Authors: Kitty French
Her heart thumped at the sound of a car outside, and she crossed to the window, her footsteps silent in the fur slippers Lucien had found for her that morning.
He was home.
Sophie watched him walk the few steps along the snow-cleared front path, his head bowed against the cold night air. She was at the front door before he was, opening it to gather him in.
His usual golden skin tone was underscored with a grey pallor, and one look at the expression on his face was enough to tell Sophie everything she needed to know. She held her hands out to take the coat he silently shrugged off, then walked with him to the warmth of the fireside.
Bowls of soup warmed their bellies, and brandy warmed their throats as they sat close together on the sofa. Afterwards they stretched out, Lucien on his back, Sophie tucked alongside him. It was a time when words seemed less effective than actions. The protective circle of a hug. The tender stroke of a cheek. The long press of mouth against mouth as they drifted into sleep, unaware of the housekeeper quietly clearing the dishes and laying a fur throw over their exhausted forms.
Lucien roused at around three in the morning, and for a while he studied the woman asleep on his shoulder. There was much he needed to say to her, and as if by sixth sense she stirred and her eyelashes flickered open. He watched her eyes and saw concern replace the comfortable bliss of her dreams.
"Hey you," she whispered, reaching out to lay her warm hand along his cheek.
"Hey you," he said, sliding both his arms around her. He needed to kiss her, and then there were things he needed to say.
Sophie tasted him, the warm linger of brandy in his mouth as it opened over hers. He held her close and kissed her deeply. When he lifted his head he smoothed her hair behind her ear and settled on his side, face to face.
"I'm sorry Sophie."
She'd tangled her fingers with his against his shirt, and she involuntarily tightened her grip on him. Was this the moment when he sent her away? She wasn't certain she could survive it again, and fear held her voice captive in her chest.
"I'm sorry for being such a fuck up." He dipped his head and kissed her again, almost as if he were drawing strength from their physical connection.
"I thought about you a lot yesterday. Sitting at his bedside reading that letter… seeing him die, lonely and full of regrets…" Lucien sighed heavily and shook his head. "I don't want to be that man in thirty years time, Sophie."
She had a sense by then of where this conversation was headed, and could only listen as he found the words that didn't come easily. He looked down at her wrist and touched a finger against the delicate gold and diamond bracelet that surrounded it.
"You asked me in Paris how many women I'd loved. I said one. I should have said two." He cupped her cheek, his thumb rubbing over her bottom lip. "As a child I loved my mother, and as a man I love you."
He lowered his head to hers then, with the emotional, ten-kinds-of-sexy kiss that only a man in love can give. Sophie surrendered her mouth to him, tears running down her face. "You just said the L word again," she half-laughed and half-cried, her fingers in his hair.
"I did." His heartbreakingly beautiful smile touched his lips, and his hand slipped beneath her T-shirt to cover her breast. "I love every beautiful fucking inch of you, Sophie Black."
"I love you too, Lucien. Very, very much."
Lucien spooned Sophie's warm naked body into his own a while later, cradling her in his arms and watching the fire over her shoulder. Making love without the boundaries of not being able to say it had left him peaceful and tired, and hearing Sophie say 'I love you' over and over as he came had been the erotic experience of his lifetime.
"Let's do this forever, princess," he murmured, kissing her ear.
She smiled drowsily. "Go to sleep, Lucien."
And for the first time in a very long time, Lucien Knight did as he was told. He closed his eyes and drifted towards sleep, his mind peaceful and his heart full of Sophie Black, the girl who surprised him.
"She'll never go to sleep if you don't put her down, Lucien." Sophie stroked Lucien's naked, sun-bronzed shoulder, letting her fingers linger to appreciate his lean, taut strength as he cradled their baby daughter.
"She's almost there," he whispered, rocking Tilly against his bare chest. "Go on down, I'll be right behind you."
He turned his head to Sophie with the most imperceptible of winks, and she met his look with gentle, amused eyes. Lucien would be a while yet, not putting the baby down until she was well and truly in the land of dreams.
He'd told her a few years back that he'd loved two women in his lifetime. Matilda's arrival had put that number up to three.
She looked from man to child, each utterly content with the other. They looked ridiculously perfect, better than the million black and white posters that made women around the world swoon.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Sophie filled the sink to wash the dinner plates. She could have used the machine, but she was content to complete the simple domestic task by hand while she enjoyed the peaceful vista beyond the window. They were in the season of the midnight sun, skies streaked golden peach behind the mountains, so beautiful it hurt her eyes to look at it.
The few staff of the lodge were on holiday, leaving the small family to complete privacy for their precious summer break. Life back at home in London was always crazy, and Matilda's arrival had only made it crazier still.
Working alongside Lucien for the last few years, Sophie had taken charge of the task of adding a little feminine, Parisian-style va-va-voom to Lucien's clubs.
She'd been smitten by the on-site boutique idea ever since their visit to the French capital and had jumped at the chance to open a small store within each of the Gateway clubs. Seven months pregnant at the opening of the first one at their flagship London club, Kara had joined the team, happy to drink the champagne Sophie wasn't allowed to have as Lucien prowled around her like a protective lion.
She turned at the sound of him jogging down the stairs, barefoot and beautiful in just faded, low slung jeans. He set the baby monitor down on the counter and slid his hands around her waist at the sink, his fingers over hers in the water for a second and then trailing up her arms.
"I like you like this," he murmured, kissing her shoulder. "I'm going to chain you to the kitchen sink more often."
Sophie laughed and elbowed him lightly. She spent most of her days dressed in killer heels and dresses designed to distract Lucien from his work, and he delighted in making her pay for it in all the best ways.
"Go away, you're putting me off," she laughed, her pulse quickening as he untied the halter neck of her summer top with his teeth. He glanced down over her shoulder at the plate in her hands. "You'd make a terrible maid. You missed a bit," he muttered, and pulled her top down to her waist in one fluid movement.
"I'm not sure I'd approve of this if I was your maid," she breathed as his hands cupped her bare breasts.
"I still love your tits." He'd said it so many times over the years, but it still made her laugh a little and gasp a little as he dipped his hands into the soapy suds and then trailed foam around her nipples. She could feel his cock hard against the base of her back and instinctively arched into him.
"Concentrate on your work princess, or I'll have to make you start again."
Sophie sighed dramatically as she dunked the plate back into the water.
"Better," he said, his hands holding her hips as he bent to trail kisses down the length of her backbone. Her fingers curled over the edge of the sink when he dropped to his knees behind her and lifted her frayed denim skirt up over her backside.
"My, my, my…" he murmured, clearly approving of the fact that she wasn't wearing any knickers. Not that it should have come as any surprise to him, given the fact that he'd removed them himself when they were sunbathing on the decking earlier that afternoon.
Norway had become their second home over the years, and Sophie loved it in summertime best of all. The mountains bloomed with lush grass and beautiful wild flowers, and the sun kissed their shoulders as they unwound from the stress of their full-on London life. Back at home, they'd grown accustomed to synchronising their diaries and locking the office door whenever the need to road test the latest sex toy became too much; out here it was blissful just to soak up the sun and enjoy each other at a more leisurely pace.
Not that there had been anything leisurely about the way Lucien had stripped her earlier that afternoon whilst Tilly took her afternoon nap. His sexual appetite seemed only to grow as their relationship progressed, as did his adventurousness.
No boundaries, no lies, and no one else were the three golden rules they'd built their relationship on, and boy did Lucien like to test her boundaries often. Life at his side was never boring, and she'd never been happier.
"Keep scrubbing," he whispered, his mouth roaming over the curves of her bottom. She tried really quite hard, but her mind wasn't on the job at hand as he moved his warm shoulder between her thighs to part them enough to accommodate him. She gave up any pretense of working as he licked her inner thighs, then tipped his head back to fleetingly mouth her sex. She closed her eyes as his fingers slid inside her, and moaned with appreciation when he returned his mouth to her clitoris for a slow, body-melting suckle. She gasped his name, opening her eyes as Lucien slid up the length of her body and unbuttoned his jeans behind her.
Knowing how good it was going to feel only made her want him more. She cried out as his hardness filled her softness, gasps of pleasure as he found his easy rhythm. He held her there, captive and impaled, kissing her neck as he drew circles on her clitoris with his index finger.
"You're the filthiest fucking maid I've ever known," Sophie could feel him smiling against her ear. "You've got the job."
She would have laughed, but all of her concentration was centred on how close her body was to coming. Lucien picked up on her change of tempo, switching from an easy glide to a thrusting ram against the kitchen work surface.
It was sex, it was fucking, and it was making love. It was life in glorious technicolour, full of promise and joy. The best of all worlds, with the best of all men.
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Kitty also writes under the pseudonym Kat French ~ her brand new sexy romantic comedy
is out now.
About the Author
Kitty French lives in the UK with her husband and two children.
She also writes sexy romantic comedy under the pseudonym Kat French ~ her debut novel
is out now from HarperCollins.
Facebook ~ Kitty French
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Once more I owe huge thanks to my fabulous editor
. I've loved working with you again, I feel incredibly lucky to know you.
Thanks also to
for working so hard with me to create a second cover I adore.
As always I must say thank you to the brilliant
, my gorgeous writing buddies and wise, clever friends. Love you guys.
Big love to the Bob girls for your constant support and encouragement. You girls rock!
I must say a huge hello and thank you to all of the fantastic, funny ladies on twitter and facebook who brighten my days and evenings. You're so much more than just names on the screen to me, you are my friends.
Lots of love and thanks to every last person who has read Knight & Play, I'm so grateful for your support.
Thanks to the many wonderful bloggers of Norway ~I have spent so much time reading and researching your beautiful country, and I feel indebted to you for the way you have given me a window into your world.
Lastly, I couldn't do any of this without the support of my family. Thanks for being the best.
Mr.F... mwah! Looking forward to spending more than five minutes with you at some point in our lives. x