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The Governess Game Tessa Dare 2022/8/3 13:55:35

As the pleasure racked his body, she held him tight. He clasped her to him afterward, pressing kisses to every part of her face. When he kissed her nose, she laughed.

He rolled aside, and they lay as they’d begun, holding hands and staring up at the stars. Could it have been only five or six hours ago?

Chase drew her closer, tucking her head against his chest. His fingers toyed with her hair. “I think the world is spinning.”

“The world is always spinning.”

He exhaled in a soft groan.

“Well, that’s the truth. It’s spinning all the time.”

“How about this. What if I say that you’re my world. You’re not spinning.”

“But I am. We all are. We’re on the earth, and it’s spinning, so we’re spinning, too.”

“You are ruining all my sweet nothings.”

“That’s just it.” She put her hand atop his chest, covering his fiercely beating heart. “To me, the truth doesn’t ruin anything. Why should understanding the universe diminish our sense of wonder at it? We are spinning around and around, at hundreds of miles an hour, on a rock in the midst of a fathomless universe. Isn’t that awe-inspiring enough?”

“If we’re spinning at hundreds of miles an hour, it seems a miracle that we stay on this rock at all.”

“That’s not a miracle. That’s gravity.”

He kissed the top of her head. “I love you. There. Have you some astronomical way to ruin that?”

“No.” She was grateful he couldn’t see her face contorting with elation. “That’s a miracle.”

“See, to me it’s the most logical thing in the world.” He gently eased her aside and rolled over to face her. His fingertips traced the features on her face and the contours of her body. “Listen, I could make some excuse about there being no coaches or boats at this hour, or say there’s a bridge that’s been washed out. We could find an inn where there’s only one room left and pretend we’re forced to share. But the God’s honest truth is this. I want to spend the rest of the night holding you, and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it.”

She smiled. “Then let’s do that.”

They made love twice more at the inn, with a scant hour or two of sleep between bouts of passion. After all that exertion, nourishment was a necessity.

“Do you want a long engagement?” Chase mumbled the question around a mouthful of fried egg.

Alex set down her cup of tea. Suddenly, she didn’t trust her fingers to grip it properly. “Wh . . . What was that you just asked?”

He buttered a point of toast, folded it in two, and downed it in one bite. “Waiting might spare you the worst of the gossip. You could return to your house, we’d allow some time to pass. Perhaps a wedding next spring.” He set down his knife and fork, then looked at her across the table. “Damn it, I don’t want to wait until spring.”

“Chase, what are you talking about?”

“Our wedding. What else should I be talking about?”

“I don’t know. Something that might actually happen?”

He pushed his plate aside, propped a forearm on the table, and leaned forward to speak in a low voice. “I told you last night, this means always. You said you wanted that, too.”

“Of course I want that,” she whispered back. “But marriage?”

“You said you wouldn’t be my mistress.”

“You said you couldn’t offer me anything more.”

“I changed my mind,” he said.

“So did I,” she replied.

He tapped one finger on the table. “I’m confused.”

“Consider this. If the comet is my comet, I can find someone who’ll pay to name it. Perhaps enough that I can be an independent woman with a home of my own. Your lover, not your mistress.”

“I’ve had my share of lovers, and several other men’s shares, as well. I don’t need one more.”

Alex sighed. “You can’t marry me. My father was an American who made his living in trade. My mother was an illegitimate mestiza. I was christened Catholic. I’ve no money, no relations. For heaven’s sake, you’re going to be a duke. I’m the governess.”

His eyes flashed with emotion. “After months of needling me about commitment, you’re refusing my proposal. You’ve spent all summer telling Rosamund and Daisy that a woman can do anything. Now you’re going to tell them you can’t be a duchess. Were you lying to us all this time, or are you deceiving yourself now?”

“I don’t know.” A lump thickened in her throat.

He reached across the table and took her hand in his, tenderly stroking the back of her fingers with his thumb. “I’m sorry. We needn’t sort it all out this morning. I just want to be with you.”

“I want to be with you, too.”

He kissed her hand. “Then let’s go be together at home. I miss our mattress.”

She loved that he called it their mattress.