The guided tour of Galen’s home was an interesting insight into the man Lydia was coming to know and love. The final rooms on the ground floor were the comfortable kitchen with a breakfast bar where Galen clearly ate all his meals and a home office that was an almost exact duplicate of his workspace on campus. All in all, the house was a warm comfortable space, masculine but welcoming.
He smiled when she told him that.
“Glad you like it,” he responded. “The bedrooms are upstairs. Would you like a drink or something before we head up?”
They ended up opening a bottle of wine to take upstairs with them. Lydia was cautious as she climbed the carpeted steps beside him, holding her sandals and evening bag in one hand and her backpack in the other. Would seeing her here, in his home, change his opinion of her? She didn’t want him to decide she would never blend into his life.
He pointed to the first door off the stairway into a room she saw was mostly full of shelves and books with a smaller TV and an old blue sofa. “That’s a spare room. We use it mostly for storage. I don’t know why I ever bought a four bedroom house, but I liked the area and it’s comfortable. The second one is Jason’s and the third is kind of a generic guest room in case one of my sisters or my parents show up. The main bathroom’s at the end of the hall.”
She peeked in each of the rooms as they passed. The only door that was shut was Jason’s room. “So this is the master?” From the way the hall was laid out, it appeared the master suite took up a good third of this story.
He nodded and gestured for her to precede him inside. A soft light glowed from a bedside lamp and a thick oriental area rug covered the gleaming hardwood floor, cushioning her bare feet.
“Very nice.” She purred her approval of the tasteful room with its dark wood and jewel-toned fabrics. There were a couple of small gargoyles in here, a few more photos and on one wall a beautiful painting of a gothic cathedral. Small watercolors of castles lined either side of a large picture window and an archway led to a dressing area and probably a private bath. But what really caught her attention was the bed. It was a king-sized wrought iron masterpiece with an artistic drape of royal blue velvet looped around the canopy rail. She licked her lips. “I should have brought my scarves.”
Galen set the wine and a pair of goblets down on the nightstand. The corner of his mouth quirked into a grin. “I don’t have scarves but I do have some old ties. Oh—and a pair of handcuffs if you’re interested.”
She put her backpack and purse on a chair near the window and dropped her shoes underneath it. “Handcuffs?”
Galen loosened his tie and walked over to the dressing area where a louvered door revealed an enormous—and mostly empty walk-in closet. She watched as he hung up his suit coat and draped his tie over a rack meticulously organized by color. He toed off his dress shoes and tossed them into the closet. She watched to see if the rest of the suit was coming off as well but he just unbuttoned the top two buttons on his shirt and rolled the sleeves up to his elbows. Then he strode across the room while she stood transfixed like a small animal in the presence of a predator.
“Handcuffs,” he assured her. He grasped both of her arms above the elbows and dropped a kiss on her nose. “Never before used but bought once upon a time with the hope that one day, someone would want to play with me in that big iron bed. What about it?”
Considering her entire nervous system had started singing when he mentioned it, she wasn’t about to say no. But first… “Is that a bathroom through there?”
“Come see.” He lifted her backpack with one hand and tugged her behind him with the other. She followed him into a bathroom bigger than the bedroom in her apartment. One look at the tub and she started to have second thoughts about where they should begin. The marble whirlpool tub was easily big enough for two, even when one of them was as tall and broad as Galen.
“Now I see why you bought this house,” she murmured. “Who cares how many extra rooms there are if you can have this.”
“The master bath was definitely a draw,” he agreed. He set her backpack down on one corner of the long marble countertop. “Maybe later on we can try out the tub—see how well it works for two.”
“Galen, don’t tell me you’ve never done that before. You don’t have to pretend I’m the first woman in your life.” She unzipped her pack and pulled out a hairbrush. Her mane had turned into a tangled mess in the convertible.
He paused. “I wouldn’t do that. Those kinds of lies are pointless. But I only bought this house eight years ago. And none of the relationships I’ve had since then have been very—adventurous. Or serious. So while yes, there have been one or two other women in this room, I think I could honestly say there haven’t been any in the bathtub—at least not in it with me. And I just bought the bed last year. By then—I’d given up trying to go out with anyone who wasn’t you. It didn’t work for me and didn’t seem fair to them.”
She dropped the hairbrush and flung herself into his arms. After a long, sweet kiss, she pulled away and looked up at him with only slightly damp eyes. “Thank you for saying that.”
“It’s just the truth. Now you do whatever you need to do in here and I’ll go pour the wine.” He turned and fled from the bathroom.