“My goodness,” Kate said, peering down at the dog, who was now moping under the table, his snout lying sorrowfully on the carpet, “I’m impressed.”

“It’s all in the tone of voice,” Anthony said archly, snaking a viselike arm around her waist so that she could not get up.

Kate looked at his arm, then looked at his face, her brows arching in question. “Why,” she mused, “do I get the impression you find that tone of voice effective on women as well?”

He shrugged and leaned toward her with a heavy-lidded smile. “It usually is,” he murmured.

“Not this one.” Kate planted her hands on the arms of the chair and tried to wrench herself up.

But he was far too strong. “Especially this one,” he said, his voice dropping to an impossibly low purr. With his free hand, he cupped her chin and turned her face to his. His lips were soft but demanding, and he explored her mouth with a thoroughness that left her breathless.

His mouth moved along the line of her jaw to her neck, pausing only to whisper, “Where is your mother?”

“Out,” Kate gasped.

His teeth tugged at the edge of her bodice. “For how long?”

“I don’t know.” She let out a little squeal as his tongue dipped below the muslin and traced an erotic line on her skin. “Good heavens, Anthony, what are you doing?”

“How long?” he repeated.

“An hour. Maybe two.”

Anthony glanced up to make sure he’d shut the door when he had entered earlier. “Maybe two?” he murmured, smiling against her skin. “Really?”

“M-maybe just one.”

He hooked a finger under the edge of her bodice up near her shoulder, making sure to catch the edge of her chemise as well. “One,” he said, “is still quite splendid.” Then, pausing only to bring his mouth to hers so that she could not utter any protest, he swiftly pulled her dress down, taking the chemise along with it.

He felt her gasp into his mouth, but he just deepened the kiss as he palmed the round fullness of her breast. She was perfect under his fingers, soft and pert, filling his hand as if she’d been made for him.

When he felt the last of her resistance melt away, he moved his kiss to her ear, nibbling softly on her lobe. “Do you like this?” he whispered, squeezing gently with his hand.

She nodded jerkily.

“Mmmm, good,” he murmured, letting his tongue do a slow sweep of her ear. “It would make things very difficult if you did not.”

“H-how?”

He fought the bubble of mirth that was rising in his throat. This absolutely wasn’t the time to laugh, but she was so damned innocent. He’d never made love to a woman like her before; he was finding it surprisingly delightful. “Let’s just say,” he said, “that I like it very much.”

“Oh.” She offered him the most tentative of smiles.

“There’s more, you know,” he whispered, letting his breath caress her ear.

“I’m sure there must be,” she replied, her voice mere breath.

“You are?” he asked teasingly, squeezing her again.

“I’m not so green that I think one can make a baby from what we’ve been doing.”

“I’d be happy to show you the rest,” he murmured.

“Not—Oh!”

He’d squeezed again, this time allowing his fingers to tickle her skin. He loved that she couldn’t think when he touched her breasts. “You were saying?” he prompted, nibbling on her neck.

“I—I was?”

He nodded, the faint stubble of his beard brushing her throat. “I’m sure you were. But then again, perhaps I’d rather not hear. You’d begun with the word ‘not.’ Surely,” he added with a flick of his tongue against the underside of her chin, “not a word that belongs between us at a time like this. But”—his tongue moved down the line of her throat to the hollow above her collarbone—“I digress.”

“You—you do?”

He nodded. “I believe I was trying to determine what pleases you, as all good husbands should do.”

She said nothing, but her breathing quickened.

He smiled against her skin. “What, for example, about this?” He flattened his hand so that he was no longer cupping her, instead just letting his palm graze lightly over her nipple.

“Anthony!” she choked out.

“Good,” he said, moving to her neck, nudging her chin up so that she was more open to him. “I’m glad we’re back to Anthony. ‘My lord’ is so formal, don’t you think? Far too formal for this.”

And then he did what he’d been fantasizing about for weeks. He lowered his head to her breast and took her into his mouth, tasting, suckling, teasing, reveling in each gasp he heard spill forth from her lips, each spasm of desire he felt shivering across her body.

He loved that she reacted this way, thrilled that he did this to her. “So good,” he murmured, his breath hot and moist against her skin. “You taste so damn good.”

“Anthony,” she said, her voice hoarse, “Are you sure—”

He put a finger to her lips without even lifting his face to look at her. “I have no idea what you’re asking, but whatever it is”—he moved his attention to her other breast—“I’m sure.”

She made a soft little moaning sound, the sort that came from the very bottom of one’s throat. Her body arched under his ministrations, and with renewed fervor, he teased her nipple, grazing it gently between her teeth.

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