“Sensual images of tangled sheets and entwined limbs filled her head, just as the rogue intended, no doubt. It dawned on her that her husband wasn’t going to play fair about their sleeping arrangements.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she regarded him primly. “Do you plan to execute sneak attacks like that all the time?”

“Absolutely.” He reached for a coffee mug in the cupboard, while looking over his shoulder at her. “Or are you going to place restrictions on how many times I can kiss you, and when or where?”

Where . . . as in location, or where . . . as in what body part? A shiver touched her feminine nerves, and she mentally shook the stimulating thought from her mind.

Setting the mug on the counter next to the coffee pot, he cast her a patient look. “I’m not demanding my conjugal rights, Grace, but you can’t expect us to live under the same roof, and me be able to resist that mouth of yours, do you?”

The mouth in question still tingled from his kiss. The thought of giving Ford carte blanche to indulge his whimsical need to kiss her sent her pulse tumbling into oblivion . . . along with her refusal. She couldn’t even believe they were having this conversation, or that she was considering his request!

“I really don’t think it would be a good idea-”

“I can’t resist you, Grace,” he interrupted, pouring steaming coffee into his cup. “I want the right to kiss you, whenever I want to.”

She shook her head regretfully. “Ford-”

“What happened to compromise, Grace?” he chided, making her feel a twinge of guilt for being so difficult over something that shouldn’t have been a big issue or problem in their marriage. “Considering making love to you seems to be off limits for the time being, you can’t expect me to go completely without physical contact. I have needs and urges like any other married man when it comes to my wife. I’m not asking you to share my bed, though I’d welcome you there any time and the invitation is always open. I only want the privilege to kiss my wife.”

He made his argument sound so simple, so innocent, and she was being so difficult. It wasn’t as though his kisses were a hardship to endure, and they did give her as much pleasure as they brought him. Certainly the affection and tenderness that came with kissing could only enhance their relationship without the demand of more physical intimacies.

“All right,” she agreed. “Kisses only.”

He moved back toward her, and her heart thumped in her chest, though she didn’t try to avoid him—there was no sense in trying. He touched a finger to her bottom lip, the violet hue of his eyes darkening to velvet. “Anytime I want them?” he asked, his voice low and rumbling.

Her stomach dipped and she forced herself to nod.

“Anyway and anywhere I want them?” His head tilted, moved closer to hers.

She nodded again, at the same time lifting her mouth toward the heat and promise of his. The anticipation of feeling his lips on hers became excruciating, and exciting.

His lashes fell half-mast. “Fair enough,” he murmured in satisfaction, his breath caressing her lips.

Closing her eyes, she waited . . . and felt a sting of disappointment when he pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead. Her lashes blinked open and she frowned, but he didn’t notice. He was taking a sip of his coffee, looking for all the world as if he hadn’t turned her inside out with wanting, then left her unsatisfied.

He propped a hip on the counter next to her. “How are you feeling this morning?”

She added more hot water to her mug of tea since it had cooled during her discussion with Ford, concentrating on the task. “Refreshed.” And aroused, darn him! Having given him the right to kiss her, anytime, anyway, and anywhere, she’d forever be in a state of awareness, anxiously waiting for when he’d plan his next sensual assault on her senses.

“Do you experience morning sickness?”

The genuine concern and curiosity in his voice surprised her. “Sometimes.” Affecting the same casual attitude as him, she warmed to their subject, and his interest. “I find tea and toast usually curbs the nausea.””