He kissed her again and again, his hands roaming over her body, first through the chemise, and then daring their way underneath the hem. She was everything he’d dreamed, responsive and warm. Then he felt her ankle hooking around his leg, drawing him closer, and it was like the entire world had burst into sunshine. This was no longer him seducing her. She wanted him too. She wanted to pull him closer, to feel him against her, and Edward’s heart sang with equal parts joy and satisfaction.

He pulled back, sitting up far enough so that he could tug his shirt over his head.

“You look different,” she said, watching him with passion-glazed eyes.

His brows rose.

“The last time I saw you”—she reached up, touched his chest with the tips of her fingers—“was the day you left hospital.”

He supposed it was true. She had always turned her back when he was changing his clothes. And he had always watched her, wondering what she was thinking, if she wanted to turn around and take a peek.

“Better, I hope,” he murmured.

She gave a little eye roll at that, which he supposed he deserved. He had not yet put on all of the weight he had lost, but he was certainly more fit, and when he ran his hands over his arms, he could feel his muscles re-forming, slowly clawing their way back to strength.

But he was strong enough for this. He was definitely strong enough for this.

“I didn’t think men were supposed to be so beautiful,” Cecilia said.

He planted his hands on either side of her shoulders, bracing himself so he could loom over her as he warned, “If you make me blush I shall have to exert my husbandly authority over you.”

“Your husbandly authority? What does that entail?”

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “But I’m fairly certain you promised to obey.”

If he hadn’t been so focused on her face, he might not have seen the little twitch in her jaw. Or the awkward swallow that made a trail down her throat. He almost teased her about it. There was not a woman of his acquaintance—at least not one he liked and respected—who actually meant it when she promised to obey her husband.

He wondered if she’d crossed her fingers when she’d said the words on the ship. Or maybe she’d found some way out of saying them altogether, the little vixen. And now she was too embarrassed to admit it.

“I never expected you to obey me,” he murmured, smiling as he went in for another kiss. “Merely to agree with me in all things.”

She shoved him in the shoulder, but all he could do was laugh. Even when he rolled onto his side and pulled her close, he could not stop the silent mirth that shook through his body and into hers.

Had he ever laughed in bed with a woman? Who knew it would be so delightful.

“You do make me happy,” he said, and then he finally took her advice and pulled the chemise from her body, her arms rising up as he slid it over her head.

His breath caught. She was nude now, and although the sheets covered her lower body, her breasts were bare to him. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, but there was more to it than that. It wasn’t just that the sight of her made him dizzy with desire. Or that he was quite certain he had never been so hard with need as he was at that moment.

It was more. It was deeper.

It was divine.

He touched one of her breasts, grazing the pretty pink nipple with his forefinger. She gasped, and he could not help but let out a growl of masculine pride. He loved that he could make her want him, want this. He loved knowing that she was almost certainly growing wet between her legs, that her body was coming alive, and he was doing it.

“So pretty,” he murmured, adjusting their bodies so that she was once again on her back, and he was straddling her. But with her chemise gone, the position took on a far more erotic air. Her breasts flattened a bit with gravity, but the nipples, pink as roses, jutted proudly upward, practically begging for his touch.

“I could look at you all day,” he said.

Her breath quickened.

“Or maybe not,” he said, leaning down to give her right nipple one little lick. “I don’t think I could look and not touch.”

“Edward,” she gasped.

“Or kiss.” He moved to the other breast, drawing the tip into his mouth.

She arched beneath him, a soft shriek escaping her lips as he continued his sweet torture.

“I can nibble, too,” he murmured, going back to the other side, this time using his teeth.

“Oh my God,” she moaned. “What are you doing? I feel it . . .”

He chuckled. “I hope you feel it.”

“No, I feel it . . .”

He waited for a few seconds, and then, his words laced with wicked desire, he said, “You feel it somewhere else?”

She nodded.

Someday, after they’d made love a hundred times, he’d make her say where she felt it. He’d make her say the words that would make his already hard cock turn into something built with steel. But for now, he would be the naughty one. He would use every weapon in his arsenal to make sure that when he finally entered her she was desperate with need.

She would know what it meant to be adored. She would know what it meant to be worshipped. Because he had already realized that his greatest pleasure lay with her finding hers.

He squeezed her breast, his hand molding it into a tiny mountain as he bent down to place his lips by her ear. “I wonder where you feel it,” he said, grazing her with his teeth. He rolled over onto his side, propping himself up on one elbow as his hand slid from her breast to her hip. “Could it be here?”

Her breath grew louder.

“Or maybe”—he slid across her belly, tickling her navel with his finger—“here?”

Still, she quivered beneath his touch.

“I don’t think that’s the spot,” he said, idly drawing circles on her skin. “I think you were speaking of somewhere a little lower.”

She made a sound. It might have been his name.

He flattened his palm against her abdomen, and with purposeful slowness inched his way down until his fingers met the soft thatch of hair that guarded her womanhood. He felt her grow very still, as if she wasn’t sure what to do, and he could only smile as he listened to the frenzied rasps of air of passing over her lips.

Tenderly he parted her, his fingers flicking over her nub until some of the rigidity left her body, and she fell more fully open to him. “Do you like that?” he whispered, even though he knew she did. But when she nodded he still felt like king of the world. The mere act of pleasuring her seemed to be enough to make his heart swell with pride.

He continued to tease her, drawing her closer and closer to her peak, even though his own body was crying out for satisfaction. He had not intended to see to her completion first, but once he touched her, felt her body singing beneath his fingers, he knew what he had to do. He wanted her to fall apart, to utterly shatter and think there was no greater pleasure.

And then he wanted to show her that there was.

“What are you doing?” she whispered, but he thought the question might be rhetorical. Her eyes were closed, and her head was thrown back, and as her body arched, thrusting those perfect breasts to the sky, he thought he’d never seen anything so lovely and erotic.

“I’m making love to you,” he said.

Her eyes opened. “But—”

He brought a finger to her lips. “Don’t interrupt me.” She was a clever girl; she obviously knew what happened between a man and a woman, and she knew that something much larger than his fingers was meant to find its way inside of her. But clearly no one had told her about all the delicious things that could happen along the way.

“Have you heard of la petite mort?” he asked her.

Her eyes clouded with confusion as she shook her head. “The little death?”

“It’s what the French call it. A metaphor, I assure you. I have always thought it more an affirmation of life.” He leaned down and drew her nipple into his mouth. “Or perhaps a reason for living.”

And then, with all the wicked promise he felt in his soul, he looked up at her through his lashes and murmured, “Shall I show you?”

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