He took her hand and kissed her palm. Do you have any idea how hard it was to tell Freddie Coventry to go ahead and dance with you? What it felt like to watch him take your hand and whisper in your ear like he had a right to be near you?
And is it now? she whispered.He took her hand and laid it over his heart. She could feel it pounding beneath his skin, almost hear it reverberating through her own body. He was so strong, and so solid, and so wonderfully male.
Do you know what I wanted to do? he murmured.She shook her head, too entranced by the low heat of his voice to make a noise of her own.I wanted to turn you around and push you right back through the door before anyone else saw you. I didn’t want to share you. He traced her lips with his finger. I still don’t.
Heat flared within her, and she suddenly felt more daring, more womanly. I don’t want to share you, either.He smiled slowly, and his fingers trailed down the length of her neck, across the delicate hollow of her collarbone, resting only when he reached the ribbon that tightened the neckline of her nightgown. Without ever taking his eyes from hers, he gave one of the strands a tug, sliding it slowly from the knot, its corresponding loop getting smaller and smaller until it finally popped through, and she was undone.
Billie watched his fingers, mesmerized, as they whispered across her skin, the edge of the now loosened bodice catching between his thumb and forefinger. The silk slipped from her shoulder, then slowly slid down her arm. She was so close to being revealed to him, but she could feel no modesty, summon no fear. All she had was passion, and the unrelenting need to follow it through.
She looked up, and so did he, almost as if they’d planned it. He caught her eyes with a questioning gaze, and she nodded, knowing exactly what he was asking. He drew a breath, its ragged sound speaking of desire, and then he nudged her nightdress over the rise of her breasts before allowing gravity to do the rest. The pale peach silk pooled luxuriously around her waist, but Billie didn’t notice. George was staring at her with a reverence that took her breath away.The guilt hardly ever panged at me. Lily, she was the one who was really mean to Mom. Not me. At least I tried.
One spring day when I was eleven, Lily and I came off the bus to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table, unexpectedly home from work, drinking her coffee. Lily buzzed right past, running up the stairs to throw her backpack on the floor and flop on the bed, as was her custom.Hi, Mom! I said in my fake-cheery voice. Guess what? Brenda Kowalski threw up during our math test, and it almost got on my desk! She had to go home early.
Well, that’s too bad. She didn’t look up, just sat there, staring ahead, holding her mug. She’d changed from her work uniform of black pants and a white shirt and was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt.No other words were spoken. Mom just sat there, twisting her wedding ring.