His Mistress with Two Secrets
BOOK 2 in the Sauveterre Siblings
Pregnant with the billionaire’s babies!
After the painfully public demise of her intense fling with renowned tycoon Henri Sauveterre, Cinnia Whitley discovers she’s pregnant…with twins! Cinnia burns with the memory of his touch, but bearing a new generation of the Sauveterre dynasty will bind her to Henri forever—unless she keeps it a secret…
Henri is infuriated when he discovers Cinnia’s deception. His little sister’s abduction ended all his intentions of having a family—but any Sauveterre deserves his full protection. Henri must make Cinnia his wife, and he’ll show her just how pleasurable their reunion can be!
His Mistress with Two Secrets
BOOK 2 in the
"I don’t have to work this hard to get a woman to sleep with me. This is how I live."
— Henri, His Mistress With Two Secrets
When I originally pitched my Sauveterre Twins to my editor, I suggested writing the two girls, then the two boys. The brothers were going to be sports stars—tennis and soccer. I made a solid effort to prepare solid outlines, character sketches, and romantic conflicts.
Then my editor suggested I move the kidnapped sister’s story to the end and lose the sports references. Tennis and soccer work better in other lines, not so much in the glamorous Presents world. So Henri plays tennis as a pastime, but he’s a tycoon running the family fortune. Ramon now races cars, but he retires at the beginning of his book.
I did manage to salvage Henri’s mistress who finds herself pregnant, yet is rejected by Henri when she asks him if he loves her. (He doesn’t know she’s pregnant, just thinks she’s fishing for a ring.)
Cinnia has spent enough time with Henri to know he will insist on marriage when he discovers she is pregnant, but she’s hideously independent. And now scorned. So she leaves him and keeps her pregnancy a secret as long as she can.
Of course, when she discovers she’s actually carrying the next pair of Sauveterre twins, she knows she’s doomed to a loveless marriage. I’ll leave it to you to read the book and find out how they resolve all of this, including finding the key to opening each other’s hearts.
But I will clarify: Henri uses the French pronunciation, “On-ri.” Enjoy!
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His Mistress with Two Secrets
As she entered the clinic from the stairwell, Cinnia Whitley almost knocked the door into a woman standing inside. Cinnia murmured a distracted apology, thinking she might have seen her before, but not here. She would remember someone so tall and stiff and alert standing in that particular place.
Wait. Was she a guard? It was an odd place to hover. Maybe that’s why she seemed so familiar. After spending two years with sober-faced watchmen dogging her movements, perhaps it wasn’t the face she recognized so much as the attitude.
Because, if the woman was merely a relative waiting on a patient, there was a very comfortable lounge at the front of the clinic. The back entrance was for people like Cinnia, the paranoid ones who crept in through the building’s underground car park in hopes of keeping her visit to this prenatal specialist strictly confidential.
Cinnia didn’t bother speculating who the celebrity patient could be. She had bigger fish to fry. She was here for a scan to confirm suspicions on why she was expanding so quickly.
No, she kept thinking, absolutely refusing to entertain the most likely reason. She had a lot of work to get through in the next twenty-two weeks and had struggled to find time for another morning off for this test. If the doctor’s suspicions were correct, her entire future would have to be recalibrated.
Twins? Really? No. Multiple births weren’t even hereditary when they were identical and she thought only mothers passed along the fraternal trait. A father with an identical brother and two younger, identical twin sisters couldn’t pass that to his offspring.
Henri did whatever he wanted. She knew that much.
She did not miss that arrogance, or him, or the life he led with guards like that one dogging his every step, she assured herself with another flick of a glance at the woman by the door.
So why did she spend her mornings combing through online gossip pages, reading every scrap she could find about him? Reading that Henri was back to his old ways of dating and dropping was pure self-destruction, but at least there wasn’t much written about that. His twin, Ramon, was stealing all the thunder, still racing and winning while doubling down with his own passionate exploits through a rotation of women who were loved and left.
The Sauveterres were a private lot, despite their domination of the media, but in her time with Henri, Cinnia had noticed that Ramon always seemed to make a splash in the papers when something was going on with the family, like he was deliberately pulling the attention.
Her breakup with Henri was two months ago. Old news by now. It must be Angelique he was trying to cover for.
The brothers were insanely protective of their younger sisters, which was understandable given Trella’s kidnapping when she was a child. Angelique was the only one seen in public these days and was becoming quite notorious, what with her affair with the Prince of Zhamair—or rather both him and the Prince of Elazar, if the online rags were to be believed.
Cinnia frowned, still thinking there was something about the photo of Angelique with the Prince of Elazar that wasn’t right. Impossibly, she had thought it was actually Trella in that photo, but Trella was a recluse. Cinnia had only met her in person a couple of times.
The nurse was on the phone and finally noticed her. Cinnia waved a greeting and tried to smile past her jumbled thoughts. Tried not to think of Henri and twins. It was too big and scary to absorb unless she was forced to.
The nurse indicated to a clerk that Cinnia was here. The clerk nodded and turned to the cabinet to pick out her file.
Cinnia loosened her scarf and started to unbutton her coat, pleased to be warm and dry when it was such a tremendously miserable day, even by London’s late February standards.
Behind her, a door to an exam room opened, startling her into stepping out of the way and turning.
“Oh. Excuse me,” the woman said.
“My fault—” Cinnia began, then blurted, “Oh, my God!” as she recognized that model-like physique and those aristocratic features. “I was just thinking about you!”
“Cinnia!” Angelique beamed and they went in for a hug like long-lost sisters, affection squeezing Cinnia’s arms tight around the other woman, her excitement completely overriding what should have been way more caution on her part.
The reality of Cinnia’s situation hit belatedly and continued to strike in successive slaps over the next few seconds.
Cinnia felt Henri’s sister stiffen as she came up against Cinnia’s baby bump beneath the layers of her clothes.
Don’t tell him, Cinnia thought with panic.
They drew back. Cinnia knew she wore a look of horror, which was awful when she was actually happy about the baby, happy to see—
“Oh, my God,” Cinnia whispered. “I thought you were your sister.”
Cinnia had always been able to tell the twins apart quite easily. It had been surprise and a quick glance and an even quicker assumption that had made her mistake Trella for Angelique. Trella never left the compound in Spain without one of her siblings accompanying her.
Did that mean Henri was here? Cinnia looked around with alarm, only seeing the guard.
Of course—that’s why the guard seemed familiar. She’d seen her at Sus Brazos, the Sauveterre family home in Spain. This was Trella, even though there was nothing distinct to tell the women apart. Cinnia just knew by something in their demeanor. Angelique had that hint of reserve that Henri wore, while Trella had the radiance of warmth that Ramon projected.
Then it hit that not only was it odd for Trella to be out in public, with no family in sight, but she was also in a prenatal clinic.
“Oh. My. God.”
What was the normally cloistered Sauveterre twin doing in London? Holding a bottle of prenatal vitamins and looking guilty as hell? How did a woman who lived like a nun and had female guards get herself pregnant? Henri was going to lose his mind!
Trella tucked the bottle behind her back and opened her mouth, but only a weak “Um” came out.
Cinnia’s eyes were widening to the point they stung. She was pretty sure they were going to fall right out of her head.
She watched Trella’s gaze narrow as the full scope of where they were and why penetrated on her side. Cinnia’s blood pressure had been stable so far, but her limbs began to tingle and her head went so hot she felt like her hair was on fire. She was pretty sure whatever breaths she was managing to draw lost all their oxygen before hitting her lungs.
“Are you…okay?” Cinnia asked hesitantly. She didn’t know exactly what Trella had been through when she had been kidnapped, but she knew it had left her afraid of men for a long time. Afraid of a lot of things.
Trella, being an enormously resilient and self-deprecating person, let out a choke of hysterical laughter and rolled her eyes. It was a “look where I am,” and her shrug conveyed that she was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, but not one caused by something traumatic.
“How about you?” she challenged with wry cheer, then sobered. She frowned at Cinnia’s middle. “Is it…?” She glanced around.
Henri’s. That’s what she was asking.
Cinnia’s eyes teared up. Please don’t tell him, she silently pleaded.
This was part sitcom, part Greek tragedy. Her own hysterical laugh pressed for escape, but her tight throat wouldn’t release it.
Trella straightened her spine so she was that little bit taller than Cinnia. She gave her wavy dark hair a toss.
“We’ll pretend this didn’t happen.” She was a stunning woman in her midtwenties, but she looked nine years old, hiding stolen candy and bravely pretending it wasn’t in her red-hot hand.
This was the sister Henri had told Cinnia had existed in his childhood, the brat who had driven him crazy getting herself into trouble, always needing big brother to step in and fix it.
Cinnia wanted to hug her again. She was so proud of Trella, even if conquering her past had led to a complicated future.
And she desperately wanted to share this moment with Henri, instinctively knowing that after the shock, this sign of healing in Trella would be a much-needed bright spot.
Or not. Worrying about any Sauveterre would sit heavily on him. Taking care of his mother and sisters was as much responsibility as he was willing to shoulder. That’s why he’d drawn such a hard line against marrying and procreating.
A wistful sigh filled her, but she held it in. Ironic that she wanted to be there for him as he dealt with his sister’s news knowing full well he would lose his mind once he learned Cinnia was carrying his child.
I told you from the beginning I would never marry you.
Her heart clenched afresh, abraded and stung. Scorned.
“Ms. Whitley,” the nurse said behind her. “I can take you, now.”
“It’s really good to see you,” Cinnia said to Trella, holding out her arms for another quick hug. “I’ve missed all of you.”
Most of Cinnia’s interactions with Henri’s family had been over the tablet, but she felt the loss of connection to the Sauveterre clan quite deeply.
“I would ask you to give my regards to everyone, but…” Cinnia trailed off.
Trella’s arms were firm and strong around her. She pulled away slowly, tilting her head so they were eye-to-eye. Would her baby have those Sauveterre eyes, Cinnia wondered with a pang? Babies?
“You and I can stay in touch now,” Trella said with a conspiratorial twitch at the corners of her mouth. Her expression sobered to concern. “Can I call you? I’d like to know why…”
Cinnia knew that keeping the pregnancy from Henri was a losing battle. She just wanted a plan in place before he found out so he wouldn’t feel trapped. Trella was far too close to her siblings to keep her own pregnancy a secret from them for long. Once she spilled those beans, Cinnia’s condition would be quick to follow.
But if she could buy a little time to get her ducks in a row, maybe find out exactly how many babies she was actually having…
She nodded. “If you’re still in London at the end of the week, why don’t we have dinner?”
Two years ago…
Cinnia was not a social climber, but her roommate, Vera, was. Cheerfully and without apology. Thus, when Vera wangled opening night tickets from the owner of the hottest new night club in London, she demanded Cinnia accompany her.
“I told him about your title,” Vera said. “That’s how I got him to say yes to our coming.”
“The title that belongs to my great-uncle a million times removed whom I’ve never met and who wouldn’t know me from Eve?”
“I might have exaggerated how close you are. But I told him about your granny’s vintage tiara and since his theme is ‘flappers and gangsters,’ and he wants window dressing, he said we could come as staff. No swag,” Vera said with a dismayed wrinkle of her nose. “Just mingle with the guests. Be first on the dance floor, that sort of thing.”
Cinnia was reluctant. Her weekends were her only time away from her job at a wealth management firm to put the pieces in place for striking out on her own. She had set September as her goal and had a mile-long list of to-dos to make it happen.
“You work too hard,” Vera groaned. “Look at it as a chance to rub elbows with potential clients. This will be wall-to-wall, top-tier, A-list celebs.”
“That’s not how it works.”
Cinnia’s mother saw a different opportunity when Cinnia spoke to her over the tablet. “Tell me I can’t wear the tiara so I can tell Vera there’s no point.”
“Nonsense. We’ll get my dress out of storage, too. It’s time they both saw some use. You, too, for that matter.” Her mother had purposely held a Roaring Twenties party on her tenth anniversary so she could wear her grandmother’s modest, heirloom tiara. She had had a beaded dress made special for the occasion.
“You wouldn’t get the tiara from the safety-deposit box when we were broke and I wanted to sell it, but you’ll let me wear it to a nightclub?” Cinnia asked, askance.
“This is why I kept it, for you girls to wear on special occasions. Go. Have fun. There’s bound to be some nice men there.”
“Rich husbands, you mean? They don’t sell them at the bar, Mum.”
“Of course not. It will be an open bar for something like this, won’t it?” her mother returned tartly.
There was a reason she and her sisters called their mum “Mrs. Bennet.” She was forever trying to find their golden ticket of a husband. There was also a reason she was so determined to do so. The Whitleys had descended from aristocracy. The blue blood cells had been significantly diluted by bright, peasant red, but Milly Whitley was determined that her daughters would make good matches and the Whitleys would return to the lofty position they’d all enjoyed before Mr. Whitley had died and his fragile financial house of cards had toppled around them.
Until then, they would dress the part and hang onto a house that was a money pit and they would attend the sorts of occasions that told the world they hadn’t gone anywhere.
“I daresay you’ll find a better class of suitor than your usual struggling students and apron clingers,” her mother added snobbishly.
All they needed was one man with deep pockets.
Or, as Cinnia had said countless times, they could all get proper jobs like normal people.
Her two middle sisters decried that as blasphemy.
Priscilla, her first younger sister, was a model. Genuinely pretty, but not in high demand. Two years out of school and she had barely worked at all. She just needed a better head shot or a new outfit or a change of hairstyle and her career would take off, she kept assuring them. Completing a course in hairstyling or something useful like that would only hold her back.
Nell, their stunning little party girl, didn’t need a job. Boys already bought her things and she was the one who would land them the Big Fish when the time came. If Cinnia could somehow keep her in school long enough to complete her A levels without getting pregnant, she’d be thrilled.
Thankfully Dorry had a brain and ten times anyone’s ambition to use it. Their youngest sister had been babysitting from the moment she was old enough to wipe a nose and currently had a job in a fish-and-chip truck, much to their mother’s repulsion. Dorry squirreled her money before anyone saw it and kept her head down, usually bent over a book. If something happened to Cinnia, she had every confidence her baby sister would keep the rest of them fed and sheltered.
She was trying not to put that on poor Dorry. After trying to help her mother win a fight against owing back taxes and other debts associated with her father’s estate, Cinnia had taken an interest in wills and estate planning. As careers went, it paid well enough, was stable and flexible and she found it intellectually challenging.
Her mother said she might as well be an undertaker.
Vera said, “No matter what, do not tell any men we chat up what you do for a living. Not unless we’re trying to get away from them.”
Cinnia didn’t have Vera’s interest in meeting men. Her mother’s lack of a career to fall back on had been their downfall. All Milly was qualified to do was take in university students as boarders because she had a big house, which was how she paid the bills, much to her everlasting embarrassment. She spun it as a lark when people asked about it. She liked to be surrounded by young people, she said, playing eccentric.
Cinnia was determined never to have her back against the wall like that. She was already self-supporting and, even though she knew running her own agency came with risk, she had hit the ceiling where she was. The next step was to become her own boss.
Thus, she was thinking about how to build her client list as she stood with Vera, chatting to an unassuming musician and a nerdy social media magnate. The men were ridiculously wealthy and equally shy, which was why bubbly women like Vera had been called in, Cinnia supposed, letting her gaze stray to take in an evening beyond any she would experience again in this lifetime.
The nightclub was a reclaimed industrial building, tricked out with steel and glass and modern art. Top-shelf liquor was served in cut-crystal glasses by uniformed bartenders. The main room was open to the upper floor, making the place feel airy despite the crush of people in the low-slung chairs and standing in groups around the full dance floor.
Tonight, the tables had been covered with velvet tablecloths and the place was littered with feather boas and faux furs. The typical nightclub black light had been replaced with a sultry red. It threw sexy shadows into every corner and gave faces a warm glow. The DJ was mashing old jazz and modern hits with delightful results while a bouncer guarded stairs that rose to a walk-around gallery on the upper level. When they’d arrived, they’d been given a peek into the ultraposh, private entertainment rooms reserved for the most exclusive guests.
Judging by the movie stars and the other celebrities not gaining access, those rooms would be used by a very rich and exalted personality indeed.
Cinnia wasn’t impressed with money and fame, but she would love to take on any of these pocketbooks as clients. Sadly, people with this much money to throw around were not interested in a boutique agency still smelling of builder’s dust. She had known from the outset that nothing would come of this evening beyond a few lost hours and a cute entry in the logbook of appearances made by her great-granny’s tiara. C’est la vie.
Then she saw him.
Them, really. The Sauveterre twins. The male pair. The same gorgeous man in duplicate arrived at the top of the short flight of entrance stairs, where they overlooked the sunken area of the main lounge.
Her pulse stumbled.
She was startled to see them in person. And curious, of course. She’d been eleven when their sister had been kidnapped, old enough to follow the story as intently as the rest of the world. It had had a profound impact on her. To this day it made her heart feel stretched and tense just thinking about it.
The family name had turned up in a million news stories and gossip magazines and online hits since then. That’s how she knew, despite the distance across the dimly lit room, that they were as handsome as they seemed from afar.
They had identical dark hair cut close under matching black fedoras tilted slyly to the left. While every other man had turned up in a baggy, striped suit with a red tie and carried a violin case, these two wore crisp black shirts with the cuffs rolled back, high-waisted, tailored black pants held up with white suspenders and smart white ties.
The sharp look accentuated their muscled shoulders and neat hips, while the narrow cut of the pants drew her eye to their matching black-and-white wingtips. They looked like gangsters of old, but the really dangerous ones. The ones so powerful and commanding, they didn’t have to swagger. They killed with a blink.
They wore exactly the same expression of bored tolerance as they pushed their hands in their pockets and scanned the room.
It was funny to see them move in unison, which held her attention until one stopped. He turned his head from the direction of the stairs, barely moving, but it was as if he sensed her attention and met her gaze all the way from across the club.
Cinnia’s heart took a funny bounce. She told herself it was the embarrassment of being caught gawking coupled with the shock of recognizing a celebrity. Catching a glimpse of the Sauveterre twins, even in a place filled with faux royals and rock stars, was a big deal. She knew they were regular people underneath the reputation, not something to get fluttery over, but she was rather giddy holding this man’s gaze.
There’s my rich husband, Mum. The thought made her smile at herself.
His head tilted just a little and he gave a slight nod. It was a very understated acknowledgement. Hello.
“Who do you see?” Vera asked, and followed Cinnia’s gaze, whispering under her breath, “Oh, my gawd.”
The men moved down the stairs onto the dance floor, leaving Cinnia swallowing and trying to recover from something that had been nothing. Why did her blood feel as though it was stinging her veins?
“We have to meet them,” Vera insisted.
“Shh,” Cinnia protested, forcing her gaze back to the crooner. She and Vera were supposed to be circulating and making small talk. “Who needs another Gin Rickey?” she asked the men.
She absolutely refused to look around and see if he looked at her again. Why would he? Still, she remained attuned to him, feeling prickly and hypersensitive, like she was in grade school and her first crush had entered the room. She knew exactly where he was as they both moved around the room for the next half hour.
Vera leaned into her. “They’re by the bar. Let’s get into their line of sight.”
“We’ll just see if we can say hi. Besides, there will be a stampede for drinks when it’s time to toast. We should freshen ours now, so we can take them outside for the fireworks.”
She and Vera quickly realized they’d be swimming upstream trying to get nearer the twins or the bar. They moved to safer ground near the bottom of the stairs and stood with attentive expressions as the club owner quieted the room and thanked everyone for coming.
Or rather Cinnia gave their host her polite attention while Vera visually cruised for fresh prospects.
Vera would flirt with anyone. She was fun-loving, pretty and had a knockout figure that reeled men in from across a pub or wherever she dragged Cinnia for a night out. They’d met at uni and Vera was not only loyal, funny and caring, but also the absolute best at keeping Cinnia from becoming the stick-in-the-mud that Vera always called her.
Cinnia wasn’t as curvy as Vera, but she drew her share of male attention. She might not try to get by on her looks the way her mother thought she could, but she knew her wavy blond hair and patrician features gave her certain advantages. They were also a perfect foil for Vera’s darker looks, which Vera used to her advantage.
Cinnia didn’t date so much as play Vera’s wing woman. She had come out tonight knowing they would very likely wind up departing the club with whomever Vera had set her sights on. But, while Vera often went home with men she barely knew, Cinnia fully expected to find her way back to their flat alone.
As the speeches finished up and the fireworks were promised to start soon, there was a minor lull in noise.
“It’d be nice if we could find some men to buy us a drink.”
It was classic Vera, spoken mostly in jest because she knew it got under Cinnia’s skin. She knew Cinnia believed women should be self-reliant and not look to men for anything.
Cinnia bit back her knee-jerk lecture on feminism, refusing to let her friend get a rise out of her.
Behind them, a male voice said, “Ladies? Are you going up?”
Henri recognized the blonde as they made their way toward the stairs. She had a serene profile and a graceful figure draped in a vintage style dress that he imagined his sisters would coo over. They were the fashion aficionados, but he knew quality when he saw it.
Everything about this woman was understated elegance. In a sea of heavy makeup and over-the-top flapper gear, she wore a short black number that shimmered with fringe. Her hair was pressed into the pinched waves of old and a simple line of diamonds banded it. One side of her delicate tiara was bedecked with a leafy filigree and a single feather.
She looked smart and feminine without even trying.
She had smiled at him earlier, which was nothing new. People stared and acted like they knew him all the time. Heads in the crowd were turning to do it now. He usually ignored it, but he had looked back at her for a full thirty seconds because, why not? She was beautiful. It hadn’t been a chore.
Neither was this side of her. The dress didn’t need to hug her figure to show off her pert ass and slender thighs. It was rather erotic in the way it only suggested at the curves it disguised.
“Company?” he suggested.
Possessing exactly as healthy a libido as Henri, Ramon followed his gaze, saw the stacked brunette beside her, and commented, “Good eye.”
They easily operated as one unit without preplanning. Henri paused beside the women in time to hear them wish for a man to buy them drinks.
Ramon stepped past them to open the chain on the bottom of the stairs himself, not bothering to identify himself to the bouncer. Everyone knew them on sight.
“Ladies? Are you going up?” Ramon’s gaze flicked back to Henri. He’d heard their lament and Henri very subtly signaled he didn’t care.
They were targets of gold diggers all the time. They had both learned to take care of themselves. It didn’t mean a good time couldn’t be had by all.
The brunette blushed and smiled, standing taller, shoulders going back. She was dazzled and very receptive. “Yes. We are.” She nodded confidently despite the fact they all knew who moved freely up these upstairs and who did not. She nudged the blonde.
The blonde pursed her mouth with dismay. Embarrassed at being overheard as a mercenary? No need. Henri found that to be the easiest and most convenient of traits to manage in a woman.
The music started up again, increasing his desire to leave the noise and crowd behind.
The blonde looked warily between him and his brother, giving Henri the sense she was trying to work out which one of them had met her gaze earlier.
He and Ramon didn’t fight over women. There was no point since neither of them wanted long-term relationships. Women seemed to view them as interchangeable anyway. But Henri found himself annoyed by the idea she might decide to go with Ramon.
What had been a generic restlessness responding to the gaze of a beautiful female ticked up into a desire to have this one in particular.
“Watch the fireworks in our suite,” Ramon said with easy command, waving an invitation. “Save me from staring at my own face.”
“Why would you stare at your brother when you’ll be watching the fireworks?” the brunette asked with a cheeky bat of her lashes. “Maybe if you didn’t dress alike you wouldn’t feel like you were talking into a mirror?”
“We don’t do it intentionally.” Ramon offered his arm to escort her up the stairs. “It happens even when we’re half the world away from each other. We’ve stopped fighting it.”
The pair was quickly lost in the shadows of the gallery.
The blonde gazed after her friend, biting her lip, then relaxed her mouth and licked her lips as she glanced at Henri. It almost seemed a nervous response, but the action flooded color into a mouth that now looked dewy and soft as rose petals, shiny and kissable. A very enticing move.
His gaze lingered on the sight, as his mind slid naturally into the pleasant fantasy of crushing her mouth with his.
She fell into step beside him.
This was not his first time picking up women with his brother. He and Ramon had long ago concluded that if they were saddled with being the Sauveterre twins they were damned well going to take advantage of the one outstanding benefit. Startlingly good looks, times two, along with buckets of money and celebrity status meant that the sweetest companions were in endless supply.
“Was that true?” the blonde asked, leaning in to be heard. “That you dress alike at other times, not just tonight?”
“Yes.” Henri hated talking about himself and loathed even more talking about his family, but this was one of those innocuous tidbits that strangers loved to hear. The mystery of being a twin was infinitely fascinating to those who weren’t. He accepted it and had stopped fighting it, as well.
At least tonight it gave him an excuse to hold her arm as he leaned down to speak in her ear, liking the silken brush of her hair against his nose as he inhaled a scent that was cool English roses and warm woman.
“In fact, when one of us changes out of what the other is wearing, we inevitably spill something and have to go back to the first outfit.”
He shrugged off her skepticism. His sisters were connected on an emotional level. He and his brother were more outwardly aligned. They had very different personalities, were competitive as hell with each other, but often spoke in unison or followed a similar thought process, inevitably arriving at the same end result. As Henri had been calling his brother to suggest they host this year’s planning sessions in London instead of their usual Paris or Madrid, Ramon had been accepting the invite to this club opening.
“I’m, um, Cinnia. Whitley.” She offered her hand as they arrived on the upper floor.
“Henri.” Her skin felt as soft as it looked and was warmer than the pale tone suggested. She had a firm grip for a woman. He didn’t want to let her go, but she pulled her hand free to glance behind him at Guy, who had followed them, then frowned at Oscar ahead of them, already stepping through the door to the suite where Ramon waited with her friend.
“Do you have bodyguards?”
“It’s just a precaution.” They followed into the suite.
While Oscar inspected the room, Guy brought out his phone and sent a brief text—a request for a background check on both women no doubt. Helping Guy along, Henri introduced himself to the brunette, learning her name was Vera Phipps.
Aside from relying on men’s wallets rather than their own, Henri judged both women to be harmless. Vera sent a “Jackpot” look to Cinnia when a butler arrived to take their order, then she followed Oscar’s path through the room, trailing fingers on the low-slung sofa and chairs as she circled, glancing to the flat screen hung on the wall, and stepped onto the balcony for a quick sniff of the air off the Thames.
She came back just as quickly to fetch one of the swag bags from the coffee table. “Oh! A gold one! Everyone below got silver. And yours is bigger.”
“I hear that a lot,” Ramon said with a smirk, making Vera laugh throatily.
“I bet you do. May I look?” She batted her lashes suggestively.
Cinnia did not flirt so blatantly. She offered a demure “Thank you,” as the butler poured their champagne and moved outside to glance at the colored lights swirling on the water. In the middle of the river, the technicians on the float set off a test flare.
It was a warm evening without a breeze. Her gaze lifted to the sparkle of lights across the water and up to the stars.
“I’m surprised you stayed below as long as you did when you had this to retreat to,” she said as Henri padded out to join her. He was compelled. Drawn. It was strange and not something he would typically indulge. The strength of his attraction made him a little uncomfortable.
Below them, people began filing out to the outdoor lounge while the music followed them.
Ramon was the one who liked crowds. Henri preferred a quieter atmosphere, but he said smoothly, “Good thing we did or I wouldn’t have met you.”
Her snort was delicate, if disparaging. Most blondes with blue eyes played up the suggestion of vulnerable innocence in their coloring. Not Cinnia. Her vintage hairstyle framed her face in a waifish way, but her brows had a sharp, intelligent angle. Her lashes stayed low and her gaze watchful, not cynical, but not goggling or overly impressed by any of this.
He liked that sign of inner confidence and strength. It was compelling, sparking his curiosity. “You feel differently?”
“I feel this is a well-oiled machine you two are operating.” She flicked her glance to the plate of canapés that appeared like magic on the glass table next to them.
“I would call that distrustful,” he said, waiting until the server had gone to swing his gaze back to hers. “If I didn’t think you two were running a similar routine. I’ll call it hypocritical instead.”
Her blue gaze flashed to his, but inside the suite, Vera was laughing at something Ramon had said. The two were meshing like cogs rolling against one another to turn out a foregone conclusion. Cinnia’s mouth tightened.
“Unable to deny it?” he taunted gently.
“You approached us,” she reminded with enough pique to amuse him.
“I was invited.”
“I didn’t mean to stare.” Her gaze returned to the view, chin coming up.
It had been more than a stare. She had smiled at him.
He watched with fascination as the fringe across her breasts quivered under an indignant breath. He would bet her cheeks were pink if the light was high enough to tell.
“I doubt I’m the first to be curious about the pair of you. You make a fetching couple.” Her smile was pure aspartame.
Her eyes, however, were a spun-sugar-blue. That was unmistakable as a huge white light swirled down from a helicopter, rousing the crowd below into cheering.
Her beauty gave him a sudden kick in the chest. It wasn’t a trick of makeup because she wore very little. The requisite eyeliner made her eyes stand out, but she’d only darkened her lashes a little. They weren’t lengthened with false ones like so many women wore these days. A shimmery blue streaked across her lids, but otherwise her features were clean and her skin fine and creamy.
“Did you really know it was me who looked back at you, or is that an assumption? Because it usually takes people months, even years to tell us apart.” It was easy once a person realized Henri was left-handed and Ramon right, or that Henri tended to speak French as his default while Ramon preferred Spanish, but few noticed those details.
“You are remarkably alike, but…” She glanced into the suite, to where Ramon was holding open the designer bag, listening politely to Vera wax in delight over the contents. They usually let their mother pick over the contents of those bags, then handed the rest to their PAs, but Henri was just as happy to let these women take them home.
He took advantage of Cinnia’s distraction to glance at his phone. The bullet points backed up what he’d already assumed. Her mother was well-born, but the family was broke. Cinnia worked for a wealth management firm and was listed on their website as an intern, filing and fetching coffee, he assumed. The only risk Cinnia Whitley posed was financial and he was quite sure he could afford her.
He tucked his phone away, irritated to note she was still eyeing his brother, brows pulled together in consternation.
“But?” he prompted, having to stand close to be heard over the music below.
“I don’t know. I don’t read auras or anything like that, but… Never mind.” She flashed him another look, this one self-conscious.
“That’s interesting.” His annoyance evaporated, replaced by intensified attraction. He leaned his elbow on the rail so he was even closer to her, edging into her space, liking the way she tried to quell a little shiver. She smelled like roses and tropics and something earthy that further turned him on.
“Wh-what is?” She was trying to look blasé, but he knew the signs of physical magnetism. There was a pulse beating fast in her throat, but it wasn’t fear. She wasn’t moving away. She was skimming her gaze across his shoulders and down his chest.
Chemistry was such a wonderful thing. He didn’t move, allowing the primal signals to bounce between them, stimulating him and heightening his senses. Sex was the cheapest and best high in the world, as far as he was concerned.
“You react to me, but not to him.”
“I didn’t say that!”
“Didn’t you? My mistake.”
“You are mistaken,” she assured him hotly. “Whatever you’re thinking about me—us—and why we came up here, forget it.”
She wasn’t used to being so attracted to the men she exploited, he surmised. Poor thing. This must be very disconcerting for her. With that reserved personality, he bet she usually did quite well at stringing a man along. Was she afraid she wouldn’t be able to hold out with him until she had squeezed all she could from him?
“I’m thinking you’re here to watch the fireworks. What did you think I was thinking?”
She spun back to the view, setting her chin.
He smiled. “Listen.” He very lightly stroked the back of his bent finger down her bare arm, entranced when goose pimples chased the same path.
She shot him a look that was startled and uncertain, quickly rubbing the bumps away.
“I don’t have to work this hard to get a woman to sleep with me. This is how I live.” He waved his champagne glass at the opulence around them. “Enjoy it without feeling obligated.”
“You won’t expect anything after?” she scoffed.
“By ‘anything,’ do you mean that?” He thumbed to where Vera was on tiptoes inside the suite, painting herself against Ramon, lips firmly locked over his.
Cinnia made a pained noise and looked out across the river again. As strategies went, her friend was overplaying her hand.
“I shall remain hopeful,” Henri drawled.
“Yes, you will remain that way,” Cinnia assured him.
He hid a silent laugh behind the glass he lifted to his lips, deciding he wanted her quite badly and was willing to pay whatever it cost. He respected people who knew what they were worth.
But he only said, “Don’t make promises unless you can keep them, chéri.”
Vera, the traitor, left with Ramon before the fireworks started.
“That’s what you two were talking about in Spanish?” Cinnia hissed as she had three seconds alone on the balcony to react.
“I told you a language degree opened doors,” Vera joked, then rolled her eyes at the face Cinnia was making. “Come on. Look at them! Surely you’re tempted? It’s long past time you worked Avery out of your system, you know.”
She knew. And, of course, she was tempted. She wasn’t in Vera’s league when it came to sexual gymnastics, but she’d had a couple of long-term relationships that had been nice until they’d gone bad. The first had been an immature thing that should have ended before they went off to separate universities, but she’d clung to what they’d had and he’d wound up cheating. Her heart had been battered at the time, but looking back she knew they’d been far too young for the level of commitment she had expected.
Avery, however, had broken her heart in two, professing to love her while they’d both been struggling through a heavy course load and then trying to make ends meet when they moved to London together. Then he had come into some money and cut her off cold, stating bluntly that her family was too much of a handful and he didn’t need the dead weight. Thankfully Vera had been there for her when he’d kicked her out.
Since then, Cinnia had stayed out of the relationship arena, thinking it wiser to concentrate on getting her career off the ground.
Not that Henri would offer a relationship. She knew that without asking. But she couldn’t deny she was intrigued by him. Every time he glanced at her with male appreciation oozing out of his pores, her hormones swayed in an erotic dance of come-hither. Like the extravagance of the night itself, she kept trying to rationalize indulging in whatever he was offering.
She didn’t do one-time hookups, though. And even if she did sleep with him purely for the fun of it, he would believe she’d done it in exchange for being wined and dined here in this heavenly suite. She hated the idea of him thinking she could be bought. It went right to the core of the insecurities Avery had instilled in her.
“It’s quite a signature for the autograph book,” Vera murmured with a self-satisfied grin. “You know your mother would approve. There’s a first-class trip to Australia in that bag, you know. And a smart watch and a year’s lease on a sports car. Get what you can out of it!”
Henri came back from taking a call, probably overhearing Vera’s vulgar suggestion—like he needed any more ammunition to believe they were a pair of opportunists.
Seconds later, Ramon came out and said, “The car is waiting. Lovely to meet you, Cinnia.”
He and Vera disappeared like a snuffed flame leaving a wisp of burned friendship hanging in the air.
Henri sat down across from Cinnia at the high-top table, mouth relaxed, but she had the sense he was laughing at her ill-disguised panic. He signaled to the butler to freshen their drinks.
“Where do you think he’s taking her?” she asked as the butler left.
“The nearest hotel with a vacant room, I imagine.”
She shouldn’t have asked.
“Why does it bother you?”
“You’re judging,” he accused. “Why?”
She wanted to deny it. She considered herself open-minded and forward-thinking. She didn’t slut-shame. Women had needs and Vera was no one’s victim.
“Vera can do whatever she wants. I don’t like the idea that you’re judging me by her choices, though.” She hated it. Avery’s awful accusations came back to her and she felt raw all over again. Worse even as she thought of this man who lived like this thinking she wanted a shortcut to the same lifestyle. “I don’t sleep with men for a swag bag. I have a job. I buy what I need and if I can’t afford something, I live without it.”
“What do you do?” He looked like he was asking out of politeness, not like he really believed her speech on self-sufficiency.
She almost blurted “funeral arrangements,” just to put him off.
“I have a business degree and I’m a qualified financial advisor, but my focus is estate planning and trust management.”
His stall of surprise was painful in how loudly it spoke of his having underestimated her.
“I’m a very boring person,” she said, wishing she could be more smug at defying his assumptions about her, but she only felt the difference in their stations more keenly. He had obviously written her off as trifling. And yes, she was trying to climb higher than where she’d wound up, but through honest hard work. Still, she would never reach his level and that put him well beyond her reach.
Not that she wanted him.
With an uncomfortable sting in her blood, she picked up her champagne then remembered she had decided to stop drinking now that Vera was gone. She took a sip of water instead.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” he admitted.
“You thought I was a secretary? Airline hostess? Model? Even if I was, those are all honest careers in their own right.”
“They are. And you could model. You’re very beautiful.”
“So could you. You have a face so nice, God made it twice.”
He snorted. “Point to you,” he conceded with a grimace. “I absolutely hate to be reduced to ‘one of the Sauveterre twins.’ We are all more than we appear on the surface, aren’t we?”
Oh, the bastard, now she couldn’t hate him unequivocally.
“Is it bad?” she asked, feeling compelled to do so. “I mean, I see things online all the time that I know have to be pure rubbish. The same nonsense that shows up about all celebrities, saying you’re having an alien’s baby or whatever. Does it bother you, though? Do you resent being famous because of an accident of birth?”
He took a moment to answer.
“I don’t resent being who I am. I don’t talk about my family—” his gaze shot to hers in warning to stay well back “—but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The attention is a pain in the ass and not something we invite. It annoys me, but I’ve learned to pick my battles.” He said it flatly, but the nail beds of his fingers were white where he gripped his glass.
“Well, I—” She stopped herself, holding out a hand. “Message received about your family,” she assured him. “You’ve earned the right to privacy. But I hope she’s well. Your sister, I mean.”
She was tempted to say more, weirdly yearning to explain that his family’s pain had rippled out to her in the strangest way. She’d been as taken as anyone with the Sauveterre twins. The girls had been a little younger than her, but had seemed like an ideal worth emulating, living much larger than Cinnia even though her family had been doing quite well in those days.
Then Trella had been kidnapped and she’d been terrified for the girl. Of course, she had been compelled to follow the rest of the family’s exploits forevermore. She was as curious as anyone about why his youngest sister had dropped out of the public eye in her teens. Had she gone into rehab? A madhouse? A nunnery? Theories abounded, but Cinnia kept her lips sealed against asking for the truth.
Against asking him if he was still dealing with the fallout.
The butler brought another plate of hors d’oeuvres, this one with tiny, deviled quail eggs, caviar and stuffed olives, and a whipped salmon mousse with narrow fingers of toasted bread. It was exquisite and she kept her gaze on it to hide how thinking of his past had altered her perception of him. She wanted to dismiss him as a womanizer who should be avoided, but he was human. He’d been hurt. Scarred.
“Why estate planning?”
She dragged her gaze off the plate, heart taking a skip as she met his gaze.
“Many reasons. I started looking into it after my father died. There was a lot to untangle and as I learned what he could have done, I kept wondering why he hadn’t set it up this way or that. My mother would have had it easier if he’d shown some foresight. Looking at it as a career, I saw it was flexible, something you could do without a lot of overhead. You can even work from home if you have to. Everyone needs a will, whether they know it or not. And it’s one of those things that if you’re good and fast, you can make a decent living. I didn’t see a downside beyond its lack of sex appeal.”
“Which you more than make up for in being yourself.”
He said it with gentle mockery. She knew he meant it as over-the-top flattery, but her cheeks still warmed. She tried to hide how affected she was with a dry “I try.”
The fireworks started and they turned to watch.
She was more aware of him than the performance. He was very charismatic with his air of aloof charm and hint of a French accent. He was also subtly demonstrative, lightly caressing her wrist as he drew her attention to the flotilla of boats coming in to watch.
Everything he did made her very aware of herself. Her breaths felt deliberate, her skin sensitized, her movements a dance of grace. She was being seduced and he wasn’t even making an effort to do it. Her mind drifted to thoughts of kissing him. Feeling his weight against her.
Her skin warmed, her nipples tingled and she pressed her knees together to ease the ache in the fork of her thighs.
She was sorry when the fireworks ended and her excuse for being here was over.
“Oh, no,” she said quickly, declining the butler’s offer to bring strawberries and cream with a fresh bottle of champagne as he removed their plate of finger foods.
“Do not worry about your figure,” Henri said, nodding to the butler.
“I’m worried about my survival. I’m allergic. I have a pen for emergencies and everything.” She nodded at her clutch.
“It’s that bad?” He held up a hand to halt the butler.
“I nearly died at a sleepover once, because my friend didn’t want to fess up that she’d stolen a bottle of her dad’s best wine for homemade sangria.” She rolled her eyes, making light of what a frightening near miss she’d had.
He refused the strawberries and told the butler he would press the call button when they were ready for more champagne.
“Have them if you want them,” Cinnia protested. “It’s not so bad I can’t watch someone else eat them.”
He tucked his chin, leaning forward as the butler closed the door behind himself. “But I can’t kiss you if I’ve eaten them. Can I?”
His words made her ears ring. She stole a long, subtle inhale, holding his gaze while she tried not to let him see how easily he sent her blood pressure into the stratosphere.
“Remaining hopeful?” Her gaze dropped to his mouth.
“Very much so.”
She forced herself to slide off her tall chair, excusing herself to the attached powder room. Time to go, she told her reflection. The woman in the mirror was entirely too heavy-lidded, her defenses against Henri thinning by the second.
When she returned, Henri was inside the suite. The lighting fell in subdued angles off the wall sconces and from the patio lanterns below the balcony, setting an intimate tone while the music inside the club pulsed in muted rhythm through the walls.
Henri had raided his swag bag for a box of chocolate truffles with a Belgian label and was opening one wrapped in gold foil. A ball of discarded foil was already on the table next to the box.
“I have a sweet tooth,” he admitted ruefully, offering the truffle.
“No thanks. I’ll, um, go. This was nice. Thank you.” She stuck out her hand, feeling like an idiot the moment she did it.
He set aside the chocolate and brought out his phone. “I’ll order the car and take you.”
“I can manage.”
He gave her a pithy look. “I meant it about not feeling obligated. I can drive you home without attacking you. I’ve made my appearance here. I don’t plan to stay.”
It wasn’t him she was worried about. She was half tempted to ask him to find the nearest vacant hotel room. Vera’s voice was playing in her head, extolling the virtues of being a modern woman who owned her sexuality. You eat if you’re hungry, don’t you?
Cinnia was sexually hungry. She put it down to the excitement of dressing up for an extravagant evening, the soft breeze caressing her skin and champagne relaxing her. Henri was very attractive and she would bet any money he easily satisfied the most exotic of appetites.
“I think it’s best if we end it here.” She felt like a coward and couldn’t help looking at his mouth again. She wanted him to kiss her. She really did. Her blood thickened in her arteries, throbbing with anticipation.
He quirked his lips. “If you tell me you have an allergy to chocolate, I’m going to be disappointed.”
“I’ll survive,” she murmured, recognizing that she was consenting to a kiss. “My affairs are in order if I don’t. And what a story to tell my grandchildren if I do.” She said it to be cheeky, to keep this light and disguise that she was intrigued by him.
His breath rushed out in an incredulous “Ha,” but he wasn’t deterred. He crowded close, hands opening on her waist and drawing her forward into him.
“I’d best make it memorable then.”
She wore low kitten heels and he was very tall, well over six feet and overwhelming as he bent his head to brush his mouth against hers.
She clutched his shoulders for balance, shivering lightly, head instantly swimming. Was that it? She swallowed and wet her lips then parted them, inviting a more thorough goodbye than that.
He started to smile and she knew his move had been a deliberate tease to make her want more. He moved in like a damned marauder then, covering her mouth fully, angling to plunder. Claiming.
She curled her fingers against his shoulders, feeling them tense as he drew her closer. She moaned as she kissed him back, quickly over her head and suddenly drowning. He buffeted her senses, filling her brain with the faint scent of aftershave and masculinity, enfolding her as she melted under a flood of arousal. His tongue came into her mouth and she tasted dark chocolate and darker intention.
He wanted her. She could feel how hard he was against her stomach. Her own body grew hot and achy in seconds. Longing struck her loins and she looped her arms fully around his neck to mash her breasts against his chest.
Too much, she thought as she did it, knowing it was a signal of receptiveness, but it was pure instinct. Wanton need.
She drew back, gasped once for air, then found herself kissing him again. Just once more. Okay twice. The third time she might have found her willpower, but the solidness of a wall arrived at her back. He ran his lips down her throat and slid his hand to cradle her breast.
“Oh,” she breathed, loving the gentle way he massaged, then found her nipple through the fringe, circling and teasing. Her knee came up to his thigh of its own accord, making space for him to settle against her aching mons.
He growled his approval and ran his hand up her thigh, taking the hem of her dress up to her waist, hooking his forearm behind her knee and caressing her bottom as she picked her hips up off the wall and met his suggestive thrust.
He kissed her deeply, tongue delving into her mouth as he fondled her breast and the skin of her bottom exposed by her thong. They rocked in mock lovemaking, their sighs too low to be heard over the noise of the crowd and music drifting in from the open doors of the balcony.
This was so not her. She liked sex, but she had never behaved like this. It had never felt like this. She might actually climax fooling around fully clothed, grinding herself against him if he kept up that perfectly delicious rhythm. The hard length of him was right where it needed to be, rubbing against her most sensitized flesh. She was so turned on and really tempted to let it happen. It was like they were dancing. The song’s beat was picking up, growing more intense. Tension was gathering in her abdomen and lower, in the flesh he was stimulating so erotically.
Dropping her head back against the wall, she bit her bottom lip, one hand bracing on his shoulder. They had to stop. They were practically in public and she was so close!
He whispered something in French that sounded like encouragement and reached one hand to lock the door. “It’s okay. Come.”
“Oui, chéri, you are. Very close. I can feel you trembling. It’s exciting. Come.”
She wanted to tell him he didn’t know how she felt, but he kissed her like he had the first time, barely grazing her mouth so she turned her head, seeking further contact and clinging to his lips with her own.
“Let me give you this,” he whispered as he broke away and shifted to bring his hand between them, gently tracing her tender flesh through the damp layer of black silk.
She stopped breathing. Anticipation held her very still as he drew light patterns over the silk of her thong. Her entire being narrowed to the touch of his fingertip, which was so light, yet made her throb with need. She waited in agony for his caress to steal beneath the elastic and…
“Mmm,” she moaned when he finally did it.
“You like?” He stroked her exactly the way she needed, unhurried, kissing and drawing away, stoking her arousal, kissing her more deeply, gently penetrating, then whispering praise, promising to make it so good for her. “Come. I want you to.”
She was going out of her mind, but his control was equally crazy-making. She wanted to let go but she couldn’t stand that he was doing this to her.
“Do you have a condom?” she gasped when he let her breathe again.
He stilled, eyes a silvery glimmer in the low light, gaze burning into hers.
“You want to make love?” he asked on a rasp.
Oh, please. His hand was in her knickers. He knew what she wanted. She was dying. But she wanted climax to be something they did together.
She slid her hands down to his fly, hands shaking so much with anticipation she was clumsy as she tried to open his pants.
He removed his hand and hooked her thong to peel it down, letting her leg drop so the silk slid to her ankles. Then he shrugged out of his suspenders and finished opening his pants, bringing a condom from his pocket before he hitched his pants low on his hips and revealed himself.
It ought to have been the moment she woke up and realized this was way beyond where it was supposed to go. Across the suite, the doors were open to a crowd of famous faces, hidden just below the rail.
Her world became a narrow, shadowed one, where her blood was on fire. Every breath she drew was filled with his spicy, masculine scent. She admired the shape of him in the low light as she watched him roll the condom down his length. She was so filled with anticipation her loins clenched in pangs of yearning.
He nudged his feet between hers, stepping the thong off her ankle as he settled against her again, the heat of his body a type of deliverance. She gathered her skirt and lifted her leg, hooking her calf against his buttocks, offering herself. He bent his knees and glided to caress, teasing her a moment, wetting the tip before he nudged for entry. He pressed, finding no resistance, and thrust smoothly into her slick channel, so she dug her nails into the back of his neck and made a keening noise at the intensity of his thickness filling her.
“Hurt?” he grunted with surprise, pulling back a little.
“Oh, no,” she breathed. “So good.” She tightened her foot into the back of his thigh, urging him deeper.
He growled a noise of agreement and pressed all the way in, giving her a moment to greet his intrusion with little rippling hugs of her inner muscles, joyous at the invasion of that hot, hard length. So rock-hard. They kissed like that, joined, barely moving as they stood against the wall, tongues laving against each other, bodies quaking with holding back, hot, so hot.
She had never been so overcome by desire that she stood against a damned wall with a stranger. She had never felt so desperate for more. She nudged to signal him that he was making her wait too long. Her arousal was a screaming pitch of need.
He breathed a soft laugh against her mouth and began to move with heavy purpose, not rough, but thorough, drawing out each movement so the pleasure went to its furthest degree each time, dragging tingles to the tips of her extremities. It was so sweet it made her teeth ache. She kept thinking it couldn’t possibly get better, then he thrust heavily, landing deep, and it was fantastic.
She ceased thinking about where she was or who he was. Their lovemaking became her entire focus. Nothing mattered except that he was moving within her in that exquisitely perfect way. It was earthy and uncivilized, yet so finely tuned it was art. She wanted him with her in this place where he’d propelled her, where nothing existed except this pleasure.
She ran her tongue up his neck and sucked his earlobe and angled to take him as deeply as she could. She kissed him back with abandon and brought his hand up under her dress to her breast, then slid her own under his shirt to caress his tense stomach. She whispered, “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
He said something in French, his whole body shaking, as though he was in the same state of straining to hold back because this was too good to release.
“You’re killing me, chéri. I can’t hold on. Are you ready?”
“I don’t want it to end,” she gasped, turning her open mouth against his neck and gently biting as the crisis threatened.
“Neither do I, but—ah!”
“Yes. Oh, Henri.”
“Oui. Ensemble. Maintenant.” He thrust harder. Faster.
Glory rose up in a gathering wave, locking them together in ecstatic culmination.