‘Which Christmas present? Oh!’
He swept her up, shouldered open the door and strode down the passageway to her room. ‘The one in my arms. The one the Fates sent me.’ He set her on the bed and went back to lock the door.
‘You have already unwrapped it.’ Tess sat up, the better to look at him as he crossed the room shedding clothing as he did so. Coat, exquisite waistcoat, neckcloth landed where he threw them. He dragged his shirt over his head, wreaking havoc with his hair, and kicked off his shoes.
‘What are you laughing at?’ Alex demanded, his hands on the fastening of his evening breeches.
‘You. The elegant, exquisite Lord Weybourn, careless of his beautiful waistcoat, his perfect hair.’
He smiled. ‘If you only want me because of my tailoring, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed.’
‘I cannot tell you how deliciously exciting it is to see that perfection in disorder because of me.’ She watched him, blatantly admiring as he pulled off trousers and stockings in a few urgent movements.
‘You, Miss Ellery, are developing into a hussy. What would Mother Superior say?’
‘She would faint away, I hope. Alex, I do love your shoulders.’
‘Only my shoulders?’ He knelt on the bed behind her and began to work on the tiny fastenings of her gown.
‘That was the first thing I found attractive about you, even when you were being infuriating and not letting me get a word in edgeways and making me miss my boat.’ She reached back and caressed as much of them as she could.
‘Not my fine profile?’ Alex was working on her corset strings now, his breath hot on her nape.
‘I wanted to box your ears. Besides, at least two of your friends have more exquisite profiles than you do. I thought that you looked like a particularly wicked, rather dangerous, mythological creature.’
‘A what?’ In a flurry of skirts she was on her back, clad only in chemise and stockings.
‘Mythological.’ He was rolling her stockings down, pausing to lick and nibble at the most sensitive skin, the location of which he seemed to know by instinct.
‘I am most definitely not mythological.’ A nip. ‘I do not have the hindquarters of a goat.’ A nibble. ‘Nor do I have horns.’ A long, wet, wicked swipe of his tongue up the length of her bare right leg from ankle to mid-thigh. ‘I am, however, having the most pagan ideas about what to do with you now you are unwrapped.’
He slid up her body and propped himself on his elbows to look down into her face. ‘But first I just want to make love to you like this, so I can look at your face, drown in your eyes, kiss those lips.’
Without conscious thought she had parted her legs to cradle him where he fitted, where he belonged, against the core of her, his long, hard body pressed to her softness, his heart beating against hers.
‘Yes, Alex.’ Tess arched against him and he entered her in one long thrust, then stopped, his forehead resting against hers.
‘I’m home,’ he murmured, his breath warm on her lips.
‘So am I. At last. With you.’ She kissed him, pulled down his head and clung to his lips as he moved within her, with her, pulling her into the whirlpool, the whirlwind. The storm crashed around them, tossed her into wave after wave of sensation and then drew her up into one perfect moment. ‘Alex.’
A minute, an hour, a year later she opened her eyes and found him watching her with his soul in his eyes. Her vision blurred. ‘Welcome home, my love.’
He smiled and laid his head on her breast, and Tess felt his lips move against her skin. ‘That is wherever you are, my love. Always.’