Seduced by His Touch(117)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

But her shivering had nothing to do with the cold or her pregnancy. “You’re right,” she said, tears rising in her eyes. “I-I’m going inside. I’m going to bed. This was a stupid, stupid idea.”

“Then why did you do it?” he asked in a strange, dull voice. “Were you just trying to soften the blow?”

“Blow? What blow? You aren’t making any sense. You haven’t made sense all evening.” She pushed her chair back and got clumsily to her feet. As she did, her control broke, tears raining down her face. “I-I was just t-trying to do s-something s-special, to c-celebrate and you’ve r-ruined it!”

“Ruined what? Celebrate what? God, Grace, are you crying?”

“No!” she wailed. Then she began to sob.

His arms came around her and pulled her close.

She struggled against him briefly before quieting as she continued to cry.

“Shh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he murmured, rubbing his palm over her back. “I’ll leave if that’s what you want. Just don’t be unhappy. Please don’t be sad.”

“Leave?” she sniffed, her head coming up. “Why would I want you to leave?”

He met her gaze, his eyes stark in the candlelight. “Don’t you? Isn’t that what this was about tonight? A memorable last meal before you send me on my way?”

“No, I’m not sending you anywhere. Is that what you thought? Why you’ve been so h-horrible tonight?”

“I’m sorry. I guess I have been moody—”

“Moody! You’ve been abominable, and all for nothing. By God, Jack Byron, for an intelligent man you can be an idiot sometimes.” She stepped back, wiping a palm against her wet face. “I did all of this tonight to tell you I love you! To say that I believe you really love me, that you have loved me. And that I forgive you for everything.”

His lips parted. “You did? You do?”

“Yes. I thought it would be romantic to have dinner here in the garden. The garden you had p-planted just for me! Mr. Potsley told me what you did. He told me how you did all this so I would like it and I knew…I…knew you’d never have done so much if you didn’t really care. If you didn’t really love me! I was going to tell you after d-dinner but—”

“But I spoiled it,” he said, reaching out to draw her back into his arms. “You’re right, sweetheart. I am an idiot. A stupid dolt who jumps to ridiculous conclusions. Can you forgive me? Again?”

She sniffed. “I shouldn’t. Not after tonight! But I will because I love you.”

“Do you?” he murmured, a smile curving his lips. “I was afraid I’d killed off those feelings for good and that you’d never love me again.”

“I’ve never stopped loving you,” she confessed in a whisper. “Not even when I hated you. And for a while, I really did hate you!”

He laughed and hugged her tighter, then his expression grew serious. “And I really do love you. You are my dearest, most darling wife. My lover. My friend,” he said, punctuating each declaration with a soft, sweet kiss.

She trembled and snuggled closer, drawing in his warmth.

“You are cold,” he said, rubbing his hands over her arms. “Why don’t we go inside in front of the fire and have our dessert.”

“Actually, I’d rather postpone dessert and just go upstairs.”

“Oh,” he said, unable to hide the disappointment in his voice. “Of course, if you’re tired, then you should rest.”

“Who said anything about being tired?” she asked, sliding her arms around his waist. “I said I wanted to go upstairs. With you.”

He met her gaze, a smile spreading slowly across his face. “Really?”

“Yes, really. So? What are you waiting for? Or have you lost your touch, my lord?” she added with an impish grin.

“Lost my—I’ll show you all about my touch.”

Claiming her mouth, he kissed her, heat rising to warm her skin from the inside out. By the time he let her come up for air, her pulse was throbbing, her toes curled in blissful delight inside her shoes.

“Now, what is it you were saying about my having lost something?” he drawled.

“Nothing,” she sighed. “Absolutely nothing at all.”

After another quick, hard kiss, he took her hand and pulled her into the house. Ignoring the curious glances of the footmen, they hurried up the stairs.

Without asking, he led her into his bedchamber. A small branch of lighted candles stood on a table near the window, a fire crackling pleasantly in the grate. Locking the door behind them, he crossed the room and drew the curtains closed.

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