“Kyrie…Kyrie…so gentle, so responsive. Do you feel that? I know you do, my sweetest thing. I know you feel it.” His voice was a low, murmuring thread, his breath touching my shoulder now like a sun-hot wind. “It’s lightning, isn’t it? Pure lightning, arcing between us. Every time my lips touch your perfect skin, you blush and you shiver. I’ve barely touched you, barely begun to kiss you, only just learning the secrets of your body, but already you react so beautifully. Kyrie…Kyrie…you are so beautiful. Such a precious thing, and I simply cannot wait to make you sing, to make your body hum and shiver for me.”

I had no breath, heard no sound but his voice and the poetry in his words. If I’d heard anyone else speak that way, I’d mock and scoff. It would sound so contrived, but somehow with him, with his rich and melodic voice, it sounded perfect, natural. And his words, god. I couldn’t help but react to such statements. I felt my spine arch, felt my head turn to the side and my neck curve away, offering the column of my throat to him. No one had ever said such things to me. I’d been called sexy, hot, pretty. One guy had even called me “deliciously f**kable”; I’d had mixed feelings about that one. I’d been told I had a “bangin’ body,” and I’d been told I had fantastic tits. Once, I’d been told my eyes were lovely. That was a good one.

But…this was different. His voice, a deep murmur in my ear, thick with sincerity, rife with something like awe…it took his poetry to a new level. It made what should have been a fairly common and trite compliment—“so beautiful”—into something different, pushed it into a new realm.

And…he couldn’t wait to make me sing? Make my body hum and shiver for him? What the hell did that even mean?

But I had a suspicion. I did feel the lightning. I couldn’t deny that. Mere kisses along my arm, and I was moaning. If he could elicit that reaction from such simple touches, what could he get from me with more intimate attentions? I shuddered as the thought ran through me.

His lips—now skimming along the ridge of my shoulder and into the curve at the base of my throat—smiled on my skin. “Yes…you feel it. You feel what I could do to you. What I will do to you.” He trailed kisses up my neck, one…two…three…and then his lips were on my jaw, nearing my chin—is he going to kiss me?—his lips slid up, up, paused just beneath the corner of my lips. “You want me to kiss you, Kyrie? Don’t you? You’re afraid, but you do. I can feel it in you, sense it in you. Ask me, Kyrie. Ask me to kiss you.”

His lips hovered, just barely touching my flesh, at the corner of my lips. I trembled all over. The words bubbled up in my throat, crashed against the wall of my teeth. Kiss me. Please kiss me. I clenched my jaw, squeezed my teeth together to stop the words from coming out.

“No? Not yet, hmm?” His breath touched my cheek, and then his lips descended, ever so briefly, to the swell of my lower lip. He kissed me so softly, so quickly, I might have imagined it. And then I felt a nip, sharp teeth catching my lip, and I gasped. “Very well. I can wait.”

I breathed out as I felt him move away, and then I heard a spoon clink against china.

“The soup is going cold. Open up.” His voice was neutral once again.

“You’re going to feed me?” I hated how weak my voice was, how affected I sounded.


“Yes, of course. Now. Open up. It’s beef barley soup, and it’s to die for.”

I hesitated, and then the clenching gurgle of my stomach had me parting my lips. A spoon slid against my mouth, over my teeth, and I closed my lips over it, tasted, swallowed. “Mmmm. You weren’t kidding. That’s amazing.”

“Eliza is one of a kind. No one cooks like she does.” I heard him take a mouthful of soup for himself, and then the spoon nudged my lips again. “Would you like some bread?”

I nodded as I swallowed, and then felt something scratch my lips. I smelled fresh-baked bread, opened my mouth for it, and tasted the rich, light flavor of a baguette. He’d dipped it in the soup, softening it, and I took the bread from him, bit, chewed, relishing the flavors.

Thus it went, him feeding me, taking some for himself. It should have been awkward, but somehow it wasn’t. His fingers, as he fed me, would brush my lips, my cheek, and I didn’t flinch at his touch. Once I nearly nuzzled into his hand, and then scolded myself for being ridiculous.

But it was so surreal, so absurdly romantic and strange, that I couldn’t fathom my own reactions, couldn’t help being swept away, just a little.

I heard the door swing open, followed by the sound of wheels rolling over the floor. “Was the soup to your satisfaction, sir, Miss Kyrie?” Eliza asked as she removed the bowls and set down something else in front of me.

“It was amazing, Eliza,” I answered, “thank you.”

“Indeed,” he said. “Truly wonderful, as always.”

“The main course is salmon,” Eliza said, “freshly caught and baked with herbs. Beside it you will find hand-made garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.”

“Ah, Eliza, this looks excellent,” he said, his voice smooth with appreciation. “And the wine?”

I heard a cork pop, and liquid being poured. “This is a ’96 pinot gris,” Eliza said. “It is from the winery in France.” She said this last part as if describing something he would be familiar with.

“Ah, perfect,” he said. His next words were addressed to me. “I own several wineries throughout the world, one of which is in Alsace-Lorraine. While I own it, I made sure the original family continues to run it, seeing as they have been making wine there for more generations than I can number.”

He took my hand in his, and pressed a wine glass into my palm. I curled my fingers around it, brought it to my nose, and sniffed. “I don’t know much about wine,” I admitted. “I know you’re supposed to sniff really good wines, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to smell.”

He chuckled. “Perhaps another time we will endeavor to teach you the finer points of wine appreciation. But tonight is not that time. For now, simply enjoy it.”

I lifted the glass to my lips and took a small sip.

Holy f**king shit.

This was as much like the wine I was used to as a Ferrari was like a 1989 Ford Escort. I made a little noise of appreciation, and took another sip. This time, I held the wine in my mouth, swirled it around my taste buds. I’d seen things on TV or in movies where some wine snob, usually wearing a beret and a frilly scarf, took dainty sips and then used absurdly unlikely verbiage to describe the wine, things like hints of verdancy and overtones of oak. What bullshit, I’d always thought. Only, with this wine, I really could taste countless different flavors, undertones and hints and notes. I couldn’t identify them, or describe them, but I could taste them.