“No one had ever said such things to her before. People were intimidated by her self-possession and no-nonsense demeanor. No man would ever dream of calling her adorable, sweet, darling... and certainly no one had ever made her feel that way.”
“How do I look?" Amanda asked.
Jack shook his head ruefully as he glanced at her. No one could mistake the remaining flush on her cheeks, or the soft sparkle of her eyes, or her lusciously swollen mouth, for anything other than the results of physical passion. "Like you've been ravished," he said flatly.
She astonished him by smiling. "Hurry, please. I want to go inside my house and consult a looking glass. I've always wanted to know what a ravished woman looks like.”
“I’ve never heard that the sexual act requires any particular intelligence. From what I’ve observed, many stupid people are easily able to produce children.”
“I was ripe ten years ago. Now I’m merely preserved, and before long I’ll be buried back in the orchard with the other pits.”
-Amanda to Jack”
“Set the world afire. Just let me hand you the matches.”
“He took his mouth from hers and stared down at her with eyes so dark they no longer looked blue. “Amanda, do you trust me?”
“Of course not,” she said. “I don’t know the first thing about you.”
Laughter rustled from his chest. “Sensible woman.”
“Once he had taken hold, he did not let go. It was not a handshake, it was a possession.”
“Good,” he said softly. “Set the world afire. Just let me hand you the matches.”
“She understood the risks, the limits, the possible consequences, and she was willing to accept all of that in return for the sheer joy of being with him. One night with him…one hundred… whatever fate allowed her, she would take.”
“It has to be now,” he insisted, a flick of amusement in his voice. He nudged his burgeoning loins against her. “After all, you can’t allow me to go around like this all day.”
“From what I’ve learned so far, this is your natural condition,” came her pert reply.”
“Rather than argue, Amanda smiled at him. “And then what will you do while your son or daughter is in charge of your store and your companies?”
“I’ll spend my days and nights pleasing you,” he said. “It’s a challenging occupation, after all.” He laughed and dodged as she went to swat his attractive backside.”
“His expression was infused with lust and adoration as he lowered his head to kiss her throat, his tongue venturing into the little spaces between the diamonds and round opals. “Why can’t you see yourself as I see you?”
-Jack to Amanda”
“Sweet,” he whispered, and stole a kiss from her lips. “Sweet… let me stay with you a little longer.”
-Jack to Amanda”
“Playful,” Amanda repeated, shaking her head. The idea contradicted all her long-held ideas of romance and sex. One did not “play” in bed. What did he mean?
Was he implying that sexual partners enjoyed jumping on the mattress and throwing pillows, as children did?”
“Authors," he murmured with a grin. "You all think your work is flawless, and anyone who tries to change a single word is an idiot."
"And editors consider themselves the most intelligent people they know," Amanda shot back.”
“Amanda hated it that Jack smelled so much better than any other man she knew. If only she could bottle the essence and pour it on some other man.”
“Today Amanda was dressed in a gown of soft pink wool trimmed in corded silk ribbon of a deeper shade. She had worn a bonnet adorned with China roses, which now reposed on the side of his desk, a pair of velvet ribbons draping gently toward the floor. The pink shade of the gown brought out the color in Amanda's cheeks, while the simple cut displayed her generous figure to its best advantage. Aside from Jack's considerable regard for her intelligence, he couldn't help thinking of her as a tidy little bonbon.”
“Why aren't you married?"
"Why aren't you?" she parried.
"I like my independence too well to relinquish any part of it."
"That's my reason, too," she said. "Besides, anyone acquainted with me will confirm that I'm uncompromising and obstinate."
He smiled lazily. "You just require the proper handling."
"Handling," she repeated tartly. "Perhaps you'd care to explain what you mean."
"I mean that a man who knows anything about women could have you purring like a kitten."
Annoyance and laughter billowed together in her chest... what a rogue he was! But she would not be deceived by his facade. Although his manner was playful, there was something underneath- a quality of patient watchfulness, a sense of restrained power- that made her nerves thrill in warning. He was no callow boy, but a fully mature man. And although she was not a worldly woman, she knew from the way he looked at her that he wanted something from her, whether it was her submission, her sexual favors, or simply her money.”
“Her hands found his buttocks, squeezing the densely textured flesh like a cat kneading with its paws, and Jack gasped against her hair. Emboldened, she slid one hand to his sex and touched him, her fingers closing tightly around the pulsing shape. He moved to his side to give her more access to his body, letting her touch him in any manner she wished.
Gently she cupped the fuzz-covered pouch at the base of his sex, which felt cool and soft in comparison to the turgid shaft. Her fingertips traced over the ridges of veins that led all the way up to a broad tip. Experimentally she drew the pad of her thumb over the satiny bulb, and he clenched his hands in her hair and groaned.
"Does that please you?" she whispered.
It appeared that he found it difficult to speak. "Yes," he finally managed with a smothered laugh. "God, yes... if you please me any more, I will probably explode." He tilted her head back and brought their faces together, his features shimmering with a mist of sweat, his eyes ablaze with blue light. His large hand covered hers, helping to guide the head of his shaft to the thatch of soft, wiry curls between her legs. His palm moved to her thigh, hitching it over his hip so that she was spread open for him. "Rub it against yourself," he murmured.
Amanda's entire body turned crimson. Slowly she took the head of his shaft in her fingers and brought it to the damp furrow between her thighs. Her breath rushed in harsh surges as she rubbed the tip of his organ over her intimate flesh, until the moisture from her own body made him slippery.”
“Jack enjoyed watching Amanda's face in the candlelight, her expression by turns thoughtful, amused, and lively, those gray eyes gleaming more brightly than the polished silver.
Unlike the other women present, who picked at their food with appropriately feminine disinterest, Amanda displayed a healthy appetite. Apparently it was one of the privileges of spinsterhood, that a woman could eat well in public. She was so natural and straightforward, a refreshing change from the other sophisticated women he had known.”
“Amanda wrestled with him briefly, enjoying the sensation of rubbing along his brawny naked body until his erection rose hot and hard between them. "Very primitive," she said throatily, continuing to squirm until he gave a groaning laugh.”
“A gentle breeze rustled through the leaves, bringing with it the scent of fresh-turned earth and lavender blossoms. Amanda drew to the side of the balcony, where she was completely concealed from view. As she leaned against the wall of the house, the rough texture of the red brick gently abraded her bare shoulders.
She had worn a pale blue, corded-silk gown with a low-cut back, and draperies of gauze that crossed over the bodice in an X pattern. The long sleeves of the gown were made of more transparent gauze, while her hands were encased in white gloves. The flash of her bare arms beneath the filmy blue silk made Amanda feel sophisticated and daring.”
“He had never talked to her this way before, his soft voice underlaid with with steel. Amanda had no choice but to believe him. She wanted to rail and scream, her frustration escalating to an unbearable pitch. To her utter self-disgust, she found herself near tears, like the witless heroines of the sensation novels she had always enjoyed making jest of. Her mouth trembled as she struggled to control her explosive emotions.
Jack saw that sign of weakness, and something in his face relaxed. "Don't cry. There is no need for tears, mhuirnin," he said in a gentler tone.”
“One of his hands caught her knee from beneath, urging her leg higher against his, and he pushed strongly within her.
She shuddered, her body locked to him, and then a languorous warmth suffused her as she relaxed to his rhythm. Their clothes rustled together, crushed masses of silk and broadcloth and velvet, separating them everywhere except in the wet, naked heat of their loins. She leaned against the door, her body rising from each upward drive. She was utterly possessed by him, no longer caring about the risk they were taking, conscious only of the ecstasy of his flesh joined to hers. Muttering fiercely into the curve of her neck, he thrust faster, creating silken friction that finally drove her into a scalding orgasm.”
“Come here, Amanda." His voice was a low scrape of sound.
"Oh, I can't," she said unsteadily. "I-I think you should go now."
Jack leaned forward and caught her wrist gently in his fingers. "I won't hurt you," he whispered. "I won't do anything that you don't like. But before I leave you this evening, I'm going to hold you in my arms."
Confusion and desire swirled inside her, making her feel unanchored, helpless. She let him pull her forward until her short limbs rested stiffly against his much longer ones. He ran a large palm down her back, and she could feel a trail of sensation in its wake. His skin was hot, as if a fire burned right beneath the smooth golden surface.
Her breath shortened, and she closed her eyes, shivering, luxuriating in the feeling of being warm all the way down to her bones. For the first time in her life, she let her head fall into the waiting crook of a man's arm, and stared up at his shadowed face.
As he felt the trembling of her limbs, he made a crooning sound and cuddled her closer. "Don't be afraid, mhuirnin. I won't hurt you."
"What did you call me?" she asked in bewilderment.
He smiled down at her. "A small endearment. Did I neglect to mention that I'm half Irish?"
That explained his accent, the neat cultured tones tempered with a sort of musical softness that must be Celtic in origin.”
“Desperately she reached for his dark head, pulled him harder against her, and his tongue slipped over the aching bud of her sex. The silence of the room was punctuated by her gasping breaths, the suckling sounds he made, and the creak of the chair as she rocked forward, upward, straining to capture his tantalizing mouth. Just as she thought she could no longer bear the intimate torture, the tension exploded in a rapturous burst of fire. She cried out and shuddered, her legs jerking up against the upholstered chair arms, and the spasms went on and on until she finally begged him to stop.”
“Some of his authors were so mulishly stubborn about altering their own work, one would think he had suggested changing text in the Bible. Amanda was easy to work with, and she did not harbor great pretensions about herself or her writing. In fact, she was relatively modest about her talents, to the extent of appearing surprised and uncomfortable when he praised her.
The plot of 'Unfinished Lady' centered on a young woman who tried to live strictly according to society's rules, yet couldn't make herself accept the rigid confinement of what was considered proper. She made fatal errors in her private life- gambling, taking a lover outside of marriage, having a child out of wedlock- all due to her desire to obtain the elusive happiness she secretly longed for.
Eventually she came to a sordid end, dying of venereal disease, although it was clear that society's harsh judgements had caused her demise fully as much as disease. What fascinated Jack was that Amanda, as the author, had refused to take a position on the heroine's behavior, neither applauding nor condemning it. Clearly she had sympathy for the character, and Jack suspected that the heroine's inner rebelliousness reflected some of Amanda's own feelings.”
“Do you have a distaste for the Irish?" Jack asked, staring steadily into her eyes.
"Oh, no," she said dazedly. "I was just thinking... that must be why your hair is so black and your eyes so blue."
"A chuisle mo chroi," he murmured, stroking the curls back from her round face.
"What does that mean?"
"Someday. I'll tell you. Someday.”
“The layers of his gleaming black hair were thick and neatly cut, and his tanned face glowed from a precise shave. He had a long, straight nose and a voluptuary's mouth.
And he had a pair of remarkable blue eyes that approximated no other shade she had ever seen. Except, perhaps, at the shop where the local chemist made batches of ink by boiling Indigofera plants and copper sulfate together for days until they formed a blue so dark and deep that it approached violet. And yet his eyes did not have the angelic quality one might associate with such a color. They were shrewd, seasoned, as if he had gazed far too often at an unsavory side of life that she herself had never seen.”
“If he was looking for fancy embellishment, or obvious signs of wealth, he was to be disappointed. Amanda couldn't bear pretension or impracticality, and so she had chosen furniture for function rather than for style. If she bought a chair, it must be large and comfortable. If she bought a side table, it must be sturdy enough to hold a stack of books or a big lamp. She did not like gilding and porcelain disks, nor all the carving and hieroglyphics that were certainly fashionable.”
“Jack leaned over, “Ever get the impression that these women are way out of our league?”
“I shot the last guy who said that to me.”
“It was Sister Hildegarde’s belief that good penmanship was the defining key to success in life.”
“THE JOURNEY BACK from Regium to Rome was easier than our progress south had been, for by now it was early spring, and the mainland soft and welcoming. Not that we had much opportunity to admire the birds and flowers. Cicero worked every mile of the way, swaying and pitching in the back of his covered wagon, as he assembled the outline of his case against Verres. I would fetch documents from the baggage cart as he needed them and walk along at the rear of his carriage taking down his dictation, which was no easy feat. His plan, as I understood it, was to separate the mass of evidence into four sets of charges — corruption as a judge, extortion in collecting taxes and official revenues, the plundering of private and municipal property, and finally, illegal and tyrannical punishments. Witness statements and records were grouped accordingly, and even as he bounced along, he began drafting whole passages of his opening speech. (Just as he had trained his body to carry the weight of his ambition, so he had, by effort of will, cured himself of travel sickness, and over the years he was to do a vast amount of work while journeying up and down Italy.) In this manner, almost without his noticing where he was, we completed the trip in less than a fortnight and came at last to Rome on the Ides of March,”
“Poor Cindy's heart was torn to shreds.
My Prince! She thought. He chops off heads!
How could I marry anyone
Who does that sort of thing for fun?
The Prince cried, "Who's this dirty slut?
Off with her nut! Off with her nut!”
“Love can show itself in many strange ways,”
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