As Laszlo cupped her cheeks and kissed her with sweet reverence, Sofia clenched her eyes, squeezing the dampness from her lashes onto her cheeks. She had known bringing him here was a mistake, but she had thought her old guilt would be her punishment.
It wasn’t. As Laszlo rocked his mouth across hers and her heart thudded in a slow, heavy rhythm that made her sway on her feet, she knew she wouldn’t regret this.
But she also realized that all of their stolen moments had stolen her heart. She loved him.
As she slid her arms inside his jacket and up his back, he sighed and molded her closer, reinforcing to her how well they fit, how perfectly they complimented one another.
She quit thinking This can’t happen, this shouldn’t happen and reveled in gratitude that it had. That she had one more night with this tough yet caring man. That she could touch him and drink in the scent at his neck and shiver at the skim of his fingertips down her spine.
When they began to remove each other’s clothes, they did it without hurry, the way one opened the most rare and precious of gifts. She folded his jacket as she set it aside and he did the same with his bow tie and cummerbund. After drawing off her pullover, he let his fingers play across her collarbone and the points of her shoulders, like a pianist lovingly finding favorite notes.
Drawing him into her bedroom was an act of drawing him into her most intimate self, not that she’d ever had many defenses against him. As their naked bodies brushed beneath the sheet, she had a flash of realization.
“We’re perfect.” Perfection was impossible. That’s why they were impossible.
“We are.” He sounded shaken. When he entered her, they barely moved except to kiss and caress. “I will never want anyone else the way I want you,” he vowed.
It hurt her to think of him being alone and hurt her to think of him with someone else. She put both out of mind. For this short while, they belonged only to each other. They held onto each minute, held onto each other, as long as they could.
Need and greed got the better of them, though. He began to move with more power. She clung and bit his earlobe and arched to take more of him.
They reached their culmination in exquisite synchronicity that came back in rolling waves, redoubling their pleasure again and again until it finally faded away.
They recovered and parted and lay facing one another, not speaking, using eyes and touch to memorize the other.
When he rose to leave this time, she knew it really was their last goodbye. She refused to make it a bitter one. Not when he’d chased away ghostly fears that she was too much like her father. Laszlo had left her feeling pure and loved.
“Thank you.” She set her hand against the sandpaper of stubble coming in on his cheek. “I really do want you to be happy, you know.”
“I want that for you, too.” He searched her gaze. “If this is all we can have—”
She pressed her thumb over his lips. “Don’t tempt me. I’m grateful you helped me see that what we’ve had doesn’t make me like him, but I still need to guard against being selfish. I won’t use you.”
“I’m inviting you to,” he pointed out dryly.
But she wouldn’t. She wanted more for him. And putting his well-being above her heart’s desire proved once and for all she was better than her father.
When Laszlo finished dressing, he kissed her tenderly and said, “Good night, Sofia.”
“Not goodbye?” Her heart wrenched with crooked hope.
“I have to believe I’ll see you again. Otherwise, what’s the point in living?”
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