Her regained composure threatened to dissolve when she realised that she couldn’t find her thong, and she cursed the flush of desire that sprang up and painted her cheeks at the memory of how Odir had used it so effectively to bind her in a position to his liking, from where he could gain the deepest access with his tongue.
The throb at her core burst to life once more, and only now could she know that the only thing that would assuage that need was him. Her husband. Buried deeply within her until she felt nothing else—nothing but him all around her and inside her.
His voice cut through the room and through her desire.
She dropped the towel and stepped into the dress, pulling it over her chest and sensitised nipples, the silk fabric unusually warm from the steam of the shower.
Eloise knew that Odir wouldn’t stop until he had the truth of that night. But how could she tell him? How could she trust him not to go through with what was Jarhan’s greatest fear? Had Odir not already proved just how far he would go for the security of his country? Would he choose that over his brother?
She stepped into the living room, gazing around her at the sight of it, finally lit up for the first time that night. ‘Luxury’ was not enough to describe the surroundings she found herself in.
She cast a glance at the mountains of food that had been delivered in her absence and laughed. She couldn’t help herself.
‘What is so funny?’ Odir asked, looking up from the stack of papers he held in one hand, the pen that was poised to strike against some unsuspecting words in the other.
‘It’s lobster,’ she replied.
‘And I’m allergic to seafood. You would kill me before I’ve even had a chance to conceive those heirs you so desperately want.’
‘If I’d wanted you dead, Eloise, it could have been arranged,’ he said under his breath, sounding rather like a stroppy child instead of a soon-to-be king.
‘I’m sure of it,’ she replied in an equally droll tone. ‘You used to threaten anyone in the palace with such a fate were they even to look as if they would refuse your command.’
‘I didn’t ask for the lobster. I just told them to bring up some food. It’s not as if I don’t have a million other things to be worrying about.’
‘Other than me?’
‘Yes, Eloise. I have a funeral to plan, a country to save, and a press briefing that is written so badly it makes my teeth hurt. I’m afraid your dietary requirements are a little low down on my list of priorities.’
‘Makes your teeth hurt?’
‘You were the first person I told about my father’s death. In a little under six hours I am supposed to address the world’s press. And this,’ he said, waving the papers in the air, ‘could have been written better by my five-year-old cousin.’
Rather than the anger that had dominated his tone in the last few hours, Eloise was surprised to find a note of confused helplessness in his voice.
‘Where is Anders? Doesn’t he usually handle this kind of thing for you?’
‘Anders’s wife rather inconveniently decided that today, of all days, would be the perfect time to give birth to their child. And whilst I may be many things, I could not in all conscience demand that he give up his station in the maternity wing.’
‘Well, I doubt she did that on purpose.’
‘You’d be surprised.... She doesn’t like me much.’
‘I can’t imagine why,’ she replied, with a great deal of scepticism.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well, given that Anders accompanied you on every single diplomatic visit you deemed fit to make in the two months I was at the palace, it’s a wonder she was able to get pregnant in the first place.’
All Odir could offer in response was a rather undignified grunt.
‘Did you want me to look at it?’ she asked, offering an olive branch.
No matter what had passed between them, what still might pass between them, he was her husband. The pain and the hurt that they’d caused each other didn’t take away from the fact that once they had been close, had shared confidences. And she knew that this must be hard for him.