The Last Wicked Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 5)(27) by Lorraine Heath
Exhausted and replete, she lay beneath him, skimming lethargic fingers over his damp back, aware of the trembling in his arms as he kept his weight off her, a consideration that touched her deeply. He pressed his lips to her temple before rolling off her. He drew her up against his side, stroking her arm as though he was as loath to lose contact with her as she was to lose it with him. As his breathing slowed, he kissed the top of her head. “I’m not leaving tonight, so sleep as deeply as you want.”
Inhaling sandalwood and the musk of their lovemaking, she closed her eyes.
Winnie decided that she rather enjoyed being made love to in the morning. It was a glorious thing to wake up to. Then they’d enjoyed breakfast in bed before satisfying each other once again. She couldn’t recall if she’d ever known such happiness.
She also discovered that she liked being dressed by a man, even if her hair was nothing more than a simple braid. Sitting at her dressing table, she watched as William put on his shoes. She’d never observed a man getting completely dressed before. She rather liked all these new experiences.
“I suppose you have to take your leave now,” she said.
Standing, he walked over to her and brought her to her feet. “I’m taking a day of leisure, to do nothing beyond being with you.”
“What of your patients?”
“No one is knocking on death’s door. My housekeeper knows where I am. If a hospital needs me, they’ll send word ’round to her and she’ll send word to me.” He cradled her cheek. “I want to be with you.”
“I promised Whit I’d take him to Madame Tussaud’s.”
“I’ll accompany you.”
She couldn’t deny the pleasure that his offer brought her, although a secret part of her had to admit that she’d rather stay abed with him. She’d never in her life felt so treasured, so appreciated, so cared for. This was how it was supposed to be between a man and a woman. If Avendale hadn’t died, she’d have never known.
But she also recognized that there was more to William’s treatment of her. It made her stronger, it made her believe that she should be treated better. A small part, a very small part of her wished she could confront Avendale and show him that she wasn’t the cowering girl he’d married.
“Let’s share the news with Whit.”
But before she could leave the room, William took her into his arms again and kissed her as though he hadn’t spent a good portion of the night doing just that. She wound her arms around his neck, knowing she would never tire of this. Although she had secured no promises from him, she understood now that she didn’t require marriage to be happy. It was enough just to be with him.
When he broke away and opened the door for her, she knew a secretive little smile played over her lips and hoped that Whit couldn’t interpret its meaning.
As they walked down the hallway, William said, “I’d have not expected you to be a fan of Madame Tussaud’s.”
“I must admit that I think I might have gone mad making wax creations of the deceased, but I find it fascinating to see people as they were. Although I do avoid the torture chamber.” She knew enough about the grisly room to know she had no desire to see instruments of torture or to see them demonstrated on wax figurines, even if they could feel no pain.
“It’s my understanding,” William said, “that ladies aren’t allowed in the room because of their delicate sensibilities.”
“Have you ever been in there?”
“No, I’ve seen enough suffering in life not to want to see it in wax.”
“How do you bear it, all the suffering you’ve seen?”
“By focusing on happier things, like moments spent with you.”
He said such lovely things to her. She was half tempted to forego the trip with Whit and spend the entire day in her bedchamber with William, but she wanted him to have some time with her son. She knew they’d gotten along famously while she and Whit had stayed at William’s residence during her recovery, but she thought it a good idea to reacquaint them as she suspected she would be spending a good deal more time with William.
She walked into the nursery, although it seemed odd to refer to it as such when Whit was all of seven years old now. He would soon be exchanging the nursery for the classroom, but for a bit longer he was hers.
Whit was sitting at a small table, frantically scratching a pencil over his art pad. Several sheets of paper were scattered around the table. His governess was sitting in a nearby chair reading. She quickly stood, but Whit carried on.
Winnie knelt beside him. “Good morning, darling.”
“There were so many animals. I’m trying to draw them, before I forget what they looked like.”
“You’re doing a marvelous job. Perhaps you’d like to share them with Dr. Graves. He’s visiting this morning. You remember him, don’t you?”
Whit looked up then, his dark hair falling across his brow, his dark eyes—his father’s eyes—focusing on William. “You took care of Mummy when she was hurt.”
She did wish that he didn’t remember that particular aspect of their time with William. Whit had been only four. She hoped he’d have forgotten the worst of if by now.
“You carried me on your shoulders in the park,” Whit continued.
William crouched beside her. “Yes, I did. I’d like to take you and your mum to the park again sometime, but I understand you already have a special trip planned for today.”
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