This time—this time, he would savor each moment.
He dipped his head, kissed Lara’s throat. Her head fell back and he felt her pulse race against his lips.
Slowly, he told himself again, go slowly. She was his and the night had only just begun.
But he could feel his urgency growing, feel the blood thundering through his veins. She was so lovely, his wife. So perfect, standing before him dressed, at last, in nothing but moonlight. He cupped her breasts and felt their exquisite weight against his callused palms, watched her face when he brushed his thumbs across the rosy tips.
“Oh,” she whispered, “oh, Slade…”
“Do you like that?” he said thickly, and she moaned and slid her hands under his T-shirt, her fingers cool against his fevered skin.
He bent his head, kissed her nipples, teased them with his teeth and tongue. Her knees buckled and he swept her into his arms and laid her on the bed.
“Now,” she said shakily, “now, please…”
He came down beside her, stopped the breathless plea with a kiss and traced the lush contours of her naked body with his hand. The softness of her breast. The feminine curve of her hip. The slight convexity of her belly and then, at last, the hot, wet heart of her.
The sound she made when he touched her there was almost his undoing.
My wife, he kept thinking, this is my wife.
She was everything a man could dream of, and more. And she was kissing him, touching him, holding him as if he were all her dreams come true, as if were the only man who’d ever mattered.
God, if only it were so.
Stop thinking, he told himself furiously. Just feel. It wouldn’t matter how many men there’d been, not after tonight. From now on, she would belong only to him. She would dream of him, as he’d dreamed of her for the last eighteen months. She’d whisper his name in the darkness. And when he took her in his arms, she’d look into his eyes and she’d say—she’d say—
Slade drew back and stripped off his clothing. Lara lifted her arms, sighed his name and he came down to her and kissed her again and again, each kiss hungrier, deeper, more passionate than the last.
“Now,” she said, her mouth trembling against his, “please, Slade, now.”
He moved over her, knelt between her thighs. He took her hands in his, their fingers laced tightly together, and drew them out to the sides. He shifted his weight and she moaned when the tip of his engorged member brushed her labia. Her hips lifted, her body arched like a bow, but still he held back.
“Look at me,” he said roughly. She opened her eyes. They were black and deep with need, and he fought to hold his hunger in check. “Now say my name,” he whispered. “Say it, as I come into you.”
“Slade,” she said, her voice breaking, “Slade, my husband, Slade…”
Slade groaned, pressed forward and lost himself in the softly yielding body of his wife.
* * *
It was late. Very late, somewhere in the darkest hours of the night. The moon had set but dawn had yet to touch the eastern sky.
Lara lay with her head on Slade’s shoulder, her hand splayed across his chest, and thought how lucky she was, to have found this man…this man who was now her husband.
He had made love to her with wild passion and then with such sweet tenderness that she’d wept in his arms. Then he’d drawn her close against him and she’d tumbled into sleep, still safe and protected in the warm confine of his embrace.
Lara sighed, turned her face against Slade’s shoulder and brushed a soft kiss against his skin.
She’d been such a fool, fighting against this marriage, thinking that Michael was all she needed to complete her life. Her child was the joy of her existence and always would be, but Slade—Slade was the blood, flowing in her veins. He was the warmth of her soul, the beat of her heart…
Oh, how she loved him. She knew that now, without question. She’d loved him since that first moment he’d walked into her life, all those months ago, and now—now, she was even willing to hope there might come a day she could tell him she did.
The time would have to be right. Saying “I love you” to a man who didn’t love you could be a burden instead of a blessing, even if the man were your husband. Slade had married her because of Michael. He’d brought her here to convince her that they could work things out and make a good life together, that they could deal with each other with civility and certainly find pleasure in bed, but that didn’t mean he wanted to hear her say, Slade, I’ve fallen in love with you.
It would be so sweet to say it, though. To lean over her sleeping husband, wake him with a slow, gentle kiss, to smile into his eyes when he opened them and say…
Slade’s middle-of-the-night voice was husky and soft. Lara smiled as he lifted her hand from his chest and kissed it.
“Hi,” she said softly. “I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“Don’t be.” He turned onto his side, brought her against him and kissed her mouth. “I was dreaming about you.”
“A good dream?”
“A wonderful dream, darlin’…but what’s a dream compared to wakin’ up and findin’ you right here, in my arms?”
He kissed her again and rolled her beneath him. She looped her arms around his neck. His body was warm against hers, and excitingly aroused, and already she could feel the thickening of her blood as he moved against her.
“Mmm. That feels—oh, that feels—”
“That’s how it feels to me, too,” he whispered, and moved again.
“You can’t. I mean, how could you? Not so soon. Not after…Oh.”
“Oh, indeed, Mrs. Baron.”
Lara gave a soft, sexy laugh. “I guess that’s one of the benefits of marrying a younger man.”
“A younger man, huh?”
“Didn’t you see it on our marriage license? I’m two years older than you are.”
Slade chuckled. “My birthday’s next Friday. So for a little while, anyway, there won’t be such a huge gap in our—Hey!” He laughed while she struggled in mock fury. “I like older women.”
“You do, huh?”
“Sure.” She felt him smile against her throat. “It takes so little to make them happy. For instance…”
Lara wanted to tease him, to say she had no idea what he meant. But he kissed his way slowly down her body, lingering over her breasts, her thighs, tasting her essence, then moving up over her and entering her, slowly, slowly, rocking against her…
And she was lost to the night, to the world, lost to everything but him.
* * *
The first blush of dawn light woke Slade from a sound sleep—that, and the sounds of mice in the kitchen.
That was his first thought, anyway, as he lay listening to the faint clink of metal and glass. A couple of field mice had come wandering in when he’d first built the cabin, but mice didn’t cook bacon, he thought, as he sniffed the air. They didn’t play the radio or sing, either. And if they did, he doubted it would be in such a soft, sexy alto.
He pulled on his jeans, zipped them up. Barefoot, he made his way silently through the house, to the kitchen, and paused in the doorway.
Lara was standing at the counter, her back to him. Coffee dripped through the filter into the glass carafe; as he watched, she forked crisp strips of bacon from a skillet onto a paper-towel-covered platter. The griddle was heating on the stove, and a bowl of what he hoped was pancake batter stood waiting alongside.
Slade grinned, folded his arms and leaned back against the door frame. His wife had a domestic streak. That was nice to know. She was bustling from refrigerator to sink to stove with an efficiency he hadn’t expected—and boogying to an old Elton John tune, while she did. Her hips and backside were in gentle motion.
And what a sweet backside it was.
He suspected she wouldn’t like knowing he was watching her. She might even haul off and try to slug him again but it was a risk worth taking. A man would have to be a sai
nt not to want to hang around a while and admire the view. Lara, with her strawberry-blond hair streaming over her shoulders, wearing his discarded T-shirt and her lace panties…
This was ridiculous. He was watching his wife and getting turned on and—
Lara swung around, saw him and shrieked.
“Hey.” Slade held up his hands. “I didn’t mean to scare you.” He laughed at the look on her face, walked across the room, cupped her elbows and lifted her to her toes for a slow, thorough kiss. “Good mornin’, darlin’.”
Lara smiled. “Good morning. Breakfast is almost ready.”
Slade reached past her and stole a strip of bacon from the platter. “Mmm. Crisp. Just the way I like it. And is that pancake batter I see?”