They went to her room where she found a large vase of red roses on her dresser. “Look, darling, aren’t they beautiful?” She nestled her face in the velvety petals and inhaled deeply.
Beau went to the bathroom, and she picked up the card, and read, ‘A. L., welcome home. We’ve missed you. Neil.’
“Who are they from?” Beau asked, when he returned.
“Neil…welcoming me back.” She looked in the mirror and watched him step up behind her. He slipped his arms around her and drew them snuggly under her breasts. She relaxed back against him, and his eyes captured hers in the mirror’s reflection. He turned her around to face him and kissed her more ardently than at any time since their reunion.
“It’s almost time for them to begin serving,” she protested, but not too fervently.
He loosened his tie and began unbuttoning his shirt. “I’m not hungry.”
“I may not be able to hold up my head when I face them later,” she teased.
“They wouldn’t dare say a word,” he mumbled through firmly set teeth as he fumbled with the brace’s stubborn laces. “You’re going to have to help me out of this blasted thing.”
She took the laces from him and started to loosen them. Her eyes held a glint of merriment when she whispered, “I can just imagine what they’ll be thinking.”
He took her hands and held them. “We can’t do this after all the trouble––”
A smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “The guest of honor can do exactly what pleases him.”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Then he held her at arms’ length. “It would please him very much to make love to his beautiful wife, but he can wait a while longer.” He rubbed his fingers across his chin. “I need to shave again. Is there time?”
“Take all the time you need.”
He kissed her again and held her ever so close, thrilling her through and through and stirring to life those feelings she’d long to recapture with the love of her life.
When he went to the bathroom, she turned to the dresser and held onto it, thinking her legs might not support her. The old Beau she knew was emerging, and in addition to the warm masculine sensuality, she saw glimpses of the boyish charm he’d so easily displayed early in their marriage. She thought about all of the pain that must lie buried beneath layers of emotional scar tissue. She looked in the mirror and slid her hands down her body. Her thickening waist had prompted her to buy clothes in Washington that were a size larger with jackets that would conceal her secret for a while longer.
She turned around and leaned back against the dresser for support, but this time her thoughts were dark and her heart heavy. Is the secret I carry the weapon that will inflict the greatest pain and injury to Beau? Will it leave a scar that will never fade? She dropped her face in her hands and fought to hold back her tears.