***Part Three***

Rhett pushed the silk robe from Scarlett's shoulders, his hands spanning her shoulder from neck to arm. "I don't know about all night, but there are some creative things I could come up with involving standing if that's what you wanted, my sweet."

"Say that again," she said forcing her voice to work despite the rush of sensations flowing through her body just then at his touch and the suggestiveness behind his words. She should have been insulted and perhaps that was what he was doing, testing her, but she had liked that night long ago now too much to deny him anything he deemed creative.

Rhett frowned slightly. "That there are creative things I can come up with involving us standing up?"

"No, the last words, what you called me."

"My sweet?"

"Yes, that."

His brow furrowed even more now. "Why?"

"I'm used to ‘my pet' or ‘my dear'," she explained. "My sweet is different."

His hand dropped to the waist of the robe, a light chuckle following the movement when he realized belatedly it was already undone. He knew she had not fastened it, but it was habit for him to have to undress Scarlett from her being trussed up like a Christmas goose. He admittedly liked this new and bolder Scarlett. "I've come to realize, Scarlett, that different can be very good. Wouldn't you agree," he asked as his mouth fell to the tops of her breasts.

"Yes," Scarlett said quietly.

Rhett heard her inhale deeply as his tongue darted over her breasts and smiled, letting out a deep breath of his own. He felt her hands move to his shoulders and groaned softly, unaccustomed to her touching him of her own accord. His hands dropped to her hips as he scooted her along the bed so that he could join her on it.

"Rhett," Scarlett said softly.

"Yes, Scarlett," Rhett asked anticipating somehow that she was going to have a change of heart and bid him to stop. The night of Ashley's birthday party he had been drunk, but even then he would not have proceeded to make love to her had she bid him to cease. That night she had not, but he also had not given her a whole lot of choice. Tonight they were on more even, and sober, ground.

"Please, you're going too slowly."

"Too slow," he said a brow rose in question as he regarded her, his head just above her breasts. Her green eyes were a deep green unlike any color he had ever seen them before now. They looked like emeralds, perfect in their color and the desire they betrayed was clear.

She nodded her head simply, her hands moved from his shoulders to his head drawing his mouth to her breasts, the part still covered by her negligee that he had as of yet not paid attention to.

Rhett followed her prompt willingly. His mouth gathered a peak into his mouth, hardened but not quite what it could be he knew from experience, through the negligee and stimulated it with his mouth, teeth, and tongue. He expected her to protest, to stop him when she realized he might ruin the gown but instead she whimpered softly. Her fingers spread in his hair as she offered more of her breasts by arching her back.

He felt one of her hands run through his hair and then drop to his bare back. He shivered slightly at the touch as her fingertips traced over his back and then imbedded into it as his tongue grazed her nipple teasingly.

His hands reached for and with the help of Scarlett moving beneath him and his leg, pushed the hem up, removing the negligee completely. He knelt above her his boxers the only article of clothing standing in the way of them both being completely naked. He could not help but look at her, taking advantage of the fact she was allowing him to look. How many times over the years had he wanted to look at her and she had refused him, claiming ladies did not do that? A corner of his mouth lifted into a partial smile as he realized she was thinking the same thing. He had maintained thirteen years ago she was no lady, but until now she had been unwilling to shed the disguise she clung to for so long in their bedroom.

His hands touched her everywhere he could reach, her abdomen, her breasts, her shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Her skin was smooth and blemish free now, the years of having to work Tara on her own no longer apparent. He was sure the emotional scars were still there, but the physical signs were gone now. Her body responded like he believed it would all along, and the look on her face was one Rhett knew he would remember forever. She was enjoying herself, she was enjoying the fact he was touching her, loving her with his hands. He was not altogether sure he believed Scarlett had changed, but if this was any indication he was glad he had come back. Not that their marriage could be rebuilt on sex, but if she was willing to meet him halfway, and then some, in bed he believed she would out of bed as well.

He glanced at her hands, which were mirroring his. She was touching his chest with childlike wonder, which amused him somewhat. He was tempted to ask her what was so interesting, but he refrained not wanting her to think he was teasing her or insulting her somehow. Not now, there would be time for teasing later. His breath caught when her hands dropped from his chest to his waist and tugged on the waistband of his boxer shorts.

"Take them off, Rhett."

"Perhaps you'd like to remove them yourself."

She smiled and leaned up so that she could push them over his hips. She inhaled sharply at the sight of him fully aroused. "Did I do that?"

Rhett laughed lightly as he stood from the bed to remove his boxers the rest of the way. "Does that surprise you? It would be easy for you to do that to me whenever you'd like, Scarlett, merely by being attentive and responsive."

"I have every intention of being that way from now on, Rhett."

"I believe you, Scarlett," he whispered surprised by the truth behind his words. When was the last time he had believed anything Scarlett had said without question? He could not remember, but he liked that he could say those words so freely and mean them.

His boxers dropped on the floor at the side of the bed, Rhett knelt on the floor and drew her towards the edge of the bed once again.

"Rhett," Scarlett started to protest until Rhett put a stop to her protests when his hand moved between her legs followed by his mouth.

Rhett was gentle, but his attentions were nonetheless intense. There was an emotion with his actions that aside from that one night had always been carefully held at bay when he had made love to her. One thing he did believe was that Scarlett had been faithful to him, which meant it had been quite some time for her since she had been with a man. As much as he was ready to make love to her at that moment, he wanted her more than ready. He wanted to hear more of her directing him to go faster, pleading with him to bring her satisfaction, and yet he wanted her to feel cherished. He had always cherished her, but had until now been far too afraid to demonstrate that fact completely.

Her calls of his name changed from protests to questioning sounds as to whether or not she should actually enjoy what he was doing to her. Finally, though, the pleasure he was so adamant about giving her surrounded her, wrapping her and her doubts into its power so her sounds changed to untamed passion with little held back. If she thought these sounds would distract Rhett, as her pleas for him not to stop seemed to indicate, they had just the opposite effect on him. He worked harder, more diligently at bringing about her release.

He was not aware of her hands at his upper back near his shoulders until he felt her nails bite into his flesh, but even that did not stop him from continuing until she had ridden the waves of ecstasy that he had helped create for her. Several smaller ones followed her climactic peak and he aided her in riding each of those waiting until her sounds of pleasure had been reduced to soft whimpers and whispered words.

He chuckled lightly as he drew away, trailing a path of light but still sensuous kisses along her inner thighs. "I hope the children don't think I'm skinning you alive in here," he murmured, though he was not overly concerned. Kids and servants alike knew better than to disturb parents when they were in their room with the door closed and bolted. Rhett legally, as any husband did, had the right to do whatever he wanted to to Scarlett. And while there were times he thought a good whipping with a belt or a buggy whip would have done her a world of good, in the long run he never could have brought himself to harm her. He believed their children knew that as well. Wade was old enough he might suspect what the adults were doing was not violent.

Scarlett looked shocked for a minute. "Do you really think they heard me, Rhett?"

"No, I don't think they heard you. And even if they did, do you care? Wouldn't you like to teach your children instead of it being the duty you were raised as it to be that it can be like this? Passionate, loving, and very enjoyable to both parties."

She slid back on the bed without his having to prompt her and he moved on top of her. "Yes, I suppose so. Though had I been taught that I would have been severely disappointed with my first two husbands." She groaned softly, feeling how ready he was against her and willingly parted her legs for him. Her hands moved to his buttocks, trying to move him faster into consummating this new relationship for them. She felt so wanton, so dirty behaving this way, but she had to admit she liked it. With Rhett she liked it, it was Rhett that made it acceptable for her to behave this way.

"You wouldn't have married them if you'd been taught that, Scarlett. Trust me, you wouldn't have," he whispered hoarsely honestly hating to think of her with any other man married to the other man or not. His mouth dropped to her breast to cease conversation of Charles Hamilton and Frank Kennedy in their bed. He took her inviting and bold gesture and entered her. His teeth bore briefly against her breast, grazing the delicate underside of her breast a little roughly as he sank into the velvet smoothness that was her core.

He gave as well as took from her, wordlessly demanding her response, her participation. He was not going to give her release without her helping to bring her to that point. The night she had spoken of had not been the tenderest night of lovemaking in his history, it had in fact bordered on rough with his wanting to control her at the root of his what he had until now considered to be rude and unacceptable behavior. Tonight, though he gave her another taste of that since she had admitted to liking it. He would never hurt her, beyond perhaps slight pain that was brought on to enhance her pleasure, and when Rhett looked at Scarlett during one of those pleasingly painful moments he knew that she trusted him not to hurt her.

Rhett felt her body tense around him, felt the swell of her breast grow fuller in his hand as she arched her back towards him, and heard as her lips parted and sounds of pleasure escaped her lips. It was to be the last of many peaks he had brought her to, at least for now, because he could not stop himself from finishing. A soft groan of contentment escaped his lips as he held her against him, both of them lying still on the bed.

"I love you, Rhett," he heard the soft words whispered against his ear.

His heart constricted, tightened and then suddenly those feelings of dread and heaviness were replaced with hope, rightness and lightness. How many times had he prayed to hear those three words to be whispered to him from Scarlett during the aftermath of their lovemaking? How many times had he hoped and prayed that he would bring her to the point across from that careful line she had drawn through her heart and in a moment of weakness, after he had given her fulfillment she would admit to loving him?

He was silent for too long, he knew he was, but he was not sure how to reply. And finally, he settled for the easiest answer. "I love you, too, Scarlett," he said lifting his head to kiss her. What frightened him most, was though it was the easiest answer to provide her, it was the honest answer. He had just admitted his feelings to her and in doing so if tomorrow she woke up and was once again the old Scarlett she would have those words he knew she had been waiting years to hear to use against him. That just did not matter to him as much as it used to he realized. So what if she knew he loved her? There were worse crimes in the world than loving one's wife. He had committed or thought of committing most of those crimes, so he was well acquainted with right and wrong of things. He just hoped he had not walked into the lion's den unprepared, but only time would tell.

He moved her so they were positioned properly on the bed, their heads at the pillows instead of the bed's edge. A light kiss made him realize that she was tired, exhausted and would quickly drift off to sleep. He drew the blankets around her and joined her in her efforts to sleep.

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