Finn caught Annie’s hand. Small, so soft in his hand.
She smiled up at him, all light innocence and temptation.
He swallowed a groan. Let her go before you do something you regret. Mission, remember? Stop taunting yourself with what you cannot have. He had enough regrets already. By all the Powers, he knew better, damn it! If Gaolta Dara, Anna was off limits. If Leannai, she was even more forbidden, barely past childhood and two years from full majority. By Garad’s death and Marcán’s intransigence, he was outlaw, a non-person to his people. He couldn’t want her, let alone kiss her.
He knew all this and still he drew her close.
Annie met him in the gentle, searching press of lips.
He’d never before imagined a kiss having a fit, but their kiss fit. The kiss deepened, slow and easy, as he carefully learned his way. He would remember it all, every brush and breath and sigh, the taste of her rich and sweet as the vanilla and strawberry ice cream they’d enjoyed, the summery perfume of the rose buds in her hair, the perfect tender curves of her lips under his.
His heart lurched. He pulled away. Idiot, what have you done? Both of them breathed fast. His chest ached. His own unsteady hand still clasped hers.
Annie was smiling, her soft green eyes welcoming. Smiling–
Something within him tore, crumbled. Painfully. Permanently. Oh, he was a lost man. In that moment, he wanted to let go of himself and his vows and his past and be whoever that man was she saw, do whatever she asked of him.
He brought his mouth back to hers, demanding more this time, but still slow and easy. His blood sang at the sensual pull, pleasure a hot ache curled in his belly.
Somehow, with barely a hand’s-breadth space between their bodies, still the only contact between them remained mouths and clasped hands, as if they both tacitly agreed any more touch a frontier neither were ready to travel. Yet.
Thunder rumbled and rattled, startling them apart.
“We had best return.” His voice was ragged, heart pounding. But he had to touch her once more, once, just once. He traced his fingers along her prettily flushed cheek. Áine. Radiance. Yes. Her green eyes slumberous.
A wonderfully bad idea, that touch.
Photo: Luiz Cavalini Jr.