Except one person.
I was dialing his mobile before my conscious thoughts caught up with my body. Smith answered on the third ring.
“Yes?” The subtle trace of Scot in his tone only underscored his obvious disregard for my position. Then again, an alpha male never bowed to another alpha male, regardless of title.
“My hand has been forced.” I explained the situation, taking care to leave out why I’d reassigned Brexton. If Smith was curious about what other matter I found more pressing, he didn’t ask. “Keep an eye on Georgia.”
“Is that an order?” he asked dryly.
It was a very good thing that we were having this conversation over the phone. The man knew how to get under my skin. We’d achieved a tenuous peace over the last year, but our relationship remained strained at the best times. Like now. I had to remind myself that he was my ally.
“I like to think of it as a mutually beneficial request.” When it came to the safety of those we loved, Smith and I saw eye to eye. I was counting on that understanding now.
There was a pause. “Consider it done.”
“Are you planning to leave your study this evening?”
I startled at the sound of my wife’s voice. Tearing myself away from the file I’d been reading for the fifth time, I glanced up. Clara paused in the doorway, the light from the hall cast a glowing silhouette around her. It framed her like an angel, and that’s what she was: my own angel sent to deliver me from myself. She stepped forward and came into better view. Her dark hair fell over her shoulders and her face was fresh, free of any cosmetics. She wore a simple white, silk robe that skimmed along her divine body. As I drank her in, the points of her breasts beaded under the thin fabric. I loved how her body responded to me, even at this distance.
“What time is it?” I asked, rubbing the back of my neck absently. What I was really asking was how long I had to fuck her before she pleaded for sleep. If it was up to me, I’d spend every moment of my life making love to her.
Her eyebrow arched as a smile twisted over her face. She knew exactly what I was thinking. “It’s ten. Bedtime.”
“Would you like me to join you?” I reached for the power button on my computer monitor. She didn’t have much of a choice as to whether I joined her if she was going to walk around looking so tempting.
“If isn’t too much trouble.” She sauntered to the desk and bent over, tapping her fingers on the mahogany. Bending slightly forward, her robe fluttered open enough to reveal a glimpse of creamy breast. “Unless you have something better to do.”
“Tonight I’m taking what’s mine, poppet.” If she wasn’t careful, I’d be claiming her on the top of this desk. But as I stood my mobile vibrated in my pocket. I shot her an apologetic smile and she shrugged. She had grown accustomed to quick messages and late night crises. Once I had her naked nothing short of nuclear war would be enough to draw my attention away from her. Slipping the phone from my trousers, I checked the screen. I couldn’t stop myself from grimacing when I saw the text from Brexton, and without thinking, I dropped back into my chair. Georgia had gleefully agreed to take the new assignment. That didn’t surprise me, but I wasn’t thrilled to have her heading up such an important matter.
“What’s wrong?” Clara asked, studying my features.
“Nothing,” I lied, and my wife frowned. The two of us had been through far too much for me to get something past her. She knew my moods, mercurial as they were, and she loved me anyway. But she had no patience for lies. I shot off a quick response, reminding myself that sometimes the less she knew, the less she had to worry about. Clara might disagree with that assessment but I considered it a marital duty.
Clara came around the desk and carefully climbed onto my lap. Judging from the heat between her legs, the robe was all she was wearing. I couldn’t help but enjoy the sensation of her cunt nuzzling against my groin. She pressed a finger to my chin and drew my face up to hers to plant a soft, inviting kiss on my lips.
“Tell me what’s on your mind.” Apparently her invitation came with a price.
“Nothing you should worry about.” This time I wasn’t lying. Instead I tried to be reassuring. There was no need for Clara to carry my burdens. She’d given up a normal life by marrying me and I wouldn’t pile every matter of state or security on her. “Only one of us should be tasked with dealing with the mundane issues of the country.”
“That’s not it.” Her eyes searched mine for the answer that wasn’t forthcoming. “This isn’t some Parliamentary issue. You’ve been preoccupied since we left the States. Talk to me about it. I can help.”
“Just being with you helps.” It did. Her presence was a comforting assurance that I was acting of her best interest.
“I don’t like it when you keep things from me, X,” she warned.
I brushed a kiss over her mouth, and she sighed. Her body softened against me despite her hesitance. “Sometimes you have to trust me.”
“I could say the same thing.” Clara buried her face into my shoulder. “I can handle it. Whatever it is. We said no secrets, remember?”
We had. I promised her that I was through keeping secrets from her, and then I’d proceeded to keep them anyway. Not because I didn’t trust her, but because I loved her. If only she could see that. I had to make her understand. “My only concern is with protecting you.”
Clara stayed silent and I could see her struggling with how to respond. I suspected the reason I’d gotten away with my past indiscretions had a lot to do with her knowing exactly why I had made the choices I did. Her life had been threatened on more than one occasion. It was a fact that I couldn’t live with.
“I’m stronger than you think,” she said at last. “I can handle it.”
“If you only knew.” I laughed under my breath. “If you had any idea how much I struggle with my need to protect you.”
“Show me. Let me in. Take what you need from me.” She stroked her hand down the side of my face.
It was an offer that I found difficult to refuse. Since the moment I’d met Clara, I’d felt compelled to watch over her. But not simply to just protect her. I wanted to claim her—own her. I’d longed to take that lovely creature and spirit her away where I would be the only one to ever touch her. She would be safe with me, and she would be mine. I tore my gaze from her and the temptation she was unknowingly dangling over me. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”