What was she doing to him? He’d dry-humped his future Queen against a wall. The thought of pushing inside her—filling her with himself—had almost undone him.
She smiled up at him and it crushed him. He couldn’t smile back.
He’d lost control, and she’d given him permission to do it. To give in to the carnal urges driving him. He was everything his father had told him he was.
He’d destroyed her dress. Ripped the seams to expose her red lace-covered breasts.
He lowered her gently to her feet and shrugged the outer cloak from his body and wrapped it around her shoulders. He moulded his hands over her. Over the reality of her shoulders.
He needed her to understand.
He caught her chin. ‘Who are you?’ he asked.
He had to make her understand what he’d failed to make her believe nine years ago, because he’d been weak and believed her father. Someone needed to believe in her, and first it had to be herself, but he would guide her on her way as no one had guided him.
He owed her this small gift. A gift she’d given to the boy he could never be again.
‘Charlotte,’ she said. She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. ‘Who else could I be?’
‘Tell me who you are.’
‘Charlotte...’ It was a murmur this time, confusion narrowing her eyes.
‘Charlotte who?’ he demanded.
‘Say it again.’
‘I am—’ She inhaled deeply.
The smell of burning wood and the heat of their mingled arousal infiltrated his senses as he watched a veil lift from her eyes.
‘I’m Charlotte Hegarty.’
‘And Charlotte Hegarty is enough.’ He pulled her to him and lifted her against him, pressed her firmly to his heaving chest. ‘Charlotte Hegarty is worthy of more than high-quality cotton sheets.’
A hiccup of a sound left her lips. Not a laugh...not a moan or a gasp. ‘And are you worthy of top-of-the-range sheets?’
‘I have never denied myself comfort.’
‘You’ve denied me at every opportunity,’ she husked, and his heart raged, along with the harder, pulsing length of him.
No, he’d denied himself.
‘Did I not give you release? Pleasure?’
‘What about your pleasure?’
‘If I’d torn the panties from your body and thrust myself inside you...possessed you... I would have been everything my father told me I was. A basic boy, with basic needs and basic desires.’
‘There was nothing basic about what we just did, Akeem,’ she said gently. Too gently.
But she was wrong.
He would have been nothing but flesh and hard muscle finding release. That was basic at its core definition. The impulse of the man who had driven to London to exact his revenge would have taken over. An impulse he could not give life to in this world.
He would have been a pleasure-seeker at the cost of others. At the cost of Charlotte. He had no protection with him, and if his seed had taken root inside her—made a life because he hadn’t been able to control himself...
‘Can you tell me your name?’ she asked, and his face contorted.