Caroline nipped at her lower lip and the energy between them surged. He tilted his head and drew her close, their mouths awkwardly skirting each other. He felt her breath, warm and hinting of apricots from the wine she had sipped earlier. Their lips brushed against each other and his pulse spiked. Gently, the kiss continued with hesitant exploration. She was the first woman he had ever kissed and her lips were everyth ing he expected – and more.
He placed his hands on her waist and tugged her close, pressing her against the length of his body. She put her hands on his shoulders and trailed her fingers along the nape of his neck.
Stefan groaned, increasing the intensity of the kiss. His manhood grew hard, fueled by their mutual desire. It was a feeling he hadn't known before. He could lo se his head to this feeling.
He broke off the kiss quickly and drew in a breath. Confusion pooled in Caroline's expression.
"No." He paused. "I don't want to go too fast for either of us."
Voices were heard nearby. "Alina, I don't think it's wise we discuss Viktor."
Nervous energy spiked through Stefan at the sound of his mother's voice. He placed his finger over his lips. Caroline nodded. Furrowing his brow, he gestured for Car oline to hide with him behind the rose bushes near the bench. She followed him.
His mother and Lady Alina's footsteps echoed along the walking path.
"Viktor put all of this in motion," said Lady Alina.
Stefan's mother exhaled. "No, I did. I made a poor decision." Her voice betrayed deep regret.
"He took advantage of you in a moment of deep pain. You were mourning the death of your son, Hadrian."
"I should have been more guarded."
"Viktor was a cunning wolf. We all thought he could be trusted."
The footsteps stopped. Stefan prayed they couldn't hear his pounding heartbeat.
"The curse will come to fruition soon," said Alina.
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