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"It's beautiful," Neely agreed.

Aidan eased past her, into the RV, and returned in a few moments carrying blankets, a chilled bottle of very good champagne, and two fluted glasses. Slipping one arm around Neely's waist, he escorted her toward the trees where the light fell so gracefully onto the fragrant grass.

He put the champagne and glasses aside to spread the blankets over the soft ground, then beckoned to Neely. "Come over here, Mrs. Tremayne."

She went to him happily, and he took her into his arms and held her close. He kissed her thoroughly, as he had so many times before, but this time he would not be leaving her to merely imagine his lovemaking.

After a while, when Neely was half-dazed with wanting her husband, Aidan began stripping away her clothes. He worked very slowly, tossing aside her T-shirt first, caressing and admiring her for a long time before unclasping her bra and disposing of that, too.

Her breasts stood bare and proud, their tips hardening in the spring breeze, and when Aidan bent with a groan to touch one morsel with his tongue, Neely cried out in hoarse joy and pressed him close.

They sank to the ground one limb at a time, like some graceful four-legged creature, and Aidan continued to enjoy Neely's full breasts. She kicked off her sneakers and tore at the zipper of her jeans, and Aidan chuckled against her nipple and stilled her frantic hand with his own. He made her wait.

Finally, though, each was bared to the other.

Aidan stroked Neely's thighs lightly and made teasing circles on her belly with his fingers.

"No longer, Aidan," she whispered franticly, slipping both arms around his neck. "I've waited too long, and I want you so much-"

"And I want you," he said, his mouth falling to hers. Their tongues battled, then mated.

With a groan Aidan mounted Neely, easing her legs apart with one knee.

She cried out and arched her back as he glided inside her and settled deep for a moment, claiming her, letting her body get used to his.

He chuckled as he nibbled at her lips. "Little vixen," he teased. She struggled beneath him, wanting to thrash and writhe, but he held her firmly in place.

Neely made a sound that was half passion and half frustration. "Aidan," she pleaded, "make love to me-please- or I swear it's going to happen on its own!"

Aidan raised himself onto his elbows, withdrew from her, then made a steady, smooth lunge into her warmth again.

That was all it took. Neely's body was so primed for Aidan's conquering that one stroke brought on a raging, cataclysmic climax. Eyes unfocused, she jerked helplessly beneath him while a low, lingering wail of pleasure poured from her throat.

Aidan held Neely while she responded, lodged far within her, and murmured gentle, senseless words against her ear. She'd been still, dazed and sated, for some time before he moaned and stiffened and spilled his warm seed inside her.

For a long time they lay there, arms and legs entwined, bodies joined, and their breaths might have been one breath, their heartbeats a single steady meter.

"I'm sorry," Neely said when she could finally speak.

Aidan raised his head and looked at her with incredulous, ink-blue eyes. "What did you say?"

"I was so eager. It happened so fast." Tears started in her lashes because she wanted Aidan to be pleased, the way she was, and she thought she'd failed.

He kissed the moisture away, aroused her all over again simply by caressing her eyelids with the tip of his tongue. "No, darling," he whispered tenderly, "this day has been an eternity in the making." He slid lower, brushed his lips over her collarbone and the soft rounding of her breasts. "And the best part is," he added presently, "that this is only the beginning."

Neely spread her hands over Aidan's muscled back then, and a sob escaped her, a hoarse, splendid sound born of jubilation, not sorrow. Their souls spoke a silent, private language, and their bodies needed no words at all.

When they had spent still more of their passion, they drank champagne from their wedding glasses and, with laughing reluctance, began to dress each other. When it became a game, however, and the players started kissing places before they covered them, the clothes came off again.

"We're going to catch pneumonia, lying out here in the breeze in the altogether," Aidan said some time later.

"You're right." Neely sat up and started reaching for scattered garments and pulling them on. She was ridiculously happy, and she couldn't help humming a little under her breath. "I'm glad we didn't wait for our golden anniversary."

Aidan, who had dressed more quickly, pulled Neely to her feet and kissed her as they collided. "I could never have lasted past the silver one," he teased.

Once they'd put away the blankets and glasses and the champagne, Aidan got behind the wheel and started the engine.

"Well, Mrs. Tremayne, where do we go now? South to Mexico, or north to Canada?"

Neely considered, smoothing her hopelessly crumpled T-shirt and straightening her seat belt. "Surprise me," she said.

Late that night Aidan and Neely stopped in a moonlit RV park, at the edge of a southbound highway. There they grilled hamburgers on their tiny stove, crowded into their minuscule shower stall together, and finally made feverish love on the fold-out bed.

Aidan slept when it was over, but Neely lay curled against his side, watching the stars through the skylight in the roof of the motor home as they did their intricate, shining dance around the moon. If anybody had ever told her she was going to be this happy, she reflected, she would have thought the notion was insane.

After the sky patterns had shifted several times, Neely rose, pulled an oversized T-shirt over her head, and crept to the drawer where she kept her most treasured belongings.

Inside were school pictures of Danny, a necklace that had belonged to her mother, and the antique music box that Aidan had given her the night he proposed.

Holding the box close to her heart, Neely made her way to the door, opened it quietly, and stepped out into the silver-spangled night. She needed to be in the open spaces, at least for a few minutes, because the RV was simply too small to contain all the love and gratitude she felt.

Standing on the metal step, Neely wound the key on the bottom of the rosewood box, then lifted the lid. Sweet, oddly familiar music flowed into the night, and Neely danced in the damp and scented grass, turning round and round, like the stars overhead.

When she had spent her energy, she stopped the music and went back inside to crawl into bed next to her husband.

Aidan slept without reservation, sprawled every which way, with one arm flung back over his head. "Hmmm?" he said.

Neely smiled, kissed the pulsepoint at the base of his throat, and thought briefly of a wondrously handsome, elegant vampire who had once visited her dreams.

How odd, she thought as she toppled into sweet sleep, that she should think of him now.

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