She grinned. 'Who says we have to eat it here?' She slid off his lap and held her hand out.
He stood up and let her lead him to her room. When she opened the door, he sucked in a breath. 'You sleep in a four-poster?'
'Um, yes. Look, it's family furniture. I inherited it. But the mattress is fairly new.'
'A real four-poster.' Though he sounded intrigued. A quick glance at his face told her he wasn't sneering: he was delighted. 'A princess's boudoir.'
Dark wood—though she hadn't used heavy velvet drapes. She'd used filmy white and gold voile, to keep her bedroom light and airy. And when she lit the tealight candles scattered around her bedroom, it did make her feel a bit like a princess in a fairy-tale.
'Candlelight suits you,' he said huskily. 'Do you have any idea how beautiful you look? My raven-haired princess.'
'I'm not a princess. Just an Hon.,' she corrected. 'And I prefer my work title.'
'You're still a princess to me, Dr Radley.' He stepped forward, then bent his head to kiss her again.
The next thing she knew, they were on her bed. Naked. She couldn't remember taking his clothes off—or him taking hers off. All she'd been aware of was Jake kissing her, touching her, stroking her.. .and how good it felt.
'It's your boudoir, so you're in charge,' he said, rolling over and pulling her on top of him.
She grinned. 'Now you mention it...' She leaned over to take the box from the top drawer of her bedside cabinet. Removed a foil square. Kissed her way down his body. Teased him with the tip of her tongue, until he was gripping the pillow and shuddering and clearly on the edge of losing his control.
'Ready?' she asked.
'Oh, yes.' Jake's voice was slurred with passion, and it thrilled her to think she could turn this clever, capable man into mush like this.
She unwrapped the condom and unrolled it over his penis.
'Now,' he said, and she lowered herself onto him.
Vicky fed Jake another strawberry, teasing him by making him stretch up for it.
'You'll pay for this tomorrow night,' he warned. 'I'll make you beg before I let you have a single chocolate from that box you bought me.'
Tomorrow night. Ah. 'I can't see you tomorrow night.'
His shoulders sagged in disappointment. 'Why not?'
'You're on a late?'
'Studying,' she explained.
He shrugged. 'You can study at my place, if you like. And I'll give you a neck massage afterwards, while I ask you lots of awkward technical questions.'
She was sure he was teasing her, then a glance at his face told her that he was serious. 'You're going to test me?'
'Mmm. I've still got my notes from my last set of exams—I'll dig them out, because you might find them useful. And I have some excellent case studies.'
'I can't study at your house.'
'Of course you can.' He smiled at her. 'I know there's not as much room at my place as there is here, but you can work in my living room. There's a phone point there if you need Internet access. If you want to work in complete silence, just shut the door and I'll cook dinner very quietly. Or if you like to study to music, you'll find something on my shelves. I'm not going to distract you—though I am going to limit you to two hours.'
'Two hours?' She always studied for four.
'And you have to have a five-minute break every half an hour to stretch your muscles. You'll focus better that way.'
It sounded as if he had it all planned out. And she'd been going to tell him it was over. She sighed, and flopped back against the pillows. 'I feel a complete bitch.'
'Why? I know studying's important to you. I told you I'd support you—and I will.'
'I was going to tell you it was over tonight.'
'Uh-huh.' He stroked her hip.
She knew exactly what he wasn't saying: she was the one who'd suggested going to her bedroom. 'I'm not good at relationships.'
'You're doing just fine.' He smiled at her. 'It's early days. We still have a lot to learn about each other. But let's take it as it comes. Have fun.'
'Yes.' He was right. 'For once in my life, I'm not going to plan. I'm just going to let this happen.'
'Good.' He fed her a strawberry. 'So it's a date?'
'Sure.' She smiled back at him. 'It's a date.'
For the next three months, Vicky was happier than she could ever remember. She loved her job, and for the first time her family seemed a lot more settled. Seb and Alyssa were besotted with Chloë, who was just starting to rock on her hands and knees. Sophie and Charlie had just announced that they were expecting their first baby. When she took an impulsive trip to Weston, for once she didn't feel Mara's usual chilly disappointment with her—it was almost as if her mother accepted the choices she'd made. And, best of all, she had Jake.
All was very right with Vicky's world.
Jake had introduced her to new things. To sitting on a beach and watching the stars on a summer evening. To eating popcorn at the cinema—to her delight, he enjoyed old films as much as she did and had found some tiny arthouse cinemas where they showed classics rather than the latest releases. To walking barefoot on the grass at Kew.