“So lovely,” he murmured, lifting his hand and letting his eyes caress her. It had never occurred to him that there could be such pleasure from the simple act of gazing at a woman. Lovemaking had always been about touch and taste; for the first time sight was equally seductive.

She was so perfect, so utterly beautiful to him, and he felt a rather strange and primitive sense of satisfaction that most men were blind to her beauty. It was as if a certain side of her were visible only to him. He loved that her charms were hidden to the rest of the world.

It made her seem more his.

Suddenly eager to be touched as he was touching, he lifted one of her hands, still wrapped in a long satin glove, and brought it to his chest. He could feel the heat of her skin even through the fabric, but it wasn’t enough. “I want to feel you,” he whispered, then removed the two rings that rested on her fourth finger. He laid them in the hollow between her breasts, a space made shallow by her supine position.

Kate gasped and shivered at the touch of the cold metal against her skin, then watched with breathless fascination as Anthony went to work on her glove, tugging gently at each finger until it was loose, then sliding the length of it down her arm and over her hand. The rush of satin was like an endless kiss, raising goose bumps over her entire body.

Then, with a tenderness that nearly brought tears to her eyes, he replaced the rings on her finger, one by one, stopping only to kiss the sensitive palm of her hand in between.

“Give me your other hand,” he gently ordered.

She did, and he repeated the same exquisite torture, tugging and sliding the satin along her skin. But this time, when he was through, he brought her pinkie finger to his mouth, then drew it between his lips and sucked, swirling his tongue around the tip.

Kate felt an answering tug of desire pulling through her arm, shivering through her chest, snaking through her until it pooled, hot and mysterious, between her legs. He was awakening something within her, something dark and maybe just a little bit dangerous, something that had lain dormant for years, just waiting for a single kiss from this man.

Her entire life had been preparation for this very moment, and she didn’t even know what to expect next.

His tongue slid down the inner length of her finger, then traced the lines on her palm. “Such lovely hands,” he murmured, nibbling on the fleshy part of her thumb as his fingers entwined with hers. “Strong, and yet so graceful and delicate.”

“You’re talking nonsense,” Kate said self-consciously. “My hands—”

But he silenced her with a finger to her lips. “Shhh,” he admonished. “Haven’t you learned that you should never ever contradict your husband when he is admiring your form?”

Kate shivered with delight.

“For example,” he continued, the very devil in his voice, “if I want to spend an hour examining the inside of your wrist”—with lightning-quick movements, his teeth grazed the delicate thin skin on the inside of her wrist—“it is certainly my prerogative, don’t you think?”

Kate had no response, and he chuckled, the sound low and warm in her ears.

“And don’t think I won’t,” he warned, using the pad of his finger to trace the blue veins that pulsed under her skin. “I may decide to spend two hours examining your wrist.”

Kate watched with fascination as his fingers, touching her so softly that she tingled from the contact, made their way to the inside of her elbow, then stopped to twirl circles on her skin.

“I can’t imagine,” he said softly, “that I could spend two hours examining your wrist and not find it lovely.” His hand made the jump to her torso, and he used his palm to lightly graze the tip of her puckered breast. “I should be most aggrieved were you to disagree.”

He leaned down and captured her lips in a brief, yet searing kiss. Lifting his head just an inch, he murmured, “It is a wife’s place to agree with her husband in all things, hmmm?”

His words were so absurd that Kate finally managed to find her voice. “If,” she said with an amused smile, “his opinions are agreeable, my lord.”

One of his brows arched imperiously. “Are you arguing with me, my lady? And on my wedding night, no less.”

“It’s my wedding night, too,” she pointed out.

He made a clucking noise and shook his head. “I may have to punish you,” he said. “But how? By touching?” His hand skimmed over one breast, then the next. “Or not touching?”

He lifted his hands from her skin, but he leaned down, and through pursed lips, blew a soft stream of air over her nipple.

“Touching,” Kate gasped, arching off the bed. “Definitely touching.”

“You think?” He smiled, slowly like a cat. “I never thought I’d say this, but not touching has its appeal.”

Kate stared up at him. He loomed over her on his hands and knees like some primitive hunter coming in for the final kill. He looked feral, triumphant, and powerfully possessive. His thick chestnut hair fell over his forehead, giving him an oddly boyish air, but his eyes burned and gleamed with a very adult desire.

He wanted her. It was thrilling. He might be a man, and thus able to find his satisfaction with any woman, but right now, in this moment, he wanted her. Kate was sure of it.

And it made her feel like the most beautiful woman alive.

Emboldened by the knowledge of his desire, she reached up and cupped one hand around the back of his head, drawing him down until his lips were just a whisper away from hers. “Kiss me,” she ordered, surprised by the imperiousness of her voice. “Kiss me now.”

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