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in the continuing saga of Kit and Cullen's adentures.
KIT’S EARS PERKED up at the sound of a purling waterfall hidden amidst a magical twilight. Cullen reined Jasper to a stop and pointed ahead. “We’ll camp between that sandstone outcropping and those pine trees.”
After a two-hour ride across the hot, grassy prairie and sage-covered hills, she gazed at the honeymoon suite with eager expectation, and not only for her promised soak in a hot spring.
How had the day come to this?
At sunrise she’d paced and stomped and fretted over who she was and where she’d come from. Now the sun was setting and although the answers she sought were still unknown, her identity somehow didn’t seem as important. All that mattered now was who she had become during the days and weeks leading up to this whirlwind day. A day that even in her most creative and inspirational moments was unimaginable.
Instead of Second Presbyterian Church, the Lexington Philharmonic, and an outrageously expensive wedding gown, she’d had an open-air wedding on the plains of what would become Wyoming with buffalo roasting on a spit and Mozart and Bach played on a fiddle. On reflection, the day was spectacular for the singular reason that people she loved, people who had inserted themselves into her life, had celebrated with her.
From the razzing Cullen received from Henry, John, and especially Braham, one would have thought that Cullen had never bedded a woman. She had caught him watching her with eyes so hot she was afraid she would combust. His eyes weren’t as hot now. Then her glance drifted lower and she licked her lips in anticipation. Other parts of him were steaming.
Kit dismounted. After she watered, fed, and brushed Stormy, she stripped, not to entice her husband with a stripper’s slow tease, but simply to get her clothes out of the way. The rip-‘em-off-throw-‘em-down kind of peel enticed Cullen nonetheless.
He watched with his head cocked to the side, arms folded. “Never seen anyone in such a hurry for a soak.” He threw her a crooked grin.
Tension knotted inside her, almost distracting her from a bath. She tore her gaze from him and dug through her carpetbag for a bar of soap, shampoo, and a razor.
“What’s the pink thing in your hand?”
“Do you need my shaving mirror?”
“Oh?” She scratched her chin and with a deadpan, neutral voice and said, “I thought it might be broken.”
Cullen’s quizzical look furrowed his brow.
For someone with a trenchant sense of humor, he often seemed stymied by her sarcasm and jokes. She smiled. “You need a modern perspective on sarcasm and the panoply of jokes that keep twenty-first century audiences laughing until the wee hours of the morning.”
“Aye, many things from your time aren’t clear to me, but lingerie is not one of them.” He brushed his hand across her bra. “What do you call this little piece of lacy fabric?”
He caressed her breasts. “I like your little bra.” His voice, raw and sexy, teased as much as his fingertips.
She clasped her arms around his neck and settled contentedly against him, feathering his hair through her fingers “Join me in the water.”
He moaned. “I need to make camp before it gets dark. I’ll join you shortly.”
She kissed him, her lips slightly parted. “Don’t make me wait too long.” He unhooked the bra’s front closure. How’d he do that? Before she could figure it out, he lowered his head and swirled his tongue around a nipple. Whatever thoughts had been roaming through her brain gave in to the incredible heat. His palm pressed against her lower back, bringing her closer to his erection. Their rasping breaths mingled. She reclined her head, giving him full access to her neck. “Come with me,” she moaned.
“I have every intention of coming with you.” Her pulse leaped at the expectation that he would fulfill his promise. “Go now, or I won’t get camp set up.” He unclasped her hands from around his neck and set her away from him. The straps slipped off her shoulders and the bra fell to the ground. Before she moved out of his reach, he slid his fingers into her bikini panties and caressed her bottom. “Fifteen minutes, lass.”
She leaned into his hand and mewed.
“Vixen. You’re set on torturing me.” He picked her up and carried her to the water, his eyes dancing with happiness.
“Don’t throw me in.”
He laughed. “The thought occurred to me, but I wouldn’t dare risk harming my bride.” He pulled off her panties and eased her into the bubbling foam as if he were laying a baby down for a nap. “Fifteen minutes.” He walked away, whistling.
“Beethoven Symphony No. 6,” she yelled.
“Och, my bonnie bride knows Beethoven.”
“I know Haydn, too. You can’t stump me.” She sank into the mineral water and reveled in the way it laved her with its wizardly powers. Since meeting him at the freight office, how often had she listened to him whistle. Every time they were together. He rarely whistled around other people, though. Why? She’d have to ask him. She ducked under the gurgling waterfall and washed away the shampoo. Sore muscles also disappeared, but others tensed in wanton anticipation.
When she broke through the curtain of foamy water and wiped her eyes, she spotted Cullen silhouetted against the rising moon and the shadow of rugged land—a Greek statue perfectly sculpted—six feet, two inches of corded muscles and long, lean legs. Black hair trailed a path down his chest, past his navel, to the thick patch at his groin. His arousal jutted back up the path.
Goodness, he’s certainly endowed with a lot more than inalienable rights.
The moment was a breath-stopping memory to savor, a vivid memory to paint, a sensate memory never to place on her shelf of collectibles, but to hold close and cherish—forever.
A deep red glow, a reflection or a trick of the dying light, slashed across Cullen’s chest and held there until he slipped into the water. Although the light disappeared when he moved, its presence notched an eerie premonition in Kit’s heart.
“Mmm,” he sniffed, nuzzling her neck. His stubble brushed her wet skin. “Succulent enough to eat, ma chérie.”
“Nibble away, I’m all yours.” She floated into his arms and into the realm of heightened sensuality. The water became warmer, the dying sun brighter, the cool air smoldering, his kisses liquid. A cry came from low in her throat as their tongues danced to the rhythm of lovers written at the beginning of time. Their limbs entwined like soft-tipped tendrils of fragrant wisteria. His scent was an intoxicating blend of sun and pine, redolent of musk.
Cullen entered her in a single powerful thrust, stretching, filling her with sensations that moved like an enveloping ground swell of energy from deep within her pelvic core, pulsing outward along her body’s sensuous pathways.
“I’ve thought of little else since the last time I held you in my arms.”
Kit had everything she ever wanted, everything she needed to be complete. She shivered against him.
“Are you cold?” He wrapped her tighter in his embrace.
“I’m burning.” She gazed into his eyes, dark and intense. “Don’t ever leave me.”
“I’ll never leave you.”
Her fingers raked through his hair, down the length of his neck, and along broad shoulders. She indulged herself in the velvet smooth texture of his skin. Without inhibition, her hands glided down hard, muscular arms and across his chest and became entangled with patches of black hair.
She ignored his gentle complaint as heat and tension roared through her igniting an uncontrollable fire. Tremors washed over her like the perfect storm engulfing everything in its path. His subtle stroking became a maelstrom of dazzling sensations as powerful as the final movement of a symphony pulling the listener toward the ultimate climax and reward.
She inhaled without exhaling, and with each inhalation, her muscles tensed to a new and higher level until they contracted in orgasmic spasms. The tempo of Cullen’s strokes increased, moving within her toward his own release. Upon reaching his destination, he shouted his ecstasy. His hot breath blew across her neck. “I love you, lass.”
With her legs still wrapped around him, he climbed out of the water, and grabbed a towel that he wrapped around her. Tension in his face had softened, and his smile warmed her in places already overheated.
He dropped to his knees, keeping them joined together, and he laid her on the bed he had prepared for them with warm blankets and a soft cushion of pine needles. He had even packed her pillow. When her head touched the cotton ticking covering the goose down, tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. Then she noticed the picnic dinner with a bottle of wine and lighted candles.
“Cullen,” she sighed his name.
“I took the liberty of searching your trunk. I’m afraid this is the last bottle.”
“Whatever is mine is yours.” The tears fell faster now.
“Don’t cry.” He wiped her tears with his fingertips and then licked away the droplets he’d collected. “There’ll be no more tears.”
“I want to crawl inside you. Feel what you feel, taste what you taste, see life from your eyes.”
“You’re already inside. Hear the beat of my heart? The rhythm is yours.”
“Keep me inside forever,” she whispered.
“As I am inside you, so you shall always be inside me.”
He thrust in short rhythmic strokes once again, pressing his body against her pubic mound, sending powerful sensations rippling through her. She reached for his hand and squeezed as another orgasmic cry broke from her lips. He kissed her, pulling her breath of pleasure into his mouth.
Within moments, he followed with his own explosive release. “Je t'aime.”
She fell asleep with her head on his chest listening to the beat of his heart, replete.
Twice he tried to wake her, but she rolled over saying she needed sleep more than food. She had no idea what time it was when her eyes finally popped open, but the big round moon lighting up the sky welcomed her, and so did Cullen, pulling her gently into his embrace. “Are you hungry?”
“What’s on your mind?” she asked, stretching overused muscles.
He had an almost hypnotic intensity in his eyes. “You need to eat to keep up your strength.” He pulled her to him so her head rested on his chest. Her leg crisscrossed his body. The evidence of his hunger poked her leg.
“I think you’re still hungry.” She wiggled her hips.
“Nae, lass. I don’t want to make you sore. We can wait until morning.”
“You can wait?” she said, sticking out her bottom lip. “Ooookay,”
“Aye, even a Montgomery thinks about his lassie’s comfort.”
“If you’re going to make a noble sacrifice, I’ll give you a surprise.” She dug into her carpetbag until she found her iPod she kept charged with a solar charger. “Are you ready?”
“Aye, I’m never ready for your surprises, but I’m always intrigued by them.”
As soon as she’d discovered his musical passion, she’d imagined exposing him to the sound quality of twenty-first century music. Now, she wondered what recording he should listen to first. What would be most compelling for him? He was familiar with all the Baroque composers from Monteverdi to Handel and Bach, and all the Classical composers from Haydn to Beethoven. He’d listened to early opera but hadn’t experienced the golden age with Wagner, Verdi, Puccini. He’d never heard blues and jazz and rock and roll, or Loretta Lynn or Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. What would take his breath, capture his imagination?
“I’m going to put these buds into your ears.”
“What are they?”
“You’ll find out.” She scrolled through her playlist and clicked on Vivaldi’s Lute Concerto in D Major, one of her favorites. Vivaldi’s concertos and arias deeply influenced his contemporary, Bach, and the recording she had on her iPod featured the brilliant John Williams on guitar. His musical artistry informed her. She took a deep breath and hit the play button.
Cullen shot up off the blanket with his hands pressed firmly against his ears. “Crivvens!” His rapid breathing and pounding heart disquieted the still night. His eyes grew wide as he listened, enthralled by the violins and harpsichord and guitar.
Within moments, his hands moved in concert with the music, and he conducted the orchestra to its lingering conclusion. Several seconds after the last note faded, he gazed up into the solid darkness of the starry sky. He didn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally, he said, “Yesterday I heard the sound of hell. Tonight I heard the sound of heaven. You gave me the gift of yourself, the most beautiful gift I’ve ever been given. This is the second.” His voice quivered. “How is it possible for this little box to hold the sound of God’s own orchestra?”
Her heart slammed against her ribs. Although he’d asked a hypothetical, he deserved an answer. “Because men like you and John and Braham, and women like Sarah, and children like Adam and Frances never stopped dreaming their dreams.”
He fell back onto the blanket and pulled her on top of him. The heavy beat of his heart thrummed against her. “I can never give you anything that would compare to the wonders of your time.”
She shook her head. “You’ve already given me much more. I was fortunate to experience the future, but I don’t belong there permanently. I belong with you in your world.” Even after her affirmation, his eyes held the glaze of doubt.
Determined to waylay both his doubts and fears before they took hold of his mind, she positioned herself over his erection and slid down his shaft, embedding him deep inside of her.
AS THE SUN rose on their first full day of marriage, Kit woke nestled in the crook of her husband’s arm. Her hand rested on his chest, gently moving with the rise and fall of his breathing. His smile was enough to melt her heart.
She did her best imitation of a cat, stretching from her fingertips down through her big toes. “Have you been listening to music all night?” she asked between yawns.
He removed the ear buds and rolled over onto his side. “How many songs are in this box? It will take days to listen to all of them.”
“I can’t begin to comprehend this miracle.”
“What did you listen to?”
“Not only did I listen, I watched something called Meet the Press. The men at the table discussed the president’s agenda, and they showed him. He’s a colored man.”
“And he graduated from Harvard Law School,” she said.
“Your world is very different.”
“But the people are the same. Hardworking folks doing the best they can for their families.”
“Your pa did well for his. I saw pictures of your farm and the mansion.”
“MacKlenna Farm doesn’t belong to me. I’m not a MacKlenna.”
His fingertips brushed her face as if they were pencils drawing intricate lines and shapes. “You say that, but there‘s a voice behind your eyes that screams it’s not true.”
“The MacKlenna tradition informed the person I am.”
“And you’ll teach that tradition to our children.”
One day she would birth his son, and the child would grow up to be like his father whom she knew very little about. “How many women have you been with?”
“What kind of question is that?” His tone was brusque, his eyes glaring.
“A reasonable one. You might have a disease.”
“I’ve always been careful.”
“Are you going to answer my question?”
“It’s none of your concern.” His handsome face appeared troubled, the corners of his eyes strained.
“I have a right to know.”
“Nae.” He rolled on top of her and nuzzled her neck, scratching her with his whiskers.
She pushed him away. “This is important.”
“You do not need to worry yourself with this matter, Kitherina.”
She swallowed back tears. “I’m getting in the spring.” Grabbing their top blanket, she threw it around her shoulders and rushed off to the water.
The soaking did wonders for her body, but nothing for her hurt feelings.
She had been in the water for only a few minutes when Cullen appeared at her side and tenderly stroked her arm. “I’ve had no one to answer to for several years. I considered your question intrusive, but I don’t think you were asking for a number. I believe you were asking me to share who I am.”
He paused and sighed with a heavy breath. “There have been more women than I can count, more than I can remember. None of them meant anything, and I’m not proud of that.” He moved his hands up her arms and gently kneaded her shoulders.
“I never met a woman I cared to be with more than once until I met you. I’ve had feelings with you I’ve never had before. I wish I could give you an answer that would satisfy you. I can’t. I’ve been more discreet as I’ve aged. Please understand that my life began the moment I met you.”
As did hers. She slipped into his arms and their honeymoon ended the way it began. But Kit could not dislodge the memory of the deep red glow across Cullen’s chest and the fear notched on her heart.