"I never saw my parents argue," she told him. "I never saw them hurt each other in any way. And I never saw passion, either. They always wanted everything to be so perfect, so clean and safe, that I think they were willing to give up true love to make sure they had it. But even if it means I am lacking in common sense, if being without you is what being sensible and making the ‘right’ decisions means, then I’m happy to keep making the wrong ones. Because I’m not willing to ever give up on true love."
"Do you remember when you asked me what I thought true love was?"
"You looked so shell-shocked, even by the question about it," she teased.
"That’s because I suddenly realized I was looking right at it. Right at you." Now she was the shell-shocked one as he told her, "I thought I had so many smart reasons why we needed to stay away from each other, but all of them boiled down to the same thing: I was afraid to trust anyone. But then there you were on the beach after our first almost-kiss, staring me right in the eye, asking me why I was running. You scared me more than anything ever had in my life. I already knew I wanted to fall asleep with you every night and wake up every morning with you in my arms, but I didn’t understand how it could be possible to make a mistake and still find a way to work things out together."
"If you ask me, I think we made it through our tough times even better than we were before."
Bright hope lit his eyes, and oh, how she loved to see it replace the darkness as he made absolutely sure. "Have we?"
"We have." She took his hand and began to draw him back toward the bedroom. "And now I think it’s time for us to celebrate."
Being wild, she realized now, wasn’t just about sex. It was about wanting Rafe to be her partner in adventures of all kinds—especially the biggest one of all: a love that would last forever.
Of course, she thought with a smile as he scooped her up into his arms and kissed her breathless, she was more than happy to take the wild sex, too.
* * *
Rafe could have kissed her all night long, and never wanted to let her go, but there was one more very important thing he needed to give to her, something she had asked for again and again. Relishing the sweet, soft slide of her body against his as he slowly put her down on her feet in the bedroom, he moved his hands to frame her beautiful face.
"What do you say we get a little kinky?"
Her eyes opened wide with surprise, and then such happiness that he knew he’d been a fool to hold out on her for so long.
"You know how badly I want that," she told him, "but only if you want it, too."
Did he ever want it, but first he needed her to understand why he’d held back before. Looking into her eyes gave him the strength to admit, "I was afraid to trust myself with you. I was afraid I wouldn’t know when to stop, not just during sex, but after. I was afraid I’d give too much of my heart to you and end up like one of my clients, with it broken in my hands after you were done with me."
Her eyes were soft with emotion, and so much love it floored him. "And now?"
"Now I understand that when passion burns this hot, it’s okay to be scared of the power you have over me, the way you turn me inside out with a look, a touch, a kiss." Every word she’d said to him that night at the Italian restaurant when she’d spoken of true love was forever etched on his heart. "And now I know that I can talk to you about absolutely anything, and that you’ll still love me. No matter what."
"Always," she promised as she kissed him. "Forever." Her eyes were bright with anticipation when she drew back.
Rafe gave her one last kiss before moving to sit on the soft chair in the corner. "Take your clothes off, sweetheart. Let me see you. All of you."
His breath hitched in his chest as she reached for the belt on her dress. Rafe’s heart was beating so hard, his blood roaring so loudly in his ears, that he barely heard the leather falling to the rug. She moved her long hair over one shoulder so that she could pull down the zipper along her spine. The blue fabric slid off her shoulders and hips to puddle on the floor at her feet, and when her bra and panties quickly followed, he thanked God that she wasn’t torturing him with a slow striptease tonight.
"How do you want me?"
"Just the way you are." Her answering smile was the brightest he’d seen yet.
Rafe rose up from the chair and took the binding silks out of the dresser without taking his eyes off her incredible beauty. By the time he came to stand in front of her, Brooke’s chest was rising and falling rapidly. He lifted one wrist and gently tied one of the silks to it, pressing a kiss to the inside of her palm and then all the way up the inside of her arm. When colorful silk streamed from both wrists, and she was trembling from the path of his kisses across her sensitive skin, he knelt in front of her. Instead of immediately tying the silks to her ankles, he kissed the soft skin across her stomach, her hips, her thighs, moving lower and lower until his mouth was warring with the silks in his hands for the chance to be against her skin.
"Please," she begged. "More."
He was going to spend the rest of his life giving her everything she wanted, starting tonight. Lifting her into his arms, he carried her to the bed and laid her down in the center.
"Arms and legs spread, sweetheart."
He’d never dreamed that a woman could be this innocent—and naughty—all at the same time. His hands shook as he tied first her wrists and then her ankles to the bed, and when he was done and she was completely open to him, he knew it was more than her body she was baring, more even than her heart.