Evelyn felt herself getting swept away by passion, felt herself surrendering to Rick's persuasive attentions. It had been five years since she'd given her body to any man, and her mind had forgotten the glorious stimulation one could feel in such a moment. After the heartbreak and humiliation at Winston's hands, then the later loss of their child, she'd ceased being a woman in a way, determined to disregard her own sensuality. Now Rick was reminding her in the most delicious way possible, and it was thrilling…and terrifying.

He must have felt her stiffen against him, and she expected confusion, perhaps even anger. She knew what he might be thinking, that she was no innocent, why should he control his natural inclinations? If she was already used, why shouldn't he enjoy himself? She pulled back from him enough to look into his eyes, dreading what she'd find. She did find confusion, but not the anger she'd expected.

"Evelyn? You okay?" His fingers were caressing her cheek, a touch that held the sweetest of affection.

"Well, yes, of course," she whispered breathlessly. "I only…I just…oh, blast! It's a fine mess I'm making of all this!" She tried to lurch off his lap, but the man had more than his fair share of stubbornness, and wouldn't have it.

"Take it easy, honey. Just relax for a minute." Was the man trying not to laugh at her? How could that be? Didn't he know how serious this matter was? Perhaps to him, it isn't, a very rude voice whispered in her mind. "What eating at you now?"

It took Evy a minute to gather her courage enough to address the matter at hand. "You want…well…me, don't you?"

"Sure do," he was quick to answer carelessly. "But I figured you knew that already." She nodded, her movements a bit abrupt. "That wasn't a problem before, right?"

"Rick, 'problem' is entirely too hasty of a word," she informed him, raising her chin a notch. "And I…I'm pleased you want me. And I know that I have no right to behave…" she paused for a moment, trying to find the right way to phrase this. "…as though I'm some virtuous schoolgirl-"

"Whoa, whoa." He gathered her close, kissing her temple. "You can behave however you want. You don't have to go to bed with me if you don't want."

"But I do want to," she blurted out. Embarrassment crested over her, her face on fire. She buried her face in her hands, and Rick, scoundrel that he was, had the audacity to laugh at her discomfort. Mortification and annoyance warred. "Oooh!" she cried, her head snapping up to glare at her unrepentant suitor.

Before she could properly scold him, Rick robbed her of the opportunity. His mouth settled over hers, his tongue sweeping inside. The kiss was positively indecent, wet and carnal, his hand drifting down to tease her breast through her blouse, using the soft cotton to heighten the sensation. Even as she was reeling in shock from his bold actions, instinct overrode her inhibitions, and she responded eagerly, wantonly. Upon reflection at a later time, she'd realized that if at that moment he'd hiked up her skirt and taken her there, in her kitchen chair, she wouldn't have had the willpower to deny him, would have given herself over without heed for the consequences.

Yet, for all his rough talk and ways, Rick was more honorable than that. When they needed to end the kiss to draw in air, he didn't press his advantage, his hand growing still on her breast. She unconsciously whimpered and pressed into his hand. He grinned smugly, but didn't resume the stroking. Nor did he remove his hand, the touch warm and reassuring through the thin material.

"Rick?" she murmured, worried her response had displeased him somehow. Then she realized how close she'd come to surrendering herself completely, and felt a cold spike of fear plunge through her system. Memories of her previous disaster evicted the warmth of passion from her instantly, and for the second time in only a few minutes, she tried to escape his lap.

His hand left her breast to firmly settle around her waist. He ignored her pointless struggles, and waited for her to accept the inevitable. She wasn't budging until the man was good and ready. "I wish there was something real profound and sensitive I could say right now," he was telling her, sounding almost apologetic. "I wish I knew how to put what I feel into actual words, other than 'I love you.' I'd just sound idiotic if I tried, but I am gonna say this. You can trust me, I won't hurt you."

"I know," she whispered, and she truly did. "I don't expect you to carry on, Rick. I know you haven't the patience or inclination for it."

"That's about the size of it," he agreed. "How about a deal?"

"A deal?" Wearily, she looked up at him, wondering what scheme he was concocting in his shrewd mind now. "Such as?"

"How about I can promise you an afternoon of fun without worrying about getting pregnant?" She absorbed his offer, intrigued and curious. After all, she did want him, there was no need to put on false airs. But how could he guarantee there'd be no child out of wedlock?

"You remember when I mentioned being careful, and you asked about it?" She nodded, shivering at the sensual quality coming over his voice. "How about I show you a way of being careful?"

"I won't have a baby? You swear?" she demanded, still a little hesitant.

"Every damn day." It took a few seconds, but she realized it was the exact thing he'd said to her at their first meeting. I suppose you really can't depend solely on first impressions, she mused silently. He winked, letting her know that it was an intentional echo. Rick gently slid her off his lap, stood up and offered his hand. She took it with hardly a pause. No, there had been no offers of marriage, but she'd hardly expected any. She was not entirely sure she would have trusted them in any event.

He led her back to her bedroom, maneuvering her until she was sitting on the edge of the bed. She expected a fit of nerves, or some uneasiness. There was none, only anticipation and love for him. Had she wanted Winston this much? She probably had, but time and disappointment it seemed, had erased those particular memories. She did recall that she'd found satisfaction in his arms, and thought what she'd felt was love, but was no longer sure. If so, she'd been in love with an illusion. But now, as she gazed up at Rick, so very handsome and strong, she knew that this time, her feelings were well founded.

Rick's deft fingers slid his suspenders away and unbuttoned his grey shirt, and Evy's thoughts scattered as his well built chest came into view. She felt a surge of feminine appreciation, and her eyes widened. Winston, though good looking, had been a bit of a scrawny fellow, and although she hadn't found him unpleasant to look at, she'd certainly never enjoyed the view so much. She had no idea a man's chest could be so magnificent. Rick guided her hand onto his chest, closing his eyes as her fingers lightly grazed the hot skin. Encouraged, she began to lightly trace invisible lines along the defined muscles. He made these sounds between sighs and groans, obviously enjoying her touch. Emboldened, she began to manipulate his nipple between her thumb and forefinger as she pressed light, teasing kisses into his stomach.

"Enough already." His voice was hoarse as he gently eased her away. She noticed his hands were shaking as he unlaced his boots and took them off with his socks. She followed his examples and kicked off her practical pumps. She felt as though she was the most beautiful, seductive woman for miles, all because she'd affected Rick so. She lifted her skirt to her thighs, delighted with how his eyes never strayed from her exposed legs. She started to remove her stockings when he laid his hands over hers. "Let me."

Before she could form a coherent answer, he was placing his hands on her left ankle, applying light pressure as he slowly traveled up her leg, massaging all the way. It felt heavenly, and Evy pressed her leg into his ministrations, every cell of skin on her leg coming alive. When he finally reached her thigh, he peeled away the cheap material with equal slowness, placing open kisses to the exposed flesh as he went. She was caught off guard by the moan that escaped her own lips unbidden, the sound one of hunger and need. She spared a quick thought that she was glad she shaved her legs daily, but it was to be one of the last lucid thoughts she was to make for quite a while.

When he was done with the process, he started in on her right leg, and by the time he was finished, she was flushed and whimpering. She kissed him urgently, sliding her tongue along his lower lip, and he opened his mouth. He didn't wait for her to deepen the kiss, but took charge, his tongue sweeping inside her mouth to further fuel her craving for him.

They fell back on to the bed, and in time, Evy was stripped down to her knickers and camisole. She arched up against him, vexed that he still wore his trousers. She forgot about that, however, when Rick began exploring her body in earnest, bringing back long forgotten sensations. She gave herself with abandon, trusting Rick, but more importantly, trusting herself. She shrieked when he enveloped her breast through the thin cotton protecting her breasts, his large hands on her thighs. He silenced her with another drugging kiss, one that earned a passionate response.

She didn't realize she'd spread her legs wide, she didn't realize she was rocking her hips, eager for relief. She felt the warm air hit her upper torso as he dragged the camisole up, exposing her full breasts to his avid gaze. She lifted her arms, willing to be free of the obstructive fabric, wanting to feel Rick's bare skin against hers. Rick, it seemed, was of the same mind, for as soon as he tossed the item aside, he slid his hands under her back, lifting her against him, melding them together. Evy's eyes rolled back in her head, and she tightly wrapped her arms around him, even as her legs wrapped around his waist.

"Evy," he gritted out, kissing her roughly, his stubble scratching her delicate skin. She didn't care, could only cling to him and return his kiss in equal measure. He thrust down against her, letting her feel the pronounced bulge hidden away by his trousers. Evy mewled, and arched upward, rubbing herself frantically, unable to receive just the right amount of what she sought, held on the edge of release, meeting him stroke for stroke.

Abruptly, he broke the contact, moaning in his own disappointment. In vain, she tried to tug him back, unable to understand what he was doing. She heard a distinct ripping sound, her ruined knickers joining the rest of her clothes. Then, oh God, his fingers were ruining over the damp folds between her legs. Too under his spell to feel shy, she pressed into his hand; her head tossed back, eyes closed. Pure pleasure hammered away at her, the pressure building inside her almost unbearable. She was desperate for release, and yet drunk with the desire for it never to cease. Her nails sank into his shoulders, just short of drawing blood.

"Rick!" she cried when his fingers plunged up into her wet sheath, the underside of them dragging against her clit. With that, she exploded beneath him, spasms racking her body. He continued to pleasure her, prolonging her release. When it was over, she lay panting against the pillows, dazed. She whimpered when he withdrew his fingers, dragging along the sensitive flesh. She'd had no idea that a woman could find satisfaction in such a way, she'd thought it was only possible when he man was fully…well…within a woman. To her present chagrin, she'd allowed Winston to touch her in that intimate fashion, but he had never brought her fulfillment with his mere touch. Either Rick had a rare talent, or Winston wasn't as talented as he'd thought.

"Oh, my," she whispered, removing one hand from his shoulder to touch his face tenderly. She opened her eyes, smiling softly.

"Such a Brit," he mused, shaking his head in amusement. He leaned down, and gave her nose a kiss. "You ain't seen nothing yet, honey. That's just to get us started."

"Really? Are you so sure of yourself?" Evy briefly wondered if her heart could take such a strain, then dismissed the notion. If she died in Rick O'Connell's arms, it would be well worth it. Her eyes widened as she realized his hardness was settled against her thigh, pressing against the fabric of his trousers. Then it occurred to her that Rick had not shared in any of her satisfaction. "Rick? You didn't…I mean to say…you're still in quite a state, I believe."

"Yeah, you could say that." He was laughing at her, but she heard the strain in his voice. She decided to stop being such a prude at once. After all, she was a woman of the world, if only to a small degree. And had not Rick given her the most marvelous climax? She owed him the same courtesy.

Sitting up, she pushed at Rick's shoulder. "Lay down," she ordered.


"Oh, will you just do as I say?" She leaned over to give him a sound kiss, but withdrew intentionally before he was ready. He groaned, but obliged her, sprawling out, his ankles hanging over the edge, his large frame swallowing up the small bed. It was just right for her, but it was obviously not built for a man of his size. Forcing any inbred inhibitions aside, she set about unbuttoning the fly of his trousers. It didn't take her long to realize how much he enjoyed the slight contact with her fingers, so began to purposely brush them against his enlarged member. The man gave a very pleasing response, surging up against her hand. She pulled his trousers off with his underwear, his manhood springing up before her eyes.

Gently grasping him with her fingers, she heard Rick grunt, his jaw tightening in what seemed to be ecstasy. She felt the flesh in her hand pulse against her grip, and began to stroke him lovingly, leaning over to steal kisses from his lips. He kissed her as though he wished to inhale her, and Evy felt more than her fair share of pride over the power she was exerting over her lover. His hips began to jerk, and she took his erection more firmly into her hand. "Give me a minute," he pleaded, his voice so raspy, she could hardly understand him. It had taken him a few tries to express that much at all.

"I think not," she denied him cheerfully, doubling her efforts.

"Shit!" he all but yelled. She wondered if his profanity was in reference to her refusal, or the stimulation she was applying most intimately. He was now grinding up against her in earnest, and she gripped him tightly now, playing with his sac below with her right hand. He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, and impulsively, she licked it from his lips. In an instant, his hands were tangled in her hair, smashing his lips against hers. The violence of his response made her freeze for a moment or two, and Rick gave a quick tug on her long curls to let her know he wanted…no, seemed to need her to continue on with it.

How long this continued, she did not know. She lost herself in the gentle pumping of his shaft, in his most ardent responses. It was almost as exiting to please him as to be pleased herself. Almost.

At his tip, moisture seeped free, and intrigued, Evy ran her thumb across the dampness. "Close," she thought she heard him say. She clenched her right hand, and it was all over. His seed spurted into her left hand, onto the back of her right. It was certainly a mess, but the joy on Rick's face was more than worth it. When he was calmed, she headed to the basin on her dresser, and washed her hands with the rag. She then realized she was naked, and hurried for her robe. Rick clucked his tongue with mock disappointment. "Seems a shame to cover up such a good looking rear. Not to mention that bust-"

"That'll do," she admonished him sternly, securing her belt with a decisive tug. "Aren't you doing to dress?"

"Too damn hot in this country." He stretched, not the least bit self-conscious in his nudity. Not that he had anything to be ashamed of, she had to concede. She was secretly pleased she could admire him further, but wasn't about to say so. "Come 'ere."

"Very well." She couldn't suppress her smile, or the urge to smooth back his hair affectionately when she reached his side. "Rick, I couldn't help but notice that we didn't complete the act entirely."

"Well, it's a sure way of having fun without worrying about trouble down the road. Don't get me wrong, there's ways of decreasing your chances while going through with the whole thing." He smiled at her raised eyebrows. "Evy, how do you think hookers get business done without having twenty kids?"

"I can assure you that I don't give it much thought," she told him primly. "So, if that is indeed the case, why did we not-"

"Because no method's foolproof," he told her casually. "Once we're hitched, it won't be as big of a deal."

Evy's eyes widened. "I beg your pardon?"

"You want me to get down on one knee? Since I'm naked, it'd look a little funny, but…" he shrugged, grinning at her shocked state. "I love you, Evy, you're the one. Might as well."

"Might as well…once we're hitched!" She articulated the word incredulously, not sure whether to laugh or shriek at him. In the end, she gave way to laughter, hugging him tightly. Well, she'd certainly known she wouldn't have much in the way of romance, had she not? What she was earning in the bargain was far more valuable. Then she pulled back, trying to muster a severe expression. "Did you ever suppose I had no desire to marry?"


She sighed, running her hand through her hair in agitation. "Well, you're right, but…Rick, are you only asking because of the intimacies that we just shared?"

"They don't hurt," he replied irreverently. Before she could get too indignant, he tugged her down on top of him, cuddling with her. It was too nice to be vexed at him. "But that's not why. Call me crazy, but I'm asking because I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want something…real for myself, if you want to know the truth. Who knows? Maybe we'll have a couple kids, but I bet we won't settle down."

"That would be entirely too dull." She smiled, wondering what it might like to be a mother under such circumstances, where she would not have to carry her child in shame and fear. She wasn't opposed to motherhood, although it was not the burning desire that many of her childhood friends had exhibited. She looked to her own mother as an example, a woman who had loved her children, and had been kind and loving when she was at home, although that had not been often, and it was obvious that the second Mrs. Carnahan's calling did not lie in the nursery. "Are you certain? About the idea of marrying, I mean."

"Wouldn't have asked if I wasn't," he pointed out. "So how about it?"

"Yes, Rick, I will marry you." They shared an enthusiastic kiss, and only separated when they needed air.

Later, Evy would offer up prayers of gratitude to her maker for sending Rick into her life. Not only had he accepted her, knowing of her darkest secret, but she knew he would not expect her to be the typical wife. Like her father and mother, they would be partners, and life would be their adventure.

They'd need a larger bed.