Authors: Kristina Cook
Jane sighed contentedly and snuggled against the warm body pressed against her back, her eyes fluttering open in the dim light of dawn. She felt Hayden stir against her. His arm slid from her shoulder, his fingers tracing the curve of her breast and the slope of her hip before moving lower to cup her bottom.
“Good morning, Lady Westfield,” he whispered huskily in her ear.
“Mmmm.” Jane smiled a sleepy smile. “And what a lovely night.”
“It was, wasn’t it?” His breath was warm against her neck
. “Not one I’ll soon forget. Wouldn’t the
be shocked to know what a wicked, wanton woman lurks beneath my countess’ perfectly proper façade?”
Tipping her chin down, Jane nipped playfully at his fingers with her teeth.
“I always thought you sharp-tongued,” he teased, reaching around to clasp her. With one sharp tug, he pulled her on top of him, her long body stretched out over his. “But sharp-toothed, too?”
She rested her chin on his chest, gazing up at him with eyes full of love
She’d never tire of simply looking at him, of watching the way his eyes shifted from green to gray, depending upon the light or his mood
. She’d never expected such happiness in her life. Each day became more precious than the one before it, replacing life under a veil of fear with a lifetime of happy memories. That she’d come so close to letting him slip through her fingers–to letting love slip away–still made her heart race and her palms dampen, even now.
She would remain eternally grateful to fate for setting things right, for this was the life she was meant to lead
. She smiled at her husband, basking in the lustful heat of his gaze, admiring the way the gray at his temples made him appear more noble, more distinguished than before.
She moaned softly, suddenly aware of his arousal, pressing urgently against her belly
. He grinned down at her wickedly, and she found herself sliding up his smooth body, fitting herself over him, and giving in once more to the passionate tides of seemingly unquenchable desire that had all but overtaken her these past hours.
As she began to move atop him, joining their bodies at their very core, she was filled once more with the delicious knowledge that she had indeed found her match, the one man above all else who could make her overcome her fears; who would love her despite them
Gasping for breath, Hayden watched his sated wife roll off him and lay back upon the pillow. “Mmmm,” he murmured, reaching for her hand and bringing it to his lips as the hammering of his heart finally began to subside. “I’ll never tire of this.”
He propped himself up on one elbow and gazed at her, lying naked beside him, a smile on her lips and her skin flushed pink from their lovemaking
. Tenderly, he brushed back the chestnut strands that clung to her damp forehead.
“Nor will I,” she replied
. “I’m always amazed by the...well, variety.” The color in her cheeks deepened deliciously, and Hayden felt a miraculous stiffening in his groin yet again. Dear Lord, he felt like a boy of eighteen, not a man well past his prime. What was she doing to him? Enchanting him, no doubt. As always.
A hazy light filtered in through the heavy drapes, casting an ethereal silver glow across their bedchamber
. He smiled at the familiar sight of her effects, scattered across the room. A delicately carved dressing table sat beneath one window, holding a silver brush and mirror set engraved with her initials alongside other female fripperies of which he had no idea of their exact purpose. Her lilac gown still lay in heap on the velvet chaise longue where he’d deposited it last night after pulling it over her head in his haste to undress her. Even the air was perpetually filled with her scent–exotic, spicy. Perhaps someday he would examine her dressing table and learn the exact source of such a heady, intoxicating scent. Or perhaps he’d allow it to remain a mystery forever.
A tray of barely touched food sat on a table in the room’s corner, for the most part ignored since the maid had deposited it there
. Instead, their appetites had taken on a far different nature since they’d come upstairs immediately following the wedding breakfast yesterday. How many hours had they remained secreted away? And how many times had they made love in that time? He’d long since lost count.
He looked over at Jane who pushed herself to a sitting position, her long legs stretched out before her and crossed at the ankles. He couldn’t help but rake his gaze up the length of her limbs, smiling appreciatively at the glorious sight.
“It was beautiful, wasn’t it?” she asked, her sapphire eyes aglow
. “The wedding, I mean.”
“It was, indeed
. And you, my sweet, looked lovely.” He traced a finger down the curve of her shoulder and across one rose-tipped breast, delighting in the way the skin puckered to his touch.
“I’m always happiest with everyone I love here, under this very roof.”
“I know you are. We should arrange for it more often. I’m thoroughly enjoying the fruits of your good humour.”
“Madeline was the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen
. I know she’ll be happy. It’s obvious they’re very much in love, and Mr. Leighton is a fine man.”
“I completely agree
. He’ll make an excellent husband. I’d never have let him have her if I hadn’t been convinced of it.”
“But the children will miss her so
. Anna has spent the past few days sulking in her room, poor girl. Alexander will never admit to it, but I’m certain I saw tears in his eyes when Madeline walked down the aisle. And the twins were nearly hysterical when the wedding carriage pulled away.” She laid her hand on his forearm, the heavy sapphire on her finger reflecting the points of lights in the candelabra by the bed. The candles had burned low; nothing but a stub of wax remained on each silver arm, the flames flickering in their final throes. “I know her new home is only as far as the village, but it just won’t be the same without her here. I’ll miss her terribly.”
“And so it begins.” He sighed heavily
. “One by one, all the sparrows will fly the nest. Then we’ll be left with no one to amuse ourselves with but each other.”
Her eyes began to dance mischievously
. “It will be perhaps a bit longer than you think.”
He raised one brow
. “Is that so?”
“Indeed.” She smiled a smug smile of self-satisfaction, one he recognized instantly for what it was
. “I’d say we can count on another eighteen years or so of chaos.”
“Have you something to tell me, Lady Westfield?”
“Nothing but the news that we shall be blessed once again in seven months’ time. I wanted to be sure before I told you.”
“Each time you share such news you make me the happiest man alive all over again
. Have you any idea how much I adore you, Lady Westfield?”
“You’ve a lifetime to show me, haven’t you, my love?” Her lips brushed his seductively, her breath warming his cheek
. I’d give you the moon if I could.”
She shook her head, her mouth curving into a sweet smile
. “I’ve no need for the moon. Only your heart, Hayden.” She laid her palm flat on his chest, covering the place where his heart beat furiously against his ribs.
He covered her hand with his own
. “It’s yours, Jane. Forever.”
“And you said you were heartless,” she teased
. “Just goes to show, I was correct all along and
, my lord, were mistaken.”
“In case you have not noticed, you were incorrect on several counts yourself
. You’ve borne four children and yet you remain as sane as the day I met you.”
. It isn’t at all polite to point out a lady’s mistakes now, is it?”
He roughly pulled her into his lap and pressed his lips into her lavender-scented hair
. “Waspish woman.”
“Arrogant brute,” came her muffled reply
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Nor would I, Hayden. Not even for the moon.”
Copyright © 2005, 2014
Kristina Cook Hort
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