"Don't feel guilty, Alex. It wasn't your choice. It was mine."


Facing him, Madison met his gaze. Because I'm falling in love with you, she thought. She'd been tumbling since they'd danced in the moonlight and he wanted to be a true Southerner. But he wasn't ready to hear that and might never be. If he'd considered a relationship an hour ago, the look on his face was as closed as it had ever been. She felt suddenly very alone.

"Because I wanted to make love with you." She tipped the glass to her lips. "It's that simple."

"There is nothing simple about you, Madison." It came out sharper than he'd wanted.

She drained the wine. "Why are you so concerned? You've been with enough women to have had a least one virgin in the pile."

"No. Never." He moved until he felt the heat of her skin through her satin robe. "I haven't been with a woman in three years."

She blinked, then a little smile curved her lips. So, there weren't other women. "For a man, that's about like a recycled virgin, huh?"

He chuckled softly, shaking his head and sighing as he gathered her to him. "Yeah, I guess it is." He pressed a kiss to her temple. "I don't know what to say, baby. I'm honored, but—"

She met his gaze, covering his lips with two fingers. She didn't want him excusing away those precious moments. "I didn't make love with you to trap you or give you a guilt trip, Alexander. You're reading far too much into this. It was a burden as much as a gift." She lowered her hand to his shoulder. "And I wanted you. There can't possibly be any mistake in that."

His look was sly. "I think that's why it was such a shock. You didn't act like a virgin."

"This is the nineties, you know. Nineteen, not eighteen. With movies and literature, it's hard not to be educated." She cocked her head and in a Southern accent thicker than her own said, "Or would you rather I simply swoon, sah?"

His smile grew as she spoke. Madison, he realized, was a woman who did not dwell on the past long and moved on. "I would rather you kiss me."

"Oh-h, much obliged, sah."

And she did, her mouth driving him crazy, her body calling to be fondled, and she let him. In the dark, on the deck, she left him with no doubt that a twenty-five-year-old virgin was better than a woman with loads of experience.

An hour later they fell into the bed in a tumble of arms and legs and a lake of wrinkled sheets. Alex snuggled her into the curve of his body, yet before they settled, she reached for the phone.

"Room service?"

Alex leaned over her, smiling.

"Yes, cookies and milk, please." She met his gaze. "For two."

* * *

Alex looked up from his laptop and sank back into the chair, his chest constricting at the sight of her in the bed. She lay sprawled on her stomach, her hair spilling over her face and bare shoulders, the slender dip of her spine exposed where the sheet wrapped around her hips and buttocks.

He wanted to crawl in beside her, but after last night he understood she'd be a little tender. His brows furrowed, uncertainty sprinting through him. He'd woken twice during the night to simply stare at her, wondering why he hadn't recognized her innocence, then realized she wasn't, her sophistication shielding the fact that she'd never known another man.

She's never known another man.

His heart wrenched in his chest at the thought. Half with guilt, half with utter joy. He didn't deserve her. She'd made it clear what she wanted, and he wasn't ready for that. He wasn't. Her virginity was a complication he hadn't foreseen, and though she absolved him of any responsibility, Alex couldn't shake the lingering guilt. He took a sip of coffee, closing his eyes. He had too many irons in the fire to consider a future, yet the image of her holding that baby kept flying through his mind like a whispering angel. He shook his head and straightened, setting the coffee aside and focusing on his computer.

"Why didn't you wake me?"

His gaze flew to her as she left the bed, careless of her nudity.

He looked his fill before he said, "Cover up, darlin', or you'll stay like that all day."

Smiling, almost daring him, she slipped into a robe, then belted it as she crossed the room to him.

For a moment they stared before she leaned down and brushed her mouth over his. The fire ignited quickly and he pulled her onto his lap, opening her robe and filling his palm with her breast as he kissed her.

Madison sank into the feel of him, loving his hands on her body, loving the innocence she shed last night in his arms. Though she'd nothing to compare it to, she knew no woman could ask for a better introduction. And she wanted another lesson, the center between her thighs growing quickly damp and pulsing.

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