Prologue

The faintest hints of the impending morning began to glow in the night sky. Like clockwork, he stirred, trying not to disturb his sleeping lover.

He knew he must get back to his room before the household awoke.

Slowly, he began to slide out of bed but stopped when he felt her small hand on his back. "Don't go," she whispered, a subtle plea contained within those two words.

He stopped, turned toward her, and stroked her face. "It's for the best. They can't find me here." His lips caressed hers, an unspoken urgency in his kiss. "But tonight—tonight I'll be back."

Her heart lurched. At first, the secrecy of their relationship had been exhilarating, and it bonded them in a way that few could understand. Yet as their relationship deepened, that very secrecy, which she had at first prized, began to wear on her. She was, by her very nature, something of an exhibitionist. Whatever she felt or thought, she made known.

But now, she was in love, and she couldn't tell a soul.

Not even him.

She watched as he pulled on a robe to cover his nakedness. She loved to look at him; he had a beautiful body. But more than anything, she loved being close to him, being held by him.

And so continued the pattern. He left her, taking with him a piece of her heart each time.