Archer”
“If you work to obtain your goal, and realize from the very beginning that nothing valuable comes easily, and still forge ahead, without a doubt you’ll reach your goal, whatever it is.”
“I bet you have girls hanging all over you. Dozens would probably kill to be in my spot and here I am, allergic to your bread.”
I looked up. “Why? Because of my near godlike perfection?”
“There is a fear of voluptuousness that is itself voluptuous, just as a certain fear of death can itself be deadly.”
“All this has for me an indescribable charm, perhaps because I no longer see it, and because anything from which we are separated is pleasing to us.”
“the only way to tolerate the thought of her mother sleeping with that man was to get drunk-very drunk.”
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