Prologue

His name was Christopher McBride and he was, at most gently stated, the love of Aranda's life. Though it sounds strange, the very first time she saw him she knew they would become something more. At the time she pushed it off as a physical attraction enhanced by her desperate need for companionship. However, somehow she knew they would cross paths again. Christopher McBride was your average man; yet if ever magic existed, it did so in him. He was tall, lean, and pale. His light brown hair only brought out his beautiful blue-green eyes. Still, there was coldness within him. A thick layer of ice formed from some mysterious and chilling past encased his soul. Of course, being the girl she was, she was just the one who decided to plunge into his icy world of terror heart first.

Chapter One

A New Mistress

Christopher sat starring out the window, as was his usual habit on days such as these. The sun was too warm to work, and the canvas was too white to conquer. With one thousand one successful paintings completed in his short lifetime, he could now think of nothing at all to paint. Inspiration seemed to drain out of him as he became more and more restless with his redundant life. His new inventions were going nowhere, and he was always finding something wrong with his old ones. His thoughts came to an abrupt stop when a brush was flung across the room and hit him squarely between the shoulders. He quickly flung around to chase the young girl across the room, through the gallery, and into her sleeping chamber. The gaunt little girl crouched behind the pile of boxes and blanket that served as her bed. She sprang up and attempted to run out of the room, but he was too fast for her. Before she had reached the door he had his arm hooked around her waist and tossed her scrawny body easily to the floor. She smiled wildly, her dark curls tangled about her head, and her eyes alight. He pretended to glare at her, and then began tickling her. Soon the entire room and corridor outside were filled with her deep-throated laughter. He smiled now. "Had enough?" He cocked his head and looked at her with a grin. She nodded as she gulped in large amounts of air. "All right." He smiled and rolled over, allowing her to get up. The girl looked down at him. Christopher stretched out on her floor and folded his arms behind his head. "Hey, Chris?" She asked. "Yeah?" "Why do you always stare out the window like that? Do you watch the people? Sometimes I watch the people out my window when I can't sleep." Her voice was sweet and high-pitched. She was a thin little girl; too thin. She had dark brown hair that curled of its own accord in a dark halo about her head. She had sparkling green eyes and pale, sickly skin. Christopher glanced up to the tiny window in her room. It was very small, just large enough for her tiny round face. It pointed directly toward the bar and hotel. He wondered at all the things her innocent eyes must have seen late at night. "No," he answered, "I don't watch the people. I'm not really looking at anything, just thinking." "Oh." She almost sounded disappointed. "Me too." She added. "Oh?" "Um hum. Chris?" "What?" His voice held a hint of amusement. "If you ever can't sleep, you could always come and watch people or think with me. I never get to sleep anymore. Not since Maggie." The child's eyes began to glaze over. Christopher cringed at the name. Maggie had been their former mistress. She had married Mr. Wilks as an act of love. He had married her as an act of greed. She was rich and alone. Her father had passed away merely one week before Wilks had proposed. John Wilks was a dangerous man, and power hungry. He was a devious man with an ulterior motive to everything, even marriage. Within two weeks of her father's death they were married, of his decision, not hers. She had wished to wait until after the appropriate grieve period had passed, but he talked her into it. Now, she was hardly cold in her grave, an untimely and unfortunate accident. She had suspiciously fallen down a flight of stairs and broken her neck. Everyone knew the truth, but no one was willing to say it. And so, John Wilks was now thousands of dollars richer. "Come here, Lilly." He sat up and reached for her. The youth ran to her, tears streaming down her face. They sat like that for a few minutes; Christopher rocking and cooing Lilly. Once her seven-year-old body ceased to heave with sobs, he released her and returned to his work, saying that she should also in the chance of Mr. Wilks returning early. He had gone to pick up the late Mrs. Wilks new replacement; a mail order bride. He needed a woman to run the place when he was gone, he said. He needed a woman who was good at business. Christopher wondered what his real motives for ordering a bride so soon were. She couldn't be worth much money. Christopher had finally come to the conclusion that was there simply to run the household and keep up his good name while he had his way with every other woman in town. He said he had met her before and requested her specifically. That would have cost him a good sum of money, which made Christopher suspicious of what Mr. Wilks' plans were, but he could only guess. Not fifteen minutes after he had returned to the little room that served for his studio did the Mr. Wilks' carriage pull into view. Christopher ran to the window to see his new Mistress. John was the first to emerge from the brown carriage. He was smiling from ear to ear, which shocked Christopher beyond words. John Wilks did not smile like that even when he came into a new fortune. Christopher's curiosity instantly peeked. Wilks held out his hand to help his Lady down. A small, pretty hand slipped through the curtain that hung before the entrance of the carriage and into his. When the girl emerged, Christopher was overwhelmed. Outside the window stood some sort of heavenly being, or talented enchantress, who donned a sparkling pale blue gown. She couldn't have been older than sixteen. Her brown eyes were almond shaped and framed beautifully in long, thick, dark lashes. Her hair was darker than any Chris had ever seen before, a raven or ebony color. It was pulled back into a mass of swirls and designs and pinned with small pins that had pearl like things on the ends of them. Her face was slightly rounded and her lips were full and pink. Then his eyes dropped, just slightly, to her long, swan like neck sheathed in tanned skin. Then to her delicately curved shoulders, which were bare in the dress. Christopher reprimanded himself for looking even as he did so, but he could not help himself. His eyes fell to the lush swell of her breasts, greatly exposed by the dress. He was shocked to see that the rims of pink of her nipples peeked over the top of her dress, the pale blue accenting her tanned skin beautifully. And oh how tiny her waist was! She was so thin! Her hips were perfectly rounded and proportionate to her voluptuous body. Her legs were long, so long, and curved delicately with tone and health. The girl's skin almost seemed to glow. Mr. Wilks had picked out the dress. Christopher had seen him carrying it to the carriage that morning. Suddenly, Christopher noticed that girl was a person, and his heart went out to her immediately. Her expression was light and gay, but her eyes were so dim, and seemed to be wet. He guessed that she loathed the dress, as well as the man beside her. Mr. Wilks gave his soon-to-be bride a quick tour of his studio and of the huge gallery. She was shown her quarters, which consisted of three rooms. One was her bedchamber and was furnished with the most extravagant of things. The bed was much too large, and mirrors had been placed above it upon Wilks command. It was obvious that he did not expect to wait until they were married to begin taking advantage of his rights to her as a husband. Near the bed were large wood dressers with twenty drawers each. Then there was the chifrobe, which were stocked with more dresses provided by the husband to be. The second room was a bathing chamber; it was smaller than the first, but larger than Lilly's bedroom. Christopher had thought the girl was going to die of surprise and excitement when she saw that the warm water came from a faucet. Mr. Wilks explained that there was an attic above them, which contained a large vat of preheated water. The third room was a second chamber, smaller than the first, but furnished about the same. It was meant for nights when Mr. Wilks stayed. The bath chamber connected the two rooms, and her door did not lock. The girl was seventeen, which had shocked Christopher at first, but he soon began to see the maturity in her. She spoke quietly and was very polite to Chris, though it seemed to him she was avoiding him. She had taken to Lilly immediately. As soon as she saw the girl she showered her with compliments and demanded that her groom to be provide the girl with a bed, better blankets, and new clothes. She often took Lilly and Cook, a plump but jolly little woman who served as Wilks' cook, shopping. There had been several days when Christopher had found new supplies slipped in with his own and new clothes lying outside his door in the morning, but she never mentioned them, which he was thankful for. A few weeks after the Lady Aranda had arrived, Mr. Wilks had to go out of town on 'business' for two months. Aranda somehow convinced him to hold off the wedding until he returned. She had also managed to deter him from sharing a bed with her yet, Christopher had noticed. His room was on the right side of hers. There used to be a door connecting the two, but now a closet stood in the way. The first day of Mr. Wilks' absence his young wife to be seemed alight and quite joyous. She entered the kitchen that morning to eat with the servants. This morning she had donned a flaming red dress that seemed to suit her in a way that none of those around her could describe, but all who laid eyes on her could feel it. It was more of a gypsy look. But sexy as anything the Master of the house could have picked. It wasn't degrading, like the others, but she was radiant in it. He dark hair was now flowing over her shoulders instead of plaited back. She pulled a chair near the small table and smiled brightly to all seated. "Good morning, everyone. Do you mind if I join you?" Her voice was no longer quiet, but full and thick. She waited until they gave her permission to join them before she sat. All throughout breakfast Christopher found it difficult to eat. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Aranda, who had taken her seat directly across from him. He kept shifting in his chair and just kept rearranging his food with his knife, moving things from one side to the other, and then to the bottom, then to the top, and then back to their original spot only to do it all over again. He kept thinking things that he knew he shouldn't and felt quite guilty for every one that crossed his mind. She was so lovely, though, and he could not help the thoughts that ran through his mind. He now caught himself studying her lips and reluctantly looked down at his food again. After what seemed an eternity, breakfast was over and it was time to get to work. Christopher was thankful when he saw that Aranda did not follow him and Lilly back out into the main parts of the studio. Aranda followed Cook and the two servant girls into the kitchen. She glowed with happiness and relief. Now that she could finally breathe she was herself freely. "Is there anything I can help you with? I'm pretty fast at washing dishes, and I promise not to break anything." She looked at Cook hopefully. At first, Cook opened her mouth as if to protest, but the look on Aranda's face must have pleaded her case clearly enough, for Cook just nodded her head and gave a sweet little smile. "Oh, Thank you! I promise not to get in your way." Aranda beamed. After a few minutes Cook looked over at the young girl scrubbing away at the dishes. "Why did you do it, Miss?" "Why did I do what?" "Why did you sell yourself like that for a husband? Don't you miss your family? Don't you miss your home? You seem like a lass who could make well by herself. So, why did you do it?" "I don't have any family anymore and I met John before. He was very." She broke off and, though she was smiling, it was only a shadow of the one that blessed her lips a moment ago. "He was very persuasive." Cook laid a dripping hand on the girl's as if with understanding. Aranda looked at her gratefully. Cook smiled and they continued with their work in a more than welcome silence. Christopher had been in his studio all day. For the first fifty minutes he just sat there, his brush dipped in blue pain and poised in the air ready to make its first stroke. Now, eight hours later, that same brush, still wet with the same blue, lay on the stool beside his canvas. Christopher sat in the floor in a corner, his hands folded across the tops of his knees, looking out his window. He didn't even hear her come in, or notice her walk across the room, until she sat down in front of him and placed a tray between them. "You always work this hard?" She smiled. He startled. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you." "You didn't frighten me, just surprised me." "Well I knocked three times to ask if you wanted dinner, but you never answered. I hope you don't mind." He looked to her and her sparkling smile and nodded his forgiveness. Then he looked at the tray she had placed between them. There were two small glasses of what looked like some of Cooks cider, two halves of bread and some butter, and two small filets. "I took the liberty of bringing you dinner. Do you mind if I join you?" She raised her right eyebrow in a questioning manner. He laughed despite himself. "What? What's so funny?" "You." "What about me." "You're so. different." She looked to him quizzically. "Is that a good trait or a bad trait?" "Well, I wouldn't exactly think of I as a trait, just an entire way of being. And I'm not sure yet. You seem to have been avoiding me." She looked down at that. Suddenly he felt badly about saying anything. "Yes, I have been. I don't want you to get into any trouble with John. He wouldn't be fond of me speaking to you. He doesn't even approve of Hal driving me. He's insane." Chris found that the word insane struck a cord within him. What would Wilks do when he was finished with Aranda? Would she suffer the same fate as Maggie? "What's wrong?" She nudged him gently and he found her closeness roused a strange feeling within him. "What?" "You look pale.er than usual. And you aren't eating. If you don't want to eat, or if you wish me to leave, I would be happy to." "No!" He cut her off sharply. Aranda looked taken aback. "I mean. that's not necessary." He quickly corrected. "You seem very edgy all the time. What has gotten you so paranoid? I'm not here to make you uncomfortable. I just thought it would be nice to get to know you a bit better, and, I missed dinner, too. I thought we could eat together. It's better than eating alone." He looked toward her now, as he had been studying his filet. It was lop sided and smaller than the piece she was cutting into. He smiled to himself. "Why did you miss dinner?" "I wanted to get a head start on cleaning up the kitchen from cooking. Cook was kind enough to let me help with the kitchen work and the girls let me help with the housework, also." She smiled delightedly and, once again, Chris laughed. "What is it now?" She huffed half-enthusiastically. "You're just so." "Me-ish?" She put in for him. He thought for a moment. "Yes. Yes, you're so you-ish." He chuckled. She giggled lightly. He noticed that her eyes sparkle when she laughs. Now she looked at him in a different way. He couldn't help the way he stared; there was just something about her. "Stop." "Stop what?" "Stop looking at me that way." "What way? I'm not looking at you in any way." "Yes, you were. Now stop, please." "Why?" "Because, it gives me chills." "Is that a bad thing?" He regretted the words as soon as they passed through his lips, but he couldn't stop them. Aranda's eyes flashed, but she said nothing. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I don't know why I did. I suppose my words come more quickly then my mind process them." He touched her chin lightly, lifting her head to look at him. "Forgive me?" She smiled and took his hand in hers. Then, she kissed it lightly. At the touch of her lips everything inside of him started to blaze with fire. He struggled to force it down, but it fought and sizzled his every weakness. "Of course you're forgiven. You've done nothing wrong." She touched his hand gently, and then nudged his food toward him. "Are you not going to eat?" "I. I don't mean to be rude. but I think I am going to have to eat alone. It's not that I do not wish your company, because, believe me, I do. But, if you stay here I am afraid I will do something I will probably regret. I don't. I don't want to push you away." She nodded, stood, and left. For the next four days Christopher avoided Aranda at all costs. He hid in his room until he was certain she was helping Cook clean up after breakfast, then he would all but run down to his studio and lock the door At night, he waited until everyone in the house was definitely asleep, then he crept up to his own room, directly beside Aranda's. On the fifth night he sat in front of his studio door. After all the lights had been out for an hour and fifteen minutes, he cautiously began to open the door. As he began to cross the floor of the gallery, as quickly and quietly as possible, he did not notice her until she stepped from the shadows. The man froze; he even held his breath. She moved toward him so fluidly that he thought she was like a spirit. She bore her shift and light pink cotton gown. It surprised him that she would wear such coarse material. The girl smiled. "What? You think if you don't move I will just not see you and go away?" "It worked for you." "Oh, he speaks." She laughed in a lower tone than she had six days ago. Christopher wasn't quite sure what that meant. "You insult me, send me away, hide from me for five days, and now you've nothing to say?" He remained silent now. "All right. I'll go along with that. I just wanted to apologize for what happened. I didn't mean to upset you. I just thought it would be nice if you didn't have to eat alone. You had been in there all day. It's not healthy, what you're doing." He stood still. She inched closer. "Are you afraid of me, then?" he lips parted even more into a delicious smile. She was enjoying this. Was she so sadistic? But then, he had been treating her poorly. She was his Mistress, and that position demanded respect. But, somehow, he could not think of her as his Mistress. He could not think of her as Mr. Wilks' wife. She was too young. She was too sweet. She was too beautiful. She was too good, all around, for him. She slinked closer. Christopher felt the flame begin to flicker within him, but he pushed it down. "What's the matter?" She whispered. "You know, I know a lot about you from Lilly, but I would truly like to know you. Would you like to know me?" She inched even closer. Now she was almost close enough for them to touch nose to nose. "Or, do I make you uncomfortable?" She came ever closer, and now their noses did touch, a slight brush. The fire within him grew, as he became more and more enflamed. Her nightwear clung only to the swell of her breasts and then hung loosely down. The thought of how easily it could be removed was foremost in his mind, though he tried to push it away. Now he was struggling greatly with himself, battling his hormones. "Well?" She came even closer. he could simply nod his head and his lips would be upon hers. "Aren't you going to answer me?" He felt her lips move light, oh so lightly, against his as she spoke. Now he could no loner resist it and he leaned forward, awaiting that electric rush, craving that wonderful fire, wanting nothing more than for that fire to engulf him. But she pulled away, just as he moved. An aching grew in his loins and spread to his upper legs. He yearned for her now. In all his twenty-five years he had never experienced anything like this. Christopher slept in his studio that night, afraid he would burst into her room and ravish her just from the sight of her door. He lay there, starring up into the darkness, remembering how she looked in her shift and loose pink gown. What a Goddess! In his mind he reenacted what had happened. In his mind, she did not pull away, but instead gave herself to his kiss. She leaned helplessly against him and moaned softly under his passion. He ran his hands over her smooth shoulders and pushed away the loose straps holding up her clothes. Oh, how easily they would have fallen. But he could go no further in his mind. He could not even begin to imagine how she looked. She was too beautiful to degrade with what his mind's eye would turn her into. And, on that thought, he slept. When morning came Christopher was completely distracted from everything. All he could think of was seeing her again, having her alone again, and being near her again. And so, after breakfast, he asked her not to help with the chores today, but to instead come to his studio with him. She told the others and met him there within thirty minutes. When she walked through the door he almost leapt to her. "I thought you said you would be right here!" "It's only been a half hour?" "Yes! A half hour of suffering. Do you have any clue what you have done to me?" She shook her head, her eyes now wide. She was backing slowly to the door when he reached out and took hold of her arm. She cowered and clenched her eyes. Then realization struck him and he pulled her to him, embracing her. He kissed her temple gingerly and rocked her slowly. He could feel that every muscle in her entire body was tense with fear. "Oh, God. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. God, what has he done to you? Shh. I would never do that to you. Ever. I would never. Oh, God. Aranda, I would never hit you. I promise. Shh." Everything in him suddenly changed. He couldn't stand to think of someone hurting her. He simply couldn't bear it. And that she had thought he was going to. He couldn't even think about that. He could feel her begin to loosen, and then she looked up at him. He stared back at her and now all he wanted to do was protect her. So, he told her. He looked deeply into her eyes and placed his hand over hers, which was now on his waist. "God, now all I want is to protect you. I wont let anyone hurt you. I promise. I wont let anyone hurt you." The two of them spent the rest of the day together. They talked and got to know almost everything about one another. They spoke of their dreams, their opinions, they debated, and they talked about everything. They even continued talking until well past everyone had gone to bed and the two of them could hardly hold their eyes open. And this ritual continued. Every day for the next two weeks they just sat and talked. "Why don't you drink?" Christopher inquired. "I just don't. Alcohol changes people. It makes them say and do things that go against their better judgment." Like hit beautiful, wonderful young girls? He thought, but the tone in her voice told him not to say it. "Oh. Well, I don't drink much. Only when it's incredibly cold and my blankets aren't doing the trick." She gave her a crooked smile, but her eyes widened and he could see the sorrow in them. "Oh, don't worry about that. I've lived with it all my life." "But you shouldn't have to. You should never have had to. Lilly never should have had to know this life." He reached for her then. She smiled and embraced him as well. It was a friendly embrace. He had learned to respect her and she had no longer played silly games with him. Though he could not help but think of her and yearn for her at night. Now that he was getting to know her he felt as if he could see within her soul. She was the most amazing, bewildering, mysterious, unique, sweet, intelligent, and beautiful person he had ever met. Now all he wanted to do was see her happy, always. He dreaded Mr. Wilks returning in five weeks. He didn't know how he was going to protect her, but he was determined to, even if it meant his life. He could not live without her, anyway. She sighed a bit now and he looked down at her with concern as she rested her head on his shoulder. "Christopher, I am going to go back to helping Cook and the others with the chores tomorrow. We can talk at night, but I want to help. We can't just hide away and let the world pass us by all our lives." He nodded in agreement, although he was greatly disappointed. He didn't want their days to end. He had come accustomed in the last two weeks to having her with him all the time. Without her he could only think that his day would be empty. She did go back to helping the servants with the work, and he was no unblocked on what to paint. They continued their talks in the evenings and into the nights. Now that a week has passed Christopher felt the dread of Wilks' return weighing greatly upon him. One month and he would be back, if he didn't return early, which he often did. Christopher was lying on his bed, staring into the darkness and thinking of her, as he did every night. They had parted over an hour ago and he guessed she had retired, but he could never sleep after holding her for at least three hours. He ached to have her in his arms, but he knew better. She was the Mistress of this place and he was simply a servant who was moved up to paint because it made good money. He was an employee. He was nothing. He was her friend, and that was all he could ever be. Though the thought of that killed him, he understood the way the world worked. He could never give her all she deserved. No, Aranda deserved someone just as unique and wonderful as she was. Finally he drifted off to sleep. Dreams over took him and he was in her arms. Her hands rested gently on his face to turn him towards her and she pressed her lips slightly against his. That kiss. oh it was delicious! His eyes fluttered open and he wrapped his arms around her. God she felt wonderful in his arms. He pulled her tightly against him and pressed his mouth hard against hers. He ran his tongue gently over her lips and she opened her mouth to accept it. His tongue plunged greedily into the honey flavor that waited within for him. He explored everything, his tongue running over her teeth, gum, and tongue. Everything inside of him leapt and screamed for joy. The fire within him was blazing now. He ran his right hand through the wonderfully soft and thick strands of her ebony hair, dark as the starless night. Every breath he took was filled with her; only her. The euphoria that rose within him was so overwhelming he thought he would burst! He rolled over, pulling her under him. Her arms were wrapped around him and she answered every one of his kisses with the same amount of urgency. She tightened her grip to pull him as closely to her as she possibly could. He was so strong, and it was wonderful to feel his strength without experiencing the pain of ruthless blows. This was different. This was Heaven. He had to be a piece of Heaven that she could never quite grasp until now, and oh Heaven felt wonderful. His hands ran down her sides, feeling the curves and contours of her body. Then, he pulled away from her and moved his mouth to her neck. His lips felt hot and sweet against her flesh as he slowly brought his hands to trace an intricate pattern on her neck. Then, he followed it with his kisses, trailed it with his tongue. He began to make a trail. He moved from her neck to her collarbone, down the right side of it, oh so slowly. Then he traced a tiny circle down to the upper part of her chest. His tongue making her breath turn sharp and ragged. He descended lower to the center of her chest and the move up to her shoulders. She was wearing the same shift and faded pink gown that she had been the night she met him in the gallery; the first night he tried to kiss her. He slipped the strap off pf her right shoulder and kissed down her arm, then up it again. He repeated this on her left arm. Then he pulled it down to her waist. Heaven what a waist! He hadn't realized someone's waist could be so small and yet so proportionate. She was gorgeous. She looked up at him now and he paused a moment to admire her. There she lay, truly lay, beneath him. Not as a vision of a dream, but she was really there. He could feel her, taste her, and make her react to him. Her breasts leapt out at him with hardened bright pink buds of rose at the tips, beckoning to him. Her hair was wild about her and there was a fire behind her eyes that was burning brighter than any star ever shone. Then he softly trailed his finger around the base of her right breast, very very lightly touching her skin. Slowly, he worked his way up, until he reached the ripe bud at the end. He pinched her nipple hard and the massaged it gently between his forefinger and thumb. He did the same to her left breast while he almost reverently ran his tongue along the base of her right breast, working his way upward again. When he finally reached the nipple he ran his tongue just around the outside of it for a moment or two, just enough to make her yearn. Then his mouth devoured her, running his tongue roughly over her nipple and nibbling gently at its tips. Then he stopped, only to be answered by a groan of protest. "Patience. patience." He said in a husky voice, filled with passion. He kissed down to her stomach, his hands still fondling her breasts, and then his fingers slide down her sides and pull the gown and shift the rest of the way off. His hands massaged her hips a moment, and then worked their ways in. He placed pressure on her inner thigh with his thumb. She gasped when she felt his fingers reach her womanly center. They stroked her from top to bottom until she shook with need. Then he let them enter her, and another gasp escaped her. He moved them slowly at first, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Then his speed increased until he felt her body convulse all over and she could not help the moans that floated into the darkness around them. He kissed he again, and she eagerly returned them. After giving her a moment to recover he returned to her womanly center and began to stroke her again, and he did not stop until she trembled with desire. Then, she moaned with sheer ecstasy when she felt his mouth and hot tongue on her. His tongue trailed from the back up to the very tip of the front, then his lips clasped onto her. He began sucking, licking, and even nibbling. Aranda's head rolled from side to side as she cried out in pleasure. He moved downward and pushed his tongue into her as much as he could. she cried out, then he returned to sucking, nibbling, licking, and even biting. Aranda was amazed at her own body. Her back arched as another wave of pleasure shattered over her. She was in wonder that she could have another release so soon after the first. Then he pulled away and she moaned and rolled in protest. She heard him laugh, low and husky with passion. "Let me remove my clothes, at least. You don't think I'm going to let you have all the fun, do you?" She looked up at him through slits of her eyes swelled with how enflamed she had become. She saw him quickly slipping out of his garments and tossing them carelessly aside. Her heart fluttered at the sight of him. His manhood was bulging and purple. Then he returned to her, carefully mounting her, and then he entered her. Their cries of the entrance were released at the same moment. Aranda felt she was all moisture and want. He began to thrust gently at first, and realized with a great deal of surprise, that she was a virgin. He leaned to her and whispered, pulling out immediately. "I'll stop. I can't hurt you. I don't want to hurt you." She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him back into her, thrusting up and much as she could. "Oh God, Aranda, don't. I can't hurt you." She kissed him, and he made no more protests. His thrusts soon became quicker as he plunged deeper and deeper inside of her. For every motion her made, she answered with her own. His motion drove her wild and he could feel every muscle contraction inside of her. He held back his need to release. Aranda grasped his sheets with her fists and moaned as her passion increased more than the others she had felt before. As she reached her peak Christopher had to fight to hold himself back, with all the contractions. He could feel every climax run over him and tighten around him. Her climax was huge and he rode it with every amount of desire she had. He had thought she would have been tired after that large of an orgasm, but as soon as it was over he felt her roll into another, and then another, and then another, and then another, each one being larger than the last. Finally he could stand it no longer and released exactly in time with one of hers. The two of them rode one another's wave until their cries of pleasure mingled. Then, he went limp inside of her, and lay down gently atop her, not even bothering to pull out. Her body was a mass of heat and sweat and beauty. He looked at her in complete awe of how many times she had climaxed. Then, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her gently. She looked at him. "Chris?" "Yes?" "I love you. I truly do. I love you more than anything." She nuzzled him lovingly. His eyes widened with shock. "Aranda, I." "Hush. You don't have to say anything back. I just wanted you to know." She smiled, and so did he. "You're amazing." "What do you mean?" "Do you realize that most women only climax once? Some, if they're lucky, two or rarely three. You, well, do you have any idea how many times you did?" "I could hardly think, much less keep track of that." He smiled and kissed her on the nose. "Aranda?" "Mmm?" He looked into her eyes. Her beautiful eyes that he could search through forever and still never unlock all their wonders. "I love you." She smiled and her eyes danced. She reached up and kissed him, her arms tightening around him. She pulled him to her and began kissing him once more, increasing in passion. He looked at her in wonder. "Can you?" She shrugged. "If you want." He grunted softly and began to return her kisses. She could feel him once again straining against her and knew that the rest of the night would be filled with magic. She looked at him to whisper it again before she was rendered speechless of all things but moans. "I love you." His eyes said volumes in return.

Chapter Two

Wilks' Return

The morning was luxurious. Christopher could not believe it when he looked at her, lying in his arms, sleeping soundly, her brow slightly glistening with sweat. H was lying on his back; Aranda was curled beneath his arm, her head and right hand resting on his chest, her right leg bent over his. Chris gave a soft laugh and brushed a strand of hair that kept falling into her eyes away with his left hand. He bent his head to kiss her temple. Then he threw his head back and laughed quietly, but his body shook with the action. He had said he loved her. He had never told anyone that. But he did, and he realized it now. He loved her with everything in him. Then he thought of the short month that lay ahead. Wilks would return. God, how could he protect her from that beast? Christopher cringed at the thought of Wilks' grimy hands on Aranda's skin. He pulled her more tightly to him and kissed her forehead. He couldn't let that man touch her; much less harm her. He just couldn't. But Christopher had no idea how he could prevent it. He had no job without Wilks, and it was far too dangerous to risk angering him. People either agreed with John Wilks or found themselves surrounded by cold soil. Suddenly Christopher felt trapped. He thought for an hour, then finally made up his mind. He had to get Aranda away before Wilks returned. He simply had to. He looked down at the girl that lay so peacefully in his arms.