Yawning, he closed the door securely behind him, turning on the security alarm. Tossing his briefcase on a table, he hung up his long black coat. Wondering if Scarlett had already gone to bed, he walked into the great room.

And he stopped.


An enormous Christmas tree, twenty feet tall, now stood in the great room by the blazing fireplace, lit up with thousands of brilliant lights like stars beneath the wood beams of the high ceiling.

Beneath the tree, he saw something even more dazzling.

“Welcome home,” his wife murmured, smiling as she held out a martini on a silver tray.

She was wearing a pretty, ruffled pinafore apron tied around her waist. And beneath that...

Vin suddenly couldn’t breathe.

She wasn’t wearing anything under the apron.

Nothing at all.

Eyes wide, he stared at her as all the blood rushed south from his head. He couldn’t think. He gaped at her.


Scarlett tilted her head, looking up at him mischievously beneath her dark eyelashes. “Don’t you want the martini? It’s eggnog-flavored.”

He stared at her, frozen, drinking in the vision of Scarlett’s long red hair tumbling down her shoulders, to the tops of her full breasts, just visible above the ruffled top of the apron. He could see the pale curve of her naked hips around the edge of the fabric.

“No? Pity.” Turning, she set the silver tray down on a nearby table. He almost fell to his knees as he got the first view of her naked backside, her lush flesh swaying, each mound perfectly shaped for his palms to cup roughly in his hands. He licked his lips.

“Where’s—where’s Nico?” he said hoarsely.

“Sleeping upstairs.”

“And Mrs. Stone?”

“It’s Christmas Eve, darling. I told her to take some time off. Gave her a first-class ticket back to see her family in Atlanta.”

Vin stood in the great room, surrounded by shadows and light, dumbfounded by the vision of his wife, half-naked below the enormous, brilliantly lit Christmas tree, like the gift he’d waited for all his life.

A wicked smile traced her lips as she started to walk toward him, slowly, deliberately, her hips swaying. She stopped directly in front of him, without touching him. He could smell the faint cherry blossom of her hair, the soft floral of her perfume.

His heart was pounding. He was afraid if he touched her, he would explode.

He was afraid he would explode if he didn’t touch her.

“I made dinner,” she murmured. “Pasta. I’m keeping it warm for you.” She looked at him demurely, beneath the sweep of her black eyelashes, and tilted her hip, putting a hand on her bare, creamy skin thrusting out from the edge of her apron.

Vin didn’t speak. Looking down at her, he deliberately started pulling off his tie.

Scarlett’s expression, which had been flirtatious and saucy, turned wide like a deer’s. She took a nervous step back.

But Vin had no intention of letting her flee. It was too late for that.

Sweeping her into his arms, he pushed her roughly against the wall, gripping her wrists and holding them firmly against the cool stone. “What else have you been keeping warm?”

“Vin,” she breathed, searching his gaze. “There’s something I’ve wanted to tell you...”

But more talking was the last thing he wanted. Cutting her off, he lowered his head, plundering her mouth in a ruthless kiss. He felt her soft, plump lips part beneath his own. Releasing her wrists, he tangled his hands in her hair, tilting her head backward to deepen the kiss.

She gave a sound like a sigh as her arms wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him closer. He stroked the sides of her body, her bare skin that wasn’t covered by the prim apron. He shuddered as his fingertips and palms touched the warm, silky flesh of her hips, her tiny waist beneath the apron tie, the side curve of her voluptuous breasts. She stood on her tiptoes, straining to match the hunger in the kiss. He cupped his hands over the fleshy globes of her naked backside, feeling her sensuality, her heat—

With a low growl, he lifted her up, pushing her back against the wall, wrapping her bare legs around his hips. His rock-hard erection strained between them, with only his trousers and her thin apron separating them.

Bracing her against the wall, he held her sweet backside with one spread hand—nearly gasping with the pleasure of holding her there—and yanked open the tie of the apron. Pulling the fabric off her, he tossed it to the flagstones.

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