Convicted, стр. 73

They both exposed their cards and revealed all they could—except one. They still had an ace in the hole—they had Phil. His emails came daily, as well as pictures, and an occasional call. He was fully aware of Tony’s deal, Claire’s immunity, and that his communication and assistance was under the FBI’s radar. Their contact could be considered a breach of the FBI agreement.

The newly remarried Rawlings knew their time together was limited. In the grand scheme of life, a year was such a short time. Each day, each hour, they vowed to make better than the one before. Revelations came and discussions ensued. Claire no longer feared that Tony would leave each time he took the boat away from their island. She reasoned that his expeditions were like her walks in his woods during their past life. At that time, she needed time away from the estate; it soothed, healed, and strengthened her. Claire said once that she survived the early times on Tony’s estate because of Catherine. No longer did she feel that way; however, when she reminisced about her walks and her lake, Claire knew those times were invaluable. Tony went to town, explored other islands, snorkeled at nearby reefs, and always returned. He may not have recognized the importance of his excursions, but each time he returned with his eyes soft as suede and a spring in his step—Claire did.

She, on the other hand, had no desire to leave the island. Unless she had an appointment with the doctor, Claire preferred to stay near the house. Being in the southern hemisphere, the hottest time of year was approaching. If Claire didn’t keep her feet elevated, her ankles and feet swelled. The infinity pool allowed her to float and stay cool. Madeline doted on her constantly, encouraging her to eat small meals and get plenty of liquids. Home was Claire’s cocoon. She knew if they stayed there, they’d remain safe.

In her third trimester, sleeping at night had its problems, so often times, daytime activities morphed into napping. She’d be sunbathing or reading, and the next thing she knew, she was waking. The early day was her favorite time for sun before it became too intense. With her iPad at hand, she’d begin each day reading the news from the other side of the world. Sometimes it held her attention, and other times she’d lay the tablet face down and be lulled into a peaceful, dreamless state where her senses filled with the warm sun on her skin, lingering aroma of cologne mixed with her recently applied sunscreen, and the omnipresent roar of the surf.

Claire was in such a state, when without warning, large hands caressed her ankles and moved sensually toward her thighs. No longer was she on the edge of sleep. Her world was reignited as the tips of her lips turned upward and goose bumps materialized.

Opening her resting eyes, behind her sunglasses, and focusing on the handsome face before her, Claire saw her husband’s devilish grin. It was a smirk of lust and pleasure, one which—with only a glance—could melt not only her insides, but her world. His eyes, too, were covered by dark glasses, yet as his smiling lips neared hers and her smile willingly changed to a pucker, she longed for the unseen intensity waiting for her behind that dark glass.

Reaching up, Claire lifted the dark barrier. Tony’s eyes were the windows to his soul. She loved reading his emotions, especially when desire was part of the mix. In response, Tony, slowly and deliberately, removed her sunglasses and their eyes met. There was a moment when she thought to speak, but it was short-lived—so much more could be said without words.

Earlier that morning when Claire woke, Tony was gone. Madeline said he’d gone out on the boat. Now, after only hours apart, Claire realized their reunion would be more than a simple, Hi, how are you today?

It was true, her body had been thoroughly fulfilled and used the night before; nevertheless, it yearned for what was silently being offered. When his full, soft lips engaged hers, the passion of the night before returned with a vengeance. Only moments earlier, her lungs inhaled without instruction, yet as acquiescing moans escaped her lips, breathing required thought. Maybe it wasn’t thought, it was timing. Inhaling needed to occur in unison. If it didn’t, his unrelenting approach would rob her body of the oxygen necessary to go on. As her bathing suit covered breasts ached for the friction of his chest, Claire decided breathing was overrated. She wanted the heat that was overtaking her—to be consumed by the fire smoldering in the dark penetrating eyes. If in the process she forgot to breathe, did it really matter?

With the doors to their suite open to the crystal blue sea, their room was only slightly more private than the lanai; however, it was their room. Madeline and Francis respected their privacy. As Claire’s bathing suit fell to the floor, she realized they’d yet to speak, and still they’d conversed more than some couples did in a lifetime. They’d greeted one another, discussed the pleasantries of the tropical morning, and assessed that each was doing well.

Laying on the soft comforter with her arms above her head, the man she loved gazing down at only her, and the large ceiling fan methodically moving the humid air, Claire’s world was right. Had she planned on her morning taking this turn? No. Was she willing? Without a doubt.

The large talented hands claiming her body also had her soul. While his approach could at times be forceful—it was always gentle. Claire willingly surrendered, as she’d done a thousand times, to the whims and desires of the man above her. With no words, he could manipulate and dominate—move her from a state of sleeping bliss to the throes of erotic desire. Similar to years ago, his dark eyes held the passion and emotion which allowed her world to spin. Because he willed it so, the world was right.

Their past was significant, yet—insignificant. Years ago, Tony had told Claire not to talk about the past. He’d said they had a future and they needed to look ahead; nonetheless, at her prompting, the first month of their new marriage had been spent primarily in the past. She hadn’t asked to know the truth—she’d demanded it.

When Claire was young, her grandmother told her to be careful what she wished for. Without a doubt, Tony and her grandmother were correct. There were times she wished for ignorance, times she wanted not to know all he’d told her; however, she did know—and in knowing—she wanted to put it all behind them. Claire wanted to look ahead toward a future with the man making love to her, seducing her, and fulfilling her every desire. She knew from experience that life with him could be difficult—but without him—the entire planet would spin out of control, lost forever in the darkest depths of the universe.

Claire closed her eyes and concentrated on his talented fingers as they caressed her skin. Beginning at the nape of her neck, they trailed lightly down her body. Uncontrollably, Claire heard her own voice, truly nothing more than a ragged breath surrounded by a moan as her back arched, pushing her chest toward his touch—wanting—needing more.

He taunted her sensitive breasts, tweaking and suckling. Though she wanted the jubilation to last, it took so little to propel Claire to the edge of ecstasy. Sometimes something as simple as a deliberate puff of air on a taut, wet nipple instantaneously liquefied her insides and removed reasoning from her thoughts. Teasing her to the point of begging, yet satisfying her every desire was her husband’s specialty. Despite the way she’d changed—the way her body had changed—she felt wanted and sexy. He skillfully caressed and suckled as he moved south over her enlarged midsection—her baby—his baby—their baby. Its presence only intensified their union.

As their little one grew, creativity became a necessity. What was it they said? Necessity was the mother of invention. When they were both satisfied, Claire nestled her cheek against Tony’s chest, and he broke their silence. Instead of listening to his words, she enjoyed the reverberation of his raspy voice while mindlessly contemplating his next invention.