Beneath him, she undulated like a pale ribbon, and he felt her passion unfold and speak to him. Slick muscles clamped him in a velvet fist. She tensed, her fingers digging into his chest as she spread wider, bore harder, and the sight of it pushed him over the edge of control.

He drove into her, pushing her across the carpet. He apologized and she denied it, loving the rawness of them, the energy singing through her. He slammed into her and her breath stalled and rushed. She bowed, locking her legs around his hips as the pulse of ecstasy tore through her.

He threw his head back, a low growl tumbling from his throat, the beast locked inside suddenly set free.

The sound hovered in the air.

He spilled himself into her and Laura felt the throbbing heat of it.

She gripped his hips, grinding to him, pulling him deeper, as if it would never be enough.

He shuddered like a great mountain, his expression strained, and she touched his face, his chest. Then she pulled him down onto her.

The fire hissed and sputtered gently.

Richard struggled to catch his breath. Her hands rubbed over his scarred back, and he cherished the simple motion. He could never get enough of her touch. Never. He brushed his mouth over hers, the back of his throat burning.

And Richard knew that all the pain he'd held, the agony of loneliness that had been his only company, was gone.

In her he'd found the freedom.

And the second beat of his heart.

* * *

For several moments they lay perfectly still. Then Richard leaned up on his arms and gazed down at her.

Laura smiled, tracing her finger over his mouth, his chin. "Well," she breathed softly, "it's safe to say you haven't lost your touch."

He grinned, a flash of straight white teeth. Her smile widened and she pulled him down for a slow wet kiss.

"Cold?"

"Na-ah," she said, running her hand over his broad shoulder.

"Think the power is out?"

"Who cares?"

He chuckled to himself. "Now I know how to make you lazy."

She opened one eye and regarded him. "You go a mile a minute, it's a wonder you don't drop dead every night."

"I don't like wasting time."

"Laura…" He hesitated. "I can't tell you what it means to me that you accept—"

She pressed two fingers to his lips. "Don't. I didn't have to accept anything, Richard. I just had to have my curiosity satisfied. It is now and that's done."

His features sharpened.

"You had to do more accepting than me," she said, lowering her hand. "You had to trust me."

Not to be like Andrea, she was saying yet didn't. Laura was right, of course. More than the images Andrea had planted in his mind so long ago had left him tonight. Left when she welcomed him.

Smiling, he rolled to his back, taking her with him. "I want to make love to you in every room in the house."

"Well, you did say it would take all night. And it is a very large house."

He chuckled softly and then suddenly he was standing, lifting her into his arms, and when she thought he would move to her bed, he strode to the door. Then down the hall and up the short steps to his suite.

He kicked open the door. "If he has to start somewhere…" He walked to the bathroom. It was huge and rich with deep maroon walls, yet the sound of bubbling water hit her first, then the heat of it as he stepped into the Jacuzzi tub.

He lowered them into the water.

"Oh, my lord."

"It's for my hip and leg. It helps keep them from being stiff."

"There are other things that are still stiff," she said, and under the water she closed her hand around his arousal. He groaned and fell back against the wall of the giant tub. Laura smiled mischievously and slid under the water.

Richard blinked, then seconds later growled loudly, a death grip on the rim of the tub as she took him deep into her mouth. She stroked and manipulated him, then popped up, pushing her hair off her face and smiling.

"You're a witch, a devious, seductive witch."

He grasped her waist and easily lifted her to the edge of the tub, spread her thighs and devoured her.

Her laugh of surprise faded rapidly under the pulse of desire rocketing through her. He pushed two fingers inside, sending hard jolts of pleasure ripping up her body. She gripped his head, feeling raw and savage, and when he flipped her over onto her stomach and positioned behind her, she cried out, "Oh, hurry, please."

And he entered her in one hard push.

She'd never felt anything so wonderful. Hot throbbing desire buffeted her, the pressure tight and hard and building rapidly with each stroke. He gripped her hips and took her higher and higher and he was climbing with her, the intense hardness of him spearing her, and she loved it. Loved his power, the untamed way he made love to her. Then he dipped his hand between her thighs, and she came unglued.

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