Lydia hadn’t brought anything to sleep in, so after she used the facilities, all she did was step out of her dress, hang it from a hook on the back of the door, and finish brushing out her hair. Then wearing nothing but a lace thong and matching push-up bra, she walked back into the bedroom to Galen.

He’d gotten undressed too and she licked her lips at the sight of him reclining against a mound of velvet-covered pillows in nothing but a pair of black silk boxers. As she approached the bed, he lifted two glasses of ruby-red wine from the nightstand and gave a low whistle.

“You look amazing.”

She felt the blush all the way from her face down to the top of her belly.

The bed was high. She had to use her hands to climb up into it. She settled herself next to Galen against the pile of pillows. He’d pulled back the covers and the sheets were silky-smooth cotton in navy, crisp and cool against the warmth of her skin. Galen handed her a glass, then raised his own.

“Once again, to the most beautiful woman in the room.”

She laughed. “This time I’m the only woman in the room. But thank you.” She touched the rim of her glass to his. “How about to us? To tonight.”

“Oh yeah, I can definitely drink to that.” They clinked glasses again and drank. The warm rich taste of the ruby liquid coated her tongue and slid down her throat. “I had a nice time tonight. And I’m sorry if meeting the Mortons was uncomfortable.”

“More for you than me. I don’t have to work with the woman on a daily basis.” She paused, then decided to say what she was thinking. “But Galen, she was wrong. I’m not young enough to be your daughter you know. Not unless you’d started awfully early.”

He stared at the painting on the wall opposite the bed for a moment, swirling the wine in his glass before he answered. “Intellectually I’m aware of that. I’m no math genius, but I can handle basic arithmetic. We’re 15 years apart. I guess I’ve just spent way too long laughing at middle-aged guys who go out trolling for younger women. And it isn’t just your age, you know. I’m—dealing with that. It’s everything about you, Lydia. You’re so beautiful, so dynamic, so full of life. I’m well aware of the fact that I’m not the most exciting guy in the world. Boring is usually one of the nicer things I get called—my ex-wife could have gone on about that one for hours. There’s a big part of me that still has no idea what someone like you sees in someone like me.”

Lydia laughed. “Galen, I can see a mirror right over there on the dresser. Learn to use it. You’re tall, you’re fit, you have gorgeous hair and the most amazing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Whereas I’m medium height, thirty pounds overweight and pretty much average by almost any standard. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Medium pale skin. If we’re talking about physical appearance, you’re way out of my league. But when you look at me—then I do feel beautiful. And do I need to point out the absurdity of the words boring and handcuffs coming out of your mouth in the same five minutes? Aside from being almost scarily smart, you’ve got a wicked sense of humor and you’re inventive as hell in bed. What on Earth makes you think you’re boring?”

“Well, not too many people know about the handcuffs,” he admitted with a chuckle. “It doesn’t really go with the scholarly image.”

She shrugged. “The combination works for me. How many guys I’ve dated do you think can put up with me getting lost in a manuscript or history book for hours on end? Or understand that being a bit submissive in the bedroom doesn’t mean I don’t have a mind of my own?”

He took a sip of wine and paused as if to ponder her words. “I guess I hadn’t thought about it that way.” He lifted her glass out of her hand and set them both down on the nightstand. “I’m working on it, I promise. I may not be sure where this is going yet but I know I’m not ready to give it up. Can you be patient with me for a while longer?”

“Yeah, I think I can manage that. As long as you keep your promise to show me the handcuffs.”

And then she was in his arms and pinned under the weight of his body. Heaven! His kiss was like a drug and she was completely addicted. His mouth shaped hers, nibbled softly at the center of her lower lip before he ran his tongue along the seam with teasing delicacy. When she opened for him delicacy was forgotten as he plunged inside. He explored every nook and cranny, staking his claim with ruthless certainty and efficiency.

When they came up for air he shifted to the side, enabling him to reach between them and unhook the front clasp of her bra. As soon as he peeled back the cups, he leaned over and took a nipple into his mouth.

“Oh yes!” She’d been waiting for this all night. After only two weeks he already knew exactly how to make her scream. She lifted her shoulders off the bed. The motion did two things, both good. It pushed her breast further into the hot cavern of Galen’s mouth and it also gave her room to slip the bra off her arms, letting it drop to the bed beneath her. Then she reached up behind her and grabbed onto the wrought iron bedstead with both hands.

Galen took his time, suckling deeply on each breast until they were flushed and swollen. She watched, loving the sight of his golden head bent over her skin, the intent gleam in his eyes as he focused all his attention on her pleasure.

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