By: Mia Sheridan

She leaned closer and I caught her fragrance, feminine and delicate like her—warm and clean with just the barest hint of . . . vanilla maybe? I wanted to put my nose against the perfume of her bare skin and close my eyes. I wanted to see what else I could detect in her subtle scent. She tilted her head up higher, looking at me, asking me with her eyes to kiss her.

"Aye, Lydia, I'll kiss ya, but I'll not do more," I said. She was right, my accent was thicker when I talked to her, and my voice sounded hoarse, shaky. I couldn't help it. I didn't seem to have any control around her—not with anything, not my body, not my voice, not my thoughts. She must know how desperately I wanted to kiss her—how I'd been dreaming of kissing her since the first day I'd seen her.

Lydia smiled and then held her hand out to me. "But not here. Let's go inside where we can be alone." Oh Jaysus.

I removed my hands from my pockets and took her hand in mine, following behind her. Her hand was so soft, so warm, and before I even realized what I was doing, my thumb began making slow circles on her skin, attempting to learn the texture. With difficulty, I forced my thumb to still.

She led me to the back door of the stable and shut the door behind us once we were inside. The smell of hay and horses overwhelmed me and for a moment, my mind went fuzzy. But when Lydia led me to a decently sized room, where there was a cot that the men who worked in the stable could use if there was any cause, like one of the mare's birthing a foal, and closed the door, the smells lost their pungent quality and I was able to focus again.

Feeling some apprehension about being totally alone with Lydia in such a private location, I pulled her hand, halting her. She turned, staring up at me again. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothin'. This is good, right here," I said. She'd been leading me toward the cot and I knew that was a bad idea. I'd kiss her once and then I'd leave. Some small alarm still rang inside me, but I ignored it, knowing I was helpless to resist her. In the end, I'd do as she wanted me to do whether it seemed like a good idea or not. I knew it, and she bloody well knew it, too.

Lydia stepped closer to me until our bodies were barely touching, and she leaned up on her tiptoes and gently pressed her mouth to mine. I felt the soft press of her lips as if every nerve ending was focused right there where we were joined. Hot desire raced through my veins, and I made a small choking sound. Her eyes opened and something soft and understanding appeared in her gaze. She moved slowly and sensually as one hand came up to the back of my head, her fingers weaving through my hair, the soft scratch of her nails over my scalp causing my skin to prickle. Lydia's other hand went around my waist, resting there like a warm weight. I put my trembling hands on her hips, bracing myself, and closed my eyes, focusing on the feather-light brush of her lips.

Tentatively, I reached my tongue out to taste her, my nerves stretched as tight as a bow, my senses on overload in a way I'd never experienced before and wasn't sure how to manage. The mingling of pleasure and pain wrapped around me, holding me tightly in a strange embrace, an exquisite torture. I couldn't figure out which sensations to focus on. And somehow Lydia seemed to know. She dropped her hands from my hair and my waist so the only parts of us touching were our mouths. I sighed against her lips, learning the taste of her, a subtle sweetness mixed with a hint of richness, like milk and honey. God, it was good. Better than good. Completely fascinated, I delved my tongue into her mouth to get more of it, and she let out a little whimper, causing me to harden painfully. Her tongue met mine, wet and warm, and so very, very soft, drugging me, and yet causing my senses to sing. Our tongues danced and thrust, and I pressed my groin against hers, seeking some relief, and finding only more sensation that was both maddeningly pleasurable and searingly painful.

I used all my willpower to pull away, my lips coming off Lydia's with a wet pop. She gazed at me, confusion and need warring in her expression. It took me off guard. I'd only ever seen Lydia look fully in control. "Was that your first kiss, too, Brogan?" she asked uncertainly.

I looked away, trying desperately to control my breathing. "Was I that bad at it?" I asked, shooting her a small smirk I didn't feel.

She shook her head. The expression on her face was almost one of . . . wonder. "No, it wasn't that. It was incredible, and I love that it was a first for both of us. I just . . . you're trembling." She took my hand and pulled. "Come sit with me on the cot." When I hesitated, she added, "Please." And so I followed. Again. When we sat down, she scooted closer and ran a finger down my chest.

"Lydia," I groaned.

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