Warm morning sun peeked between the dusty curtains and fell across Anna's bare arm and slid over her shoulder. The full-length heater behind her stirred to life and the heavy arm across her rib cage shifted. The low rumble in her ear caused a fluttery feeling in the pit of her belly.
"Well, darling, I trust you slept well."
So it wasn't just a dream then.
It was him. He was the heat source. She was here; in Ireland, in bed, with Declan. Something she had envisioned for months. Her stomach fluttered as flashbacks from the night before flooded her thoughts. A rosy blush stole up her cheeks before she turned over into his arms and pressed herself against his warm chest.
"I did." She grinned up into his scruffy face, "When I wasn't being ravaged by a lewd and lanky Irishman."
He rolled her on top of him. "Ravaged?"
Oh how she already adored that mischievous twinkle in those fair isle eyes.
"It was delightful." She grinned watching his mouth twist into a sleepy smile then shivered as his lean hand slid over her hip bone and down across her buttocks.
"-I'm glad you found it delightful." He said with a happy-go-lucky tone splaying his hand against the curve in her lower back, "I thought it was earth-shattering myself, but there you go." He lifted a hand to tuck a curl of hair behind her ear smiling philosophically, "I don't suppose you'd be willing to have another go later in view of helping me get it just right?"
"I think you're well aware that you got it more than 'just right' more than once," she answered with a giggle.
"I aim to please."
"I'll bet you say that to all the girls," she ran her fingers through his tousled hair, loving the way the dark ends curled against the pillow.
His vivid blue eyes crinkled. "All the girls?" He repeated pulling a face. "What girls? Do you mean Bessie the baker? She's already got a husband and three little ones."
"I meant the girls that come to the pub."
"Aren't many of those." He took in the features of her face with an appreciative gaze. "But, then again, I wasn't exactly looking very hard."
"I suppose you were too busy pining over an unforgettable redhead," she made a face to show him she was joking.
"You were hard to forget," he agreed turning serious.
Her face brightened and her voice lifted, "You thought about me?"
" 'Course I did." He paused stroking her shoulder, "But, I tried not to. I didn't want to think about what might have happened if I'd had my say and Jimmy-"
"Jeremy." She corrected him.
"Right. Jeremy, the idiot, hadn't shown up when he did."
"I wondered too."
"Yes." She agreed. "Very bad timing."
She marveled that this deep connection, a fission of minds almost, was being mirrored back at her. Somehow instinctively, a part of her recognized that her encounter with Declan O'Callaghan had left her with an imprint of the possibility of another life, one that didn't require her to be anything but herself. She stared down into his eyes and found the same curious mixture of bemusement and joy.
Authenticity. That's what Declan seemed to want most from her and as she'd been quickly discovering since she'd met him, she couldn't be anything but authentic, when he challenged her in unexpected ways.
His voice dipped down into the sexy, husky tone that gave her goosebumps. "Yes. You were on my mind quite a lot. Always on my mind, as the song goes." He gazed into her eyes soulfully, "But then again, a guy tends to remember a woman who trashes his car, gets him punched in the nose..." He blinked slowly before taking her hand and placing it on his heart. "And burrows into his heart."
"Did I really?" she asked looking gratifyingly pleased about it as she reached up to kiss the scruffy cheek. He pulled her down to him and kissed her firmly, but briefly before releasing her with a grin.
"Damn woman, you were there." His voice was still husky with sleep, "She was an absolute wreck. It was only the dedication of a good mechanic that got her back on the road."
She thumped on his chest playfully, "Declan!"
"Have I mentioned how glad I am that you're back?"
She thumped him again convinced he was teasing her again and they tousled a bit before he grabbed her wrists and held her fast.
"It's true sweetheart!" His amusement faded. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
She quivered in response to the naked passion in his eyes and shifted towards him. "And I couldn't stop thinking about you." She felt his hands curve around her. "I kept imagining us together, here at your pub, in your room." She stared at his wry mouth, wanting to feel his lips pressed up against hers.
She nodded, drinking in the slopes and lines of his face.
"When were you thinking about that?"
"After you kissed me. At the B and B."
"Had I known that darling, you wouldn't have gotten back on that plane in the first place."
She loved his cocky self-assurance. "Really?" She purred. "What would you have done?"
"Well, for starters." He rolled her onto her back and wrapped her legs around his hips. I'd definitely have tried to kiss you again." With his lean naked body pressed up against her, her body was on fire. His elbows were resting on either side of her head, his weight was heavy against her, pressing her into the mattress.
She couldn't resist teasing him, "And if that went well?"
"Then I would have taken it as a positive sign and pulled out all my best moves."
"You have moves?"
"Yes," He answered a bit testily. "You saw a few of them last night."
"They were good." She was quick to assure him.
"That was only the warm up."
"Oh." Anna's eyes widened. "Wonderful."