Benedict awoke in the early dawn, and looked at Lily, curled up against him, fortunately still asleep. He sighed, wondering again how he had managed to deflect Lily’s determination to have him make love to her. Something he wanted to do most desperately. But regardless of how much he wanted her, he knew she was too fragile, both physically and mentally, to experience the highs they invariably used to reach together. If he weren’t a doctor, he would’ve given her enthusiastically what she wanted, which was exactly what he wanted. He resigned himself to a difficult conversation when she woke up and remembered what had happened or, more accurately, what had not happened between them.
He closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep. This was not made easier by Lily stirring against him, her hand sliding off his hipbone, fondling his penis, which lengthened and hardened and swelled instantly into a huge erection. Lily, don’t do this to me, he pleaded silently.
She began to wake up and slowly became aware of lying in Benedict’s arms. She lifted her head so that she could look into his face, whispering, “Benedict? You do want me – I can tell…”
“Lily, of course I do,” he said, a little desperately. “I’ve ached for you the past couple of weeks, you must know that. But you’re not well enough to make love. Your surface bruises are healed, but the deeper ones, where you were kicked, and the broken rib, they’ll take longer. Don’t you realize, once we surrender to our passion for each other, I may hurt you without meaning to, aggravate your bruises, crack your healing rib again— Lily, my darling, we’ll be able to be together soon, I promise. But not quite yet. Please, Lily? Let go of me?”
He felt her release him instantly. “Forgive my immodest behaviour,” she said, her voice coldly furious. “I thought I was in bed with my lover, but apparently not. Believe me, I won’t ever humiliate myself like this again.” She pushed herself away from him and slid to her side of the bed, where she began to cast around frantically for her nightgown. When she found it, she hastily put it on again and lay down, her back to him.
“Lily,” Benedict pleaded wearily. “Please listen to me. I was elated and flattered that you should want me to love you again. There’s nothing I want more myself, you must know that? You said you remembered that Sunday evening. I’m delighted you remember, as I do. One thing has changed since then. You were viciously assaulted and your injuries – both physical and emotional – haven’t yet healed.” Talking to her back, her stiff, unyielding, angry back, he found it difficult to gauge what effect his words were having. Discouraged, he decided to try one more time.
“If I weren’t a doctor, I’d make love to you. But I am a doctor, and I can’t allow myself that luxury. Do you understand that, Lily? That I love you too much to risk further injury to you by making love to you now. Lily?”
She was silent for a long time, and he began to wonder if she’d ever speak to him again. At last, he heard her voice, all fury gone, so soft that he had to lean closer to hear what she was saying..
“I understand, Benedict. But are you sure you’re not being overprotectrive? I feel fine, except – as you said – that cracked rib. Oh, and of course I’ve got only some of my memory back. Well, if you think that making love would be dangerous, then I’ll accept that. You’re the doctor, as you said. But understand one thing, Benedict. I’ll never again reach for you.” She slid away from him a little, frowning, and went on. “From now on, you’ll have to reach for me. I won’t ever again let you humiliate me the way you did just now.”
Although he knew he would pay for his action with another painful erection, he reached for her gently, slowly pulling her back into his arms. He took her left arm and draped it across his shoulder. “Like this, you mean?” he asked gently, hiding his face against her throat. “Ah, Lily. I didn’t humiliate you just now, I was begging for mercy for me. That was all. Hmm?” He kissed her throat, lingering at the little hollow, licking and laving it, kissing his way up her throat again to her determined little chin, which he nuzzled on his way to her mouth.
Just before he slanted his mouth over hers, he whispered, “I love you, Lily, so very much.” He parted her lips with the tip of his tongue, and delved into her mouth to find her sweetness, her unique taste. He was ecstatic, feeling her tongue do a little love-dance with his, licking, caressing everywhere.
“Benedict, you taste so good,” she moaned as he lifted his mouth from hers for a moment to allow them both to breathe.
He smiled. “So do you, my darling,” he said softly. He held her to him lovingly, whispering, “Friends again?”
He was surprised at her impassioned, “Yes, yes. But Benedict, please don’t make me wait too long? I want you so very much.”
He smiled. “That, my love, is entirely mutual. Shall we try to get some sleep?”
He felt her nod against his shoulder, turning her head a little so she could kiss his upper chest. “I love the taste and the scent of your skin, Benedict,” she murmured sleepily. He felt her relax against him, and after a little while heard her even breathing. She was asleep. He hoped fervently that he’d be able to relax enough to fall asleep sometime soon.
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Once again Kate Hofman pens a stirring story that grips the heart. There are some intense scenes, especially with Lily and Lucia that really bite and sting. I have to admit Lucia is certainly one mother-in-law I am glad I do not have to contend with. Benedict is very compassionate and caring, and his love for Lily is indeed genuine. I found Lily humble, demure and sweet, yet strong enough to stand up to Lucia. A Hidden Agenda has all the ingredients to make this extraordinary story one that kept this reader glued. Wonderfully mastered, along with bold and artistic characters, and a vindictive mother that this reader will not forget, this story is awesome.
Rating: 5 Cups
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