In line with that resolve, she walked silently up behind him, rose up on her toes, and covered his eyes with her hands. Obviously, he'd heard her approach because he didn't flinch or move a single muscle. "You're late," he said with a smile in his voice because she was still covering his eyes.

"Quick,'' Alexandra said, "tell me what color are the flowers on the hill you've been looking at."

"Yellow," he said promptly.

"White," she sighed, taking her hands away.

"If I keep saying yellow," he dryly replied, turning to face her, "sooner or later I'm bound to be right."

Alexandra shook her head in mock despair and headed toward the blanket he'd spread out on the bank, "You are the most coldly unsentimental man alive," she told him over her shoulder.

"Is that right?" he asked, catching her shoulders and drawing her back against the lean, hard strength of his legs and chest His breath stirred the hair at her temple. "Do you really find me cold, Alexandra?"

Alexandra swallowed, vibrantly aware of the compelling sexual magnetism emanating from Jordan's powerful body. "Not cold, precisely," she said shakily, shamefully longing to turn in his arms and ask him why he hadn't wanted her with him last night. Forcibly trying to ignore her wanton longing for him, she knelt upon the blanket and quickly began removing food from the baskets.

"Are you so hungry?" he teased, sitting down beside her.

"I'm starved," she lied, sensing that he was going to kiss her at any moment and trying to get control of her senses before he did. It was one thing to banter with him and try to establish some sort of rapport; that was permissible. But it was not permissible to let him see that she was ready to fall into his arms whenever he decided to kiss her—particularly because he had ignored her completely last night. As if her life depended upon arranging their plates and crystal symmetrically, she remained kneeling, keeping her profile to him.

As she leaned forward to straighten their snowy linen napkins, Jordan's hand lifted, brushing away a lock of hair that had blown across her cheek. "You have gorgeous hair," he murmured in a velvety voice that sent an uncontrollable thrill shooting through her. "It sparkles in the sunlight like dark honey, and your skin is soft as a peach."

Alexandra sought safety in light humor. "Obviously, I am not the only one who's hungry."

He chuckled at her evasion, but his hand began trailing sensuously down her cheek and along her bare arm. "Didn't any of my cottagers offer you refreshment?"

"Mrs. Scottsworth did, but her sister Mrs. Tilberry was in the part of the house they use for a kitchen, so I didn't accept." Alexandra wrinkled her pert nose, thinking of the sharp-tongued Mrs. Tilberry, who mercilessly bullied her daughter-in-law, even in Alexandra's presence.

Jordan's hand tightened on Alexandra's arm, inexorably pulling her hand away from the napkin she was determinedly rearranging, until she had no choice except to turn her face up to his sultry gaze.

"What was Mrs. Tilberry doing in Mrs. Scottsworth's kitchen?" he murmured as his sensual mouth descended toward hers.

"Chanting incantations and waving a stick over a pot," Alexandra joked shakily.

"Chanting incant—" Jordan burst out laughing, caught her shoulders, and in one horrifyingly swift move, twisted her onto her back and leaned over her, his arm beneath her. "If there's a witch around here casting spells, it's you," he chuckled huskily.

Mesmerized by his silver gaze, Alexandra simultaneously wanted the kiss he was going to give her, and resented the easy conquest he made of her whenever he wished. When he bent his head, she turned her face slightly so that his lips could only graze her cheek. Undaunted by that, Jordan lazily trailed his lips across her cheek to her sensitive earlobe. Abruptly he plunged his tongue into her ear, and Alexandra's whole body jerked into rigid, automatic response. "I—I'm hungry," she gasped desperately.

"So am I," he whispered meaningfully in her ear, and her heart began to hammer like a maddened thing. Lifting his head, he gazed down into her languorous blue eyes. "Put your arms around me."

"How about after dinner—when I'm stronger?" Alexandra stalled.

She watched in absorbed fascination as his firm male lips formed a single word of implacable command: "Now."

Drawing a shattered breath, Alexandra reached up and curved her hands over his broad shoulders. Without any conscious order from her mind, her hands tightened, drawing him down toward her, then she stopped, panicked by the desire suddenly shooting through her.

"Now," Jordan repeated in a husky whisper, his lips a fraction of an inch from hers.

"W-wouldn't you like a—a glass of wine, first?"


With a silent moan of despair and surrender, Alexandra curved her hand around his nape and eagerly brought his lips against her own. At first the kiss was a gentle, tentative greeting between two lovers, but the longer it continued the more pleasurable it became for both of them, and the tighter they clung to each other, seeking more. Jordan's tongue sensuously parted her lips, slipped between them for one sweet, arousing taste, and withdrew… then hungrily, urgently, plunged again, and desire exploded between them.

His hands opened her gown, tugging down her chemise, baring her breasts to his hot eyes. His hand cupped her breast, pushing it upward, his thumb circling her nipple, while he watched the pink tip harden into a tight bud. And then with deliberate, aching slowness, he bent his head and put his mouth where his thumb had been. His mouth closed around her aroused nipple, his lips and tongue toying with it until Alexandra gasped with pleasure, then he lavished the same reverent attention on her other breast.

Passion was raging through Alexandra's entire nerve stream by the time he finally removed their clothes and stretched out beside her, leaning up on his forearm. "I can't get enough of you," he whispered achingly, his eyes molten with desire as they gazed into hers while his hand sought and found the triangle between her legs. His eyes still holding hers, he parted her thighs, his fingers toying and teasing her, penetrating her moist warmth, until Alexandra was writhing in helpless need, arching her hips against his hand, but still he would not stop. Hot, convulsive waves were racing through her in a trembling fury, and finally she moaned aloud, her hands running up and down the bunched muscles of his arms, then she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned into him. His skillful fingers became more insistent, and another moan tore from Alexandra's throat. "I know, darling," he told her achingly, "I want you, too."

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