His mouth came back to hers in a moist, deep, sumptuous kiss that went on endlessly, endlessly, until she was as pliant as wax in his arms.

He’d cheated both of them, Rogan realized as he laid her back on the bed. By letting only the fire take them, he’d kept them both from experiencing all the warm, waiting wells of tenderness.

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Tonight it would be different.

Tonight he would take her through a labyrinth of dreams before the flames.

The taste of him seeped into her, stunning her, staggering her with tenderness. The greed that had always been so much a part of their lovemaking had mellowed into a lazy patience she could neither resist nor refuse. Long before he opened her blouse and skimmed those smooth, clever fingertips over her skin, she was floating.

Limply her hands slid from his shoulders. Her breath caught and expelled as he laved his tongue over her, seeking small secret tastes, lingering over them. Savoring. Drifting on that slow sweep of sensation, she was aware of every pulse point he awakened, of the long, quiet pull from deep inside her. So different from an explosion. So much more devastating.

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She murmured his name when he cupped a hand under her head and lifted her melting body to his.

“You’re mine, Maggie. No one else will ever take you here.”

She should have objected to this new demand for exclusivity. But she couldn’t. For his mouth was journeying over her again as if he had years, decades, to complete the exploration.

The candlelight flickered dreamily against her heavy lids. She could smell the flowers she’d picked only that morning and had placed in a blue vase by the window. She heard the breeze heralding the Mediterranean night with the scents of blossoms and water in its wake. Beneath his fingers and lips her skin softened and her muscles quivered.

How could he not have known he’d wanted her like this? All the fires banked, only glowing embers and drifting smoke. She moved under his hands helplessly, unable to do anything but absorb what he gave her, follow where he led. Even as the blood pounded in his head, in his loins, he kept the caresses light, teasing, waiting for her, watching her slide from one into the next melting sensation.

When she trembled, when a new sighing moan slipped through her lips, he took her hands again, braceleting them in one of his so that he was free to urge her over the first edge.

Her body bowed, her lashes fluttered. He watched as that first velvet fist took her breath. Then she went fluid again, languid and limp. Her pleasure welled inside of him.

The sun sank. Candles guttered. He guided her up again, a higher peak that made her cry out weakly. The sound echoed away into sighs and murmurs. When her heart was so full that it, too, seemed to weep, he slipped into her, taking her tenderly while the moon rose.

Perhaps she slept. She knew she dreamed. When she opened her eyes again, the moon was up and the room was empty. Languid as a cat, she considered curling up again. But even as she nuzzled into the pillow she knew she would not sleep without him.

She rose, floating a little as though her mind was dazed with wine. She found a robe, a thin swatch of silk that Rogan had insisted on giving her. It settled smoothly against her skin as she went to find him.

“I should have known you’d be here.”

He was in the kitchen, standing shirtless in front of the gleaming stove in the brilliant white-and-black kitchen. “Thinking of your stomach?”

“And of yours, my girl.” He turned off the fire under the skillet before he turned. “Eggs.”

“What else?” It was all either of them could competently cook. “I won’t be surprised if we’re cackling when we get back to Ireland tomorrow.” Because she felt unexpectedly awkward, she raked a hand through her hair once, then twice. “You should have made me get up and fix it.”

“Made you?” He reached up for plates. “That would be a first.”

“What I mean is, I’d have done it. After all, I don’t feel I did my part before.”

“Before?”

“Upstairs. In bed. I didn’t exactly do my share.”

“A bargain’s a bargain.” He scooped eggs into plates. “And from my point of view, you did very well indeed. Watching you unravel was an incredible pleasure for me.” One he intended to experience again, very soon. “Why don’t you sit down and eat. The moon’ll be up for some time yet.”

“I suppose it will.” More at ease, she joined him at the table. “And this may just give me my energy back. Do you know,” she said with her mouth full. “I’d no idea that sex could make you so weak.”

“It wasn’t just sex.”

Her fork paused halfway to her lips at his tone. There was hurt beneath the sharp annoyance, and she was sorry to have caused it. Amazed that she could. “I didn’t mean it that way, Rogan. Not so impersonally. When two people are fond of each other—”

“I’m a great deal more than fond of you, Maggie. I’m in love with you.”

The fork slipped from her fingers and clattered on the plate. Panic tore at her throat in sharp, hungry fangs. “You’re not.”

“I am.” He said it calmly, though he was cursing himself for making his declaration in a brightly lit kitchen over badly cooked eggs. “And you’re in love with me.”

“It’s not—I’m not—you can’t tell me what I am.”

“I can when you’re too foolish to say so yourself. What’s between us is far more than physical attraction. If you weren’t so pigheaded, you’d stop pretending it was.”

“I’m not pigheaded.”

“You are, but I find that’s one of the things I like about you.” He was thinking coolly now, pleased to be back in control. “We might have discussed all this under more atmospheric circumstances, but knowing you, it hardly matters. I’m in love with you, and I want you to marry me.”

Chapter Seventeen

MARRIAGE? The word stuck in her throat, threatened to choke her. She didn’t dare repeat it.

“You’re out of your mind.”

“Believe me, I’ve considered the possibility.” He picked up his fork and ate with the appearance of sanity. But the hurt, unexpected and raw, scraped at him. “You’re stubborn, often rude, more than occasionally self-absorbed and not a little temperamental.”

For a moment her mouth worked like a guppy’s. “Oh, am I?”

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