That Perfect Someone Page 38

Richard was there—and smiling at her! She couldn"t resist smiling back. She"d never been able to resist his smiles. She still couldn"t get over this change in him. Then she realized she hadn"t exactly been in a good mood since they"d married because of all her doubts. Had he been reacting to that all along? And he"d just seen her laughing… .

He stood up to seat her. She didn"t hesitate in joining him, even though other chairs at the table were empty that were not next to his.

Both seated, he leaned a little closer to ask, “Weathered the storm all right?”

“Yes.”

“No bruises?”

“None.”

“Maybe I should do a thorough examination, just to be sure.” He said that with a roguish grin! Good God, he was teasing her? She loved it when he was like this, with laughter in his eyes. And it continued as her companions all began to fascinate her with descriptions of the Caribbean. Balmy breezes year-round, warm, crystal-clear waters to swim in, magnificent sunsets, exotic fruits she"d probably never tasted before. They made it sound so wonderful, she realized she probably would like living there—if she didn"t have solid ties to England.

They all seemed to be trying to convince her to give their islands a chance, and Richard didn"t intervene. He was himself once again, that laughing, teasing young man who was so much fun to be around. As long as she didn"t mention what was going to happen at the end of the trip, would his mood stay this way for the duration? That would mean he was just going to ignore their divorce plans for now? Or was he just glad that they would end their marriage amicably?

But she couldn"t ignore that in their earlier conversations he"d given her quite a different impression of his new home. Pinning a curious look on him, she asked, “Why didn"t you tell me all this, instead of making me think I"d wilt in such extreme heat?”

“Because I didn"t think you"d be there long enough to adjust to the tropical climate. Tell her, Gabby.”

“It might seem a little too hot at first,” Gabrielle admitted. “But once you get used to it, the tropical breezes will be enough to cool you off, and a house can easily be designed to take advantage of them. And consider never having to bundle up again against the cold, no more hot bricks at the foot of the bed, no more dreary browns of winter where so much of the landscape withers. Just imagine seeing trees that never go bare, flowers that bloom year-round.

There are only a few days out of the year when I might complain because the trade winds go still and it gets overly muggy, but that"s a small price to pay for such beauty and lush vegetation no matter what month is it.”

Drew, having traded in the Caribbean for years, mentioned the commercial aspects of what could be found there, products that were unique to the tropics—fruit, rum, sugarcane, tobacco—and that"s when Julia"s eyes really lit up with excitement. With her father recovered and running the family businesses again in England, she saw endless opportunities for them in the Caribbean. She could actually expand Miller industries.

She didn"t realize she was thinking aloud until Richard remarked, “You"re going to make the Millers farmers now?”

He was joking, but she replied, “We"ve always been farmers. Our businesses are based on the land. We breed the sheep, the cows, grow the wheat, process the raw materials in our own factories and mills, employ the craftsmen to turn it all into the products that get transported to our own shops, or are sold in bulk to other markets. Most everything we do, make, sell, comes from the land.”

“I never realized your family dabbled in so many things,” he said in surprise.

“Oh, my, yes. If it looks profitable, why not? And it sounds like there"s so much potential in these islands, things we"ve never considered because England doesn"t have the right climate to produce them.”

“There are already a lot of suppliers of these products,” Drew was compelled to point out.

“So?” Julia laughed. “There"s always room for competition, or untapped markets, and besides, Millers do things on a grand scale.”

Her excitement became contagious, at least for Drew, who was suddenly seeing new customers for his family"s fleet of trade ships. They discussed that over dessert. But she finally realized that Richard had stopped contributing to the conversation, and when she glanced at him to discover why, she saw him looking at her in amazement. Did she sound too businesslike for his aristocratic tastes?

Color rose in her cheeks, but halted when he said impulsively, “Marry me.” She blinked. “We"re already married.”

“Marry me again. For real.”

“You want to marry me?”

“Did it look like I was going to let you go?”

She gasped. “This is why you wouldn"t get a divorce in England?” She didn"t realize they had an avid audience listening to every word. She was too overcome with emotion to get beyond his wanting to marry her to even remember they weren"t alone.

But he realized it and grabbed her hand and led her away, leaving his friends complaining that they were going to be denied such fascinating entertainment.

Once he"d closed the door to her cabin, he put his hands lightly on her h*ps and hesitantly asked, “Are you angry?”

“I should be.”

He grinned slowly. “You"re not.”

“Of course I"m not. I thought it was rather obvious that I didn"t want a divorce either.”

“It was nothing of the sort. You were utterly forlorn to be leaving England.”

“No, I wasn"t. I was utterly forlorn—actually, heartbroken is the correct word—because you didn"t want me.”

“My God, Jewels, I couldn"t want anyone more than I want you. I love you! I suspected it was happening when you showed up with the big guns to rescue me. And there wasn"t much doubt left when I held you in my arms aboard The Maiden George and I"d never felt so complete. But I knew it was permanent, that I wanted you by my side for the rest of my life, when I watched you let my nephew choke you just so he would feel safe in the lake.” He kissed her softly, with no passion, just pure longing to have his love returned. But they each had too much desire for the other not to get swept up in passion. Rather quickly on her part. She"d just heard what she"d wanted to hear from the day they"d first met. So many years these feelings had been there and had been denied, but no longer.

They undressed each other. She wouldn"t wait for him to take off her shoes, so they laughed as they fell upon her bed. She had a feeling that laughter was going to fill the rest of her life with this man. What a wonderful thought, and such an unexpected bonus of loving him.

But just now, with his hands all over her, she did more gasping than laughing. He could ignite her so easily. He"d always been able to do that—in one form or another—to push her passion over the edge, beyond her control. But this passion was welcome! This passion was thrilling, and knowing the pleasure it would lead to made it all the more exciting.

He was leaving no part of her untouched. Following his lead, she lavished the same attention on him. She even pushed him back and climbed on top of him.

Sitting in this position was an exciting new experience for her. With his arousal pressed against her, but not inside her, teasing her, tempting her, so much of him was at her fingertips now! She moved her hands over his wide chest, circled his strong neck, and threaded her fingers up through his soft hair. She leaned forward to kiss him hard, but only for a moment—

she could tease, too.

She was in more control than she"d thought! He was letting her play with him, explore his hard, beautiful body. But everything she did was tempered with her love. She was sure she was getting more pleasure from touching him than he was—or maybe not. The sounds he was making were rather telling.

That hardness pressing at her apex was still teasing her. When she finally straightened and looked down, she was arrested in complete amazement to see that his arousal had grown. She put her hand over it, heard him groan. She wasn"t sure if she was hurting him or pleasing him, but she was too fascinated to stop! But when she glanced at him and saw such intensity in his green eyes, such heat, such straining tension in the muscles of his neck, his shoulders, she knew she wasn"t hurting him a"tall.

She had no idea he was fighting not to flip her over immediately. But she guessed, and with a sensual smile, she raised her h*ps just enough to guide him where she wanted him. The pleasure of him filling her! Her head dropped back, her hair spilling over his thighs like a silky caress. But she"d already pushed him beyond his limits. He gripped her h*ps and thrust so hard she had to hold on, and that quickly he exploded in her. His groan of satisfaction filled the room.

“Damn,” he said when he caught his breath. “You excite me so much I feel like a youth again, unable to control myself. I"m sorry.”

“For … what?” she gasped out with a trembling shudder, then another, as she moved against him to prolong her orgasm.

He laughed when he realized he had nothing to apologize for, but explained, “I thought I"d left you behind, unsatisfied.”

She grinned at him. “Don"t worry. I won"t ever allow that to happen.” He chuckled. “I think you"ve been in control of your family empire too long. You"re going to be bossy in bed, aren"t you?”

“I just might, but I"ll make sure you enjoy every minute of it.” He settled them comfortably on the bed so he could hold her close. There was no thought to leaving it, but then it was late enough in the evening they didn"t have to. Julia wondered how she was going to survive being this happy. She had such urges to laugh, to shout for joy, to jump up and down in giddy delight. She"d made him feel like a youth? She guessed the feeling was mutual.

She sat up abruptly when she realized something important. “I didn"t leave you wondering, did I? About how much I love you?”

“You did.” He grinned. “It was a good guess, though.”

She blushed a little. “Don"t be surprised when I tell you I"ve always wanted you for my husband. When I first clapped eyes on you, you can"t imagine how thrilled I was. My parents really did find me the perfect match. I think I hated you so much because you didn"t feel the same way about me.”

He sat up and hugged her. “I"m so sorry I let what I felt for my father influence me to push you away.”

“Shhh. No more apologies. You"ve made me more happy than I can describe.”

“Which I"m still finding incredible. If I"ve been a boor since we married, it"s because I was so sure you wouldn"t like living in the Caribbean with me—until I saw your reaction to the conversation tonight.”

“I have no doubt a"tall I"m going to love it then.”

“But it wasn"t just that.”

“What else?”

“I don"t have anything to offer you but my love. I don"t even have a home to take you to. I live on a ship, or at my captain"s house, or at Gabby"s house. I"ve never needed a house of my own.”

She leaned back and chuckled at him. “You think I can"t buy us a house?”

“I didn"t say I couldn"t afford one. I"ll do the house buying, Jewels.” That absolutely male-prerogative tone made her ask cautiously, “You aren"t going to be silly about me being rich, are you? I know Anthony Malory is like that. He refuses to let his wife spend a copper of her own money.”

Richard"s eyes flashed with laughter. “Does he? Well, I"m not that arbitrary. You will have the choice of spending your money on whatever you like. But I"m still buying our first house.” She started laughing herself. “You call that a choice?”

“I call that me knowing more about island living than you do—yet. But I didn"t say you couldn"t buy a house, too. We"ll have two—or more. Hell, however many you want, but at least one in England, and one in the islands.”

She was thrilled beyond measure. “You mean it? We can live in both places?”

“Whatever your heart desires, Jewels.”

Chapter Fifty-one

THEY STOOD OUTSIDE JULIA"S home in Berkeley Square. Richard took her hand in his, brought it to his lips, and kissed it. They were back so soon! But they wouldn"t be staying long, only a few days to get The Triton back into shape. A few days was enough to share their happy news—and put paid to an old account. Richard just didn"t know yet about the “paid in full” stamp she wanted on that part of their lives.

“My father is going to be so happy,” she said as they mounted the steps, then added carefully, “Is there any chance that you might ever reconcile with yours?”

“Are you joking?”

His expression confirmed that was never going to happen. “I had to ask,” she said, “because I would like closure with him. I want him to know, without any doubt, that he"ll never be a part of our lives.”

“He won"t be.”

“We know that, but I want him to know it, so he will never attempt any more plotting or planning where we"re concerned. Can we put an end to it, once and for all, so neither of us has reason to concern ourselves with him again?”

“You actually want to go to Willow Woods again?”

“Yes, one last time.”

“Let me mull that over, Jewels. I really wasn"t planning on ever seeing him again.” She nodded and took him into the house. She wasn"t going to argue the matter. It had to be his choice. He was never, ever going to be denied choices again, if she could help it.

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