Her study appeared to shrink once Rupert started marching across it, back and forth, back and forth. Madison ordered herself to stay put and not give up a single inch of ground. However, the hollowness that had built up since their argument at Blenheim spilled out of her heart and welled up in her eyes. A betraying tear fell over her cheek. She bit her lower lip to wrest control and lowered her head to hide her weakness. The hatchet of rejection—rejection by Rupert—always hung over her head. The fear of losing him—his love or whatever he was ready to give her—dragged her down.

Too late. Rupert was already camping in front of her. His fingers cradled her face and forced her to stare up and meet his gaze. “I can’t stand you crying. Forgive me.”

Trusting her towel to stay put, Madison laid her hands on his and shook her head. “No, it’s me. I’m a sissy with all my insecurities.” A sniffle punctuated her confession.

“I must be a sissy too because I’m rotten with insecurities. You know that better than anyone else.”

“Come on. You’re the king of the jungle. You don’t talk, you roar, and everyone bows down before you.”

His response was a muffled laugh. “I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me. I only want you to look up to me, to be proud of me.”

He locked his words with a kiss. A fierce, devouring kiss. One that radiated his need for her and smashed her self-doubts into a thousand irrelevant pieces. His hands shifted from her face down along her neck to settle in the nook by her collarbone. His fingertips tickled the tips of her shoulders. His kiss deepened, and she had to step closer to him and let her head tilt backward for him to explore her mouth. Rupert teased her tongue with his, challenging her to let go, to open herself to him.

All hell broke loose when her towel slid to the floor and the air brushed over her naked flesh. Her nipples hardened. She wrapped her arms around Rupert’s neck while his hand took hold of her ass and pulled it so her hips crashed against him. His other hand twisted her damp hair into a ponytail and pulled her deeper into his kiss.

Madison almost lost her balance when Rupert knelt at her feet. On his way down, he traced a path with his lips from between her breasts to her navel. He circled her waist, and the heat of his gaze burnt at her naked body.

“I dream of you, Maddie … I dream of being inside you.”

They made it to her tiny bed, but only later.