Poison, Lies, and No-Win Choices
By Brenna Lyons
Once upon a time, long before Edward met Amber and Darren met the step-sisters, there was another Bride Ball...the fateful night that started it all.
It started out as a lark, an aphrodisiac delivered to the wrong person. It escalated into more, a punishment that caught two innocents in the web of deceit. When all was said and done, one man would be falsely accused of a crime even he can't be certain he didn't commit, and one woman would become an outcast in society. How can such a travesty ever be made right?
The long-awaited sequel to Bride Ball.
Benjamin’s cock came up at the feeling of Alana on his lap, her laughing body vibrating against his.
It had to be soon, appearances be damned. The game of decision was amusing enough and a social nicety, but he’d long ago decided that only Alana would do.
Her face dipped close to his, and he captured her lips in a kiss that released his frustration and need...at least, a modicum of them. It left them both ragged, and sweat coated his bare chest, most likely from clenching his muscles in restraint.
Mora’s chattering broke the moment, and Alana levered herself onto the arm of his chair, giving the other contender room to sit on the opposite arm. Her smile faltered at the sight of the noblewoman, with her fine clothes and augmented body. Alana recovered quickly, smoothing the simple blouse and skirt most of the lowborn in attendance wore.
Another reason it has to be soon. Alana was becoming disheartened by his failure to choose formally, unsure of her appeal.
Mora offered the cup in her hand. “It’s warm in here, don’t you think? I thought you might like a drink.”
Before he could take it, Alana did so. “My thanks,” she breathed. “I’m frightfully parched.”
It was too late. Alana had tipped her head back, baring her graceful neck, draining the contents of the cup in a few hearty swallows. That accomplished, she handed the cup back to a horrified Mora. It was a bold move, riding the edges of uncouth, but contending to a prince was thinly-veiled civility, at its finest.
Benjamin bit back a laugh at the tactical prowess that had won Alana this round of the chase for his attentions. How could he choose another, when such a witty and inventive woman had captured his heart? The words to dismiss Mora were on the tip of his tongue when one of the other ladies saved him the trouble by drawing her away.
“Mora? I need a word.”
He worked at the mystery of Mora’s upset and distraction without success. Surely it wasn’t Alana besting her that caused the reaction; that had happened many times before. The hair rose on the back of his neck in warning, but his alcohol-muddled mind couldn’t work its way to an explanation for his unease.
Mora engaged in a whispered discussion with her fellow, and Benjamin turned back to Alana, noting the pain in her eyes. It had to be tonight, propriety or no. When Mora returned, he’d make a public show of choosing Alana. If the Goddess was kind, he’d be taking the latter to his bed after that.
* * * *
The drink went straight to Alana’s head, and she wondered at what vintage it might be. Wine, even strong wines, didn’t usually affect her this quickly.
She’d only been drunk once before, but she didn’t remember it feeling this good. Her entire body sang in a pleasant awareness.
Benjamin’s hand settled on her thigh, then trailed upward. It clasped lightly at her hip, and he pulled her back into his lap. “Where were we?” he growled playfully. His mouth closed on hers, and Alana shifted closer to him.
She shivered at the touch of his ready cock through the silk trousers that comprised the whole of his outfit. Every night of the event, she’d prayed she’d feel that length, but Benjamin had decreed only the one he’d ultimately choose would.
And Mora is still a contender for his love. Mora, with her cunning and cold resolve. Alana wished there was a way to open his eyes to Mora’s true nature.
That an unlikely proposition, she had to make her own sincerity clear to Benjamin. She threw herself into the kiss, moaning at him surrounding her in textures and scents.
He was so potent, he made her head swim. The need for more rode at her, and Alana tangled her fingers in the crisp hairs that bisected his chest.
Benjamin came at her mouth more avidly, urging her on. Emboldened, Alana touched him, moaning as muscles tensed beneath her palms and fingertips.
Her body burned and ached for an end to the game. His kiss wasn’t enough. His hands exploring over clothing wasn’t enough. Alana cupped his rigid length between their bodies.
Benjamin broke off the kiss with a half-swallowed cry. She forced her eyes open, meeting his questioning gaze. He wasn’t stopping her, so she stroked him through the silk.
Her heart pounded in apprehension. Would he rebuff her? Dismiss her and choose Mora? This was presumptuous, but her need was maddening in its intensity.
The kiss resumed, a harder, hotter kiss that announced his interest. Benjamin guided her around to face him, and Alana placed a knee on either side of his body, stretching her skirt to its limits. One of his hands fisted in her hair, and the other grasped at her hip, drawing Alana to his body.
The temperature in the room jumped abruptly. The heat between them followed in kind.
Alana pulled at the fasteners on his trousers, and Benjamin wrenched his mouth from hers. He shot a startled look between their bodies, then met her eyes, swallowing hard.
“Here?” he whispered.
“Anywhere.” Anything. “As long as it’s now.” She shifted her hips against him, making the offer.
He pushed up at her skirt, and Alana opened his trousers. His cock strained against her hand and she grasped it, moaning at the feel of him.
Benjamin positioned her over the crown, then guided her down. Alana’s breathing hitched at the first touch. She forced her hips down, gasping his name as he arched off the seat and filled her.
She held to his shoulders, her fingernails biting skin, her eyes sliding shut. His cock filled her, stretched her, eased the ache.
“Goddess, Benjamin, yes,” she urged him.
* * * *
Benjamin froze in disbelief. It couldn’t be...
But he knew it was true. Alana was a virgin.
Well, she was, until I—
“Goddess, Benjamin, yes,” she pleaded.
At least I didn’t hurt her. Thank the Goddess for that.
There’d been an even chance she was untouched...perhaps less than even, all things considered. When she’d agreed to exhibitionism, he’d assumed she was experienced.
Alana rose and fell over him, scattering his senses. Who knew a virgin could move this way? If this was what she did to him untrained, her sexual education might well kill him.
A hoot of appreciation opened Benjamin’s consciousness to other sounds from the assembled crowd. That brought a measure of sanity to his fevered mind.
Benjamin shook his head, cupping Alana’s face. “No, Alana. Let me—”
“Let me,” she purred.
Any thoughts he’d had about a virgin being too skittish for exhibitionism fled. He couldn’t decide if she was too involved to notice their audience or uncaring that it existed. If Alana wasn’t bothered by it, Benjamin wasn’t going to force a stop.
It was a wild ride, and the end was kinetic. Alana threw her head back and screamed at the first jet of his seed into her. Her contractions gripped him hard, and he roared in possession. She was his, and the Goddess help anyone who stood in his way.
Her eyes slid open, and the look of longing made his heart stutter. She was innocent of what her expressions did to him, how they turned him into clay in her delicious, little hands.
She’s innocent. That fact finally made it through the haze in his mind. Benjamin glanced around at the attendees of the Bride Ball, some watching them avidly...some less overtly...none oblivious to the spectacle.
It’s unacceptable. Benjamin eased her skirt over her buttocks, shielding all but the sight of the root of his cock extending up between those silken thighs.
Alana whimpered at his touch, her eyes pleading for more, her body still gripping and releasing in the throes of waning climax.
“In my rooms,” he offered. “Will you accompany me—”
“Highness,” one of Alana’s supporters addressed him. “Highness, I must—”
“When Mora returns, tell her to move on to other pursuits,” he announced. “I’ve chosen Alana, if she’ll have me.”
Aftershocks ripped through her, and tears misted her eyes. Alana laughed in delight. “Oh, yes.”
“But Highness, I must tell—”
She fell silent, though she shifted nervously.
Benjamin set Alana on her feet, carefully covering her. He fastened his trousers, glad he’d chosen purple. Gold would have shown the smears of red more clearly. At any respectable distance, the stains on the purple would be mistaken for clear female fluids, and the masses wouldn’t have leave to gossip about watching Benjamin deflower his wife.
He took to his feet, wrapping an arm around Alana. The woman he’d dismissed twice dared to approach him again.
Benjamin motioned her to silence before she could speak, glaring her down. “One more time, and you will find yourself in a cell.”
She dipped a quick curtsy and scurried away.