"Because I've been living like a nun."
"I've been living like a monk. I think we just broke all our vows."
Isabella laughed, then drew in a sharp breath as she settled onto his full length.
It did not hurt at all. Isabella smiled in joy and relief. He was a tight fit, but she was so slippery he slid in without strain. It was beautiful.
So long since they'd joined, and yet Isabella remembered the exact way he felt inside her, as she had from the very first night. He'd imprinted himself on her that long-ago night, and her body had never forgotten.
Mac raked his fingers through her hair, pulling it from the knot until it flowed loose down her back. "I belong here," he murmured.
Mac stroked her with gentle hands, and she began to rock on him, the feeling of him inside her blotting out all other thought.
"I love you," Isabella heard herself say.
"I love you, my Isabella. I've never stopped loving you, not for one single second."
The room quieted but for the sound of their breathing as they moved against each other, noises of pleasure, the chaise creaking a little.
Mac was right; he belonged inside her. They fit together so well, each having learned the other by heart. Memories of so many nights with him rose in her mind-Mac's firm body pushing her into the mattress, his hands all over her, his hot mouth arousing her again and again. Loving with Mac could be turbulent and exciting, and then it could be slow and hot, as it was this sunny morning in his studio.
Her skin was warm all over, from the stove and Mac's hands. He studied her with half-closed eyes, his face relaxed in pleasure, a sinful smile on his mouth.
"Scandalous debutante," he said. "With her legs around a wicked lord."
"A loving lord."
"Never doubt that," he said. "But still a wicked lord, very wicked. Wanton minx."
"I was seduced."
"A likely excuse. You were seduced by this?" He pushed into her a little harder. Isabella gasped with pleasure. "What about this?" Another thrust, this one harder, as he grasped her hips and expertly drove up into her.
"Yes. Mac, yes."
He broke off, his face twisting. "Ah, damn it, not yet."
He started shuddering, and sweat filmed his skin. Mac thrust his fingers to where they joined, playing, rubbing, teasing her toward climax. Isabella already felt stretched and hot, but his touch sent her into a frenzy. The friction rippled joy through her body, and her voice rang in the big, bright room.
Mac's breathing was hoarse, his arms supporting her with a firm strength. He thrust into her and she arched back, pulling him deeper, deeper.
Her climax swept her into a river of darkness, and when she opened her eyes, Mac was watching her, his face soft, laughing.
"You are beautiful," he rasped. "My love, my joy. You are so beautiful
Isabella kissed his hot mouth as he pulled her down to him. He lay back on the chaise and gathered her on top of him. They were still joined, Mac as hard as he'd been when they started. And he kept laughing.
They wound down together, the coals in the stove hissing as they burned, warming the room like summer sunshine. It was doubly warm on top of Mac, who was finer than any mattress she'd ever lay on.
Mac drew his finger across her cheekbone. "I've rubbed charcoal pencil all over you. It must have been on my fingers."
Isabella gave him a smile. "I'm used to it."
"I always adored seeing you covered in charcoal pencil."
"Or smeared with paint?" Sometime Mac would turn a wild session of painting into a fury of lovemaking if he and Isabella happened to be alone in the studio.
"I liked that best of all," she said.
She hadn't felt this contented, this eased, in a long, long time. The love was there; it rose up out of him and embraced her.
"We're good together," Mac rumbled beneath her ear. "Every gossip sheet in the country talked about our marriage, but they never knew how truly good it was."
"The newspapers printed such rubbish." Isabella kissed his cheek, loving the taste of his whiskers.
He chuckled. "I especially liked the one that speculated that I took a wrong turn and ended up in Rome instead of at our soiree."
"That was my fault. When I was constantly pestered about where you'd got to that night, I told all and sundry you must have lost your way home. I remember being quite annoyed."
"At them. It was none of their bloody business where you were. Only yours and mine."
"Well, I'm here now," he said softly.
Isabella wriggled her hips, feeling Mac rock-hard inside her. "You certainly are."
A warm sound issued from his throat. "Here to stay. For always."
"That would grow uncomfortable in this position, even for you."
"I don't know." Mac kissed her lips. "I like it here."
Isabella started to answer, but Mac pushed one slow thrust inside her, and Isabella's words died into pleasure. He had always done that, made her pliant and sleepy, then surprised her with a burst of lovemaking so wild they ended up exhausted and sore. He'd leave her breathless, hot, laughing, and well pleasured.
He did it again. By the time they climaxed together a second time, they were on the floor, Isabella still on Mac, the red brocade drape ripped from its hanging and tumbling around them. Mac laughed, his voice low, and then his eyes grew dark, as they did when he was about to release. Mac's hands roved Isabella's sweat-slick body, the odors of lovemaking mingling with that of paint. Oil paint was Mac's smell-she couldn't catch a whiff of it without being plunged into memories of him.