The kitchen smelled of cinnamon and brown sugar, making his mouth water. A tray of muffins sat on the counter. Ariadne held one in her hand. She’d split it open and was applying butter. When she’d finished applying a perfectly even layer, he snatched it out of her hand and took a large bite. “Thanks,” he muttered around a full mouth.
Glaring at him, she began to prepare the other half. “Where’s Erika?”
“That’s damn good,” he groaned around the muffin. He opened the refrigerator in search of milk. “Erika’s with Ted.” As he filled his glass, he shot her a glance. She had to know about Erika’s crush, but he wouldn’t question her about it. Doing so would be asking her to betray a confidence to a friend. While he was her husband, it wasn’t in a true sense. He wanted her to consider him a friend one day as well.
Ariadne bit into her muffin. Asher poured her a glass of milk as well. He waited until she’d taken a sip before asking, “So should I move my stuff into your room or will you be moving into mine?”
She sprayed the floor with milk. “What?”
He laughed at her expression. Though they hadn’t discussed it, he knew she didn’t expect to share his bed. But he simply couldn’t resist seeing her reaction. Leaning back against the counter, he allowed his gaze to run over her from the top of her head to her toes, stopping to enjoy the fullness of her breasts, the smallest of her waist, and the lush roundness of her hips. She was delight to stare at and his palms itched to explore her curves. As always, she was dressed modestly. Her pink t-shirt was buttoned to the top. Her jeans were snug but not indecent. They’d all been on the beach at some point today. Only Ariadne had taken the time to change out of her bathing suit.
“Both Ted and Erika insinuated that I was trying to get you into bed. Would you like to clarify our sleeping arrangements?”
Tossing a glare his way, she rolled three paper towels off the roll and dropped to the floor to clean up the milk. “I have a guest room you can use at my place.”
“I see.” He emptied his glass in one swallow. “So you expect me to be celibate for two or more years?”
“I intend to be.”
“No offense, but it’s not the same thing. Isn’t celibacy your normal state of affairs?”
She threw the paper towels in the trash with more force than he considered necessary. “Isn’t this something we should have clarified before we got married? It’s not too late for an annulment.”
“Then we’d be right back where we were. Only worse. I would embarrass my father with one of the briefest marriages on record. And you’d have tallied up a second relationship failure within six months.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
She mirrored his pose. “So what do you suggest?”
He knew what he’d like to suggest but he doubted she’d be willing to grant him conjugal rights. It would take some serious finessing to get her to that point. But he didn’t doubt that he could get her there. A week ago if someone had told him that she would marry him, he would have laughed in their face. But she had. Not out of love, but that didn’t matter. She was his. If he could make her his wife, a major miracle, getting her into his bed would be child’s play.
“We play it by ear,” he said as casually as he could.
She laughed. “Are you thinking there’s going to be a time when I’m going to want to sleep with you?”
He shrugged. “I don’t think you find me repellant.”
Ariadne’s mouth twisted. “But as you’ve pointed out, celibacy is the normal state of affairs for me.”
He studied her from beneath lowered lashes. “But it doesn’t have to be.”
“I can’t,” she said so quickly that he knew that she had her reasons.
He wanted to probe but he had time. He didn’t want her to think he was anxious. Though he was so primed, he was ready to toss her over his shoulder and carry her off to his bed this instant. “The offer is out there and available any time you want.” Her gaze moved over him much as his had moved over her. Her slow perusal made his body burn. Her brown eyes darkened and smoldered with heat. His dick hardened so fast it was a wonder he didn’t get lightheaded from the sudden redirection of blood flow. He took a step forward without even realizing it.
“I’m starving!” Ted made a beeline for the muffins. He grabbed one in each hand, biting into one before he seemed to take notice of the tension in the room. “Am I interrupting something?” he mumbled around a mouth full of food