If anyone had told Jack Robinson a week ago that he would be sitting on a balcony in Baghdad, sipping whiskey as reflected moonlight sparkled up from the Tigris River, and stroking the smooth legs of Phryne Fisher in his lap, he would have thought it a cruel joke. Yet here he was. And here she was, partially reclined on the opposite end of the chaise, her silver robe falling aside to reveal most of her long legs.
She held up a telegram from her solicitor, whom she had contacted back in London when she learned that she had been thought dead for weeks. At the time, he had merely assured her that all was well. When she had pressed for more details upon their arrival in Baghdad, his message had followed soon after.
"He prevented my will from going through probate, thank heaven," she said. She tipped back the last of her own whiskey. "He maintained that there was no proof of my reported death."
Jack nodded slowly. "I had wondered how everything would be at Wardlow. Your house, your motorcar, Mr. Butler and Mrs. Collins, who would take care of Jane."
"Mr. Butler or Dot could have bought Wardlow for themselves with the portion of my estate left to each of them. Jane could have fluttered around Europe like a wealthy heiress, though she would have had to endure Aunt Prudence as a guardian. And you--"
"I was a shell."
Phryne leaned forward and stroked his cheek, offering a sad smile. "You would have been a rich shell."
"I'd rather be poor and happy, as I am now." He stared at the river, then looked down into his whiskey glass. "You never mentioned that I was in your will."
"I didn't want to make a fuss," she said lightly.
Jack mumbled something about there being a first time for everything, and she dislodged one foot to push his shoulder, laughing as she resettled it in his lap.
"Why weren't your parents at your memorial?" he asked. He had put off asking for a while now, but he truly wanted to know.
Phryne's head fell back onto the arm of the chaise, and she dropped her telegram beside the whiskey bottle and glass behind her. "Second honeymoon in New York, Jack. I might be upset if I weren't so bloody grateful."
They were quiet for a while then, both exhausted from their travels and many other things besides. Jack smiled at the memory of their first "morning after," readying their one camel to spend a leisurely day at an oasis before continuing to their next stop. He had hummed a familiar tune, softly singing the words when he got to them: "They say that bears have love affairs and even camels..." Phryne had laughed, had come up behind him and wrapped her arms around him, completely oblivious to the workers who had arrived to pack up their tents. Soon after, their day of relative leisure had turned into another madcap adventure.
Jack placed his glass on the floor beside the chaise and reached over to tug on the sash of Phryne's robe. "Let's go in," he said.
"Something you want, Inspector?" she asked in that too-high, too-innocent tone of hers.
"A few things." Her robe opened and parted to reveal everything he had already learned by heart.
Phryne swung her legs out of his lap and stood, moving between his legs and looking down at his upturned face, which she took in her hands. "Hmmm," she murmured. "I was going to ask what I get in return, but I think I already see the answer."
The bed was soft, and so was their lovemaking. Jack held Phryne steady as she rolled her hips over him, chanting his name in the sweetest sighing way. He knew immediately that this would always be his favorite position with her. She was achingly gorgeous like this, and his hands roamed to caress every part of her.
"So beautiful, Phryne," he praised.
"I've wanted you this way for a long time," she said, "but especially..." She gasped, both for air and because he circled her clitoris with his thumb. "Especially after the quicksand. I wanted..." Now she gave a breathless little laugh. "I wanted to touch your nipples. To kiss them. I wanted to lick your throat and kiss your belly and suck your cock."
"Fuck. Fuck." Jack lost the rhythm they had created as his head sank back into the pillows.
Phryne paused and bent forward to kiss his arched throat and then his mouth. "I love you like this. When you give yourself to me." She brushed her lips back and forth over his and kissed his chin before sitting up again to resume her movements.
"'The more I give to thee,'" he quoted, meeting her hips with his again, "'the more I have.'"
Phryne tilted her head back and laid her hands over his, one on her breast and one where their bodies joined. "Jack, I'm close. I'm... mmm... Talk to me, darling. Your voice..."
His brain was losing most of its ability to function, but he swallowed hard. "I imagined it so often, Phryne. Being inside you. Touching you. Putting my mouth on you. I love everything about you, but on those nights, I wanted your body." He swallowed again, barely holding on. "And I wanted to give you mine."
A few more pulses of her hips, and she cried out his name, her body arching beautifully, still holding his hands on her. Jack groaned in relief and gave himself to his own orgasm, letting her hear her name on his lips.
Phryne trailed kisses up his chest and rolled to his side, one leg thrown over his. Propping herself up on her elbow, she looked down at him and smiled. "So this is what a poor and happy man looks like," she said.
"No." He rubbed his hand up and down her thigh. "I don't think I'm very poor after all."
"Rather drunk on happiness, actually."
Phryne's eyes were soft as she leaned in to kiss him. "And that's how I intend to keep you, Jack Robinson," she said.