Amber couldn’t argue with that. Tuck pushed the door and it yawned open.
As she walked in, antique lamps came up around the perimeter of the rectangular room, giving it a yellowish glow. The ceilings were arched, the woodwork dark and intricately carved and the books were lined on recessed shelves, secured behind fronts of black metal latticework.
There were clusters of armchairs with worn leather upholstery. And in the center of the room was an oblong table, set on two massive pedestals and surrounded by eight antique chairs, upholstered in burgundy damask.
“I can picture him here,” she said, her voice sounding small in the imposing space.
“I try not to,” said Tuck. Then he unexpectedly took her hand. “Come here.”
“Why?” A flutter of reaction made its way up her arm, crossing into her chest. She was instantly aware of Tuck as a man, her attraction to him and the fact that they were completely alone.
“I want you to sit.”
“Here.” He pointed to one of the armchairs.
“What are you doing?” She didn’t know what he had planned, but something in his voice was arousing her.
“Sit,” he said softly.
“I want to picture you there,” said Tuck. “With no shoes.” He unexpectedly reached around her and unclasped her hair, letting it fall around her face. “Perfect,” he said.
Then he paused, his gaze squinting down.
“What?” She felt suddenly self-conscious.
“One more thing.” He reached out again, sliding his index finger under the spaghetti strap of her silver-and-ice-blue cocktail dress, dropping it down off her shoulder.
Her arousal ramped up, sending pleasure impulses along her thighs. She gazed up at him, unable to speak.
He took a step back. “That’s what I’m going to remember in this room.”
Her entire body heated under his gaze.
He watched her intently for a full minute, his eyes dark and clouded with obvious desire.
“You want to see my favorite room?” he asked.
She knew she should say no. It was the only reasonable answer. His question could mean anything and everything.
But her lips stubbornly formed the word yes.
* * *
Amber looked surprised when they entered the second-floor sitting room. Tuck could only imagine that she’d expected something bigger and grander. She gazed at the earthy rattan furniture, the watercolors on the walls and the stoneware vases atop pale maple tables.
“Not what you were expecting?” he asked.
“Not even close.” She ran her hand over the back of the sofa, moving farther into the room.
With her bare feet, loose hair and the spaghetti strap still drooping over her shoulder, she seemed to belong here. She’d looked great in the library, the juxtaposition of such a feminine woman in such a masculine room. But here she looked fantastic. He wanted to close the door, lock out the world and maybe keep her here forever.
“It keeps me grounded,” he told her.
“I’ve never thought of you as being grounded.” Her pretty smile took some of the sting out of the words.
“What do you think of me as being?”
“Indulged, cosseted, lucky.”
“I suppose I’m all of those things.” He saw no point in denying it.
“It’s more complicated than that.” She looped around and came back to him.
“Nice of you to say so.”
“I’m only being honest.”
“Then, nice of you to notice,” he said.
“It took me a while to notice.” She stopped in front of him, all fresh faced and adorable. Her skin was satin smooth above the dress, lips a perfect pink, her hair just mussed enough to be off-the-charts sexy.
He remembered her naked. He remembered every single nuance of her body, the curve of her hip, the swell of her breasts, the blue of her eyes as passion overwhelmed her.
“Took me about half a second to notice you,” he said gruffly.
“What did you notice?” She was so close, it was about to drive him crazy.
The slightest movement of his hand and he’d be touching her waist, feeling the pulse of her skin. If he leaned in, just a few inches, he could kiss her. Or at least find out if she’d let him kiss her. He picked up the scent of her hair. His fingertips twitched with the memory of her skin.
“Your eyes,” he said. “Your shoes and your sassy mouth.”
“Somebody has to keep you in line.”
He eased slightly closer. “You want to keep me in line?”