I snorted. Myra had her position because she was all but married to Mr. Reddy and she well and truly had his cock on a leash. She'd scoop my eyes out before she let me follow in her footsteps.
"Moneyed might just mean he wants to pay for a scene with you," Ronan said. "Just one more guest monster rutting under the spotlight, thinking that fucking you in front of the audience means his cock is worth more than theirs."
I frowned at the truth in the words. Brave patrons did pay to be featured. And usually they were about as good at the work as someone like Eston. I rose to my tiptoes, arousal skittering away again. Ronan's arm wrapped around my waist, drawing me back to lean against his shoulder, his legs bracketing mine, pressing them closed so his hand was tightly fastened against my sex.
"At least let me get you off before you meet the tosser," Ronan said, words slightly muffled as he sucked a kiss against my back.
It was tempting. Ronan was the only man I'd ever met who would genuinely enjoy finishing a girl and taking nothing for himself. Oh, he might try and talk you into sucking him off or taking a ride, but he was always cheerful, even when you refused. And there was a kind of power in being able to say no without any consequence, not even a cold shoulder.
His thumb was on my clit, fingers searching gently inside of me, warm mouth dragging up and down my spine with little fiery flicks of his tongue. It did feel good, a sweet contrast with the faint aches remaining from Eston. But I was tired. I'd been in two scenes already tonight, and now had a patron to meet before I would see my bed. And Ronan picking over the issue just made all my irritation linger.
I reached down, setting my hand over his, and started to pull away. He leaned back, his expression calm but uncharacteristically somber. "Not tonight," I said.
And Ronan was my friend for a reason. He turned his hand beneath mine, grasping it gently and drawing it to his lips to kiss the backs of my fingers. His other hand pet the inside of my thighs, not gripping, as I stepped away.
"Fair enough, Hazelnut," he said, standing. He leaned back and snatched up my robe draped over the back of the chaise, holding it open for me to slide into.
"Thank you for the snow," I said softly.
"Anytime in winter," he answered lightly.
I turned to face him, tilting my head back a little to study him. His smile was easy, no sign of offense, maybe just a hint of disappointment in those firelit eyes of his. I rose to my toes and Ronan ducked, meeting me in an easy kiss, familiar and delicious all at once. He tasted a little like butter and spice, I'd always thought, something that warmed on my tongue and was always pleasant to return to.
"Sorry for teasing," he rasped out, nose nudging mine, hands warm on my hips. And curled into him like this, with that spice on my tongue and his whisper in my ear, I could almost change my mind.
Better not to, I decided.
"You can make it up to me next time," I said, pecking at his lips once more, resisting the itch in my fingers to comb through those thick, inky black strands of his.
"Next time it is," Ronan said with a nod, bumping his forehead against mine. His long, curling horns caught a glint of the candlelight as he ducked his head to catch my eye. "You do deserve more than the theater, Hazel. But don't settle for the first poncy monster who offers."
Some days, I hoped Ronan would move on from the company sooner rather than later. He wouldn't stay, I knew that much, but the longer he lingered, the easier he was to grow attached to. He didn't have deep pockets—he was only an imp—and from my experience, he was too pretty to trust with a heart. But I did like him, perhaps a little too much.
"Go manage the curtains," I said, drawing away and wrapping the robe around me. "I'm catching a nap before I consider any offers, poncy or otherwise."