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When Amber awoke later, she sensed almost immediately that she was not alone. Her eyes fluttered open slowly, but she lay immobile, trying to remember where she was. When it came back to her, she sat up and rubbed her eyes, wondering if Consuela had lit the lamp before she left, for it was now burning brightly in the adjoining room.
She glanced toward the doorway and felt the blood freeze in her veins as Morgan's tall frame materialized in the archway. He was hatless, his raven hair falling over one eye as he lounged against the door frame, and although he appeared completely relaxed, Amber sensed the tautness, the constant state of alertness that lay just beneath the surface.
"How...how long have you been there?" she asked through lips that seemed stiff and wooden.
"A while," was his noncommittal reply. "I'm glad you're awake. I was waiting to eat until you woke up and I'm starving."
She rose hesitantly from the bed, wrapping herself in the colorful manta as she got to her feet.
"You won"t need that," Morgan said, indicating the blanket wrapped securely around her shoulders. "Leave it."
He waited until she reluctantly put the blanket back on the bed before walking back into the other room to sit down on the couch. Amber followed silently, painfully aware of the sheerness of the nightgown and the way it hugged her curves like a second layer of skin. Although she avoided looking at him, she could feel his eyes sweep over her as she padded across the room to take a seat on the edge of a cane-backed chair.
She raised her head, her eyes widening in surprise, when she saw the lace covered table and two matching silver candlesticks that glowed with soft flickering light. On the small table were two plates of appetizing food and a large bottle of wine, complete with two wine glasses.
"I don't understand," she stammered with a gesture at the table.
"What did you expect? For me to come bursting in here, tear your clothes off, and ravish you on the floor?" Morgan asked in a sarcastic tone that made her face flame with embarrassment.
"I certainly never expected candlelight and wine from...an...an outlaw," she flared back. "I thought pain and degradation were more your style."
"Then, you thought wrong, didn't you?" he replied coolly, his dark eyes flashing over her again, pausing at the enticing swell of her breasts above the low neckline of the gown.
Amber motioned toward the bottle of wine, chilled and inviting. "So you're going to get me drunk first, is that the idea?" she asked haughtily.
His handsome face broke into a smile so brilliant it held her spell-bound. His olive skin gleamed in the soft light, his ivory teeth a flash of splendor that transformed his appearance, making his coal black eyes dance with amusement.
"No, not exactly," he told her. "You said you've never been with a man. If that's true, it'll be easier for you if you relax, that's all."
"Oh, I see," Amber sniffed. "You want it to be as painless as possible. How thoughtful of you!"
"If you'd rather be thrown down on the floor without any niceties, we can do it that way too," he offered, his eyes narrowing in contrast to the easy smile on his face.
He watched in mocking silence as Amber's false bravado wilted. A moment later, she shook her head and swallowed.
"Then come over here and sit beside me," he commanded in a deceptively soft voice.
Amber forced her trembling legs to obey as she glided soundlessly across the room and sank down onto the couch beside him. She tried to keep her head down and her eyes averted as he deftly opened the bottle of wine and poured it into both glasses.
He had bathed, shaved, and dressed in clean clothes since she had last seen him. He was wearing a pair of charcoal colored trousers and an ivory shirt that clung to the contours of his body, revealing the powerful muscles that rippled in his shoulders and upper arms. The shirt was open half way down his chest to expose a heavily muscled torso covered with dark hair. He had rolled the sleeves up to the elbows, revealing strong sinewy forearms also covered with dark hair. Amber stared at his hands as he set the wine bottle back into place, shivering involuntarily. He was, without any doubt, the most masculine male she had encountered in her life. That was not a comforting thought.
She forced her eyes away from his strong brown hands, her gaze resting on the gunbelt that lay around his waist. She was seated on his left, the gun butt only inches from where her hands lay in the lap of the silk nightgown. She licked at her lips as the thought occurred to her to grab the gun, and make him take her home.
A soft chuckle roused her from her thoughts. She lifted startled eyes to find Morgan watching her with an amused grin curling his lips. "Don't even think it, Amber. You don't want to spoil a nice evening by doing something so foolish, do you?"
She shook her head as she reached for the wine glass he held out to her. The rich red liquid swirled dangerously close to the edge as her trembling hands lifted it to her lips. It tasted sweet and refreshing when she gulped it down and held out the glass for more.
He refilled her glass and watched as she sipped it more slowly, savoring each drop. He moved one plate in front of her and began to eat from the other. Amber tried to eat, but her throat had closed up, refusing to allow anything but the wine to slide down. Finally he pushed his plate away and drained his wine glass.
"You haven't eaten anything."
"I can't...I'm not hungry," Amber murmured while her mind raced to find some way of stalling him a little longer.
"Then we're wasting time," he said casually as he moved the table aside and turned to face her. "Stand up."
Amber stared at him in confusion for a moment, then obeyed silently, rising on stiff legs to stand in front of him, twisting her fingers anxiously while his dark eyes moved lazily over her.
She did so hesitantly, painfully aware of how the sheer silk clung to each curve of her body. Her heart was pounding so hard it filled her ears with a loud thumping that sounded like thunder. It made her breath seemed choked, almost painful.
She could not bring herself to look into his face, but she felt his eyes burning into her body, scorching her flesh as he studied her. She bit her lips together to stop their trembling. Her face colored with embarrassment when she realized her nipples had hardened and were standing erect beneath the filmy gown.
"Take off the gown."
Amber hesitated, frozen in place, then raised her head to whisper, "I can't, please, don't make me...I can't..."
Morgan did not speak, but lifted the pearl handled pistol from its worn holster to cradle it in the palm of his hand. As Amber watched in horror, he calmly raised the gun, and shot off the knot that held the gown tied in place on her right shoulder. The bullet severed the cloth without touching her skin, slamming into the wall behind her with a deafening roar.
"Now shall I shoot off the other one?" Morgan asked pleasantly, chuckling softly when she shook her head vigorously.
Amber swallowed tightly and raised her trembling hands to untie the strap on her left shoulder, then slowly lowered the gown to the tops of her breasts.
"All the way, Amber," Morgan prodded while motioning toward her feet with the pistol.
Amber looked into his face, seeking mercy, but found his features as inscrutable as before. She hesitated, swallowing again and squeezing her eyes together tightly, then with a shuddering breath, let the gown fall to the floor in graceful shimmering folds. She kept her eyes closed in mortification, but she heard the sharp intake of his breath when she stood before him, at last completely naked.
For a moment Morgan's breath ceased as he stared at her voluptuous body in the soft glow of the candlelight. From the top of her shining head down the graceful neck to her firm white
breasts with nipples, dark pink and erect, down the hollow of her flat stomach to the blonde patch of fluff between her slim thighs, she was even more incredible that he'd imagined. He felt his body leap to life with desire.
He slowly got to his feet, holstered the pistol, and moved toward her. Amber heard the couch creak from his weight and opened her eyes, staring in fascination at the erection that strained the crotch of his trousers. He halted directly in front of her and reached to take her into his arms. Amber whimpered softly as his hands moved across her bare back, pulling her closer while his head lowered to allow his lips to nuzzle at the silky flesh just below her ear.
"Put your arms around me, Amber," he commanded in a voice suddenly hoarse with desire.
She obeyed silently, clenching her eyes shut as her arms hesitantly encircled his neck, feeling the heat from his body warm her skin. The buckle of his gunbelt cut into her flesh and she flinched, then pulled back. Without letting her out of his embrace, Morgan reached down to unbuckle the gunbelt and dropped it behind him onto the couch.
Gathering her to him again, his hands caressed the firm flesh of her buttocks, cupping each one to press her tightly against him. Amber felt hot and light-headed as if she couldn't breathe, her chest heaving with the effort to catch her breath. She was trembling so hard it would have been impossible to stand if not for his strong arms that surrounded her, molding her to the hard maleness of him. For a moment she thought she might faint from the overwhelming rush of feelings that flooded through her.
"Kiss me, Amber," he murmured through the silk of her long hair.
Amber hesitantly pressed her lips to his, keeping her mouth closed, then pulled away quickly.
"Again, like you mean it," he ordered savagely, his dark eyes burning into hers with an intensity that made her shudder.
"I...I can't...I...I...mean...I...don't know...how..." Amber stammered awkwardly, feeling strangely foolish and embarrassed at the same time.
"Like this," Morgan growled as his lips came down over hers, warm and demanding, his tongue forcing entrance into her mouth, seeking her own and setting off explosions of warm, puzzling sensations that left her breathless. She answered his kiss, uncertainly at first, then with more confidence as the kiss deepened. Perhaps it was the wine that made her light-headed and flushed. Or perhaps it was the touch of his hands on her bare flesh that caused her to lean into his embrace as her tongue touched his, causing a flash of fire to leap through her veins.
Then in an unexpected motion, Morgan bent to scoop her into his arms. He carried her swiftly into the bedroom and laid her down on the double bed. Amber watched wide-eyed and fascinated, as if she was standing far away watching herself, as he quickly shed his clothes, staring in mute fascination until he stood beside her, tall and lean and muscular. She heard him laugh softly and raised her head to stare into his handsome face, and shuddered from the hot intensity she could see in his eyes.
She could hear him breathing, could inhale the clean masculine scent of him, feel the heat emanating from him as he towered above her in the dim light. The raw desire that filled his eyes made Amber weak with emotions she did not understand... She gripped the colorful Mexican manta that covered the bed, closing her eyes and turning her head away, trying to combat the unaccustomed surge of longing that was threatening to overwhelm her.
"Look at me, Amber. Open your eyes and look at me," Morgan commanded in that low savage tone that demanded obedience.
Her eyes flew open, her head turning on the pillow to send him a look of confused desire. "Please, just do it and get it over with. Stop torturing me," she whispered.
Morgan's brows arched in momentary surprise. "You are much too beautiful to torture, Amber," he said calmly while his eyes moved lazily over her naked, shivering body in a manner that made her blush profusely and sent a surge of warmth through her that made her head turn into the pillow. that."