Taming Natasha Page 48

“You can make up for it. Come home with me for a while.”

“All right.” It was the least she could do, Natasha thought. With Vera away until Sunday, she could help him tuck Freddie into bed and fix him a light meal.

When they pulled up in front of the house, they managed the suitcases and the sleeping child between them. “I’ll take her up,” he murmured. “It won’t take long.”

Natasha waited in the kitchen, brewing tea and making sandwiches. It was ridiculous, she thought. She not only was exhausted but starving. By the time Spence came down again, she had Vera’s worktable set.

“She’s sleeping like a rock.” He scanned the table. “You read my mind.”

“With two unconscious passengers you couldn’t stop and eat.”

“What have we got?”

“Old Ukrainian tradition.” She pulled back her chair. “Tuna fish.”

“Wonderful,” Spence decided after the first bite.

It was more than the sandwich. He liked having her there, sitting across from him in the glare of the kitchen light with the house quiet around them. “I guess you’ll open the shop tomorrow.”

“Absolutely. It’ll be a madhouse from now until Christmas. I’ve hired a college student part-time, and he starts tomorrow.” She lifted her cup and grinned at him over the rim. “Guess who it is.”

“Melony Trainor,” he said, naming one of his most attractive students and earning a punch on the shoulder.

“No. She’s too busy flirting with men to work. Terry Maynard.”

“Maynard? Really?”

“Yes. He can use the money to buy a new muffler for his car. And…” She paused dramatically. “He and Annie are an item.”

“No kidding?” He was grinning as he sat back. “Well, he certainly got over having his life shattered quickly.”

Natasha lifted a brow. “It wasn’t shattered, only shaken. They’ve been seeing each other almost every night for three weeks.”

“Sounds serious.”

“I think it is. But Annie’s worried she’s too old for him.”

“How much older is she?”

Natasha leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Oh, very much older. Nearly an entire year.”

“Cradle robber.”

With a laugh she leaned back again. “It’s nice to see them together. I only hope they don’t forget to wait on customers because they’re mooning at each other.” She shrugged, and went back to her tea. “I think I’ll go in early and start on the decorations.”

“You’ll be tired at the end of the day. Why don’t you come here for dinner?”

Curious, she tilted her head. “You cook?”

“No.” He grinned and polished off his sandwich. “But I do great takeout. You can get a whole box of chicken or pizza with the works. I’ve even been known to come up with oriental seafood.”

“I’ll leave the menu to you.” She rose to clear the table, but he took her hand.

“Natasha.” He stood, using his free hand to stroke her hair. “I want to thank you for sharing the last couple of days with me. It meant a lot.”

“To me too.”

“Still, I’ve missed being alone with you.” He bent to brush his lips over hers. “Come upstairs with me. I want very much to make love with you in my bed.”

She didn’t answer. Nor did she hesitate. Slipping an arm around his waist, she went with him.

He left the bedside light on low. She could just see the dark, masculine colors he’d chosen for his room. Midnight blue, forest green. An oil painting in a heavy, ornate frame dominated one wall. She could see the silhouettes of exquisite antiques. The bed was big, a generous private space covered by a thick, soft quilt. A special space, Natasha realized, knowing he had never brought another woman to this bed, to this room.

In the mirror over the bureau she caught their reflections as they stood side by side and saw herself smile when he touched a hand to her cheek.

There was time, time to savor. The fatigue she had felt earlier had vanished. Now she felt only the glow that came from loving and being loved. Words were too difficult, but when she kissed him, her heart spoke for her.

Slowly they undressed each other.

She slipped his sweater over his head. He undid the buttons of her cardigan, then pushed it from her shoulders. Keeping her eyes on his, she unfastened his shirt. He slid up the cotton sweater, letting his fingers trail until she was free of it. She unhooked his trousers. He flipped the three snaps that held her slacks at the waist. Keeping his hands light, he drew the teddy down her body as she tugged away the last barrier between them.

Quietly they moved together, her palms pressing against his back, his skimming up her sides. Heads tilting first this way, then that, they experimented with long, lingering kisses. Enjoyment. Their bodies warming, their mouths seeking, it seemed so easy here.

They drew back in unspoken agreement. Spence pulled down the quilt. They slipped under it together.

Intimacy had no rival, Natasha thought. There was nothing to compare with this. Their bodies rubbed against each other, so that the sheets whispered with each movement. Her sigh answered his murmurs. The flavor and fragrance of his skin was familiar, personal. His touch, gentle, then persuasive, then demanding, was everything she wanted.

She was simply beautiful. Not just her body, not just that exquisite face, but her spirit. When she moved with him, there was a harmony more intense than any he could create with music. She was his music—her laugh, her voice, her gestures. He knew of no way to tell her. Only to show her.

He made love with her as though it were the first and the only time. Never had she felt so elegant, so graceful. Never had she felt so strong or so sure.

When he rose over her, when she rose to meet him, it was perfect.

“I’d like you to stay.”

Natasha turned her face into his throat. “I can’t. Freddie would ask questions in the morning I don’t know how to answer.”

“I have a very simple answer. I’ll tell her the truth. I’m in love with you.”

“That’s not simple.”

“It is the truth.” He shifted so that he could look at her. Her eyes were shadowed in the dim light. “I do love you, Natasha.”


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