Trevelyan lifted his head to look at her, saw her face and smiled at her. “I think you’re going to take to this with the ease you took to whisky.”
After that neither of them spoke again, for Trevelyan started his long, slow thrusts. Claire lay almost still, feeling this utterly new sensation and thinking that she might have died and gone to heaven.
Somewhere within his movements, she began to move also. Trevelyan held her hips and began to guide her, so that she matched her movements with his. She was amazed at how well they fit together. Their bodies fit, her head fitting neatly into his shoulder, his hips into her hips, his—
Her eyes opened wider as she began to feel something building within her. She clutched at him and raised her hips to a higher position.
“Trevelyan,” she said, and there was a bit of fear in her voice. She looked at him and saw that strain showed on his face, as though he were trying to prevent something from happening. Inside of her, excitement kept building and building until she thought she might explode.
When she did explode, she knew it was the most wonderful experience of her life. She clutched at Trevelyan, her fingers burying themselves into the flesh of his back. His face was hidden in her neck; she could feel damp tendrils of his hair against her skin.
They lay together for a long while, holding each other tightly, until Claire pulled away. She wanted to look at him. Once, many years ago, she had been in her house in New York and she’d been walking into the small dining room where her mother was having tea with some of her women friends when she’d heard her mother say to the other women, “But, dear, you never know a man until you’ve spent the night with him.” At the time, Claire had been so embarrassed that she’d turned and gone back to her room, but now she had an idea of what her mother meant.
She moved so she could look at Trevelyan. His eyes were closed and he looked very young, like a boy. “How old are you?” she asked.
He smiled softly, his eyes still closed. “Thirty-three.”
She caressed the hair at his temples, smoothing it back from his face. “I don’t think we should have done this,” she said softly.
His eyes opened immediately; they were fierce and angry. “If you’re going to say that we’ve betrayed Harry, I think you ought to know that right now Harry is in Edinburgh with his mistress.”
Claire was taken aback by the anger in Trevelyan’s voice. “Are you jealous of Harry?”
“Of that damned mistress of his? She’s forty-five, married, and has two children, one of whom looks remarkably like Harry.”
At the moment Claire couldn’t think about this news. Right now Harry seemed very far away. She kissed Trevelyan’s eyelids. “I don’t want to think about that now. I don’t want to think about anything at this moment.” Part of her knew that being in bed with one man when she was engaged to someone else was wrong, but another part knew that this man was Captain Baker. This was a man she had worshiped as a hero for many years.
She ran her fingertips down the scars on his cheeks, remembering every word he’d written about how he had received those scars. Gently, she pushed him to his back and began to touch the other scars on his body, thinking about how he’d received them. She kissed the new wound on his arm. On his shins were long scars from where he had lanced his own legs when malaria had swollen them so badly. He’d had to cut his legs to allow the blood out.
She sat beside him, touching him, looking at him. She was curious as to what a nude man looked like, and especially as to what this man looked like.
When she looked back at his face she saw that he was frowning. “Do you look at me? Or are you planning what you will tell the world about Captain Baker?”
She stretched out beside him and smoothed his heavy mustache. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “You’ve been so many people to me. When I met you I thought you were an old man, a weak, sick old man. Then I thought you were a cynic, one of those people who’s decided the world is a bad place and has chosen to be miserable. Then I discovered that you’re the famous Captain Baker. And now…”
“Now I don’t know who you are.”
“Let me show you,” he said, and his eyes were bright with a flaming intensity. “Let me show you who I am. Give me the time until Harry returns. That’s all I ask
. Harry will probably return in four or five days, then you can go back to him. But before he returns, spend time with me. Every minute of every day.”
Claire pulled the sheet up to cover her bare breasts. “I…I don’t know. There’s Miss Rogers and the duchess. I think Harry’s mother already knows too much of what I do, and there’s my own family to consider. My mother—”
“I will take care of Rogers as well as the duchess. As for your parents, they don’t seem to bother themselves about the whereabouts of their daughters.”
As Claire looked at him, she knew that more than anything else in the world she wanted to stay with him. At this moment she thought it possible that she might walk away and leave behind everything that was important to her. Her jaw tightened. “What about your perfect little Emerald of the Nile?”
He smiled at her. “Pearl of the Moon.”
“It’s difficult for me to remember,” she said stiffly. “I’m afraid that I haven’t had your…experience with her. Shall the world read about her in your next book?”
“Of course. It’s what my readers like. Let me see if I remember what I wrote, for of course I wrote about Nyssa first, long before I wrote those boring parts about the measurements of the wagon wheels and such. I think I wrote something like, ‘Nyssa was all woman, all fire, all passion. She was wonderful to make love to. When you went to bed with her, it was like testing your manhood.’”
Claire started to get out of bed, but he caught her arm and pulled her back. She wouldn’t look at him or speak to him, but folded her arms across her breasts and stared at the underside of the bed canopy.
“Jealous?” he asked, his voice full of amusement.