“His breath seemed to leave him in a quiet rush. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Silently, she led him to her room, stopping at the side of her four poster bed, covered in the mauve and blue quilt her Mother had made for her when she’d turned sixteen. It was a cherished heirloom, one she’d hoped to pass on to her own daughter one day.

Refusing to think about lost dreams, she reached for the loosened tie around Ford’s neck and disposed him of it. Her hands went to his shirt, unbuttoning it with sure and steady fingers. Together, they worked to remove their clothing, which became a slow, seductive process of discovery that heightened the hunger and passion spiraling between them.

Time lost meaning, and the night turned magical. Ford spent an immeasurable amount of time acquainting himself with the womanly changes to her body, worshiping the supple, pliant curves she’d developed with his slow hands and generous mouth. In turn, she reveled in the impressive man he’d become, with well-formed muscles, and sleek, hot skin.

When he gently laid her on the bed and moved over her, her own flesh caught fire. Brushing her hair from her face, he kissed her, long and lazily. Finally, he lifted his head and stared down at her with eyes filled with a combination of anguish and joy.

The poignant mixture of emotions made Grace’s breath hitch in her chest.

“Ahh, Grace, I really have missed you,” he murmured, his voice low and deep and intimate.

She swallowed back the tightness in her throat and skimmed her fingers along his cheek. “Me, too.”

His expression softened. A tender smile touched his mouth, relaxing the taut line of his jaw. With one arm bracing his heavy weight above her, his other hand continued to explore, shaping the swell of her breast, stroking over her hip, and finally parting her slender thighs to fit himself more fully against her.

She sighed, then gasped when his fingers brushed along the juncture of her thighs and dipped more intimately inside her. She arched toward him, moaning softly.

Her uninhibited response seemed to gratify him. Immensely. But he held his own desire in check, an uncertain frown marring his brow. “I’ve dreamed of this, of you, for so long. I want it to be perfect.”

The glimpse of vulnerability reminded her of the boy he’d once been and made her realize that for as much as he’d gained wealth and confidence, some things hadn’t changed at all.

“It will be,” she told him, and drew his mouth down to hers as he pushed deep inside her, filling her, claiming her.

The tight fit of them together stole her breath, made her desperate for more of him. She wrapped her legs around his waist as his slow, deep thrusts gradually quickened, and cried out his name as they gave themselves over to the most seductive, exquisite pleasure.

And not once during the long, wonderful night did she tell him to stop.

Bam, bam, bam.

The pounding sound reverberating in Grace’s mind grew louder, the voice calling her name more gruff and insistent. Ignoring the annoying noise, Grace snuggled closer to the warm, hard body curled against her from behind and willed the intruder away. Strong, male limbs entwined around her legs, and a corded arm banded possessively around her naked waist.

A sleepy smile curved her mouth. Ford . He was still there, testimony to the fact that their night together hadn’t been a fabulous, glorious dream. Floating somewhere between slumber and consciousness, she had the fleeting thought that maybe this time around things could be different for them. Maybe this time, they could find a way to be happy together.

The pounding continued. She frowned, and the man behind her stirred. A broad hand caressed her hip, and he buried his face in the crook of her neck. His breath was sleep-roughened when he murmured into her ear, “Grace, honey, someone is at your door.”

Grace’s eyes popped open at the same time her heart sped into overdrive. Surely Ford was mistaken . . . no, sure enough, that obnoxious sound was coming from the front of her house.”