“You’ll marry me?” he whispers, incredulous.
I nod nervously, flushing and anxious and not quite believing his reaction—this man whom I thought I’d lost. How could he not understand how much I love him?
“Say it,” he orders softly, his gaze intense and hot.
“Yes, I’ll marry you.”
He inhales sharply and moves suddenly, grabbing me and swinging me round in a most un-Fiftylike manner. He’s laughing, young and carefree, radiating joyful elation. I grab his arms to hold on, feeling his muscles ripple beneath my fingers, and his infectious laughter sweeps me up—dizzy, addled, a girl totally and utterly smitten with her beautiful man. He puts me down and kisses me. Hard. His hands are on either side of my face, his tongue insistent, persuasive . . . arousing.
“Oh, Ana,” he breathes against my lips, and it’s an exultation that leaves me reeling.
He loves me, of that I have no doubt, and I savor the taste of this delicious man, this man I thought I might never see again. His joy is evident—his eyes shining, his youthful smile—and his relief is almost palpable.
“I thought I’d lost you,” I murmur, still dazzled and breathless from his kiss.
“Baby, it will take more than a malfunctioning 135 to keep me away from you.”
“Charlie Tango. She’s a Eurocopter 135, the safest in its class.” Some unnamed but dark emotion crosses his face briefly, distracting me. What isn’t he saying? Before I can ask him, he stills and looks down at me, frowning, and for a moment I think he’s going to tell me. I blink up into his speculative gray eyes.
“Wait a minute. You gave this to me before we saw Flynn,” he says, holding up the keychain. He looks almost horrified.
Oh dear, where’s he going with this? I nod, keeping a straight face.
His mouth drops open.
I shrug apologetically. “I wanted you to know that whatever Flynn said, it wouldn’t make a difference to me.”
Christian blinks at me in disbelief. “So all yesterday evening, when I was begging you for an answer, I had it already?” He’s dismayed. I nod again, trying desperately to gauge his reaction. He gazes at me in stupefied wonder, but then narrows his eyes and his mouth twists with amused irony.
“All that worry,” he whispers ominously. I grin at him and shrug once more. “Oh, don’t try and get cute with me, Miss Steele. Right now, I want . . .” He runs his hand through his hair, then shakes his head and changes tack.
“I can’t believe you left me hanging.” His whisper is laced with disbelief. His expression alters subtly, his eyes gleaming wickedly, his mouth twitching into a carnal smile.
Holy hell. A thrill runs through me. What’s he thinking?
“I believe some retribution is in order, Miss Steele,” he says softly.
Retribution? Oh shit! I know he’s playing—but I take a cautious step back from him anyway.
He grins. “Is that the game?” he whispers. “Because I will catch you.” And his eyes burn with a bright playful intensity. “And you’re biting your lip,” he says threateningly.
All of my insides tighten at once. Oh my. My future husband wants to play. I take another step back, then turn to run—but in vain. Christian grabs me, and in one easy swoop while I squeal with delight, surprise, and shock. He hoists me over his shoulder and heads down the hall.
“Christian!” I hiss, mindful that José is upstairs, though whether he could hear us is doubtful. I steady myself by clasping his lower back, then on a brave impulse, I swat his behind. He swats me right back.
“Ow!” I yelp.
“Shower time,” he declares triumphantly.
“Put me down!” I try and fail to sound disapproving. My struggle is futile—his arm is firmly clamped over my thighs—and for some reason I cannot stop giggling.
“Fond of these shoes?” he asks amused as he opens the door to his bathroom.
“I prefer them to be touching the floor.” I attempt to snarl at him, but it’s not very effective as I can’t keep the laughter out of my voice.
“Your wish is my command, Miss Steele.” Without putting me down, he slips off both of my shoes and lets them clatter to the tile floor. Pausing by the vanity, he empties his pockets—dead Blackberry, keys, wallet, the keychain. I can only imagine what I look like in the mirror from this angle. When he’s finished, he marches directly into his overlarge shower.
“Christian!” I scold loudly—his intent is now clear.
He switches the water on at max. Jeez! Arctic water spurts over my backside, and I squeal—then stop, mindful once more that José is above us. It’s cold and I’m fully clothed.
The chilling water soaks into my dress, my panties, and my bra. I’m drenched and I cannot stop giggling.
“No!” I squeal. “Put me down!” I swat him again, harder this time, and Christian releases me, letting me slide down his now soaked body. His white shirt is stuck to his chest and his suit pants are sodden. I am soaked, too, flushed, giddy and breathless, and he’s grinning down at me, looking so . . . so unbelievably hot.
He sobers, his eyes shining, and cups my face again, drawing my lips to his. His kiss is gentle, cherishing, and totally distracting. I no longer care that I am fully clothed and soaking wet in Christian’s shower. It’s just the two of us beneath the cascading water. He’s back, he’s safe, he’s mine.
My hands move involuntarily to his shirt as it clings to every line and sinew of his chest, revealing the hair scrunched beneath the white wetness. I yank the shirt hem out of his pants, and he groans against my mouth, but his lips do not leave mine. As I unbutton his shirt, he reaches for my zipper, slowly sliding the clasp down my dress. His lips become more insistent, more provocative, his tongue invading my mouth—and my body explodes with desire. I tug his shirt hard, ripping it open. The buttons fly everywhere, ricocheting off the tiles and disappearing onto the shower floor. As I strip the wet material off his shoulders and down his arms, I press him into the wall, hampering his attempts to undress me. “Cufflinks,” he murmurs, holding up his wrists where his shirt hangs sodden and limp.