He scanned the visible windows, not seeing anyone. One little kiss couldn’t hurt, could it? He’d given her the ring, asked her to marry him. There was no taboo against one little kiss. Besides, he’d already kissed her once. This wasn’t much different; there were just more potential witnesses.

“All right,” he agreed. His hands rose to grasp her upper arms.

Before he could change his mind, he leaned forward, his lips brushing against hers. So soft! He deepened the kiss, pulling her closer, dragging her against his suddenly hard length. He was attracted to her—there was no doubt about that.

“Am I going to have to pry you two apart?” a deep voice asked.

Matthew released Jessa abruptly. She stumbled against him before regaining her balance.

Aric stared at them from two feet away. Every muscle was taut with anger. Or jealousy. He took two quick steps forward. “I know your decision,” he hissed. “You don’t have to taunt me with it.”

“Aric,” Matthew said with a clear warning in his voice.

“What? Afraid Jessa might guess your dirty little secret?” The knight sheathed his sword and turned away to pull his shirt on.

“Shut up! You will respect your king!”

The cold look Aric gave him sent shivers down Matthew’s spine. The knight stepped closer, his tone dropping to a dangerous level. “The same way you respect your lover?” He shot a glance at Jessa.

“Actually, I already g-guessed.”

“Ah.” Aric leaned back. “Well, let’s get everything in the open then. Your groom is a jackass.”

“You’re the jackass right now,” Matthew sniped back.

“S-stop it!” Jessa’s raised voice stopping them both in their tracks. Both men stared at her, wide-eyed. “You’re both behaving l-like children.”

Matthew sighed and ran a hand over his face, taking a step back to gather himself. “Aric, you know how I feel about you. What will it take to make this easier on you?”

A sly look appeared on the knight’s face, and Matthew knew he was in trouble.

“I think it’s only fair I get a kiss, too.” Aric’s gaze slid from Jessa to Matthew.

“Absolutely not!” Matthew exploded. “That’s completely inappropriate.”

“Not from her.” Aric sidled closer. Now his expression could only be considered smoldering. “From you.”

Matthew retreated from the knight’s advance. “You’ve kissed me plenty of times,” he mumbled.

“Then it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Matthew glanced at Jessa, but there was no help to be found there. “I th-think you should. I don’t want to come between you two.”

A triumphant smile lit Aric’s handsome face. He reached out, his hands fisting into the fabric of Matthew’s tunic. Displaying his strength, the knight dragged him back into a corner created by one wall of the castle and a towering turret.

“Prove to me you don’t want me,” Aric challenged, and then his lips descended on the king’s. Matthew’s thoughts dissolved. No longer did he worry about their audience, or whether or not anyone could see them from a castle window. The kiss was rough, bruising, but he only wanted more. His wilting erection grew hard and firm, pressing against the thin leather of his trousers.

He took over, pushing Aric hard against the unforgiving stones of the castle wall. Had he thought he could live without this passion? He’d been so wrong.

Finally, Aric pushed him away with a smirk on those beautiful lips. Matthew was breathing hard, and when he glanced at Jessa, ashamed that he’d lost control so easily, he saw that she didn’t look entirely unaffected by the display.

“I want love like that,” she said, breathless.

Aric turned away from Matthew to throw a companionable arm around her shoulders, steering her towards the front of the castle. “Then you’d better hurry along those wedding plans, my dear. It’s inappropriate for Matthew to kiss you like that.”

“And doubly so for you.” She ducked under his arm and skipped to the front door, laughter trailing behind her.

Both men stared after her for a moment, perplexed.