Releasing an unsteady breath, she gazed down at the man who slept beside her. Now what? She knew things about Wash, things that Rooney had confided and more that she had deduced on her own. Wash Halliday had been badly burned by a woman, and he would not willingly wade into that fire again. On top of that, he had been injured in the War.
What, she wondered for the thousandth time in the past two days, did he really want? Yes, he desired her. But would he want more outside of satisfying a perfectly understandable male hunger?
And what did she want? She swallowed a soft laugh. At this moment she knew exactly what she wanted. And tomorrow?
Tomorrow she would see. Tomorrow she would want Manette to be well. Tomorrow she would want to somehow make a new home for her daughter.
And tomorrow she would want…him, still. Oh, Lord, help me, my body is at war with my mind.
She gave Manette a final look and slid her body down close to Wash. He did not move, did not even twitch an eyelid. Sound asleep. She smiled to herself. She would wake him up in a way he would not forget.
She pulled the makeshift nightgown over her head and untied the ribbon at the neck of her camisole. When it crumpled off her shoulders, she lifted Wash’s hand and laid it over her breast. The warmth of his fingers stirred her flesh; her nipples hardened and a flood of delicious heat flowed from her cheeks all the way down to her toes.
Careful not to wake him—at least not completely—she wriggled out of the long-legged ruffled drawers and worked the pantalettes down over her hips. With abandon she tossed away both garments.
Naked, she stretched out beside him, close enough to feel his hard, warm body against hers. He still wore his denims, but for now it did not matter.
Wash murmured in his sleep. She brushed her lips across his cheek, blew gently in his ear and repositioned his hand on her breast. He gave a low moan, but his eyelids remained closed.
She let her hand drift to his crotch and laid it slowly and deliberately over the swelling. Still he did not awaken. Even when she began drawing her fingers along the length of his manhood.
Then with no warning a hand of steel clamped around her wrist. “Jeanne,” he murmured. “Careful.”
Her eyelids flew open. “You are awake?” she whispered.
“Very much awake.” The laughter in his voice made her entire body flush with heat.
“Oh, but I thought—”
“Don’t think,” he breathed near her ear. “And for Heaven’s sake, don’t stop.”
An irrational, blinding sense of joy swept through her. Her skin felt as if it were brushed with melted chocolate, and the place between her legs began to ache. It was glorious to be near him, to feel such exquisite sensations, so sweet and hot. Tears stung into her eyes.
Wash released her wrist and ran his hand up her bare arm. She reached again for his crotch, but he rolled away from her and then she heard the pop of buttons being released. He shucked off his jeans and underdrawers in one motion, then lay down next to her and pulled her close.
“Wash…” she murmured.
“Manette asleep?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
“She seems better. Cooler.”
He did not answer. Instead he covered her mouth with his and she tried to stifle a cry of delight. His lips explored and aroused, told her of his hunger and asked for what he wanted.
“Oh, yes,” she whispered against his mouth. “Yes.”
While his lips moved over hers he began to touch her all over, slowly moving his hands on her skin as if dawn were hours and hours away and these precious stolen moments would last forever. Up her belly, across her breasts, into the shell of her ear. Her breathing grew heavy and uneven.
He lifted his mouth from hers and nibbled his way with quick, hot kisses down to her breast. “Jeanne,” he whispered, his voice unsteady. “Jeanne.”
She stretched luxuriously, lifting her arms over her head and raising one knee. Slowly Wash pressed her leg down flat on the bed and reached one hand to cup her buttocks. Then he rose over her and positioned himself at her entrance.
“Shhhh. We have to do this quietly.”
He entered her with one slow, deep thrust and she could not help smiling. “Next time,” she murmured, “I wish to make all the noise I want.” She arched her back, taking him even deeper, and when he sucked in his breath she pressed her fingers against his lips.
He made it slow and languorous, and he made it last and last until Jeanne thought she could not stifle the cries that rose within her. When she started to come to her release Wash caught her mouth under his and rode with her until her spasms subsided and his own release began.