“Do they?” She jumped a little as his warm hand slid over the curves of her bottom.

He nodded. “The husband takes one of the wife’s shoes and sets it on the floor, on his side of the bed.”

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“Why?”

He squeezed her bottom meaningfully. “So she’ll know who is master.”

Win regarded him with a flirting grin. “We’ll see about that. I’m very fond of my shoes, and I won’t surrender them easily.”

His mouth passed gently over hers, and he tasted her with the tip of his tongue. “You’ll surrender.”

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Win pulled away with a muffled laugh. Leaning back against the edge of the mattress, she watched in fascination as Kev stripped off his shirt. Her gaze traveled over his muscled torso, the gleam of his smooth, hairless chest. Her breath quickened in excitement as he came to her.

Clenching one hand into the spill of her long hair, Kev carefully eased her head back to expose her throat. And he dragged his mouth along her neck, using his tongue, while his other hand went between her thighs. He caressed her, played with her, until he could slip two fingers easily inside. His mouth covered hers, his tongue sinking deep, and she shivered in arousal at the simultaneous penetrations.

“Kev,” she said in an unsteady whisper, her hands gripping his bare back, “Love me.”

“I do,” he whispered back, his fingers deep and coaxing inside her. “You’re my soulmate, my twin flame. I knew it the first time I saw you.”

“So did I,” she said, trembling.

“You’re never out of my thoughts . . . I want you always . . . ”

Withdrawing his gentle touch, he lowered her to the bed. As he lay beside her, he smoothed his palm along her front, fingertips sensitive to every quiver of her nerves. Bending over her br**sts, he caught a rosy tip and drew his tongue against the tautness, while his hands moved over her in light erotic paths.

She arched upward helplessly as his mouth traversed her body, the soft secret places where sensation converged. He filled her powerfully, following the pulse and heat of her, riding every sweet undulation. And he reached the summit with her, glorying in their shared pleasure . . . surrendering to his own endless passion for her.

Chapter Two

“Keep her immobile,” Cam murmured to Beatrix as they bent over the injured owl. “If she gets loose, she’ll damage herself, and probably us as well. Those talons are like knives.”

“She wants to hold something,” Beatrix said quietly, glancing at the bird’s clutching talons. “Can you find us a stick, Amelia?”

“Certainly.” Amelia hurried from the parlor to the kitchen, found a wooden spoon, and brought it back to her husband and sister. They were crouched on the floor over the straining form of a tawny owl. Beatrix had found the wounded bird during one of her daily rambles through the wood. The owl’s wing was broken, and Cam was attempting to set and splint it.

Beatrix had wrapped the tubby little owl in a blanket. Tearing her concerned gaze from the bird, she reached for the wooden spoon that Amelia had brought, and carefully pushed the handle against the owl’s talons. The spoon was immediately accepted and held. Amelia could have sworn the owl actually looked relieved.

Not for the first time she marveled at Beatrix’s empathy with animals, though whether that was a blessing or a curse remained to be seen. Setting aside her worry for the moment, Amelia took a nearby chair and watched her husband.

Three years earlier Amelia had stunned the family—and herself--by marrying Cam Rohan, a Rom from London, after knowing him only a matter of weeks. Until then she had prided herself on being a sensible woman who had never understood the phrase “swept off her feet.”

But that was exactly what Cam had done. Handsome, exotic, sensual, he was not the kind of man one might have expected Amelia to wed. In fact, Amelia had never expected to wed at all. After the deaths of her parents she had reconciled herself to taking care of her four siblings; Leo, Win, Poppy and Beatrix. But then Cam had entered her life, understanding her secret dreams and needs with unnerving acuity. He had seduced her, mind, body and soul.

And he had stayed, explaining that every once in a while, some Gypsy found his atchen-tan, his stopping-place. To Cam, love and family meant far more than his freedom. Gradually much of the burden of taking care of the Hathaways had shifted to Cam’s strong shoulders.

As Cam tended the owl, carefully folding a splint around the wing, a breeze came through the windows and toyed with the locks of shining black hair on his forehead. Amelia gazed at him possessively, appreciating the way his thin linen shirt clung to the powerful lines of his back. He was a ridiculously beautiful man, with his amber eyes and flashing smile. And how patient he was, his hands deft and graceful as he wrapped the splinted wing against the owl’s body.

“Kew-wick,” the bird fretted and protested. “Kew-wick! ”

Cam said something in Romany, the words soft and soothing, and the owl quieted. “Why don’t you take her to the barn now?” Cam suggested to Beatrix. “She’ll want to rest in her nest box.”

“Should I offer her water?”

“You might try it, but she won’t want much. Owls usually draw their moisture from their prey. Which reminds me—you’d better find some mice for her.”

Beatrix made a face, hating the necessity of feeding live mice to the bird. “I’ll see if I can get Dodger to catch some.” She drew on a makeshift gauntlet—a leather glove borrowed from Merripen—and together she and Cam unwrapped the owl and coaxed her to perch on Beatrix’s arm.

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