Lyon was feeling a bit guilty, but terribly arrogant, too. She belonged to him. He hadn't realized just how possessive he could be. Lyon wanted to believe Christina wouldn't have given herself to him unless she loved him.
He knew she'd reached fulfillment. Lord, she'd cried out his name loud enough for the streetwalkers to hear. A smile settled on his face. She hadn't been the delicate little flower he'd thought she was. When she let go, she let go. Wild. Totally uncontrolled. And loud, Lyon admitted. His ears were still ringing from her lusty shouts. Lyon didn't think he could ever be happier. No, Christina hadn't held back. He had the scratches to prove it.
Now all he wanted to hear from her was the truth inside her heart. He wanted her to tell him how much she loved him.
Lyon let out a long sigh. He was acting just like a virgin on his wedding night. Uncertain. Vulnerable.
"Lyon, do all Englishmen have such hair on their bodies?"
Her question nudged him away from his thoughts. "Some do, others don't," he answered with a shrug that nearly pushed her off his chest. "Haven't you ever seen Mr. Summerton without his shirt on, love?" he teased.
He wasn't going to remind her again. If the woman couldn't keep her lies straight, he certainly wasn't going to help. Lyon was immediately irritated. He knew it was his own fault for bringing up the lie, but that didn't seem to matter. "Christina, now that we've become so intimate, you don't have to fabricate stories any longer. I want to know everything about you," he added, his voice a little more intense than he wished. "No matter what your childhood was like, I'll still care for you."
Christina didn't want to answer his questions. She didn't want to have to lie to him again… not now. A warm glow still surrounded her heart. Lyon had been such a tender lover. "Did I please you, Lyon?" she asked, trailing her fingers down his chest to distract him.
"Very much," he answered. He captured her hand when she'd reached his navel. "Honey, tell me about—"
"Aren't you going to ask me if you pleased me?" she asked, pulling her hand free of his grasp.
Lyon took a deep breath. He could feel himself getting hard again. "Because I know I pleased you," he ground out. "Christina, stop that. It's too soon for you. We can't make love again."
Her hand touched his arousal, stealing the breath out of his protest. Lyon let out a low groan. His hand dropped to his side when she began to place wet kisses on the flat of his indrawn stomach. She moved lower to taste more of him.
"No more," Lyon commanded.
He pulled her by her hair, twisting the curls to get her attention. "If you want to tease, you'd better wait until tomorrow," he warned. "A man can only take so much, Christina."
"How much?" she whispered. Her mouth was getting closer to his hard shaft.
Lyon jerked her back up to his chest. "We only have this one night," Christina protested.
"No, Christina," Lyon said. "We have a lifetime."
She didn't answer him, but she knew he was wrong. Her eyes filled with tears when she turned her face away from him. Christina was almost desperate to touch him again, to taste all of him. The memory of her Lyon would have to stay with her… forever.
She lowered her head to his stomach again. She kissed him there, moved to his thighs next, and finally between them.
His scent was just as intoxicating as the taste of him. She was only given a few minutes to learn his secrets, however, before Lyon dragged her up on top of him.
He kissed her hungrily as he rolled her to his side. Christina moved her leg over his thigh and begged him with her mouth and her hands to come to her.
She was more than ready for him. Lyon was shaken when he touched the sweet wetness between her thighs. He slowly penetrated her warmth, holding her h*ps in a fierce grip, determined not to let her hurt herself by pushing up against him too quickly.
She bit him on his shoulder in retaliation. Lyon was driving her mad. He slowly penetrated her, then withdrew just as slowly. It was agonizing. Maddening.
He had the patience and the endurance of a warrior. She thought she could withstand the sweet torment for the rest of her life. But Lyon was far more adept at the ways of loving than she was. When his hand slipped between them and he touched the heat of her in such a knowing way, her control completely vanished.
Her cl**ax was unimaginable, consuming her. Christina clung to him, her face pillowed against the side of his neck, her eyes tightly closed against the hot sensations shooting through her body.
Lyon was no longer controlled. His thrusts became powerful. When she instinctively arched against him, tightened herself around him, he found his release. The force of his cl**ax stunned him. Lyon felt it in the very depths of his soul.
He was at peace.
Several long minutes elapsed before he could slow his racing heart or his ragged breath. He was too content to move.
Christina was crying. Lyon suddenly felt the wetness of her tears on his shoulder. The realization jarred him out of his haze. "Christina?" he whispered, hugging her close to him. "Did I hurt you again?"
"You're all right?"
She nodded against his chin.
"Then why are you crying?"
If he hadn't sounded so caring, she might have been able to restrain herself. There wasn't any need to be quiet about it now, since he knew she was weeping, and she was soon wailing, loud and undignified as a crazed old squaw.
Lyon was horrified. He rolled Christina on her back, brushed her hair out of her face, and gently wiped her tears away. "Tell me, love. What is it?"
It was a ludicrous answer, of course, but Lyon held his patience. "I really didn't hurt you?" he asked, unable to keep fear out of his voice. "Please, Christina. Quit crying and tell me what's the matter."
His sigh was strong enough to dry the tears from her cheeks. Lyon cupped the sides of her face, his thumbs rubbing the soft skin below her chin. "I'm not going to move until you tell me what's bothering you, Christina. Your aunt will find us in just this position when she comes home next week."
She knew he meant what he said. He had a stubborn look on his face. The muscle in the side of his jaw flexed. "I've never felt the way you make me feel, Lyon. It frightened me," she admitted.
She started crying again. Dear God, how could she ever leave him? The full truth was unbearable. Shameful. Lyon probably loved her. No, she admitted, shaking her head. He loved a princess.
"Christina, you were a virgin. Of course you were frightened," he said. "Next time it won't be so terrifying for you. I promise you, my sweet."
"But there can't be a next time," Christina wailed. She pushed against Lyon's shoulders. He immediately shifted his weight, then rolled to his side.
"Of course there's going to be another time," he said. "We'll be married first, just as soon as possible. Now what have I said?"
He had to shout his question. Christina was making so much noise he knew she wouldn't have been able to hear him if he'd spoken in a normal tone of voice.
"You said you wouldn't marry me."
Ah, so that was the reason. "I've changed my mind," Lyon announced. He smiled, for he understood her real anxiety now. He was also very pleased with himself. Lord, he'd just said the word marriage without blanching. Even more amazing was the fact that he really wanted to marry her.
The turnabout stunned him.
Christina struggled to sit up. She threw her hair over her shoulder when she turned to look at Lyon. She stared at him a long while and tried to form an explanation that wouldn't sound confusing. Christina finally decided to say as little as possible. "I've changed my mind, too. I can't marry you."
She jumped off the bed before Lyon could stop her, then hurried over to her chest to get her robe. "At first I thought I could, because I knew you'd be able to make my stay in England so much more bearable, but that was when I thought I'd be able to leave you."
"Damn it, Christina, if this is some kind of game you're playing, I would advise you to stop."
"It isn't a game," Christina protested. She tied the belt around her waist, pausing to wipe the fresh tears away from her face, then walked back over to stand at the foot of the bed. Her head was bowed. "You want to marry Princess Christina," she said. "Not me."
"You're not making any sense," Lyon muttered. He got out of bed and walked over to stand behind her.
He hadn't the faintest idea what was going through her mind, and he told himself it didn't matter.
"You can tell me all the lies you want to, but the way you just gave yourself to me was honest enough. You want me as much as I want you."
He was about to pull her up against him when her next comment gave him pause. "It doesn't matter."
The sadness in her voice tore at him. "This isn't a game, is it? You really think you aren't going to marry me."
Her simple answer made him livid. "The hell you can't. We're getting married, Christina, just as soon as I can make the arrangements. God's truth, if you shake your head at me one more time I'm going to beat you."
"You needn't shout at me," Christina said. "It's almost dawn, Lyon. We are both too tired for this discussion."
"Why did you ask me to marry you," he asked, "and then change your mind?"
"I thought I'd be able to marry you for just a little while and then—"
"Marriage is forever, Christina."
"According to your laws, not mine," she answered. She took a step away from him. "I'm too upset to speak of this tonight, and I'm afraid you'll never understand anyway—"
Lyon reached out to pull her up against his chest. His hands circled her waist. "Did you know before we made love that you weren't going to marry me?"
Christina closed her eyes against the anger in his voice. "You had already declined my proposal," she said. "And yes, I knew I wouldn't marry you."
"Then why did you give yourself to me?" he asked, sounding incredulous.
"You fought for my honor. You protected me," she answered.
He was infuriated over her perplexed tone of voice. She acted as though he should have understood. "Then it's damned fortunate someone else didn't—"
"No, I wouldn't have slept with any other Englishman. Our destiny is—"
"Your destiny is to become my wife, understand, Christina?" he shouted.
Christina pulled away from him, somewhat surprised he'd let her go. "I hate England, do you understand me?" she shouted back at him. "I couldn't survive here. The people are so strange. They run from one tiny little box to another. And there are so many of them, a person has no room to breathe. I couldn't—"
"What little boxes?" Lyon asked.
"The houses, Lyon. No one ever stays outside. They scurry like mice from one place to another. I couldn't live like that. I couldn't breathe. And I don't like the English people, either. What say you to that full truth, Lyon? Do you think me daft? Perhaps I'm as crazy as everyone here believes my mother was."
"Why don't you like the people?" he asked. His voice had turned soft, soothing, Christina thought he really might be thinking she'd just lost her mind.
"I don't like the way they act," she announced. "The women take lovers after they've pledged themselves to a mate. They treat their old like discarded garbage. That is their most appalling flaw," Christina said. "The old should be honored, not ignored. And their children, Lyon. I hear about the little ones, but I've yet to see one. The mothers lock their children away in their schoolrooms. Don't they understand the children are the heartbeat of the family? No, Lyon, I could not survive here."
She paused to take a deep breath, then suddenly realized Lyon didn't look very upset about her comments. "Why aren't you angry?" she asked.
He grabbed her when she tried to step away from him again, wrapped his arms around her, and held her close to him. "First of all, I agree with most of what you've just said. Second, all during your irate protest you kept saying'they,' not 'you.' You didn't include me with the others, and as long as it's the other English you dislike, that's quite all right with me. You told me once you thought I was different. It's why you've been drawn to me, isn't it? It doesn't really matter." he added with a sigh. "You and I are both English. You can't change that fact, Christina, just as you can't change the fact that you belong to me now."
"I'm not English where it matters most, Lyon."
"And where might that be?" Lyon asked.
"In my heart."
He smiled. She sounded like a small child in need of comfort. She happened to pull away from him just at that moment, saw his smile, and was infuriated. "How dare you laugh at me when I tell you what is in my heart?" she shouted.
"I dare, all right," Lyon shouted back. "I dare because this is the first time you've ever been completely honest with me. I dare because I'm trying to understand you, Christina," he added, taking a menacing step toward her. "I dare because I happen to care about you. God only knows why, but I do care."
Christina turned her back on him. "I'll not continue this discussion," she announced. She picked up his pants and threw them at him. "Get dressed and go home. I'm afraid you'll just have to walk, because I don't have a servant available to fetch your carriage for you."
She glanced back at him, took in his startled expression. A sudden thought made her gasp. "Your carriage isn't waiting out front, is it?"
"Oh, hell," he muttered. He had his pants on in quick time, then strode out of the bedroom, barechested and barefooted, still muttering under his breath.
Christina ran after him. "If anyone sees your carriage… well, I can certainly count on someone telling my aunt, can't I?"
"You don't care what the English think, remember?" Lyon shouted back. He threw the front door open, then turned to give her a good glare. "You would have to live on the main street," he said, sounding as if her choice of townhouses had been a deliberate provocation somehow.