Her breathing quickened even more as she remembered that particular night—he had been insatiable and so very creative. God, she missed him in her bed . . . in her body. She shook herself, tossing a guilty glance at her daughter, who now had her toy phone pushed up against the side of Broccoli’s head so that the doll could “speak” to Rhys as well. The girl caught her eye and smiled.
“Firsty, Mummy . . .” Bronwyn sneaked a little peek over at Bryce and could see that his own cheeks had gone a dull red, his pupils were dilated, and his breathing was labored. She recognized the signs of his arousal immediately and knew from the way he shifted in his seat that his jeans were getting a little snug in the crotch area. God, this wasn’t helping their cause. She had to control herself. She couldn’t seem to keep her hands off him for the most part, and it wasn’t doing either of them any good. She looked away from him, trying very hard to ignore what was happening to both of them, and smiled down at her daughter, who was starting to look a little grumpy at being ignored.
“Okay, sweetie,” she placated. “Do you want water or some juice?”
“Duce,” Kayla demanded, and glared defiantly back when Bronwyn leveled a reprimanding stare at her. Her rebellious lower lip started quivering before she sighed dramatically and gave in. “Peese. Duce peese.”
“Good girl.” Bryce, who seemed to have gotten a modicum of control over his body, praised her in a hoarse voice. He flagged the server over and nodded at Kayla. When she understood what her father wanted her to do, her tiny chest puffed up with pride, and she smiled winningly up at the younger man.
The server grinned.
“Orange or apple?” He wisely gave her only two choices, and she opted for the apple.
When the man trotted away, Bryce looked meaningfully over at Bronwyn.
“You know that I’m as hard as a steel pipe for you right now, don’t you?”
“Bryce,” she squeaked, tossing a scandalized look over at Kayla. The little girl was oblivious to them and craning her neck to see where her new friend—the server—had gone.
“And it’s always been that way between us. From the very beginning,” he pointed out, ignoring her shock. “That’s another thing I never told you. While I was riveted, charmed, fascinated, and all of that, I was also turned on beyond belief. Aside from not wanting to leave when Pierre did, my body didn’t give me much choice in the matter. I was pretty much incapable of standing upright without shocking every damned person in here that day. Every time I thought I had it under control, you’d smile or something and I’d go to instant attention again. I had a terminal case of wood for most of the first year of our marriage as you know . . . but in those first few months it was damned near impossible to control. I was like a horny teenager with you.”
“I never quite understood what you saw in me,” she admitted on a whisper, and he sighed quietly.
“Bronwyn, I don’t know how much clearer I can make this, so listen up. To me . . . You. Are. Stunning. Sometimes I can’t stare at you for too long because it almost physically hurts me to look at you. It’s crazy, my chest tightens and burns to the point of actual pain until I remind myself to breathe.” He smiled bittersweetly. “That has happened more often than I care to reveal. You’re so lovely that something as fundamental as breathing becomes damned near impossible around you.”
She searched his harsh face for any sign of deception, but his strong jaw was clenched, his eyes almost hard, and she knew that it couldn’t have been easy for him to reveal that particular tidbit to her. She really affected him that strongly.
“You’ve stolen my breath on numerous occasions too, you know,” she confessed, reaching over to stroke his jaw. The server chose that moment to return with Kayla’s apple juice, and Bronwyn’s hand dropped down to the table, where she started toying with her dessert spoon.
She thanked the server for the juice and reached into the baby bag for Kayla’s sippy cup. After transferring the juice from the glass into the cup, she screwed the top on tightly and gave it to Kayla, who was not very happy about having the grown-up glass confiscated.
She refused to take her juice from the sippy cup, and Bronwyn gave her a sip of the leftover juice in the glass. She refused again and tried to take the glass from her mother. When Bronwyn moved the glass a safe distance away from her, she started kicking up a fuss. She was showing all the telltale signs of a toddler in desperate need of a nap and on the verge of a tantrum. Bronwyn had only to glance over at Bryce before he summoned the server over for the bill. Their conversation was put on immediate hold as their parental roles took precedence.
They packed up and left the restaurant pretty quickly, and as he drove them home, with a crying Kayla strapped into her car seat, Bronwyn felt a pang of regret over yet another unfinished conversation.
Bryce found Bronwyn in the conservatory a few hours later, sitting on the sofa with her legs tucked beneath her and a glass of wine in her hand. She was staring pensively out as the sun dropped gracefully into the ocean and set the horizon on fire. It was a beautiful sunset, but if Bronwyn’s somber face was anything to go by, she wasn’t fully appreciating the sun’s last hurrah as it fled from the night. She was running one elegant finger round and round the rim of her wineglass, her restlessness betrayed by the swift, repetitive movement.
Bryce glanced down at the sheaf of papers he held in his hand and shut his eyes as he sent an uncharacteristic and desperate prayer to a God he hadn’t really acknowledged since he was a boy. He was all out of options here. He had no choice but to give her what she wanted.