She nodded. ‘I did.’ Her mouth twitched. ‘Why? Are you saying I don’t need one?’
Their eyes met and he felt tiny curls of heat break like waves over his skin as he imagined Frankie coming naked out of the sea like Botticelli’s Venus.
Feeling his body harden, he shook his head again. ‘No, I’m not,’ he said firmly, tipping her gently off his lap.
Another second of this and he would be in danger of losing both the power of speech and any desire to move. What he needed right now was to clear his head—and that wasn’t going to happen when the soft press of Frankie’s body was playing havoc with all his senses, including his common sense.
‘Come on.’ He held out his hand. ‘Let’s go and get changed—before I change my mind or you change it for me.’
* * *
The sea was glorious. Just how he liked it. The water was drawing up lazily and then hurling itself against the stretch of golden sand like a steeplechaser clearing the final fence.
It was cold—bracingly so—but not enough to stop Frankie from joining him with a shriek as the surging waves sloshed against her body.
They spent a few minutes plunging through the water and then, hand in hand, made their way back to the beach. Grabbing towels, they ran, shivering, up to the Hall.
‘Not too hot to start,’ Arlo warned her as she unwrapped her body from its crimson swimsuit and stepped into the shower.
As she tilted her head back he joined her, gasping as the water hit his skin. Leaning forward, he let the warm stream soak his hair before smoothing it back against his skull.
Once they were done, and had stepped onto the tiled floor, he wrapped one of the huge plush towels around her and another round his waist, then pulled her closer, fitting her body snugly against his.
‘Are you warm enough?’ he asked.
Tipping her head back, she nodded. ‘I should probably dry my hair...’
He grabbed another towel and led her into the bedroom. The fire had been lit earlier, but it had died down, so he tossed another log into the gleaming orange core.
Turning, he felt his body harden. Frankie was sitting on the end of the bed, gazing up at him, her hair curling damply over her shoulders. She had let the towel fall away from her body, exposing the slim curves of her breasts, and he watched, mesmerised, as a droplet of water trickled all the way to the tip of her right nipple.
When she looked up at him, he reached down and began rubbing her soaked hair.
‘That was fun.’ She smiled. ‘I thought the sea would actually be colder.’
‘You’re lucky. It’s usually coldest in April.’
Their eyes met, and there were two, maybe three beats of silence. Then she reached up and pressed her hand against the front of his towel.
‘That’s not the only reason I’m lucky,’ she said softly.
Abruptly, his body redirected the flow of his blood with such force that he had to put his hand against her shoulder to steady himself. His mouth dried and he was suddenly conscious of the hammering of his heart as she peeled the towel away from his body and let it slip onto the rug.
There was another beat of silence and then she wrapped one hand around his hard length, cradling him underneath with the other. Without releasing her grip, she pushed him back onto the bed, slipping between his legs as he shifted backwards. He breathed in sharply as she began stroking the taut, silken skin, moving his hand to grip her hair as she flicked her tongue over the blunted head of his erection.
Her hands found his thighs, her fingers splaying against the muscle, and he groaned with helpless pleasure as she took him deeper into her mouth, then deeper still, so that he was powerless to move.
Only he wanted to taste her too. To give her pleasure. Not out of obligation, or a need to prove his virility, but because her pleasure was essential to his enjoyment.
Tugging on her shoulders, he pushed her gently backwards and sat up, his mouth finding hers. He’d lost count of how many times they had kissed before, but as he felt her hands touch his face his heart began to race.
Her fingers were so light, so gentle. So loving.
Gritting his teeth, he fought against the sudden tenderness and, tearing his mouth away, pulled at her hips, kissing her stomach as he turned her body so that she was above his face.
His head was swimming. Breathing in her scent, he parted her damp flesh, dipping inside her, seeking the tight bud of her clitoris. Teasing her with his tongue, he felt her quiver, and she arched against his mouth, moaning.