Waiting out the rain, Milo Everhart takes stock of her widowhood and the handsome man standing in the door to the bar. Little does she know she will meet that man again and again under both passionate and terrifying circumstances.
Tristram Brody waits for his date, too conscious of the beautiful woman sitting by the door. Little does he know that she will hate him for trying to destroy her beloved art center, and even suspect him of murder. Nor that she will be drawn inevitably into his arms.
Little does either of them suspect they will be embroiled in not one, but two murders, in which the fate of the Torpedo Factory, an art center housed in an old munitions factory on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, will be decided.
The sleet had tapered off, and the moon began its stroll across the cumulus highway as Milo entered the restaurant. She passed through the dining room to the cozy bar in the back. Tristram sat in one of the overstuffed club chairs. He saw her and waved to the bartender.
He ordered drinks and a plate of assorted cheeses.
Three hours, four more rounds, and two more cheese plates later, Milo figured she’d better start asking Tristram some questions. But she didn’t really feel like it. She felt like she knew enough already, so she settled for gazing into his deep green eyes and smiling inanely. Which was okay because apparently that’s what Tristram had settled for too. Milo realized with a jolt that no one had said anything for at least five minutes. Come on, Milo. You’re too old for crushes.
“I really must be going. It’s been very…”
He reached across the table, put a gentle hand on her neck, and brought her into blissful contact with his lips. “Nice.”
She realigned her jaw and her heart and rose a little shakily. “Um.”
He jumped up. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
They walked stiffly out of the bar, stumbling only once on the threshold. Tristram steadied her. A few minutes later they broke apart to take a breath. The sidewalk had cleared during the evening, and they were alone. He took her back into his arms and kissed her, moving his tongue around the inside of her lips and making slurping noises as though she tasted like a chocolate milkshake.
He pulled away but held onto her hand. “Let’s go home.”
She let him lead her down King Street to a black Jaguar, and they drove in silence the few blocks to Lee Street. The moon rode high over a little terraced park. They watched it float a minute, then Tristram took her hand again and they went inside.
“Exactly what I was thinking.”
Across the river the lights of Fort Washington dotted the water with pinpricks of phosphorescence. Behind the couple on the bench the strings of silver bulbs outlining George Washington’s home shone brightly, creating long black shadows down the lawn. Two heads nestled together. Milo purred.
“Are you cold?”
“You want to go in?”
“No. I’m too content to move.”
She heard the chuckle in his voice. “It’s been a…nice day, hasn’t it?”
She snuggled closer under his arm. “Very.”
He kissed the top of her head tentatively. “Do you mind?”
He pulled her chin toward him and softly kissed her lips. She was too relaxed, too happy to argue. Tristram peered at her. “I can’t see your face. Are you smiling?”
For an answer, she reached up and pulled him to her. A few minutes later he placed a gentle hand on her breast and tickled the nipple through the layers of fabric, making her heart spin.
“Let’s go home.”
The familiar words brought her back to reality. “What about Ursula?”
“Ursula? What about her?”
“Don’t you live together?”
He paused. “No.” The unspoken words were clear. No more questions.
On the drive back, her tranquil state gave way to anticipation. Tristram whipped his Jaguar in and out of the sleepy parkway traffic, never overly reckless, but enough to get her heart beating faster. He didn’t speak. For some reason, his silence aroused her even more. What is he thinking? Is he going to make love to me or drop me off like so much used tissue?
They pulled up in front of Tristram’s townhouse on Lee Street. The last time they’d been together, the surroundings had paled before other, more pressing needs. Now, as he handed her out, Milo paused to survey the park that lay between them and the river. The sky opened up here, a change from the tall, impendent row houses and narrow streets of Old Town. Stars flashed in the Milky Way, and the moon grinned at her as she shivered in the chill breeze.
Tristram took her arm. “Do you think we’ll have a white Christmas this year?”
The question first hit her as so unromantic, she worried her little dream would dissipate into the night, but then the words took on a cozy kind of comfort, like the chitchat of an old established couple. “I don’t know.”
He sniffed the air. “Smells like snow. Come on, Milo.”
She followed him, stifling both the disappointment and her desire. He’s going to offer me a drink and send me home. And that’s okay. I’ll be fine. Oh, but look at that butt and those shoulders. Is he sexier in Armani or L.L. Bean?
He closed the door behind her, ran his arms around her middle, and kissed the back of her neck. The little hairs rose to meet him. Electricity shot through her like a high-tension power line. He touched the top of her head and slowly spun her around to face him. His eyes burned into hers, and her mouth went dry.
“Do you know where you are?”
He grinned. “Just checking. You didn’t remember much about our last…encounter, and I want to make sure you are conscious during every single minute you spend here.”
Yeah, right. Forget the small talk and take me to bed, you big gorgeous lug.
Oh my God, I said that out loud! Shit.
It was too late to take back. He didn’t appear to be listening anyway. He dropped her coat on the floor and lifted her, taking the stairs two at a time. Translucent shafts of light from a recessed panel illuminated the California king that took up most of the room.
Tristram lit a tall, white candle on the bureau and touched her shoulder. “Milo? May I?”
One hand went to the buttons on her blouse, and he undid them carefully. Why did he have to be so polite? Why didn’t he just rip her clothes off like he did the last time? Not that I remember. She let the blouse fall, her breath coming in short gasps. He reached out and cupped one of her breasts, encased in delicate orchid lace. He pulled the lace down with his index finger, allowing the nipple to lift its hungry head. He flicked at it until it stood up hard and ready for something more substantial. Obligingly, he leaned down and licked it. Then he gently unhooked the bra and licked the other nipple. Milo didn’t think she could stand much more.
His hand moved to the button of her jeans. She tightened her abdomen as he unzipped them and let his hand reach in and cup the mound. She fought the urge to press against it but gave in when he started to knead. Her vulva inflamed, releasing the juices like slow-moving lava, soaking the thin material of her bikini.
He pulled the jeans off and knelt before her. His fingers wormed their way under the panties and tickled her yearning lips. Her mind emptied of everything but the aching in her vagina. He rolled the bit of lace off, tossed it in a corner, and began to suck. Slurping and swallowing, he twisted the sensitive flesh and sent his tongue to palpate her clitoris. Milo spread her legs wider, her pussy riding his mouth like a rodeo cowgirl. The candle flickered, shimmering on his desire-glazed eyes. She shouldn’t have looked at his face—it brought her to instant orgasm. She held a hand to her mouth to stop the scream. He pulled away from her, dribbling wet kisses down the inside of her thighs.
Then her lover moved lightning fast. He tore his clothes off, pushed her onto the bed, and moved up to close with her. His cock, hard and healthy, inserted itself into her. She folded her legs around his back and began the delectable climb to climax. He slid in and out, his penis scratching the itch inside her vagina. There. Almost there. Almost…arggggh.
He collapsed on top of her.