It’s 1914, and World War One is just beginning. Trapped in Germany, English chemist Lucilla and French scientist Fournier are forced into sharing a hotel room, and a bed. Moonlight Mistress by Victoria Janssen is due out December 2009 from Harlequin Spice.
Lucilla closed her eyes and inhaled scent and warmth, hers and Fournier’s mingled. A decorous woman would protest even this chaste embrace, given their dishabille. She had passed decorous simply by being in this hotel, in this room, in this bed. She closed her eyes and felt their hearts beating, concentrating on the sense of well-being that cocooned her, trying to sear it into her memory against future need. She didn’t dare move, for fear it would end.
Fournier’s voice caressed the inner tunnel of her ear. “This is permissible?”
“Yes,” she said. Her throat tightened. Foolish to want more. Foolish. She did not even know this man. This young man. Far too young for her.
“Is it polite among the English, to ask if you have experience?”
Lucilla’s breath stopped as the world flipped. She should not have been surprised. The world had flipped more than once today, already. She drew a deep breath. “I don’t think so,” she said. “That seems silly just now, doesn’t it?”
He sounded as impatient as if he demanded coffee from a recalcitrant waiter. Lucilla laughed a little. He was clumsier than she in these matters. “I was engaged to be married, once. It ended badly, very badly. Yes, I am experienced.” She paused, as a thought occurred to her. “And you?”
Fournier snorted, a ticklish sensation against her neck. “Somewhat.”
A delicious sense of freedom flooded her to her bones. Lucilla rubbed her hand along his arm where it lay against her. She liked its heat and the contrast of soft skin over firm muscle, and the friction of hair beneath her palm. He must have liked it, too, for he shifted a little closer to her. She wondered how his skin tasted. “Have you asked me this for a reason?”
“You are toying with me.”
“Teasing,” she corrected, giddily. She lifted his arm to her mouth and kissed the back of his hand. It didn’t taste of anything in particular. She would need to taste some other spot, such as–her breath caught at the thought–the crease where his leg met his thigh. “I’ve never done this with a stranger. Or anyone, except the one.”
“I do not make a habit of seducing women,” Fournier said. “If that is what you wished to know. I have always wondered why numbers are considered to be a factor in these matters, if once is enough to be damning.” He paused, rubbing his nose against the back of her neck. Lucilla shivered at the odd but pleasurable sensation. “It was not my plan to seduce you, when I brought you here.”
“Oh, surely not,” she said. “You were so gallant. Why, when you offered to share your towel, I declare, my heart was all a-flutter.”
She couldn’t help herself; she began to laugh, at the absurdity of it all, at all the circumstances that had led her, a spinster chemist, to find herself nearly naked in a bed in Germany with a French scientist. She didn’t even know his field of specialization.
That thought sent her off again, and she laughed until her gut hurt. At some point, she gasped out a few words of explanation and Fournier laughed with her. Seemingly without transition, she was on her back and his face loomed above her. She lifted her hand and traced his mustache with her finger, then he was kissing her, first gentle brushing and nibbling, then deep kisses full of bristles and heat and wet swirling sensation, whirlpools sucking her down.
c. Victoria Janssen 2009
More “first kiss” excerpts are available at these authors’ blogs today: