Okay here it is.. Tried pushing it a bit here.. but hopefully it was worth it. Enjoy! ~ ~Part 3~ Invisible fingers teased and caressed. Every brief touch was an intense distraction. It put her on high alert and made her skin shiver with sensitivity. The need to reach for complete fulfilment grew furiously, till desire was part of every breath. Her fingers tightened on the cutlery to stop from trembling. It was driving her insane. Mara couldn’t keep level headed. She’s never experienced such a desperate craving. Distracted beyond belief, she toyed with her food, pushing and prodding it around the plate. Just breathing steady took a lot of focus. Force help her, she was lost. And a part of her truly didn’t care. “Not having doubts are you?” A smooth voice filtered through the heated haze. To Mara’s left, Lando sat smirking over his glass of brandy as he added, “You’ve been skewing and un-skewing that poor steak for a while. Anyone would think you’re nervous. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you have the jitters. Not getting cold feet now are we, Miss Jade?” Far from it, Mara silently laughed. She was burning up like a star. The silky fabric of the dress brushed her over-sensitive skin and her long wavy hair kept ticking her exposed neck, shoulders and back. Add the subtle enticing Force-traces of Luke’s sinful imagination and she was on fire. Flicking a few curls over her shoulder, Mara sent Calrissian a confident grin, “I think your womanly intuition needs repairs … ‘cause you’re way off flyboy.” “Really?” Lando chuckled quietly, “How so?” Forking a piece of food, Mara replied simply, “I have no intention of running. I -” There it was again. His touch. Unseen caresses tingled along her bare shoulder, dipping inwards over her collar bone and then plunging further to the skin beneath the garment. Every alluring brush against her was warm, invisible and silently commanding. She couldn’t think. All senses spiralled out of control. Pleasure rippled through her. And Mara had to bite her lip hard. She wasn’t going to make a scene. But she couldn’t endure this sweet torture any more. Everything in her longed to grab Skywalker and run. Sweet Force help her, he was pressing all the right buttons. And she had to hand it to him he was very skilled at pushing her off balance. It was thrilling to think she was being tempted this way, surrounded by officials at a public place, and yet in reality she was not actually being touched at all. It was an illusion. One she didn’t want to wake from. “Mara? Are you unwell?” “Never better.” She muttered to Calrissian. At the same time she sent Luke a disapproving message through their bond. Knock it off, farmboy. I can handle anything you throw at me. So quit it. Absentmindedly putting down her knife and fork, Mara squirmed slightly as she reached across for her wine. She had half a mind to put the cool glass against her forehead to bring down her temperature. Instead she forced herself to take several controlled sips. None of which quenched the real thirst. Strokes started at her feet, where few knew she was ticklish, slipping up her ankles, moving ever higher along her legs. The hidden caresses felt hot, moist, as if they were hungry lips kissing and tasting erotically. Mara’s face flushed. She cleared her throat, shifted her slender legs under the table and tried to appear interested in Lando’s conversation. The alcohol did nothing to help. It took all her strength not to fidget. And all her self-taught discipline not to clench her teeth on the rim of her glass. Frustration bordered on mindless lust, so near and yet so far, restless and starving for more. As the elusive lips kept climbing past her knees daringly, Mara swallowed back an encouraging moan. Groaning inwardly Mara finished the drink and clutched the stem of the glass firmly. Her fingers tensed as the teasing touches explored at leisure, going ever higher and higher. Luke ... She warned. Or was she begging? She hardly knew. Beside her, Luke chatted and ate casually, seemingly unaffected. Damn the man, he was using Force-tricks to drive her crazy. She could barely sit still with wanting him. It was not fair. Well two could play at this game. Trying her hardest to ignore his clever ministrations, Mara focused on her own devious touches. She started off small, imagined toying with his earlobe between her lips, nibbling with invisible teeth, pecking down his neck and slowly caressing down his muscular chest. The touches were small to begin with and then turned wickedly bold, playing with his body and his senses as he had hers. At the same time, she indicated to a waiter for a top up and made easy conversation with the Solos a couple chairs down. Halfway through a discussion, Luke blushed faintly. To his credit he managed to keep talking. Though a secret grin slipped onto his mouth and he tugged at the neckline of his shirt. It appeared he wasn’t immune to her charms or his own medicine. And that made Mara smirk triumphantly. All of a sudden Luke turned his full attention to her. At first she felt his gaze on her. Hot and possessive. Then she’d turned, only to fall into his enchanting stare, despite her best efforts to appear indifferent. Those gorgeous blue eyes struck her like blaster fire, stunning her to absolute stillness, waiting for something. Under the table his hand slipped onto her thigh. The very real contact almost made her jump. His palm burned and branded through the layer of her dress. And still it wasn’t enough. She wanted, needed, skin on skin. And by the flames leaping to life in his eyes, it was what he yearned for too. His deft hand stroked up and down as he leaned in to whisper huskily, “Be sure you want to play this game, Jade. I intend to win.” Cunningly he planted a kiss just below her ear, teeth scrapping and lips soothing. Under his hot mouth her pulse stammered into a sudden racing beat. Mara shivered unable to help her body’s reaction. Pretending to laugh at a private joke, she responded slyly, “Don’t get cocky, Skywalker.” Tilting her head closer, she whispered saucily, “Remember I play for keeps. I never lose. Even Jedi Masters are at risk.” “Is that so?” His eyes swirled a darker blue as he added under his breath, “I have a strong feeling the tables will turn many times but in the end it will be you pleading and succumbing. I hear these sorcerous Jedi can be very persuasive.” “Irritatingly persistent more like.” “As long as it pays off.” Heads inclined, inches apart, totally absorbed in each other, Luke and Mara grinned. Secret smiles only for them. It was painful to be this near and yet not close enough. Pressing a lingering kiss to his jaw, Mara murmured against his skin helplessly, “I wish you’d stop baiting me this way ...” “I can’t help myself, sweetheart.” His low voice uttered earnestly, “You look good enough to eat.” She looked up at him and saw the blatant desire. Tenderness merged with the heat, till neither one could be split from the other. Sweet lords he was a handsome man, looking at her so intently as if he might try to take an actual bite out of her. His compelling eyes held her captive. And she didn’t fight it. Luke made her feel whole. He gazed at her as if she were the only person alive, vital to him and wanted above all others. If only they were alone. Just as they inched closer, with their breaths mingling, lips barely a hair’s-width away, someone clinked a spoon insistently against a champagne glass and cleared their throat loudly. Reluctantly, Mara and Luke pulled back to see Mon Mothma stood opposite smiling knowingly, “I would like to propose a toast … to new beginnings. Both for the Republic and the Empire. And nothing seems to fit this occasion better than to wish a certain couple a very happy future to come. To Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker, may your union bring you great joy.” Raising their drinks to the couple everyone cheered their agreement. We have to escape. Luke mused over their bond. Before we make a scene. Slipping her hand into his, fingers entwining, Mara smiled at him over her wine glass. Just imagine the holonews … They think it’s scandalous enough that I’m marrying you. They can think it’s scandalous. Luke chuckled softly in her mind. I find it very exciting. Arching one eyebrow at him, Mara snorted. I noticed. I can’t wait to get you alone. Skywalker’s seductive thoughts made her blush. Only two more courses to go. Then a dance. And finally … escape? This evening was pure torture. Both Luke and Mara couldn’t wait any longer. Minutes were turning into hours, stretching the longing till it burned and clawed at their self-control. Any chance or excuse to get out of this situation was going to be exploited. Soon. Mara thought quietly. Very soon. Luke promised.