Tall, Dark & Hungry
Chapter Fourteen

 Lynsay Sands

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The woman was as skilled as a professional, Bastien thought faintly, and wasn't sure whether to be grate¬ful, or alarmed at what it might mean. He decided to worry about it later, however, and merely twisted the sheets under his hands as he struggled not to humili¬ate himself by climaxing two minutes after Terri took him into her mouth.
What was she doing with her tongue? he wondered feverishly. Dear God! Where had she learned to do that? How--
"Oh," he groaned aloud, then clamped his teeth down on his lower lip to keep from issuing a second groan--one of disappointment--as Terri stopped what she was doing and raised her head to look at him.
"Am I hurting you?" she asked uncertainly.
"Hurting?" Bastien echoed, his voice unnaturally high. He was panting and finding it difficult to catch his breath. "No." He shook his head.
Looking relieved, Terri bowed her head and wrapped her lips around him once more, only to pause before she went any further. She raised her head again. "Am I doing this right?"
Bastien blinked. Didn't she know? She was driving him right around the bend! "Yes," he answered quickly, realizing that sitting thinking was only going to delay the pleasure he had interrupted with his groan.
No more groaning, he told himself, nearly sobbing with relief as she bent to take him into her mouth again. Her mouth was sweet, warm and moist. She had the sexiest damn lips--full and plump. And her tongue...
"Ahhhh," he cried, as she did something with her tongue that made his whole body shudder. Damn, she was--stopping again?
"You're sure I'm not hurting you?" Terri asked with concern, then explained, "You sounded like you were in pain."
Had he groaned? Bastien wondered. No. No, he was sure he hadn't groaned. But he had cried out. Apparently, that had distracted her too. No more cry¬ing out then either, he ordered himself firmly. He'd bite his own tongue off if that's what it took, but no more groaning or crying out. Better yet, he'd stick a pillow in his mouth--then he couldn't make any sound at all.
Realizing Terri was waiting for an answer, but un¬able to remember the question, Bastien briefly de¬bated whether to ask her to repeat it, or to simply guess and answer yes or no. Deciding it would be faster just to guess, and that the chances were fifty-fifty either way, he blurted, "No."
"No?" She tipped her head to the side quizzically. "No, you're not sure I'm not hurting you? Or no, you aren't in pain?"
"Yes." He nodded firmly. Thinking was really quite beyond him at that point. All Bastien could think about was that he wanted Terri to wrap those sweet, luscious red lips around his--
"I'm really not doing this right, am I?" she said on a sigh. "And you're just too sweet and polite to tell me I suck at this."
"No, I'm not," he said in a panic. "I'd tell you if you sucked. Well, you are--I mean, you're doing a wonderful job. Just wonderful. Just... wonderful," he repeated helplessly.
"Really?" Terri perked up perceptibly, a smile tip¬ping her lips as she stared at him, apparently eager for praise. "What am I doing right? Tell me, and I'll do more of it."
Bastien stared at her helplessly. Why was she doing this to him? Was it some sort of torture? Punishment, perhaps? Had he not pleasured her enough when he'd woken her earlier? Had he snored and kept her awake?
Realizing he was losing it, Bastien gave his head a shake. This was Terri--sweet, fun, adorable Terri. He didn't think she had a mean bone in her body, and she certainly wouldn't set out to torment him delib¬erately. Which meant that, despite the fact that she had his legs shaking, and his heart racing, and his body ready to explode with pleasure, she didn't have a clue what she was doing. She was just following her instincts.
The woman had damned fine instincts.
"All of it," Bastien said at last. "All of it is perfect." Except for the stopping part, he thought, but didn't say it. She was only stopping out of concern for his well-being and pleasure. And her consideration and caring were sweet. Really. And he was sure he'd ap¬preciate it. Later. Right now, he just wanted her to--
"Ahhhh." He sighed as she took him into her mouth again. Then he held his breath, terrified the sound would make her stop once more. Fortunately, it didn't. She continued to slide her lips the length of his erection, her tongue swishing across him like a cat's tail. Bastien decided not to take chances, how¬ever. He snatched up a pillow from the bed and slammed it over his mouth.
He would not make a sound now, Bastien assured himself as he sank his teeth into the pillow. He might smother to death, but he would do so silently and with a smile on his face.
Maybe. Bastien tore the pillow aside and lifted his head to peer at her with exasperation. She had stopped again and was sitting up, her head turned to¬ward the door.
"Did you hear that?" she asked with a frown.
"No." He didn't mention he'd had the pillow over his head, making hearing as difficult as speaking.
"I thought I heard someone call out," she ex¬plained, turning back to him.
"There's no one here but us," Bastien reminded her, with what he considered the patience of a saint.
His gaze dropped to his erection. It was standing straight and tall and proud, hoping for her attention. It was also red and maybe a little angry that he wasn't getting it, at least not without constant starts and stops. Perhaps this was Terri's technique, he thought: Bring him to the brink, then stop; do it again, then stop. If so, it was brilliant. She was driving him crazy.
"Terri?" he said almost pleadingly.
"Oh, I'm sorry." She smiled at him and lowered her head again. Bastien saw her red lips part as her mouth opened, then... Terri froze again, her jaws snapped closed inches above his erection and she sat up. "Surely you heard that?"
He had, of course. Someone was calling his name. A woman. And as there were very few people with keys to this penthouse, Bastien knew who it must be. He would kill her.
"It's probably my mother," he said, dropping his head back on the bed with disgust.
"Your mother?" There was no mistaking the hor¬ror in Terri's voice.
Bastien raised his head to see her scrambling off the bed. He watched with regret as she climbed into her jeans, noting with interest that, in her hurry, she wasn't bothering with panties. Hmmm, he thought, then his pants slammed into his face. Terri had tossed them at him.
"Get dressed, Bastien," she hissed. "We can't let her find us like this."
Sighing, he gave up any hope of Terri finishing what she'd started and sat up on the bed. But he didn't start getting dressed right away. Instead, he watched as she fumbled with her bra. Her breasts were jiggling as she worked with the lacy material. He liked watching her jiggle.
They both stilled. The voice was drawing nearer. It was also plain it wasn't his mother. Perhaps that was a good thing, Bastien thought idly; it would be a shame to kill a woman who had survived some seven-hundred-plus years.
"It's Kate!" Terri cried, but didn't seem much re¬lieved. But then, Bastien supposed it wouldn't matter who was coming toward the bedroom, Terri would panic anyway. Being caught in such a compromising position might not be the scandalous thing it was in his youth, but it could still be terribly embarrassing.
"I thought you said we had the place to our¬selves!" she hissed accusingly. "Why didn't you tell me they were returning?"
"It completely slipped my mind in all the chaos of
the last couple of days," Bastien admitted, shifting
wearily to get out of the bed. His erection had done a quick disappearing act.
"Bastien?" Kate's voice was clear as a bell now; she was nearly to the room. They were nearly to the room, he corrected as Lucern could be heard saying, "They've probably gone out for the day."
Bastien stilled, his mind working. Maybe if they hid in the closet or something, Kate and Lucern would think they weren't here and go away. Then he and Terri could get back to... His gaze found Terri as she finished with her bra. She pulled her shirt on and hurried across the room to the door leading into the guest bathroom. No. Not a chance. He couldn't see her agreeing to hiding. She'd flown all this way to help Kate with the wedding, and she wouldn't hide just to make love with him. It was one of the things he liked about her, he admitted as she slipped out of the room. Her loyalty and sense of what was right were some of the things that made her so special.
Damn shame though, Bastien thought sadly as he glanced down at himself. His erection had started to perk back up at the possibility of continuing after all. It died a quick death, however, as the door to the bed¬room opened and Kate walked into the room.
"I can't believe you forgot we were coming home to¬day," Kate said again. It was later that night.
Bastien sighed and shrugged. He couldn't believe it, either. But he had been rather busy of late, dealing with the various crises that had popped up around the other couple's wedding. Not to mention the added crises surrounding Kate's friend Chris. Poor bastard. The guy hadn't looked any better today
when they'd gone to see him. That had been at Kate's insistence. The minute she'd heard the calamities that plagued the man, she'd insisted they all head to the hospital. Bastien had tried to get himself and Terri out of the visit, hoping to get the chance to finish what she had started, but hadn't managed. In the end, they'd all traipsed up to the hospital. C.K. was still not feeling well.
"I'm so sorry that you've had to handle so many problems while we were gone," Kate said. They'd ended up telling her everything, even about the catering. It had been hard not to, what with the apartment littered with catering trolleys. She'd taken the news pretty well, only panicking a little, and had relaxed once she heard how they had handled it. It was nice to know she trusted their taste.
"There's no reason to apologize. That's why I came early, to help with the wedding," Terri said, squeezing her cousin's hand affectionately.
Bastien noticed that the two women hugged and touched and patted a lot. It was nice in one way, warm and affectionate, but he also felt a pinch of jeal¬ousy, wishing he was the recipient of some of those hugs, pats and touches. But Terri had been keeping her distance since Kate and Lucern had arrived. She'd even been avoiding eye contact, and that troubled him. He wanted to put his arm around her and claim her as his own. She didn't seem to feel the same.
Terri's startled exclamation drew Bastien's atten¬tion back to the conversation. Obviously, he'd missed something important. She was looking alarmed, her gaze meeting his for one of very few times since the other couple had shown up.
"Well, I want our wedding night to be special, and it won't be if we spend every night beforehand to-gether. So, I thought staying apart for this week would be a good idea. And Lucern agreed. He'll be staying here at the penthouse until the wedding."
Bastien's lips curved with amusement as he glanced at his brother. Lucern might have agreed, but he didn't look happy about it. In fact, his brother looked pretty miserable. Bastien's amusement died at Kate's next words, however.
"So, you can stay at the apartment with me and we can have girl time. It'll be fun."
Bastien now understood Terri's expression. This must be what he'd missed; Kate announcing that Terri was to move into her little apartment for the week. He didn't like the idea at all. In fact, panic swamped him at the possibility of Terri sleeping so far away from him. He'd just moved the relationship up to the physical level, and he was damned if he was going to lose it now.
"Lucern looked pretty miserable," Terri commented.
"He did, didn't he?" Kate laughed. She moved back to the couch with a fresh bowl of popcorn arid set it between them. "He wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea when I brought it up in California, but he agreed to please me."
Terri nodded and tossed another tissue-paper flower in the usable box. They had brought the Kleenex and string with them to Kate's place. It was a good project to keep them busy, and it did have to be done. Kate had claimed that she didn't trust the men to finish the job without being there to ride herd.
"Bastien wasn't looking too happy himself at din¬ner," Kate commented, and Terri glanced at her sharply.
They had headed out for a meal right after Kate's announcement about the new living arrangements. Once seated in the little French bistro Kate had sug¬gested, Bastien had launched into an attempt to argue that Terri should stay at the penthouse. First he'd pointed out that she was all settled in the guest room. Then he'd said the penthouse was larger and more comfortable. He'd tried countless other excuses, too--even suggesting that Kate should move in and leave Lucern in her apartment instead--but none of his arguments had gotten him anywhere.
Terri had finally pointed out that this was the rea¬son she'd flown from England, to stay with Kate and help with the wedding. The moment she'd said that, he'd ceased trying to prevent the unstoppable and had sat quiet and grim through the rest of the meal. Terri had never seen him so silent. She missed his smiles and the talk they usually shared.
"Didn't he?" Kate prodded, drawing Terri from her thoughts.
"Did he?" she countered mildly. "Perhaps he has a touch of food poisoning, too. We all tried that casserole."
"Hmm." Kate's lips twisted with sardonic amuse¬ment. "I gather that means you aren't going to tell me how things are going between the two of you."
Terri was silent for a moment. She fanned out the petals of yet another flower, then glanced up. "He's a very nice man."
"Yes, he is," Kate agreed.
"Definitely handsome. All the Argeneau men are. Of course, Lucern is the cream of the crop, but Bastien is good-looking too."
Terri had a different opinion, but she let it go. "He's so..." She glanced toward the ceiling, searching her mind for the word. "Special. The way he opens doors, and the way he orders for me--and he's so funny, Kate. And smart. He's definitely smart. And charming, and when he kisses me--" She stopped abruptly and blinked. "Well, he's just a lovely man."
"You love him!" Kate crowed. "I knew it! I knew you two would get along like a house on fire. Oh, this is wonderful, Terri! We can be sisters-in-law as well as cousins and best friends and--"
"Slow down," Terri gasped, cutting her off. "Jeez. I only met him a week ago."
"So?" Kate asked staunchly. "I didn't know Lucern very long before I knew he was the one. Of course, we had some things to work out before it all came to¬gether, but when you meet the right one, you know it. And you-two are right together, Terri."
"Hmm," she murmured, concentrating on the flower in her hands. She wanted to believe her cousin was right, but was afraid to get her hopes up. Having to pack her things and move to Kate's had been a hor¬rendous blow. Terri had wanted to sit down on the side of the bed and cry at the very thought. She wanted to spend time with her cousin, but she didn't want to lose out on time spent with Bastien too. Or the chance to kiss him, to make love to him, or to be held in his arms. It was as if she'd been offered a taste of heaven then had it snatched away. When she'd wor¬ried about pursuing this relationship, Terri had known it would end, but she'd thought she had the full two weeks. She hadn't been prepared for today being the end, and the wrenching of her heart was horrible.
"Really. It's plain for anyone to see that he cares for you. His eyes rarely leave you and he's terribly at¬tentive. I'm positive he's in love with you, Terri."
When she kept her head ducked and said nothing, Kate patted her hand reassuringly. "It will all work out, cousin. Trust me. There will be things for you two to work out too before it does, but..."
Terri glanced up, noting the way Kate was staring off into the distance. There was a worried look in her eyes and she bit her lip. "What kind of things?"
Kate's eyes jumped back to her with a start. She'd obviously been far away. Now she got an evasive look on her face and concentrated on collecting tissue and string to make another flower. "You'll find out. It will be okay."
"Tell me," Terri insisted, but Kate shook her head.
"I can't. He has to do it."
Terri stared, anxiety crowding in on her. What could Bastien have to tell her that "they would have to sort out"? Suddenly, she wasn't as nervous that he might love her back, as she was about the fact that there was some secret that could be a problem and come between them. She had known this relationship was too good to be true.
"Don't look so miserable," Kate said with a grin. "We'll see them both tomorrow."
"We will?" Terri forgot about Bastien's possible se¬cret and glanced over eagerly.
"Well, of course we will. It's Sunday."
Terri blinked, not seeing the connection. "So? It's Sunday."
"The wedding rehearsal is tomorrow," Kate ex¬plained. Then she frowned. "Oh, maybe I forgot to mention that to you. Originally, I didn't think you'd be here for it. We were going to have it without you, then take you by the church the night before the wedding to get a look and have a quick run through. But now you'll be here for both the rehearsal and dinner. Lucern and I are taking everyone out to din¬ner afterward."
Terri nodded happily and ducked her head back to the flower she was making. She'd see Bastien tomor¬row! Just the thought of seeing him caused a tingle of excitement in her. And nervousness. They hadn't re¬ally talked since the relationship had changed. First, there had been the need to take Chris to the hospital, and when they'd returned she'd collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Then, today, Bastien had woken her up in such a lovely manner, after which they'd slept again and then she'd decided to wake him up the same way--only Kate and Lucern had interrupted.
They hadn't really got a chance to talk, and Terri found herself anxious and nervous with Kate and Lucern around. She felt awkward, unsure how she was supposed to behave with Bastien in front of them. Were they boyfriend and girlfriend now? Did people even use those terms now a days, and at her age? And did she have the right to touch Bastien, kiss him, hug him in front of others?
Terri was naturally affectionate, but she found her¬self stifling that tendency--at least with regards to Bastien in front of Kate and Lucern-- because she didn't know where she stood with Bastien. And she knew she would still feel that way tomorrow unless he gave her some indicator. If Bastien greeted her with an affectionate kiss and hug, or put his arm around her, or took her hand, then she would feel free to allow her natural affection to show.
And why hadn't he done so in front of Kate and Lucern? Terri wondered as she tossed another fin-ished flower in a box. He had held her hand and kissed her in public the day of the trip to the mu-seum. But that had been in front of strangers. Bastien had taken her hand to lead her out of the hospital this morning, too. But that had only been in front of Vin¬cent. He hadn't done anything of the sort in front of Kate and Lucern.
Perhaps he didn't want them to know what had happened between them. That seemed a good possi¬bility. After Kate's reaction over the phone, when she'd learned that Bastien was taking Terri around the city those first couple of days, it was possible that if Terri and Bastien acted openly affectionate and re¬vealed how far their "friendship" had gone, the woman might start making wedding plans. She was already leaning that way, and that was a lot of pres¬sure. Especially from a new sister-in-law. It could make things a bit uncomfortable for Bastien. Espe¬cially if he was considering this just a casual relation¬ship. Which was more than possible. They'd only met a week ago.
Terri picked up the string and began to measure out a length. It might be best to keep what had hap-pened just between them. She didn't really want to, though. She'd rather be able to be herself; but she didn't want him feeling uncomfortable. Terri decided she would just play it by ear. If he greeted her tomor¬row as just the cousin of his soon to be sister-in-law, she would respond accordingly. If Bastien greeted her with a kiss and hug or something like that, Terri would respond in kind. The ball was in his court.
"Thanks, brother."
Lucern grimaced. "I don't want this any more than you do."
"Yeah, but you agreed to it. I didn't get a vote," Bastien muttered, walking around the bar with a glass of blood in hand. That was about the only nice thing about Terri being at Kate's; he didn't have to drink out of a bag anymore, grabbing a quick fix behind closed doors. But that was the only nice thing. And he'd gladly ingest bagged blood forever to have her back. He dropped onto the couch with a sigh.
"So?" Lucern peered at him curiously. "How is it going between you two?"
Bastien frowned, then admitted, "I don't know." Luc's eyebrows rose. "You don't know?" He shrugged. "Yeah. I don't know." Sighing, he sat forward and set his glass on the coffee table and ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "I thought things were going great. I mean, Luc, you wouldn't believe how well we get along. Even I don't even believe it. It's all so perfect and natural and easy. We talk all the time, finish each other's sentences, we just... I don't know. Click. It's like she was made for me." Bastien shook his head, then added, "I'm even eating. And it tastes good. I can hardly believe now that I actually got bored with doing so in the past."
Lucern grinned. "That's pretty serious."
"Yeah." He nodded enthusiastically. "And every time we kiss? Pow!" Bastien slammed the palm of one hand against the other. "We have a sexual chem¬istry like I've never experienced. And it isn't just sex¬ual. I mean, I want her all the time--but it isn't just wanting sex. I want to..." He paused, searching for the words to explain. "I want to give her pleasure. I want to hold her while she finds her pleasure. I want to take her inside me, my heart, and keep her there warm and safe and always a part of me."
"Yeah. That's how I feel about Kate," Luc said softly. "Have you tried to read her yet?"
"Yes, I have. And no, I can't."
"It's sounding pretty good then."
"But?" Luc asked when Bastien sighed.
"But I don't know how she feels," he said miser¬ably. "I just assumed that she felt the same, but then you guys showed up and she hardly looked at me af¬ter that."
"Oh, well, I wouldn't worry. She was probably just happy to see Kate. They're pretty close and--other than those few minutes last Friday when Kate dropped off Chris and grabbed me to go to that con¬ference--they haven't seen each other in over six months." Luc clapped a reassuring hand on his shoul¬der. "They'll talk up a storm tonight and get all that girl stuff out of the way. Then, tomorrow at the re¬hearsal, she'll be all over you."
Bastien nodded, but wasn't sure he believed the prediction. He understood that Terri hadn't seen Kate in a while, but she hadn't even looked at him to¬night. What if she regretted what they'd done? Or what if she didn't want Kate to know about it? Maybe she was thinking of this as just some vacation fling and wanted to keep it secret to avoid pressure from Kate. He really didn't think Terri was the type--he was almost positive she wasn't--but then again, he never would have predicted that once Kate and Lucern showed up, she'd avoid touching or even looking at him.
Bastien supposed he'd have to wait until the re¬hearsal to get a better idea of what was going on. He'd wait to see how Terri greeted him and go from there. If she acted like her normal cheerful and affec¬tionate self, he'd know it was all going to be okay. But if she acted reserved and avoided eye contact, he'd know something wasn't as it should be.
Personally, Bastien hoped Terri would just walk up and either take his hand in hers or slip her arm through his, or even kiss him hello. He preferred the last option, though if she did walk up and kiss him, he couldn't promise he wouldn't kiss her senseless on the spot. But he didn't really expect that to happen-- they'd be in a church after all. Still, Terri was natu¬rally affectionate, and if she liked him as he hoped, she would greet him with some outward show of af¬fection. That would free Bastien to be openly affec¬tionate back. The ball was in her court.