I was embarrassed by being caught watching the passionate couple's embraces, especially so because it was Walter that caught me. He made me jump so violently that I gasped and fled. I could tell I was blushing, but the alcohol may have had something to do with that. My head was buzzing and I didn't feel completely in control of my legs; but the walk back to the house, together with the shock of being caught off guard had cleared my head a little.

I heard Walter come in, felt his presence, heard him move through the corridor and to his own room. I felt a small flutter of disappointment that he had not come to me. I had felt it before but had always suppressed it, pushed it away and ignored it. I had not wanted to know about my growing love for my husband because I knew it would only start to hurt me. I did not believe, you see, that he could ever fully forgive me, or love me as he once had. It was as I had been told, he wouldn't look at me anymore…but recently I had seen his eyes watching and I had begun to hope, though only faintly, that maybe he could one day feel a little something of what he once had for me, only a little, but enough.

I removed my stockings as I usually did, if mildly more provocative than usual and moved to unbutton my dress. I tilted my head and caught his eyes. He was standing in his doorway, shirt removed, staring at me.

A bolt of excitement shot through me as I saw the expression in them.

He wanted me.

The alcohol was doing its work. Any buts, what ifs and maybes were drowned under what I wanted, and at that moment I wanted him. Logic didn't come into it. What had happened in the past didn't register enough on a significant level for me to have doubts.

He was looking at me and I was looking at him.

I saw everything. His physical attraction and his silent power, intellectually strong and the passion that lay curled just below the surface. I'd seen it in his zeal for his work, his concern for the people and the way he'd pushed through the mob to protect me.

My breath came slow as I purposely tried to control the frantic beating of my heart.

Deliberately I dropped my dress.

I waited in the charged tension as he paused for that split second, registering my invitation and then he moved. He was across the room in powerful strides and I was enveloped in the crush of his embrace as his lips devoured my own and I was left short of breath.

Everything was poured into that kiss, all the frustration, betrayal, happiness, fear, love…everything. I was consumed by it and by him. He slowed as we reached the bed, became more gentle, though no less passionate, and we came together properly for the first time, like a real married couple. Like a couple in love. No guilt marred the moment, no fear of capture, no compromise…and I was truly happy.