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Page 106

Violet blinked and stirred, and Daniel’s heart banged with relief. Her goggles were half off, and she pulled them from her face as Daniel hauled her up.

The car’s back end was mired in a furrow of rich black earth, the front end lifted a little off the ground. They were well and truly stuck.

Violet looked around, then her smile flashed. She let out another whoop and threw her arms around Daniel. “We were going so fast!”

Daniel grinned. “Not anymore.”

Violet didn’t appear to care. She pulled Daniel against her and tried to kiss him, but she banged into his goggles, and she laughed.

Daniel pulled off his goggles and dropped them behind the seat. He closed his arms around her, and their mouths met in a wild frenzy. Daniel was shaking, but not with cold.

The motorcar was a cramped space. But not so cramped Daniel couldn’t lay Violet down across the seat and keep kissing her. Her leather cap came off, her hair wild, and she kissed Daniel back with fervor.

Daniel reached down and slid Violet’s skirts upward. He expected her to break into panic, to push him away when he tugged at her drawers, his hardness heavy on her.

She didn’t. Violet kissed him, ran her hands up his back, pulled off his leather helmet to let it fall outside the car. She let him skim off her drawers, the lawn fluttering like a white flag.

In very little time, he was inside her, connected to her, as he’d been dreaming of for days. Violet’s eyes widened as he thrust, and again Daniel waited for her to dissolve into panic. But Violet lifted herself to him and pulled him close in frantic need.

It was awkward, rushed, crazy, freezing wind pouring over them. But the elation of the wild ride, the watery terror of the crash, the need they’d awakened in each other mixed and combusted.

Violet clung to Daniel as they rocked, he thrusting madly into her. The scent of newly turned earth, the scorched smell of the engine, and the scent of Violet and desire heightened the wild feeling of loving her.

Moments later, Violet’s face softened with the beautiful pleasure he’d taught her to enjoy. Daniel kept going, feeling himself start to release far, far too soon.

“Love. Love.” He scraped back her hair, his lips heavy on hers. He shuddered, burying himself as far as he could in her warmth, softness, scent.

“Love,” Daniel said one more time, his heart in the word. Violet touched his face as they both found the height of release, kissing, clutching, holding.

Daniel shuddered again as he wound down, their kisses softening into heat and languid joy. The frigid wind rushed around them, but the look in Violet’s eyes warmed him like a midsummer sun.

A farmer with a draft horse had to drag them out of the mud. How embarrassing. Violet stood by, her clothing restored, while Daniel chatted amiably with the farmer, drawing a smile from the dour-faced man. Charming the world as usual.

The car wouldn’t start again—mud in the fuel pump, Daniel said, and the driveshaft might be bent. The farmer had to pull them all the way back to where Simon waited with the cart to take the motorcar into Paris.

“Aye, well,” Daniel said, shrugging away the damage with his usual aplomb. “If I miss the Paris trial, I can have it fixed up for Nice. This sweetheart will do well on the hill-climb, I’m thinking.”

“I couldn’t stop it,” Violet said. She wondered in the next moment whether she meant the car or her grab at Daniel that had led to them making love.

That coupling had been rapid and raw. It should have frightened Violet into one of her attacks of hysterics, but it hadn’t.

Perhaps the amazing freedom of the speed she’d found, the crazed fear of the spin and crash, and Daniel’s body hard on top of hers had let loose a wildness inside her, pushing away fear.

The feeling of the car responding for her and her body connecting with it had been almost as heady as connecting with Daniel. She couldn’t stop her smiles at Daniel as they sat in the motorcar, now rolling behind the sturdy draft horse. Daniel’s dark amber eyes were warm as he smiled back. Violet wanted to wrap the day around her and keep it forever.

But that night Daniel said they needed to continue their hunt for Jacobi.

Daniel and whatever contacts he had in Paris hadn’t found Jacobi yet. Violet couldn’t be unhappy about that, because Jacobi could be dangerous—or at least, he had dangerous friends. Violet hadn’t quite understood that when she was younger, but looking back, she realized that Jacobi had known some rough men. Jacobi had gambled hard, but he and his friends had also fleeced plenty of people. She’d thought him amazingly clever until she’d understood better.

She also knew that Jacobi had an animal’s instincts and knew how to protect himself. If Daniel hadn’t found him yet, it meant Jacobi knew someone was looking for him and had gone to ground.

Daniel’s idea for flushing him out was simple—he let it be whispered in the right circles that Miss Violet Devereaux was now Mrs. Daniel Mackenzie. Jacobi would hear of this and perhaps seek them out. If not, Daniel had other ideas he’d try.

To back up the ruse, for the past few nights, and again tonight, Daniel had Violet dress in rich finery, then he took her out on the town.

I told you I’d show you life, and I will.

The life Daniel showed her was one Violet had only had glimpses of. Even their outing in Marseille paled in comparison. Now Violet put up her hair and bared her shoulders and walked among the wealthy and fashionable.

During her weeks in England, the four Mackenzie women had collaborated to covertly produce a full wardrobe for Violet. In London Violet had consented to be fitted for a few dresses with Beth’s modiste, which Violet had insisted on paying for. Ainsley had looked triumphant when she’d said that they’d used the measurements to have the modiste make Violet many more clothes—evening gowns, walking dresses, morning gowns, and sturdy, warm dresses for when they worked on the car.

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