She craned to look at the grounds as they rolled up the carriage drive. The house when they reached it was perfect, the brick and dressed stone still crisp with newness, but the garden already embraced it, softened it. ‘I love it,’ she said and felt his pleasure at hers. ‘Where is the room with the big bed?’
‘At the back, overlooking the lake. Don’t you want to eat first?’
‘No, I want to make love,’ she whispered in his ear as he swung her down from the carriage. ‘Where is everyone?’
‘I told them you would meet them in the morning. You see, I guessed you might want to inspect the bedchamber first—there should be a cold meal laid out.’
The front door opened as if by magic as he swept her up into his arms and carried her up the steps, but there was no one to be seen in the hall with its wide staircase. Giles carried on up to the first floor to where double doors stood open on to a room decorated all in palest grey and in blue silk with a wide Venetian window framing the landscape and, as he had promised her, a very big bed.
‘Lady Isobel Harker,’ Giles said as he set her on her feet. ‘There is something in the marriage service about worshipping you with my body and I take promises very seriously.’
‘I hope so, Mr Harker,’ she murmured as he began to unfasten her gown. Silk and lawn whispered to the ground, her stays followed with a facility that she would tease him about later. But now this felt too important for levity, only for deep happiness.
Giles carried her to the bed and stripped off his own clothing. ‘I have never seen you without all those bruises,’ she murmured, running her hands over the flat planes of his chest, the ridged muscle of his stomach. ‘I was too nervous to notice in the pool that they had gone.’
He lowered himself over her, his scarred cheek resting next to her smooth one and she twisted so she could kiss it, then his nose with its new bump.
‘I love you,’ he told her as his hands began to caress her. Every time he said the words it seemed to her that it was never just a phrase. Each time he seemed to find it wonderful and new, a surprise to love and be loved.
‘Show me,’ she whispered back, curling her legs around his waist, cradling him between her thighs where she had wanted him for so long.
‘Eight weeks of respectability is all very well,’ Giles said, his voice husky. ‘But it makes a man very, very impatient.’
‘So am I,’ Isobel told him, and lifted her hips to press against him, took his mouth and thrust with her tongue to tell him it was all right to be urgent, to take her. It had been a long time since Lucas, but for all his scarce-controlled desire Giles was gentle. She opened to him when he entered her, as he slid home deep and sure to make her his, and then she lost every trace of apprehension in the heat and the joy of their merging and the pleasure that he spun out of caresses and kisses to send her wild and desperate for release.
They cried out together and sank into sleep together. When she woke Giles was watching her and lifted his hand to trace where his eyes had been roaming, across her brow, down her cheek, softly over her lips.
‘You were meant for me,’ Isobel told him.
‘I know. I think I knew from the moment I caught your hand in the lake and feared I was too late. Mine,’ Giles said. ‘Mine for ever.’ And he began to prove it all over again.